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FEC Approves N2.8bn Contract to Decongest Prisons Electronically

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  • FEC Approves N2.8bn Contract to Decongest Prisons Electronically

The sum of N2.8bn was approved by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday to help speed up the decongestion of crowded prisons in the country by digital connectivity.

The project will establish a digital web-based, integrated system that will monitor all prisons real-time to determine the number of inmates, their movements between courts, those awaiting trial or wrongly imprisoned and the time required to conclude the cases of individual prisoners.

Wednesday’s FEC meeting was presided over by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, spoke on the project as the meeting rose.

He said the stakeholders to be connected to the system included his office, the Nigeria Prisons Service and the Nigeria Police.

With the envisaged system in place, the AGF said the analogue method of using visitation committees to determine those inmates to be pardoned would become a thing of the past.

Another N291.73m was also approved by FEC for the procurement of an aviation security system called Memory Access Retrieval System.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told State House correspondents that the system would help in accident investigations.

“(It) will enhance our laboratory in accident investigations. It is a requirement of International Civil Aviation Organisation in the standard practices and applicable by local laws,” he stated.

On the fire incident that occurred at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, the minister said investigation into it was ongoing, adding that the report of the findings would be made available to Nigerians.

Two more contracts under the Federal Government’s N-Power Build Programme were also approved by FEC on Wednesday.

They are a component of the National Social Investment Programme specifically targeted at 75,000 fresh graduates in the age bracket18-35 years.

“It aims to build a high crop of highly competent and skilled workforce of technicians, artisans and service professionals, who will be trained and tooled.

“They will be transitioned annually to take up jobs as electrical installation technicians, plumbing and pipe-fitting installers, masons, carpentry and gentry experts, welders, fabricators, professional painters, building technicians and so on.

“The focus has so far been zone by zone. Today, the contract for the South-East zone of Nigeria was awarded to Hitech Investment Ltd at the sum of N122.8m. It covers all the states in the South-East.

“The one for the North-West zone was awarded to Noble Ventures Limited in the sum of N145.1m and it covers all the states in the North-West,” the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma, said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

COVID-19: CBN Has Disbursed N83B Loans to Healthcare Sector

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said the central bank had disbursed over N83.9 billion to pharmaceutical and healthcare practitioners in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Also, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stressed the need for a slash in the cost of governance in the country, saying a lot more resources could be dedicated towards healthcare and critical infrastructure.

They both said this yesterday, at the premiere of ‘Unmasked’, a documentary on Nigeria’s response to the pandemic held in Lagos.

Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwasinobi, explained: “Building a robust healthcare infrastructure was also vital from a security perspective, as some nations had imposed restrictions on the exports of vital medical drugs as well as the use of drug patents that could aid in containing the spread of the pandemic.

“As a result, we focused our interventions in the healthcare sector on three areas. Building the capacity of our healthcare institutions supporting the domestic manufacturing of drugs by businesses, and providing grants to researchers in the medical field, in order to encourage them to develop breakthrough innovations that would address health challenges faced by Nigerians.

“In this regard, we disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. We were also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centres across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the CBN Governor, the banking sector regulator also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which was to aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/non-communicable diseases.

He said so far, five major healthcare-related research projects were being financed under the initiative.

Speaking further on the call to increase access to health insurance, Emefiele said: “One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians. A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.

“According to a study by World Health Organisation (WHO), only four percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of average Nigeria’s personal expenditure.

“Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals particularly those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare services.

“Expanding the insurance net to capture the pool of Nigerians not covered by existing health insurance schemes, could help to reduce the high out of pocket expenses on healthcare services by Nigerians. It will also help to increase the pool of funds that could be invested in building our healthcare infrastructure and in improving the existing welfare package of our healthcare workers.”

“The private sector has a significant role to play in this regard given the decline in government revenues as occasioned by the drop in commodity prices. Leveraging innovative solutions that can provide insurance services at relatively cheap prices could significantly help to improve access to healthcare for a large proportion of Nigerians particularly those in our rural communities.”

According to Emefiele, the CBN remains committed to working with all stakeholders in improving access to finance and credit that would support the development of viable healthcare infrastructure in our country.

On his part, Sanwo-Olu said: “What are the lessons that we have learned with the Covid-19? Looking at all the things that Covid-19 has cost us, how are we preparing ourselves?

“The truth be told the structure of our governance system needs to change particularly the cost of governance. We need to speak up and ask ourselves are we ready to change.”

“When it gets to the election it is the same set of people that will come up and people don’t come out to vote and we end up having 20 percent out of 100 percent that will elect those that will govern. So, the change has to be about all of us. That is how the real change that will help us will come,” he added.

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Economy

Emefiele Says CBN Will Resist All Attempts to Continue Maize Importation

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to resist all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.

Godwin Emefiele, the governor, CBN, in a statement titled ‘Emefiele woos youths to embrace agriculture’, said: “the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country.”

Emefiele, who spoke in Katsina during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and inauguration of the 2021 maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, said maize farmers in the country had what it takes to meet the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.

With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,” Emefiele said.

He explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors.

He added that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country were used for producing poultry feed.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Spending Structure Unsustainable, Budget Head Says

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Nigeria’s current trend of spending more money on running the government than on building new infrastructure is unsustainable, the country’s top budget oversight official said.

Low revenue collection and high recurrent costs have resulted in actual capital expenditure below two trillion naira ($4.88 billion) a year for a decade, Ben Akabueze, director-general of the Budget Office, said Tuesday in a virtual presentation.

“Hence, the investments required to bridge the infrastructure gap are way beyond the means available to the government,” Akabueze said. Recurrent spending, allocated towards salaries and running costs, has accounted for more than 75% of the public budget every year since 2011, he said.

Africa’s largest economy requires at least $3 trillion of spending over the next 30 years to close its infrastructure gap, Moody’s Investors Service said in November. The country’s tax revenue as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest globally, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Huge recurrent expenditure has constrained the provision of good roads, steady power supply, health care services, quality education and quality shelter,” Akabueze said.

Nigeria should amend its constitution to create six regions to replace the existing 36 states, which each have their own governments, Akabueze said. The country also needs to reduce the number of cabinet ministers to a maximum of 24 from more than 40 and cut federal ministries to fewer than 20 from the current 27, he said.

“No country can develop where a large part of its earnings is spent on administrative structures rather than on capital investment,” Akabueze said.

 

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