Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has assured Nigerians of the safety of the 5G network.
He gave assurance when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Communications to defend NCC’s 2022 N632.39 billion budget proposal yesterday in Abuja.
The pledge was sequel to the fear raised by some members of the committee regarding the new technology.
Danbatta stressed that the 5G spectrum network “is good for the economy and the nation’s social transformation.”
He said: “Concerning the fear about the 5G spectrum, we share the same concern because it is justified. We have been sensitising Nigerians on the safety of the new technology. The 5G network that we are about to launch has no harm.”
“Up till date, there is no credible evidence about the health hazard of the 5G technology. Therefore, it is safe.”
Nigeria Air to provide 70,000 jobs after take-off next April, says Aviation Minister
Nigeria’s national airliner, Nigeria Air, is expected to generate 70,000 jobs for Nigerians when it becomes operational, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said yesterday.
The minister spoke with State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to Sirika, the national carrier will be run by a company in which the Nigerian government will hold a 5 per cent stake, Nigerian entrepreneurs holding 46 per cent, while the remaining 49 per cent will be reserved for yet to be assigned strategic equity partners, including foreign investors.
Sirika recalled that over 400,000 Nigerians participated in choosing the name, which was launched in 2018.
The Federal Government in London at the Farborough Air Show; a gathering for global players in the aviation industry, unveiled the name and logo of ‘Nigeria Air’.
The new carrier, according to Sirika, was expected to fly into 81 routes on domestic, regional and intercontinental routes.
Since then, the project has been paved with turbulence.
Torrents of commentaries have enveloped the global arena over the government decision to float a national carrier after it liquidated the Nigeria Airways Limited in 2004.
The new airline, many industry players have cautioned, must learn from the pitfalls of the former one, which, they said, lacked the right to remain in business.
The defunct Nigeria Airways Limited was operated as a social service.
“The structure of the proposed airline; government will be owning not more than 5 per cent. So, 5 per cent is the maximum equity that government will take, and then 46 per cent will be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs. So, if you add that, it’s 51 per cent. So, it’s 51 per cent majority shareholding by Nigerians and then 49 per cent will be held by strategic equity partner or partners that will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase.
“This airline, if started, and within the first few years will generate about 70,000 jobs. These 70,000 jobs are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country. Its importance had been well discussed so, I’ll not go back to it. You had discussed it separately also on various fora as to the need for it.
He added: “But, one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to integration of Africa, which speaks to the cause and trade within Africa that is intra-Africa and to which also another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
“Now, the only way, the quickest way that you can integrate Africa is by air because if you want to interconnect all the 54 nations of Africa, via rail or road, or waterways, which is even impossible, the quantum of money that you need to do all of these, the time it will take to develop this infrastructure, as well as the maintenance cost, is almost prohibitive.
“It’s doable, it’s time-taking, but with aviation, within a year, once the right policy is in place, like SAATM, you can connect Africa and then of course, the needed integration will happen. Part of AU agenda 2063 So, these are the two memoranda that were submitted, and gladly they were passed by Council.
“The name is Nigerian Air which of course, if you remember back in time, this was subject to national debate and 400,000 people participated, choose the name, the colour, the logo, everything and it was produced that time. It was launched also in Farnborough as far back as 2018.
“So, the business case is a public document. It will be on our website, you can download it and we can give you copies. This airline will pick up and start, by God’s grace, on or before April 2022,” he said.
The FEC approved a total of N7,840,487,969 for projects in the Transportation and Aviation ministries.
Sirika told correspondents that Council approved a memorandum for the award of contract provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
He said: “The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, which will be located in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
“In summary, this is a software that will allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulation to be done electronically on one platform, including payments, including follow ups on personnel licensing, the medicals, the economic regulation of airlines, safety regulation of airlines and all other businesses within the envelope of civil aviation will be monitored by this single software.
“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in quotation in Europe, because all of the truth of regulation of civilization will appear on this platform, it’s an extremely important software that the world has now come to terms with.
“The contract was given to Messrs. Arif Investment Nigeria Limited, who are representatives of Empik GmbH. This Empik are the creators of this software, one of its kind in the world, at the sum of N1,492,520,325, which will be including 7.5% VAT and completion period of six months,” the Minister said.
Also, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said his ministry secured an approval for the provision of training logistics for personnel that under the Deep Blue Project.
The minister, who said Council was updated on the improved state of security on the nation’s waterways, disclosed that the amount approved for the contract was a sum of N6.348 billion.
“Memo to the cabinet for approval for the award of contract for the provision of training logistics, operational equipment and maintenance support for government… equipment and personnel, under the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution Infrastructure in Nigeria, and you know that this is also what we call the Deep Blue Project, that’s the project that the President launched some months ago, around May or June.
“The contract was awarded at N6,347,967,644.21, inclusive of 7.5% VAT for a period of two years. It’s also important to say that the cabinet was briefed that there’s huge improvement in the security on our waterways now and we hope that it will continue as we progress”, he said.
States to get N18.2bn each in fresh budget support facility
All of the 36 states in the country are expected to get N18.2 billion each from the fresh N656 billion bridge financing facility that has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The fund is expected to help the state governments meet financial obligations, especially the previous budget support facility due for repayment.
This was disclosed yesterday at the National Executive Council’s (NEC) 121st meeting (10th in 2021), which was held virtually and was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with state governors, Federal Ministers, the Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.
Accordinf to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, informed the Council that the bridge facility was being processed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The fund would be disbursed in six tranches over a period of six months to the states.
Each of the 36 states would have a total loan amount of N18.225 billion; with a 30-year tenor, and a 2-year moratorium at an interest rate of nine per cent.
“The facility is to help the States afford the repayment of previous bailout facilities guaranteed for them by the federal government,” it added.
The council had July 15th, 2021, received updates on the budget support facility to states. At that meeting, the Finance Minister had informed the council that the deductions from state governments would commence soon as repayment for the previous bailout from the CBN. Subsequently, the states sought further support leading to the idea of bridge financing.
Ahmed had on Monday disclosed that the president had approved the facility, saying it was meant to cushion the effects of their resumption in the repayment of the three federal government bailout facilities namely the Salary Bailout, Excess Crude facility and Budget Support facility.
“Government will also continue to provide other financing options to states in the form of concessionary loan facilities to support the development of vital sectors of the economy such as health, agriculture and SMEs aimed to complement the states in fighting the pandemic, creating the needed job for the people and alleviating poverty.
“The combined effect of these policies would assist in addressing the current security and other socio-economic challenges confronting the nation,” she had explained.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning gave the Council an update on the Excess Crude Account which according to her stood at $60, 860,309.33 as of November 15th November; while the Stabilisation Account was N27,103,662,581.25 as of same date.
Similarly, Ahmed revealed that the balance of the Development of Natural Resources Account also stood at N60, 884,460,981.23 as of November 15th.
Furthermore, the statement also revealed that during the NEC meeting, the Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, informed the Council on the Status of the country’s COVID-19 Vaccine roll-out.
Shuaib noted that Nigeria had received over 100 million doses of COVID–19 vaccines (from COVAX, African Union, other countries) which he said was sufficient to ramp up vaccination for about 50 per cent of the targeted population.
The total eligible population of Nigerians for the vaccine was over 111 million, he added.
“Given the availability of vaccines, we have started rolling out a plan to vaccinate 50 per cent of Nigerians, 18 years and above by January 31st, 2022,” the NPHCDA DG said, adding that there would be a scaling up of over 3,000 health facilities nationwide.
In his presentation to the Council on states’ performance report on COVID-19, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said Nigerians must continue to maintain and sustain the COVID-19 response, especially as it enters the holiday period where there will be anticipated travels within and outside the country, as well as mass events to herald the holiday season.
Adetifa said the country should “maintain visibility of the outbreak by testing, continuing to encourage adherence to public health and social measures, encourage vaccination and address vaccine hesitancy.”
The DG, NCDC added that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 was still the dominant strain of concern in the country.
According to Adetifa, the number of COVID-19 cases presently was 213,321; No of Cases tested – 3,440,172; Active Cases -4,142; Discharged Cases – 206,206 and number of deaths was put at 2,173
The council was informed on the global situation of Covid-19 with over 251 million cases and over five million deaths recorded.
In Nigeria, the NCDC boss revealed an increase in case fatality ratio (CFR) from 1.4 per cent in week 44 to 14.3 per cent in week 45. He said Lagos’ contribution to caseload declined to 10 per cent, while Plateau’s proportionate contribution increased.
“Over the last four weeks, weekly cases have been declining in 11 states, increasing across two states. Monthly detection of variants of concern in Nigeria: Delta strain is still dominant,” he explained.
In terms of the current Cholera situation in the country, the NCDC boss put the suspected number of cases at 100,157 recorded in 32 states and the FCT, while the number of deaths was put at 3,449
“Multi-sectoral emergency operation centres activated at level 2 continues to coordinate the national response. Six states reported 78 suspected cases in week 44 – Borno (32) and Kebbi (20) accounts for 67 per cent of 78 suspected cases. Rapid response teams to be deployed to Adamawa, Borno, Cross-River, Ogun, and Zamfara State,” he added.
Council stressed the need to encourage testing and vaccination and that citizens should adhere to public health and social safety measures, while on cholera, the council called for more investment in sanitation and water hygiene.
“Between now and the 1st quarter of 2022, Nigeria needs to reach 50 per cent of the targeted population by January 2022, in order to ramp up its vaccination. The scaling up of over 3,000 health facilities nationwide. About five per cent of Nigerians have received the first dose while three per cent have received the first and second doses
“The agency is rolling out mass vaccination campaigns in densely populated areas like banks, markets and shopping malls and hard-to-reach population. Lagos has a target of vaccinating four million, while Ogun has a target of two million before Christmas,” the statement added.
It also revealed that the NPHCDA would soon rollout a means to validate all vaccination cards, as it was gathered that some persons were getting the cards without vaccination.
The statement also revealed that Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State briefed the council about how states could benefit from the work of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
NEC therefore recommended that NASENI should focus on providing reversed engineering on certain key components of machinery useful to Nigeria; its operation should be guided by its mandates to avoid duplication of efforts; that Nigeria needs to see inventions on specific issues as such, regular updates are needed in order to keep track of NASENI’S operations; that NASENI should have a limited mandate as such, its mandate is undergoing review and the Vice President asked the committee to come up with a framework for NASENI’s operations, monitoring, and quarterly updates to NEC.
NBS: GDP grew by 4.03% in third quarter
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) yesterday revealed that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4.03 per cent in the third quarter (Q3) of 2021, compared with the 5. 01 per cent recorded in the preceding quarter of same year.
The Statistician General of the Federation (SGF)/Chief Executive, NBS, Dr. Simon Harry, who revealed this at a media briefing, said the negative impact of the COVID-19 continued to impact on economic performance.
He said despite the slower growth, the Q3 performance was considered a tremendous improvement over both Q1 and Q2 of the year, adding that there had been steady growth of the economy.
In nominal terms, aggregate GDP increased to N45.11 trillion in the period under review, compared with the N39.12 trillion recorded in Q2 and N39.09 trillion in Q3 2020.
In the same vein, real GDP which shows volume of economic activities, stood at N18.54 trillion, higher by N1.85 trillion compared to N16.69 trillion in Q2 as well as higher by N718.57 billion when compared to N17.82 trillion recorded in the corresponding quarter of last year.
The economy was largely driven by the non-oil sector which accounted for 92.51per cent of GDP, while the oil sector contributed 7.49 per cent to growth in Q3.
Daily oil production averaged 1.57 million barrels per day (mbpd) compared to 1.61mbpd in Q2 and 1.67mbpd in Q3 2020.
Oil growth rate stood at -10.73 per cent in real terms in the review period.
The SGF explained that the negative GDP figures recorded in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had serious base effects on output figures for Q2 and Q3.
Harry said: “I must state that the improvement being seen in the output growth over the last four quarters depicts a steady progress made in stemming the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated negative impact on livelihood, well-being, and the economy.
“Globally, many countries have witnessed an improvement in economic performances compared to 2020 when COVID-19 was endemic.”
He said economic recovery remained a gradual process that requires consistent collective efforts to improve economic activities across the institutional sectors.
He explained: “However, in Nigeria the prospect of full recovery is glaring provided the current trend of improved economic performance is sustained in the rest of the year and beyond.”
Agriculture contributed 29.94 per cent to real GDP, higher than the 23.78 per cent recorded in Q2 while manufacturing accounted 8.96 per cent higher than the 8.69 per cent recorded in the preceding quarter.
Also, trade contributed 14.93 per cent to GDP, lower than the 16.66 per cent recorded in Q2.
“You might be looking at the 5.01 per cent as being higher than the 4.03 per cent but when you look at the base effects, you discover that the margin between the two, certainly that of the third quarter was a higher figure compared to the 5.01 per cent as released in the second quarter of the year,” the SGF added.
He insisted the economy was growing rather than declining.
“There was serious base effects affecting the figure because Q3 2020 recorded negative rate while Q2 2020 recorded negative rate. And so if you consider the margin between the two figures, you will discover that the economy certainly is growing rather than decreasing. It is the base figures that have influenced the figure for this year,” he added.
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