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COVID-19 Third Wave: NEC Says Fresh Lockdown Not In View

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COVID-19 Third Wave: NEC Says Fresh Lockdown Not In View

The National Economic Council (NEC) has assured that there was “no indication of an imminent lockdown”, as the nation braces up for COVID-19’s third wave.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, stated this in a briefing to State House correspondents after the virtual NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

While stating the outcome of the meeting, Sanwo-Olu said the vice president assured that NEC would convene an emergency meeting on the COVID-19 third wave, whenever the need arose.

The World Health Organisation had warned of the spread of COVID-19’s Delta variant, alongside the inconsistent use of proven public health measures which, it said, was driving increases in both case numbers and deaths.

“We will be reviewing on a weekly basis, like every two to three days, what the trends are; the chairman of the council has also mentioned to us that if there is a need for an emergency meeting, he will call one.

“But, assurances were given by the NCDC and the Presidential Task Force, working with relevant states like Lagos, to be tracking and monitoring what is happening almost on daily basis.

“So, we do not think that we are there; we do not have any indication that we will get there; so we are preparing ourselves to ensure that as much as possible, we can very quickly flatten the curve,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor added that Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, had provided a global insight of what had been happening in the past one month, with Nigeria having 168, 552 cases reported as at July 15, and 1,993 active cases.

States had discharged over 140, 000 people, while only 2,124 deaths were recorded so far, the governor quoted the NCDC as saying, in addition to the fact that the positivity rates had gone up, in spite of the low number of cases in the country.

Sanwo-Olu said Ihekweazu informed NEC that Lagos State had the highest burden of 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the cases in the country, having recorded increases in the number of cases since 10 weeks ago.

“In the last two weeks, we have seen an increase from a positivity average of about 1.5 per cent to positivity average nationally of about 3.5 per cent; Lagos has seen a positivity of 5.5 per cent in the last two weeks; so Lagos, Rivers and Kwara from the report have seen increases in positivity rates.

“It is important for us to know that the Delta variant, which is the new variant, is also in our country and has also been identified in a total of 103 countries globally.

“The Delta variant is 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alfa variant; so, we are watching all the trends and the NCDC and Lagos will be working collaboratively,’’ Sanwo-Olu said.

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VAT In Nigeria: Elders Says Northern Region Can Survive Without South

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VAT In Nigeria: Elders Say Northern Region Can Survive Without South

Value Added Tax (VAT) in Nigeria controversy appears to have taken a new turn, as Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said the country’s region could survive without money from the southern part.

Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, made this known during an interview on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme, as he reacted to the issue some states were having with the federal government on VAT in Nigeria.

His words: “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.

“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.

“If we don’t do that now, then we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the north, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).

“The thing about is: the north wants restructuring; the north wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”

Maintaining that the VAT in Nigeria tussle is a wake-up call to northern governors, Bala-Ahmed charged them to develop sustainable resources and encourage human capital development in the region.

The NEF spokesman continued, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the north is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.

“We need leaders, the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.”

“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?” he queried.

Recent events about VAT in Nigeria

Recently, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers dragged the federal government to court over the allocation of revenue generated from VAT in Nigeria.

Wike argued that his government should be the legitimate collector of the tax type and not the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), as the case is.

Surprisingly to members of the public, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos joined in the suit against the federal government. In fact, days after Justice Stephem Pam of a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt ruled that Rivers State government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory, Sanwo-Olu signed the controversial VAT bill into law.

In a previous report, Newsrand detailed everything about VAT.

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Buhari To Present Nigeria’s Statement At The UN General Assembly, As Second Speaker On Friday

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Buhari To Present Nigeria’s Statement At The UN General Assembly, As Second Speaker On Friday

President Muhammadu Buhari who arrived in New York on Sunday, to participate in the ongoing 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, is to present Nigeria’s statement to the General Assembly on Friday, Sept. 24.

The Nigerian leader would be the second speaker on the fourth day and would deliver his address around 9 a.m. (around 2 p.m. Nigerian time) to other world leaders at the morning session.

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He had earlier attended the opening of the General Debate of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Buhari was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and Head of Chancery of the Permanent Mission, Muyiwa Onifade.

No fewer than 100 heads of state attended the General Debate in person in New York, while others spoke through pre-recorded videos, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

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Dangote Pledges To Increase Social Responsibility Projects

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Dangote Pledges To Increase Social Responsibility Projects

Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Industries has pledged to scale up its public social responsibility to better the life of Nigerians.

The multinational firm founded by business magnate Aliko Dangote made the promise in a statement signed by its Corporate Affairs Manager, Francis Awowole.

The statement quoted Dangote as expressing a desire to carry its host communities along in the organisation’s expansion plan.

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It said that Dangote made the policy plan known while hosting some visiting investors in his office in Lagos.

Amongst other things, the African richest man told his guests that the group was scaling up its social intervention in communities hosting its companies across Nigeria.

Dangote further made it known that efforts were already being made to impact positively on the host communities, adding that his companies have spent billions of naira in the states where their investments were located.

The corporate social responsibility projects undertaken by the companies is in addition to efforts by Aliko Dangote Foundation, which is presently giving out micro-grants to vulnerable women in all the 774 local governments across the country.

It will be recalled that the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, during his working tour of the Dangote’s expansive Savannah Sugar Company (SSCL) Ltd in Numan, Adamawa and Tunga sugar project site in Nasarawa, described the projects as ‘huge, impressive and amazing’.

Dangote’s sugar plantation in Nasarawa is a very impressive sight.  Amazingly, such a project exists in this place.

What we have seen so far from all the plantations we have been to are very impressive. We are impressed with the level of work they are doing,” the statement quoted Dangote to have said.

Dangote added that the execution of its Sugar Master Plan could fetch Nigeria over $700 million yearly.

He said that the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) when executed as designed could fetch the nation foreign exchange in excess of $700 million yearly from the backward integration component of the plan.

He however advised that the BIP scheme must be protected to insulate the Nigerian economy to be able to achieve the twin objectives of local manufacturing and job creation.

“If the national sugar master plan is followed strictly and the players all follow the rules, the country will be better for it as Nigeria will save between $600 million and $700 million annually as forex,” he said.

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