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US Donates 2.5m More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Nigeria

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The United States Embassy proudly welcomed the arrival of 2.5million Pfizer vaccine doses in Abuja, this week.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency received the vaccines, ensuring they were taken to cold storage to prepare for distribution to over 3,000 health facilities across all 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
A statement by the US Embassy in Nigerian made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said that “Over the next several weeks, the vaccines would be available at major markets, shopping malls, event centres, motor parks, airports, places of employment, and religious institutions as part of Nigeria’s mass vaccination campaign.
“To date, the United States has donated more than 13.5million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with COVAX, or bilaterally to Nigeria.
“Additionally, the United States has provided more than $119million in COVID-19 related health assistance.
“This includes a 40-bed mobile field hospital, ventilators and related training for 88 hospitals, personal protective equipment, technical assistance for vaccine readiness, risk communication and demand generation for vaccines, conducting an epidemiological COVID-19 detection and vaccine hesitancy survey, setting up electronic record systems, rapid response teams, training for over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures, and technology for virtual training”.
According to the statement, “In addition, the United States leveraged the PEPFAR-supported National Integrated Specimen Referral Network (NiSRN) and laboratory investments to support expansion of the NCDC (153) molecular laboratory network nationwide”.
As U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken noted earlier this month, “The COVID-19 pandemic won’t end for any country until it ends for all countries. Otherwise, the virus will keep replicating around the world, people will keep getting sick and dying, and we won’t be able to safely reopen our economies or travel around the world for business and tourism the way we used to. That’s why the United States is committed to helping end the pandemic in Nigeria and everywhere,” the statement added.
“The United States is committed to donating more than one billion vaccine doses around the world, by early 2022.
“This includes in African countries primarily through the COVAX initiative. Improving equitable distribution remains a priority for the United States to prevent the emergence of new variants that threaten populations everywhere,” the embassy said..
Meanwhile, the United StatesCentres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has marked the 20th anniversary of its establishment in Nigeria.
A statement by the US Embassy in Nigeria said that the Nigeria country office was established in November, 2001, to support the government of Nigeria to improve disease surveillance systems, build institutional competencies, and expand human resources for health capacities.
At the 20th anniversary event, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Kathleen FitzGibbon, joined CDC to celebrate the impact of CDC’s support to Nigeria’s health sector.
She stated, “CDC’s work of saving lives is the most critical mission of the U.S. Government in its support to Nigeria.”
In addition, she described the CDC mission and staff as clear evidence of the importance of health diplomacy in bilateral and multilateral relations.
The CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, also thanked the Nigeria team for their dedication and commitment to saving lives, improving the well-being of people in Nigeria, and charting a strong public health course for the future to build a healthier and safer Nigeria, the continent of Africa, and the world.
She added that despite the challenges of the last several years, the over 100-member team in Nigeria has shown great resolve and accomplished remarkable successes in collaboration with the government and partners.
In her remarks, the Country Director, Dr. Mary Adetinuke Boyd, paid glowing tribute to past leadership and recognized the staff and partners as the most critical asset for the agency.
She said the combined efforts of the government, CDC staff, and partners had made Nigeria one of CDC’s most prominent country offices that supports HIV and TB epidemic control, expands global health security, assists with malaria elimination, and reinforces vaccine-preventable diseases.
Boyd said, “since 2001, the collective work of the team has supported Nigeria to put over one million people living with HIV on life-saving treatment. In addition, it supported the government to eliminate wild poliovirus, advance towards malaria elimination and establish a robust public health institute that detects, prevents, and responds to disease outbreaks.”
CDC Nigeria is the country office of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), established in 2001, with a vision of public health excellence for healthy Nigerians.
The office is part of the U.S. Government Mission in Nigeria that supports the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), its department, agencies, states ministries of health, and several key partners in developing, implementing, and evaluating disease response efforts and programs contributing to Nigeria’s more robust public health infrastructure.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others

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The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”

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FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe

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The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

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Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m

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Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.

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