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COVID-19: Resident Doctors Warns FG To Cancel Invitation To Chinese Doctors

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Nigerian doctors under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, have warned of the consequences of extending invitation to Chinese nationals by the federal government following the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

The association which claimed that throwing the country’s international borders to Chinese was suicidal, accused the government of championing illegality by its intention.

“We find it rather curious that our government would contemplate to throw open her international borders to Chinese nationals having watched how similar action in Italy proved socio-economically suicidal,” NARD president,Sokomba Aliyu,said in a statement, Sunday.

“The crafty Chinese scientists should be the last group of friends to trust at this time given how unreliably and covertly they have managed the information around the pandemic beginning from the data around its origin, characteristics, and other virulence features to help the nations yet to experience the surge to be better prepared.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that conspiracy theories have it that COVID 19 is a possible tool for both sociopolitical and economic manipulation and domination.

“Nigeria is too important in the African continent to act any carelessly in the face of this emerging but portent threat to human existence.

“The attempt to import Human resources for Health from China into Nigeria where many qualified medical doctors and other cadres of health workers are yet to be gainfully employed is the height of insensitivity and disservice on the part of the Federal Government and their advisers.

“The challenge at hand would have been sufficient marker to agitate the FG to the direction and timing for massive employment of medical and other health care workers to provide enough hands in the industry to battle the COVID 19 as other nations are doing. Some countries even went ahead to accelerate the graduation of their final year medical students.

“They did not turn to China. If the FG had completely employed the available qualified doctors and other healthcare workers before turning to China for medical manpower to fill any persisting gap; it would have being less suspicious. ,” it said in the statement.

Reiterating that it condemned “the planned importation of Chinese doctors into Nigeria by the Federal Ministry of Health to fight COVID-19”, NARD said it wished “to holistically cross-examine the intent and purpose of the importation of 18-man Chinese team of medical experts including doctors, nurses and those with sundry expertise to assist Nigeria in the fight against COVID-19.”

“The association is in indeed puzzled that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health would be contemplating such an adventure without first discussing it with the key and relevant stakeholders like the Nigerian Medical Association; our parent body; and all her relevant affiliates that parade some of the world’s best hands in all fields of endeavour,” it said in the statement.

According to NARD,” The Federal Government cannot be championing illegality. All doctors coming into Nigeria are supposed to be licensed by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Am sure these ones are not.”

“Nigeria is about one-fifth of the population of the African continent and currently the world has watched with awe, the very slow rate of case fatality arising from COVID 19 in Africa and is yet to understand, explain, covet or undermine that possible genetic advantage,” it noted.

The statement read further:”The Nigerian medical experts are currently winning the COVID 19 battle and should be encouraged and motivated and supported to win the war instead of distracting them with this unfortunate plan.

“The news making rounds in some quarters have it that the Chinese experts are only coming to Nigeria to play only some advisory roles and not to directly intervene in the day to day handling of Nigerian patients do not appear believable because telemedicine should have been more cost-effective, faster and easier to harness over a large number of uses that to fly them into Nigeria and move them from place to place at a huge cost to our national budget.”

NARD advised the federal government to stop the implementation of the plan and rather, immediately engage all key relevant Nigerian medical experts including NARD and present the full intents and purpose of the planned importation of Chinese experts for full evaluation, cost-benefit analysis and consensus on the best option.

“In the interim and pending when item one above is fully done, NARD wishes to distant herself from the planned importation of Chinese medical experts to Nigeria in whatever guise or hood for the reasons presented in this write-up and many more,” it advised.

“NARD shall not contemplate further warning to distance herself from the Chinese adventure by way of withdrawing all her members from every public health facility in Nigeria so that the anticipated downturn in the output of Nigeria’s healthcare service delivery can be properly situated and traceable to the Chinese as is the case today in Italy.

“NARD hereby reiterates her position which was canvased earlier in the week for the Federal government to immediately and massively employ all qualified but unemployed doctors and other healthcare workers. Get them trained, insured, motivated and deployed nationwide.

“NARD wonders if the Chinese medical experts would accept N5,000 monthly hazard allowance if they were to be engaged on such terms. Nigerian doctors and other healthcare workers have been on such depressing and unpatriotic hazard allowance and yet saving millions of Nigerians for years.

“Why did the federal government not bring Chinese experts on same conditions of service. Federal government needs to immediately review the hazard allowance and make it a percentage of the basic salary of all healthcare workers as many nations are steadily incentivizing the pay for their health workers.

“Finally, NARD is of the view that all our hospitals should be properly equipped with state of the art equipment and devices and all necessary personal protective equipment made available to all healthcare workers instead of demoralizing them with the news of plans to import Chinese experts,” the statement further read.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Reps Ask FG To Implement Pay-per-view Model For Satellite TV

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The house of representatives has asked the federal government to implement the pay-per-view model for satellite TV subscribers, to encourage “healthy competition” in the broadcast industry.

The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution on Wednesday, following the adoption of a report on the increment of tariffs by broadcast digital satellite service providers.

This was after Unyime Idem, chairman of the ad hoc committee, moved a motion that the report be considered.

“That the house do consider the report of the ad hoc committee on non-implementation of pay–as–you–go and sudden increment of tariffs plan by broadcast digital satellite service providers,” he said.

In March 2020, the house set up the ad hoc committee to probe complaints about high tariffs by broadcast digital satellite service providers.

At the investigative hearing in June 2020, the panel specifically tackled the Digital Satellite Television (DSTV), a South Africa-based company owned by MultiChoice, for high tariffs and restricting Nigerian customers to prepaid plans.

But during plenary session on Wednesday, the lower legislative chamber said the “visible absence of competitors in the industry was tacit approval of monopoly of the industry by the present operators”.

In their resolution, the lawmakers called for “expedited action on implementing the content of the National Broadcasting Code and the Nigeria information Policy of 2014 that would trigger healthy competition in the industry”.

“The entertainment industry has a wider spectrum with limitless opportunities for the teeming youths. The visible absence of competitors in the industry was tacit approval of monopoly of the industry by the present operators,” the house said.

“Timely application of these government regulatory intervention measures already articulated will revolutionise the
industry and meet the people’s yearnings on pay-as-you-go, pay-per-view and price reduction.

“Our extant laws that moderate operations in the industry is to be fine-tuned to meet the 21st century regulatory laws of the industry that is dynamic as the entertainment industry.

“The commission that has the power to license and regulate the activities of service providers must, as well, have the power to moderate in the protection of consumers. There is little or nothing a regulator can do if he is handicapped by laws that are not properly tailored to the needs of the society.”

The lawmakers added that “uncontrollable” market forces are responsible for the hike in the tariff.

“The recent increment of VAT by 2.5% by the Financial Amendment Act of 13th January, 2020, the fluctuating
foreign exchange rate in the country that affects the cost of content, broadcast equipment, experienced hire and technical infrastructure increase, increase in bouquets for a wider choice,
inflation on the cost of production and need to maintain workforce not throwing many young men and women who are gainfully employed by pay-tv into the labour market were some
necessary indices for price hike,” they added.

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FG To Regulate, Monetise Posting Of Police Officers As Escorts, Guards

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The federal executive council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the formation of the Special Police Services to regulate and monetise posting of officers as escorts and guards.

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, said the new unit will formalise the deployment of police officers as escorts to VIPs and as guards to big corporations.

Speaking after the FEC meeting in Abuja, he said the approval was in the interest of transparency and accountability.

He said: “The minister of police affairs also had an important scheme which was approved at federal executive council meeting.

“It is the deployment of what they call Special Police Services. And this is about a new system that will formalise what has existed with us all the time.

“You know police provide escort and guard for big corporations, banks, and so on. Now, in the interest of transparency and accountability, the government is formalising this relationship. And there will be an introduction of tariffs and billing schemes. This will be using PPP (public private partnership) arrangement.

“The police projected the use of consultant that will help them to manage this. Part of the revenue will go to federal government. Part of it will go to the police. Part of it will go into police allowances. And part will go to consultants as their own fees.

“This is something that has been going on for many years. And it has happened virtually in all countries of the world. In our own case, it has remained largely, people will say, undocumented or non-formalised. Government is concerned about leakages in revenue and incomes which should be blocked.”

Shehu also said contracts worth N754,048,161 were approved for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for capital projects.

He said: “These are mainly for the supply of communications at the command and control centre. This is to enable EFCC comply with modern day investigative techniques, improve its operational efficiency, and support the administration of criminal justice system in the country.

“So, these are basically defensive and offensive cyber-security systems.”

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