President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to ensure effective utilisation of Global Fund’s provision of $890million over the next three years, to support Nigeria’s fight against HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, titled, “$890 million health grant to Nigeria: President Buhari demands periodic performance reports from ministry.”
According to the statement, the president spoke at the virtual launch of the grant for the period of 2021-2023, which will also support the establishment of resilient and sustainable systems for health in the country.
The statement quoted Buhari as saying that, ”Let me also emphasise here that this administration has zero-tolerance for corruption and inefficient use of resources.
”In this regard, I hereby direct the Minister of Health ( Dr Osagie Ehanire) to set up an accountability framework, to monitor the use of this fund and provide periodic performance reports to my office.”
The president was also said to have assured donor agencies and development partners of judicious use of the grant.
He said the funding would complement investments in the health sector, help curb new infections, and reduce HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria-related morbidity and mortality.
”It is my wish that in the next three years, these three diseases are taken much further down the path of elimination,” he added.
The president also applauded the Global Fund for their contribution of $51million during the early stages of Nigeria’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to procure Personal Protective Equipment, test kits and scale-up diagnostic capacity.
”I acknowledge the support of Development Partners, namely; the United States Government, the United Nations system, bilateral agencies and various local and international foundations.
”I am pleased to say that, on our part, we are on track to fulfilling our co-financing commitments to the Global Fund for this new funding cycle and meeting our other commitments as and when due,” he said.
Commending the work of Nigeria’s Country Coordinating Mechanism, under the leadership of the minister of health, Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
He pledged that his regime would continue to work with fellow heads of state and governments across the continent to ensure sustained high-level political engagement to achieve the SDG goals.
The president recounted that the strong partnership between the government and people of Nigeria and Global Fund, dating back to 2002, had contributed immensely to saving lives, especially of women and children.
According to him over the last two decades, joint efforts with the Global Fund, the United States Government, the United Nations and other development partners, had succeeded in bringing about significant reduction in new infections, morbidity and mortality from HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
He attributed the improvements to the effective alignment of our various national investments, using the most recent evidence to inform policies, strategies and plans.
”The thrust of our government in the health sector is to ensure that investments get a health systems strengthening focus, as the most efficient way to utilize available resources and position Nigeria on the path to sustainability of health programmes.
”The minister of health is pursuing this trajectory,” he said.
On Nigeria’s contribution to the fund, the president announced that he approved $12million to the last Global Fund Replenishment held in Lyon, France, representing a 20 per cent increase on the country’s immediate previous contribution.
”Our administration is committed to increasing domestic financing and exploring other innovative ways of increasing financing for health, to ensure Universal Health Coverage,” Buhari said.
The statement also quoted Ehanire as, speaking in his capacity as the chair of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund programmes in Nigeria, saying Nigeria recently signed eight grants amounting to $890million to support HIV, TB and Malaria programmes and build resilient and sustainable systems for health.
Giving an overview of the grant, he said two of them are for HIV management, amounting to $310million, and will be administered by two principal recipients namely the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and Family Health International.
According to the minister, $180million of the $310million was earmarked for procurement of antiretroviral medicines, which will maintain 1.4million Nigerians living with HIV on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.
He explained that three of the grants, amounting to $153million are for TB, to be administered by three principal recipients including the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, the Institute for Human Virology in Nigeria and the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
He added that two of the grants for malaria elimination, amounting to $439million will be administered by two principal recipients – the National Malaria Elimination Programme and the Catholic Relief Services while the eighth and final grant worth $35million for Resilient System for Sustainable Health has NACA as principal recipient.
In her goodwill message, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S Embassy in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, was said to have described Nigeria’s recent contribution to the Global Fund as an important commitment to end all the three diseases and to ensure a healthy and prosperous country.
”We hope the achievements made in Nigeria in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria, with support from the Global Fund, will inspire and motivate health workers and other partners alike,” the representative of the U.S. Government, which is the largest single donor to the Global Fund, said.
Speaking virtually from Geneva, the Executive Director, Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Peter Sands, while commending the partnership with Nigeria, said in addition to the $890million grant, the Global Fund has disbursed $2.6billion to support HIV, TB and Malaria and strengthening of RSSH, since 2003.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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