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“We Increased Health Sector Budgetary Allocation to Over N340bn in 2018”-FG

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  • “We Increased Health Sector Budgetary Allocation to Over N340bn in 2018”-FG

The Federal Government announced on Thursday that it allocated over N340bn to the health sector in 2018 to tackle health challenges in the country.

President Mohammadu Buhari noted that the allocation was an increase from the N259bn pumped into the health sector in 2015.

He added that the FG took the action in an effort to increase life expectancy in the country by fighting a wide range of health problems, such as; the root causes of child and maternal mortality, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The president made this announcement at the commissioning of the Nigeria Air Force Reference Hospital (NAFRH) in Daura, Katsina State.

He said, “As you are all aware, the Federal Government has in the last four years invested so much resource in the health sector. To this end, the Federal Government has increased budgetary allocation to the health sector from N259 billion in 2015 to over N340 billion in 2018.

“Accordingly, significant strides have been made to improve life expectancy and reduce some of the killers associated with child and maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by the Year 2030, as enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

The President also said that, although his administration has recorded several achievements, more efforts are required to end the large number of diseases and health problems facing the country.

“To achieve this, all hands must be on deck to focus on providing more efficient funding of the health sector, improved sanitation and hygiene, and increased access to medical care in order to save the lives of millions of Nigerians. It therefore suffices to state that there is no auspicious time to commission this Reference Hospital than now,”he said.

President Buhari further revealed that NAFRH would assist the Federal Government and Katsina State Government to achieve the goal of providing quality and affordable health care to Nigerians; adding that, the Reference Hospital would supplement available health institutions in the country.

“More importantly, the facility is poised to provide the much needed trauma care for personnel on active duty, especially those engaged in various theatres of operation. This will go a long way in boosting the morale of personnel as well as encourage them to give their best in the cause of service to our father land,” he said.

In his presentation, the Chief of Army Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique explained that the hospital; with Ultra-Modern operating centers, intensive care unit and modern diagnostic and life support equipment is essential for the treatment of severe health conditions, including the treatment of wounded soldiers.

He said,“The NAFRH Daura is a 60-bed hospital with two ultra-modern operating theatres, an Intensive Care unit, medical laboratory, Eye and Dental clinics and a physiotherapy department.”

“Other departments include: Special Care Baby Unit, Renal Dialysis, Ophthalmic, Dental, Maternity and Antenatal unit, Cancer Screening Centre, Accident and Emergency Unit, and a robust radiology department with complete digital X-ray, Mammogram, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computerised Tomography scan machines.

“It is equipped with modern diagnostic, life support and surgical equipment intended to provide an ideal facility for the care of critically ill-patients such as soldiers wounded in action. In addition, this facility will be utilised for the training of our medical staff as a teaching hospital for the NAF School of Medical Science and Aviation Medicine.”

He also revealed that to ensure the provision of health care to NAF personnel, their family members and host communities, medical centers are also situated in the following NAF units: Birni Gwari, Kaduna State; Agatu, Benue State; Doma in Nassarawa State and Nguroje in Taraba State.

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.

Finance

Chad’s President Idriss Déby Dies After Soldier Clash With Rebels

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Idriss Déby, who ruled with an iron fist for three decades and had just secured his sixth term in office, was considered by the West a linchpin in the fight against Islamist extremism in central Africa.

President Idriss Déby of Chad died of wounds sustained in clashes between insurgents and government soldiers, the country’s armed forces said on Tuesday, one day after he had claimed victory in his re-election campaign.

According to the New York Times, It was reported that a spokesman appeared on state television to inform the nation that Mr. Déby, who became feared by his own people over three decades of iron-fisted rule in Chad, was dead.

Mr. Déby had enjoyed the support of France and the United States because his military forces were seen as key to battling Islamist extremism in the central Sahel region. His contribution to the fight against groups like Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria was viewed as critical in the broader effort to combat terrorism. He, therefore, received robust Western support despite accusations of human rights violations and crackdowns on the opposition during his rule.

There were many questions surrounding Mr. Déby’s death, including how exactly he was killed and what he was doing visiting an area where conflict was raging, if indeed he was.

The late president’s son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, will take over as the head of a new transitional military council that will rule for 18 months before new elections are held, the spokesman said. The government and national assembly were suspended, borders closed and a two-week mourning period announced.

The news was relayed to the country by a man who was identified as a spokesman for a transitional military council, Gen. Azem Bermandoa.

“​The president of the republic, head of state, supreme chief of the army, Idriss Déby Itno, just drew his last breath while defending the nation’s integrity on the battlefield,” the spokesman, surrounded by soldiers and wearing a red beret and army fatigues, said in the broadcast.

On the same day as the presidential election, April 11, rebels crossed the northern border from Libya. Mr. Déby, 68, had been on the front lines in the north of the central African country, directing the fight against the rebel incursion, according to his campaign director, Mahamat Zen Bada.

Those rebels, from a group called the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, moved southward in several columns and claimed to have “liberated” a province of the country last week.

They reportedly beat a retreat to the north on Monday night, after reports of heavy losses on both rebel and government sides. But for the roughly 1.5 million residents of Ndjamena, the capital, solid information was hard to come by, with rumors spreading furiously.

Late into the night, gunshots rang out across the capital, though it was unclear why. Some residents theorized that the military had been celebrating victory after the rebels had fallen back.

Mr. Déby had been scheduled to give a victory speech on Monday to celebrate winning his sixth term in office, but his campaign director said that he had instead visited Chadian soldiers battling insurgents advancing on Ndjamena.

“The candidate would have liked to have been here to celebrate,” Mr. Zen Bada, the campaign director, had said, according to local news reports. “But right now, he is alongside our valiant defense and security forces to fight the terrorists threatening our territory.”

Over the three decades, since Mr. Déby seized power, he faced a number of challenges to his rule. Rebels reached the capital in 2006 and 2008. The president’s forces fought them off, with the “discreet” support of France, according to academics focused on Chad.

But in 2019, when Chad asked the French force in the Sahel for help in dealing with another incursion, Paris was less discreet about the support and obliged by launching a series of airstrikes on the rebels.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, told Parliament at the time, “France intervened militarily to prevent a coup d’état.”

Mr. Déby was re-elected largely on the promise of restoring peace and security to a country gripped by years of violence instigated by insurgent groups. Tensions rose in the days before the latest elections, but officials had urged calm.

On Monday, security forces and armored vehicles were posted to Ndjamena’s streets, prompting residents of the capital to fill up their tanks with gas, pick up their children early from school and hunker down at home. Chad’s communications minister had called for calm and wrote on Twitter on Monday that the presence of the security personnel had been “misinterpreted.”

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Nasdaq Set To Launch Options Trading For Coinbase Global

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Less than a week after the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. Coinbase was listed, Nasdaq is set to start trading options for Coinbase Global.

According to Reuters, a representative for Coinbase stated that the COIN.O options will start trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday, April 20.

The launch of equity options will offer a new way for investors to bet on the fortunes of Coinbase. Equity options represent the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a stock at a certain price, known as the strike price, on or before an expiration date.

The news follows Coinbase’s direct listing, which saw the firm’s stock fluctuate between a valuation of $429.54 and $310 on its first day of trading.

It was reported that the Chief Executive Officer of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong sold less than 2% of his holdings which worth about $292 million in shares on COIN’s first day of trading. According to filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Armstrong sold 749,999 shares in three batches at prices ranging from $381 to $410.40 per share for total proceeds of $291.8 million.

It was also reported that insiders dumped nearly $5 billion in COIN stock shortly after it was listed. Filings on the Coinbase Investor Relations website showed a total of 12,965,079 shares were sold by insiders, worth over $4.6 billion at COIN’s $344 share price at close on Friday.

Yahoo Finance reported the stock has slumped 22.5% from a high of $429.54 on April 14 to a current after-hours trading price of $332.75 where it appears to have settled after Monday’s trading session.

On April 20, Coinbase Pro announced that will add support for new trading pairs for Basic Attention Token (BAT), Cardano (ADA), Decentraland (MANA), and USDC from April 20. The four assets will be paired with three fiat currencies (USD, EUR, GBP), BTC, and ETH, with limited trading functionality to be made available while market liquidity is assessed at launch.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Asset by 67.90% to N492.02 Billion, As Gross Earnings Hit N42.71 Billion in FY 2020

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Unity Bank Plc grew its assets base to N492.02billion representing a significant increase of 67.90% from the N293.05 billion of total assets value recorded in 2019. This is even as the agric-focused lender declared gross earnings of N42.71 billion within the period under review.

A review of the Bank’s audited results for full-year ended 31 December 2020, released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, showed that the Bank improved its bottom line marginally as Profit After Tax, PAT stood at N2.09 billion. Profit Before Tax, PBT closed at N2.22 billion, in a year that was defined by the unmitigated impact of global pandemic characterized by disruptions in business activities and the general downturn that resulted in revenue/returns dip in major leading sectors globally.

The lender substantially grew its customers’ deposit portfolio to N356.62 billion, up from N257.69 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 38.4% growth. This affirms positive market uptake of the Bank’s product offerings, as well as the lender’s growing customer base to its recent aggressive push with agile customer-centric products, which has played a role in deepening financial services penetration, especially to a wider world, an underserved spectrum of the retail market.

Other major highlight of the audited financial statement relates to growth in its net operating income which rose to N25.46 billion from N23.21 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 9.71% increase. This is even as the net interest income recorded a significant jump, as it rose by 7.60% to N17.75 billion from N16.49 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. Earnings per Share closed at 17.85 Kobo.

The Bank’s gross loans portfolio increased by 92.9% to N206.2 billion in December 2020 from N106.9 billion in December 2019. The Bank’s lending strategy was specially tailored to support the nation’s food agenda. This had the added advantage of improving food security across the country, providing employment to thousands of youths and entrepreneurs, contributing to the conservation of FX stocks and mitigating security challenges by ensuring adequate empowerment of citizens and deepening skills acquisition across the value chain.

Commenting on the result, Unity Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Tomi Somefun stated that the results showed the resilience of the Bank during unprecedented times of uncertainties and our ability to innovate and focus on key balance sheet items that will enable us to maintain the growth trajectory.

She further opined that: “Consequently, for the year under review, the opportunities to significantly create more quality assets for the business, thought to have a sustainable impact, informed part of choices made and we have seen some encouraging market uptake in this regard, apart from the benefits to the enterprise bottom-line that have also started trickling in. Other key performance indicators especially on the liability side of the business were equally not left out. The Bank deployed new product features and augmentation supported by omni-channel, USSD promotions and other channels to enhance services delivery efficiency, drive income generation capacities and enhance steady balance sheet growth for the year”.

Looking ahead, Somefun stated: “we will latch on targeted strategies to deploy significant investment in technology in order to ride the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the back of this, the Bank focuses on achieving major efficiency gains, deepening its retail footprints and penetrating identified cluster market segments, as bulwarks to tapping into various youth markets platforms, in addition to the mass market would get a further boost”.

While laying an outlook for the future, the Unity Bank’s Chief further stated: “The Bank is also looking to consolidate on the gains from its core business areas and niche in the agribusiness sector. The Bank has solidly financed over one million farmers over the past three years. These farmers cut across several primary crop production such as rice, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, etc coupled with their rich value chains, and we hope to continue to expand on this as we play our part in driving the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in food production.”

Analysts are of the view that has made an appreciable impact in the agribusiness and its value chains consistently, the market is excited that the current year performance and different initiatives of the Bank show that the agribusiness is bankable not only as a differential positioning but also for sustainable business performance and profitability.

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