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Make Lagos environment friendly for new corps members, Sanwo-Olu tells residents


Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called on Lagos residents to make the environment friendly for the new corps members posted to the state.

Sanwo-Olu made the call at the closing ceremony of the 2024 Batch A, Stream II orientation, held on Tuesday at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) temporary orientation camp, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos.

He also urged the corps members to make the service year have meaningful impact on the social-economic and political development of Lagos State and Nigeria at large.

‘I implore you to accept your posting to any part of Lagos and see it as an opportunity to participate in the community development programmes, impact your host community and leave indelible legacies.

‘These, your predecessors did in the areas of healthcare delivery system, educational services, social services amongst others, just as your services may be needed in the aforementioned.’

Sanwo-Olu, represented by Mr Ibukun Dosunmu, Director, General Service, Lagos State Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmenta
l Relations, said that the state government would continue to recognise and reward outstanding corps members at the end of the service year.

Baderinwa urged the corps members to be good ambassador of the scheme, family and communities in their places of assignment.

She said that it was fundamental for them to obey rules/regulations of NYSC.

‘Let the team spirit you cultivated while in camp guide your conducts, set aside tribal sentiments,

‘I wish you productive service year, remember that any erring corps member will be penalised in line with the NYSC by-law.

‘As these young patriots move to the next stage of their service year, being the primary and secondary assignments, I am optimistic that they’ll perform excellently, having been properly intimated with the tenets of the scheme,’ she added.

The coordinator expressed appreciation to corporate organisations and collaborating partners.

She said that some made impactful presence in the orientation camp, sponsoring social and sporting activities which a
dded colour and variety to the purpose of the course.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some corps members and camp officials were identified for their outstanding performance during the three-week orientation course and given commendation letters at the event.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Lekki residents mourn Mbelu, VGC chair


Lekki residents and stakeholders have paid tributes to the late Chairman, Victoria Garden City Property Owners Residents Association (VGCPORA), Mr Gihan Mbelu.

They described him as a community developer, an environmental sustainability enthusiast, a visionary leader with deep passion and commitment of youth development and community advancement.

They spoke during a night of tributes organised for him on Tuesday in Lagos, following his shocking demise on April 26.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mbelu, until his passing, was not only the Chairman, VGCPORA, but was vice president, Lekki Estate Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA).

Mbelu, aged 42, was reportedly found dead in his car within the community after purchasing water and soft drinks.

His corpse has since been deposited at the mortuary for autopsy.

Noheem Adams, Majority Leader representing Eti-Osa Constituency 1, described the late Mbelu as the driving force that brought government down to the people of VGC and the people
to government.

He said the late VGC chair expended every efforts to addressing obstructions at the canals and stood for the truth in all things.

‘The shoes he is leaving behind are too big to be filled and today would be recorded as the saddest day in 2024 for me.

‘The kind of person he was, I had envisioned that he would one day be one of those to lead the country due to his immense leadership capabilities,’ he said.

Alhaji Sulyman Bello, President, LERSA, said his contributions to the discourse surrounding the development of the Lekki region was always very compelling.

Bello said relating with Mbelu would leave one in awe and wonder as he dished out facts, data and incontrovertible point of view without being combative, all for the development of VGC and the entire Lekki-Epe region.

‘As long as it was for humanity, Gihan would give it a try as he was a very oriented problem solving individual.

‘His type is not very available in every generation or even a lifetime and he would be sorely missed by us a
ll,’ he said.

Mrs Idunu Oyebelu, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, VGCPORA, said his passing left profound gap in the hearts of everyone.

She said throughout his tenure as chairman, his visionary leadership and tireless efforts was very instrumental in shaping the VGC community.

According to Oyebelu, under Mbelu’s stewardship, VGC witnessed tremendous transformation, infrastructural development and made giant strides in environmental sustainability.

‘Mbelu’s leadership was marked by a deep sense of purpose and compassion.

‘May his memory serves as a source of comfort and make us uphold the values that he embodied particularly his spirit of service.

‘We will continue to build on the foundation he laid,’ she said.

Mrs Morufat Yusuff, General Manager, VGCPORA, stated that the late VGC chair did everything to ensure a drug free environment within the VGC community.

She listed some of the achievements during his tenure to include fostering a safer and healthier environment, the installation of efficient ener
gy feature lighting, the VGC recycling hub to drive environmental sustainability.

‘He also facilitated efficient access control, identified opportunities to optimise expenses and was deeply committed to the safety and wellbeing of all VGC residents.

‘He increased security surveillance and we had commenced installation of CCTV cameras with 150 installed and 64 ongoing to be commissioned in August.

‘He forged partnership with government entities to resolve issues, mitigated flood risks and this is such a sad occurrence that our hearts cant fathom. He would be sorely missed,’ she said.

Mrs Jane Phillip-Odey, Secretary, VGC, said the late VGC chair though gone, left impacts, developmental activities and legacies that would never be forgotten.

‘Let us honour his memory, cherish the time we had with him as we pay tribute to him who would forever be in our hearts and memories,’ she said.

Mr Adejo Adehi, Head, VGC Basketball community, said the late Mbelu ensured that the youth were engaged in sporting activiti
es to take their minds off drugs and any other vices detrimental to mental health and general wellness.

He said his passing would leave a great void but his legacy, dedication and vision would continue to inspire the youth to build a thriving community of lasting impact.

‘You would be deeply missed but your memory would live on and we pray you find comfort that your legacy would continue to flourish,’ he said.

Mr Ishan Mbelu, brother of the deceased, lauded the entire VGC community for giving a youth the opportunity to lead and serve.

‘On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all again and I want to say we are proud of the community and love you all,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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NAEng 2024 Forum: Shettima calls for revamping of engineering education


Vice President Kashim Shettima says revamping engineering education is crucial to national development.

The Vice President stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAEng) 2024 Public Forum, with the theme: ‘Engineering Education”, in Abuja.

Shettima, represented by Dr Sadiq Wanka, his Special Adviser on Power Infrastructure, said empirical evidence had demonstrated the strong interlink between engineering capacity and economic development.

‘In Nigeria today, we find ourselves in a global economy, underpinned by digital technologies, and in a world, faced with the reality of climate change.

‘We also find ourselves facing rapid urbanisation in the country, as estimates suggest that by 2050, 70 per cent of the Nigerian population would be living in cities.

‘Given the nature and scale of the challenges ahead, the strength of our engineering capacity is inextricably linked to our economic and social progress,’ he said.

Shettima however, said the good news was that Nigeria is i
mmensely blessed with a young population and resources, among others, to drive the process, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda.

He said it was therefore critical for the government to continue to work with professional bodies like NAEng, to ensure that the quantity and quality of engineers meet the moment and match national needs.

He also called for the need to promote inclusivity, by ensuring the advancement of women in the engineering profession.

The Vice President said, doing so would address historical and cultural biases that had limited girls and women from choosing engineering courses.

The President of NAEng, Prof. Azikiwe Onwualu said, if Nigeria gets engineering and technology right, all other sectors will be taken care of.

Onwualu said the successful development of the various sectors depended on the availability of engineering and technological ideas, tools, processes, facilities, equipment, and skills, required to build facilities, machinery and maintain them.

‘Education and trainin
g of engineers, technologists, technicians, artisans that drive the economy should therefore receive special attention as that will ensure Nigeria has the right personnel to drive the fourth industrial revolution.

‘The state of Engineering Education in Nigeria is definitely not good. Many scholars and practitioners, especially people from the productive sector of the economy have identified many challenges.

‘The challenges include the theoretical nature of the teaching and learning for engineering graduates, inadequate laboratories and workshops, poorly executed industrial training, poor curriculum, and high unemployment rate for engineers and so on’, he said.

Onwualu said the forum would provide major inputs for policy formulation, policy adjustment and more importantly policy implementation guidelines for the relevant MDAs involved in engineering education.

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, represented by Inuwa Garba Chairman House Committee on Science and Engineering, commended NAE
ng for its unwavering commitment to advancing the field of engineering in Nigeria.

‘As representatives of the People, the House of Representatives is committed to supporting initiatives that promote the advancement of engineering and technological innovation in our nation.

‘Together, let us work hands in gloves to harness the power of engineering for the betterment of our society and the Prosperity of future generations,’ he said.

The Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu Audu, represented by Mr Jeremiah Adejoh, Assistant Director in the ministry, said there was a need to enhance the quality of engineering curriculum in Nigeria.

Audu said the standard of teaching and learning facilities needed to be improved, adding that there was also a need to foster greater collaboration between academia, industry, and government for greater achievement.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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PPDC pledges to ease overcrowding in correctional facilities nationwide


The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has reiterated its commitment to decongest correctional centers across the country in order to reduce pretrial detention.

Mr Jubril Shittu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the center, said this during the ‘Access to Justice Pro Bono Conference 2024’ held on Wednesday in Abuja, this goal.

Shittu highlighted that the purpose of the pro bono conference was to discuss strategies for alleviating congestion in correctional centers.

‘So many issues that have to do with inmates languishing in detention has been raised, justice delayed is justice denied.

‘When you have over 76,000 people in the custodial facilities across the country, and of which 70 per cent of these inmates are awaiting trial, it shows how effective the justice system needs to be.

‘So what we are here to do really is to contribute in our own way, working together with the various law clinics, with the probono lawyers, with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), with the legal aid council to see
how we can reduce these numbers.

‘And we are supported by our donors to ensure that we are able to effectively deliver justice in a timely manner,’ he said.

Shittu said that the organisation was also addressing issues beyond pretrial detention such as alternative measures to justice challenges.

He alleged that cases like the Nigerian cross-dresser Bobrisky, who was sentenced to six months in prison and many others needed to be revisited.

Shittu, however, commended the efforts of the various justice sector stakeholders at the state levels, adding that the concurrent list was now also addressing the issues of congestion.

‘The idea behind this is to ensure that on a regular basis, we are visiting these facilities to look at the state of these facilities.

‘This is because, according to the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019, there is the section 38, which specifically looks at some of these issues.

‘And this is where we hope that through the work of the criminal justice monitoring committee, we are able
to effectively ensure that people do not spend more time than they ought to in this facility, ‘he said.

Speaking, the Director General, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Aliyu Abubakar, said that every stakeholder in the justice system was concerned about the issues around criminal justice administration.

Abubakar urged stakeholders to continue to work to ensure that the poor and indigent within the society could easily access justice when needed.

‘In the Legal Aid Council, we were essentially established by the government to assist the poor and indigent persons to access justice.

‘The issue of congestion in the correctional centres are probably factors of two fold; insufficient prisons and inefficiency of the remand system.

‘That is why the correctional centres are overcrowded with inmates and we are working as a government institution to reduce the population, ‘he said.

Abubakar, however, noted that unfortunately, the more the centres were reduced in population, the more people got into the correctional c
entres nationwide.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PPDC has over 195 pro bono lawyers and over 150 law clinicians drawn from at least six states, from universities and also from various groups .

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Over 17.5m PWDs require basic education – Lalu


No fewer than half of the 35.5 million population of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) across the country, require basic education to meet up with their counterpart across the globe.

James Lalu, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja.

Lalu spoke when he received Mrs Rakiya Abubakar, the President of Nigeria Airforce Officers Wives Association (NAFOWA) at the Commission’s headquarters.

He noted that disability issues remained a phenomena that required all hands to be on deck to improve the quality of lives of PWDs.

Lalu said the commission was ready to partner with NAFOWA in the areas of educational advancement and other social inclusion needs of PWDs.

‘We are ready and open for collaboration with NAFOWA because one of our mandate is to improve the quality of education, healthcare services and improve general wellbeing of persons with disabilities.

‘We hope and believe that this collaboration will see to the improvement of the q
uality of life of 35.5 million persons with disabilities across the disability communities in Nigeria ‘ he said.

On her part, the NAFOWA President reiterated the Association’s commitment to strengthening partnership and advocacy towards achieving inclusive education for PWDs.

She said, NAFOWA had been in the forefront in mainstreaming disability inclusion for people with social needs.

‘It is our firm belief that everyone especially persons with disabilities deserves the opportunity to reach their full potentials.

‘ That is why we are focusing on establishing a special school for people with special needs that will offer education and therapeutic services to help PWDs unlock their potentials’ she said.

She, therefore expressed optimism that the partnership will yield the desired result in the lives of PWDs in the nation.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Veterinary council seeks urgent restoration of govt. funding


The Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) has appealed to the Federal Government to urgently reverse the removal of the council from government funding for effective and efficient veterinary practice regulation.

VCN Vice-President, Prof. Matthew Adamu, who made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, said the reversal would boost operational efficiency of the council.

Adamu said that VCN was not a revenue generating agency rather a council saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and overseeing the training and practice of the veterinary profession for the well-being of humans.

He said that the removal of VCN from government funding in 2023 based on implementation of the 2022 Oronsaye’s committee report was impacting negatively on the council’s regulatory mandate with regard to wholesome practices.

NAN reports that Steve Oronsaye panel on the restructuring and rationalisation of federal agencies, parastatals and commission recommended the merging, subsu
ming and scrapping of agencies with similar functions.

The don said that staff members of the council were currently passing through hardship as they had yet to receive their salaries from January to date due to lack of personnel overhead cost and capital funding.

‘Government has been the major funder of the council; unfortunately, last year, government, through Oronsaye’s Committee report, decided to take away VCN from budgetary funding including personnel overhead cost and capital funding.

‘VCN is the oldest regulatory professional body in the country saddled with the responsibility of training and practice of veterinary medicine in the country.

‘VCN is the oldest regulatory professional body in the country saddled with the responsibility of training and practice of veterinary medicine in the country.

‘Its responsibility of training veterinary medicine in the 11 accredited veterinary schools in Nigeria and the practice of veterinary medicine across the 36 states and FCT is suffering because of lack of
funding.

‘We appeal to government to quickly bring back council to government funding so that we will be able to live safely and healthy without having diseases that will affect our animals and equally get to human population.”

Adamu said the implication of the council’s removal from the Federal Government budget was that it would affect the profession, affect human health and the environment as a whole.

The vice-president, who identified veterinarians as essential health workers, said issues concerning the council’s should be prioritised in order to guide against exposing the populace to infectious diseases.

The academic said that VCN was supposed to regulate abattoirs operation across the country.

He, however, regretted that the council staff members were unable to carry out such responsibility at the moment due to paucity or lack of government funding.

According to him, the implication of non-regulation of abattoirs and other veterinary premises is that if a diseased animal is slaughtered the health
and well-being of human will be jeopardised.

Adamu said that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of diseases affecting human emanated from animals.

‘If the country is able to take care of animal health effectively humans will live healthy and safe.

‘Government should revisit VCN’s removal from budgetary funding and reverse it as was done to Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) and other regulatory bodies.

‘The reversal will do a lot of good to the nation in terms of public health.

‘Most diseases affecting a human, that is, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the epidemics the world has suffered in the past 40 years are from animals and if we are able to take care of animals problem human lives will be saved.

According to him, ‘One health’ is practiced globally at the moment and the principle is human, animal medicine and environment interaction because diseases do not operate in a vacuum; it is an interaction between the thr
ee.

‘Therefore, if government decides not to fund the council and we run into problem in regulating veterinary medicine practice, we are bound to run into serious challenge as a nation, ‘ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Group hails defence chief on multi-agency engagements, coordination


Security Assessment Group (SAG), a civil society organisation, has commended the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, for the strategic engagement of relevant government agencies towards addressing national security challenges.

This is contained in a statement by the Group’s Coordinator, Alhassan Mohammed, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mohammed said the different meetings between the CDS and heads of some government agencies in recent time had contributed to the successes in ongoing military operations across the country.

He said the interactions had helped to bolster collaboration within the country’s security apparatus and other relevant government agencies in addressing the prevailing security challenges.

According to him, the recent visit by the CDS to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Central Bank of Nigeria and several other sister security agencies is commendable.

‘The visits will provide the much needed synergy against enemies of the state.

‘We particularly welcome the visit to th
e NIA where the Director-General, Amb. Abubakar lauded General Musa’s dedication to duty and highlighted the mutually beneficial relationship between NIA and AFN.

‘We can say that the visits and engagements are yielding positive results in the different theatres of operation,’ he added.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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EFCC to arraign former Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, others on Thursday


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is to arraign former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, before Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Maitama on Thursday.

Sirika, a minister in the administration of former president Muhammadu Buhari, would be arraigned on a six -count amended charge.

He will be arraigned alongside three others, including his daughter, Fatima; Jalal Hamma and Al-Duraq Investment Ltd, for abuse of office to the tune of N2.7billion.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that as part of EFCC investigations into the financial malfeasance allegedly committed by the former minister, ‘ including fraudulent contracts awarded by the ministry under his watch, had on April 23 detained him in Abuja”.

Sirika was invited by the Abuja Zonal Command of the commission on the alleged contract malfeasance and was promptly interrogated and detained at the Formella Street, Wuse 2 Zonal office of the Commission.

‘The former minister (Sirika) was in
vited for questioning by investigators handling the alleged contract frauds under his watch in the ministry and will be arraigned on Thursday,’ a source who pleaded anonymity said.

The source also said that EFCC had been investigating the alleged contract frauds while the minister was in office, and he had even met with investigators before he was detained.

NAN reports that the arraignment was earlier slated to hold on Tuesday but due to EFCC prayer to amend the charge, a new date was given.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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NNPC Ltd. reassures public with over 1.5bn litres of petrol


The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd. says it has over 1.5 billion litres stock of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, which will last for over 30 days.

Mr Olufemi Soneye, Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC Ltd., said this in a statement on Tuesday.

The company called on motorists to shun panic buying of the product as the nationwide supply and distribution of PMS continued to improve across the country.

‘In the filling stations monitored across several states, including Lagos and the FCT, the queues have since thinned out, a development that will keep improving daily in other states.

‘The Company wishes to state that at the moment, it has over 1.5 billion litres stock of PMS, which is equivalent to over 30 days sufficiency.

‘The NNPC Ltd. is also collaborating with relevant agencies, such as the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), labour unions in the sector and security operatives to address hoarding and other unwholesome prac
tices,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Group urges FG to recruit 500,000 additional policemen


The Ndigbo Unity Forum, a pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, has urged the Federal Government to recruit 500,000 additional policemen to beef up security in the country.

The Executive Director of the forum, Chief Augustine Chukwudum, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.

He said that the recruitment should be spaced over the next seven years to secure the vast majority of citizens currently being harassed by criminals.

Chukwudum said that the number of policemen was greatly inadequate to police the vast Nigerian population.

The executive director said doing so would reduce the burden on the military personnel who had been deployed for internal security operations nationwide.

‘Soldiers are trained to protect the territorial integrity of the country while it is the duty of the police to provide internal security as it is done all over the world.

‘The current abnormality is due to bad and corrupt leadership of the past that failed to uplift the Nigeria Police Force to
the level it is supposed to be,’ he added.

He, therefore, advised President Bola Tinbu to order for the ‘massive and unprecedented recruitment of 500,000 policemen within seven years.

‘There is a need to release operational money on time to police commands, formations and units to carry out their duty as required.

‘Their operational and office budget is not supposed to be delayed at all.’

On the agitation for state police, Chukwudum said it would not augur well for the country.

According to him, state governors will use it to hunt-down political opponents.

He said instead of setting up state police, governors should use their security votes to equip the Nigeria Police Force to eliminate kidnappers, terrorists and other criminals in their states.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Korea to assist Nigeria on security challenge


The Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria, Mr KIM Pankyu, has promised to explore avenues of assisting Nigeria to tackle the security challenge in the country.

He said this at a media parley in Abuja.

Pankyu.

The envoy who had just spent about 50 days in Nigeria, pledged to work toward expanding the partnership between the two countries for mutual benefits.

He said that Korea had at different times offered capacity building programmes for the Nigerian military and other security agencies toward enhancing their capabilities.

‘I intend to expand this kind of opportunities for Nigeria. I believe that counter-terrorism courses and training programmes are useful for Nigerian military officers.

‘We will also explore ways to have Nigerian Government to keep itself with proper hardwares. The Korean navy has donated a patrol ship which will arrive Lagos in few months. I will explore ways to expand this kind of assistance.

‘I will also explore ways to deepen the security cooperation to assist the country ad
dress insecurity. I will do that by using my expertise in military and security affairs which saw me through in my 40 years in the Korea navy.

‘On this, I will also like to focus on promoting corporation on maritime security, because, securing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea will essentially benefit many countries, including Korea.

‘In addition, I will like to expand Korean support of capacity building for Nigerian Military and security Officers,’Pankyu said.

He said that Nigeria remained a strong Korean partner in Africa, adding that the two countries can do more together.

He lauded the Federal Government for introducing reforms toward improving the business environment in the country.

‘I will explain these changes to Korean companies and encourage them to venture into Nigeria and make investments.

‘I will facilitate a people to people exchange between Nigeria and Korea because I believe that culture has the power to connect people and improve understanding among them,’ he said.

He commended t
he Korean Culture Centre in Nigeria for playing significant roles in introducing Korean Culture to Nigerians, promising to provide opportunities to Nigerians to experience the Korean content.

Pankyu also promised to explore avenues of increasing study slots for Nigerians wishing to study in the Republic of Korea.

He said that the Korean Government had provided numerous support toward food self-sufficiency in Africa through various projects like the K-Rice Belt Initiative to enhance high yield and food security on the continent.

‘We have signed Memorandum of Understanding with 10 African Countries to promote K-Rice Belt Projects. Nigeria’s joining this project is being discussed and when it is realised, it will surely contribute to its agriculture sector,’ he said.

The Envoy said that the Korea-Africa Summit slated for June in Seoul, Korea, would help solidify the relationship between Korea and Africa and also Korea and Nigeria.

‘The inaugural Korea-Africa Summit is expected to be the largest internationa
l gathering. This reflect Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol’s commitment to fostering mutually, beneficial, sustainable and strategic partnership with Africa.

‘This also marks significant steps in Korea’s comprehensive strategy to engage deeply with the global South, reflecting our commitment to global inclusiveness and corporation.

‘During the Summit, we will host many side events, and provide opportunities for Nigeria and Korea to explore ways to expand their bilateral economic and cultural exchange between government and private sector.

‘I’m positive and believe that the coming Summit will set a new milestone in the relationship between Korea and Africa,’Pankyu said.

He said that Korean people were largely Super Eagles fans, as they enjoyed their superlative performance in international tournaments.

‘The Korean people know Wole Soyinka, the literary Icon and they know the role of Nigeria in peace keeping in Africa,’ he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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Stakeholders advocate increased domestic funding to fight HIV/AIDS


Stakeholders on the prevention of HIV/AIDS on Tuesday called for increased domestic funding to accelerate prevention and end HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

They made the call at the opening ceremony of the 2024 Nigeria HIV prevention cconferencewith the theme ‘Accelerating HIV Prevention to end AIDS through Innovations and Community Engagement’ organised by National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in Abuja.

Amobi Ogah, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control, stressed the need to reduce dependency on foreign aid and source for local funding to end HIV/AIDS in the country.

Ogah disclosed that Nigeria needed an estimated eight billion dollars annually to sustain the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He added that the national coverage of Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is less than 50 per cent, leading to about 22,000 cases of MTCT of HIV every year in Nigeria.

He stressed the need to re-evaluate, rethink, and re-strategise HIV prevention i
ntervention programmes.

He added that ‘for NACA to achieve her mandate, we must all ensure increase of domestic funding, strengthen HIV interventions, mobilise community members for gender equality, social norms and care services.

‘We must also increase funding for PMTCT of HIV, support people living with the virus, campaign against stigmatisation and discrimination of persons living with HIV/AIDS.

‘Also, we need to ensure leadership action for these and key population communities among other interventions.

‘NACA will also need to scale up its treatment centres, which is about 100. I think we should increase it to at least 300 by the end of 2024 to stem the tide and sustain the fight to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat.

Dr Temitope Ilori, the Director-General of NACA, said that the theme of the conference underscores the importance of community involvement in shaping effective prevention strategies, while ensuring access to treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS.

She said ‘we must double our eff
orts to prevent MTCT and strive for an AIDS-free generation by 2030, leveraging the advancements in health technology at our disposal.

‘Prevention lies at the core of our public health interventions. Therefore, this conference serves as a platform to explore innovative approaches to empower communities, particularly those at higher risk, with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves from HIV infection.

‘Stigma and discrimination remain significant barriers to achieving our goals by 2030.

‘We must educate and sensitise people about the harmful effects of stigma and discrimination against individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

‘Our strategies must be inclusive, person-centred, and sensitive to the needs of adolescents, young people, key populations, and people living with the virus.

‘We must also focus on community-based interventions while promoting local ownership and sustainability of our response efforts.’

Dr Leo Zekeng, the UNAIDS Country Director, said: ‘everyone must be involved. We need to find ou
t at the state level how much is earmarked toward prevention, we need the political commitment.

‘Investment in condoms has reduced and data remains a challenge. So, this is the time to invest in primary prevention, and chart a new course on reducing new infections in Nigeria.’

Also, Dr Tunji Alausa, Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, stressed the need to accelerate prevention of new infections, especially among vulnerable population and youths.

‘My attention will be focused on how we keep our data right, ensuring that we have solid foundation for improved ownership and sustainability of the HIV response in Nigeria.

‘I will be elated when the director-general of NACA talks to me on how we can facilitate an AIDS-free generation, where no child will be born HIV positive in Nigeria.’

Source: News Agency of Nigeria