FEC approves $77.73 million water project loan for Lagos and Cross River states

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a loan facility of $77.73 million to support urban water projects for Lagos and Cross River states.

Briefing State House correspondents after the council meeting, minister of information, Mr. Labaran Maku said the loan granted by the International Development Agency (IDA) is been given on a concessionary ground to the two states to rehabilitate urban water works.

While Cross River state will take $43.92 million, Lagos will take $33.83 million.

FEC also approved a contract for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to commence the rehabilitation of the ECOWAS parliament building located in theAsokoro District of the FCT. The facility which is said to have gone into a state of disrepair was awarded to the Julius Berger to the tune of N3.43 billion.

A contract for the construction of what it called a “strategic road” linking Sagbemi-Kiribo-Gada-Egbekigbo in Ondo state at the cost of N3.55 billion was also approved by the council. The road which is a 23 kilometer stretch is part of the post amnesty projects of the Niger Delta Ministry.

Apart from holding the council meeting in the First Lady’s conference room, the president used the opportunity to receive the trophies and plaques Nigerian nurses and midwives won in a recent Maternal and Child Health Competition held in India.

FEC apologized for the poor quality of telecommunication operators in the country and promised to raise sanctions for defaulting operators.

Apart from the contracts approved, the federal executive council is to spend another N454 million for the augmentation of the contract on the Ibadan-Ilorin road while the rehabilitation of the service lane on the Niger Bridge will cost N2.393 billion.



Polio Eradication: Expert scores Nigeria low on fighting scourge

The global Polio Eradication Initiative at the World Health Organisation says Nigeria is not on track to achieve eradication of polio despite the adequate tools and capacity to reverse the rising trends.

An official of the global body, Doctor Bruce Aylward made the observation at the expert review committee meeting on polio eradication and routine immunization in Abuja.

Doctor Alyward said if a country such as India is able to implement basic workable strategies towards total eradication, then Nigeria can achieve total eradication of the menace by 2013.

Kano awards 25 indigenes scholarship to study Marine Engineering

Kano State Government has sponsored 25 indigenes of the state to study Marine Engineering in India and the United States.

A statement issued in Kano on Saturday by Alhaji Baba Dantiye, the Director of Press to Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso, said the four year course would cost the government $80 million annually.

According to the statement, Gov.  Rabi’u Kwankwaso said this during the graduation of over 1,000 youths under the government’s youth empowerment programme, tagged “Lafiya Jari.”

It said that the governor emphasised on the resolve of the administration to give priority to human capital development.

“We are doing all this because we need to see our youth everywhere in the world and reduce unemployment facing the state”, the statement quoted the governor as saying.

It added that Kwankwaso further revealed that the government had concluded plans to sponsor 100 students to study avionics and another 100 to study medicine abroad.

The statement said that the state government, through the Col. Yakubu Bako (Rtd.) Youth Employment Committee had secured over 200 jobs for indigenes of the state in various Federal Government establishments.

The “Lafiya Jari”, is a healthcare based empowerment scheme under the state Entrepreneurship Institute.

The scheme provides drugs and financial support to students who graduated from the Schools of Health Technology to set up their own businesses.

Indian envoy advices Nigeria to improve on healthcare delivery

The Indian government has advised Nigeria, to improve on the standard of health care facilities in order to ease the difficulties faced by Nigerians who go abroad for medical attention.

The Indian high commissioner to Nigeria, Mahesh Sachdev made this known over the weekend at the maiden Free Medical/Health Outreach provided by Primus Super Specialty Hospital, Abuja in collaboration with the Health and Human Services Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

Mr Sachdev said, it is inhuman and risky taking sick people to far distances or even when the person is in a critical state is dangerous.

He said: “I think I could mention that primus initiative was taken by the chairman of the Primus Group in light of the large number of Nigerians going all the way to India to attend to her hospital medical facilities.

“It is difficult for a sick person to travel, and it is even more difficult when you are seriously sick to travel that distance, and it is only humane for us to endeavor to come closer to the patients as possible.

“So by bringing specialty care to Nigeria, we have approached the problem in a different and humane way. I think the success of the hospital in that past one and half year is a witness to this strategy.”

He further appreciated the efforts of Primus Hospital and FCTA Health on the free medical care being provided to the people of Wuse market.

Speaking also, the Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat of FCTA, Demola Onakomaiya encouraged the people of Wuse Market to make best of the improved medical facilities in the Nation’s Capital including 12 Secondary and 217 Primary Healthcare Centers.

Mr Onakomaiya added that the aim to create awareness on the importance of having regular check ups.

Bayelsa to ban commercial motorcycle from September, plans to bring in tricycles

The ban of the use commercial motorcycles in Bayelsa state by the state government has been extended to the end of August, 2012.

The Commissioner for Transport, Marie Ebikake explained that the extension was to enable the motorcyclists’ secure alternative employment.

Mrs Ebikake added that, the state government is already making efforts to provide more tricycles in the next two weeks to enhance the state’s public transportation.

She revealed that the state government will also import Tata Nano mini buses from India in a few months’ time.

The state governor, Mr Seriake Dickson had recently disclosed that the operations of the motorcyclists in the state capital has caused more harms than good, with resultant effect of increase in criminality and frequent accidents.

Jakarta, most active Twitter City-Study

The most active tweeting city in the world has been known and this is according to a study conducted by France-based social media monitor Semiocast.

According to Semiocast, Indonesia had the two most active cities one making number one on the list which is Jakarta while Bandung a second Indonesian city came 6th on the same list. The study was made public on Monday on the website of the social media monitor, semiocast.com

On the survey details, for the month of June about 10.6 billion tweets were posted and more than 2% of those came in from Jakarta.

Jakarta was followed closely by Tokyo while London, Manchester, New York, Bandung, Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago and Riyadh followed each other on the table.

It means with this ranking the mentioned cities according to standings show that users from these locations boost the activity of the social media network in their respective cities.

English remains the most used language on Twitter, followed by Japanese, Semiocast said, pointing out that the US is the most active Twitter country, with US-based users posting 25.8 per cent of all public tweets, followed by Japan-based users who posted 10.6 per cent.

Although, Jakarta came in fifth in terms of accounts creation on the social media network after the United States of America, Brazil, Japan and Britain while India, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the Philippines occupied 6th to 10th positions.

Indonesia boasted 29.4 million Twitter user profiles as at the end of June, lower than Britain’s 32.2 million Twitter user profiles, Semiocast said.

Semiocast said up to 517 million Twitter user profiles had been created before July 1, including more than 140 million in the US alone.

India steel plant explosion kills 11

A massive explosion at a government-owned steel plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has killed at least 11 people, police say.

The blast on Wednesday night triggered a fire in the plant in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam. At least 16 other workers suffered serious burn injuries.

The blast took place when workers were checking a newly-installed oxygen unit in the plant, reports said.

The death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured are critical.

local media reported that at least three senior officials were among those killed.

Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that cars parked outside the unit were flung in the air.

The 41-year-old Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) plant, located 600km (370 miles) from the state capital, Hyderabad, is one of India’s biggest steel producers.

The plant has expanded over the past four years and added new units.


Nigeria and four others to lead urban city growth in coming decades

India, China, Nigeria, Indonesia and the United States have been listed by the United Nations (UN) as countries that will lead the growth in urban cities in the next four decades, sparking challenges in providing jobs, housing, energy and infrastructure, the UN said on Thursday.

A crowded area in Lagos, Nigeria

This revelation comes before the U.N. sustainability summit in Rio in June, the world body released new forecasts for urban populations in a bid to urge global leaders to come up with concrete plans at the conference in Brazil to produce sustainable cities.

Nigeria’s cities are expected to add 200 million people by 2050, more than doubling the country’s current population; India’s cities are to add 497 million, increasing the current total population by more than 40 percent; and Indonesia’s cities are set to add 92 million people, about a 38 percent increase in its total population, according to the U.N.’s 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects.

U.S. cities are forecast to add 103 million people, raising the country’s total population by a third, while China is due to boost its total population by a quarter, with an increase of 341 million in its cities.

Currently half the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, the United Nations said.

“Cities are where the pressures of migration, globalization, economic development, social inequality, environmental pollution and climate change are most directly felt,” the United Nations said in a statement.

“Yet, at the same time, they are they engines of the world economy and centers of innovation where many solutions to global problems are being piloted,” the world body said.

Representatives from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro in June to try to hammer out sustainable development goals at the Rio+20 conference, named after a ground-breaking meeting in the Brazilian city 20 years ago.

Nigerian arrested with cocaine in India

Obiora Ikenna, from Anambra state was arrested with Cocaine
A 32-year-old Nigerian was on Monday arrested in Delhi, India on charges of supplying cocaine, police said Monday.

Obiora Ikenna, from Anambra state, was arrested around 10 p.m on Sunday near Aya Chowk with eight grams of cocaine valued at more than US$22,000 globally.

He told the police that he came to India 14 months back on a tourist visa and lived in Arjun Nagar.

The police said Mr Ikenna’s visa expired on Feb 7, 2010.

“Initially, he exported ready-made garments, shoes and other accessories from Delhi to Lagos but incurred heavy losses,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Chhaya Sharma.

Later, he met a Nigerian drug trafficker who lured him into the trade, said Mr Sharma.

Japan, India to Boost Nuclear Power Cooperation

Fukushima Nuclear Plant

The two countries already finished two rounds of talks on the round table as they are on the third round of talks over the cooperation as it was stalled by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

India wants to buy civil nuclear technology from Japan, but talks have been slow, with Tokyo wanting New Delhi to commit to a moratorium on nuclear weapons tests.

Noda, presently in India on a diplomatic visit, hinted that Tokyo was ready to cooperate with New Delhi to expand the latter’s nuclear energy programme.

Japan is to share experiences and lessons to improve Nuclear safety around the world with modern technology as they would continue to research on ways to better the energy programme.

In a joint news conference;Yoshihiko Nodi assured Manmohan Singh of their unhindered partnership as India expands its civil and nuclear power generation.

Since Japan has been a firm advocate of non-proliferation, the commencement of talks on bilateral nuclear cooperation with India last year marked a paradigm shift in the country’s approach.

India has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, arguing it is discriminatory and flawed in allowing only countries that had tested nuclear weapons before 1967 to legally possess them.

However, in a major development, the Japanese Prime Minister asserted that Tokyo would resume its consultations with New Delhi on the ambitious civil nuclear deal between the two countries.

73 Killed in a Hospital Fire in India

A seven-storey hospital building in the city of Kolkata located in the eastern part of India was engulfed by fire claiming at least 73 people.

Most the dead people were patients of the hospital, a senior hospital official said.

The fire was brought under control late this morning by rescue workers and evacuation of bodies from the building started immediately, amongst those confirmd dead were two children seen taken out by eyewitnesses.

Patients who survived the fire were rolled out on stretchers and distraught relatives waiting outside the hospital as a thick layer of smoke covered the hospital building.

Of the 73 people dead only three were not patients of the hospital and 90 patients were safely evacuated.

Authorities believe the fire started in the basement, where flammable materials such as oxygen cylinders were stored.

Two dozen fire trucks were sent to douse the blaze and evacuate the building but it took the rescue workers time to bring the fire under control.