Relatives and friends of the abducted passengers of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna AK-9 train have vowed to take over streets and occupy key government facilities in Abuja and Kaduna in protest to demand the rescue of their loved ones still in the kidnappers’ den for 94 days and counting.
They said the protest would start, on Tuesday to coincide with the 100 days when the bandits attacked and subsequently took away 63 of their loved ones.
The bandits released 11 out of the 63 victims of the abducted train passengers on Saturday, June 11, after almost three months in captivity, with 50 hostages still yet to be released.
Of the 50 remaining hostages, one of the victims, Mohammed Al’Amin, was shot on Monday by the bandits, eliciting public outcry for the Federal Government to hasten negotiations for the release of hostages.
While addressing journalists in Kaduna, yesterday, the families said they were worried that their loved ones are still languishing in the forest, considering reports of snake bites and the gunshot injury the captives had suffered.
Speaking on behalf of the families, Dr Abdulaziz Atta, whose 85-year-old mother and elder sister were among the victims, said members of victims’ families would be staging a sit-down and occupy protest at public facilities until their loved ones are rescued.
“We read from the media report that one of our loved ones, Al-Amin was shot and that it was an accidental discharge by one of the non-state actors guarding our loved ones. But the key question now is: what is the state of health of the person that has gunshot wounds?
“There are no antibiotics and nobody to remove the bullets from his body. Just imagine the current situation he will be in the bush. He needs urgent support. If he is not brought out of the bush, we may lose him.
“To be fair, we are seeing some of the outcomes of the government’s efforts. We have seen 11 of our loved ones that have been released. And from the press statement that was released by Garba Shehu (the President’s spokesman), on behalf of the President, he made it clear that their children were released to them for us to have our loved ones.
“We heard it from the highest authority. We know that the government is working on it. They are working on it but what we are demanding is that they should hasten their release. Every single moment they spend in the bush is dangerous.
“The agents of government that are involved in this negotiation need to do more. What we want simply is that; we want our loved ones out. We have kids as you have heard earlier on as young as three years old, and from the feedback we had, these kids are unattended to. We have injured women, we have aged women and men; those people should be brought out
“By next week Tuesday, which is going to be 100 days that they have been in captive, we are planning to do a physical protest. We will be sitting in key government facilities. We planned to sit there till our loved ones are out. So, we are changing our strategies. We will change our strategy from the media press conference. The media have been excellent to us but now we are going to move out physically for people to see us on the streets.”
Another female family member, Hajiya Fatima Ciroma, described the 94 days the hostages had spent so far as horrifying.
“The emotional, psychological, mental, and physical torture arising from these conditions can only be imagined,” she added.
She also urged the Federal Government to prioritise the security of the lives and property of Nigerians.
FG Adopts Innovative Approach To Fund Climate Change Mitigation
The Federal Government has adopted innovative approach, including carbon tax, to fund the mitigation of the impact of climate change in the country.
The Director-General, National Council on Climate Change, Dr SalisuDahiru, disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos.
Dahiru spoke on the sidelines of a technical workshop on Agro Climate Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, yesterday.
Dahiru said that President MuhammaduBuhari, in creating the council, adopted an innovative approach because the council was going to be the main vehicle that would drive his climate change policy and agenda.
“So, he decided to adopt an innovative approach that will provide sufficient funding and in a timely manner.
“This is to ensure that the council is able to operate, function and discharge responsibilities with little hindrance.
“So, two things are associated with the funding; the major funding source will be the budget.
“But within the Act establishing the council, there is going to be the introduction of Carbon Tax,” Dahiru said.
The DG said that carbon tax was done all over the world because of the grave existential threat of climate change.
“If we do not deal with climate change, climate change will deal with all of us.
“So, this carbon tax will have to come in because that’s the only way that we can clean up our environment and refresh the air,” Dahiru said.
He said that there would be the establishment of a climate change fund, where the government, the private sector and development partners would make contributions.
Dahiru said that another way the council hoped to raise fund was through the establishment of a Redd Plus registry.
“We can demonstrate through the Redd Plus programme, which is called reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“If we show that we are no longer cutting down the forests, that we are conserving the forest, then, we will be eligible to be paid carbon credits.
“This is calculated based on how much emissions we have prevented from going to the atmosphere as a result of conserving the forest that will also be fed into the funding of the activities of the council.
“And then we will also have this support from the International Organisation for Climate Change.
He said “we are able to do clean projects; projects that will add to our ability to fulfill our obligations under the nationally determined contributions to climate change mitigation in the world”.
“Then development partners under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will provide additional support to the country,” Dahiru said.
Nigeria Losses 400,000 Barrels Daily To Oil Theft, FG Laments
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has affirmed that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude daily via oil theft.
Sylva stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the Government House, Owerri.
He described the development as a “national emergency”.
Sylva regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8million barrels to 1.4million barrels, due to crude theft.
The minister warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy if not given the seriousness it deserved.
He expressed concern that the menace had persisted, in spite of the efforts by the federal and state governments to arrest it.
Sylva said the problem of crude theft could not be handled in Abuja alone.
“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo.
“This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.
“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities.
“And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take the advantage and opportunities that abound in the gas production.
“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.
The minister, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to collaborate to solve the problem.
We’ve Disbursed N100bn To Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Buhari Boasts
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government has disbursed a total of N100billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base and boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
Buhari said this, yesterday, while receiving the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The president said the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.
He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was currently exploring models for revitalising the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.
On brain drain in the health sector, the president said he has directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the Diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He urged the NMA and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
The president also commended the association, which is the umbrella body of all medical practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.
“I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora.
“Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.
“I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.
“I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari further congratulated former NMA President, Dr.Osahon Enabulele, on his emergence as the president-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
While wishing him a successful tenure, the president expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.üÿ
He also wished the new executive members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.
The Minister of Health, Dr OsagieEhanire, who led the medical practitioners to the meeting, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.
In his remarks, the NMA President, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on May 21, 2022.
Ojinmah commended Buhari for his “steadfast war against corruption, assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will improve the health indices of our nation, the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President YemiOsinbajo, and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.”
He, however, enjoined the president to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act, provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support”, as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.
Others include implementation of the hazard allowance circularised in December 2021 with the arrears as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.
The NMA president also requested a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year.
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