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Posted by On 5:58 AM

Nigeria's Senate deepens fuel subsidy probe

Nigeria's Senate said on Tuesday it was investigating claims that the state oil company illegally took more than $1bn from natural gas proceeds to fund fuel subsidy payments.

Despite being Africa's largest crude producer, Nigeria relies on fuel imports to meet domestic demand because of its dilapidated refineries.

The imported petrol is subsidised by the government in an increasingly opaque scheme that has been described as a sprawling web of patronage and mismanagement.

In October, the Senate said it was probing spending by the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of some $3.5bn in import subsidies which were not approved by parliament.

"An adhoc committee was set up to investigate the $3.5bn NNPC subsidy use. The particular issue of $1.05bn that Nigeria took from NLNG (Nigerian Lique fied Natural Gas company) came up," said Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan in a statement posted to the Senate's official Twitter account.

The NNPC has said in the past that high oil prices and fuel smuggling to bordering West African countries were driving up fuel subsidy payments.

But there are growing fears that the ballooning subsidy bill could be due to corruption.

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Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 4:56 AM

Nigeria consider unleashing teen sensation against Bafana

Soccer Nigeria consider unleashing teen sensation against Bafana 07 November 2018 - 11:46 By Nick Said Gernot Rohr, Manager of Nigeria and Yusuf Salisu laugh prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Gernot Rohr, Manager of Nigeria and Yusuf Salisu laugh prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Image: Gabriel R ossi/Getty Images

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‘We will cry but the memories will remain in our hearts forever' - HHP’s mother Upskilling convicts: Inside Leeuwkop pris on's 'changing lives' attitude Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 4:26 AM

Nigeria's HIV prevention drug challenge

Truvada pills, used for pre-exposure prophylaxis to help reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Photo by: NIAID / CC BY

IBADAN, Nigeria â€" Wasiu is well-known at his local HIV clinic in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. At 32 years old, he is a socialite with several wives â€" two in Nigeria and one in the United States. He is also HIV positive.

Health care providers at the health center knew his wives were at high risk of infection because Wasiu â€" whose name has been changed to protect his privacy â€" had openly talked about his dislike of condoms.

As expected, his two wives in Nigeria tested positive one af ter the other. But his wife in Florida has remained free of HIV.

That is because she could easily access a treatment to prevent infection â€" a pill called Truvada that combines two anti-HIV drugs to prevent the virus from spreading through the body. The World Health Organization recommends that people at high risk of exposure take it every day to lower their chances of infection â€" an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Uncertainty over PEPFAR support prompts concerns from HIV advocates in Nigeria

PEPFAR's new strategy identifies 13 countries where it will accelerate efforts to achieve epidemic control. Nigeria, despite accounting for 9 percent of the global HIV burden, was not among them.

In Nigeria, more than 3 million people are living with HIV, but less than 400 people at the highest risk of infection are using PrEP, widely regarded as a key tool in the battle against the disease’s spread.

That is especial ly significant in a country where so-called “serodiscordant partnerships” â€" relationships where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not â€" are a key contributor to the HIV burden.

That is true of many couples at Wasiu’s HIV clinic, according to the pharmacist in charge, Olubukola Akinlade. Under Nigerian government guidelines, the HIV-negative partners should be offered PrEP. But in most cases, Akinlade said, they are only offered HIV counseling, testing, and condoms.

“[The] Nigerian government does not have money for PrEP at present,” an official at the National Agency for the Control of AIDS told Devex. “If [the Bill & Melinda] Gates Foundation or any other major donor announces it will be providing PrEP for free, you will see them at the HIV clinics across Nigeria.”

In 2017, there were over 210,000 new cases of HIV in the country and about 150,000 HIV-related deaths. UNAIDS has acknowledged a “condom crisis” at the center of HI V prevention in sub-Saharan Africa, where the estimated condom need in 2015 dwarfed the number distributed. In Nigeria, they are still not widely adopted, due in part to religious opposition; reluctance from men like Wasiu, who say they make sex less enjoyable; and cultural norms that make it difficult for women to access them.

In serodiscordant couples, access to Truvada is therefore key. In Africa, a handful of countries have major PrEP access programs, while pilot projects are at different stages in countries across the continent. In Kenya, an estimated 28,000 people are taking PrEP, around 8,500 in South Africa, and 3,500 in Zimbabwe. But in Nigeria, only 364 people received PrEP drugs in 2017, according to UNAIDS â€" the lowest for any country that recommends PrEP in its national HIV guidelines, according to the Global PrEP Initiation Tracker.

Nigeria’s own PrEP pilot got underway in 2015, funded by the Gates Foundation, with the aim of figuring out how to offer t he treatment in real-life situations, according to NACA’s then-director general, John Idoko. The pilot has finished collecting data, and is now undertaking analysis prior to a national consultation, he said.

NACA’s current director general, Dr. Sani Aliyu, told Devex the preliminary results of the pilot indicate a very positive uptake potential, but that PrEP will be expensive to provide. There are wide variations in PrEP pricing globally, but in the U.S, Truvada, which is made by Gilead Sciences in California, can cost up to $2,000 for a 30-day supply.

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In Kenya, public financing, plus support from local and foreign partners, has made it possible for PrEP to be distributed for free to those most at risk. It is also available at private hospitals and pharmacies for about $36 a month. A similar arrangement in South Africa has seen PrEP access extended to university students.< /p>

But Nigeria’s government has offered no provision for PrEP financing since the 2016 HIV prevention guidelines became effective. Officials at the Ministry of Health and NACA told Devex this is a major reason why PrEP has not yet been rolled out.

Campaigner Morenike Ukpong pointed to a lack of political will. Beyond that, “there is nothing stopping PrEP roll-out in Nigeria,” she said. Aliyu, meanwhile, said the government does have the will but that there are other priorities.

“Of course, resources are limited and we still have a lot of people living with HIV that need treatment [first] ... PrEP will eventually come in,” he told Devex.

Nigeria's hidden HIV crisis

Almost a quarter of gay men in the country have HIV but most cannot access treatment.

Since it isn’t yet available at HIV clinics, advocacy groups are encouraging doctors to prescribe PrEP privately for patients who can afford it and to refer those who can not to places where it might be available. For example, some men who have sex with men can access PrEP for free through a study being run by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program.

Still, the reliance on foreign donors for the diagnosis and treatment of HIV is a major concern for local health advocates. Former NACA head Idoko stressed the need for Nigeria to start investing in health care.

“We need domestic resources from government at all levels; involvement of the private sector; and most important, national, state, and community health insurance schemes,” he said.

Ikpeme Neto, founder of Wella Health Technologies, a Nigerian health technology company, said the private sector should be involved in setting up a model for PrEP access. “A company could aggregate demand and set up a payment plan, [then] connect this aggregated demand to a wholesale pharmacy that imports the generics from say India or China [once they become available]. We have millions of peopl e that require HIV-related care. There's no reason why there wouldn't be a subset of those that … [could] pay for some form of care,” he said.

Although it is already possible to access PrEP privately in Nigeria, it isn’t widely available. NACA’s Aliyu said that the government will “strongly push for Truvada to be widely available in the private sector ... once we have a comprehensive plan available.”

Several experts told Devex that the key involvement of the government should be the provision of subsidies for those who cannot afford the treatment. That means upgrading its data capabilities to ensure that individuals such as Wasiu and his wives, who can afford to pay for PrEP, do, while those who cannot are still guaranteed access.

Editor’s Note: Research for this story was supported by the Africa Science Desk project of the African Academy of Sciences. Devex retains full editorial independence and responsibility.

Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 3:20 AM

Is it time for Nigeria to call up Stephen Odey?

Stephen Odey - FC Zurich vs. Bayer Leverkusen Getty Images The former MFM FC man is enjoying a fine spell of form in Switzerland, but continues to be overlooked by Gernot Rohr COMMENT By Kunle Fayiga Follow on Twitter

Stephen Odey is a name that can’t be easily forgotten back home in Nigeria thanks his sizzling displays while plying his trade for Mountain of Fire FC in the Nigeria Professional Football League.

He was a key figure in the Olukoya Boys' promotion to the top flight in 2016, their relegation escape in th eir debut season, and an unforgettable second-place finish the following year.

Stephen Odey, Ifeanyi Anaemena

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Odey will be remembered for scoring 18 league goals in 2017 with all eyes keen to see if he would break Mfon Udoh’s record of 23 strikes in a single season. It ultimately wasn't possible, as Swiss outfit FC Zurich came in for his services.

Initially the former MFM star struggled for game time at Letzigrund during his debut season, often making cameos, scoring three goals in 19 competitive appearances, playing a total of 581 minutes.

However, for the current campaign, Odey has seen his stock rise as he is now the focal point of the Zurich frontline, a result which has seen him net nine goals in 18 apperances in all competitions, spending 1,404 minutes so far on the pitch.

His fine recent form - he has three in his last four matches - has raised the prospect of a call-up to the Nigeria senior national team, although to date, he remains overlooked by Gernot Rohr.

Odey’s only involvement with the Super Eagles to date came in a friendly with Corsica last year where he featured alongside his former MFM teammate Sikiru Olatunbosun. He has also been involved with the B team, playing in the 2018 Africa Nations Championship qualifiers.

The present Super Eagles forward line has Odion Ighalo as the main striker, and the Cha ngchun Yatai man has recently found redemption having scored an incredible six goals in his last three international games, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 hammering of Libya last month.

It’s encouraging to see Ighalo back to form, but what if he loses his way, or becomes unavailable for whatever reason? Who takes his place?

Odion Ighalo - Nigeria vs. Libya

The other options would be Simy Nwankwo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Henry Onyekuru, but are any particularly reliable prospects?

Simy has failed to pick up significant minutes since making his debut against the Democratic Republic of Congo in a pre-World Cup friendly, and appears not to have done enough to convince Rohr that he has something to offer.

Iheanacho continues to be a shadow of himself in recent times for the national team, and has done littl e to show that he's ready to lead the line.

Onyekuru had been mooted as a potential key man after starting the season strongly with Galatasaray after moving on loan from Everton. However, his form has tailed off and he's another who hasn't really been given a fair rub by Rohr.

In this context, Odey should really have been given his opportunity for this international brreak; for the revenge mission against South Africa in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as well as a friendly with Uganda a few days later.

It's a missed opportunity for Rohr, and providing Odey's form continues, the coach mustn't make the same error in the next window - in March 2019.

Stephen Odey - Zurich

Article continues below

He will have more than enough time to show his qualities over the coming months, wi th Zurich still actively involved in the Europa League where they top Group A ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, Ludogorets and AEK Larnaca, having claimed a maximum points in all games so far.

They are also in contention for a berth in the Champions League next season as they currently sit in third place in the Swiss Super League.

Hopefully Rohr won't live to regret overlooking the in-form frontman for the Bafana Bafana game, but it's a mistake he mustn't repeat in the future.

Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 2:18 AM

Greece to boost trade with Nigeria

Greece has expressed its interest in deepening economic and trade relations with the Nigerian business community.Mr. Nikos Yiamakis, the Chairman, Greek-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Technology (GNCCT), expressed the interest on Tuesday in Lagos at the Greek-Nigeria Business Forum.

He said that Greece was interested in promoting economic and business interests in the areas of construction, manufacturing, renewable energy resources, communications and information technology.

Other areas of interest are standardisation of production, health services and shipping.

“For decades, there has been a good relationship between Greece and Nigeria, but the trade relationship can be improved upon to become better.

“Greek companies, wherever they have been active abroad, have proven to be among the top companies in the world in terms of consistency, know-how, quality, competitive pricing and faithful fulfillment of their contractual obligations,” he said.

Yiamakis said that strengthening existing trade relationship would boost production, technology transfer, job creation and export opportunities between both countries.

Ms. Yewande Sadiku, Executive Director, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), described Africa as the most attractive investment destination in the world.

This, according to Sadiku, has improved Nigeria’s appeal to investors.

Sadiku said that the Federal Government had evolved several reforms and initiatives to improve the business environment and attract investors to explore Nigeria’s potential.

Mr. Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BoI), said that the bank had identified core sectors of growth over the next two to three years.

He said that the sectors, which align to government’s priority areas, included agro and food processing, light manufacturing, gas and petrochemical, crea tive industry, solid mineral and engineering and technology.

Pitan said that BoI was committed to providing funds at low interest rate that would enable investors thrive and promote the growth of the economy.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Greece Folorunsho Ajadi noted that the forum provided the platform to deepen economic ties, forge new businesses and expand business growth of both countries.

Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 10:37 PM

Buhari approves $98 as Nigeria's new monthly minimum wage

Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday signed an agreement with organized labour raising the minimum wage in Africa’s most populous nation.

The new figure of 30,000 naira is almost double the now former figure of 18,000 naira. The agreement helped avert a planned nationwide strike by labour.

Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary Peter Ozo-Eson confirmed earlier on Tuesday that the strike was cancelled after government accepted to raise the minimum wage.

A committee set up with the government in November 2017 recommended the 30,000 naira new monthly minimum wage, after a series of meetings. Government was represented by Labour Minister Chris Ngige in the meetings.

The figure was subsequently recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari and has now been approved. Monthly minimum wage is “the lowest wage that an employer is allowed to pay; determined by contract or by law.”

The next move is for the Executive Bill to be presented to the National Assembly. “I ask for patience and understanding from everyone in the coming weeks, as we commence a review of the Minimum Wage Report. Our plan is to transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time,” Buhari said after receiving a report from the government committee.

The National Assembly is likely to pass the bill without any fuss given the sensitive nature of the discussions and more so with Nigeria heading into the elections, any delay will be counted against them at the polls.

Nigeria’s main unions launched a strike in September after the wage talks broke down. Unions initially wanted the monthly minimum wage raised to about 50,000 naira ($164). But the government, which is facing dwindling revenues due to lower oil prices, declined the proposal.

Unions later suspended strikes on their fourth day, saying the government had agreed to hold talks to discuss raising the minimum wage.

Buhari had vowed to review the wage due to a fuel price hike and currency devaluation in the last two years aimed at countering the effects of a global oil price plunge that hit the country hard. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer.

Buhari plans to stand for a second term at an election next February and his economic record will come under scrutiny, given previous pledges to raise living standards, tackle corruption and improve secu rity.

Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria

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Posted by On 10:37 PM

At least 16 Nigeria troops missing after Boko Haram attack

At least 16 Nigerian soldiers are missing following clashes with Boko Haram jihadists in the Lake Chad area, military and militia sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) group, a faction of the Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack in which it said 15 soldiers were killed, according to SITE, which tracks the online activities of terrorist organisations.

The incident began when gunmen in several trucks attacked a military base and a local market in the town of Kukawa late on Monday, briefly forcing troops out of the base.

"Our soldiers engaged the terrorists in a fierce battle following the attack," a military officer told AFP from Maiduguri, the regional capital which lies about 180km to the south.

"So far, 16 soldiers are missing but sea rch teams are combing the general area to locate them," said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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There were no immediate official reports of casualties on either side but a civilian militia group confirmed that 16 soldiers were missing and also said one civilian had been killed in the crossfire.

The attack came hours after Boko Haram jihadists attacked soldiers in Kumshe village near the border with Cameroon.

Last month two Nigerian soldiers were killed when troops on foot patrol stepped on a mine around Kumshe.

Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on military targets in the northeastern states of Borno and Yobe in recent months.

The nine-year jihadist conflict which has spilt into Niger, Cameroon and Chad, has killed 27,000 people and left some 1.8 million homeless in Nigeria alone.

Source: Google Nigeria | Netizen 24 Nigeria