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Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education said it will constitute a national committee on the harmonisation of schools and examination calendar following the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, made this known at the 2020 Annual Ministerial briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

The Minister said there was a need for the harmonisation so that schools, learners, teachers and examination bodies would be on the same page.

According to him, following the outbreak of COVID-19 by the end of 2019, the first step taken as a nation was to close down all the teaching and learning facilities nationwide in March 2020.

“Upon closure, we proceeded to float online learning facilities. The major challenges we had were electricity and internet access for teachers and learners.

” Consequently, while some learners continued their education, others, especially in the rural areas could not, thereby putting our learners at different levels of exposure.

“There is, therefore, the need for us to harmonise our schools and examination calendar be it state, Federal or private schools.

” This is because, at the end of the academic year, children in primary schools who want to proceed to our unity colleges will have to write the National Common Entrance on the same day,” he said.

He added that the committee comprising NECO, WAEC, NABTEB, JAMB and a representative of private school owners among others would be inaugurated before the end of January.

On the increasing carrying capacity in tertiary institutions, Adamu noted that four public universities, six polytechnics and six Federal Colleges of Education had been established in the last one year.

He added that four private universities and several polytechnics, colleges of education and allied institutions were also established to address the carrying capacities in higher institutions.

” A breakdown in terms of the number of universities shows that the country now has 44 federal universities, 50 state universities, bringing the total number of public universities to 94.

” As at last count, the country has 79 private universities bringing the number of universities in Nigeria to 173 with a combined carrying capacity of over 2.5 million.

” Nigeria has a total of 85 (federal and state) polytechnics, 61 private polytechnics, 117 monotechnic (federal, state and private), Colleges of Agriculture, specialised institutions and colleges of health technology,” he said.

According to him, the country has 158 Innovation Enterprise Institutions (federal, state and private).

“Total enrollment shows that the polytechnics have an enrolment figure of 348,326 students while the monotechnics have 33,338 with specialised institutions accounting for 5,197.

” Innovative Enterprise Institutions recorded 3,454 enrolments and the total enrollment in these categories of institutions stands at 385,118 students.”

The minister further explained that the government had added six federal colleges of education across the geopolitical zones and licensed 14 colleges of education with a combined carrying capacity of 49,500.

He said that the total carrying capacity of the nation’s colleges of education as of today stood at 495,340 spaces.

He also noted that the Tertiary Trust Fund had committed N395,032,375 to the development of infrastructure in tertiary institutions.

He said this was aside from budgetary allocation and revitalisation funds to universities.

He, therefore, added that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had witnessed massive investment in capital projects in tertiary institutions totaling approximately N1.7 trillion with universities taking two-third of the total sum


Energy, Finance, ICT

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has urged stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to key into the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Electronic Platform and Information Technology Application to improve operation efficiency.

Mr Sarki Auwalu, DPR’s Director and Chief Executive Officer, gave the advice at the organisation’s 2020 Annual General Meeting on Thursday at Ugboroke Community, near Warri, Delta.

Theme of the event was: “Oil and Gas Safe Operations and Compliance: DPR a Business Enabler”.

Auwalu was represented by Mr Bassey Nkanga, DPR, Operations Controller, Port Harcourt Zonal office.

He said that the platform was rolled out to add values to the stakeholders’ operational activities, and also improve the ease of doing business.

“These electronic tools are being deployed in phases.

“They are software with multiple interfaces that enables interactions on operations activities among stakeholders.

“This is in accordance with the government’s mantra of improving ease of doing business and digitalisation of processes in all the sectors of the economy.

“I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity by adopting and utilising these tools in your operations for improved efficiency and sustainable development of the sector in accordance with global best practices,” he said.

The DPR boss urged the stakeholders to develop dynamic safety culture to carry out their operations safely.

Auwalu said that safety could be achieved through compliance to the rules and regulations of the regulatory agency.

“Compliance to the rules and regulations will promote safe operations and also maximise your profit. Safety culture cannot be bought, you craft it yourself.

“DPR is committed to engaging all stakeholders to promote safety culture and continue to comply with the Petroleum Laws, regulations and guidelines in the oil and gas industry,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Antai Asuquo, DPR Operations Controller, Warri Zonal office, said that the meeting was to share ideas with stakeholders in the downstream sector on the way forward.

Asuquo said, “We will continue to give you the necessary support to grow your businesses.

“The theme is carefully chosen to ensure that cases of accident are reduced to the barest minimum in the downstream sector.”

Also, Mr Amalu Tobechukwu, DPR’s Establishment, Monitoring and Regulations, Department, Warri office, presenting his activities, urged the operators to avoid LPG Cylinder to Cylinder rebottling and decanting.

Tochukwu said that DPR had commenced online application system to ease the process of filing applications, advising the stakeholders to take advantage of it.

The Divisional Fire Officer, Warri Fire Station, Mr Tamigbe Francis, urged stakeholders to have fire extinguishers in their business premises.

In attendance were representatives from Matrix Energy, IPMAN, NUPENG, NPA, Delta Ministry of Land and Survey, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS).


Government, Health, Manufacturing

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N6.45 billion for the setting up of gas plants in 38 locations nationwide in a bid to enhance the treatment of Covid-19 patients who need oxygen.

This disclosure emerged at the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor and other senior government officials in attendance.

While briefing the NEC on the release of the funds, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President approved the release of the funds for the production of oxygen, necessitated by the increased number of patients who need oxygen due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.

Similarly at the meeting, the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed the Council that sequel to President Buhari’s decision to activate the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund based on the National Health Act, N55.1billion was approved in 2018 and that 50% of the sum has since been released to the States and the FCT.

Besides, the Federal Government has also allocated N35billion for 2021 for the Fund.

It would be recalled that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF or “The Fund”) was established under Section 11 of the National Health Act (NHA Act), as the principal funding vehicle for the Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS). The Fund serves to increase the fiscal space and overall financing to the health sector to assist Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Funding of the BHCPF would be derived from contributions including — an annual grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria of not less than one per cent (1%) of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) — grants by international donor partners; and funds from any other source.

Other updates at the NEC meeting include account balances as at 20th January, 2020 given by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, as follows:


Excess Crude Account (ECA), balance as at 20th January, 2021, $72,411,197.80; Stabilization Account, balance as at 19th January, 2021, N28, 800, 711,295.37; Natural Resources Development Fund Account, balance as at 19th January 2021, N95, 830,729,470.82.

Council also received an update from the Vice President who is the Chairman of Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Public Engagements regarding the fallouts of the EndSars protests of last year.

In the update, the NEC engagements will focus mainly on: Wealth creation, social safety nets and employment; Education, digital economy and sports development; Creative industry and hospitality; Security; and  Governance

Participants of the NEC engagements will be drawn from the following groups

  • Young intellectuals and emerging industry leaders from diverse sectors, students of tertiary and other educational institutions, youths in the Diaspora who are interested in social-political developments, entertainers and social influencers, trained artisans etc.
  • Youth leaders in (a) civil Society Organization (b) Politics (c) religious organization (d) traditional institutions.
  • Young women and young people with disabilities.

The engagement will evolve in three stages:

  1. Stage One: State Government(and FCT) facilitated youth engagements, guided by a panel of seasoned professionals(for comprehensiveness, practicability and effectiveness). This will essentially be a youth-driven engagement organised by each State Government or the FCT Administration. As the initial engagement, it will allow for streamlining of the thought processes of the youths’ interaction with State Officials and the selection of representatives, who will participate in subsequent engagements at Zonal and National levels.
  2. Stage Two: This is the zonal-level engagement where the issues of concern and the consensus reform ideas developed from the State-level engagements are presented by the individual States’ representatives. This engagement is a collaboration between the youths and the State Governments in the respective zones.
  3. Stage Three: This the national engagement, where select representatives from States and the Federal Capital Territory participate in an interactive session with Federal and other Government officials. The youth representatives present the consensus issues of concern and reform ideas developed from the first two stages. The session will be people-centric, providing a platform for the Government to listen to the youth and focus less on presenting its own achievements or defending its perspectives.

Government, Health, Manufacturing

The National Economic Council (NEC), under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has endorsed efforts being made to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally, according to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

Briefing State House correspondents, on Thursday, after the first virtual meeting of the council for 2021, anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Okowa said the country was also open to partnership and outsourcing arrangements with foreign producers of the vaccines.

“Nigeria and May and Baker are already in partnership for quite some time now, in trying to ensure that we are able to produce vaccines locally.

“And they are already looking very closely at that; and how to partner with either the approved vaccine producers, or to relate with those vaccines that are still in the process to see what we can do to start to produce vaccines.

“A lot of work is also being done locally; the details of which is not yet available, but we do know that Prof. Oyewale Tomori is working very closely with some of  the institutions we have in the country to see at the possibility of us beginning to produce vaccines at the moment.’’

He said production of vaccines required a lot of process and funding , but expressed optimism that the partnership between May and Baker and the Nigerian government, as led by Tomori would be fruitful.

According to him, the Tomori-led partnership was working on being involved in the production of vaccines; either locally or in partnership with those that have been approved globally, like the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine whose bulk would be produced in India.

“So, there could be outsourcing of the production of some of these vaccines. And we hope that we can become part of those that will have the outsourcing to produce some of these vaccines, because there are so many of them that are still in the process of seeking approval,’’ he said.

The governor said that the country would soon receive 100, 000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer Pharmaceutical, adding that the first doses would be administered on health workers and the elderly.

He said 40 million more doses of the vaccines were being expected at the end of March, or early of April, to cover 20 per cent of the population.

Okowa said that the Minister of Finance had reported to NEC that N555 million had been disbursed to five tertiary hospitals, while N6.5billion was disbursed to Ministry of Health to develop oxygen in 38 institutions.

The governor said that the council was not contemplating another lockdown, but urged Nigerians to strictly comply with the extant COVID-19 protocols.