​Lalong raises concern on emerging security threats in Plateau

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has raised concern about the activities of criminal but assured residents that his administration is working hard with the security agencies and stakeholders to ensure that the ugly incidences are dealt with.

The Governor warned elements who are bent on reversing the gains made in the areas of peace and peaceful coexistence to desist from their criminal activities as he assures of his willingness to swiftly do his part in respect of anyone convicted of kidnapping so as to save residents from sleepless nights.

In his remark at the 6th Plateau Pray Day organised by the State government and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), held at the Government House, Rayfield, Jos, he noted, “While we talk about the progress of our State, we are confronted by emerging challenges of crimes that were rarely recorded in our State. These crimes want to cast a dark shadow on our achievements in restoring peaceful coexistence among our people.

Also read: Plateau LGAs’ protest: Forum appeals to workers to suspend action on minimum wage

“The incidences of kidnapping, cultism and other violent crimes in some parts of Plateau State have constituted a major concern for the Government and our citizens in recent times. The Government is not closing its eyes but working hard with the security agencies and stakeholders to ensure that the ugly incidences are dealt with. It is part of putting a stop to this worrisome situation that I signed into law the Bill on Anti-kidnapping, Land grabbing, Cultism and Violence-Related Matters that was passed by the State House of Assembly.

“With this law operational, kidnappers who are caught, tried and convicted for kidnapping in Plateau State will face stringent punishment. The same fate awaits others who are also convicted for cultism and other violent crimes. The Government has noted complaints about the shoddy investigation and prosecution of suspects who are arrested for kidnapping, rape and other violent crimes.

“We are disturbed by the reports that some of these suspects do not get to be arraigned as and when due or are even released without charge despite overwhelming evidence tendered to law enforcement agents. This is unacceptable and we are engaging the relevant security agencies to deal with the matter decisively. During the inauguration of new Judges last week, I pleaded with their Lordships to be very firm in trying such Cases when brought before them as Kidnapping is fast becoming an Industry with no one immune from the menace.”

Speaking further, he added, “As Governor, I have assured the citizens of my willingness to swiftly do my part in respect of anyone convicted of kidnapping so as to save our people from sleepless nights. We have laboured hard to bring back peace to our State and cannot sit by and watch criminals snatch it away from us. This is not going to happen under my watch. We want investors to come into our State and establish businesses to further empower our people. We have to equally stop the situation where many of our people are afraid to pursue their legitimate businesses including farming because some hoodlums kidnap and force them and their loved ones to pay ransoms to secure their freedom.”

He expressed gratitude to God for “granting us favour from the Federal Government for the creation of a Federal Polytechnic in Shendam. We appreciate Mr. President for his goodwill towards our State. Let us pray for more good things to come because when I visited him last week, I put before him many requests including assistance for funding in rebuilding the Jos Main Market. With the quick result we have seen of the Federal Polytechnic Shendam, we believe God that all our prayers will be answered soon.”

On COVID-19, he noted, “I want to again call on our citizens to adhere strictly to the protocols and guidelines which have now been signed by the President. We must do everything to avoid the spread of the disease and more deaths which as at today stand at 55 in Plateau State. Let us be careful not to invite another lockdown because of our nonchalance which is most undesirable for both the government and citizens.”

​Kwara APC: 10 members injured as violence mars Stakeholders Meeting

Stakeholders meeting of Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held in Ilorin, the state capital ahead of the next week Tuesday commencement of the party membership registration exercise in the state on Wednesday, ended abruptly as violence marred the excercise.

No fewer than ten members of the party sustained serious injuries while the crisis lasted.

The meeting which was held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Ilorin was initiated by the National Revalidation/Registration Membership committee of the party led by Senator John Adonoi.

Recall that on Tuesday, the faction loyal to the removed state Chairman, Hon Bashir Bolarinwa protested on the streets of Ilorin over allegations that the new chairman, Alh Sanmari Abdullahi wanted to manipulate the excercise.

The Chairman Caretaker Committee, Alh Sanmari while receiving the APC Committee from Abuja also appealed that all members and new ones should be duly registered, and not disenfranchised.

The seven-man committee led by Senator Adonoi arrived Ilorin, the state capital on Monday for the exercise and fixed Wednesday for meeting with the stakeholders.

Upon arrival, the chairman, Senator Adonoi said that it has received 187,200 booklets from the party in Abuja for the exercise.

During the melee, iron chairs and other valuable materials in the hall were freely used by the aggrieved members of the opposing camps who freely attacked one another.

The crowded banquet hall soon became virtually empty as members vacated the venue and ran away for safety.

Vanguard reliably gathered that factions in the party sharply disagreed over selected members who were being screened by the security operatives at the gate to enter the main hall for the stakeholders’ meeting.

The shouting on the security operatives at the entrance soon became intense and the aggrieved party members later forced themselves into the hall.

​Nigeria to get 140m doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, 2022 — GOVS

The 36 state governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have disclosed that the country will take delivery of 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to cover 40 percent of the nation’s population this year, while another 60 million doses were being planned for 2022.

Disclosing this yesterday, at Chatham House London, UK at a virtual event, Chairman of NGF and Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi said that beyond the procurement of Vaccines by the Federal Government, the governors were strong proponents of the utilisation of public-private partnerships in vaccines procurement as a means of closing the gap between what is available and what is necessary to achieve immunity.

Fayemi spoke on the “Role of Nigeria’s State Governments in Recovery: Responses to COVID- 19 Linked Challenge.”

He however, urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency adopt an approach that would make it move away from emergency response to strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the health system.

Fayemi said: “We expect that about 80m doses of vaccines would be available in 2021 to cover 40 percent of the population, while another 60m doses are being planned for 2022. Beyond government’s procurement of vaccines, we at the NGF are also strong proponents of the utilisation of public-private partnerships in vaccines procurement as a means of closing the gap between what is available and what is necessary to achieve herd immunity.

“As we already know, vaccines themselves are not cost effective, but rather immunisation is. To ensure people are immunized, state governments have a role to play in supporting the logistics and ensuring people get the vaccines.

“As we look forward to recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our approach must shift from emergency response to strengthening the resilience and sustainability of our health system. We must task ourselves and rethink existing assumptions and facts around financing and delivery of health care in a manner that guarantees we build back better.

“In the medium to long term, we must begin to think strategically about the future of public health security and therefore, explore the potential of in-country manufacturing of approved vaccines, following technology transfer. The pandemic is a good reminder of the implications of public health outbreaks on national security. We must take the leap and gain a better level of independence, in the area of vaccine research and development but also science generally.

“When Nigeria reported its first case in late February 2020, only four laboratories in the country could test for COVID-19. By October 2020, testing capacity had expanded to over 70 laboratories across the 36+1 states.”

The scale up of laboratory services was important given the size of the country and the need to rapidly obtain results for suspected cases. As at December 2020, more than 45,000 health workers have been trained across the country on infection prevention and control measures.

“These preventive actions are important given that a major priority in the country’s response is to break the chain of transmission individually and collectively through adherence to public health and social measures.

“On the economic front, our major priority is to secure livelihoods. National monetary and fiscal policy reforms must align to support improvements in household income. Working with the Federal Government, a number of employment creation programmes have been created and currently being implemented. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has played an important role here and we must commend them.

“Intervention funds have been made available with interest rates below inflation, in the hope that we can stimulate growth of small and medium scale businesses. Similarly, institutions such as the Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture have also given moratoriums on existing loans to ease the burden of payment.”

On what the federal and state governments have done so far, he said, “Nigeria was very pro-active in handling the first wave and continues to remain so. Prior to the confirmation of the first case on February 27, 2020, the country actively monitored events around the world, with a public health advisory published by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, a month before the first confirmed case in the country.

“A presidential task force was established to coordinate multi-sectoral response to the pandemic while a public health emergency operation centre was established under the NCDC. In March 2020, the country’s airports were closed with the exception of essential flights and inter-state movements restricted in order to minimise the spread of the virus.

“On the health front, about $20million was made available to support NCDC at the outset to scale its capacity to adequately respond to emerging issues.

“The private sector in Nigeria harnessed their strengths to establish the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, which was launched in March 2020, to support the government’s control efforts.