Posts tagged as: federal

Nigeria: Abuja Airport As a Metaphor

Given the euphoria that has trailed the successful reconstruction of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, my interest as usual is purely academic, a tall order in a country in which deep reflection about nation building is a luxury. The airport which services the federal capital closed on March 8 with the promise of being reopened on April 19 after a comprehensive overhaul.

There is a general national consensus that for once in recent time we recorded “a remarkable feat”. Well before the reconstruction deadline, new run away was delivered, precisely on Monday, April 17 with resumed flights and operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA. Don’t get me wrong please. We must definitely salute the Hon Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for delivering on promise and for reportedly putting his integrity on the line by vowing to resign if the airport was not reopened.

But lest we forget, this is a run way long over due for a repair almost two decades ago. The received wisdom has it that there is no greater crime than a loss of time. If we could roll out the drums for a belated rehabilitation , it will very well be nice we are also sobered with the knowledge of the huge costs we have so far incurred for the original delay and outright criminal neglect. To dispense with some N5.8 billion earmarked for an airport rehabilitation within a month and few days, must task our cost consciousness in an economy technically in a recession. That is if at all we are cost conscious in the first place. Undoubtedly the opportunity cost of non-repair is as high. But the opportunity cost of the decades long neglect is certainly higher. Sometimes in 2010 we were debating the prospect of building the second runway at the estimated controversial N63.5 billion contract. Almost a decade later, we are celebrating a rehab of an old run way even as we keep a sealed lip on building a new one. Nigeria is often characterized as a mono- economy, relying almost on nothing but oil and gas (accounting for 94 per cent of export earnings and 62 per cent of Government revenue!). Abuja airport is another metaphor for a nation that stands on one leg, sorry, for a nation whose major international airport relies on only (and only one!) rehabilitated run way.

For me the bigger picture of delay, neglect and the recent belated tokenism at a huge cost calls for sobriety rather the recent self praise that we have achieved “a feat”. With feat like this, we can as well say a farewell to ambitious nation building project. Yet Nigeria must learn to be ambitious as a nation. So far with all the official noise, the comprehensive repair of the Abuja terminal is yet to be completed. While we all micro manage Abuja airport, (sorry rehabilitating a runway!) we should not forget that Nigeria parades as many as 26 airports in the country operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Five of these are called “international airports” namely that of Kaduna, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu. On arrival at the Murtala international airport, every passenger is ever psychologically prepared that the elevator will ever not function.

While the repair was on, President Buhari launched with fanfare , the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan Job creation and youth empowerment. One cardinal principle of this new commendable road plan for growth and development is to promote public finance aimed at reducing unemployment and under-employment, especially among the youths. Pray how many sustainable jobs are the fall outs of N5.8 billion Abuja airport repairs/ intervention? The ERGP also sets to promote local content. What then is the local content of N5.8 billion Abuja airport repairs? We even ignored the “local content” suggestion by critical stakeholders, in the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), who argued that the rehabilitation could take place with the airport in use. Are we using public intervention in infrastructure development to empower Nigerians and move the economy from recession to recovery or doing business as usual patronizing foreign investors and fueling capital flight and perpetuating underdevelopment? Still on ERGP . This wonderful document is almost romantic about “..placing emphasis on Made-in-Nigeria” as part of the “.. diversification of the economy”. It is therefore mind boggling seeing almost all Nigerians, federal government and the media alike doing generous promotion of Ethiopian Airlines, “the only foreign airline that accepted to use the alternative Kaduna airport during the rehabilitation” having being the first aircraft to have landed at the reopened airport. Haba! Again lest we forget, our national anthem opens with the clarion call “Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey, To serve our fatherland” NOT another country certainly not Ethiopia. Again don’t get me wrong. Ethiopia airlines in a gloablized world is commendably doing very well to corner the huge market share of Nigeria which scandalously kills its own national carrier. But even at that for as long as Abuja repair lasted Ethiopia airlines was not doing charity work but smart business making good money on routes abandoned by other international airlines. Why on earth should we rise in unison with cheap advert for a foreign airline having fun at our idiocy and gross underdevelopment? . Nigeria and Nigerians must certainly return to basics in patriotism and nation building. We sign on to open sky policy without reciprocal flights to any of the countries that have colonized our routes. That is bad enough. But it is a national shame and indeed national disgrace that we now inadvertently promote foreign airlines at the expense of our own.

Many Nigerian compatriots certainly feel diminished that a foreign airline was indulged to land on a runway Nigerians paid for and the first pilot to be so favored to speak to us is nor from Nigeria. Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe who the airport is deservedly named after must be wondering in his grave; what has happened to the promise of independence him and his compatriots fought for.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Govt to Build Courts in Prisons – Dambazau

By Joshua Odeyemi

The Federal Government is working on co-locating courts and prisons to fast track the process of administering justice in the country.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau gave this hint yesterday in Abuja, while commissioning 239 operational vehicles and farm implements recently acquired by the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS).

Dambazau said the move was important to reduce congestion in most prison facilities in urban areas.

The Controller-General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed, said tractors and other relevant implements procured would address the drudgery hitherto associated with the prison farms.

Nigeria

Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Nigeria: Meningitis Outbreak in Nigeria: Is There an End in Sight?

Photo: Vanguard

(file photo).

By Nini Iyizoba

As of April 17 2017, there had been over 8000 reported cases of Meningitis in Nigeria, and nearly 800 deaths, and it’s not slowing down yet. The first case of the disease was first reported in Zamfara state in November 2016. By February 2017, it had become more widespread in the Northwest and Northcentral zones in Nigeria and was declared an epidemic in six states Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Yobe.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infection of the surrounding fluid. Viral and Bacterial meningitis are contagious and can usually be transmitted by overcrowding, coughing, sneezing and close contact. Epidemic meningitis is most often caused by the bacteria known as Neisseria Meningitidies. It has different strains but Serotype C accounts for about 80% of the Nigerian outbreak.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control is supposedly making efforts to bring the outbreak under control. Rapid Response teams have been deployed to all affected areas to ‘provide assistance’, but it seems as though the efforts put forth are not enough because the death toll seems to be on the increase. In the past 2 weeks alone, approximately 300 people have died from this outbreak. These deaths could have been avoided, either through vaccination or by accurate diagnosis and rapid intervention. Part of the reason for the increased number of deaths may be due to the unpreparedness of the health authorities especially, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

The NCDC as well as the Ministry of Health are well aware that Nigeria is one of the countries that fall under the ‘Meningitis Belt’ yet, we were unprepared for an outbreak. Meningitis can occur anytime of the year but is most commonly seen during the dry season from December to June. In 1996 alone, Meningitis killed more than 11,000 people in Nigeria. In 2009, almost 600 people died. In fact, just 2 years ago, a meningitis epidemic affected almost 10,000 people and killed over 1000 people in Nigeria. And now, again, in 2017, it’s happening all over again. How can we not be prepared? Why should we be caught unawares? It is occurrences like these that make people theorise about the lack of empathy for the poor or average Nigerian life.

More on This

Meningitis Outbreak in Nigeria – Is There an End in Sight?


Meningitis Outbreak – Death Toll Rises to 813Eliminating Meningitis, Other Diseases Through VaccinationUnicef Delivers 850,000 Doses of Meningitis Vaccines to Sokoto GovtMeningitis Death Toll Hits 813

Nigerian Govt Says Meningitis Vaccination is Free

Meningitis – Zamfara Health Officials Sell Free MedicinesMeningitis Outbreak – Govt Says Vaccination Is FreeDespite Contrary Facts, Nigerian Govt Claims It Now Has Enough VaccinesMeningitis Outbreak Death Toll Hits 489

Meningitis is quite common in Sub Saharan Africa and countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Chad, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso etc make up the ‘Meningitis Belt’ because of the likelihood of meningitis epidemics every few years. The most affected age group is 5-14 years of age and those affected may exhibit symptoms such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, photophobia, altered mental status, nausea, vomiting etc Though meningitis is treatable, it still has a high morbidity and fatality rate.
Yes, the NCDC has explained that the C strain which is causing majority of the reported cases is not very common, and so, they weren’t (still aren’t) prepared for it. But that is an unacceptable excuse. The Disease Control Centre and the Ministry of Health are knowledgeable enough to know how to prepare for eventualities. What incentive is necessary to create a passion for preserving humanity? When will we ever be prepared to tackle an outbreak of meningitis, a disease that has cut short the lives of so many Nigerians?The truth of the matter is that there is a scarcity of vaccines. It baffles me how we are still battling to stock up on vaccines knowing fully well that the country is prone to meningitis outbreaks. The Federal Government have gotten vaccines to combat the Type C strain but they are not enough. About 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccine have been distributed to affected areas in the North for immediate vaccination. Approximately, another 800,000 doses are being expected from United Kingdom to help support the ongoing vaccination programs. That brings the total to about 1.3M vaccine doses for a country that has a population of over 180M people. We might as well say that we have no vaccines. This Meningitis outbreak shows that the Ministry of Health have no solid plan of action to help prevent such widespread outbreaks. It is disheartening that here in Nigeria, we wait until there is an epidemic or an outbreak before we start running helter-skelter to try to manage it.They knew it was coming. The first case was back in November, and only now, after 4 months and 8000 cases later, are we only starting to acquire vaccines. Why can’t we have emergency preparedness like other countries? Imagine the United Kingdom giving Nigeria 800,000 doses of vaccine to help us, meanwhile they are not even near the Meningitis Belt. Yet, they are prepared to tackle an outbreak, even with the lowest probability. The Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control must work together as a unit to be able to have a plan of action to curtail any future outbreaks such as this.In the meantime, all Nigerians must also do their part to ensure they stay safe. Below are a few prevention tips;Make sure you stay in well ventilated areas and avoid overcrowded rooms.Avoid close contact or kissing anyone with respiratory infections such as coughing, sneezing etc Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently.It is essential that we acquaint ourselves with the associated signs and symptoms because though meningitis may be fatal, it can be treated, as long as there is early detection and rapid intervention.Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Nigeria: Support Local Manufacturers, Industrial Pharmacists Tell Govt

By Martins Ifijeh

National Association of Industrial Pharmacists (NAIP) has called on the federal government to support local manufacturers with various forms of investments to enhance local manufacture of drugs for the benefit of Nigerians.

It also said industrial pharmacists should be given preferential treatment in procurement of local products to stimulate more investments from the private sector.

Speaking during a two-day symposium to mark the 20th national conference of the Association, a former Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Sam Ohuabunwa, said when industrial pharmacists are supported, it would increase outputs, accessibility and improved outreach for new products to meet the needs of Nigerians.

According to him, “The combination of these factors will raise productivity, which is the GDP, increase component of products made in Nigeria to enhance self-sufficiency and also reduce the risk of depending on the world to provide us such an essential thing as pharmaceutical product.”

Ohuabunwa, who chaired the opening session, said things were beginning to look up for manufacturers, with government’s policies in the area of tariffs, ease of doing business, and foreign exchange allocation, adding that the pharmaceutical sector will benefit.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, School Netherlands, Nigeria, Lere Baale, said industrial pharmacists were targeting an annual growth rate of 12 to 15 per cent to improve its contributions to the economy.

He said if the industry grows steadily by 12 per cent, the sub-sector would be producing over 70 per cent of pharmaceutical needs locally, adding that at the moment, 30 per cent were produced in Nigeria and 70 per cent imported.

He noted that the industry in India grows by 11.6 per cent, as such; the 12 per cent target was not beyond Nigeria. Adding that, at 12 per cent growth rate, the sub-sector would have at least doubled its contribution to the GDP in six years or in five years if the growth rate is 15 per cent.

Speaking on the theme: ‘Growing the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry for greater

economic impact,’ he reiterated the need for collaboration for the industrialists to work with academias in the field and the government.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Meningitis Outbreak – Death Toll Rises to 813

Photo: Premium Times
By Nike Adebowale

Over 800 Nigerians have been killed by meningitis since the latest outbreak of the epidemic in the country 16 weeks ago.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disclosed this figure on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House in Abuja.

Mr. Adewole said though the outbreak which started in Nigeria in 2016 is now spreading more slowly, the disease has killed 813 people.

“As of yesterday (Tuesday), the number of deaths stood at 813”, Mr. Adewole told journalists after the cabinet meeting, adding however, “As of now, we are also noticing a decline”.

“This is week 16. This is also expected because we are moving away from the active season. We are confident that in the next couple of weeks everything will be over.”

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, also confirmed the figure in a tweet on his twitter page on Wednesday.

“We’ve lost about 800 people to Meningitis – this should not be the case. We must encourage families to take their children for vaccination”, he said in the tweet.

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Meningitis Outbreak in Nigeria – Is There an End in Sight?


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Nigerian Govt Says Meningitis Vaccination is Free

Meningitis – Zamfara Health Officials Sell Free MedicinesMeningitis Outbreak – Govt Says Vaccination Is FreeDespite Contrary Facts, Nigerian Govt Claims It Now Has Enough VaccinesMeningitis Outbreak Death Toll Hits 489

“As we mark #WorldImmunizationWeek, we must all encourage our families and communities to embrace vaccines as a preventive healthcare measure”, Mr. Saraki stated.On April 19, the Nigerian government had announced that 745 people had died, a spike of more than 50 per cent from the previous week, adding that there had been more than 8,000 suspected cases.The outbreak of meningitis C is concentrated in northern Nigeria, where a mass vaccination programme has begun to limit its spread.Five north-west states, which include Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kebbi, were the most affected by the outbreak.The Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, whose state is worst hit with close to 300 recorded deaths, had earlier drawn scathing criticism from across the country when he attributed the epidemic to God’s anger over the sins of Nigerians.Nigeria lies on the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa that stretches from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, where outbreaks are a regular occurrence.Early prevention of the disease, which is spread through coughs, sneezes and close contact, was hindered by a lack of available vaccine for the type meningitis C strain responsible.Although a large volume of the vaccine has since been imported, it is still not enough for vaccination across Nigeria to prevent the disease; with the government lamenting cost of importation and short shelf life of the vaccines.Mr. Adewole said the government was exploring a joint venture with a local drug manufacturer to produce the vaccines in Nigeria.

Nigeria: Govt Tasks Nigerian Doctors in Diaspora On Health Sector

The Federal Government on Tuesday challenged the Nigerian medical doctors in the Diaspora to use their knowledge and expertise to develop the nation’s health sector.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave the task when the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA) visited her in Abuja.

The association was led by its President, Dr Johnson Adeyanju.

The presidential aide also challenged the Diaspora working in the health sector to build a world class hospital in the country as it was done by their counterparts in Ethiopia.

“Nigeria is blessed with human and natural resources and we commend you for what you have been doing.

“However, it is quiet frustrating that we have your kind of calibre of Nigerian medical doctors in the Diaspora and we are having challenges in our health sector.

“We believe that by working with you through the ministry of health we can make a lot of difference, we believe that we can make more impact,” she said.

She said that the present administration had developed an initiative whereby Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora could render assistance in the nation’s health sector at their spare time.

The aide also enjoined them to develop a concrete medical mission that could have permanent structures whereby they could attend to patients.

“It is our thinking that medical missions that visit the country can translate into something concrete, just like Ethiopia that built a world class hospital by 250 of its doctors in Diaspora.

“With Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora constituting 70 per cent of the black doctors in America, we want to throw the challenge back to you that you can do the same thing.

“This medical mission can be properly coordinated that hospital can be built in every zone to enable you see patients and then you go back, but the challenge now is how can we get structure.

“So I think we can work with you to have this medical mission structure in Nigeria, we cannot have you and not feel your impact, we are glad you are here,” she said.

Adeyanju had earlier said that ANPA was the largest association of the Nigeria medical practitioners in the Diaspora and had been in existence for more than 20 years.

He said that the mission of the association was to enhance the nation’s health sector through partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and office of the presidential aide on Diaspora.

He said the group was concerned about the health of Nigerians which explained the decision of the group to embark on medical mission to the country.

Adeyanju, who noted that the group was able to see over 400 Nigerian patients, said they were willing to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure better life for Nigerians.

He also said that the group was on a surgical mission to Nigeria, with three mission teams working on various health issues.

In a related development, the SSA also received a delegation of the Centre for Integrated Health Programme (Cihp) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bolanle Oyeledun.

Dabiri-Erewa assured the leading implementation partner that the government was willing to ensure the success of the non-governmental agency.

Oyeledun said Cihp had over 120,000 patients on free HIV/AIDS treatment in the last six years.

Besides, she said the group has been able to prevent about 100,000 ‘mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

Cihp, she said, was also working in the area of skill transfer; stressing that the group want to see how to evolve a training programme to equip the capacity of health workers in the country.

Nigeria: Discos Reject Proposed Recapitalisation of Assets

By Clement Nwoji

Abuja — The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), an umbrella body of the 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos), has kicked against the Federal Government’s proposed imposition of recapitalisation of the acquired assets.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had accused the core investors of operating the acquired assets at colossal losses without rendering the expected efficient services to the consumers.

The NERC also said it would soon release mandatory recapitalisation guidelines for the investors to beef up the capital of the DisCos and generating companies (GenCos) to enable them have sufficient funds for investment and rendering efficient services.

The ANED Director of Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, who doubles as the spokesman, told The Guardian that the investors were against imposition of mandatory recapitalisation because the government had defaulted in fulfilling its part of the privatisation agreement.

He also accused the government of failure to implement the cost reflective tariff system, which would enable the DisCos to recover cost of operation.

Besides, ANED in a statement, decried the failure of Federal Government to provide a N100 billion subsidy allegedly promised after private investors took over about 18 power sector utilities on November 1, 2013.

“To date, the government has not met the privatisation transaction foundational requirements of providing N100 billion in subsidies; payment of MDA electricity obligations; ensuring that the DisCos have debt-free financial books and implementing a cost reflective tariff,” the statement said.

The ANED lamented that the dearth of TCN funding has impeded the DisCos’ ability to distribute power and has led to crashes in power turbines of GenCos due to TCN consistent requests for de-loading.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Govt to Procure 20 Aircrafts for Aviation College

By Anthony Awunor, Ejike Ejike, Msue Aza

The federal government is to buy 20 aircraft to equip Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria and make it a centre of excellence.

Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, confirmed in Abuja, yesterday, that NCAT had also taken delivery of a brand new Diamond DA24NG for training of its students, and plans to acquire additional 19 trainer aircrafts.

Speaking at the occasion of taking delivery of the aircraft in NCAT, Zaria, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Serika said the purchase of the aircraft for training came because the existing ones are very expensive to maintain.

He also pledged to assist the College in its plan to purchase a total of 20 trainer aircraft to face off the existing 29 outdated ones.

Speaking at the occasion, the Rector, NCAT, Abdulsalam Mohammed said, “Today, we are taking delivery of one Diamond Aircraft DA42NG from Interjet Nigeria Limited, the representatives of Diamond Aircraft Industries, Austria. For us in NCAT, this is a very momentous day. We count this a great achievement.

“We pride ourselves as an aviation training centre of excellence. NCAT is among the very few aviation training colleges in the world (and only in Africa) that conducts comprehensive aviation training by having all the core aviation professional fields on single campus,” he said.

Speaking further, he noted that “there are currently 29 trainer aircraft in the college and these aircraft used for training TB9, Trinidad TB20GT and Beech Baron 58 are old, the earliest being purchased 15 years ago and quite expensive to fuel and maintain.

“NCAT is acquiring a total of 20 of these aircraft, five -engine DA42 and 15 single-engine D4-40 trainers. Today, we are taking delivery of the first DA 42 multi-engine aircraft.

“These new trainer aircraft would significantly improve out flight training experience. And from the angle of cost efficiency, our analysis shows they will significantly reduce our operating cost, especially in the area of maintenance and fuelling. They are also equipped with glass cockpit and garmin 1000, which will make it easier for our graduating pilots to transition to new generation commercial aircraft.”

Also speaking, the representative of Interjet, Seun Peters urged the federal government to support NCAT in funding of the remaining 19 aircraft and noted that Interjet and Diamond plan to build standard maintenance center in Abuja.

Meanwhile, after successful rehabilitation work on the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has identified the concession of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and three others, as the next big project.

Senator Sirika, disclosed this in a media forum in Benue state, during the induction of mi-35m gunships by President Muhammadu Buhari, following a partnership agreement between the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Air force on airport security, research and training programmes.

The minister urged Nigerians to trust the Federal Government in protecting their interest, as was the case with the Abuja Airport runway project.

He also stressed that four airports including: Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano, are not up for sale but concession.

He made the known few days after domestic flights resumed operations at the Abuja Airport, following the re-opening of the runway to traffic.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the aviation industry have applauded the Federal Government for the timely completion of the airport runway.

Airlines, passengers, cargo handlers, cab operators have also expressed delight over the way and manner government handled the Abuja airport rehabilitation without delays.

Nigeria: Ojikutu Queries Nahcon Over 45% Market Allocation to Saudi Airline

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Lagos — Aviation expert and Secretary of Aviation Roundtable (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu has queried the rationale behind the allocation of 45 percent of Nigerian pilgrims for the 2017 Hajj to only Saudi Arabian carrier, Flynas.

He described the decision by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) as a ‘total rip off’ on Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to query Saudi authorities over the issue.

Ojikutu made the observations in a statement on Thursday.

He criticised government’s allocation of multiple slots to foreign carriers operating in the country.

The Aviation expert alleged that the commission just went to organize a unilateral airline to deny domestic airlines the market available for hajj operations.

However, NAHCON in a swift reaction through one of its officials, said the issue of allocating 45 percent to Saudi airline in the 2017 Hajj was beyond the commission, saying the arrangement predated the present leadership in the commission.

The official who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity explained that Saudi has a royal decree giving Saudi Designated Carriers (not Flynas alone) the right to airlift ‘50% of Hajj Traffic under Government quota’ from any country coming for Hajj.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Meningitis Outbreak – State Needs Divine Intervention, Official Says

Photo: Premium Times

Vaccination for Meningitis.

By Nike Adebowale

A public official has called on God to intervene over the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis in Nigeria lamenting that the country does not have enough vaccines to curb the spread of the Type C strain of the disease currently ravaging the country.

The Chairman of the National Immunization Finance Task Team, NIFT, Ben Anyene, restated the authorities’ helplessness over the health emergency on Thursday while addressing journalists in Abuja.

The National Vaccine Financing Task Team was inaugurated by the former executive director of the Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Bayero, in recognition of the need for more coordinated effort around vaccine financing and security.

Reiterating that the government does not have enough vaccines, Mr. Anyene said that Nigeria is in dire need of divine intervention to contain the disease which has claimed over 700 lives since its outbreak in November 2016.

The Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, whose state is worst hit by the outbreak with close to 300 recorded deaths, had drawn widespread criticism about a forthnight ago when he attributed the epidemic to God’s anger over the sins of Nigerians.

Speaking on Thursday, however, Mr. Anyene said Nigeria is facing scarcity of vaccines due to lack of proper planning.

“The constraint with immunization of meningitis is that there is no vaccine and that is the truth of the fact. The C strain of meningitis is not very common, but it does happen. The sign has been there in the country for the past three years but nobody wanted to take note”, he stated.

“For countries that plan, you don’t have to wait to have a situation. Through their planning and preventive measures, they have these vaccines stocked. You heard them talking about vaccine coming from Britain. Britain doesn’t have meningitis but because of planning, they have some stock but Nigeria does not have such.

“We need to build up our system because vaccine is not a commodity on the shelf that you can just buy over the counter. Vaccine has to be pre-ordered and paid for upfront and it takes about six months for it to be delivered to you,” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Federal Government earlier claimed that it had acquired enough vaccines to combat the Type C strain of the epidemic currently ravaging the country.

A total of 500,000 doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to some of the affected states for immediate outbreak response vaccination, while additional 823,970 doses are being expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination activities in other affected states.

Mr. Anyene however stated that when compared to the number of people who need to be vaccinated, it is obvious that there is a shortage and that there is real scarcity.

“There is scarcity of vaccine. Or does Nigeria now produce vaccines? Zamfara needs about three million doses of vaccine and they gave them 300,000 doses. Does that mean vaccines are available in the country?”

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had earlier admitted that the outbreak of the disease shows that the ministry has to increase its surveillance outlook and preparation on curtailing future epidemic outbreak of diseases in the country.

“Though the ministry has been preparing for an outbreak of Meningitis in the country, the magnitude of the outbreak and casualties recorded has shown that a lot still needs to be done”, the minister had said.

Also on Thursday, Mr. Adewole disclosed that funding needed for immunisation will be more than quadruple by 2026 – from $85 million to $378 million with nearly eight million children born each year.

The minister disclosed this during a meeting with donors and development partners – including the World Bank, World Health Organisation, Rotary, UNICEF, funding agencies from U.S., Canada and Japan–to ask for increased contributions to help Nigeria pay for immunisation.

Mr. Adewole noted that to ensure that there is no stock out of vaccines, the government needs to budget two years ahead.

Speaking during the event, the Director General of the NPHCDA, Faizal Shuaib, said an audit firm, KPMG, is to probe the finances of the agency in hopes of increasing donor confidence as Nigeria seeks donor support to fund immunisation.

He said “KPMG will work at our finance management system to close all loopholes and put in place strategies that make it difficult for people to line their pockets with public funds.”

“In the last two to three years, there’s this cloud of corruption and distrust of NPHCDA. It is an open secret. Donors are worried they are not sure what’s happening with NPHCDA. What we are doing is build back that trust.

Donor confidence in Nigeria’s health finance swayed after a prolonged investigation found that billions of naira from Global Fund was misappropriated.

The 2017 budget proposes refunds, including N4.8 billion to Global Fund and N1.6 billion to the Global Alliance for Vaccine, which will withdraw its support from Nigeria by 2020, leaving the country solely responsible for its immunization.

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