Nigerian 59th Independence

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ADDRESS BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE EXTENSION OF COVID- 19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN AT THE STATE HOUSE, ABUJA

ADDRESS BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE EXTENSION OF COVID- 19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN AT THE STATE HOUSE, ABUJA

MONDAY, 13TH APRIL, 2020

1. Fellow Nigerians

2. In my address on Sunday, 29th March, 2020, I asked the residents of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory to stay at home for an initial period of fourteen days starting from Monday, 30th March 2020.

3. Many State Governments also introduced similar restrictions.

4. As your democratically elected leaders, we made this very difficult decision knowing fully well it will severely disrupt your livelihoods and bring undue hardship to you, your loved ones and your communities.

5. However, such sacrifices are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country. They were necessary to save lives.

6. Our objective was, and still remains, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action.

7. The level of compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines issued has been generally good across the country. I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the great sacrifice you are making for each other at this critical time.

8. I will take this opportunity to recognise the massive support from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during this pandemic.

9. I also acknowledge the support and contributions received from public spirited individuals, the business community and our international partners and friends.

10. I must also thank the media houses, celebrities and other public figures for the great work they are doing in sensitizing our citizens on hygienic practices, social distancing and issues associated with social gatherings.

11. As a result of the overwhelming support and cooperation received, we were able to achieve a lot during these 14 days of initial lockdown.

12. We implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified our case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities.

13. To date, we have identified 92% of all identified contacts while doubling the number of testing laboratories in the country and raising our testing capacity to 1,500 tests per day.

14. We also trained over 7,000 Healthcare workers on infection prevention and control while deploying NCDC teams to 19 states of the federation.

15. Lagos and Abuja today have the capacity to admit some 1,000 patients each across several treatment centres.

16. Many State Governments have also made provisions for isolation wards and treatment centres. We will also build similar centers near our airports and land borders.

17. Using our resources and those provided through donations, we will adequately equip and man these centres in the coming weeks. Already, health care workers across all the treatment centers have been provided with the personal protective equipment that they need to safely carry out the care they provide.

18. Our hope and prayers are that we do not have to use all these centres. But we will be ready for all eventualities.

19. At this point, I must recognise the incredible work being done by our healthcare workers and volunteers across the country especially in frontline areas of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

20. You are our heroes and as a nation, we will forever remain grateful for your sacrifice during this very difficult time. More measures to motivate our health care workers are being introduced which we will announce in the coming weeks.

21. As a nation, we are on the right track to win the fight against COVID-19.

22. However, I remain concerned about the increase in number of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.

23. On 30th March 2020, when we started our lockdown in conforming with medical and scientific advice, the total number of confirmed cases across the world was over 780,000.

24. Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally was over one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand. This figure is more than double in two weeks!

25. In the last fourteen days alone, over 70,000 people have died due to this disease.

26. In the same period, we have seen the health system of even the most developed nations being overwhelmed by this virus.

27. Here in Nigeria, we had 131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 12 States on 30th March 2020. We had two fatalities then.

28. This morning, Nigeria had 323 confirmed cases in twenty States. Unfortunately we now have ten fatalities. Lagos State remains the center and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. When combined with the FCT, the two locations represent over 71% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria.

29. Most of our efforts will continue to focus in these two locations.

30. Majority of the confirmed cases in Lagos and the FCT are individuals with recent international travel history or those that came into contact with returnees from international trips.

31. By closing our airports and land borders and putting strict conditions for seaport activities, we have reduced the impact of external factors on our country. However, the increase in the number of States with positive cases is alarming.

32. The National Centre for Disease Control has informed me that, a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities, through person-to-person contacts. So we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person.

33. At this point, I will remind all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility for the recommended measures to prevent transmission, including maintaining physical distancing, good personal hygiene and staying at home.

34. In addition, I have signed the Quarantine Order in this regard and additional regulations to provide clarity in respect of the control measures for the COVID-19 pandemic which will be released soon.

35. The public health response to COVID-19 is built on our ability to detect, test and admit cases as well as trace all their contacts. While I note some appreciable progress, we can achieve a lot more.

36. Today, the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective way of reducing the transmission of the virus. By sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, we can take control and limit the spread of the disease.

37. Our approach to the virus remains in 2 steps – First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners.

38. With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight.

39. This is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. Mosques in Makkah and Madina have been closed. The Pope celebrated Mass on an empty St. Peter’s Square. The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held Easter Mass with less than 10 people. India, Italy and France are in complete lockdown. Other countries are in the process of following suit. We cannot be lax.

40. The previously issued guidelines on exempted services shall remain.

41. This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear.

42. The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable.

43. We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer.

44. I will therefore take this opportunity to urge you all to notify the relevant authorities if you or your loved ones develop any symptoms. I will also ask our health care professionals to redouble their efforts to identify all suspected cases, bring them into care and prevent transmission to others.

45. No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy. I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, day-workers, artisans and manual workers.

46. For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and about seeking work. But despite these realities we must not change the restrictions.

47. In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained.

48. I have also directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programs. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week.

49. The Security Agencies have risen to the challenges posed by this unprecedented situation with gallantry and I commend them. I urge them to continue to maintain utmost vigilance, firmness as well as restraint in enforcing the restriction orders while not neglecting statutory security responsibilities.

50. Fellow Nigerians, follow the instructions on social distancing. The irresponsibility of the few can lead to the death of the many. Your freedom ends where other people’s rights begin.

51. The response of our State Governors has been particularly impressive, especially in aligning their policies and actions to those of the Federal Government.

52. In the coming weeks, I want to assure you that the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force, will do whatever it takes to support you in this very difficult period. I have no doubt that, by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic.

53. I must also thank the Legislative arm of Government for all its support and donations in this very difficult period. This collaboration is critical to the short and long-term success of all the measures that we have instituted in response to the pandemic.

54. As a result of this pandemic, the world as we know it has changed. The way we interact with each other, conduct our businesses and trade, travel, educate our children and earn our livelihoods will be different.

55. To ensure our economy adapts to this new reality, I am directing the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works and Housing, Labour and Employment and Education to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a “Nigerian economy functioning with COVID-19”.

56. The Ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee in executing this mandate.

57. I am also directing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized.

58. Finally, I want to thank the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for all their hard work so far. Indeed, the patriotism shown in your work is exemplary and highly commendable.

59. Fellow Nigerians, I have no doubt that by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic and emerge stronger in the end.

60. I thank you all for listening and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

U.S., UK in war of words over Huawei

British ministers are expected to allow Huawei limited access to the UK’s 5G networks at the National Security Council on Tuesday, amid concerns over the firm’s links to China’s intelligence services.

While 3G made mobile internet possible and 4G allowed mobile broadband, 5G is expected to become the connectivity infrastructure that will pave the way for new product and services, such as self-driving cars or industrial robotics.

Buhari constitutes committee on U.S. visas ban

President Muhammadu Buhari has constituted a committee, to be chaired by the Minister of Interior, Ra’uf Aregbesola, to study the reason why the United State banned Nigerians from its immigration visa.

According to a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Saturday, the committee will work with the U.S Government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.

The president further charged the committee to look at the real reason President Donald Trump banned Nigerians from US immigration visa.

He reiterated the commitment of Nigeria towards maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Jan. 31 announced temporary travel restrictions on six countries including Nigeria.

For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders only.

This suspension shall come into effect on Feb 21.

The suspension does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

According to the DHS, the suspension of “immigrant visas” became necessary following a review and update of the methodology adopted by the U.S Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

It stated that this resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the U.S.

(NAN)

Sudan plane crash kills all on board

A plane carrying Sudanese judges and injured people crashed on Thursday in the Darfur region of Sudan, with all those on board killed, according to the Sudanese Red Crescent.

The Antonov plane was travelling from the city of El Geneina – located in the west of Sudan, near the border with Chad – to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

The aircraft was transporting people injured in a tribal conflict in Darfur to Khartoum for treatment.

The plane’s crew comprised three Sudanese army officers.

It was not immediately clear how many people the plane had been transporting.

Amobi suspended by Minister, MD Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company

The Minister of Power, Mr Sale Mamman, has order the immediate step-down of  Dr. Marilyn Amobi, Managing Director of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).

Mr Aaron Artimas, the Special Adviser to the Minister on Media and Communication, announced the decision in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

Artimas  said that the decision was continuation of the reorganisation/sanitation in the Ministry of Power.

He said that the minister directed that the decision should take effect immediately.

“‘In view of this, the minister has also directed the constitution of a five-man investigative committee to look into the myriads of complaints against the MD/CEO

“This is with the view to restoring sanity in the management of the company. Consequently, she is to handover to the most senior director in the organisation, ‘’ he said.

Earlier in the day,  Sale had ordered the suspension of the Managing Director of Rural Electrification, Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi.

@NAN

Nigeria, neighbours collaborate on security in Gulf of Guinea

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Malabo, said leaders of neighbouring countries would work together and provide all necessary assistance to secure the Gulf of Guinea.

The President’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said in a statement that Buhari gave the assurance at a bilateral meeting with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, on the sideline  of the 2019 Gas Summit.

Buhari expressed concern over the rate of piracy, kidnapping and smuggling in the Gulf of Guinea and called for more concerted efforts to end the tide of illegality.

“Our neighbourhood is very strong. Our Navy is doing a good job. We are going to give them equipment and make them more competent. We share the oil fields and so much in common.

“We will secure the Gulf absolutely,”  the president  said.

In agreement with Nguema, who hosted the summit, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea will provide joint patrols, the president  added.

He said that it would be “more cost effective when we work together. We have to jointly protect ourselves.”

The Nigerian leader also held another meeting with the Secretary General of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, Sanusi Barkindo, where he was briefed on an important upcoming meeting of the organization in December.

Barkindo said the OPEC meeting would decide on the sharing output production quotas as the current agreement binding the members will run out in March 2020.

The president promised  that he would secure the best possible deal for the country at the meeting.

FCT Police parade fake officer

The FCT Police Command on Friday paraded an alleged fake Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr John Tarsoo, for extorting the public.

The FCT Commissioner of Police, CP Bala Ciroma, who disclosed in Abuja said Tarsoo was one of the 49 arrested suspects within the last couple of weeks.

He said that the suspect was arrested through a tip off and that investigation had commenced before taking him to court for prosecution.

“Following complaints received that a suspected young man has been parading himself as a police officer and duping unsuspecting members of the public, Police detectives from this Command carried out a discreet investigation that led to the arrest of one John Tarsoo.

“It is pertinent to state that the suspect who has never served in the Nigeria Police Force has been defrauding unsuspecting members of the public under the pretense that he is an ASP.

“The suspect will be arraigned in court upon the conclusion of investigation,” the CP said.

However, while fielding questions from newsmen, the suspect who was fully dressed in police uniform insisted that he worked with the Bauchi State Police Command.

He urged the FCT Police Command to carry out full investigation before parading him.

Buhari seeks approval of NASS on external borrowing plan

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday sought the re- consideration and approval of the National Assembly on the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan of the Federal Government.

Buhari’s request is contained in a letter address to President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and read at the plenary on Thursday.

“Request for the National Assembly to re-consider and approve the Federal Government’s 2016 and 2018 External Borrowing Plan.

“Pursuant to section 21 and Section 27 of the Debt Management Office Establishment Act.

“I hereby request for resolution of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 and 2018 external borrowing plan as well as relevant projects under this plan.

“Specifically the senate is invited to note that while, I had transmitted the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan to the 8th National Assembly in September 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the legislature.

“Only the Federal Government’s emergency projects, for the North-East’s four states projects and one China Exim Bank assisted railway modernisation project for Lagos-Ibadan segment were approved out of a total of 39 projects.

“The outstanding projects in the plan that were not approved by the legislature are nevertheless critical to the delivery of government policies and programmes relating to power, mining, roads agriculture, health, water and educational sectors.

“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation consistent to the 2016 debt analysis undertaken by DMO and were approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in August 2016 under the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.

“Accordingly, I have attached for your kind consideration, relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 -2018 external borrowing plan for which the legislative approval is been sought.

“I have also directed the minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which you may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.

“While, hoping that this request will receive the usual expeditious consideration by the Senate, please accept distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration,’’ the letter stated.

Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a separate letter, sought the consideration and passage into law by the Senate, the Companies and Allied matters Act Bill 2019.

The letter states: “Pursuant to the Section 58 of Constitution of Federal of Nigeria 1999 as amended I hereby forward the Companies and Allied Matters Bill 2019 for consideration and passage into law by the Senate.

“The Senate may wish to note that in this, bill Section 26 Sub-section 5 of the act has been amended to preserve the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to approve the registration of companies limited by guarantee.

“It also reflects the ease of doing business principles in Executive Order No 1 of 2017 on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment.”(NAN)

Kogi 2019: Bello’s Chief of Staff resigns

The running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag bearer in the November 16 Kogi State governorship election, Governor Yahaya Bello, Chief Edward Onoja, has resigned his position as Chief of Staff.

A letter by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Arike Ayoade Arike, named former Director General (Protocol), Abdulkareem Jamiu as the new Chief of Staff to the governor.

Jamiu is replaced by Dr Gabriel Ottah as DG Protocol.

Edward’s emergence as running mate to Governor Bello had been highly speculated and was confirmed shortly after the blown rift between Bello and his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba, who is currently facing impeachment proceedings.

The letter of the new political setup reads: “Consequent upon the resignation of the former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State, Chief Edward Onoja, His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has approved the appointment of former Director General (Protocol), Pharm. Abdulkareem Jamiu as Chief of Staff to Excellency.

“His Excellency has also approved the appointment of Dr Gabriel Ottah as DG Protocol to His Excellency. The appointment takes effect from 14th. October, 2019.

Troops rescue 4 more abducted students in Kaduna

Troops of Operation Thunder Strike have rescued the remaining four students of Government Day Secondary School Gwagwada in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who were abducted on their way to school on Oct. 10.

The Deputy Director Army Public Relations Officer,1 Division Nigerian Army Kaduna, Col Ezindu Idimah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday night that the students have been handed over to their joyful parents at Gurmi village.

NAN recalls that bandits terrorising Kaduna/Abuja highway on  October 10, abducted 10 students of the school while on their way to school.

However, the quick intervention of troops led to the immediate rescue of six out of the 10 students while the bandits escaped into the forest with the four

“On Monday October 14,  at about 6 am, following a tip off from a reliable source, troops raided the hideout of the bandits and successfully rescued the remaining 4 students without any injury,” Idima said.

According to him, during the rescue operation, the bandits ran into the bush with gunshot wounds while abandoning the students after they had engaged the troops in a gun duel.

Idimah explained that Operation Thunder Strikewas a Defence Headquarters operation with troops  drawn from the Army, Air Force, Police, State Services and Civil Defence Corps.

The spokesman said the General Officer Commanding 1Division, Maj.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya has hailed the performance of troops and reiterated the commitment of the Division in bringing about peace and tranquility to its area of responsibility.

He assured that despite the toughness of the tasks, the nation should count on the loyalty and commitment of officers and soldiers to delive