Some members of the House of Representatives have paid an inspection visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The lawmakers, who comprise members of the House Committee on Aviation, inspected the airport on Monday ahead of the resumption of domestic flights in the country.
During the visit, the lawmakers advocated the need for relevant agencies to ensure compliance with safety protocols amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
This comes barely a week after the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the airport in the nation’s capital and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport would resume domestic operations on Wednesday.
He also announced that the airports in Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri (Imo State), and Maiduguri (Borno State) would also resume local operations on Saturday, while other airports would resume on July 15.
According to the minister, the date for resumption of international flights will be announced in due course.
Highpoints of the lawmakers’ visit to the airport in Abuja are captured below:
The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has been scheduled to commence in August.
The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, announced this on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He said, “From the 4th of August to the 5th of September, please take note. Last week the Chairman of the PTF announced that school facilities will be available for those who want to go into revision classes.
“The idea here is that we have a whole month from now till then, those who can and those who are willing; the states who are willing should make their schools available for their children to revise.
“We have done the most we can with our representatives at WAEC and we have, this afternoon, confirmed that the dates allotted for the exams will be from the 4th of August through to the 5th of September,” the minister added.
According to him, the ministry will publish the local timings for the examinations after a meeting with authorities of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), among other stakeholders.
Nwajiuba disclosed that as soon as WAEC examinations were concluded, the government would take up the National Examination Council (NECO) and the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examinations.
WASSCE is a standardised test conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for senior secondary school students in the graduating class.
The Department of State Services (DSS) has said that it did not arrest Mr Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Service’s Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, said this in a statement on Monday.
He added that the DSS has since been inundated with inquiries over the reported arrest of Magu, stressing that the Service has no connection with the incident.
Afunanya issued the statement after reports emerged that the acting chairman of the anti-graft agency had been arrested by DSS officials in Abuja.
When contacted, Magu’s S.A. on Media, Tony Amokeodo, told Channels Television that his boss was not arrested but only invited to answer questions regarding some allegations against the agency.
Amokeodo explained that Magu was invited to appear before a Federal Government panel set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
According to him, the panel is sitting at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, Mr Dele Oyewale, has clarified the controversy surrounding Magu’s invitation in a statement.
Read the statement below:
MAGU HONOURS PANEL INVITATION
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, on Monday, July 6, 2020, honoured an invitation by a Presidential Panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC, at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He was served the invitation to the Panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.
The EFCC’s boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel.
Governor Akeredolu said, “After some days in isolation, our team of doctors decided to take a sample and I was tested again in accordance with the treatment protocols of COVID-19. The result came earlier today, and I tested negative.”
“Let me firstly give thanks to God for his mercies. I thank all citizens and residents of Ondo State who have shown me great love and genuine affection.
“They have shown this through their prayers, phone calls, and kind words expressing their regrets and solidarity. Rest assured that I am deeply inspired by your faith and goodwill and I wish to state categorically that this season shall soon pass away,” he added.
On Tuesday last week, the governor announced via his Facebook page has he had tested positive for the virus.
Although he was asymptomatic and did not show any symptoms of the disease, Governor Akeredolu had gone into self-isolation in line with the COVID-19 guidelines.
The Cross River State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has accused the state government of deceit in the way it is handling coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the state.
Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the State NMA Chairman, Dr Agam Ayuk, decried that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has yet to update the situation in Cross River in its report on the outbreak of the disease in the country.
He, however, blamed the government for the action of the health agency, stressing that five COVID-19 cases involving two doctors had been confirmed at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
“We have said that the NCDC has not updated the five cases that were confirmed from an NCDC-accredited laboratory in Abakaliki (Ebonyi State) in their situation report.
“That result was really as far back as July 1 and it was transmitted to the hospital (UCTH) as at July 1 and I think the Commissioner for Health and His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River State, were given those results on the 2nd,” the NMA chairman explained.
He said, “As we speak, that has not reflected on the NCDC platform and from what we are being told, the state government has refused to assign state code epidemiology numbers to those samples that have been analysed and the result sent and because of that, they cannot update those results on the NCDC platform.
“For us, we think that it is still part of the deceit in ensuring that the right things are not done.”
According to Ayuk, the purported action of the government is delaying other processes such as contact tracing of confirmed cases and activation of an isolation centre in the state.
He said the NCDC noticed that there was a problem and declared UCTH as an independent test centre.
Politics And Health
The medical practitioner noted that the health agency sent in sample collection kits on June 28 and the first set of samples from five patients, including two doctors, were sent the next day.
He revealed that of the five infected persons, two patients were already on admission at the UCTH isolation centre, one was billed for ENT surgery, and two medical doctors already had respiratory symptoms.
Ayuk stated that he spoke with the doctors who said they have yet to be contacted for contact tracing, stressing that patients were being turned back and dying in their homes.
He lamented that a lot of doctors have gone into self-isolation because the state government has allegedly suppressed testing for COVID-19.
“For us as an association, we remain committed to the welfare of our members and the public and health uses should be taken seriously and politics should not be played with the health of the people,” the NMA Chairman said.
Although he commended the effort on primary prevention of COVID-19 cases, Ayuk faulted the government for failing to move to the second stage which has to do with early testing of suspected cases.
Due Process Not Followed
In a swift reaction, the Commissioner for Health in Cross River, Dr Betta Edu, denied the allegations and faulted the decision of the doctors to embark on an indefinite strike.
Edu, who was also a guest on Sunrise Daily, claimed that the NMA has decided to put the lives of residents at risk because of upload of COVID-19 test results.
She insisted that the state government was not aware of the status of the infected patients, stressing that they were not carried along in the verification process of the samples collected.
The commissioner said, “We were not informed about any of these; they said they were an independent centre and they went ahead to send samples which we do not know if they sent, they claimed the samples were sent to Ebonyi State and that they got results back from Ebonyi State.”
She also explained that there were written public health procedures and responses that should be followed for a sample to be verified and moved from one point to the other.
Edu listed these to include identification of the suspected patient, taking note of the history of such person, and sending the sample collected in a perfect condition to the laboratory, should the patient meet the criteria for testing.
“These are the normal public health response and procedures anywhere in the world; so, I don’t know why they would not want to go through the procedures and then you declare a strike in the name of ‘they did not upload your results’; is that the reason to kill people in their numbers?” she questioned.
The commissioner added, “Up until this minute, no information was given to us except for the call by the UCTH Chief Medical Director (CMD) to myself who said that five samples that they sent returned positive.
“We were transferred, the names of five people without phone numbers or contact information for verification and to commence contact tracing.”
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, members of his family, his closed aides have all tested negative to coronavirus (COVID-19) for the second time.
The governor’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
He explained that Governor Lalong and his household took another test as a result of the recent cases recorded within his cabinet, such as a commissioner and his Chief of Staff testing positive for the disease.
Macham noted that the governor and members of his family subjected themselves to another test on Saturday, having taken the test earlier in April which all turned out negative.
In his reaction, Governor Lalong said, “I have continued to encourage people to subject themselves to COVID-19 test which is very important for us to determine the magnitude of the disease and level of the spread, in order to curb the further spread and treat people before they get to critical stages.
“Submitting myself and family to another test was, therefore, necessary as part of leadership by example and also responding to the recent cases of one of my commissioners and Chief of Staff who were confirmed positive.”
The governor, who reiterated that COVID-19 was not a death sentence, advised the people to always take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others.
According to him, this can be achieved by adhering to the guidelines put in place to fight the disease such as the mandatory use of face masks, social distancing, hand washing, and use of sanitisers.
Governor Lalong revealed that so far, the testing capacity in Plateau has increased as more people were being tested daily at the NVRI Laboratory in Vom and the TB Reference Laboratory at the Jos University Teaching Hospital.
He added that efforts were being made to have the testing also conducted at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, stressing that about 6,000 people have been tested in the state as of July 5.
The governor, therefore, directed continued enforcement of compliance to COVID-19 guidelines, particularly in public places, warning that violators would be sanctioned accordingly.
He also warned against stigmatising infected persons, insisting that unless the disease was demystified, it would be difficult to overcome.
A total of 122 coronavirus (COVID-19) patients have been successfully treated and discharged from the isolation centres in Edo State, the government has said.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Patrick Okundia, disclosed this to reporters on Sunday in Benin City, the state capital.
He noted that the state has recorded 87 new cases, bringing the total number of infections in Edo to 1,353.
“We have recorded 87 new confirmed cases, with 31 cases reported at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and 56 cases at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH),” the commissioner stated.
He added, “We have made tremendous progress in the management of coronavirus, as 122 patients have been discharged from our isolation centres, bringing the total number of discharges to 718.”
Okundia revealed that a total of 6,300 suspected cases have been reported across the state, while 47 people have lost the battle to COVID-19.
He, however, said the state government has intensified contact tracing, line listing, and monitoring of contacts of the confirmed cases.
According to the commissioner, the government is committed to controlling the spread of the virus and necessary actions are being taken regarding Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices at ISTH, UBTH, and Stella Obasanjo Hospital Isolation Centre (SOHIC).
He added that that the state government has intensified public enlightenment and sensitisation on the need to get tested and for prompt presentation at the designated health facilities when symptomatic.
The Edo State government says it has spent N25,047,472,632.77 for the payment of monthly pension of 13,081 pensioners from November 2016 to May 2020.
According to the Mid-Year Report of the Edo State Pension Bureau, the government has also expended over N4.3 billion in clearing the backlog of outstanding pension arrears owed about 3,128 pensioners in the state.
A breakdown of the figure shows that the government spent a total of N771,714,393.01 between November and December 2016 for the payment of pensions; expended N5,371,283,211.09 in 2017; while N6,452,535,649.08 and N7,936,681,957.45 were spent in 2018 and 2019 for the same purpose.
“For 2020, the government spent N735,069,623.04; N736,780,760.18; N759,731,334.31; N760,620,948.61; N759,695,333.23 and N763,359,423.02 in January, February, March, April, May and June respectively,” the report stated.
It explained that with the setting aside of N200 million monthly, the Godwin Obaseki administration was able to defray arrears of pensions dating back to 1996 to December 2018.
The government, the Bureau noted, divided the pensioners into batches 37 to 65 and ensured that the backlog was cleared after physical and documentary verifications.
Following the payment of outstanding pension arrears, it revealed that the government would consider harmonisation of pensions and payment of death benefits and gratuity in the weeks ahead.
The Bureau disclosed that an efficient management process has been put in place to fast-track the processing and documentation of retiring officers’ entitlements, thus ensuring a seamless migration from salary payroll to pension payroll.
It stressed that this has minimised the incidence of accumulation of pension arrears that had been a burden before the inception of the present administration.
The report also revealed that civil servants eligible to register under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have the benefit of a Group Life Insurance cover that makes provision for beneficiaries of contributors in the event of death in active service.
“The sum of N80,713,446.34 was paid as premium for 9,803 Edo State employees in the CPS. With this payment made, the next of kin of deceased employees receives three times their gross annual salary as benefits.
“From the commencement of the CPS on January 1, 2017 till date, a total sum of N 81,169,724.24 have been paid to families of 34 deceased employees of the State Public Service who were enrolees of the CPS,” it noted.
The report stated further, “The state government exercised political will and has been committed to the payment of pension arrears, monthly pension, death benefits under the Defined Benefit Scheme and government’s 10 per cent matching contribution into the Employees’ RSA, in compliance with the provisions of the Edo State Contributory Pension Scheme Law of 2010 as amended.
“The state has made remittances of contributions of both employees (8%) and employer (10%) to the PFAs for 39 months, i.e. from January 2017 to April 2020 which amounts to N5,230,348,954.34.
“Of this, government’s (employer) matching (10%) contribution is N2,905,749,419.08 only, while that of the employees’ (8%) contribution is N 2,324,599,535.26. Also, a Retirement Benefits Bonds Redemption Fund (RBBRF) account has been opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“This account is being funded monthly to ensure that funds are available to defray the accrued pension rights of employees who have registered for the Contributory Pension Scheme. The RBBRF Account is being funded with 5% of the total monthly wage bill of employees in fulfilment of the provision of the Contributory Pension Scheme Law.”