President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the auctioning of the 5G spectrum, which generated $547million.
The president attributed the feat to the digital economy, which had driven growth, created employment and generated revenue for the country,
The president said this at the National Shared Services Centre, a one-stop-shop for Ministries, Departments and Agencies to (MDAs) interface with citizens, which also houses a Cyber Security Operations Centre, Network Centre and Call Centre in Abuja, yesterday.
According to the president, the National Shared Services Centre will provide services that are “swift, secure and seamless’’.
Buhari noted that the Information, Communication and Technology Sector (ICT) had accelerated diversification of the economy.
He said the Q2 Gross Domestic Product Report by the National Bureau of Statistics showed the extent of growth, with the ICT contributing an unprecedented 18.44per cent to the GDP, close to three times the 6.33per cent contribution of the oil sector in the same quarter.
“As part of our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure; we increased our 4G base stations from 13,823 to 36,751 from August 2019 to date, and this has increased the percentage of 4G coverage across the country from 23per cent to 77.52per cent also from August 2019 to date.
“We have also followed this up with roll-out of 5G services.
“It is noteworthy that the digital economy sector has excelled in generating revenue for the government.
“In particular, at the Ministerial Retreat that I chaired from the October 18 to October 19, 2022, our independent analysts adjudged the digital economy sector to have generated 594per cent of its revenue target from the 2019 baseline.
“This is very commendable. As part of these unprecedented achievements, the sector generated over $547million from the auctioning of the 5G spectrum alone,’’ he said.
Buhari said he was pleased to unveil and commission a number of initiatives that further express the government’s commitment to develop a sustainable digital economy in Nigeria.
“These initiatives are part of our administration’s efforts to position the digital economy as a key enabler for the diversification of our economy and as a catalyst for the transformation of every sector of our economy.
“You will recall that I unveiled and launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria on the 28th of November, 2019 and I am very proud of the giant strides and the unprecedented progress that we have made in in less than one year since the unveiling.
“To ensure that the digital economy sector remains successful and in order to reduce the burden on citizens, I recently approved the suspension of the proposed excise duty in the telecoms sector, as any initiative that will lead to hardship for the citizens would not be pursued,’’ the president said.
Buhari said the digital economy ensured continuity in governance during the restrictions that came into force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We approved the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions on the October 14, 2020 and this enabled us to formalise government online meetings.
“As such statutory meetings like the Federal Executive Council meetings, Council of State meetings and other meetings can now take place online, effectively and legally.
“Our administration’s commitment to promoting data promotion and privacy is receiving praise across the world and we have increased our digital identity enrolments from 39million in October 2020 to about 92million today.
“The massive increase of about 63million in about two years is a global success story and has led to several requests for partnership from countries within and outside Africa.
“I also approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau on the February 14, to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices,” the president told the gathering of ICT experts and government officials.
He said a number of policies and programmes to enhance the productivity of the digital economy sector had been developed.
According to him, the National Policy on NIN-SIM integration has enhanced the integrity of the National Identification Number database.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Postal Service has been repositioned through the unbundling of its services to increase its efficiency and make it more viable as a revenue generating agency of government.
“The two subsidiaries are the Property & Development Company and the Transport & Logistics Company.
“As part of the NDEPS, I approved the October 24 as the Digital Nigeria Day. I am delighted that the maiden Digital Nigeria International Conference and Exhibitions commenced on the 24th of October 2022.
“I am confident that the outcome of the conference as noted in the communiqué will support the growth of the digital economy sector.
“I signed the Nigeria Start-up Bill into law on the October 19, 2022,” he said.
According to him, the Nigeria Start-up Act is a landmark legislation of this administration to transform the pool of highly talented youth in the country into a pool of highly innovative digital entrepreneurs.
“We aim to make Nigeria a global hub for digital talent. It was an executive bill that was initiated by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,” he added.
Buhari also noted partnerships with leading global ICT companies to train Nigerians in cutting edge and high demand digital skills.
“This includes the training of five million Nigerians as part of a partnership with Microsoft Corporation.
“It also includes the training of an additional one million Nigerians in skills in areas such as block chain technologies, cyber security and data analytics, among others,” he stated.
Buhari commended the giant strides made by the digital economy sector under the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and other stakeholders, describing it as impressive.
In his remarks, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, appreciated the President for his support for the digital economy.
He noted that the economy had witnessed turnovers in broadband/Internet penetration, skills acquisition for global competitiveness and infrastructure development, like the fibre optic cable, which was about 15,000kms in 2015, and increased to more than 60,000kms.
Pantami said there had been 2,255 interventions and programmes in the higher institutions of learning, secondary schools, and some private schools, and the quarterly revenue from ICT rose from N51billion to N418billion.
He added that some prominent institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S., had shown interest in researching the pace of growth in the sector.
The minister listed many policy interventions that had directly impacted on governance, institutions, markets and citizens, assuring that the ICT would enhance the process of diversifying the economy.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, said 400 MDAs were already connected to the National Shared Services Centre.
At the close of the event, two young Nigerians, Kalim Haruna, who developed a system called “Sharp-Sharp’’ and Bashir Abubakar, founder of “Africa First’’, were honoured by the president for their creativity and ingenuity, and showcasing the nation’s talent in a global ICT conference.
LGA Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Others In Rivers
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has reiterated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win all positions from governor to state House of Assembly.
He stated that the foundation of victory had been laid by the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructure development successes in the state.
Okechukwu said this while reacting after the state PDP campaign team visited his area, last Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbowere ready to reciprocate what the present administration has done for the LGA in every aspect.
“I have no fear, and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara and other state candidates of the PDP will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out enmasse for the campaign, I am really happy,” Okechukwu said.
Speaking, Chairman, Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“I will say that the massive turn out of people was historic because this is the first time people came out enmasse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo was ‘Simplified’ and was totally for PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State, a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who register for PVC should go and collect their PVC because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
Also speaking, former commissioner for commerce and industry and stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation has been done for the importance of PVC and vote PDP.
According to her, women in Oyigbowere already prepared to celebrate the victory of SiminialayiFubara come May this year, saying they come out enmasse to vote for PDP.
“I am convinced that SimFubara will do better hence he is civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.
By: Tonye Orabere
NCDC Confirms 38 Deaths Of 123 Diphtheria Cases …Says Gaps In Vaccination Coverage Fuelling Outbreak
No fewer than 38 persons have died out of the 123 diphtheria cases recorded in Nigeria so far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed.
The states currently facing the disease caused by serious infection of the nose and throat that is easily preventable by vaccine, are Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun, respectively.
The nation’s disease control and prevention agency, which disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, said more cases of the disease were being expected in days ahead, as it spreads to other places.
Speaking through its Director of Special Duties, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NCDC said: “As of January 22, NCDC have 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 100 cases are from Kano, with 32 deaths. In Lagos there are five cases with three deaths. In Yobe, there 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun has recorded one case with no death”.
According to Ibekwe, besides clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases.
Ibekwe said the agency was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
She said,”Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54percent – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
“The centre has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Speaking on measures being put in place to prevent the disease from spreading further, Ibekwe said NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on its website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice.
She said:”Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
She also spoke on how to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 variants.
She said:”The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time.”
However, the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the current outbreak of diphtheria in some parts of Nigeria to a drop in the childhood vaccination coverage in some areas of the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who spoke about the development on a television programme, said that there were 34 deaths recorded over the weekend from the outbreak which hit four states.
He said due to the effectiveness of the childhood vaccination programme, most people have forgotten what it looks like.
He said, “Diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease that used to be common decades ago is on the increase in some states in Nigeria. The fact that there is a resurgence suggests that there is significant reduction in vaccination coverage among pockets of the population and this reduced pockets of immunity has given rise to the cases we have seen.
“It is not a matter of diphtheria spreading from state to state, the bacteria that causes the disease is present everywhere and it spreads, and any state in which you find the disease now is likely to be associated with suboptimal vaccination rates, either in general or in particular in pockets of population. Failure of childhood vaccination in the failed states causing the diphtheria outbreaks.
“Kano has highest number of cases followed by Yobe, by weekend, there were 34 deaths in total.”
He warned that although diphtheria was highly preventable and treatable, fatality can increase without antibiotics and appropriate conditions, including the diphtheria antitoxin. He assured that with early detection and prompt treatment, the fatal outcomes are usually low.
Adetifa stressed that the really severe cases require the diphtheria antitoxin, even as he assured that the NCDC had distributed vials of the antitoxin since December for use in Lagos and Kano states, and was planning to extend availability to every state where the disease cases are found.
“It is important that patients should be recognised early, and laboratory confirmation carried out so that treatment can commence immediately.”
Adetifa said there were arrangements for trainings of personnel for laboratory diagnosis of the toxin including testing for most of the clinical effects.
“We are in a good state to help, but patients need to be recognised early and diagnosis made quickly and they are placed on the right treatment.
“We are using the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA data to predict high risk states, there is connection with low socioeconomic situation, and we need to look out for healthcare workers who can be given courses of antibiotics.
Long-Hour Fasting, Danger To Kidney, NAFDAC Warns
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. MojisolaAdeyeye, has advised Nigerians against subjecting themselves to long-hour fasting, saying it was risky to their kidneys.
Adeyeye, who attributed the high rate of kidney problems in Nigeria to prolonged fasting by some religious adherents, insisted that those subjecting themselves to prolonged fasting on religious grounds must moderate the act.
She spoke in Abuja, yesterday, while briefing the media on the breakthrough by her agency in tracking high consignments of Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals to the Republic of Benin.
On the high rate of kidney problems in the country, she said: “Kidney failure, we are a very religious country- Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem.
“Your body has to have homeomistatic balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and drink only little water, the kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.”
Adeyeye, who tasked Nigerians to fast but with common sense, added: “I fast but with common sense. We have to fast with common sense; otherwise we will pay with our kidneys.”
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