The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has discovered a new variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
According to the centre of disease, aside from Nigeria, the new variant was found in 15 other countries.
The new strain, B.1.2.5 which is different from the highly infectious B.1.1.7 has, however, not been described as a variant of concern.
Disclosing this at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Iheakwazu said researchers and scientists were still working hard to understand if this variant had any effect on the virus transmissibility, immunity, as well as diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.
He stated, “There is a new variant, the B.1.2.5 which we have begun to detect in Nigeria and 15 other countries. It is important to note that this variant has not been described as a variant of concern yet.
“Researchers and scientists are still working hard to understand if this variant has any effect on the virus transmissibility, immunity, as well as diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.
“This is because the variant has some similar mutations with the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, respectively.”
Iheakwazu stated that the NCDC was scaling up its sequencing capacity to have a better understanding of the burden of variants of concern in the country.
According to him, the risk of virus mutation was higher when there is a high transmission of the virus.
The DG said the September and October 2020 household prevalence surveys carried out in Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, and Gombe States revealed the level of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among the population.
Army To Terrorist: Shun Violence, Seek Forgiveness And Reconciliation
The Nigerian Army has urged remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists to surrender and embrace peace.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. A.A. Eyitayo made the call at a feast organized for journalists by the army on Sunday in Maiduguri.
Eyitayo, who is also the Commander Sector 1, Operation Hadin Kai, said the recent military onslaught against the insurgents dealt a decisive blow on the terrorists leaving their remnants in disarray.
He noted that nobody including the military was happy over the bloodshed, hence, the need for the remnants of the insurgents to leverage on the amnesty and repent their nefarious ways.
This, he said, would avail them (insurgents) the opportunity to enjoy rehabilitation and acquire skills to enable them to live a useful life in society.
The GOC lauded the contributions of the media in the counter-insurgency campaign and urged it to enlighten the insurgents to see the light and repent from their wasteful ventures.
“We are not here for bloodletting, nobody is happy that people are dying.
“Some of them (insurgents) are listening to the media so it is good for us to appeal to them through the media to shun violence, turn up to seek forgiveness and reconciliation,” Eyitayo said.
According to him, the feast with journalists was to show appreciation of the media reportage of military operations in the state.
“For the past three months since I assumed duty in Maiduguri in this capacity, there has never been any bad report.
“This is to appreciate the media for positive reportage,” he said.
In his remark, Mohammed Ibrahim, Secretary, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Borno State Council, commended the GOC for carrying the media along and assured him of more support and cooperation.
Mohammed also lauded the military and other security agencies involved in the fight against insurgency for their sacrifices and urged them not to relent, adding that the people of the northeast region were solidly behind them.
Dangote’s $2 billion Urea Fertilizer Plant Pushes Out 120 Trucks Everyday
After months of speculations, Dangote Urea fertilizer is now finally on sales nationwide and it currently pushes out a minimum of 120 trucks per day across the country.
Group Executive Director, (Strategy, Capital Projects & Portfolio Development) · Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, revealed to the press over the weekend that the Plant which has the capacity to turn out more than 4,500 tonnes of urea per day will conveniently meet the local demand and even produce for exports.
According to him: “…We have the capacity to turn out 4,500 tonnes of Urea everyday…this is a bulk application fertilizer…each crop in Nigeria or globally will require Nitrogen and this is a rich fertilizer, having 46 per cent nitrogen…The company has the capacity to meet local demand and also export to African countries… Currently the demand is less than 1 million tonnes and we alone can produce 3 million tonnes, so we can easily meet local demand and also produce for export to other west African countries.”
Aside fertilizer production, the company, according to Edwin is already working to support the farmers with training on application of the fertilizer and even establish laboratories across the country for proper soil examination.
“The uniqueness of this plant, apart from the fact that we are producing is the focus on farmers’ support, on training, education, development as we are now establishing laboratories across the country and even mobile laboratories where we can go drive around and take soil samples for proper examination to effectively grow the agricultural outputs across the country”
The Urea Fertilizer plant was built to tap into Nigeria’s demand for fertilizer, a critical component of achieving food sufficiency for Africa’s most populous country.
The Fertilizer plant is expected to manufacture 3 million metric tonnes of urea per annum, with a view to reducing the nation’s fertilizer imports, and generating $400m annual foreign exchange from export to Africa countries.
Meanwhile, marketers and farmers in Kano have described the newly introduced Dangote Fertilizer as a game-changer and a forecast for the expected agricultural revolution in the country.
Marketers and farmers who were apparently excited, over the weekend welcomed the more than ten trucks that entered Kano markets at the weekend.
Speaking at the event organized by Dan Hydro Company in Kano to mark the introduction of the fertilizer into the northern market, chairman of the Kano state Agro Dealers Association Alhaji Shuaibu Akarami said agro-dealers have confidence in Dangote fertilizer as they have in all his products, adding that as a dealer who spent decades in the business he has discovered that Dangote fertilizer will have no problem penetrating the market in the North.
“I have checked the product and have found out that it will have no problem penetrating the market. With my experience in agro products, I can authoritatively say the product has met our expectations and that has confirmed the confidence we have in Dangote fertilizer and other sister products of the Dangote Group,” he said.
The Dan-Hydro fertilizer Company in Kano which took delivery of the first batch of trucks in Kano said the timing and strategy for the introduction are rife.
Head of operations, Dan- Hydro operations Mr. Hamadi Sekou Drammeh said the Dangote fertilizer conforms to all set standard required by the regulatory agencies.
He said the phenomenon of perennial shortage of the fertilizer product will be over in the country.
He said as part of its public enlightenment plan, the company was going to work with all stakeholders in the agricultural sectors.
In the same vein, Sales Manager of Dan Hydro Mr. Sulaiman Tanko assured that the product will be sold at a reasonable price that will enable fair competition in the market.
NASENI’s Chairman Brief Buhari On Modular Irrigation
President Muhammadu Buhari has received a briefing on the Modular Irrigation System, an innovation that allows farmers to independently irrigate their farms without depending on river basins.
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, who briefed the president, presented a sample of the innovation to Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the presentation, Haruna said a solar power pump had been developed to draw water from boreholes for small-scale and large irrigation schemes.
According to him, the system can be carried about and will enable individual farmers to irrigate their farms on their own.
He said: “The Modular Irrigation System is innovation and invention for the agricultural sector.
“It is a process in which we have developed a scheme for individual farmers to be able to irrigate their farms without waiting for river basins.
“In that case, we have developed a solar-powered pumping system; the water can come from a borehole, if there is no river or stream nearby.
“As a result, they are mobile equipment; the pumping machine and the solar energy supply is also mobile, a farmer can fold it back to his house and bring it to the farm whenever he needs it.
“The good thing about the scheme is that we have demonstrated, working in collaboration with NIRSA (Nigeria Incentive Risk-based Sharing System for Agriculture), a parastatal of the Central Bank of Nigeria), that it is practicable to have three farming seasons in a year.
“So, that means a farmer can be engaged in his own activities without necessarily looking for alternative employment.
“Three crop seasons in a year, that is what the Modular Irrigation System is. It’s a collaborative work between NASENI and NIRSAL.”
Haruna assured that the modular irrigation system would be widely available in the country for farmers.
“We want it to be nationwide, but the scheme has commenced from Adamawa State.
“The sample you have seen, pictorially and the video, is where we commenced as a pilot. We now presented this issue to Mr. President and his directive is that in as much as possible, all farmers should benefit from this,” he said.
According to him, the target is to make the mechanism affordable to interested farmers across the country as the capacities are in size.
He said depending on the size of the farm, the farmer could take the least, the medium or the large size, or could acquire more than one, saying the costs will be varied
“Where there is a stream or river nearby, you don’t need to drill a borehole, it means it can be pumped from there. Where there is none on the farm, you need a borehole.
“A large farm may require more than one borehole because of the yield. So, it is affordable.
“But as I say from the pilot scheme because we have invested so much to have the prototype and deployed to the farm and see it, it has cost us more, but with intervention and some subsidies from Central Bank, it is possible we have a range of from N25,000 to the highest at N125,000. That is our target.”
Haruna disclosed that he also briefed the president on the progress of the helicopter assembly initiative embarked upon by the agency, saying that all the needed components have been received from Belgium.
According to him, engineers and technicians are now being trained for the assembling process, maintenance, and commissioning.
He said: “So far, the status of the helicopter now, we have received completely knocked down components from Belgium and we have trained our engineers and technicians on all aspects of its assembly process, maintenance, and commissioning.
“We have also trained pilots, working with Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
“This helicopter has been fully assembled, helipad and other facilities in place, just very close here. It’s on our site in Karshi, Abuja.
“Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Aviation, Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies that have mandatory regulatory activities to do are carrying out.
“So far, it’s a successful project.”
He said he discussed “prefabricated technology” with the president, which he explained is a method of having building facilities, building materials of the designed house, designed factory, designed classroom or laboratories, in which the materials are made of composite materials.
He further stated: “The normal architectural design of the house is done, everything is done on the ground and then these components are assembled together. Within three weeks, you can have a complete house ready.
“This is not new technology. It has been there in Europe, because of extreme weather conditions for a long.
“It is now that we see it is necessary to acquire this technology, domesticate and use it to attend to the challenges we are facing, of rebuilding the northeast, even the northwest, and anywhere.
“Originally, we acquired it only for laboratories, for quick installation of laboratories, both the building and the equipment from NASENI, but now with the existing challenges, it becomes necessary that we acquire this technology in large, so that rebuilding of our villages and hamlets can be faster.
“Even the other centers that we are building, this is the technology of today.
“The important thing is that 100 percent raw materials to develop these composite materials that are fire-proof, weather-proof, are available in Nigeria.”
On NASENI’s partnership with state governments and the private sector, the agency boss affirmed that “it is yielding results’’.
He said “there are certain private sectors that have taken NASENI patented or proven products to the market and then for mass production.
“INNOSON Motors, GEOMTECH that is producing NASENI’s prepaid meters, Keke NASENI and now, we have two companies that have come up. NASENI is helping them to also have a solar manufacturing plant, just as we have in Karshi.
“So many state governors have demonstrated interest by visiting our facility in youth skill development, in helping them harnessing what is available in the states, across the nation”.
On the National Tractor Rehabilitation, Refurbishment and Redeployment project, he disclosed that six states had so far committed themselves to it.
According to him, so far about six states are actively involved in the implementation of the laudable project, adding that the tractors repairs, rehabilitated, redeployed to the farms are actively working.
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