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RSG Unveils Private Hospitals Aid Scheme …Says No Plans To Kill Public Hospitals

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To ensure that more residents of Rivers State have access to quality healthcare, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on Wednesday flagged off the private hospitals loan scheme.

The first batch of the scheme shall witness 37 hospitals in the state access N500million to upgrade their facilities and improve their service to the people.

Seven of the beneficiaries are non-indigenes, while 30 are from Rivers State.

Flagging off the Private Hospitals Loan Scheme at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Wike urged the private medical practitioners to apply the loans judiciously.

He said that the state government will pay the interest on the loans on behalf of the beneficiaries, while the beneficiaries will pay the principal sum.

The governor said: “This loan is for the private hospitals to improve their facilities. It is not meant for the owners of the hospitals to solve personal problems.

“Private hospitals are critical to healthcare delivery in the state, hence our decision to create this loan scheme to support their improvement”.

He noted that the beneficiaries of the N500million loan will form the first batch, pointing out that their successful application of the funds will lead to another batch.

In his remarks, Rivers State Health Commissioner, Dr Theophilus Odagme lauded the governor for his investment in the health sector.

He said at present 17 general hospitals are being rehabilitated by the Wike administration, while majority of the resolutions of the meeting the governor held with the Nigerian Medical Association.

The commissioner appealed to the private medical practitioners to pay back the loans, so that others can benefit.

Representative of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Ibitoru Korubo, said that the governor’s intervention will help in reviving the health sector in the state.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Dr Sunny Obele of Sonabel Medical Centre, Eleme said that the Private Hospitals Loan Scheme should be emulated by other states and the Federal Government.

He said that the intervention was relevant because 80 percent of Nigerians access healthcare through private health facilities.

Meanwhile, some experts in the health sector in Rivers State have given their support to the new Rivers State Government loan to private hospitals in the state.

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike announced a N500 million loan scheme for private hospitals last two months after meeting with stakeholders in the health sector.

Chairman State Primary School Board, Prof. Princewill Chike, told The Tide in a chat that the scheme will boost health care services as against the view that such loan should have been channelled to public hospitals.

Chike said, “This kind of thing has never been done in the country before and this is how India overtook many other countries in health care delivery today.”

The professor of medicine argued that since the country has huge manpower in the health sector, such loan scheme will help boost facilities, research and encourage the private practitioners to improve their services and even reduce their charges on the public.

With improved services and facilities in the private hospitals, Chike maintained that pressure on government hospitals will also be reduced.

He, however, pointed out that the scheme introduced by Wike administration will challenge the Federal Government to meet its statutory obligations of funding health care, while revealing that since this year health care centres in the state have not received federal funding, except the ones remitted by the state and local governments.

Chike submitted that, “the present government has the interest of the people at heart. So, for me, the gesture the governor extended to the private hospitals is not to kill public hospitals but will rather aid them to meet standards and services they offer.”

Chairman of the Private Hospital Loan Scheme and Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Prof Blessing Didia, explained that what the Wike administration has demonstrated is to replicate what obtains abroad.

“If you travel overseas you will discover that most of the hospitals there do not actually belong to the government even in Dubai where most of us go to take treatment. So this loan scheme will ensure that many Nigerians don’t travel abroad again,” Didia stated.

In the light of this, Didia held that government has provided a platform for private hospitals to raise their services and standards, assuring that if the pilot scheme succeeds then a second batch of private hospitals will get the loan.

He explained that the beneficiaries about 37 of them are to get moratorium of three months before paying back, as the state government has taken care of the interest already.

Meanwhile, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Theophilus Odagme, has ruled out political considerations in the selection of hospitals which benefitted from the scheme.

He told The Tide that a careful selection process was carried out and that, “this loan was not given to PDP or APC members. There were no political considerations whatever because we had town hall meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association and nobody was asked whether he was APC or PDP.”

The commissioner promised that the loan will be utilized by the hospitals selected, and promised that when once the first batch ends, the second phase will kick off.

He also defended the scheme with the view that it will reduce pressure on public hospitals pointing out that most of the newly rehabilitated public hospitals will serve as referrals to the health centres in the rural areas.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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