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2019 presidency: Real reason Buhari refused to debate with Atiku – APC

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The All Progressives Congress, APC, has declared that it would be demeaning for President Muhammadu Buhari to engage Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar in a debate on the same stage.

Addressing a press conference Sunday evening in Abuja, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, stated that debate is meant for those that are seeking power.

The spokesman disclosed that Buhari was already engaging with the public through several other platforms which are considered more important and meet APC’s interest.

He said: “The president doesn’t have to give any reason at all for not attending that debate. The debate is just one of the several platforms that are available for our candidate to engage with the public, we cannot exhaust all the platforms. So we pick the platforms that are most impactful and we are the ones in the position to determine which platform we want to use.

“To debate with who? That is an insult, that the president will come debate with who? The debate the president is having is what he did that morning in Niger state. The people of Niger state can look forward to a brighter future. The people of this country, everywhere they go can see development, they can see projects going on. So these are the debates that the president is already engaging with public.

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“So, that particular debate may be important and I think it is important to people who are seeking power, not for somebody who has a lot speaking for him already. So, for us in APC, the debate as a fantastic idea it is, it is just one of the several options for our own candidate to engage with the public. There are many platforms we have used, there are many platforms we are still going to use and there are many we may not use. It is up to us to chose the platforms that will serve own interests.

“Don’t forget, just few days before this debate came, the president was live for two hours with Nigerians discussing his projects. Beside him was the Vice President of this country, talking about his projects and having very important debate over those policies and projects with Nigerians, with people having unfettered access and opportunity to make calls to him, to seek clarifications and ask questions. That for us is what our candidate needs. That for us is more important.

“That gives us the opportunity to say we are different. We are not in the same class with Atiku and the PDP to come share the same stage with people who ruined this country. To talk about what?

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“The same people who started several projects and they became conduit pipes and the APC government has come in, fixing all these projects one after the other. The same party complaining about the fact that we are completing projects. Is that the party you want us to stand on the same stage to debate with. Don’t take Nigerians for granted. We are not in the same class.”

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Covid-19: Makinde promises to turn around Saki facility, as Oyo govt. receives N250 million CACOVID support

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Oyo state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has declared his readiness to turn around the standard of the 100-bed isolation and treatment Centre in Saki, Oke Ogun part of the state.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde gave this assurance while receiving support of medical equipment worth N220 million from the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector initiative supporting Federal Government and state governments in fight against COVID-19.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, said that when completed, the treatment and isolation facility in Saki will be an improvement on the one existing in Olodo, Ibadan.

CACOVID had earlier promised the state N220 million worth of medical equipment and a cash gift of N30 million.

The private sector-driven CACOVID, the statement said, is in partnership with First Bank of Nigeria.

According to the statement, some of the equipment donated to the state government include, lead ECG electrode, heavy duty apron, autoclave, auto syringe pump, biohazard bag, blood warmer, centrifuge (refrigerator), defibrillators (AED) and portable ultrasound imaging.

Others are mobile digital x-ray unit, face shield, protective goggles, hospital gowns, oxygen cylinders, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrator, oxygen regulators, nebuliser, kidney dish, patient multiparameter monitor, stretcher and suction devices, among others.

The governor explained that the Saki isolation centre to be completed and commissioned soon, will be for both treatment and research, adding that the facility will have provisions for observatory, isolation and treatment sections.

He appreciated the CACOVID team for the initiative and donations, assuring that all the facilities are to be deployed to the Saki isolation centre, because of the peculiarities of the axis, which shares a border with neighbouring West African countries.

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He said “The Saki Isolation Centre is going to be three-in-one. It will have what you call an observatory, isolation and treatment centre.
“The reason we need to have an observatory is because Saki is a border town and many people come in from different parts of the West African states, especially Burkina Faso and Benin Republic, they come in through that area.

“So, when patients come in, what we do is to create an observatory. An observatory is not available in Olodo as I speak. So, Saki is the only one that will have an observatory, an isolation and a treatment centre.

“What that means is that the bed capacity of Saki ideally should be more than that of Olodo. Saki already has a hundred capacity bed, divided into Intensive Care Unit (10), High Dependency Unit (20), general male and female ward (70).

“But because we want to add an observatory, where patients who come in with no symptoms but have had a contact and may be worried that they may have contracted the infection. What we need to do is to bring them to the observatory, take their samples and within 48 hours get the result and decide whether they will get into isolation or go home.

“So, Saki by all standards, is going to be bigger than Olodo even though the structure is the same. But we have harnessed some areas specifically for the observatory and that will take ten extra beds.

“It will take about six weeks to put the place in shape, because the governor has approved the funding, which will be utilised. We are installing everything that will make the place fully functional as soon as we take off.”

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Justifying the decision to move all the donated facilities to the Saki Isolation centre, the governor said “why we are taking all the facilities to Saki is because we want to give everybody the same sense of belonging.

“We have built the Olodo centre and we must also care for those outside of Ibadan. When test results of people come out negative, nobody wants to know which part of the state they are from but are more concerned that they are from the state.

“We don’t want to see any COVID-19 patient dying in any part of the state. So, if we now say after all we have done in Olodo and we decide to put other structures in place in other parts of the state, is there anything wrong in that?”

While appreciating the CACOVID team for the donations, a member of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, Professor Temitope Alonge, in his remarks described all the equipment donated as appropriate for the treatment pattern being followed in the state in the fight against COVID-19.

Alonge said “What thrilled me is that the CACOVID team took cognisance of the disease pattern that we are managing and decided to provide equipment that are appropriate. On many occasions, people have made donations that are good on paper but in terms of usefulness, probably not as good.

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“But what they have done is to provide everything from the most mundane to the expensive ventilators, which are all going to be utilised for the management of this disease.
“And to top it all, they brought us about 40 cylinders of oxygen, meaning for the next one year or thereabouts, there may not be need for the Saki Centre to run to Ibadan to come and collect oxygen.”

Speaking while making the donations, the CACOVID Team Lead in charge of Oyo and Osun states, Dr. Timothy Aroowogun, said the objective of donating the equipment is to “support the state government in eliminating COVID-19, help the citizens and also help the health workers to contain the pandemic in the state.”

Aroowogun, who also represented FBN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, maintained that the bank is a frontline partner in the extensive measures that the Federal Government-led public and private sector partnership have taken to treat the sick and to stop the spread of Coronavirus in the country

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AfDB approves $288.5 million for Nigeria COVID-19 response support program

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday approved a $288.5 million loan to help Nigeria tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact on people and businesses.

The loan will bolster the government’s plans to improve surveillance and response to COVID-19 emergencies, ease the impact on workers and businesses and strengthen the social protection system.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest oil producer, is facing twin crises – a health epidemic caused by COVID-19, and an economic crunch largely occasioned by a global oil price plunge. As of June 5, the country reported 11,516 coronavirus cases, 3,535 recoveries and 323 deaths.

The loan is the Bank’s initial response to help mitigate the slump in oil prices and its impact on the national economy.

About 40.1% of Nigerians live below the poverty line of $1.90 per day and it is feared that the fall in household income during the pandemic will result in wealth deterioration for both the formal and informal sector workers.

“The proposed program will ensure that the fiscal position and the economy are sufficiently supported to weather the COVID-19 shocks, thereby limiting its potential adverse impact on livelihoods and the economy more generally,” Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the African Development Bank for Nigeria said.

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Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Nigeria’s economy was projected to grow by 2.9% of GDP in 2020 and further expand by 3.3% in 2021. But with the advent of the pandemic and the slump in crude prices, the economy is expected to shrink by between 4.4% under a conservative baseline scenario, and 7.2% should the pandemic persist to end-2020.

Faal said beyond the country’s immediate economic recovery needs, the Bank and other development partners, will dialogue with the government on proposals for medium-term structural reforms to diversify and boost domestic revenues away from the oil sector.

The Bank has instituted strong fiduciary measures to monitor the use of COVID-19 funds, and will maintain dialogue, particularly with the Office of the Auditor General in Nigeria, to ensure adherence to the transparency and accountability of the funds, Faal said.

The Bank’s intervention aligns with its COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF); Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022); and High 5 priorities, especially “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa”. It is also consistent with the second strategic pillar of the recently approved Bank’s Country Strategy Paper 2020-2024 for Nigeria.

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Nigeria: COVID-19 threatens to hit three fragile northeastern states hardest

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The arrival of COVID-19 in Nigeria sparked a cascade of crises, but the pandemic poses its greatest threat in the impoverished, fragile northeast of Africa’s largest country, according to a new assessment by the UNDP .

There, Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states comprise “one of the most pronounced, multi-faceted, and complex humanitarian and development crises known to the international community today,” UNDP’s 2018 Nigeria Human Development report found—more than two years before the zoonotic pathogen we now know as a novel coronavirus brought economies, livelihoods, and lives to a sudden, painful halt.

As all of Nigeria reels from a 55 percent drop in the price of its leading export, oil, experts say the country’s northeast stands to suffer most as a result of the pandemic—particularly its 1.8 million internally displaced people, living in overcrowded camps and already struggling to survive. The health care system in all three states is fractured, with 35 percent of health facilities damaged by conflict and routine vaccination campaigns and other essential health services already disrupted.

UNDP’s rapid COVID-19 socioeconomic assessment, which will inform policies and programs to help the country recover, envisages three possible scenarios in the northeast:

Violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram could step up recruitment by exploiting vulnerable people or take advantage of security vacuums as the government pivots to contain the outbreak or as outbreaks occur within the military or police.

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– A complete lockdown without protection for vulnerable populations in a conflict setting—where social bonds are weak—could trigger further unrest, which would make containing the virus even more difficult.

– Lockdown could also threaten peacebuilding work by humanitarian and security actors, who play a vital role in rebuilding social bonds, reintegrating ex-combatants, and restoring livelihoods.

Possible responses include halting the rotation of security personnel, setting up testing, quarantine, and isolation centers within military barracks and camps, and raising awareness of key hygiene practices and COVID-19 symptoms. Keeping supply chains intact and expanding the land area of extremely crowded IDP camps in the Northeast will be essential, the assessment finds.

UNDP and other agencies respond

Across the country, Nigeria—with more than 200 million people—has extremely limited health care resources, with only 330 intensive care facilities, five COVID-19 testing and treatment centers, and just 100 beds in a designated isolation facility in the capital, Lagos—with graver shortfalls in the northeast.

To help meet emerging needs, UNDP and other agencies have shipped in ventilators and other essential medical supplies. An initial shipment included 50 A30 ventilators and personal protective equipment procured with funds from the COVID-19 Basket Fund, launched in April.

UNDP is helping to create emergency employment opportunities—restoring trade flows and supporting the smooth functioning of markets shoring up food security in the hardest-hit communities—and supported the creation of public service announcements with celebrities aimed at tackling gender-based and domestic violence, which spike globally during crises.

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It’s also helped launch a National COVID-19 Response Plan around 10 pillars that include scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact-tracing, infection prevention and control; case management of COVID-19 patients; risk communication and community engagement; emergency preparedness, security, and logistics for mass care; and resource mobilization.

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