UK Pledges £105m To Assist Nigeria, Others Tackle Omicron
The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged the sum of £105million to help tackle Omicron in Nigeria and other African countries.
The British High Commission, Abuja, said in a statement that the £105million of emergency aid will help countries most in need to tackle Omicron and other COVID-19 variants, with a particular focus on Africa.
The British High Commission also said funding will help millions of people by supporting measures to reduce transmission, scale-up testing, and boost oxygen supplies.
It added that the UK has now fulfilled its pledge to donate 30million Coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of 2021, marking the one-year anniversary of the UK becoming the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has pledged up to £105million of UK emergency aid to help vulnerable countries tackle the Omicron COVID-19 variant, with a particular focus on Africa. The vital aid will be delivered through trusted partners, such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and will:
“Scale-up testing – especially in parts of Africa where testing rates for COVID-19 remain lowest – allowing health systems to track and respond to the spread of the virus more effectively. This is in addition to the UK’s world-leading genomic sequencing support.
“Improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators – a surge in demand for oxygen is a significant risk for some countries.
“Provide communities with hygiene advice, products and access to handwashing facilities and support deep cleaning in schools, health centres and other public places. This will build on the successful global hygiene campaign between UK aid and Unilever which has reached over 1.2billion people since its launch in 2020.
“Fund the UK’s ground-breaking science and research into the spread of variants like Omicron to enable innovative evidence-based policy responses in low and middle-income countries.
“Ready the UK’s own expert emergency teams for deployment overseas to crisis hotspots, including with new medical equipment,” the British High Commission said.
The British High Commission further said the Government of the United Kingdom has also confirmed that over 30million vaccines have been delivered so far as part of the UK’s pledge to donate 100million doses to the world, benefitting more than 30 countries, including Nigeria.
“Doses donated by the UK have reached four continents and provided vital protection from COVID-19 in countries including Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda. Of the more than 30million doses now donated so far, 24.6million have been received by COVAX for delivery to countries and 5.5million have been shared directly with countries in need. The UK has so far donated to Nigeria over 1.2m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX in 2021. Millions more vaccines will be sent to Nigeria and other countries in 2022, including 20million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses and 20million Janssen doses.
“The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19. Today’s announcement builds on the £1.3billion in UK aid committed to the international health response early on in the pandemic, supporting vaccines, health systems and economic recovery in developing countries. The UK Government has also invested more than £88million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the UK became the first country in the world to approve the jab a year ago today.
“In Nigeria, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) supported the improved capability and capacity of the NCDC for COVID genomic sequencing, which has now conducted more than 2000 tests compared to about 400 tests six months ago. The UKHSA is also building the diagnostic capacity in Nigeria for common childhood diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough) and other diseases of public health significance. The UKHSA is also supporting the development of national and subnational health security plans, including building the technical and leadership capacity within the NCDC. The UKAid funded Lafiya programme has also supported the procurement of £2million worth of PPE kits, protecting more than 5,000 health workers in the five Northern States: Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa.
“Thanks to AstraZeneca’s commitment distribute the vaccine on a non-profit basis, 2.5billion doses have been used in more than 170 countries, two thirds of which are low- and middle-income countries,” the British High Commission added.
Following the pledge, Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss said: “The UK is providing vital assistance to help tackle the spread of new variants around the world. This is key to securing our freedom and ending this pandemic once and for all.
“I am proud that we have also delivered over 30 million vaccines to benefit our friends around the world this year. The UK is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Also speaking, Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said: “The global pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and the best way to overcome this awful disease is to unite and stand side by side with our international partners.
“By supporting countries with the UK’s ground breaking science and research into the spread of variants, improving access to oxygen and scaling up testing we will help those most in need chart their course out of the pandemic. I am proud that we have already delivered over 30 million vaccines to our friends abroad. The UK, as a global leader, is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr Seth Berkley, said: “We welcome the UK’s commitment in new funding to protect the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa; the UK’s continued focus on COVAX and equitable global access to COVID19 vaccines, both through early financing commitments made at UNGA 2020, as well as meeting the Prime Minister’s G7 commitment to dose sharing – the 30million target set by the end of 2021.
“We look forward to operationalising the remainder of the UK’s dose sharing commitment via COVAX in 2022, while we also work with the UK Government on continuing to support Gavi’s ambitious 2021-2025 routine vaccination programmes, of which the United Kingdom is the largest funder through the PM’s commitment made at the UK-hosted Global Vaccine Summit in June 2020.”
Fuel Subsidy Era Over – Tinubu
Newly sworn-in President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has declared that the era of subsidy payment on fuel in Nigeria has ended.
This, he disclosed, is because the 2023 Budget made no provision for fuel subsidy and more so, subsidy payment is no longer justifiable.
“The fuel subsidy is gone”, Tinubu declared in his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square on Monday after he was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th President.
Tinubu said his government shall instead channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy, adding that a “unified exchange rate” is guaranteed under his administration.
He promised to remodel the economy to bring about growth and develop the Gross Domestic Product through job creation, saying that “the interest is currently too high and will be reviewed”.
The new President also assured investors that multiple taxation will be reviewed to attract investments, even as he promised one million jobs in the digital economy.
Tinubu, who also vowed to rid Nigeria of terrorism and criminality, said, “Security shall be top of our administration”, adding that he will “reform security architecture, invest more in security personnel, better training and provide better equipment for security personnel”.
The President said he “will end extreme poverty, make food more abundant, ensure inclusion for women and youths, and discourage corruption”.
Customs Holds Training For Maritime Journalists
The Nigeria Customs Service in conjunction with National Inland Waterways recently organised a two- day training workshop for members of the Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) at the famous Administrative staff college of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, Lagos.
Comptroller General of customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) in his key note address said from inception, one of the major cardinal programmes of the service has been effective and efficient mobilisation and sensitisation of members of the public in understanding the important statutory obligations vested on the service.
In order to achieve these objectives, he said, “it became imperative that we partner with our friends from the media to embark on educative and enlightenment programs.
“Having gone this far on our own, we are here today, under the able hands of the ‘owners of the profession’, to enrich, update and sharpen their skills in this direction for greater achievement of our collective objective”.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Mr. Paul Ogbuokiri, emphasized the importance of the training programme, urging participants to avail themselves of the opportunity, which will translate into improved performance in their reportage.
On his part, the Managing Director, National Inland waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Moghalu, spoke on its new autonomy status and how it affects its national mandate.
Moghalu, who was represented by the Manager, Legal Services, Barr. Nasiru Biyankari, affirmed that NIWA offers a very critical role in the nation’s maritime industry through the execution of development in inland waterways of Nigeria and its regulations nationwide.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Force Team (PSTT), Mr. Moses Fadipe, tasked AMJON members on accurate and objective reportage on PSTT’s operations to ensure that the public is well informed about the efforts of the team in tackling corruption at the ports.
“AMJON members are expected to adhere to ethical journalism standards and avoid sensationalism or biased reporting ,clear and informed reportage by Amjon members can contribute to building public trust in the PSTT and its efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in Port operations”.
The retreat had various renowned academicians as resource persons.
At the end of the two days training, with the theme, “Enhancing capacity/Efficiency in Modern News Reportage”, the participants were equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform their responsibilities as core maritime media practitioners.
Maritime: Stakeholders Set Agenda For Tinubu, Transport Minister
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have started coming up with measures for the newly sworn-in Federal Government under the leadership of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to revamp the maritime sector of the country.
The stakeholders are unanimous in saying that Nigeria as a maritime nation requires the services of a core professional, who will be courageous enough to implement some programmes that will practically empower indigenous operators in the shipping industry, while encouraging the entrance of new investors.
They said such measures include growing indeginious capacity through the full implementation of cabotage law, facilitating tonnage volume, and positioning of the maritime sector as a major contributor to federal revenue and national development.
According to the stakeholders, it is unfortunate that the maritime sector for years under different leadership derailed from its primary objectives, which is “to promote the development of indeginious commercial shipping in international and coastal trade”.
In his opinion, a maritime analyst and member of the Joint Ministerial Committee on International Maritime Organization (IMO)/Maritime Organization of West & Central Africa (MOWCA), Mallam Ismail Aniemu, said “there is the urgent need to unite the country because people have been more divided along ethnic, religious and lingual lines. This lack of unity fuels insecurity.
“Many parts of the country are unsafe, thereby creating the impression of ungoverned spaces. It’s time to improve on the security situation by not treating perpetrators of killings and other unlawful behavior as sacred cows. The laws of the land should be made to reign supreme on everybody”.
According to him, “Nigeria is overdue for a deliberate and sustained action towards economic diversification to achieve balance of trade, manufacture more for export, and creating job opportunities instead of distributing cash as handouts to the poor and vulnerable”.
On his part, the former President, National Association of Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nwike, said, “I will advise the President and the incoming Minister of Transportation to appreciate and embrace the global doctrine, which defined ‘Trade’ as ‘an instrument of global peace’, hence, the need to evolve and support a holistic policy aimed at promoting trade facilitation”.
Nwike said the President must deliberately adopt the relevant tools required for its actualisation, while giving priority to removal of all forms of “Red Tapes and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), including the undue prohibition of trade and closure of the border entry points.
“To this end, the immediate reversal of policy of categorised and uploaded certain regular trade items as non-beneficial to conventional foreign exchange assessment from the commercial banks excerpt for the parallel market (black markets).
“Secondly, undertake a drastic action against the foreign exchange market administration”.
Thirdly, siad, there’s the need “to give the maritime industry a priority, especially with the consideration to massive job creation, for which the industry has the capacity to remove our teeming youths off the unemployment market.
“And, for the incoming Transportation mitnister to pursue purposeful stakeholders engagements and embrace engagement by merits”.
A Maritime journalist, Odjegba Eguono, said the President “should appoint someone with productive and leadership capacity.
“Someone who should be an industry technocrat, and, if not, a fast learner with passion to grow the maritime and transport sector like the immediate past Minister, Jaji Sambo.
“The President and his Transportation Minister should prioritize urgent repairs and expansion of ports access roads, review terminal operators licenses, and decongest lagos ports”.
He stated that the new government should scrap the CRFFN, saying that the agency has proved unproductive and meaningless, being used as a drainpipe, contributing nothing to the system .
“The Minister should also scrap the NSDP by NIMADA and invest in MAN and NITT with the required wherewithal to carry out manpower development training.
“Finally, the incoming government should probe the NIMASA floating Dockyard and either dispose of it, or deploy it under an executive order”, Eguono said.
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