The private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID), has donated N900million worth of food items to Kaduna State, the governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said.
According to him, this is the largest donation made to the state so far since the country began its battle against the COVID-19.
“The largest donation of food came from CA-COVID – the private sector group, led by Aliko Dangote group and others.
“They are providing N900 million worth of food items to Kaduna State. Our public servants are contributing about 700 million, the state government has raised 400 million from other donors,” the governor said on Saturday on a special state of the nation programme, The Platform.
Speaking further, he highlighted some major steps that the state is taking to curb the spread of the virus.
One of the steps include building a permanent infectious disease hospital which he believes will serve, even post-COVID-19.
“The one we have is just 16 beds, we are building a 199 bed-infectious diseases hospital which will be completed in the next eight weeks, the governor said.
“We are building infectious diseases wards in each of our general hospitals in each of the 23 local governments which will be 20 to 30 beds in each of the local governments and the main one here in Kaduna (the capital)”.
For the health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19, the governor said an insurance cover of N5 million has been provided for families of any health worker who dies in the line of duty.
“We took extraordinary steps to get PPE’s for our health workers. We’ve also insured their lives to the tune of N5 million – anyone that dies in this process, their family would get N5 million and we have also disability insurance for those that get sick and can’t work,” El-Rufai said.
According to him, even if livelihood and the economy, among other things would be affected, preserving the lives of residents from the virus has remained a priority.
“We had a trilemma on what to prioritise. Would it be lives, livelihood or liberty? We prioritised saving the lives of people,” he said.
“From day one, we decided that no matter what it costs us, we will do whatever we can to protect the people of Kaduna State.
“We’ll inconvenience people but apologise later. We’ll affect livelihoods negatively but apologise later and try to rebuild those livelihoods.
“The entire number of ICU beds in Nigeria at the onslaught of this pandemic was 350 for the entire country and in Kaduna we just have about 20 ICU beds.
“So, how are we going to handle the situation if we have 1,000 people requiring treatment.
“So, our best strategy was to prevent the spread of the virus,” he stressed.
Challenges determining who is poor
Governor El-Rufai also noted that food and other relief items are being distributed to the general public, especially the poor.
“We drew five million from the contingency fund of our 2020 budget and bought food items, packaged them and targeted nine urban local governments because most of those that are vulnerable are the urban poor because those that came from the urban areas to the cities looking for work.
“We are distributing food of approximately N2 billion to all the 23 local governments”.
The governor, however, admitted that there has been a challenge of identifying who the poor is because there isn’t any database to determine that.
Community leaders had been appointed to determine that but according to the governor, the process didn’t yield accurate results.
He, therefore, noted that going forward, the state would determine the poorest in the state by using their phone recharge purchase records.
“We believe that anyone that anyone that spends less than N200 per month on buying recharge card for his phone is poor and will need this food intervention”.
The Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Poju Oyemade, has said that the COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the rebuilding of Nigeria’s healthcare system.
He said this on Saturday during the Church’s annual Worker’s Day programme, The Platform.
This year’s edition, however, focussed on Nigeria’s battle against the COVID-19, so far.
While giving his address, Pastor Oyemade recalled how years ago, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, where his parents both worked as doctors, was ranked among the 10 best hospitals in the commonwealth nations.
But according to him, the current healthcare system is now nothing to be proud of.
He, however, says the current pandemic should be a wake-up call for the government to build sustainable infrastructure.
“My parents are both medical doctors and I was born while they were living on the premises of the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
“The UCH, then, was regarded as one of the best 10 hospitals in the commonwealth nations, which included hospitals in England, Whales, Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” Oyemade said.
“That showed the kind of health care system that was in Nigeria then. This shows how much we have dropped the ball on health care in this nation and I hope this time will serve as a wake-up call to this nation to lay emphasis upon rebuilding the infrastructure of the health system in this nation”.
He noted that security is a fundamental factor that attracts foreign investors.
According to Mr Obi, there are major factors affecting the growth of the nation which is security, education and Our economy (with emphasis on solving the current underemployment and unemployment situation)
He said Nigeria is borrowing and not impacting on the development of the country.
“We are borrowing but it is not impacting our growth. One of the crises we face as a country is the high level of our debt accumulation.
“Today Nigeria’s debt is about 28 trillion dollars. Our debt to GDP is about 25%. Singapore’s debt to GDP is 100%. In Singapore, you can only borrow for capital projects that will pay itself back.
“Nigeria’s unemployment rate is over 25%, global life expectancy is 75 years, while for Nigeria, it is 54 years.
“Nigeria is the only country where you have a low literacy rate of 51% and this is caused by the nonchalant attitude towards our educational system”.
Mr Obi further stated that Nigeria is the home of the highest number of poor people on Earth, and in every minute, six Nigerians fall into poverty.
He said investors need peace to enjoy their dividends. Nobody is going to invest in an unsecured place no matter how huge the profit seems.
“Our ten years budget in education is not up to South African’s one year budget in education
A growing economy invests at least 4% to 5% of the GDP in education.
Education is not an expense, it is an investment. The more you invest in education, the better your society.
The Chinese annual budget for education is 580 billion dollars.
In the last 10 years, Nigeria has budgeted about $4.5bn for education, less than the amount South Africa spends annually on its education.
If the money spent on subsidy was invested in education and health, it would have impacted positively in our economy at large.
Talks about the economy is incomplete without addressing the issue of employment and unemployment.
Unemployment and under-employment are the greatest contributors to the challenges to the growth of our economy. When people don’t have jobs, we will have terrorists and criminals in society.
An expert on globalisation and emerging markets on Tuesday highlighted the importance of electricity in moving a nation forward.
Dr Anil Gupta, who was one of the speakers at The Platform, a programme convened by Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Center, stressed that Electricity is the lungs of the economy of a nation and without it; it is difficult to record progress.
He also stressed that electricity is a major aspect of Nigeria’s infrastructure which needs to be considered by the government.
“The seeming most important aspect is electricity. Roads, highways and other segments of infrastructure are important but electricity, I will put ahead of these.
“If we look at the Industrial revolution that made America and Europe rich, starting from the early 19th century its really that the lungs which gives power to the body. It was steam engines first and electricity next.
“So, without the power, the lungs of the economy it is very difficult, it is impossible to march ahead.”
Gupta also lamented that “The electricity produced in Nigeria is very inadequate and obviously that is a segment of infrastructure where the government has almost always has played a major role.”
Making reference to statistics and estimates, he said Nigeria will experience development if electricity is given proper and adequate attention.
Financial Times statistics show that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria spends 40% cost of production on power, Gupta said, if this is not promptly curtailed by Nigeria’s government it will “act as a constraint in terms of development.”
An expert on globalisation and emerging markets, Dr Anil Gupta says a high unemployment rate whether individually or in a society is highly unacceptable.
Gupta, who was one of the speakers at The Platform a programme convened by Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Center, on Tuesday said estimates show that a huge number of Nigerian youths are unemployed a situation which he said is capable of ‘feeding’ xenophobia.
According to him, the high rate of unemployment among young South Africans gave room for xenophobia, hence Nigeria should not treat unemployment with kids glove.
“There is a lot that Nigeria needs to do. For example, the figures according to several estimates from 15 to 35 age groups the level of unemployment or underemployment in Nigeria is well higher than 25% and that clearly tells us that something needs to be done.
“At the society level, high unemployment level runs the risk of feeding xenophobia,” Gupta said, adding that this is responsible for the recent developments in South Africa where foreigners, especially foreigners from other African countries including Nigerians are attacked.
He concluded that “a high unemployment rate is highly unacceptable individually or at the level of society.
“Looking at where Nigeria is coming from and where we are going, a lot more lies ahead.”
Gupta also pointed out that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate has been slower than the population growth rate, according to him, what this means is that per capita income in real terms in Nigeria has declined over the past years.
The Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Center and Convener of The Platform, Poju Oyemade, has called on Nigerians not to allow their religious orientations or leanings to create division in the country.
Speaking at the Covenant Place, Iganmu to mark the nation’s 59th Independence Anniversary, the cleric asked citizens to instead use their religious beliefs as tools to appeal to the conscience of both the leaders and followers.
“The religion of this nation must not be used as a divisive tool but a tool to appeal to the moral conscience of men.
“We have heard from them that know that when men gather to steal public funds, the issue of tribe and religion is not taken into consideration,” he said.
He added that “the seed of our dream for a better Nigeria requires nourishment from this earth, institutional knowledge gathered all over the years.”
He recalled that when former United State President Barack Obama was launching his campaign for the presidency in 2006, he acknowledged the importance of faith.
The realisation that faith is important, according to Pastor Oyemade, perhaps explains why America is technologically and economically advanced.
“I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in and around people. If we are going to speak to the people where they are, we must understand that Americans are religious people.
“90 percent of Americans believe in God, 70 percent are affiliated to organized religion and that 38 percent call themselves committed Christians. This is probably the most advanced society in the world,” he said.
The Chairman, Editorial Board of Thisday newspapers, Mr Segun Adeniyi, has warned the Federal Government against using oil proceeds to service recurrent expenditure, stressing that Nigeria is already living on a borrowed time.
He stated this on Wednesday while addressing participants on The Platform, an annual conference organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme, ‘The Drivers, Enablers, and Obstacles To Our Growth,’ Adeniyi said things may get worse for many states in the country as oil earnings are already not enough to meet recurrent expenditure.
“With the new minimum wage, things can only get worse for many of the states and maybe even the federal government that is now heavily indebted.
“That there will be a convulsion at some point is no longer in doubt. What will trigger it is what one may not be able to put his finger on.
“Therefore, it’s either we have a conversation about the future of our country in an orderly manner or it is forced upon us under circumstances in which we may have little or no control. We are already living on borrowed time,” he stated.
The 2019 May edition of The Platform is one that celebrates the Nigerian workers, designed to bring experts and inspirational figures from different works of life together.
According to the Convener of the programme, Poju Oyemade, the event has evolved to a full-scale global media event, adopting the range of key media challenge and technology to broadcast the message far and wide.
Some of the Speakers at the event were Founder and Editor Chief Pando Daily, Sarah Lacy, Founder and President of the African Institution of Technology, Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Professor Dr Anil Gupta, Ndidi Nwuneli, Chairman Board of Directors, First Bank, Ibukun Awosika, Founder and Chief Consultant of B Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Biodun Adedipe.
The Chairman of First Bank, Ibukun Awosika, got a second standing ovation in the space of three days on Wednesday after she gave a passionate speech at The Platform.
She got the ovation after challenging Nigerians to rally together, realise that leaders are a reflection of their followers, ask and answer the tough questions, and work towards finding the solutions needed to guarantee a bright future.
As workers across the country marked May Day, speaking the Platform which had the theme ‘The Drivers, Enablers, and Obstacles To Our Growth’, she called for solutions and innovation that will ensure that the country works.
“We should criticise ourselves, but we should criticize to build. We should see a problem and be angry about it and innovate and seek to find the solution to the problem because we know why we want to do it. Because we know that this country must work,” she said, during her speech.
On Monday, she had received a standing ovation from governors, governors-elect and other top dignitaries during the induction ceremony held by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) for new and returning governors in Abuja.
At that event, she had delivered a speech on the topic “The Task of Nation Building” during which she, among other things, challenged governors to work for the people.
She had concluded the speech by sharing her desire for the nation.
“I want my nation to work, I want to be able to tell my children this is why I say you must live in Nigeria and nowhere else. And I ask for your help that as you do what you have sworn to do or you will swear to do as you take office, that the Lord will help you to do it right, that ultimately we will build a nation that we will all be proud of,” she had said.
Who do we want for our nation? What is our common goal as a people? How do we get away from the things that easily destroy us that have no reason to? How do we rise above our past into our future?
These were the challenging questions posed to Nigerians on Wednesday by Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, and guest speaker at ‘The Platform’, a flagship programme by the Covenant Christian Centre.
In a speech which earned her a standing ovation as Nigerian workers marked May Day, Awosika challenged Nigerians to move beyond criticism of leaders and seek lasting solutions to problems.
She said, “What I have come to do today, is to start a national conversation because when we get the conversation right, we will get the right kind of leaders for the conversation we have.
“People get the leaders they deserve. Yes, the people get the leaders they deserve; our leaders are a reflection of us. So you cannot say ‘The leaders, the leaders’, how many people are those leaders and how many people are the citizens of Nigeria? The people get the leaders they deserve based on their own actions or inactions.
“We have to want this nation to work. Some people spend so much time cursing this country; our tongues do not bless this nation. We are so negative about it.”
She also charged Nigerians to find and execute innovative ideas that will make the country work.
“We should criticise ourselves but we should criticise to build. We should see a problem and be angry about it and innovate and seek to find the solution to the problem because we know why we want to do it. Because we know that this country must work for every single one of us from the weakest to the strongest of us to prosper.
“For us to be able to provide for those that are weak; men, women, children, every community in the village and city. For every fatherless and motherless child to still be able to have hope in the system of our country.”
Mrs Awosika further posed some challenging questions to Nigerians, with the motive that it will help stir well-meaning citizens to take some proactive measures.
“Who do we want for our nation? What is our common goal as a people? How do we get away from the things that easily destroy us that have no reason to? How do we rise above our past into our future? How do we draw the line on the things that have happened?
“How can we decide to get to where we want to get to if we haven’t first decided where we are going?
“We have to agree that we are going somewhere and we want to get there, but we must define where we are going.
“I didn’t ask the questions to get the answers today; I just want you not to be able to sleep because of those questions.”
She further offered that before all the ideas and innovation can work, the country needs to be unified in one tribe.
“We have asked the questions, we have raised the questions, what do we need to do? We need one tribe in this nation, a tribe of Nigerians, a tribe with a common goal, a tribe with a common agenda, a people committed to working hand-in-hand to our future.”
“A people committed to ensuring that we get the right kind of leadership at every time; and that those people, working with us, as we express ourselves in the different spaces that we find ourselves, work towards that common goal of building a great nation that provides value for every single Nigerian at every level; and thinking together, because together we are stronger than when we think apart, or we stand apart or we fight ourselves.”
It’s the 2019 May Day edition of The Platform with the theme, Drivers, Enablers and Obstacles of Our Growth.
The Platform is designed to facilitate growth in the areas of personal capacity, productivity & National Development within Nigeria.
The event is being pioneered by the Senior of the Covenant Christian Centre, Pastor Poju Oyemade.
Some of the speakers at this year’s event are Founder and Editor Chief Pando Daily, Sarah Lacy, Founder and President of the African Institution of Technology, Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Professor Dr Anil Gupta, Ndidi Nwuneli, Chairman Board of Directors, First Bank, Ibukun Awosika, Founder and Chief Consultant of B Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Biodun Adedipe.
Gridlock, poor healthcare, and issues in the educational sector were major talking points at the Lagos gubernatorial debate which held on Sunday, January 13.
The debate which was organised by “The Platform”, had as part of the debaters Mr Bababatunde Badamosi (Action Democratic Party), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (All Progressives Congress), Mr Jimi Agbaje (Peoples Democratic Party) and Owolabi Salis (Alliance for Democracy).
At the debate which held in Lagos, each candidate spoke about their varied plans on how to reposition the state and keep the metropolis functioning at a global standard.
Salis Targets Decentralisation of Lagos Commonwealth
For Owolabi Salis, the gubernatorial candidate of AD, decentralisation of Lagos commonwealth is key to transforming the state.
He said if voted into office as the governor of the state, he will ensure that the state’s commonwealth is taken away from the hands of one person.
“I want to take away the commonwealth that is in the hands of an individual and give it to the people of Lagos state,” Mr Salis said.
He regretted that the state had a ‘big problem’ to solve which the present administration had created.
Gbadamosi Believes Devolution of Power Will Solve Lagos Gridlock
The candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi, said the traffic nightmare that Lagosians have contended with for years can be solved by focusing on three things – rail transport, use of barges and devolution of powers.
He said, “There are a number of ways to tackle this problem. The most obvious one is rail. Secondly, barges to lift containers from the actual wharfs and take them to lighter terminals all around Lagos, and, thirdly, devolution of powers. It’s time we started this discussion about devolution of power.”
According to Gbadamosi, the ports, being in Lagos and the level of revenue being lost as a result of the gridlock is unconscionable.
“The point with this is that all of these exit points must have container terminals where the trains will pass through Apapa and Ibafo will deposit their goods so that people coming from out of state, which is quite common, will not clog up the roads with their trailers.”
Gbadamosi also said the first thing he will fix if elected as governor is public sector pay.
This, according to him, is because there is a massive gap between what public sector workers are paid and the kind of service they are expected to offer.
Consequently, he plans to up the pay of workers once he gets into power.
“Our civil servants are very disgracefully paid, and we want them to deliver the 21st Century service to us in Lagos State. That is not going to happen at the sort of pay levels we are offering them right now. So, we are going to upgrade civil service pay very quickly.”
Sanwo-Olu Claims He is His Own Man, Says ‘I Am Going To Be In Charge’
Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu insisted that he will not take instructions from anybody or group in leading Lagos if elected the governor of the state.
Speaking during the Platform’s governorship debate, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Jimi Agbaje had queried the ability of his APC rival to lead the state.
He said, “I believe the question is to look at Lagosians and say I am going to be in charge, that the bulk is going to stop on his table.”
But the APC candidate swiftly saying, “Mr Sanwo-Olu had had a unique opportunity of running the state budget; I am my own person.”
He further listed his achievements as a commissioner in Lagos, including the introduction of the Lekki Free Trade Zone.
Other projects Sanwo-Olu highlighted are the 767 – 112 control and command centre, security trust fund, as well as the first pension board in the country.
Sanwo-Olu also promised to tackle the problem of traffic jams if elected into office.
With 33 days to the general elections, he vowed to also make the gridlock in the Apapa axis of the state a thing of the past in less than four months.
“First on the list, I will tackle the traffic problem of Lagos frontally,” Sanwo-Olu said during ‘The Platform’s debate which held on Sunday in Lagos.
He explained further, “Out of the two traffic gridlocks that we have identified, some are low-hanging that we can resolve within the first 60 days … the first 60 days is to solve the ones that are low-hanging.