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Economy, Government, LIFE STYLE

In a renewed attempt at further deepening the reforms of the nation’s business environment, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), has resolved that CEOs and Heads of some Federal Government regulatory agencies be presented with the outcome of a recent survey that exposes major pitfalls in the operations of the agencies.

The Cost of Compliance Report which was presented to the Council at its first virtual meeting of the year on Tuesday revealed persistent corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation, and several anti-business disposition in some of the regulatory agencies.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, who presided over the meeting directed that CEOs and heads of such government regulatory agencies involved should be presented with the outcomes and interaction should take place regarding some of the worrying disclosures in the report of the survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, PwC.

Prof Osinbajo who said the report revealed human issues that are not unavoidable, stressed the important roles regulatory agencies play in ensuring businesses are able to thrive seamlessly without inhibition. He noted that doing otherwise would only jeopardize the government’s efforts in creating a conducive business environment.

He stated that “if the environment on account of regulatory authorities is so difficult or expensive, such that people are discouraged or it doesn’t make sense for people to do business, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot in a manner we can only blame ourselves. These are human issues and we must do something very serious about these issues.”

Speaking further about holding those responsible for the major lapses to account, the Vice President said, “I am in full support of holding our CEOs to account because they, in turn, must hold their staff to account. If there is systemic corruption, bribery and extortion, and nobody is held to account, there is a problem.”

According to Prof Osinbajo, the plans of the Federal Government in growing the economy and changing the lives and livelihood of Nigerians for the better is largely dependent on the business environment in which they operate.

“Every one of our plans around sustaining economic growth, improving job creation and opportunities, whatever it is that we plan to do to make life better for the citizens, depends entirely on the environment in which people have to do business.

“It determines whether they will invest their resources, expand their businesses, and it just determines practically everything.”

Others present at the PEBEC meeting yesterday include the Ministers of Industry Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the Vice Chairman of PEBEC; Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Budget and National Planning (State), Clem Abga; Special Adviser on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, and Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, representing the National Assembly among other top government officials and representatives from PwC.

Members of PEBEC also condoled with Dr. Oduwole on the death of her father, former Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Afolabi Olumide who passed away recently. Otunba Adebayo who spoke on behalf of PEBEC prayed that God will grant the Council Secretary and the entire family the fortitude to bear the loss.

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LIFE STYLE

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has commended all officers in the Military, Nigerian Police and the legion for their efforts in protecting the country against external aggression and keeping the peace internally.

Speaking at the year 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day parade and wreath laying ceremony at the Remembrance Arcade, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos on Friday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Nigerians should be thankful to God for celebrating this year’s ceremony despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Sanwo-Olu while applauding the organisers of the programme, said despite the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and other parts of the world, they could keep up with the yearly ritual while adhering to safety protocols.

He said: “It is usually a yearly ceremony and we are thankful that this year’s ceremony could still be observed.

“I want to congratulate and commend all of our officers in the military and also the Nigerian Police, but more especially men of the Legion and everybody that has participated in this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance ceremony, the parade, men on guard and everything.

“I think it has been a testimonial and it is a yearly ritual that we are thankful to God that we can still keep this year’s activity as important as it is. We were still able to observe all of the protocols and you could see that everything has gone very well. It is just a one hour event and we are thankful for the organisers that they have been able to put this together again.”

 

 

 

Governor Sanwo-Olu during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day laid the wreath at the arcade and also released white pigeons and balloons into the air.

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the Lagos State Government (SSG), Mrs Folasade Jaji; Service Commanders; State Chairman of Nigeria Legion and other dignitaries also laid the wreath during the ceremony in memory of the falling heroes.

The event was attended by service chiefs and members of the State Executive Council.

 

Makinde assures of continuous support

Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Friday re-assured security agencies of his continuous support in the determination to keep Oyo State safe and secure.

The governor, who was speaking at the grand finale of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, held at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, declared that his administration remains committed towards the welfare of security officials in the state so as to keel lives and properties of residents safe and secure.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa indicated that Makinde equally performed the traditional wreath-laying at the 2021 Remembrance Day celebration.

He commended the officers and men of the security agencies, for their efforts in battling insecurity in the state, urging them to continue to do their best to ensure that peace reigns in the State and the country at large.

He said: “I will like to take this opportunity to thank officers and men of our security agencies. This is an unusual time and they are doing their best. So, for us as a government, our responsibility is to encourage and support them.

“On that note, I want to give a reassurance to the people of Oyo state that, for us and our security agencies, we will continue to do our best to ensure a safe, secure and stable environment.”

The Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Oyo state command, Michael Fajimi also appreciated the Oyo State government for improving the welfare of the dependants of the fallen heroes in the State.

“I want to thank God for the way the governor has been leading us. “Today, we can see his presence and he has been trying for us to see to the welfare of the fallen heroes and their dependants. He has been trying and we have been passing our goodwill messages accordingly.

“This is a period that we have sober reflection to remember the departed ones among us and we thank God that we are alive today. As far as we are concerned, we are making frantic efforts to see that these people are not left behind.”

He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to continue to assist the veterans and the fallen heroes so as to make life more meaningful for their dependants.

According to him, “I want to further appeal to the government to continue to assist the veterans in respect of the fallen heroes. The government has been trying but we want it to push further so that life will be easy for the dependants of these fallen heroes.”

The ceremony witnessed laying of wreaths by Governor Makinde, his Deputy, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, the General Officer Commanding 2 Mechanised Division, Maj Gen Anthony Omozoje, widows of the departed heroes, among other dignitaries.

The occasion also witnessed the 21-gun salute and symbolic release of white pigeons by Governor, Seyi Makinde to usher in peace into the country.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, Garrison Commander, 2Division, Nigeria Army, Brig.Gen. Thomas Ogunsugba, Commander, 671 Nigerian Air Force Detachment, Ibadan, Group Captain A. Muhammed among others.

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ICT, LIFE STYLE

The Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has announced plans to use traceability with GS1 Technology to monitor COVID-19 vaccine distribution, using Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) in the country.

The Director General told newsmen at a virtual media briefing on Friday that the goal of using GS1 Technology was to prevent fake vaccines from infiltrating the supply chain and to ensure there was no diversion.

According to her,  “This effort will create a reliable and predictable supply chain.

“A multi-stakeholder technical working group has been meeting to address different issues, from access to distribution to traceability (track and trace) of the vaccines, to monitoring of adverse events following immunisation.”

She explained that, NAFDAC is working with other organisations at continental level to enhance surveillance on vaccines and drugs on the continent.

Adeyeye added that the agency was also on the Regulators Steering Committee of African Union -3S (Smart, Safety Surveillance) with Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia.

“The Steering Committee is collaborating with UK Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) through funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The composition of the Nigeria’s working group (a regulatory officer from NAFDAC and an officer from NPHCDA) was used as a template for the  AU-3S  which the three other African regulators have adopted.

“The active pharmacovigilance that will be carried out will be used to harness data in MHRA database for detection of signals, understanding of demographic differences and others.”

In addition, she said the purpose of forming the committee was to use  COVID-19 vaccines distribution and immunisation as pilot to actively monitor the distribution (with track and trace) delivery .

“Also, monitoring of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs) of the vaccines at the continental level with the ultimate goal to create an African-based vigilance System for safety of medicines.

“As an outcome of the Regulators Steering Committee of African Union-3S, a National training of trainers has been scheduled by MHRA to improve capacity of key staff of NAFDAC and NPHCDA on the data collection overview and information,’’ she said.

According to her, 120 slots for the participants are allocated to each of the four countries.

“NPHCDA provided 80 names to ensure that a wide number of their Agency staff and partners understand the data collection overview and information required for the COVID-19 safety surveillance while NAFDAC provided 40 names”

“ NAFDAC is collaborating  with sister agencies and partners; NAFDAC initiated multi-stakeholder collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), UNICEF, WHO and Ministry of Health.

“The focus is to use a holistic approach for the effective immunisation or delivery of the vaccines and monitor any AEFI.

“The agency will also use its recently launched Med Safety App for Active Pharmacovigilance of the vaccines in collaboration with the sister agencies. .

“The App is free, and millions of healthcare workers can download it free for ADR reporting. In-country training on the use of the App has begun for the healthcare givers,’’ the NAFDAC D-G disclosed.

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LIFE STYLE
The Federal Government of Nigeria have ordered civil servants from grade level 12 and below to stay at home for five weeks.

Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), made this known in a circular in Abuja.
Esan said the directive followed the reported cases of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The circular reads in part; “Following Mr President’s approval of recommendations of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, in the light of the second wave of the infection in Nigeria, officers on grade level 12 and below are hereby, directed to stay at home for a period of five weeks, effective from Wednesday Dec. 23 and await further directive, ” the HOS said.

According to her, the decision has become necessary to streamline the number of officers who come to work daily.

She said that the affected officers are expected to perform their duties from home, while officers on grade level 13 and above are to adhere to preventive measures.
”The measures include maintenance of physical distancing, regular washing and/or sanitising of hands and wearing of face masks and reducing the number of visitors.

“In line with the prescription of the PTF, virtual meetings are encouraged with the view to minimising physical contact.

“In addition Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are expected to sustain the provision and use of necessary amenities in compliance with the existing guidelines on prevention and the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

” Security operatives manning the gates of offices should be directed to demand for the identity card of staff coming to the office to ensure that they are on grade level 13 and above before granting them access to the premises, ” she advised.
Esan had also instructed the permanent secretaries and the chief executive officers to bring the contents of the circular to the attention of all concerned officers and ensure compliance.
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LIFE STYLE
President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the mandate of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 till the end of March 2021, due to reported new surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 and the bid for vaccines.

The President added that his administration will embark on a comprehensive health sector reform aimed at providing a world class 21st century health care system, capable of responding effectively to future pandemics.
The number one citizen, made the pledge when he received the End-of-Year Report of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

He said: “For Nigeria to enjoy a lasting legacy from the huge investment in the health sector, a comprehensive Health Sector Reform that will achieve the following, amongst others, must be instituted. The objectives include to:

Build the human and institutional capacity to provide a world class 21st century health care system, capable of responding effectively to future pandemics;
Develop a viable strategy for our primary and tertiary healthcare system;
Re-align institutional mandates and functions within the health sector for effectiveness and efficiency;
Distinguish policy and coordination from implementation responsibilities; and
Strengthen the statutory and regulatory capacities within the health sector.’’
According to him, recent reports have indicated that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world.

“New epicentres have been identified and the nation cannot afford to lose the gains of the last nine months. I have critically evaluated the situation and remain convinced that urgent measures have to be taken to halt the spread and the attendant fatalities.

The president, therefore, stressed the need to speedily and strategically access and administer the COVID vaccine in a safe, effective and timely manner.

“This is an important obligation that we owe Nigerians as we go into year 2021 and it must be carried out through an efficient machinery.

“Accordingly, I have authorised the following measures for implementation:

The extension of the mandate of the PTF for a further period till the end of March, 2021 bearing in mind the new surge in the number of cases and the bid for vaccines;
That the PTF should coordinate the process for planning and the strategy for accessing, delivery and administration of the vaccines using the existing health structures that have worked in the past in vaccine administration;
Authorised the PTF to engage with the states for them to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions. Details of the advisory measures have already been announced; and
Authorised the PTF and the Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure that all in-bound passengers who failed to show up for post -arrival COVID-19 test are sanctioned within the ambit of the law, for breaching the public health protocols.
According to the president, the nation is clearly in a perilous situation given the virulent nature of this second wave, saying “we must act decisively to protect our people’’.

​In his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, revealed that the End-of-the-Year Report represented the state of the National Response as at the end of nine months of hard work (Dec. 15, 2020).
He stated that the activities of the PTF remained work in progress because COVID-19 had not abated, saying countries of the world, including Nigeria, had been experiencing a second wave of infections which had proven to be more virulent.

He disclosed that the Report had also captured for posterity the strategy adopted, the resources mobilized and committed, achievements recorded, lessons learnt and it represented a useful roadmap for a national response, should emergencies occur in future.

He said that the Report also highlighted the challenges encountered and the lessons learnt.

Mustapha said these lessons include “the immense benefits derivable from multi-sectoral collaboration to address issues; effective communication with Nigerians.
“Under emergency conditions, well rounded consideration should be given to all sectors; our health sector would require major reforms and must be pro-active; economic sustainability, recovery and preservation of lives and livelihood remain critical at all times;

“Structured data collection, analysis and retrieval remain critical for effective governance; the phenomenon of evacuation of citizens from all over the world should become a significant policy issue for government; across board several public sector rules, practices, systems and some statutes require review/revision to effectively respond to extreme emergency situations.’’

Mustapha stressed the need to urgently establish a dedicated FUND to address all pandemics and outbreaks and the significance of building on the synergy established with the private sector, the National Assembly and the sub-national entities.

The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, had told the president that “the COVID-19 will be with us for a while. Although this is the new normal, it continues to be just as deadly.

“Nevertheless, we have shown it is possible to keep it in check through the work we have done – we must persevere and continue the communication and enforcement aspects required to keep us safe until the epidemic is over.’’

According to him, 2021 will be all about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is a huge challenge for the country and will require your leadership and continued commitment, Mr President.
“All hands must be on deck to deliver and overcome the challenges of securing the supply of safe and effective vaccines, logistics and acceptance.

“Our health system has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s health system is fragile and may not withstand the effect of a major outbreak of COVID-19 or other infections.’’
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