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Three governors, four ministers to accompany Buhari on Saudi Arabia trip

President Muhammadu Buhari has departed Nigeriafor Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to attend the third edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) organised by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF)

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Buhari departs for Ghana

President Muhammadu Buhari will, on Monday, depart Abuja for Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend the third edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).

According to a statement released by Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesman, on Sunday, the event is organised by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Shehu said the event themed, ‘What’s Next for Global Business?’ will hold from October 29 to October 31, and focus on three key pillars: sustainable future, technology for good and advanced society.

Shehu said the three-day event would be chaired by Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who is also the deputy premier, chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and PIF.

“Given the increased investor confidence in Nigeria’s economy, President Buhari will use the occasion to speak about the economic opportunities that abound in Nigeria, the effectiveness of his administration’s policies to improve the business environment and invite investors to the country,” the statement read.

“It is noteworthy that the total value of capital inflow into Nigeria increased from 12 billion dollars in the first half-year of 2018 to 14 billion dollars for the same period in 2019.”

According to Shehu, the Nigerian delegation will leverage the resources in Saudi’s PIF, which aims at becoming one of the largest and most impact sovereign wealth funds in the world.

The delegation, he further stated, would seek foreign investments in critical projects in the country’s oil and gas sector, particularly the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline – the 614 km-long natural gas pipeline currently being developed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

“Nigerian officials will also take advantage of the summit to accelerate discussions on the planned interest of the Saudi Oil Company, Aramco, to revamp Nigeria’s refineries and new investments in the oil and gas sector,” he said.

The president, according to Shehu, will be accompanied by Babagana Zulum, Abubakar Bagudu and Aminu Masari, governors of Borno, Kebbi and Katsina state.

Also on the entourage are Zubairu Dada, the minister of state for foreign affairs; Niyi Adebayo, minister of industry, trade and investment; Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, and Ibrahim Pantami, the minister of communications and digital technology..

Others include the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno (rtd), the national security adviser; Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, and Mele Kyari, the group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

After the conference in Riyadh, Shehu said the president would proceed to Makkah, accompanied by close personal aides, to perform the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) before returning to Abuja.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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