From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
From Uche Usim, Abuja
Hopes of decongesting Apapa, Tin Can and other overcrowded seaports in Nigeria brightened, yesterday as the Federal Government announced plans to establish two additional dry ports to support the Kaduna Inland Container Deport.
According to the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, the grand blueprint of the NSC in 2017 centres on trade facilitation, because the Buhari administration was bent on using the transport sector to turn around the economy for good.
Bello said the Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaeh, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong and other stakeholders would be visiting the Jos dry port to see the extent of work done so far.
His words: “We’re determined to deal with the perennial issue of port congestion. We really want to collaborate with stakeholders on the decongestion of the ports. We are also committed to the establishment of inland dry ports. As a matter of fact, on Thursday, the Minister of Transportation with the Governor of Plateau State will carry out an inspection on the ongoing Jos dry port in the state. That is very important. “Other dry ports have lots of construction works going on in them. We hope to deliver one or two dry ports this year. We have seen the potentialities of the dry port project. They are having partnerships now and are being driven by the private sector.
“More importantly, we have revised the concession agreement; we’ve brought new workable and pragmatic timelines. But then, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has told the concessionaires that we would not hesitate to cancel any concession agreement if they are not able to meet out timelines and guidelines. The Ministry of Transportation is more or less like a business ministry, working hard to attract investors, generate revenue for government and improve legitimate trade,” he said.
The NSC boss further disclosed that the council has since commissioned a study to look at the nation’s internal transport system and seek ways of moderating its operations, noting that, “the internal or inland transportation system in Nigeria is not
“We’re also trying to adopt the Rotterdam Rules, which is the United Nations’ carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea convention,” he said.
“Okay, if it becomes convention, then it means it has enough signatures by international bodies. Nigerian Shippers’ Council is leading a campaign for its ratification, not only by Nigeria but also by some African States because we are supposed to have harmony of those regulations. So, our concentration is on the infrastructure to ensure smooth and seamless transportation system”, he said.
Science: Nigeria to save N56bn annually from food supplements
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a pharmaceutical company, May & Baker Plc, to commercialise the manufacture of two nutraceutical and therapeutic food products. Commercialisation of the products developed under FIIRO’s Health and Nutrition Research Programme is expected to save the nation over N50bn annually.
Director-General of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo, who disclosed this at the MoU signing in Abuja, said it would help alleviate the pains of over 40 million people suffering from sickle cell disorder around the world. She stressed that the product would be a commercial success, given the annual demand, put at over 90,000 metric tonnes, representing N50 billion in revenue.
In addition, the FIIRO boss said that the N56bn spent annually on importation of 4,500 metric tonnes of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), despite the high potential for local production, would be conserved when the second product is fully commercialised. She noted that locally-produced RUTF has the capacity to solve the malntrition problem of both children and adults, especially in the various IDP camps in Nigeria.
“In the process of commercialisation of indigenous technologies, jobs will be created, wealth will be generated, foreign exchange will be conserved; ational GDP will be enhanced through the productive sector of the economy,” Elemo said.
In his remarks, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu reiterated Government’s commitment to bequeathing a knowledge-based and diversified economy.
He noted that the ministry has strengthened industrial linkage and partnerships with the private sector by creating a full-fledged Division on Public-Private Partnership.
Managing Director/CEO of May & Baker, Mr. Nnamdi Okafor, who signed on behalf of his company, expressed optimism that many more companies would approach FIIRO for partnership.
Agriculture: Minister summons agric commissioners as bird flu hits 26 states
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed frustration over the resurgence of the deadly poultry disease, avian influenza, popularly called bird flu, which has so far claimed over 3.5 million birds in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Government’s concerns stemmed from paucity of funds to combat the scourge, among other challenges. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday during an emergency meeting with commissioners for agriculture/livestock, state directors of veterinary services and major stakeholders in the poultry industry, said the situation was worsened by the current economic challenges facing the nation.
The minister did not name the states affected but declared that a new strain of bird flu virus (H5N8), believed to be more devastating to poultry species than the strain (H5N1) circulating in the country was recently reported in Kano. He described the outbreak as a huge threat to safety and the food security drive of government, pointing out that, since the disease is trans-boundary in nature and also trade limiting, some neighbouring countries had planned to ban poultry and poultry products from Nigeria.
Ogbeh hinted that Benin Republic was bent on banning eggs from Nigeria, saying that this would lead to egg glut in the country.
He assured the stakeholders of the Federal Government’s resolve to continue working with the states, the Poultry Association of Nigeria and other players in the industry to come up with sustainable measures to prevent, control and eradicate the disease from the country in the shortest possible time.
Ogbeh also said that Government was aware of the need to help farmers cushion the effect of the disease either through compensation or insurance to keep them in production.
In their separate remarks, many of the poultry farmers appealed to Government to pay them compensation for birds depopulated in their farms since 2014, saying failure to do so may dissuade people from reporting cases of bird flu in future.
The first outbreak of bird flu in Nigeria was reported in 2006; which spanned to 2008 before it was controlled and eradicated through concerted efforts facilitated with resources made available by a World Bank sponsored project and other Development partners particularly, FAO, USAID, EU and Donor Agencies.
Education: New Perm Sec assumes duty in Education Ministry
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Dr. Jamila Shu’ara on Monday assumed duty as the new Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education.
Shu’ara was posted out of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and took over from Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, who was recently deployed to serve at the Office of Head of Service of the Federation.
The development was a follow-up on the recent approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the redeployment of three permanent secretaries.
Shu’ara, in her first meeting, urged the staff and management of the ministry to reinvigorate the spirit of team work and diligence in order to collectively make progress in education development.
She commended her predecessor for her doggedness, acknowledging that her tenure witnessed unprecedented achievements in the education sector. She equally promised to tap into her wealth of experience to sustain the feats. Meanwhile, Yemi-Esan, in a brief remark, acknowledged the magnitude of work in the Education Ministry, and thanked God for giving her the strength to cope effectively.
She expressed gratitude to the directors and the entire staff of the ministry for their support and commitment to duty, which brought about significant development of education in Nigeria.