The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reduced interest rates on its facilities through participating Other Financial Institutions (OFIs).
The rate has been slashed from 9 to 5 percent per for one year, effective March 1, 2020.
This was contained in a circular to banks on Wednesday by the Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo.
Similarly, CBN intervention facilities obtained through participating OFIs, Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks, among others would be given a further one-year moratorium on all principal repayments.
This is also effective March 1, 2020.
OFIs have equally been granted leave to consider temporary and time limited restructuring of the tenor and loan terms for households and businesses, subject to the recently issued guidelines for restructuring affected credit facilities in the OFI sub-sector.
The Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okoroafor, said the decisions were part of the bank’s efforts to cushion the effects of coronavirus on Nigerians, businesses and regulated institutions.
He assured that the CBN would also continue to monitor developments and implement appropriate measures to safeguard financial stability and support stakeholders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the CBN for the month of May will be held on Thursday.
Further easing of coronavirus lockdowns pushed global equities higher on Tuesday, with optimism stoked by the reopening of bars, cafes, pools and beaches outweighing China-US tensions that have hurt the dollar.
While countries including Brazil, Chile and Russia are enduring rising death tolls and infection rates from COVID-19, an increasing number of governments are seeing figures tail off.
“Once again, the markets embraced an optimistic outlook… setting aside fears over the long-term economic impact of the pandemic and the ever-growing tensions between the US and China to focus on another round of global easing measures,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at trading group Spreadex.
Adding to the broadly positive outlook was optimism about progress on a possible vaccine, which would allow the shattered global economy to start bouncing back.
But Chris Iggo at AXA Investment Managers warned, “That does not mean we should ignore the risk of second waves, prolonged weak growth and geopolitical issues.”
Wall Street, where the New York Stock Exchange trading floor reopened after two months of closure, finished higher, with the Dow gaining 2.2 percent to 24,995.11.
“US stock markets are gearing up for a strong start to the week as further lockdown easing and some more promising vaccine news lifted sentiment after the bank holiday weekend,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe.
Key European markets were all one percent or more higher at the closing bell, with London playing catch-up after a strong eurozone performance on Monday, though its gains were capped by a rising pound.
Earlier, Asian markets had closed higher, with Tokyo rising more than two percent, and Hong Kong up 1.9 percent as city leader Carrie Lam sought to reassure investors.
She said fears that Hong Kong’s business-friendly freedoms were at risk from a planned Chinese national security law were “totally groundless”.
But OANDA’s Erlam warned that whatever good news may be looming on the COVID-19 front stood to be undermined by worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, which he said “will be a constant headwind for stock markets”.
US President Donald Trump warned that Hong Kong could lose its status as a global financial center if the proposed Chinese crackdown goes ahead.
Critics fear the law could be a death blow to the city’s treasured liberties, which are crucial to making it an international financial center on a par with New York and London.
Oil prices pushed on with their recovery, having suffered a spectacularly bad April when WTI crashed below zero.
The reopening of economies and a massive cut in output by some of the world’s top producers has helped the US benchmark WTI virtually double in value this month.
– Key figures at around 2040 GMT –
New York – Dow: UP 2.2 percent at 24,995.11 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 2,991.77 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent at 9,340.22 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 1.2 percent at 6,067.76 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.0 percent at 11,504.65 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.5 percent at 4,606.24 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 2,999.22 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.6 percent at 21,271.17 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.9 percent at 23,384.66 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 2,846.55 (close)
West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.3 percent at $34.35 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $36.17 per barrel
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0984 from $1.0898 at 2100 GMT Friday
Huge swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across western and central India, prompting authorities to step up their response to the country’s worst plague in nearly three decades.
Drones, tractors and cars have been sent out to track the voracious pests and spray them with pesticides. The locusts have already destroyed nearly 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of cropland.
.”Eight to 10 swarms, each measuring around a square kilometre (0.39sq miles) are active in parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh [states],” the government’s Locust Warning Organisation’s deputy director KL Gurjar told the Media
India has not seen locust swarms on this scale since 1993, the warning centre said.
The insects have caused enormous damage to the seasonal crops in both the states, devastating many farmers already struggling with the impact of a strict coronavirus lockdown.
They destroyed harvests in the agricultural heartlands of neighbouring Pakistan in April, before entering Rajasthan.
Smaller swarms are also active in a handful of states across India, Gurjar said.
A swarm of 40 million locusts can eat as much food as 35,000 people, or six elephants, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Residential areas in Rajasthan state’s capital Jaipur were overwhelmed by the insects as bewildered locals banged on pots and pans to try and ward off the insects.
Experts warn the situation could worsen with more expected to reach India via Pakistan from the Horn of Africa in June.
Heavy rains and cyclones enabled unprecedented breeding and the rapid growth of locust populations on the Arabian Peninsula early last year, according to the UN.
Locusts destroy crops in some parts of Rajasthan close to the border with Pakistan most years, but it is rare for the insects to move further into the state.
Wind patterns have been pushing the swarms southwest, the locust warning centre said.
The oil against which Nigeria’s crude is priced, Brent, has hovered around $35 per barrel for about one week, raising concerns of a possible hike in petrol price in Nigeria any time soon.
An analysis of global oil trading rates on Monday showed that Brent crude traded at $35.61 per barrel as of 9.32am Central Standard Time. Further findings showed that the commodity appreciated by $0.48 when compared to the previous day’s rate, although crude oil in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries basket maintained a flat rate of $28.43 per barrel on Monday.
However, global oil figures showed that Brent Weighted Average in the past four days was higher than the commodity’s rate on Monday, as the BWA was put at $36.32 per barrel.
This represented a 2.34 per cent rise in price, indicating a positive movement in the commodity’s cost as more countries begin a gradual relaxing of the COVID-19 lockdown across the globe.
Operators in Nigeria’s downstream sector told our correspondent in Abuja that the increase in oil price was good for the country in terms of foreign exchange earnings. They were, however, quick to state that this would cause an upward movement in petrol price at fillings stations.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had crashed the pump price of petrol from N145 per litre to N125 per litre on March 19, 2020, as it declared the commencement of a market-based pricing regime.
PPPRA further reduced the price to N123.5 per litre in April 2020 due to the crash of crude oil price, as the commodity had traded below $30 per barrel for several weeks.
“But considering the recent rise in crude oil price, it is highly possible to see an upward movement in the price of petrol soon,” an impeccable source with the products pricing agency stated.
The official, who spoke to journalists on condition of anonymity, noted that the agency’s boss had earlier explained that henceforth, the cost of petrol would be determined by the international market price of crude.
“Price will naturally be adjusted to reflect a true picture of market fundamentals at any particular period, high or low,” the PPPRA’s Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, had stated while answering questions on the new petrol price regime in Nigeria.
On April 28, 2020, TopNaija reported Saidu as saying that Nigerians should be ready to pay higher or lower prices for petrol following the liberalisation scheme currently in place.
The PPPRA boss, however, noted that efforts were being made to develop alternative fuels to petrol by deepening the utilisation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas/Compressed Natural Gas as auto gas to help cushion the effect of petrol price increase.
The National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, said market forces would determine petrol price and this could result in an increase in the petrol cost.
Responding to whether there would be an increase in petrol price going by the upward swing in the cost of Brent, he replied, “Well, the reality is that market forces will determine petrol price.”
The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange reopened for the first time in two months Tuesday, but its controlled chaos is more subdued.
The floor, known worldwide for an anarchic atmosphere with traders shouting orders over one another, has been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The NYSE says fewer traders will be on the floor at a given time for now in order to support six-feet social distancing requirements. They also must wear masks.
Anyone entering the Exchange at 11 Wall Street is also being asked to avoid public transportation and they will have their temperature taken before entry, said Stacey Cunningham, president of the NYSE.
“We will respect the sacrifices of frontline workers and the city at large by proceeding cautiously, limiting the strain on the health-care system and the risk to those who work beneath our roof,” Cunningham wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Cunningham said most of the areas outside of the trading floor will remain empty and the majority of employees will continue to work remotely.
Designated market makers, which oversee the trading of the NYSE’s 2,200 listed companies, will continue to do so remotely and electronically as they have been since March 23.
The reopening comes at a time when many areas of the U.S. are starting to lift shelter-in-place orders and allowing businesses to open their doors again even as other areas of the country are seeing no drop-off in confirmed coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, however, the World Health Organization said that the world remains mired in only the first stage of the pandemic, putting a damper on hopes for a speedy global economic rebound.
Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.5 million people, killing over 346,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has had about 170,000 deaths and the U.S. has seen nearly 100,000. Experts say the tally understates the real effects of the pandemic due to counting issues in many nations.
There was some optimism about the race for a vaccine. The Dow surged more than 600 points at the opening bell.
The NYSE is owned by Intercontinental Exchange, based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Public servants in the country may be in for a raw deal as the Federal Government on Monday said it would decisively deal with any public servant that divulged official information without due authorization.
The Director of Information at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Olawunmi Ofunmosunle, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
“The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, HOS, Dr. Folasade Yemi –Esan has noted with displeasure the recent unfortunate disclosure of unauthorized official documents in the social media. These official documents in some cases are correspondence minuted on”, the statement said.
The statement was contained in a circular issued by the HOS on 22nd May, 2020 and made available to journalists on Monday.
The Head of Service, Dr. Yemi-Esan, according to the statement described the development as “embarrassing to government,” noting that “such irresponsible and reckless action is an act of serious misconduct with a penalty of dismissal from service as provided in Public Service Rules, PSR. Nos. 030401 and 030402.”
She further said that henceforth, any public officer caught engaging in “this act of serious misconduct will be severely dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the PSR.”
The statement further disclosed that the Head of Service thereafter directed Permanent Secretaries to draw the attention of their staff to the content of the circular as well as the consequences of breaking the rules.
The Federal Government has appealed to traders not to hike prices of food items and transportation as the country battles to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, made the appeal at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 daily news briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
He said it was necessary that market women and men understood the enormity of the time regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that there is a need to show compassion to all Nigerians by not hiking prices of foodstuff and services.
The minister said that this period was a time to give back to society while calling on Nigerians not to take the opportunity of COVID-19 to further oppress other Nigerians.
“This is a time people are giving back to society. We call on our compatriots not to take the opportunity to oppress the people,” he urged.
He said that it was regrettable that despite being aware of the danger posed by COVID-19, the NUTRW members still flout the guidelines of the lockdown as they carried passengers above the approved number.
The minister noted that some members of the union had refused to accept that COVID-19 was real, adding that this can be the reason for flouting the guidelines by carrying five to four passengers.
He said that the members had refused to heed the call by PTF to take precaution in carrying passengers, warning that such can be detrimental to their health.
The minister also called on state governors to engage members of NUTRW in their states in order to salvage the situation and contain the deadly virus.
“We need to carry NUTRW along. We cannot micromanage their activities in the state from the center,” he said.
Mohammed said that the NUTRW had the mechanism to engage their members, adding that they had been warned not to carry more than three passengers.
The minister said commercial cab and private are enjoined to carry only one passenger in the front and two at the back seat.
Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, says the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices are set to force the economy into negative growth.
Ms. Ahmed made the comments after the National Economic Summit meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
“On the economy, COVID-19 has resulted in the collapse in oil prices,” she said. “This will impact negatively, and the impact has already started showing on the federation’s revenues and on the foreign exchange earnings.
“Net oil and gas revenue and influx to the federation account in the first quarter of 2020 amounted to N940.91billion. This represented a shortfall of N125. 52billion or 31% of the prorated amount that is supposed to have been realized by the end of that first quarter.”
She added that the economic contraction will multiply the misery of the poor.
“The crisis will only multiply this misery,” she said. “The economic growth in Nigeria, that is the GDP, could in the worst case scenario, contract by as much as –8.94% in 2020. But in the best case, which is the case we are working on, it could be a contraction of –4.4%, if there is no fiscal stimulus. But with the fiscal stimulus plan that we are working on, this contraction can be mitigated and we might end up with a negative –0.59%.”
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, on Thursday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments since assuming power has planted so much animosity among Nigerians.
HURIWA said Buhari’s appointments in the past five years has caused animosity among Nigerians than the Biafran civil war did.
A statement by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf lamented that Muslims have enjoyed the “topmost juicy” appointments under Buhari.
The statement reads: “Buhari’s administration in the last five years has planted animosity between different ethnic nationalities than the civil war created.
“It will take the Grace of God and the will to overpower our differences for Nigeria to rebuild the bridge of unity that the selective administrative style of President Muhammadu Buhari has destroyed in the last five years.
“It is regrettable that even within the core Moslem North which enjoys the topmost juicy federal appointments made so far since the last five years of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, there is a widening chasm between few elites who have cornered all the juicy positions and discontented but restive youths who out of frustration have launched large scale social upheavals in the forms of armed banditry and outright unleashing of blood against soft targets in the North leading to the destruction of many towns.”
Richard Jackson is a public health scientist who led the environmental health at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nine years
He directed the CDC’s response to the September 11, 2001, attacks and proudly watched the agency win battles against smallpox, Legionnaire’s disease, and swine flu.
“This is the kind of thing the CDC has been preparing for. I expected they would be functional and they weren’t,” Jackson said
“There should have been hands-on, omnipresent leadership from day one while this thing was breaking,” said Jackson, a retired professor at the University of California Fielding School of Public Health.
Instead of leading, the CDC and many of its scientists have been sidelined by President Donald Trump and its director, Dr Robert Redfield, creating a politicised and diminished role for the agency. Inside the CDC, morale among the agency’s bright and idealistic scientists has tanked, Jackson said.
“In my conversations, privately, the level of morale is very bad. It is very low,” Jackson said.
Troubles between President Trump and the CDC began on February 25 when Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that the virus was spreading in the US and shutdowns would be required.
The stock market, already in free fall because the virus had spread to South Korea and Italy, plunged further. En route back to Washington, DC, from a visit to India, Trump was angered by the news. Messonnier’s message contradicted what the president had been saying.
“They were furious, and they basically silenced and marginalised her and Redfield was totally intimidated,” Jackson said of White House officials.
For public health officials nationwide, the secondary role of CDC scientists in the White House’s policy decisions is visible and problematic, said Dr Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association in Washington, DC.
“Right now, the White House is controlling the message, controlling who says it,” Benjamin told Al Jazeera. The CDC has not held a public briefing since early March.
White House aides created friction with CDC officials by delaying for more than month publication of detailed guidelines from the CDC on how to reopen US businesses, schools, restaurants and public spaces. Edited guidelines were eventually posted on May 14 without notice or explanation from the CDC. More detailed guidance was delayed until May 19.
“They rolled out their more complete guidance last night in the middle of the night when nobody could see it,” Benjamin said.
“Normally, they would have pulled together a call with all the state and local health officers and told us it was coming. There would have been a news conference to say, ‘Listen, this is the best way for America to get back to work.’ They didn’t do it, I’m clear, because they weren’t allowed to,” he said.
An earlier draft of the CDC reopening guidance was shelved by a White House political nominee, according to reports by The Associated Press news agency.
Redfield and the CDC drew criticism from Democratic politicians at a May 12 Senate hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
Senator Chris Murphy blasted the Trump administration for failing to bring forward public guidance from scientists at the CDC on reopening. The delay would “cost lives”, Murphy said.
There have been other reports of White House interference with the CDC.
Trump and his White House team are pushing the CDC to change how it collects data from states on COVID-19 deaths, the Daily Beast reported on May 13. The changes would revise downward the number of cases reported, according to five CDC officials who spoke to the news outlet.
Some in the White House, including Birx and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have begun to take aim at Redfield, according to a report in The Washington Post. In a recent taskforce meeting, Birx and Redfield engaged in a heated exchange about the accuracy of the CDC’s work.
“There’s nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” Birx reportedly said.
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services, in a move linked to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, issued a $10.2m contract to a private company to collect data from states on hospital capacity and COVID-19 deaths. The data was already being collected by the CDC.
“The CDC’s epidemiological work around infectious diseases is stellar. It is second to none. So, the idea that the CDC would be out counting cases and deaths is exactly their job, and they are damned good at it,” said Jackson.
“This latest thing, where the president’s son-in-law goes out and finds a company to figure out how to undercount deaths is appalling,” he said.
The conflict between the Trump White House and the US’s leading public health agency prompted an unusual editorial in UK-based medical journal The Lancet, rebuking the Trump administration.
“Punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution,” The Lancet wrote on May 16.
“Only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles like test, trace and isolate will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency,” The Lancet wrote.
The proof will be in the case data and death rates experienced in states outside of the New York City region, experts said. While case numbers are declining in the New York area, they are rising in the rest of the US, even as Trump and Republican governors push to reopen.
“What is really important moving forward is that we need transparency on the metrics for success or failure with these various reopening plans on a national level, a state level and a local level,” Dr Thomas Tsai, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health said.
A veteran journalist and activist, Mr. Peter Enahoro, yesterday called for the restructuring of Nigeria with a warning that the continued delay to address the issue was dangerous for the country.
He said there was no better time to make the drastic decision for equity between the North and South than now.
He, however, explained that for this to happen, militant southerners and progressive northerners must collaborate to rejig the country.
Speaking yesterday, he said the far North had depended on the South for too long and that some parts of the country had suffered the decision since the British rule.
He said: “Nigeria cannot be great without restructuring. If we had militant southerners, by now we will be on the brink of breaking up. But right now, we don’t have them and no one is ready to do it. The only people who tried it are the Igbo and they were defeated. I don’t think anyone will try it again, but power has to be taken away from people who squander it. How long can this go on? This has got to stop if Nigeria is to progress, and it will only be done if an alliance is made between militant south and the progressive north. This will not happen without pressure. Nationhood takes time, and this is the time.
“A colleague was interviewing someone on restructuring recently, and the interviewer said North-west will not permit restructuring. I almost fell from my bed. Who is the North-west to decide for the whole country? We must accept the fact that it cannot go on like this anymore. If you are from the Delta region, you will see that your waters and fishes have been polluted. You will have to go several miles to get fishes. When these same people need something from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), they will have to go to Daura for help. This is a country where fellow citizens say they were born to rule over others. This got to stop.”
According to him, the kind of restructuring Nigeria needs is the type where states or regions that work hard would have to benefit more.
He said the present situation makes it possible for the far North to always live at the expense of the South, which has the resources.
He said: “People go to Mecca virtually every year when the Koran has said you can go once in your lifetime. Where do you think the money for the waste is coming from? It is from oil. This is a scandal and that is where we are today. What is needed is that states which work hard should be the richest. The richest public officeholder in America is not the president. When Bill Clinton was governor for 12 years, his salary was less than that of a mayor in New York because New York had more money. Nigeria has deteriorated because we have leaders without a clue.
“We have allowed the far North to dictate to this country. The amalgamation of the North and South was only because the North had no money and it was always broke, whereas the South had a surplus, and Lord Lugard at the time just merged the two.
“Money from the South was used in assisting the North. The far North is the spoilt child of the federation.”
He explained that without restructuring, the brilliant Nigerians in certain states would not get their dues because of the present quota system.
He stated that such persons could not get into institutions of learning they deserved to because people from other regions with fewer qualifications would also have slots to fill.
He described the system being operated in the country as one where the hardworking ones were being pulled down, adding that this was reflective in the standard of education and healthcare in the country.
On Tuesday, the federal government relieved Usman Gur Mohammed of his appointment as the managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Mohammed Sale, minister of power, approved of his sack on Tuesday, appointing Sule Abdulaziz to replace him in acting capacity.
“As part of continuing measures to reposition and improve the performance of the power Sector in the country, the Honorable Minister of Power Engr. Sale Mamman hereby announces major changes at the Transmission Company of Nigeria,” Aaron Artimas, spokesman of the minister, said in a statement.
“Accordingly, the Managing Director of the TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed has been removed from office with immediate effect. He is being replaced with Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, as Managing Director, in acting capacity.
“The Honorable Minister has also confirmed the appointment of four directors who have been on acting position in the Company for some time.”
They are Victor Adewumi, executive director, transmission services provider; M. J. Lawal, executive director, independent systems operator; Ahmed lsa-Dutse, executive director, finance and accounts; and Justin Dodo, executive director, human resources and corporate services.
The statement said President Muhammadu Buhari approved of all the changes and appointments.
While the distribution and generation sub-sectors were sold to private investors during privatisation of the sector in 2013, the TCN is fully owned by the federal government.
It transmits the energy produced by the generation companies to the distribution companies (DisCos).
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have questioned the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, demanding full details of the activities and whereabouts of the Chinese doctors.
The lawmakers at their plenary on Tuesday said they are not satisfied with the statement of the Minister that the Chinese doctors are not guests of the Federal Ministry of Health but that of a Chinese firm in Abuja.
The resolution of the House stems from a motion of urgent public importance raised by Representative Dachung Bagos.
The House, in a separate motion, also resolved to investigate the status of medical and pharmaceutical research in the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
They expressed worry that Nigerian scientists and researchers have not been given the necessary support and funding for medical research.
The Minister of Health las week Thursday told reporters not to question him over the whereabouts of Chinese medical experts who came into Nigeria to support the fight against COVID-19.
Ehanire, while responding to questions at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing said the medical personnel “are not guests of the Federal Government but CCECC, a construction company.”
US President Donald Trump has threatened to permanently halt US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and quit an organisation he earlier derided as a “puppet of China” in a letter to the agency’s director-general that he shared on Twitter.
The WHO chief has promised an independent review of the global pandemic response, after countries at a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly called for a probe.
The US has set aside $11bn to ramp up coronavirus testing as the country reopens.
Globally, there have been more than 4.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 318,500 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1.8 million people have recovered.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has extended the gradual easing of the lockdown by two weeks.
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced this on Monday during the briefing of the members of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He said, “The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority.
“Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace. Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.”
Mustapha explained that the extension of the first phase of the lockdown ease was to enable other segments of the economy to prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks.
According to him, the PTF shares the pains of Nigerians but the future of the country is in their hands and subsequent decisions will depend greatly on their compliance.
The PTF chairman also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved some recommendations of the task force.
He said, “The measures, exemptions, advisories, and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 midnight of May 18 to June 1.”
Other recommendations approved by the President include intensifying efforts to communicate, identify, and manage COVID-19 cases; and elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions.
The lockdown order in Kano State, according to the SGF, has also been extended by another two weeks.
He noted that the President had announced a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory in his nationwide broadcast on April 27.
Mustapha added that the President also highlighted the additional nationwide measures aimed at ensuring that the nation’s economy continued to function within the limiting constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operators in the nation’s insurance industry have revealed plans to address the impact of COVID-19 pandemic through research funding geared toward curtailing the spread of the disease across the continents.
The Chief Executive Officer, AXA Group, Thomas Buberl, who spoke to The Guardian at the weekend in a telephone interview said, it has earmarked fresh €5 million as part of philanthropic research funding to get rid of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world.
Buberl, said: “At a time when intensive care units around the world are under increasing pressure, we partnered with Fund 101, an organisation that federates more than 1,200 intensive care units across 60 countries, to share and accelerate improvements in therapeutic protocols.”
He said in France, he purchased two million masks, which was given to the medical system whilst also helping health workers by financing their meals.
He said in addition, the group has gone a step further in its commitment with 101 Fund by initiating a global solidarity challenge, tagged AXA Solidarity Response, with its employees to support 1,200 intensive care units in 60 countries including Nigeria.
According to him, the challenge campaign, which started from April 7th to June 30th, 2020, would give each the employee the opportunity to generate a donation of 5 Euros, financed by the company, to 101 Fund by publishing a solidarity message on their personal Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram account, enabling them to also act.
Buberl said, “The world is going through a crisis that will stand in the collective memory. In an unstable environment, the economic and social emergency, by ensuring the continuity of a business that is essential to society.
He said the firm has aligned with the group’s resolve to see the COVID-19 pandemic eradicated with its donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth millions of Naira to the Lagos State Government, others.
College of Medicine & University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCH) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, adding that the company has meaningfully responded to the fight against the disease, has also donated life insurance cover for 100 medical professionals across Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan.
Speaking in the same vein in the industry, the Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Jumoke Odunlami, said, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, AXA has been at the forefront of educating its customers and community about the precautions to take.
The Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Tope Smart, who also spoke on the issue said they were happy that for the first time, their role is being appreciated.
He stated that the recognition will further spur them to do more and sector will always play major roles in the economy but this is the first time they are getting a presidential recognition.
He said they look forward to more partnership with the Federal Government in developing the country.
The Nigerian Insurance Industry supported the Federal Government by providing N11 billion life insurance cover to the frontline health workers employed in the fight against COVID-19.
According to the Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, the cover will enable families or named beneficiary of any medical doctor that dies in the line of duty to claim N3 million; Pharmacists/Nurses N2 million and others N1 million.
One week after the partial easing of the lockdown on the state, Lagos state government is considering reopening the state to full business activities.
The state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Sunday said that the government was considering full re-opening of the critical sectors of its economy, even though the move will not be pushed in a hurry.
According to him, in the coming days, the government would be rolling out Register-to-Open initiative as part of the plans that would enable it assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.
The governor spoke at a briefing after the State’s Security Council meeting held at the Stat