Month: August 2020

COVID-19: Brume, Egwero shun international meets

Top Nigerian athletes say they will shun ongoing international meets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, The PUNCH reports.

Sporting events, including athletics, have been halted due to coronavirus until July when the Diamond League returned to the circuit.

Ese Brume, Ogho-Oghene Egwero and Patience Okon-George are some of the notable athletes currently in Nigeria due to COVID-19, while the likes of Tobi Amusan, Divine Oduduru and Seye Ogunlewe, who are abroad, are competing in international events.

Amusan competed at the Back to the Track Series III Meeting in Texas on August 9, and finished fifth in 11.69secs in the 400m hurdles.

Oduduru has taken part in two races since the sports returned globally, while Ogunlewe also competed at the BFTTA Open in Dagenham (London).

Egwero told our correspondent that he would rather stay back in the country and take part in the National Sports Festival before traveling to Europe for preparations for the 2020 Olympics.

The 2018 National Sports Festival 100m silver medallist ruled himself out of the Kip Keino Classic in Kenya on October 3.

“I didn’t make entry for the Diamond League because I was trapped in Nigeria when the outbreak started. There’s no way I can travel out of the country now. If I do, I have to quarantine myself for some days due to the protocols,” the two-time Olympian told The PUNCH.

“My preparations have been going on smoothly in Nigeria. It could have been better but just that the stadium in Asaba has been locked up because part of the place is being used as an isolation centre in the state. I will wait and take part in the forthcoming 2020 Sports Festival in Edo state.”

Our proactive plans worked against COVID-19, says Sanwo-Olu

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday said the proactive plans of the government helped the state withstand the effects of the pandemic.

He spoke at the 10th Annual Public Lecture of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Lagos State Public Service chapter.

The event was themed, ‘The Global Economic Realities of Covid-19 Pandemic: Lagos State as a Case Study.’

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the occasion by the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Sam Egube, noted that the government had been proactive before the pandemic began.

He explained that his administration had a business continuity plan in case of any emergency, hence the impact of COVID-19 was reduced in the state.

He said, “When a crisis happens, everybody cannot converge as normal. If governance or management needs to go on, then there needs to be a business of governance continuity plan.”

This, he noted, enabled the government to make a lot of quick decisions with the aid of technology and support of members of his cabinet.

COVID-19: Lagos records 81% revenue performance

Lagos State recorded 81 per cent of the projected internally generated revenue for the first half of 2020 despite the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities.

This was disclosed on Thursday by the state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr Sam Egube, at the 2019/2020 Annual Press Conference Lecture of the Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondents.

The guest speaker, Egube, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Economic Matters, Mr Lekan Balogun, said 81 per cent performance of the projected revenue for the period under review was at N432.6bn.

He said, “The Lagos State economy remains the largest and arguably the fastest growing economy in Nigeria. The state’s economy was projected to grow at four per cent prior to COVID-19. However, the COVID-19 affected the possibilities of achieving such a prosperous target.

“Having looked at half of the year budget performance, it showed that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the total revenue  recorded in  performance is at 81 per cent of our initial target.”

Falana demands information on N338bn COVID-19 fund

HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has written a letter to the Central Bank of Nigeria demanding information on how the N338.6bn COVID-19 fund was spent.

Falana said this in a letter titled, ‘Request for Detailed Information on Beneficiaries of N338.66bn Coronavirus (COVID-19) Intervention Funds Disbursed Across Various Sectors in Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria.’

In the letter dated August 17, 2020, and received at the CBN on August 18, Falana said the request was made in line with the Freedom of Information Act.

The letter read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to an online report relating to the disbursement of the sum of N338.6bn as COVID-19 intervention funds to beneficiaries across Nigerian states.

“Since the report did not capture the details of persons who benefitted from the disbursement of the funds, we hereby request in line with Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act that you avail us with the details of the disbursement.”

In a letter dated August 26, 2020, however, the apex bank asked for more time.

In a letter signed by Director of Corporate Secretariat/Secretary to the Board, John Onojah, the CBN said the response was being processed.

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If COVID-19 continues till mid-2021, Nigeria won’t generate revenues to pay debts — Former ANAN president, Nzekwe

In this interview with NIKE POPOOLA, a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, speaks on why local content and transparency should be prioritised in the country’s external borrowings among other issues

Is foreign borrowing an appropriate thing for countries?

My take is that no country is an island. Even in the private sector, companies have to borrow money to be able to grow. You can see some companies take commercial papers, some take overdraft to finance work capital, and others long term loans to be able to finance capital projects. You can take loans. But the issue we have in Nigeria is that all the loans taken, you don’t see the effect. You don’t see what they have done with them and they keep taking the loans, and debt is growing. If the loans are properly utilised as they ought to be, then people will not be complaining.

For example, the rail project; when you take such loans, you don’t read the content of the agreement well. When you take some of these loans, you should look at the local content, because if you take a loan that everything will come from the creditor, they will provide labour, machinery and every tool, that does not make sense. Like the main project is a labour-intensive project. But if you look at it, did Nigeria benefit from it? Do you have local content in it? My take is that there is none because if taking the loans, Nigeria says look, we are going to provide labour, you will see that connecting rail from Abuja to Kano for example, you will see lots of our Nigerians digging the ground, doing a lot of menial jobs, and the money will go to them.

When they have this money, they go to the market to buy goods and services, and you see the money now circulating, but in this case, everything that China required to do this rail was brought from China. They brought the experts, earth moving equipment, they even brought the knot to tie the rail on the ground. Which one did we contribute? By now, we should look at bringing the chairs and others inside it, then the knots and screws but these are not there. What now happens is that when they take the loans, the Chinese government will buy all they require to complete the rail, so the money has gone back to their economy without us benefiting.

When they have this money, they go to the market to buy goods and services, and you see the money now circulating, but in this case, everything that China required to do this rail was brought from China. They brought the experts, earth moving equipment, they even brought the knot to tie the rail on the ground. Which one did we contribute? By now, we should look at bringing the chairs and others inside it, then the knots and screws but these are not there. What now happens is that when they take the loans, the Chinese government will buy all they require to complete the rail, so the money has gone back to their economy without us benefiting.

No infrastructure for COVID-19 testing at airports – NCAA

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on Monday declared that there was no infrastructure to conduct COVID-19 tests on thousands of passengers who would use the airports once international flights resume on August 29.

International commercial flights are scheduled to resume at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on August 29.

The flight operations were halted about five months ago by the Federal Government in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 through airports.

Speaking at Monday’s briefing of the President Task Force on COVID-19, the Director-General, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, explained that operators in the aviation sector had aligned with the pre-departure testing protocol stipulated by the PTF.

The PTF Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, had during the briefing stated that about 10,000 passengers would be using the airports daily once international flights resume, adding that they would need to undergo COVID-19 testing before coming to the airports.

Reacting to Aliyu’s comments, Nuhu said operators in the sector were working assiduously to be ready for the August 29 resumption date.

He said, “This entails working closely with the national coordinator and the Port Health Services to develop protocols for testing (of passengers) coming to Nigeria.

“The aviation sector is quite comfortable and agrees with the protocols of the pre-departure PCR test. We are quite comfortable with that.

“In addition to that, we do not have infrastructure at the airports to deal with this. The airports were never built for such. So we need to build infrastructure.”

Usain Bolt tests positive for COVID-19

Usain Bolt was in quarantine on Monday as Jamaican media reported the sprint legend had tested positive for the coronavirus, just days after he celebrated his 34th birthday with a lavish party.

The retired 100m and 200m world-record holder didn’t confirm his test result, but he urged anyone who had been in contact with him to go into quarantine.

“I did a test on Saturday to leave (Jamaica) because I have work,” Bolt said in a video posted on Twitter. “I am trying to be responsible so I am going to stay in and be safe.

Also, I am having no symptoms, I will quarantine myself and wait on the confirmation to see what is the protocol and to see how I go about quarantining myself from the Ministry of Health.

“Until then, I will call my friends and tell them once they came in contact with me to be safe, quarantine and take it easy,” said Bolt.

According to the Jamaica Observer, health and wellness minister Christopher Tufton confirmed late on Monday that the eight-time Olympic champion had tested positive.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness also said police are investigating the circumstances surrounding Bolt’s birthday party.

“There are reports of an activity related to Usain Bolt,” Holness told a virtual news conference.

“These matters are all being thoroughly investigated and the police will give a report on these matters in near future.”

Bolt last competed internationally at the 2017 World Championships in London. He and partner Kasi Bennet welcomed the birth of a daughter in May.