Posts tagged as: buhari

Nigeria:Agriculture to Get More Funds – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government will sustain concrete measures to diversify the economy by devoting more resources to agriculture in the 2017 budget.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, Kenya at the weekend on the margins of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), President Buhari said African countries had a lot to learn from Japan on developing agriculture.

“This year, in Nigeria, we started an aggressive farming programme that entails organising farmers into cooperatives in the second and third tier of government.

“We intend to put more resources in our 2017 budget, especially in the procurement of machinery for land clearing, fertilizers, pesticides and training of less-educated farmers, as farm extension instructors.

“We have already registered some success this year in a number of states, we identified some 13 states that will be self-sufficient in rice, wheat and grains before the end of 2018.

“We are very positive that soon we will be able to export these food products. We are also lucky that the farming season in the northern part of the country has been very good and we are expecting a bumper harvest this year,” the President said.

On his expectation for TICAD, President Buhari said Japan’s story of rapid economic growth, hardwork and advanced technology should encourage Africans to strive harder and solve its development challenges.

“Japan has greatly advanced in technology, particularly in solar power, infrastructure to spur growth in medium and small-scale industries.

“Because of the advanced use of technology, farming and agriculture can become competitive.

“Japan has the knowledge, technology and capital to assist African countries to develop and Japanese firms are in a very good position to successfully compete for the development of infrastructure in Nigeria,” he said.

The President then requested for increased participation of the Japanese government and the private sector in the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria

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Nigeria:More Outrage At Alleged Buhari’s Directive to World Bank

By Seye Olumide and Lawrence Njoku

The Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) yesterday condemned the alleged directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, that the institution should concentrate on northern Nigeria.

Kim had said: “You know, in my very first meeting with President Buhari, he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that. Now, it has been very difficult. The work there has been very difficult.”

In a statement yesterday by Chief Guy Ikokwu for the South-East; Senator Bassey Henshaw for the South-South and Mr. Yinka Odumakin for the South-West, the forum said: “This directive, without mincing words, is sectional, discriminatory, divisive and against the laudable promise of President Buhari at his inauguration that he would not be beholden to anyone as he was elected to be the president of everybody.

“Giving instructions to the World Bank to concentrate on a section of the country where the president hails from throws a knife at the heart of our nationhood and challenges the hackneyed expression that the ‘unity of Nigeria is settled.’

“There can never be any rationale way such a request should be made by a president with a pan-Nigerian mandate. The only explanation that would have convinced us was if we were told that such a discussion did not take place at all.”

Besides, the forum said it had studied the very rude, bellicose, insensitive and knee-jerk response from the presidency on the matter, saying: “The unfortunate tirade from the office of the president showed a very deep contempt and palpable impunity as 90 per cent of its content was devoted to abusing those who have shown rightful indignation at such a development. It is not on record that even the British colonial masters addressed Nigerians in such scornful and brash language. The only tepid explanation in the spiteful statement was that the president’s request was for the reconstruction of the North-East. But Kim was emphatic about ‘northern region’ and not North-East.”

The southern leaders said they wouldn’t have raised any alarm if the Word Bank chief had stated that the request was to pay special attention to the North-East, as they were sympathetic to the devastation caused there by the Boko Haram insurgents.

“We have since seen figures from projects done in the country by the World Bank within the tenure of the administration, which show that about $1 billion worth of jobs are specifically for the North-East, while about $2.9 billion worth of projects is for the whole of the country, including the northern states.

Just as the North-East deserves special attention, so also are the South-South, South -East and South-West, especially as the repayment of these facilities will mostly come from these parts.”

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) also decried the alleged Buhari’s directive, saying while it recognised the need for special attention for the North-East based on the devastation caused to it by terrorists over the years, it was wrong for the president to direct the World Bank or any international aid meant for the country to be focused on a particular zone.

The National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu said if, for whatever reason, Buhari directed the World Bank to focus on the North-East “he (the president) must realise that whatever the World Bank is giving as a form of aid to a particular section of the country would be reciprocated by Nigeria in whatever form and when it comes to that, it is not only the section that benefitted that would reciprocate but the country.”

But the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, appealed that the issue should not be taken out of context, urging those blaming Buhari to endeavour to visit the North-East to appreciate the level of destruction.

“The level of destruction we are talking about is not just infrastructure but lives, children that have been out of schools, displaced people and all manner of devastation no single government or state could handle alone. That must have informed the president’s directive,” he said.

Also, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, urged those attacking Buhari over the revelation by Kim to, in the fullness of time, judge him by his project performance across the length and breadth of the country.

Okechukwu said it was not right to judge the president with those allegations, especially when massive projects were going on in various parts of the country.

“The statement Kim made is not as it sounds, for as we approach 2019 general elections, more stories will surface either fake or real. After all, the simple definition of election in liberal democracy is a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. Use your vote to judge his project performance not propaganda performance. Leaders like Buhari come once in a generation, I bet you”, he said.

On Ohanaeze’s visit to the President last week, Okechukwu who had lamented that Buhari’s letter of November 2014 and his January 2017 congratulatory message which were allegedly rebuffed by Ohanaeze leadership, said he was happy that the group finally opened a vital channel of communications with the president instead of “throwing stones from the sidelines.”

Nigeria: Reps to Probe Poor Condition of State House Clinic

By Nasir Ayitogo

The House of Representatives has asked an ad-hoc committee to investigate the condition of the State House Clinic, Abuja, and alleged irregular deductions from the salaries and allowances of the staff.

This house set up the committee after adopting a motion raised by Henry Archibong (PDP-Akwa Ibom) at the plenary on Thursday.

Mr. Archibong alleged that despite huge budgetary allocations, the clinic lacks necessary facilities, drugs and even such as syringes.

He was echoing a complaint earlier made on Monday by the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, who criticised the management of the facility.

Aisha Buhari [Photo: naij.com]

“In the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Appropriation Acts, the Clinic was allocated the sum of ₦3.94 billion, ₦3.87 billion and ₦3.2 billion respectively, for upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment,” Mr. Archibong said.

He also alleged that medical doctors working at the Clinic were complaining over alleged illegal deductions from their salaries and allowances by the Management since April 2017, without any official explanation.

Mrs. Buhari, at a stakeholder’s meeting at the State House on Reproductive, Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health and Nutrition (RMNCAHN), said she was unable to access health care at the Clinic and had to go to a private facility run by foreigners.

“I called the Aso Clinic to find out if they have an X-Ray machine, they said it’s not working”

“In the end I had to go to a hospital owned and operated by foreigners 100 per cent”

“There is a budget for the Hospital and if you go there now, you will see a number of constructions going on but they don’t have a single syringe there.”

“What is the purpose of the buildings if there are no equipment there to work with?”

“You can imagine what happens across the states to governors wives if this will happen to me in Abuja,” she said.

State House clinic [Photo credit: nigeriamedinterns.com]

Mrs. Buhari’s comments also came a few days after her daughter, Zahra, took to her Instagram page to accuse the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Jalal Arabi, of allegedly failing to provide even Paracetamol tablets at the clinic despite a budget of N3 billion for provision of drugs at the hospital.

Nigeria: No Monkey Pox in Enugu – Health Commissioner

By Dennis Agbo

Enugu — Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin, has dismissed rumour making the rounds that there was a reported case of monkey pox in the state.

The commissioner said Enugu State has surveillance team, a set of officers distributed across the 17 local government areas of the state, whose job is to look out for diseases that we overlook.

“They are on duty everyday, since last year, since Ebola, they are on duty.

“They look out for yellow fever, lasava fever, Ebola, every kind of disease, including cholera, and they make report available immediately. So we have no reported outbreak of monkey pox in Enugu.”

Ekochin stated that the defence mechanism in the state is surveillance, which he said is continuous through disease notification officers at the local government areas.

“Again, we have the state epidemiologist who is a medical doctor in the Ministry of Health that coordinates all these people. So surveillance is steadily on which we do by ourselves or support from partners for advocacy whenever necessary,” said Ekochin

He noted that there has been only one established and confirmed case of monkey-pox in Nigeria in Bayelsa State, saying: “All these other ones you are hearing about are suspected cases. There is only one confirmed case of monkey pox in Nigeria and surveillance is going but we have no confirmed case of monkey pox in Enugu State.”

On the precautions against the disease, Ekochin advised people to maintain basic hygiene everywhere, at homes, offices and in handling animals as pets.

He said: “Let me tell you, the so called monkey-pox is caused by a virus similar to chicken-pox. Who is afraid of chicken pox? It’s there, it comes in seasons, depending on whether and temperature, it affects the children.

“So chicken-pox is a bigger thing to worry than monkey-pox. The virus that causes monkey-pox is very old. It’s an old disease, the last reported case was in the 70s. So it’s not a new disease that has made medical practitioners confused, no!

“There is no vaccine for monkey-pox and there is no specific drug treatment. However, it runs a natural cause that in most cases is not fatal. There is nothing to fear about money-pox.”

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Domestic Airlines Record Three Million Passengers in Six Months

By Anthony Awunor

Lagos — Domestic airlines in Nigeria lifted a total of 3,287,310 passengers in the first six months of this year, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The figure, however, represents a 21 per cent decrease, compared to the 4,193,862 passengers airlifted within the period last year.

According to the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the decrease is due to the current economic hardships in the country, which is affecting air travels adversely.

Records obtained from the NCAA show that only 45 airplanes are currently in active service out of the 74 planes in the fleet of the eight domestic airlines servicing Africa’s most populous nation at present.

The airlines are Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Azman Air, Dana Air, Med-View, Overland, First Nation and Air Peace.

The top three performing domestic airlines in the first half of this year are Air Peace, which leads the performance chart with 6,715 flights, Arik Air 4,069 flights and Dana Air 3,261 flights.

But the flights operated by the airlines also declined by 28 per cent as they were only able to operate 21,662 flights in the first half this year.

The eight airlines collectively operated 30,100 flights within the first six months of 2016, according to NCAA records.

The drop in the number of flights operated by the airlines was not unconnected with the steady depletion of airplanes in the fleet of the airlines.

Commenting on the development, the President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Noggie Meggisson, argued that a safety and economic policy must have to be put in place for the airlines to survive.

He noted that some critical issues also needed to be addressed before the sector could actualise its potential fully.

Meggisson said that some of the issues that needed to be addressed included removal of value-added tax for domestic airlines and a review of the five per cent ticket sales charge to a flat rate.

The AON chief also called for a harmonisation of what he called the over 35 multiple charges that were becoming huge burdens to the airlines.

NAN

Nigeria

Biafra Leader Caused Chaos in My Husband’s Absence – Aisha Buhari

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Nigeria: CBN On the Move Again to Create 360,000 New Jobs

By Mark Itsibor

Abuja — For President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not only deserve commendation for entrenching stability in the foreign exchange market and embarking on developmental initiatives that have helped to redirect the nation’s economy, it should be given more chance to do even. To that extent, the federal government has announced that beyond the intimidating success stories across key sectors of the economy – occasioned by the interventions of the CBN, it is partnering with the bank to create more jobs and empower more Nigerians.

“… a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives,” so announced by President Buhari in his independence speech yesterday. For the President, the initiatives of the CBN so far, are of outstanding success.

In the remarks to mark the 57th anniversary of Nigeria as a nation, President Buhari pointed to the CBN-initiated agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) that was launched in November 2015 as one of the pro-active ideas of the bank that are aiding diversification drive of the federal government. The joy is understandable. At the last count, 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation are already benefiting from the N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions to fund the agricultural programme.

Barely two-years of commencement of the ABP, President Buhari noted that 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities of Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming. The initiatives were undertaken in close collaboration with the states. “I wish to commend the efforts of the Governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa States for their support to the rice and fertilizer revolutions. While commending the contributions of some state Governors including that of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau for their support for the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and others crops, the President praised the steps of the CBN in rebalancing the economy.

On the President’s brag list is the fact that “Elsewhere in the economy the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.”

It was Mudashiru Olaitan who promptly noted in his contribution to a publication to mark the 40th anniversary of the CBN titled: “BULLION” that the overarching objective of an efficient financial system intermediation process is to stimulate sustainable economic growth and development. His position mirrors the interventions of the central bank in the Nigerian economy as apt approaches to solving economic challenges and putting the economy on the part of growth.

For clarity, the CBN is digging for gold in a more modest manner. The apex bank has developed economic models focused on the utilisation of massive capital injections to catalyse rapid Gross Domestic Growth (GDP) growth rates, which have aided growth and moderation in inflation rate.

The interventions of the central bank under the administration of Godwin Emefiele were acknowledged by President Buhari as major contributors to the recovery and growth of the Nigerian economy. Beyond its core mandate of creating the conducive environment for financial institutions to operate and thrive, the CBN is creating jobs for the teaming youths in the country.

“Since December last year, this administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertiliser. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy. Fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500,”the President said in his broadcast yesterday.

Owing to the stabilisation in the Nigerian stock and foreign exchange markets, Nigeria has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

The intervention by the CBN in the real sector is expected to continue to yield positive results in terms of output and lower consumer prices. For many, the CBN is helping in no small measure to build confidence in the federal government.

The central bank is not resting on its oars. In a communiqué at the end of its meeting last week, the Monetary Policy Committee restated its commitment to maintaining stability in prices, without which meaningful recovery cannot be achieved.

There is now a new trend towards convergence between the rates at the bureau-de-change (BDC) and the Nigeria Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) segments, as well as the stability of the exchange rate at the inter-bank segment of the foreign exchange market during the review period. The success of the Investor and Exporters’ window (I &E) of the foreign exchange market and traced this not only to foreign investor confidence but also to the zeal and commitment of Nigerian exporters who have demonstrated preference for the window to the parallel market.

For instance, the MPC observed that the I&E window has increased liquidity and boosted confidence in the market with over US$7.0 billion inflow in the last five months. The Committee will continue to introduce policies that will improve the confidence of foreign investors in the country’s macroeconomic management regime.

While commending the gradual narrowing of rate spreads in the foreign exchange market, members of the committee urged the central bank to continue to monitor and respond proactively to threats and vulnerabilities in the foreign exchange market.

The Committee believes that the economy can be stronger. In line with that believe, the members urged increased momentum in expenditure directed at the growth-stimulating sectors of the economy in order to reduce youth unemployment and restiveness, even as it welcomed the steady implementation of the 2017 Budget, especially, the capital component of the budget.

Experts view that there is an emerging cohesion between fiscal and monetary policies with a common objective of driving the economy forward, while calling on the fiscal authorities to brace up for speedy and effective implantation of the 2017 budget and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Nigeria: Independence – ‘Power Remains a Huge Problem’ in Nigeria – Buhari

Photo: This Day

Electricity powerlines.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said power remains a huge problem in Nigeria despite the fact that energy production has reached an all-time high of 7,001 Megawatts as of September 12.

President Buhari stated this in his broadcast to mark Nigeria’s 57th independence anniversary on Sunday in Abuja.

He, however, said that government was increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedevilling the sector.

“We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

“Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off,” he said.

President Buhari also announced that a new presidential initiative that would create a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths across 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) would be soon inaugurated with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

He noted with delight that the country had recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation.

“Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 to one dollar in February this year to N360 today.

“Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

“Elsewhere in the economy the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements have proved very effective. Since April, about seven billion dollars has come through this window alone.

“The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.”

(NAN)

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Nigeria: Reprieve for Ex-Nigerian Airways Workers

After 13 years of agitation, the federal government last week, finally gave approval for the release of N45 billion for the payment of gratuities and other retirement benefits of former staff of defunct Nigeria Airways Ltd (NAL).

It was cheering news, especially for the ex-workers of NAL, many of whom might have given up on the payment of their severance package. But what is instructive about this is the fact that the government that liquidated the nation’s national carrier, NAL was unable to pay the ex-workers.

THISDAY learnt that some years ago, the workers were given five years retirement payment after the liquidation but they rightly demanded for pay off. This was after several years the labour unions had cried hoarse, obstructed aviation activities on behalf of the workers and risked their lives and their jobs. This was also after some of the ex-workers had died in penury and or lost their loved ones because they had no money to care for them.

Early this year, THISDAY learnt that the corpse of one of the seasoned pilots of Nigeria Airways (name withheld) was in the mortuary many months after his demise because the children of the deceased could not pay for the cost of the mortuary service and burial. It would have been avoidable death if he had the resources to attend to his ailment.

In a recent protest by the ex-Nigeria Airways workers, a former staff, Christiana Ojukoya noted that their colleagues in Europe and America were paid their full entitlements immediately the carrier was liquidated, whereas those in Nigeria, Cameroon and other West African countries were neglected for years until 2009 when late President Umaru Yar’Adua paid five years of their severance packages, instead of the 25 years paid to their colleagues abroad.

“The sad thing is that I and my husband worked for this airline for 25 years and we both suffered until he died last year. My husband died in penury because we could not raise money for his medical bills,” she mournfully stated.

Under these gory experiences, one can appreciate the succour the Buhari administration has given to these ex-workers of the defunct airline.

The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, told THISDAY that what happened was unprecedented and this showed that the Buhari administration is a listening government interested in positively impacting the lives of Nigerians.

“This has demonstrated that this government is a listening government. The agitation by the ex-NAL workers for the payment of their entitlements has been going on for year until this government gave approval and provided funds to settle these workers many of whom have suffered so much,” the Director General said.

He noted that the government had taken a good decision considering the fact that it planned to establish a private sector driven national carrier. “So by this lofty action of government, it has put an end to the sad memories of the liquidation of the former national carrier and has created a convivial environment for the birth of a new national airline”, he added.

But while commending government for approving the sum of N45 billion to settlement the entitlements of about 5,909 pensioners, the ex-workers are peeved that the initial sun of N87 billion, which was the actual calculated pension fund was slashed.

Dr. Steve Mahonwu, who was Controller of Personnel Services of the former NAL, insisted that the government should complete the payment as “we would continue to agitate until it was done, noting that this government has started well and would “go the whole hog.”

He added: “There is going to be workable arrangement for them to pay the balance in due course. They will let us know the payment schedule. Otherwise, we will continue to agitate until it is paid. But I commend this government for listening to us. When compared to the era of Chief Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan administration one can see the difference; although under the Yar’adua government we got five years payment.”

THISDAY learnt that while the plans to pay this money was on, the Presidential Initiative for the Continuous Audit (PICA) stepped in and cut the money to N45 billion.

The calculations of the pay off that came up to N78 billion included 10 years arrears of pension and 10 years of advance payment, which would finally rest all labour issues concerning the defunct Nigeria Airways. But PICA removed 10 years arrears of pension, insisting that only N45 billion would be paid.

Since 2004, the defunct NAL was liquidated by the federal government, the workers of the once one of Africa’s greatest carriers have clamoured for pay off, as the airline’s liquidation was a decision taken by Nigeria’s government. With the pay off, labour issues concerning the defunct airline would be permanently settled, but this was not to be 13 years after NAL went under.

Mahonwu, who noted that the amount approved was short of what should have been paid to the ex-workers, said they would take the payment in the hope that government would add to it, noting that the money is their right and is not negotiable. He gave kudos to the Buhari administration that made this possible.

“We thank those who made it possible. This is a relief so we take it and continue to struggle for more. It is our benefit so it is not negotiable but we thank the federal government and all the people who contributed to make this possible, he said.

It was also gathered that when the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika was appointed, he sped up the process of the pay off for the ex-NAL workers. Being an aviator, Sirika definitely knew the background to the agitation, which prompted him to make every effort possible to put smile on the faces of the ex-workers, some of who live in penury.

Nigeria: Govt to Provide ARV for 50,000 Additional People Living With HIV Yearly

By Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian government has made new commitments to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with Human Immuno Virus (HIV) each year in the country.

Government’s commitment was announced in a speech by President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded high-level side event convened by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, in collaboration with UNAIDS, during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.

The side event was meant to accelerate action and get countries on the fast track to end AIDS by 2030

The Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sank Aliyu, who read the statement on behalf of President Buhari at the event, said: “We recognise the impact of the global financing environment and the need for shared responsibility in order to end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.

“Thus, we have committed to increased domestic resourcing of the AIDS response. In the light of this, we are committed to maintain the current 60,000 plus clients on life saving medicines and an additional 50,000 new clients per year,” President Buhari said.

He announced that Nigeria had already put more than one million people living with HIV on treatment.

Meanwhile, various local and international health organisations have lauded the move, describing it as a positive way to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the country.

Dr. Aliyu in a statement on behalf of NACA, said the Agency was encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the federal government towards putting more of its own financial resources to the HIV response. “This is one sure way of helping Nigeria end AIDS by 2030,” he said.

The Country Director, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Erasmus Morah said the UN body was thrilled by the new momentum and firm commitments that President Buhari is bringing to HIV response. “We are eager to support the process of putting more people living with HIV in Nigeria on treatment,” he added.

Other important new commitments announced by President Buhari included working with partners to conduct a national population-based HIV survey to gather new evidence to guide Nigeria’s response, a plan to establish a private-sector funded AIDS Trust Fund as well as securing of HIV funding commitments from the States.

He also expressed commitment to offering an enabling environment for the local manufacture of antiretroviral drugs in support of Nigeria’s policy to immediately put any person who tests positive for HIV on treatment.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: WHO, UNAIDS, NACA Laud Govt’s Move to Help Additional 50,000 People Living With HIV

By Chukwuma Muanya

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) have hailed the Federal Government’s new commitment to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with HIV each year.

Director General of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, in a statement, said: “We are encouraged by the enthusiasm that the Federal Government is showing towards putting more of its own financial resources to the HIV response. This is one sure way of helping Nigeria to end AIDS by 2030.”

UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria, Dr. Erasmus Morah, said: “UNAIDS is thrilled by the new momentum and firm commitments that the Government of Nigeria is bringing to its HIV response. We are eager to support the process of putting more people living with HIV in Nigeria on treatment.”

Nigeria’s commitment was announced in a speech by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, at the successfully concluded high-level side event convened by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, in collaboration with UNAIDS, during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States. The side event was meant to accelerate action and get countries on the Fast Track to end AIDS by 2030.

“We recognise the impact of the global financing environment and the need for shared responsibility in order to end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030,” said President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement read on his behalf by the Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu.

“Thus, we have committed to increased domestic resourcing of the AIDS response. In the light of this, the Government of Nigeria is committed to maintain the current 60,000 plus clients on life saving medicines and an additional 50,000 new clients per year,” Buhari said. He announced that Nigeria had already put more than one million people living with HIV on treatment.

Other important new commitments announced by President Buhari included working with partners to conduct a national population-based HIV survey to gather new evidence to guide Nigeria’s response, a plan to establish a private-sector funded AIDS Trust Fund as well as securing of HIV funding commitments from the States. Buhari also expressed commitment to offering an enabling environment for the local manufacture of antiretroviral drugs in support of Nigeria’s policy to immediately put any person who tests positive for HIV on treatment.

At the side event, Aliyu spoke on behalf President Buhari before the King of Swaziland, the Presidents of Malawi, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia, the Vice President of Botswana, representatives of the United States and China, the UNAIDS Executive Director, as well as representatives of people living with HIV.

Nigeria

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