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Coronavirus: Over 40 Health Workers Test Positive -FG …Mulls Local Vaccines For Prevention, Cure …CACOVID Strategises To Curb Community Spread …AS NCDC Ramps Up 10,000 Tests

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, yesterday, said that over 40 health workers in the country have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), as a result of exposure.
He stressed that it has become critically important for health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion and protect themselves adequately with personal protective equipment (PPE) in the line of duty.
Ehanire, who made this known at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, said that: “I applaud our health workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government will continue to provide you with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and I urge you to take all necessary precautions for your own safety.
“Please, do not treat any patient without using adequate PPE, frontline health workers must undertake refresher training on IPC at intervals.
“This advice became necessary due to the number of health workers who have tested positive, over 40 now, for COVID-19 or been quarantined, in the last two weeks due to exposure, and therefore not being able to contribute to the health sector effort. I urge you all to remain vigilant in the line of duty and maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19.
“We are still on hazard allowance for frontline health workers, as proposals have to be validated by the PTF. They also have to be validated by other authorities like the Minister of Finance, etc. Therefore, there are other processes that will take place before it is announced. It is a work in progress and will not be hidden.”
The minister decried the underutilisation of the ‘excess’ testing capacity of the country, explaining that even though Nigeria has the capacity to test 1,500 persons daily, daily testing still averages around 600.
According to him: “Today, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) laboratories have capacity to test 1,500 samples per day in 13 laboratories across the country. However, we are testing on average 600 samples per day because that is all the samples collected and sent for testing. This means that there is a certain underutilisation.
“Factors implicated in the process may include surveillance sample collection and mode of transportation, which can be improved to increase operational efficiency.
“In fact, we have excess capacity for the 13 laboratories that are functioning, but our own strategy is that of smart testing, that is, testing where you feel you will have yield. We have to be very careful about our reagents.
“We are also trying to use our resources as wisely as possible because we have an estimated population of 200million people, so we have to be ready to cater for all of them.
“This is where a little investment can help. The results of such intensification of efforts can be seen, especially in Lagos where improved logistic management increased sample collection and significantly reduced turnaround time.
“As we further increase our testing capacity and accredit more laboratories, an even more robust sample transportation infrastructure will be in place, to promptly convey samples to any of the 13 labs activated so far.
“Nigeria’s strategy is to admit all persons who test positive for Covid-19 into designated accredited treatment facilities to contain the spread of the virus and ensure prompt management to forestall complications.”
Also, the Federal Government has said that it will not rule out homegrown vaccine towards the prevention and cure of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The Minster of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this while fielding questions from Journalists at the Presidential task force on Covid-19 daily press briefing against the backdrop of some countries coming up with locally manufactured vaccines for Covid-19.
Speaking on who was eligible to go a Covid-19 test, the minister said: “Nigerians living in an area that has clusters of people who have the disease are eligible to be tested for the virus.
“The structure of the response, is: Test, Treat, Trace and Isolate for Covid-19, the idea is to test people based on set criteria,” he said.
These, he said, are travel history, contacts or symptoms or clusters for the best prospects of high yield then; place those with positive test in treatment and isolation; trace all their contacts and quarantine them for 14 days.
“Today NCDC laboratories have capacity to test 1,500 samples per day in 13 laboratories across the country. However, we are testing on average of about 600 samples per day because that is all the samples collected and sent for testing.
“Factors implicated in the process may include surveillance, sample collection and mode of transportation, which can be improved to increase operational efficiency. This is where a little investment can help,” he said.
According to him, the results of such intensification of efforts can be seen especially in Lagos where improved logistic management increased sample collection and significantly reduced turn-around time.
Ehanire said that efforts were ongoing to further increase the testing capacity and accredit more laboratories.
“A robust sample transportation infrastructure in place, to promptly convey samples to any of the 13 laboratories activated so far.
“This mitigates the need for urgent establishment of a PCR laboratory, as well as the valuable time and personnel needed to prioritise case findings.
“The recommended global best practice is to admit all persons who test positive for Covid-19 into designated accredited treatment facilities to contain the spread of the virus and ensure prompt management of cases to avoid complications,” he said.
The minister said that some persons who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Nigeria, were not in any of the designated accredited isolation and treatment centres.
“This is a significant threat to public health and national security as the ministry cannot account for such persons and ascertain the containment of their infection.
“States are strongly encouraged to ensure that all persons who test positive for Covid-19 are admitted at the designated centres,” he noted.
He said that contact tracing was the key to containing the infection. As persons were confirmed positive for Covid-19, he said that the government must trace all contacts they had in the previous 14 days.
“This aims to arrest transmission by corralling positive cases and potential cases before further transmission occurs.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had finalised contact tracing guidelines with all states to actively aid case finding.
As of April, 23, 873 people in 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been confirmed to have Covid-19 from 9,522 tests.
The 91 additional confirmations are as follows: 74 in Lagos, five in Katsina, four in Ogun, two each in Delta and Edo, one each in Adamawa, Kwara, Oyo and FCT.
The NCDC said 197 persons have been successfully treated for Covid-19 and discharged home, while 28 deaths have sadly been recorded.
Meanwhile, as part of its plans to handover isolation centres it built for some states, the Private Sector-led Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) is to commence capacity development for Healthcare Personnel in the areas of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) to reduce community transmission.
The CACOVID said in Lagos that it would engage National Centre for Disease Control and other Resource Partners like CHAI, DRASA and others to define scope of work and training curriculum.
Speaking on behalf of Leaders of the coalition, Ms Zouera Youssoufou, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) disclosed that CACOVID would start implementing training for the healthcare personnel first across four states – Kano, Rivers, Enugu, and Borno and then extend to other states of the federation.
She stated that the coalition would tap into the expertise of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to organise a systematic training programme for all primary health workers to help reduce the rate of community transmission of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.
Youssoufou explained that the private sector group is to handover some isolation centres it has concluded building to the state governments and commence distribution of food stuffs to the vulnerable during the period of lockdown in Nigeria.
According to her, in order to curb community transmission and educate the medical personnel on proper handling of the Covid-19 cases, CACOVID would partner relevant agencies for capacity building and that in that regard the primary healthcare sector remained one of the top priorities of the coalition.
She said, “training of health workers is one of the most important things we need to do to help curb the spread of the virus within the community health care system. Giving them the tools, knowledge and understanding is critical to the fight against this pandemic.
“The training became necessary because the health workers need to know what to do when they encounter anyone with Coronavirus. Right now, we are working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to organise a systematic health care training programme for all primary health workers, such as nurses and doctors to properly train them on how to handle Covid-19 cases.”
She disclosed that CACOVID was also involved in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to help the Federal Government’s effort in curbing the spread of the scourge.
“Right now, our priority is to be as effective as we can in helping to curtail this Covid-19 threat. We are working on more comprehensive health intervention, which is around improving the quality of our Primary Health Care system in Nigeria. We have had a very big conversation with the Primary Health Care Development Agency and we want them to do as much as they can to make sure the heath care sector is able to attend to people’s needs”, she added.
According to her, CACOVID has also been in the forefront of galvanizing individual entrepreneurs and corporate bodies to contribute to the Coalition.
Youssoufou reiterated that plans have been concluded to provide food relief packages for all the states in the federation, covering 5% of the population, or 1.7 million households in Nigeria.
She described this gesture as a palliative by the private sector operators to cushion the effects Covid-19 on the vulnerable during nationwide lockdown.
The agreed food package by CACOVID contains 10kg rice, 5kg Garri, 1 carton Pasta (20 packs), 1 carton noodles (40 packs), 5kg sugar and 1 Kg salt.
She added that the isolation centres, which are being set up by CACOVID, would be well equipped with beddings, medical equipment, Personal Protective Equipment and other necessary tools needed for the treatment of Coronavirus.
In a related development, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has revealed that till date, 10,000 persons have been tested for Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, yesterday, in Abuja, urged people to stop playing the game of numbers by comparing Nigeria’s testing capacity with that of countries like South Africa, Ghana etc.
According to him, “We have a very good strategy around testing. Until recently, we had about 5,000 test but last week, we have moved from 5,000 to 10,000 tests. We are going to continue to scale up our testing rapidly. We have just got our first set of reagents for high throughput testing.
“We know that the numbers are always thrown around comparing us with South Africa and Ghana, but we are not playing the game of numbers here, these are people’s lives – human beings. Before we test anyone, we go through a risk assessment to make sure it is appropriate to test the person.”
Concerning the situation in Kano State, the NCDC boss said: “We need time. We have reports that there have been deaths. Our first line of action is to verify if it is true and what will be our next line of action if that is the case.
“We have a team that is working with the government of Kano state to verify the incident and make sure that what is going on is actually what is being reported. Then, we will carry out control measures and see if it is an infectious disease, Covid-19, or something else.
“Unlike Lagos that has a gradual increase in cases, the cases are really increasing rapidly in Kano state. Kano state situation is not a very simple thing to manage. We are working with them to increase the organisational efficiency of response. Also, the treatment centre in Kano State has a capacity of about 300.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address, added: “Every country has its own strategy to combat the Coronavirus. In Nigeria, we are not flattening the curve but we are pushing the curve to one side so that we have enough time to prepare our ‘not very strong’ health system.
“Also, in the beginning, we did not have enough re-agents, in fact, we carried-out our tests in South Africa. But two months down the line, we can carry out our own tests with the 13 existing NCDC laboratories across the country.
“Concerning the use of rapid test kits, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has not validated any of it. They believe that the results are not reliable but it probably gives you a direction. Therefore, there is not enough faith in rapid diagnostic test.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation have redeployed 17 persons to Kano State to support the fight against Coronavirus in the state.
The National Coordinator, PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said this during the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, additional lab equipment were sent to Kano, yesterday, though fumigation and disinfection of the Kano molecular laboratory continue “for the next few days.”
Aliyu said, “The PTF has directed and, in line with the directive, the NCDC has already redeployed at least 17 persons, including seven from the WHO, to Kano to deal with the current issues that have arisen.
“In addition, the director-general, NCDC has worked with the state emergency operating centre to reorganise the way it functions and a joint team, together with that from the state government, is currently investigating the concerns with regard to this.”
The PTF coordinator noted that some states continued to record a low level of testing.
“You will not have a case if you have never tested for it.
“We are encouraging the state emergency operating centres to actively look for cases in the community, especially those presenting symptoms consistent with Covid-19 or those who have unusual respiratory illnesses in hospitals and actively go out to test these people.
“This is the only way we can interrupt transmission. The earlier we do this, the better overall,” he said.
The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, said the task force continued to monitor and modify its strategy in states as development unfolds.
He said, “Our assessment of the impact of the lockdown is still ongoing and I wish to confirm to you that the DG NCDC and the WHO representative have returned from their tour of nine states and their report will be received and evaluated, preparatory to making the appropriate recommendations.
“The situation in Kano is still being assessed and monitored closely.
“Based on preliminary findings, the PTF has directed the NCDC to send an enhanced support team, mobilise resources for contact tracing and immediately ensure necessary steps are taken, in conjunction with the state government, to contain the spread of the pandemic in Kano and stop the city from becoming the next epicentre.”

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Fubara Vows To End Era Of Fiscal Recklessness In Rivers

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has vowed to ensure prudent management of the state’s resources during his administration.
Fubara made the pledge yesterday while declaring the commencement of construction of N80.3 billion 33.5-kilometre Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road dual carriageway and bridge project in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers.
He assured the people that his government was dedicated to serving their interests and emphasised that no distraction would deter it from serving that objective.
“So I assure you that every Kobo will be accounted for in Rivers State.
“We are people that are transparent; that are ready to serve in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda,” he said.
Fubara expressed displeasure at recent attacks on his supporters by hoodlums allegedly backed by outgoing Local Government Council chairmen in the State.
He warned that those who attack innocent citizens in the name of politics would not be forgiven and would pay for their crimes.
“It is unfortunate that after we inaugurated the Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road project on Tuesday and left, some people went there and attacked our people.
“There is no need for that. Nobody has a monopoly of violence.
“I should even be the one to come out and shout that I will do this and that, but I have not done so because both sides (people) belong to me.
“So, I am advising those people who call themselves local government chairmen and that have few days in office, to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner,” Fubara said.
The governor also highlighted the transient nature of political power and urged politicians to act with caution.
“Politics will come and go, but we will still live our lives. If you deliberately hurt anybody because of expressing your useless support, nobody will forgive you.
“I have been the target of abuse as the Governor who doesn’t know what to do with power, but have I said anything?
“So, I am begging everyone to conduct themselves properly because I do not want anything that will bring problem in this state,” he said.
Regarding the project, Fubara explained that the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road and bridge project would be financed from the state’s Internal Generated Revenue (IGR).
He said that 50 per cent of the project cost has already been paid and assured that it would be completed within 24 months.
The governor said the contractor, Craneburg Construction Company, had affirmed to completing the project within the specified timeframe outlined in the contract agreement.
“We are constructing this road out of our genuine commitment to serve the people, not because we have any economic interest here,” he said.
A former member, House of Representatives, Sen. John Mbata, who flagged off the road, praised the potential economic impact of the road when completed.
He applauded Fubara’s peaceful approach and leadership style of inclusiveness and consultation with all stakeholders in the state.
“We have moved away from the time when the governor of the state is seen as a god and demanded worship.
“We are now having a governor that has become a symbol and a rallying point for the people,” he said.

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We Inherited Huge Debt -Fubara …As Gov Otti Inaugurates Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road Project

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has revealed that a huge debt burden was left behind for his administration to settle with several contractors who handled different projects for the immediate past administration.
Governor Fubara made the revelation at Ebubu community, venue of the inauguration of the reconstructed 10.89KM Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road in Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State yesterday.
The Governor emphasised how baffling the debt owed the contractors amounted to, given the public impression created of a clean balance sheet maintained with contractors.
He said, “This is to let the world know that if there is one problem this administration has, it is the huge debt burden. Most of the projects that are being commissioned, the contractors are coming for their balance-payment and it is running into billions.
”I have said that I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk because I was part of that system. But, when you keep pushing me to talk, I will say it so that the people will know the true situation of things and be properly informed.”
Governor Fubara expressed delight over the commencement of the celebration of his One Year in Office Anniversary with the inauguration of a road project in Eleme where he lived when he started off with his working life.
The Governor stated that the road was awarded on August 14, 2023, to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) at the cost of N6.7billion.
He said that completed project now serves as a proof that his administration is still focused on delivering development to the people despite the many troubles thrown at it.
”I am happy to be here and to join the good people of Rivers State to start this wonderful celebration of our first anniversary in the face of all the troubles. It shows that we are still focused, not minding the level of distractions.
”This road was awarded to CCECC as a contractor. It was awarded on the 14th of August, 2023. I believe that 14th of August was within my tenure. I am not saying ‘I’, but it was this administration that awarded it.
”This project was awarded at the cost of N6.7billion, and I can say boldly that no kobo is remaining. We’ve paid the contractor its complete sum. Our gathering here is to tell our people that their problem is our problem.”
Emphasising the significance of the road, Governor Fubara said it is a bypass to be used by motorists to avoid the deplorable sections of the East-West Road now under reconstruction, and by extension, a support to the Federal Government’s efforts to give hope to Nigerians and make life better for the people.
Governor Fubara said: “What we are doing today, is it not help to the Federal Government? Is it not a show that this Government has the interest of the people at heart and it is supporting and doing everything to make the Federal Government succeed?
”So, when people come out and say some funny things, I laugh. Why are we doing this? When this administration came on board, Mr President christened his mantra ‘Renewed Hope’ to give Nigerians hope.
”What we are doing today in this State is giving our people that hope to complement what Mr President is doing at the national level.
”It is not about social media. We are talking about action. Genuine actions that make positive impact in the lives of our people,” he said.
Governor Fubara explained the rationale behind the invitation extended to Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, to inaugurate the project, saying he is not an artificial integrity man but a pragmatic man.
Sir Fubara stated: “I invited him because he is not an artificial integrity man. He is an action integrity man. He is not like the one who would gather to talk because they just want to talk.
”He is a man who came into office, in the face of difficulties and challenges, just like we are here, but he is making impact in the lives of Abians.
”So, I will continue to identify with good governance. I will continue to identify with people who want to make impact in the lives of the people. Our Government, as we promised you on day one: the people first.”
Governor Fubara alluded to an unnamed person who insinuated that on assumption of office, he started a fight against the Federal Government, and wondered the veracity of such allegation.
”We are talking about Federal Government that is giving us support, and we appreciate their support. But there is a rat in the house that is eating the bags of garri. So, you can imagine such situation.”
Explaining further, the Governor noted that somebody in the house was stoking crisis to distract both the State and Federal Government from delivering their promises to give the people hope and leave lasting legacies impactful policies and programmes for posterity, and promised the people that the black legs in the family will soon be exposed for what they are.
Governor Fubara thanked the good people of Eleme for their support during the period of the execution of the project, as according to him, the contractor never complained of any challenges from the communities, adding that rather the people gave all the cooperation required.
The Governor noted that with what has been experienced, his administration is now encouraged to come back and undertake more projects as he believed that they will be protected.
Performing the inauguration of the project, the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, congratulated Governor Fubara for what he has done in remembering to execute a road project in Eleme community where he had once lived.
Governor Otti said, “I have always said it that leadership is about service. Anytime leadership departs from service, then, you are getting it wrong. Service should be service to the people, not service to self or very few interests. Anytime you are serving few people rather than the majority, you need to go and look at yourself again.
”So, for me, it’s all about good governance. Clearly, Governor Fubara came prepared, and I don’t believe that any distraction is enough to take his focus away from improving the welfare and interest of the people.
”So, I can assure you, Rivers people, that the dividends of democracy that you are seeing now is still a dress rehearsal. It is early in the morning, and I am sure that in no distance future, you will be seeing more.”
Governor Otti charged Eleme and the good people of Rivers State to continue to support the Governor of the State to do even more to make life easy for the majority.
He embossed that no matter how the dice is flipped: “Power belongs to God, no human can arrogate to himself the capacity to give power, except you have the capacity to give life. Of course, you can take life, but you cannot give it.”
In his project description, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Engr. Atemia Briggs, said the project was awarded on 14th August, 2023 to CCECC.
Engr Briggs explained that the road is 10.89 KM long, has a width of 10.5 meters, with a drain length of 10.1 KM, adding that it will, in the overall, serve human and economic needs of the people.
In his remark, the Executive Director, South-South Region of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Engr. Eric Shen, expressed gratitude for the confidence reposed in the company to handle the project, which has been completed with support from the Government, and cooperation from the host communities.
He said they were committed to delivering quality road that will serve the people for a long time, which was why they contended with the challenges of heavy vehicular traffic, daily business activities by traders on the road, and the rains to ensure timely delivery of the project within eight months.
In his welcome remark, the former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Hon Orji Ngofa, acknowledged that the project, popularly known as the Old Bori Road, had collapsed as a result of the heavy vehicular traffic taken off the East-West Road that became deplorable, and is now being reconstructed.
Ngofa thanked Governor Fubara for reconstructing the entire stretch of the road, which now better improves the wellbeing of the people while also serving the transportation and economic needs of all users of the road.
While presenting the traditional kolanuts to the visitors, the Oneh-Eh Eleme, Chief Philip Osaro Obele, had conferred on Governor Fubara, the traditional title of Emere Ajuri Oneh of Eleme (meaning King of Peace of Eleme Kingdom).

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2026 World Cup, My Immediate Task -Finidi

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Head coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George, has said that his immediate task and priority is to qualify the nation for the 2026 World Cup slated for Canada, Mexico and U.S.
The Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on April 19, appointed George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.
George stated this at his unveiling as the new head coach of the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), at the Moshood Abiola National stadium on Monday in Abuja.
The former Ajax Amsterdam winger, who was assistant to former Super Eagles gaffer, Jose Peseiro, was jointly unveiled by the NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau and Sports Minister, Sen. John Owan Enoh.
“For me, my first target is to make sure we are in line to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, the AFCON qualifiers will also be coming up soon.
“But the major target for me is the two games we have, we will do everything to win against South Africa and Benin Republic.
“Once we do that we will have set the tone and we will take it from there,” he said.
The coach warned that going forward; players will be invited to the Super Eagles based on regular playing time in their clubs and commitment to the national team.
He dismissed insinuations about having rift with some players in the Super Eagles, stressing that his relationship with the players was ‘perfect’ and professional.
“My relationship with the players is very perfect. I will try to improve on my relationship as this will be different. You will not hear any controversy on my relationship,” he said.
Earlier, NFF President Ibrahim Gusau said the coach will be given all the support he needs to succeed in the task ahead.
“We have given our coach the opportunity to choose his assistants. We will not impose anybody on him.
“We are going to engage the assistants on game basis but will pay the head coach monthly salary. We want to avoid salary issues,” he said .
The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan Enoh stressed the importance of having and supporting indigenous coaches to succeed.
“We have an opportunity to have a local coach to lead the Super Eagles. Back then in my University days, I would go to UJ Eseune stadium to watch Calabar Rovers and see Finidi George play.
“I am honoured to be here to witness his unveiling, if you love Nigerian football, you must love and support Finidi George. His success will bring joy to Nigerians.
“Any country I find an indigenous coach sitting on the bench, I always feel very proud and I am glad that we have an opportunity that has a Nigerian coach, Finidi George, as football men national team coach, “ he said.
The details of the contract was not revealed.
The coach has picked ex-international, Daniel Amokachi as assistant coach, Olatunji Baruwa as goalkeeper trainer, Mehmet Ozturk, match analyst, Benjamin James and Chima Onyeike, fitness trainers.
The immediate task of the coach is to get the Super Eagles back on track in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers where Nigeria currently sit third in Group C, with two points from two matches.
Nigeria drew with Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the first two matches in the qualifying series in November.
The Super Eagles will face South Africa and Benin Republic in June, in what has been described as a make or mar clash.

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