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FG Overrules Governors On Worship Centres Opening

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The Federal Government has accused governors of wilfully breaching the protocols designed to guide the country out of Coronavirus spread.

Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 control Chairman Boss Mustapha warned on Thursday of the danger in allowing large gatherings.

He reiterated that the ban on gatherings of more than 20 people remained banned.

Mustapha, who spoke at the daily briefing by the PTF in Abuja, emphasised the “need for states to diligently implement and enforce compliance. Particularly, I underscore the need for the governors to provide personal and strong leadership, carry the policy of community ownership to the grass-roots and create deeper awareness.

“Governors are also advised on the decision taken by some of their colleagues to permit large gatherings as such decisions could inadvertently endanger the elderly, the sick and those with underlying factors during such gatherings. The strong advisory from the PTF is that large gatherings beyond 20 persons remain prohibited and should be adhered to”.

The SGF also announced that the PTF would work with the National Assembly. The House of Representatives has inaugurated an Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19.

“The PTF on COVID-19 is pleased to inform you that in order to underscore the seriousness attached to this COVID-19 pandemic, the House of Representatives has set up an Ad-Hoc COVID-19 Committee.

“In deepening the existing collaborative spirit, we shall work together with the legislature to be more productive and add value to the overall delivery of service to Nigerians on behalf of whom we hold our responsibility in trust”.

Many governors have opened up their states for religious gatherings. These include Cross River, Ebonyi, Kano, Borno, Zamfara and Bauchi, among others.

But, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has advised Muslims to observe the Edi-el-Fitr prayers at home in accordance with the PTF-issued guidelines.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mohammed Bello has resisted pressure to open worship centres in Abuja.

Apart from Cross River State which has no virus case yet. The active cases in some of the states reopening the worship centres are: Ebonyi (12), Borno (122) and 24 deaths, Zamfara (8), Kano (690) with 36 deaths and Gombe (41) and three deaths.

Defending the governors’ position, Jigawa State Governor Badaru Abubakar, told State House reporters at the end of the National Economic Council meeting at the Presidential Villa that “the issue has been resolved because, at our last meeting with Mr President, the President was clear that the Governors’ Forum and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 should meet and agree on steps to be taken, and it has been discussed today and commitment has been taken by today’s NEC that the Governors’ Forum, the Presidential Task Force would work hand -in -hand to see to the end of COVID-19.

“A committee was formed today that will look up to the eventual opening up of the economy. Sometimes you will see a different approach by different states, that doesn’t mean that there is loggerhead between the states and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“Some peculiar situations require some peculiar solutions and that is why at times you see such and it will always be discussed with the Presidential Task Force so that we will always be on the same page”.

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Business

Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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Nigeria Needs $2.3tn To Address Infrastructure Deficit, Says FG

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that the country need $2.3tn to address its national integrated infrastructure masterplan.

He said this in Abuja on Thursday at a town hall meeting themed: ‘Nigeria’s infrastructure revolution: Road to a new future’, organised by Business Hallmark.

According to him, the 23-year masterplan (2020-2043) is for the development of infrastructure including roads, railway network and maritime sector.

The event was chaired by a former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Mustapha said, “Conscious of the economic disruption caused by 2016 recession and COVID-19 as well as challenges of previous reforms, the Federal Government revised the 23 year (2020-2043) national integrated infrastructure masterplan that identified critical enablers.

“For the 23-year period, $2.3tn will be required, translating to about $150bn annually and the private sector and other partners have to provide 56 per cent, while Federal Government and state governments will provide 44 per cent of the share of the investment.

“The Federal Government has made important strides towards providing much of our infrastructure and has, in recent years, conducted several infrastructural reforms.

“Specifically, we are extending and upgrading the nation’s railway network and introducing more locomotive couches. The port sector has been converted to landlocked model and terminal.

“Similarly, Public Private Partnership style infrastructure company with an initial seed capital of N1tn envisaging to grow over time to N6tn in assets and capital has been established and will soon commence operation.

“It will be one of the premier finance entities in Africa and will be wholly dedicated to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.

“The reduction in Nigeria’s infrastructural gap will also give the country a competitive advantage under the newly signed Africa Free Continental Area Trade Agreement.”

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, deplored the water crises in Nigeria saying no community in the country enjoyed water supply always.

He said, “In 1992, 30 per cent of the Nigerian population was enjoying pipe-borne water and as of 2015, it had dropped to seven per cent.

“In 2015, we were at 68 per cent national coverage for access to water and as of today, we are at 70 per cent and maybe by the time the result for 2021 comes out, we might be at 71 per cent to 72 per cent.

“As for water quality, 90 per cent of water consumed, including water from the boreholes, are contaminated and water is the basic necessity of life.”

Oyegun, in his contribution at the event, said six years going, the performance of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had been mixed.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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