Eid-el-Fitr: Cleric calls for love, Godliness among Nigerians

A Muslim cleric, Mohammed Abubakar on Thursday called on Nigerians to embrace Godliness and show of love as a lifestyle.

Abubakar, who is the head of ‘Masjidul Ansar’ mosque in One Man Village, Karu, Nasarawa State, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

According to him, the period of Eid-el-Fitr and Ramadan is not just for merriment, but also a period to reflect on the spirituality and love exhibited by individuals and society as a whole.

Relating the just concluded Ramadan fast to school, Abubakar urged fellow Muslims and Nigerians to always adhere to the lessons and also learn to live with it.

‘If we can stay away from hurting our fellow human beings, robbing, cheating, killing and committing all manner of evil for that period of 29, 30 days, then, it shows we can stay without sins.

‘We should not forget what we have learnt during the period of Ramadan. We should pray and hope for more grace in our future endeavours and celebrations,’ Abubakar said.

He advised citizens
to go beyond the Sallah celebration and continue to share love and peace among themselves.

‘As we celebrate this Eid-el-fitr, haven learnt so much from Ramadan, irrespective of being rich or poor, we must, especially the rich, always extend food, money, clothing and arms to the poor.

‘We should consider everybody as one and desirable of each other’s love in different ways,’ he said.

Abubakar urged Nigerians to always pray for the nation’s peace and harmony.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Tanzanian professor urges Africans to focus more on societal needs

Prof. Elifas Bisanda, the Vice-Chancellor, Open University of Tanzania (OUT), has called for the rejigging of educational curriculum in Africa, to focus on core societal needs, rather than western culture.

Bisanda said this on Friday while delivering the 13th Convocation Lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja, with the theme ‘Is Western Education still Relevant for Africa?’.

He said that the theme of the convocation lecture was borne out of several questions on the minds of Africans, if the current trend in education was still beneficial to the continent.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the convocation lecture is part of activities lined up for the 13th convocation of NOUN and the investiture of the third Chancellor of the university, Ewuare II, The Oba of Benin.

Bisanda, who is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said it was time for Africa to put behind it the shackles of colonialism and move into the present realm of education that guarantees skills develop

Citing examples with some African and European countries, Bisanda noted that what distinguished the education in Africa from the West was the skills acquisition.

‘Skill acquisition is absent in our education in Africa, but it is present at every level of education in advance countries.

‘Our education should focus on societal needs so that our youths would be prepared to participate in the local economy when they leave schools.

‘Those who graduated previously from colleges and universities but cannot gain employment must be encouraged to go back to undertake technical and vocational education in order to gain new skills that are relevant for this age,’ he said.

The Tanzanian highlighted the lesson’s and the experiences of COVID-19 many people died in Europe and America, while many survived in Africa because of herbs prepared by herbalists.

‘We survived in Africa because local herbalists produced a lot of concoctions out of ginger, onions, garlic and many other herbs that killed the COVID-19 virus.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) did not recognise those concoctions and hence were not prescribed and administered by doctors in some hospitals.

‘Some rich people went to hospitals that were admitting western drugs and perished there; meanwhile, poor people who used traditional concoctions, including steam infusion, survived. I salute all our traditional herbalists for saving our continent,’ he said.

According to Bisanda, there seems to be a conspiracy theory by the West against Africa to ensure that development is stunted.

He pointed out that the skills possessed by Africans were destroyed by the western world when they came to colonise Africa.

‘While the West is determined to keep us Africans where we are, we must take affirmative action to get out of this mess they have imposed on us, while our resources are being taken away.

‘Our forefathers could make canoes and boats for fishing and water transport, but when the colonialists came, they did everything they could to kill our indigenous skills

‘In Uganda, they cut off the thumbs of all blacksmiths so that they could not forge or cast tools as their thumbs were the main actor in the process of blowing air in the furnace.’

He added that learning no longer take place in the classrooms, but on the fields and by practical experiences since the advent of iinternet and the fourth industrial revolution. (NAN)(

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Afreximbank, Govt. of Bahamas sign host country agreement

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Thursday signed the Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM) Host Country Agreement.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the signing ceremony was held during a media briefing on Thursday in the Bahamas.

NAN reports that the 31st AAM2024 will be hosted in Nassau, Bahamas, from June 12 to 15, 2024 with the theme ‘Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.’

Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in his remarks, said the signing ceremony was an important boost for the Bahamas and Africa and the Caribbean (AfriCarabian) visions.

‘It is with immense pride that we officially sign the agreement for the Bahamas to host the AAM in June.

‘Our ancestral history is marked by strength in the face of adversity, duty and creativity amid scarcity and the pursuit of self-determination.

‘Our dreams, hopes and aspirations are encapsulated in this moment as we look
forward to a future where Africa and the Caribbean stand shoulder to shoulder not just in solidarity but for economic collaboration for mutual prosperity.’

Davis said the AAM2024 meeting in the Bahamas was a symbol of what Africa and the Caribbean could accomplish through duty and collaboration.

‘ In today’s world amid economic and environmental challenges, instead of building more walls, we choose to build bridges of trade, innovation, financial integration and most importantly bridges connecting our people and culture.

He said the Bahama’s commitment to the mission was underscored by the preparations underway to ensure the AGM stood as a forum for dialogue and impact deliberations and collaborations.

‘ We are setting the stage for discussions to aid us in navigating the challenges of our times which include inclusivity, and the digital transformation of our economy.

‘For the bank and our partners, we extend our deepest gratitude for entrusting us with the honour of hosting this significant event.

ether we are celebrating the spirit of partnership, economic union of dreams, dreams of our ancestors and dreams of future generations that we pledge to realise through unity, collaboration and mutual respect.’

Davis said that in November 2022 The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries signed an agreement with AFreximbank to forge a future for the advancement of the African and Caribbean people and their economies.

The prime minister said Afreximbank’s commitment to expanding operations in the Caribbean was seen in its establishment of the Caribbean Africa Bank, adding that it was an example of potential for development in the region.

‘ As we come for the meetings, it will be remembered for the decisions made and agreements signed but also more significantly as Africa and the Caribbean came together for a better future,’ he said.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman Board of Directors, Afreximbank, said the signing of the agreement would solidify the partnership between Afreximbank and the Caribb

Oramah said the partnership would form a platform for global Africa to take its destiny into its hands.

He said he was grateful to the prime minister, the government and the people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for the honour of agreeing to host the AAM2024.

‘ By holding the 31st AAM, we collectively make a strong commitment to elevating the collaboration between the Afreximbank, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the entire Caribbean region to a higher pedestal.

‘It bears testament to the depth of your government’s appreciation of the importance of our unique partnership in catalysing shared growth and prosperity for all of Africa and the Caribbean.

‘It affirms commitment to ensure inclusiveness and bring the bank’s services to the doorsteps of the people.

‘Bringing the meeting to the Caribbean also offers us the opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made so far between Africa and the Caribbean.’

Oramah said the bank was working with the government of the Bahamas to develop an Afro-
Caribbeann marketplace in the Bahamas.

He said, when completed, it would be a permanent marketplace that would house manufacturing warehouses, and be a distribution and logistic hub for various tradable merchandise that Africa and the Caribbean would produce.

‘It will finally establish the Bahamas as a gateway into the Caribbean and we hope the government will work with us diligently to bring this project to completion.’

Oramah said no fewer than 4,000 participants were expected at the AAM2024 adding that the opening ceremony would be held on June 13, which would be attended by Heads of State and Heads of governments.

He said others in attendance at the meetings would be African/Caribbean leaders and senior government officials, African and non-African policymakers, corporate leaders, bankers, academics and other thought leaders.

Oramah said there would be keynote presentations by policymakers and economists and a dedicated session to showcase trade and investment opportunities in the Caribbean and the B
ahamas as well as sessions on youths, innovations and the creatives.

He said the 3rd Annual AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024) will be incorporated into the AAM2024.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Groups laud Dangote Foundation’s rice donation to less privileged in Abuja

Some charity organisations and orphanages in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have commended Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) for donating bags of rice to less privileged and vulnerable households in the territory.

The groups were among the 48 organisations supporting the distribution of the rice to beneficiaries across the capital.

The representatives of the organisations said during the distribution exercise in Abuja, that the gesture was life-changing and described it as a true service to humanity.

One of them, Mrs Khadija Oladipupo, Lead Programme Officer, Mission for Education, Social and Health, said that the donation had helped in nourishing and uplifting the needy in benefiting communities.

‘Together, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of our population, especially those in need,’ she said.

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, Gajiya Charity Foundation, Hafsat Gimba, commended the Foundation for the support, which she described as a ‘generous assistance’.

‘The items have b
rought immense relief and comfort to the less privileged in the society during these hard times. Your kindness and compassion have touched their hearts profoundly.

‘The rice has eased their burdens and provided them with the necessities they desperately needed.

‘Knowing that there are individuals and organisations like ADF, who care deeply about the well-being of others, filled me with hope and renewed faith in humanity,’ Gimba said.

In the same vein, the President, Network of Women with Disabilities, Lois Auta, said: ‘Your commitment to supporting marginalised communities, particularly women with disabilities, exemplified your dedication to social responsibility and compassion.

‘Through your donation, you have not only alleviated the immediate needs of persons with disabilities, but also demonstrated solidarity and empathy towards our cause.’

Speaking further, the President of JADAFIA Group, Mrs Rakiya Bamalli, said that the support had enabled the group to expand its Ramadan outreach programmes.

li said that the items distributed during the outreach included food packages, iftar meals and essential supplies to families and communities facing hardship.

This, she said, had made a significant difference in the group’s efforts to provide relief to those in need in communities.

Also, Mr Femi Akosile of Bimbola, Nutrition and Health Foundation, said that the rice had been distributed to families and individuals experiencing food insecurity.

‘Your contribution has made a significant impact on our efforts to support those in need in our communities.

‘We want to sincerely say that your partnership and commitment to making a positive difference in our communities are truly inspiring, and we are honoured to have had the opportunity to work with you,’ Akinsile said.

Earlier, the Coordinator of the exercise in Abuja, Mrs Azeeza Jibril of 1Ummah Foundation, said that the donation was impacting positively on the lives of the beneficiaries.

She identified other organisations supporting the distribution exercis
e in the FCT as Hope for Survival Children’s Home, Gishiri, Child to Child Charity Foundation, and Gajiya Charity Foundation.

Others are Dagam Pilame Community Association, Eeqra Foundation/Orphanage, and Support Our Troops Foundation for Widows, Leprosarium-Yangoji, Karmajiji Disabled Colony, NASFAT Foundation, and JIBWIS Group among other groups.

The company’s spokesman, Mr Anthony Chiejina, explained that the distribution of the rice was under the foundation’s National Food Intervention Programme.

Chiejina said that the initiative was in continuation of ADF’s commitment to supporting the government in alleviating economic hardship among poor Nigerians.

He said that a total of one million bags of rice were being distributed across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.

He added that the exercises began in March, with official inauguration in Kano and Lagos states.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Army to review 1st quarter operational activities

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, Principal Staff Officers, Commanders and commanding officers are to appraise Nigerian Army’s operations, training and other activities within the first quarter of 2024.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Maj.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Nwachukwu said the operational activities would be reviewed at the COAS First Quarter Conference 2024 holding in Abuja from April 15 to April 19.

He said the conference would allow participant and the Nigerian Army make projections for the second quarter of the year, as well as holistically review the counter terrorism, counter insurgency and internal security operations across the country.

According to him, participants will have the opportunity to gain insight into the next transformational agenda of the COAS.

He added that the conference would also witness presentation of briefs on army training, operations, administration, logistics and other events, as captured in its
2024 Forecast of Events.

‘During the conference, far-reaching decisions to shore up the efficiency of the service would also be taken into consideration.

‘Principal Staff Officers of the Army Headquarters, Corps, Formations, and Field Commanders, Commandants of NA Schools and Tri-Service Institutions, as well as selected officers serving in key deployments are expected to be in attendance,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Wike reiterates commitment to take development to rural areas

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, has reiterated the FCT Administration’s commitment to take development to rural areas.

Wike stated this on Friday, while inspecting ongoing construction of 11-kilometre Yangoji-Sukuku Ebo-Road and Kwali Unity Bank Road in Kwali Area Council of the territory.

He said: ‘I feel delighted that we are taking development to rural areas.

‘For me, it is very important to ensure that while actualising the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of President Bola Tinub, rural communities also benefit from dividends of democracy.

‘The rural areas are part of the FCT and should enjoy good governance.’

The minister pointed out that development should not be concentrated in the capital city.

This, according to him, will significantly mitigate rural urban migration being experienced in the FCT.

‘You need to give rural dwellers infrastructure to be able to develop their communities.

‘Providing infrastructure, particularly roads, is key to the development of communit
ies so that they can feel the impact of governance,’ he added.

He urged the contractor, Gilmor Engineering Ltd, to speed up the work to meet the agreed delivery dateline.

Wike also called on council chairman to monitor the execution of the project and not rely on reports by civil servants.

He assured that the FCT Administration would do all that needed to be done to ensure the completion of the projects.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


7 persons drown in 6 days in Lagos- PPRO

The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos state Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, on Friday confirmed that seven persons drowned at different swimming pools and beach in the state within six days.

Hundeyin confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday.

‘This week alone, seven people drowned in hotel swimming pools and beach. Two drowned in one hotel in Mushin and one in a hotel on the Lagos Island.

‘One also drowned at Ibeshe island, two fell into Third Mainland Bridge in an accident and one in a hotel in Shasha,’ he noted.

The spokesperson said the deaths were avoidable if all the necessary safety measures were put in place and observed.

He, therefore, advised the hoteliers in particular, to employ lifeguards and have lifeguard off duty sign on display when necessary at their facilities.

Hundeyin also advised visitors to hotels to always read instructions on hotel facilities, particularly swimming pool, so as to avoid fatality. (NAN) (

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Adeleke sets up c’ttee on sexual violence against women

Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun, has set up an action committee to combat sexual violence against women through the mobile courts.

This is contained in a statement by Malam Olawale Rasheed, the spokesperson to the governor, on Friday in Osogbo.

The statement said the setting up of the committee was in line with the decisions reached between the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the state government to combat sexual violence through mobile courts and other measures.

According to the statement, the governor, during a visit to Minister of Women Affairs in Abuja, affirmed his commitment for immediate implementation of the resolution of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum for the establishment of mobile courts.

The statement said the court would be dedicated to addressing issues of sexual and gender-based violence, child abuse in the form of street begging and expedited trial of women and children held in correctional facilities.

It also said that the governor had also directed his Commissioner for Justice to p
repare an executive order to free all unjustly incarcerated women in the state.

According to the governor, the Justice Ministry will compile a list of affected women across the state to be granted executive pardon in furtherance of protection of women rights.

‘To give effect to the resolutions reached with the Federal Ministry in line with the position of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum position, the governor has put up an action committee comprising of the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hon (Mrs) Ayobola Awolowo, the Commissioner for Federal Affairs, Hon (Mrs) Adenike Adeleke, the Attorney General to be represented by the governor’s Special Adviser on Legal Matters, Barrister Nurudeen Kareem Esq.

‘Others include the Commissioner for Youth Development, Hon Moshood Olagunju and President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Abisola Ariwodola.

‘The committee is charged with putting to effect the communique of the joint meeting between the state Governor and the Federal Minister of Women
Affairs’, the statement read.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Unveiling Nigeria’s epidemic preparedness beyond headlines

In the lush fields of Nasarawa State, 43-year-old Mrs Mariamu Jubril was tirelessly nurturing crops that sustained her family.

However, a silent battle raged – one that would test her resilience.

Jubril recounts how it all began with a persistent fever accompanied by bone aches and fatigue, which she initially dismissed as a common sickness.

‘However, as days stretched into weeks, my condition worsened.

‘Misunderstood to be typhoid and malaria, my struggle took a perilous turn, as the true culprit, Lassa fever, silently ravaged my body,’ she narrated.

It was when she returned to Keffi from Lafia that laboratory diagnosis unveiled the harsh reality.

‘The diagnosis sent shockwaves through the medical staff, who recognised the gravity of my condition.

‘With treatment underway, I waged, however, a battle against the relentless virus that threatened to snatch away my life,’ she says.

According to Jubril, the illness impaired her hearing.

‘Undeterred, I refused to succumb to despair. With the same determ
ination that fueled my days on the fields.

‘I sought a solution, only to be confronted by the harsh reality of my financial limitations,’ she adds.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Lassa fever is a hemorrhagic fever that causes serious damage to various organs, reducing the body’s ability to function.

The virus is contagious and can spread from person to person via bodily fluids, including saliva, urine, blood and vomit.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), Nigeria faced a significant outbreak of Lassa fever in 2023, recording 4,702 suspected cases, including 877 confirmed cases and 152 deaths between epidemiological weeks 1 and 15.

The virus is endemic in Nigeria and some other parts of West Africa. It is primarily transmitted by the multimammate rat.

Public health experts are worried that responding to the outbreak is challenging due to concurrent emergencies.

The experts explain that the symptoms vary, and diagnosis can be difficult, with many c
ases being asymptomatic or mild but dangerous.

They emphasise that laboratory testing is necessary for confirmation, noting that cases have been reported in states bordering Cameroon and Benin.

However, regional and global risks are considered low, as transmission occurs mainly through contact with contaminated food or household items, with minimal human-to-human transmission.

This year (2024) marks 55 years since the identification of the virus causing Lassa fever in the village of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria.

Nigeria, like many other countries, has had public health crises in recent years.

From outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola, typhoid fever and malaria, to the ongoing battle against Lassa fever and other illnesses, the country has had to confront the challenges of epidemic preparedness head-on.

But beyond the headlines that often focus on the immediate response to these outbreaks, there is a deeper story to be told about the country’s efforts to improve its overall epidemic preparedness and r
esponse capabilities.

The country has made significant strides in strengthening its public health infrastructure and building capacity to effectively detect, respond to, and prevent future epidemics.

One key aspect of the country’s epidemic preparedness efforts is the establishment of the NCDC in 2011.

The agency serves as the country’s national public health institute responsible for coordinating the surveillance, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks.

Through its network of state-level epidemiologists and laboratories, NCDC has been able to rapidly respond to disease outbreaks and prevent spread.

In addition to establishment of NCDC, Nigeria has invested in training healthcare workers and strengthening its healthcare system to better respond to public health emergencies.

It has established emergency response teams and developed contingency plans for a range of potential epidemics.

Furthermore, the country has worked to improve its disease surveillance and reporting systems, allowin
g for more timely and accurate detection of outbreaks.

It has also implemented electronic reporting systems and established a national database for tracking disease trends, enabling public health officials to quickly identify and respond to potential threats.

In spite of these advancements, public health experts still say challenges remain in the country’s epidemic preparedness.

They attribute these challenges to funding constraints, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and security concerns.

They also cite environmental changes and global factors, which contribute to the unpredictable nature of emerging diseases, as obstacles to the country’s ability to effectively respond to epidemics.

Dr Ishaku Akyala, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Public Health Epidemiology in Nasarawa State, says there are limited public health awareness, weak disease surveillance systems, and coordination and communication challenges.

According to Akyala, addressing these issues will require sustained investment,
collaboration and commitment from various stakeholders to strengthen public health infrastructure, improve healthcare services, enhance disease surveillance and promote public health awareness.

‘By overcoming these challenges, our nation can enhance its epidemic preparedness and response capabilities to better protect the health of its population,’ he says.

Dr Jide Idris, the Director-General of NCDC, expresses concern over the recurring pattern of preventable diseases claiming lives in the country in spite of the nation’s awareness of disease patterns and their seasonal occurrences.

Idris emphasises the importance of preventive measures.

‘It is better to prevent these diseases from happening than waiting for them to occur.

‘Despite the country’s knowledge of disease patterns, preventable diseases continue to claim lives annually, highlighting the urgency of proactive measures,’ he says.

He outlines the agency’s strategic roadmap, focusing on leading preparedness, detection, and response to public heal
th emergencies.

He stresses government’s responsibility to prioritise citizens protection and disease prevention, underscoring the importance of timely detection and proper response when diseases occur.

He emphasises the need for collaboration between the federal and state governments, as disease control efforts primarily take place at the state and local government levels.

He advocates a holistic One Health Approach involving sectors beyond healthcare, such as agriculture and environment, recognising the interconnectedness of human and animal health.

Highlighting the zoonotic nature of diseases such as Ebola, Monkeypox, Lassa fever, Yellow fever and COVID-19, Idris says there is the need for multi-sectoral partnerships to effectively combat the diseases.

He notes ongoing collaborations with health commissioners and the Nigerian Governors Forum, and stresses the importance of understanding social determinants in different states.

He believes that addressing health security requires substantial investmen
t and tailored research.

He points out disconnect between sub-national entities and the Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), emphasising the need for strengthened partnerships at the state level.

A Nigerian scientist and former Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Prof. Tomori Oyewale, urges multi-dimensional approach to epidemic preparedness, integrating research, data analysis, and stakeholder engagement.

According to him, the initiative should aim to go beyond surface discussions and evaluate Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure, policy framework and community resilience in the face of potential epidemics.

Regarding strategies, he suggests comprehensive research, stakeholder engagement, public discourse, advocacy, resource allocation and international collaboration to effectively address health security threats.

Analysts are convinced that nobody prays for emergencies, but emphasise that preparedness is crucial to tackling emergencies.

They believe that citizens desire a strong emerg
ency response system capable of efficiently and swiftly managing outbreaks and critical situations.

NCDC’s budget allocation for the fiscal year 2024 highlights key shifts in funding priorities aimed at bolstering the country’s disease prevention and response capabilities.

The total sum allocated to the agency in the 2024 stands at N4.356 billion, which stakeholders in the health sector say, did not indicate a strong commitment to safeguarding public health amidst evolving global health challenges.

Among the notable changes reflected in the budget are increase in specific budget lines dedicated to critical areas of disease prevention and response.

Procurement and distribution of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies for the National Strategic Stockpile witnessed a significant boost, with an additional N30 million allocated from 2023 to 2024.

The increase underscores the heightened focus on enhancing stockpiling capabilities to support disease detection, prevention, and response efforts nationwid

Similarly, sustained efforts in combating antimicrobial resistance are evident through a five million Naira increase in funding for antimicrobial resistance surveillance in sentinel sites across the country.

This augmentation, health economists argue, did not reaffirm the country’s commitment to monitoring and addressing the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, a critical aspect of public health preparedness.

While investments in certain areas recorded increases, the budget also reflected strategic adjustments and new priorities.

In spite of maintaining the same budget allocation for equipping the NCDC headquarters with communication and response infrastructure, introduction of new budget lines shows a forward-looking approach to strengthening Nigeria’s public health infrastructure.

Of particular significance is introduction of interventions to develop capacity for public health informatics, emphasising the importance of harnessing data analytics, modelling, and forecasting to enhance emergency
preparedness and response.

Additionally, allocation of N95 million for strengthening subnational health security shows the imperative of bolstering health security at subnational level, complementing efforts at the national level.

Furthermore, establishment of new budget lines dedicated to training, capacity building, and subnational emergency response highlights a proactive stance in fortifying the country’s readiness to combat emerging health threats effectively.

However, amid the strategic realignments and increased investments in key areas, reductions in funding for dissemination of surveillance outputs and digitalisation of disease surveillance shows potential shifts in priorities.

Nigeria’s epidemic preparedness demands a concerted effort encompassing diverse stakeholders, innovative strategies, and sustained investment to safeguard public health and mitigate the impact of emerging diseases.

As the country continues to navigate the complexities of public health emergencies, concerted efforts to im
prove epidemic preparedness are essential for protecting the health and well-being of its citizens.

By investing in strong public health infrastructure, training healthcare workers and enhancing disease surveillance systems, the country will be taking important steps toward building a more resilient and responsive healthcare system that can effectively address the threats of future epidemics.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


Exploring new vistas for Nigeria’s mineral and energy resources

Across the globe, there is growing awareness regarding the need to transit from fossil fuel- dependent energy to sustainable, renewable sources.

However, to achieve this, there are sets of critical minerals that need to be supplied regularly to the global market.

They are the agents that will make renewable energy technologies to become affordable and sustainable. Africa has these resources in abundance.

The critical energy transition minerals include copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt.

Among these minerals, Nigeria is blessed with Lithium, currently mined in Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River.

Lithium is an essential component for the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles, electronics, and grid energy storage.

The increasing demand for renewable energy sources is expected to open up new opportunities that could spark innovation among the nation’s policymakers.

However, these minerals come with their own set of pros and cons. According to the UN Environment Progr
amme, they bring about environmental, social, economic, geopolitical, trade, and partnership challenges and opportunities.

Experts say that exploring the opportunities require good management of the resources, including their production and processing.

As part of efforts to contribute to the development of these mineral resources, the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) advocated increased investment in critical minerals during its 59th Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE), held recently in Jos.

The conference, with the theme ‘Emerging Global Perspectives, Trends, and Sustainable Development of Minerals and Energy Resources, aimed to showcase Nigeria’s renewable energy potential to international investors and engage governments.

The AICE hosted major players in the mining industry, locally and internationally, engaging in discussions on significant developments in the mining sector, exploring investment opportunities, and charting the way forward.

The President of NMGS, Prof.
Akinade Olatunji, said the platform was to further showcase the immense potential within the geoscience and mining spheres to the government at all levels in Nigeria.

The idea, he said was to encourage them to explore more opportunities for the nation.

In a communiqué signed by Olatunji, the society called for the optimal development of iron and steel sector to expedite Nigeria’s industrialisation.

It stated that as part of efforts to open opportunities in the mineral and energy sector, there is a need to implement a mineral governance structure with supportive policies, along with the inclusion of all stakeholders.

This, it says, is to foster socio-economic development, environmental sustainability, and cooperation in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)-dependent communities.

The society advocated the establishment of a commercial intervention strategy that facilitates easy market access, provides trade platforms, encourages financial inclusion, and ensures the elimination of collateral issues that i
mpede access to funds.

It stated that capacity building at all levels, research and development and value chain training should be encouraged.

‘Implementation of policies aimed at value chain addition in the minerals and energy sectors to boost wealth creation and increase GDP.

‘Career advancement, skill and entrepreneurship development specific to the geosciences and mining practices are critical,’ it said.

The society encouraged the adoption and application of innovations in information technology to develop resource management strategies.

One of the innovations introduced at the conference is the use of digital platforms to generate and share geoscience data used in extractive industries, natural hazard monitoring and management, among others.

Experts in the sector have established that it is expensive to generate geoscience data, and Nigeria does not have the required technology for that, so exploring data sharing is expedient.

In a world that is fast becoming a village, according to the NMGS presi
dent, data sharing could help alleviate the situation through platforms like the Deep-time Digital Earth Programme (DDE).

DDE is a big science programme designed to facilitate innovation in understanding the earth’s evolution and applications.

It also seeks to promote Sustainable Development Goals, by utilising big data analytics, internet cloud computing, data mining, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Olatunji explained that DDE connects all the data bases available across the globe and designed to provide better result and benefits for the work of geoscientists.

‘ The platform is so unique to work across borders, and creates a very robust environment of data execution.

‘The open-source nature of the DDE and the infrastructure it guarantees also provides budding geodata scientists on the continent opportunities to acquire appropriate skill sets in data interpretation and management,’ he said.

A business session at the Conference

An expert, Dr Henry Davies, listed the lack of a coordin
ated, centralised geo-database and limited access to quality geo sciences data as significant challenges.

He added that duplication of geoscience data; inadequate information sharing among stakeholders and poor data quality among other factors, were part of the challenges, which the DDE platform could help address.

Similarly, another expert, Prof. Mike Stephenson, urged Africa to leverage geoscience data to attract increased mining investment on the continent.

He said this was particularly given the global upsurge in energy transition, which has heightened the demand for critical minerals predominantly found in Africa.

He emphasised the need to generate geoscience data in order to accurately assess the natural resources within the region.

Stephenson, who is the DDE Director for Europe and Middle East, said data would help Africa get the best out of the resources that its nations choose to export.

According to him, geoscience data is crucial in transforming natural resources into sustainable economic dev
elopment that benefits all.

‘With appropriate controls, it can also conserve and enhance the natural environment in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ‘ he said.

He said DDE programme, initiated in Beijing in 2019, could be deployed by various African governments, institutions and academics for their researches and surveys.

Similarly, the National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke, called for safe mining practices and improved technology to reposition the sector.

Ayanleke urged the government and stakeholders to invest in affordable and environment- friendly mining technologies, such as mercury-free processing methods and efficient ore extraction techniques, to develop the sector.

He said that unlocking the wealth creation potential of ASM requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses factors such as governance, market access, finance, among other, while calling for the formalisation of ASM.

According to him, formalisation is crucial to enabling A
SM operators to gain access to legal rights, financial services, and markets, while ensuring environmental sustainability and compliance with labour standards.

The MAN official urged the government to support ASM cooperatives and associations in accessing formal markets, negotiating fair prices, and meeting quality standards.

At the conference, the gemstone industry was identified as a potential source of livelihood with numerous opportunities for geo-scientists.

Dr Janet Adeyemi, the President of Women In Mining In Nigeria (WIMIN said Nigeria has gemstones spread across its landmass, adding that the industry provided opportunities for wealth creation.

Adeyemi said that the entrepreneurial opportunities in mining had the potential to industrialise Nigeria and Africa.

She said that manufacturing opportunities for gemstone and jewelry processing equipment, lapidary equipment, among others would provide an expanded basis for a potential bottom-up industrialisation process in the gemstone and jewelry sector.

‘Such new industries in the country could also help to offset risks of declining revenue from fossil fuel exports while diversifying national revenue streams, ‘she said.

According to her, identifying opportunities in the industry requires a comprehensive understanding of the market and the ability to recognise emerging trends and demands.

She recommended that Nigeria should establish a venture capital fund for mining, gemstone processing and marketing.

She added that a good regulatory environment can attract investment in the sector and create a conducive business environment for mining companies, thereby triggering opportunities in the sector.

According to Adeyemi, bridging the gaps between the local industry in Nigeria and the global market requires urgently building the capacity of local industry operators.

While these opportunities abound in the industry, stakeholders have also called for gender inclusion in the sector.

According to Dr Hannah Wozah, of Geology Department, University of Jos, promotin
g gender equality in the Nigeria’s energy and mineral resources industry will drive sustainable development and economic growth.

She said it would contribute to addressing systemic barriers and promote a culture of inclusivity through gender inclusion policies in the sector.

Experts say that there are also unexplored opportunities in wealth creation in sectors such as medical geology, geo-tourism and geo heritage.

Stakeholders hope that government will play an active role in fostering public-private partnerships and investing in manpower development which is pivotal to unlocking the potential of these untapped sectors.

They also call for the optimal development of lithium in line with value addition standards before exporting it.

Given the dire need to diversify government’s revenue earning options, it is important that deliberate efforts are geared towards maximising the opportunities inherent in every sector including minerals.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


U.S. gifts Nigeria lab equipment for disease outbreak emergency response

The United States government, through its Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Friday, in Abuja, donated some laboratory equipment to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).

Dr Farah Husain, Programme Director, CDC Division, Global Health Protection, who donated the equipment, explained that they were the U.S. government’s efforts to help Nigeria address the challenges of disease outbreaks.

The items, which included biosafety cabinets, sample collection materials, essential laboratory equipment, and personal protective equipment, were received by Dr Jide Idris, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The CDC Program Director said that the equipment would help to sustain the quality and high outputs of Nigeria’s laboratories.

She assured Nigeria of the U.S.’s commitment to help develop response capacity in protecting the people against disease outbreaks.

‘The U.S. government, via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is proud to don
ate equipment and supplies to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to support emergency response laboratory activities.

‘The United States is committed to working hand-in-hand with Nigeria to build response capacity and protect the health of our peoples.

‘Today, we gather to celebrate a concrete example of the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria,’ she said.

The U.S. official also noted that Nigeria was facing several disease outbreaks, such as Lassa fever, diphtheria, meningitis, stressing that laboratory scientists played a vital role in quickly detecting and confirming cases for effective outbreak response.

‘The increased volume of laboratory work created by these simultaneous outbreaks creates a pressing need for additional resources. Together, with laboratories as the cornerstone of our collaborative work, we can quickly and effectively prevent and respond to outbreaks.

‘Additionally, we have included large amounts of personal protective equipment to safeguard th
e health and safety of laboratory workers. Whether in the subnational labs, health facilities, or the communities they serve, this donation will directly help save lives,’ Husain said.

Responding, the NCDC director general, said the gesture would go a long way to boost the country’s disease detection and capability ability and assured the U.S. government that the equipment would be judiciously put to use.

Idris underscored the importance of the Nigeria’s collaboration with the U.S. government, adding that no government could fund health system alone because it was very expensive.

‘No government can fund health system alone and that’s why we require this kind of collaboration from different partners. The idea and the goal is to reduce the incidences.

‘What concerns us mostly here is health security. This is key because a nation’s mandate to the people is to ensure that the health of the people is sacrosanct in terms of preventing the people from catching any disease.

‘And if so, where that provision or a
ctivity is not adequate, to ensure that you properly detect whatever disease that has occurred, and at the same time respond to it,’ the NCDC boss said.

According to him, the Federal Government is funding the sector, but the funding may not necessarily be adequate, that is why the health system is very expensive.

He said that in terms of global health security, one of the major focus was collaboration and partnerships, both internationally, nationally and sub-nationally.

This, he explained, was because everybody was coming in with different expertise and none would necessarily have all the expertise needed to boost productivity.

‘The goal is to achieve our objective to reduce incidents of disease.

‘And, where you cannot stop that we respond adequately, so that we can bring down the effect of any disease that is the essence here.

‘So collaborations, partnerships are key essentials of health security,’ Idris added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the donation, which took place at the Nation
al Reference Laboratory, underscores the U.S. and Nigeria’s shared commitment towards providing healthcare in Nigeria.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria


FG convenes Summit on Justice to address critical challenges in justice sector

The Federal Government is to convene national policy summit on Justice to address critical challenges in the justice sector April 24.

Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, made this known while addressing a news conference on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the summit is organised by the Ministry of Justice, alongside the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the summit is ‘Repositioning the Justice System: Constitutional, Statutory, and Operational Reforms for Access and Efficiency.

He noted that the summit will usher in a new era of positive change and progress in the justice sector, ensuring a fair, accessible, and efficient legal system that upholds the rule of law while safeguarding fundamental human rights.

‘This crucial event seeks to address the significant challenges plaguing Nigeria’s justice sector and pave the way for much-needed reforms that will make justice more accessible to all Nigerians.

‘Key s
takeholders from across the country will engage in constructive discussions and develop practical solutions that prioritise the justice needs of the average Nigerian.

‘It is unique opportunity to collectively tackle the pressing issues hindering the efficient, fair, and people-centered delivery of justice in our nation.

‘They will share their invaluable knowledge and expertise and proffer constructive solutions for making the justice system more efficient and accessible to all Nigerians”.

According to him, the summit will also deliberate on draft legislations proposed to address specific identified challenges within the justice sector, relating to the judicial appointments process, administration, funding and budgeting for the judiciary.

‘It will eliminate delays and inefficiencies in justice delivery and evolve ways to reduce the amount of time for adjudication of cases, eliminate some of the associated technicalities, and reduce the number of cases getting to the Supreme Court.

‘In this regard, we int
end to look at a situation where many cases will terminate at the Court of Appeal to reduce the burden on our noble justices of the supreme court”.

Fagbemi said that the summit’s goal is to review, validate, and adopt the revised National Policy on Justice 2024- 2028 to drive prison reforms, access to justice for the average Nigerian.

‘It will also review electoral laws and procedures in handling election related cases, among several other reforms.

‘The comprehensive policy document outlines a broad framework and initiatives in 17 thematic areas aimed at reforming the justice sector to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility to all Nigerians.

‘It also ensures that justice is not just a privilege for the few, but a right for all”.

He said the policy aims to address various challenges within the legal framework, seeking to promote social cohesion, bolster economic development, and foster good governance.

‘These proposed laws will serve as a catalyst for collective action, provide a guiding framework
for relevant governmental institutions to establish an effective, efficient, and people-centered justice system.

‘We cannot afford to remain complacent in the face of the obstacles impeding the efficient delivery of justice for all Nigerians.

‘This is an opportunity for us to unite our efforts, leverage our collective expertise, and chart a course toward a more just and equitable society.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria