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Government, Health

*Over 2m jobs saved, created as FG release 100% budget component of ESP funds

*1. 3M jobs retained through Payroll Support

 

*36 States received N50b

 

*7 local airlines receive N2.84b

 

*Over 6 million farmers enumerated to benefit from agric sectoral support

 

*President approves fertilizer subsidy for over 1 million farmers

 

Thanks to the Federal Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package, the Nigerian economy did not degenerate as feared and at least over 2 million jobs have been both created and saved with the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan.

 

Although the target of N2.3 trillion estimated to be spent under the plan has not been achieved just as yet, the Federal Government appropriation part of that total being N500 billion has been completely released by the end of May, making it possible to attain several objectives of the ESP directly supporting a few million Nigerians.

 

While a total of 2,100,021 jobs have been saved and created all together, the breakdown of the figures indicate that 1.3 million jobs have been retained through interventions in the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space, including the Payroll Support.  The 774,000 jobs from the Public Works Programme and 26,021 Jobs from construction /rehabilitation projects across the country were among those freshly created.

 

These were some of the highlights that emerged from a virtual meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee measuring implementation presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on Monday.

 

Commenting on the implementation of the ESP, Prof Osinbajo said the 100% release of funds appropriated in the budget for the programme was commendable and urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expedite action on the release of funding components of the ESP that are dependent on financing from the bank.

 

According to the VP, “our budget funds were released in total. I thank the Honorable Minister of Finance for ensuring that it was done promptly, which means, in effect, that as far as the budget goes, we have been able to do what we practically promised to do.

 

“I know that if we were able to infuse N2.3 trillion into the Nigerian economy, we will not have the employment figures that we have today, we will not have the problems that we have today, they will be significantly reduced. Even with what we are able to do with the budget, growth figures at least indicate that things have not degenerated as badly as many had thought.

 

“So, you can imagine what we could have done if we were able to fully implement what we thought we would be able to implement. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. We hope that in the next couple of weeks, we will be able to get some good response on more funds that we expect to get from the CBN which will help us to make some progress on the implementation.”

 

According to a summary by the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Prince Clem Agba, construction/rehabilitation of 3,707 km Federal roads across the federation under Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is at 65% completion.

 

In the agricultural sector, over 6 million farmers have been enumerated, 3.6 million passed the first stage of validation and 2.4 million scaled the second validation stage. The Minister added that 129,000 crop farmers and 38, 333 animal farmers have been profiled for the Interest-Free Loan Support for the dry season farming cycle.

 

He added that under the COVID-19 intervention programme for the health sector, the establishment of 520 Intensive Care Units (ICU) Beds, 52 Molecular Laboratories and Isolation Centres at Federal Tertiary Hospitals is at 67% completion.

 

The Minister also reported that 485 water points have been constructed/rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources across the federation.

 

Giving a summary of the funding performance, Prince Agba said N500 billion representing 100% of the total sum in the budget has been released to all the programmes of the ESP as at May 30, 2021.

 

Detailing the breakdown of the releases, the Minister said, the economic cluster received N202.462 billion which represents 100% of the appropriation to the cluster while N61.589 billion which also represents 100% appropriation was released for the creation of jobs for youth and women.

 

The Social Intervention Programme and Support to Persons of Concern received N34.957 billion; WASH Programme and Energy Support to Vulnerable Communities received N22.315 billion; support for building a resilient health system received N116 billion; support for the operations of Security Forces was put at N15.674 billion, and the 36 States of the Federation received N50 billion,” the Minister explained.

 

In the aviation sector, the Minister said N5 billion has been released to support local airlines, ground handlers and other aviation allied businesses.

 

According to him, “7 scheduled operators, comprising Dana, Overland, Airpeace, Azman, Aero, Arik, and Max Air received N2.84 billion; 20 non-scheduled operators, comprising Cargo and Private Jet Services received N949, 909,000; 5 ground handling operators, including NAHCO, SAHCO, Presion Aviation, Batuke Resources Ltd and Swissport Intl Ltd received N233,333,000; The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies received N196 million; Airport Car Hire Association of Nigeria (ACHAN) received N196 million; 7 In-Flight Catering Services Operators received N233,333,000 and Aviation Fuel Operators received N233,333,000.”

 

Updating the meeting on the implementation of the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan, the Technical Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Andrew Kwasari, said the construction of 340 km of rural roads across the federation under Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) have been completed.

 

He added that the clearing of 3,200 hectares of land in 8 States have been completed, while the President has granted approval for fertilizer subsidy to over 1 million farmers already enumerated under the Agriculture for Food and Job Programme.

 

On his part, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad said the Solar Power Naija Programme under the ESP was progressing steadily with more communities to be connected under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) 100,000 solar connections, among other components of the programme.

 

He added that the agency under the Energy for All initiative has completed the connection of 200 Primary Healthcare Centres and 104 schools across the country to solar power with plans to connect more schools and health centres.

 

Under the Social Housing Scheme, the Managing Director of the Family Homes Fund, Mr Femi Adewole, said the scheme is progressing steadily as the financing agreement between the Family Homes Fund and the CBN has been finalized while the Ministry of Finance has provided the necessary guarantee for the project.

 

He added that the disbursement request for N30 billion to finance a total of 29,600 homes will be submitted to the CBN for processing before the end of this week.

 

Other members of the Economic Sustainability Committee present at the meeting included the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Labour & Employment, and representative of the CBN Governor, among other officials.

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Energy

Apex professional body responsible for the promotion and protection of the interests of the gas industry in Nigeria unveils Agenda for Gas Development, holds Consultations with Stakeholders.

 

In further actualization of its vision of advancing the role of Natural Gas as the preferred energy source, the new executive council of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) has unveiled its agenda at the 2021 Industry Multilogues and has commenced wide consultations with stakeholders in the Nigerian gas sector.

 

The 2021 NGA Industry Multilogues took place on February 25 and 26, 2021. The event hosted virtually in conformance with COVID-19 protocols, featured hundreds of participants across the continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America, and 35 local and international speakers including the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; President of International Gas Union (IGU), Dr Joe Kang; the GMD of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari; and the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr Simbi Wabote.

 

Others include the Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor; the MD of NLNG, Mr. Tony Attah; the MD of Seplat Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Roger Brown; the MD of Shell Nigeria Gas, Mr. Ed Ubong, and erstwhile President of the NGA, Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, amongst other numerous international and local players in the upstream, midstream and downstream gas value chain.

 

In his special presentation, the 8th President of the International Gas Union (IGU), Mr. Joe Kang, posited that with increasing global energy demand, hydrocarbons would continue to be critical to powering heavy global industrial production even in the face of the energy transition, with Gas being the frontrunner.

 

According to Kang, this is manifest in “Sustainable economic development of Nigeria through power generation, enhancing LPG utilisation among Nigerian households and supply to gas-based companies. ”

 

“Our Efforts will continue to focus on Gas to transmute Nigeria from dependence to a cleaner, more acceptable affordable and accessible energy use in Gas,” said Timipre Sylva, the honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, whose presentation was delivered by his Senior Technical Adviser on Gas, Mr. Justice Derefaka.

 

The honourable minister identified Natural Gas as the most acceptable alternative as the world transitions from fossils to renewable energy. He reiterated the Federal Government’s policy position of dedicating this decade to ensure that Natural Gas plays a vital role in the nation’s energy agenda.

 

He added that these programmes would transit the domestic market from reliance on refined petroleum products to cleaner, more sustainable, and affordable energy options for broader applications. Also, that Nigeria must continue to reposition its vast Natural Gas resources to better serve its energy needs in line with global best practices.

 

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was the special guest, declared his administration’s readiness to partner with proponents of the Gas industry to realise its aspirations in Lagos State – Nigeria’s most advanced economic hub. He said Natural Gas has remained critical to the State’s vision in providing environmentally efficient fuel options in driving development and providing social services to over 20 million people in the State.

 

“We need to create more green jobs, improve air quality, reduce carbon emission and have a healthy environment to improve the state of living of our city,” Sanwo-Olu said.

 

After a robust presentation, engaging deliberations, and very insightful discourse, the panellists and speakers came to a series of conclusions which are contained in a communique presented to the public.

 

There were also special recognitions of deserving corporates and individual for their contributions to the advancement of Natural Gas in Nigeria. Awardees include Timipre Sylva, the honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, who received the NGA Industry Leadership Award for his outstanding Service, Leadership and Immense support to the advancement of the Nigerian Gas Industry; Mele Kyari, the NNPC GMD who received the award for the NGA Ultimate Gas Promoter of the Year; and Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB who received the award for NGA Regulator of the Year for outstanding support for local capacity building in the industry. There were also special recognition awards to NLNG, Shell Nigeria, Axxela Group and Falcon Corporation, amongst other firms, for significant contribution to the association.

 

Meanwhile, the new NGA executive, under the leadership of Ed Ubong, has commenced visits and consultations with critical industry stakeholders. On Monday, 29th March 2021, during the pre-summit virtual conference of the NIPS, a formal presentation of the NLNG Awards to Mr. Tony Attah & the NLNG Team was made. This was followed on Tuesday, 30th March 2021, at the National Assembly Complex, a consultative visit to the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Gas Resources and Wednesday 31st March 2021, the NCDMB Abuja Liaison Office for a courtesy visit and formal presentation of Awards to the Mr Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB.

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Education, Entertainment

The Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature on Sunday announced the shortlist of 11 drawn from 202 books in the running for the 2021 edition of the prize.

 

The literature prize is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) with a cash award of $100,000.

The 11 books on the shortlist, in alphabetical order by the title of the book, are:

 

Delusion of Patriots, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji

Give Us Each Day, Samuel Monye

Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma

In The Name of Our Father, Olukorede S. Yishau

Mountain of Yesterday, Tony Nwaka

Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma

The Colours of Hatred, Obinna Udenwa

The Girl with The Louding Voice, Abi Dare

The Return of Half- Something, Chukwudi Eze

10.The Son of The House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

 

11.Your Church My Shrine, Law Ikay Ezeh

 

The list was presented by the Chairman, Panel of Judges for this year’s prize, Professor Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan. The other judges are Prof. Tanimu Abubakar and Dr Solomon Azumurana. Professor Abubakar is a Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Art, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Dr Azumurana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.

 

The judges described the shortlist as fresh approaches to looking at issues, using new and exciting narrative strategies, techniques and well-written organic plots to present topical discussions in realistic ways. The judges stated that there has been a visible improvement in writing skills and commended NLNG for giving writers the platform to blossom and experiment.

As in the past, The Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s biggest reward for creative excellence, will be keenly contested.

 

According to the Chairperson of the prize’s Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the Board unanimously agreed that the shortlist of 11 was an excellent list. She expressed her appreciation to the judges for a thorough job in selecting the shortlist. She stated that excellence was the watchword of the prize, adding that the onus was on

 

the Advisory Board to continue in the tradition that was handed to them by the past Board.

 

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, Chants of a Minstrel (co-winner, 2005, poetry) Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his classic, Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary with her book, Yellow Yellow (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012, prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play, Iredi War; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with his novel Season of Crimson Blossoms (2016, prose); Ikeogu Oke with his collection of poetry, The Heresiad; (2017, poetry); Soji Cole with his play, Embers (2018, drama); and Jude Idada with his book, Boom, Boom (2019, Children Literature).

The prize runs concurrently with the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism (also sponsored by NLNG), for which four entries were received in 2020. The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of N1 million.

 

The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.

 

A shortlist of three is expected in September. A winner, if any, will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.

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Entertainment, Tourism
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos on Friday launched a Tourism Master Plan and Policy which seeks to make Lagos State one of the top-five tourism hubs in Africa.


Speaking at the presentation, the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the event as a critical step to further unlock aspects of Lagos towards becoming Africa’s tourism giant.


He said: “Since our assumption of office, over two years ago, we have taken decisive steps to explore the abundant possibilities in this very critical sector by giving the practitioners and key stakeholders an opportunity to be directly involved in each of our policies”.


Sanwo-Olu, represented at the event by his Deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, stated that the tourism potentials of the State are yet to be fully harnessed, as such the policy is an attempt to unlock these potentials.


Speaking further, the Governor disclosed that the event is evidence of his administration’s commitment to inclusiveness and stakeholder partnership since the tourism sector thrives on Public-Private Partnership and collaboration.


He disclosed that the policy was developed with the consent of relevant stakeholders in the tourism industry, noting that it was reviewed to reflect the policy thrust and plans for Entertainment and Tourism pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.


“The Launch speaks of our sincere intention to better the lot of Lagosians, promote ease of doing business, attract more tourists to our State and domestic tourism activities in the Centre of Excellence”, he said.


According to him, the policy document will direct efforts in the tourism sector in strategic areas, namely: Culture and Heritage; Film, Art and Entertainment; Business and Meetings, Incentives; Conferences and Entertainment; Beach and Leisure; Nature and Adventure, and Medical and Wellness.


Sanwo-Olu averred that the document will help in the attainment of a robust execution and implementation of short, medium and long-term plans in different areas and aspects of Tourism activities in alignment with the vision to revamp the tourism sector holistically, adding that the waterways and beaches as well as restaurants, recreational parks and relaxation centres will be exposed at home and abroad for tourism purposes.


While stating that the event signals a new narrative in the sector, the Governor expressed confidence that the public presentation of the Lagos Tourism Master Plan and Policy is one that all stakeholders in the sector have been yearning for and hoping to have for implementation.


Earlier in his goodwill message, the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented at the event by the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunsho Coker said it is time for all tiers of government in the country to partner on issues relating to tourism.


He said, “This is the time for collaboration and not a competition between all tiers of government, if there is competition between members of the State and Federal Government on issues relating to tourism the progress will be distorted”.


While noting the need for alignment of policies in the area of taxation and legislation, the Minister stated that the Lagos economy can sustain local tourism, tasking journalists on responsible reportage so as not to devalue the State’s claims to a position of value.


He, however, urged the government to harness the tourism potentials of Lagos, being the heartbeat of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.


In her address, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, stated that the Master Plan will further transform Lagos into a major African tourism and entertainment hub by exploring and promoting the potentials that abound in the State, as well as integrating the thriving Entertainment and Arts industry as a viable platform to attract visitors and create jobs in Lagos State.


She added that the goal is to generate tourism revenue for business and government, which will lead to job creation, enhance the quality of life for Lagosians, align with the State’s development plans and domesticate tourism in Lagos.


The Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Solomon Bonu, remarked that the Master Plan and Policy are being conceived to provide a more holistic approach to the implementation of tourism activities across the State, such that there will be uniformity and orderliness in the sector.


He stated that in the course of the compilation, the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture had ensured that relevant stakeholders were involved from the inception of compilation and review of the documents up till the final stage.


Bonu further disclosed that there is a plan in place by the Ministry to train 500 youths from the five IBILE Divisions of the State as Tour Guides, adding that the Ministry is also training creative practitioners under its Lagos State Creative Industry Initiative (LACI) and members of Tourism Clubs to meet the needs of tourists in the sector.
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