Peter Obi Not Fit to Advise FG on Vaccine Procurement—Group
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A few days ago, the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, while speaking with Arise Television, said the federal government does not need N400 billion to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
The vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections had said he would help the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led national government to negotiate the purchase of the jabs for not more than N150 billion.
But a group known as the APC Mandate Defenders has lambasted the politician for his comments, describing him as ignorant.
The group, in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its national publicity secretary, Mr Ifeanyi Emeka, claimed Mr Obi has formed the habit of making himself a cheap hero through peddling of falsehoods, outright misinformation and blame game even when he is alleged to have some skeletons in his cupboards.
According to APC Mandate Defenders, the former Governor “is not the right person to advise the federal government over what to do concerning vaccine procurements and distribution because as Governor for eight years, he contributed to the sorrowful state of the primary healthcare centres in Anambra State as a result of his unconstitutional refusal to conduct local government elections throughout his tenure.”
The organisation said “if Mr Obi had conducted local government elections and allowed elected council chairmen to use their federal allocations for developments, all the primary healthcare centres in the 21 local government areas of his state which are in the ‘residual list’ of the Constitution and whose workers have the immediate responsibility of distributing vaccines to the people at the grassroots level; the cost of vaccine procurements and distribution would have been reduced to the barest minimum.”
“But because Mr Obi and others in his category failed to do the needful, the task of vaccine procurement, distribution and development of critical infrastructures at the local government levels now fall on the neck of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency which is under the control of the federal government,” it added.
The statement the federal government is not only fighting to procure vaccines and inoculate the population, but it is also fighting to procure cold chains, train personnel and other things that fall under the purview of states and local governments in the country.
”Besides, vaccine procurement is not really the issue, but distribution and storage, as well as building capacity, are the things that matter.
“For Instance, apart from Pfizer vaccines which require ultra-modern cold chains of minus 70-80 degree Celsius which is even colder than the winter, the federal government will still use some part of the estimated N400 billion for the procurement and deployment of cold chains to about 8,812 wards in the 774 local government areas across the country where the vaccines would be stored before distribution.
“This is because only a few of the over 10,000 Primary Health Care Centres in the country have functional cold chains and other facilities.
“So, next time, before Mr Obi goes to any national television to advertise his ignorance on any government plan in his characteristic way of playing to the gallery and seeking cheap popularity among unsuspecting members of the public, he should endeavour to consider many factors which his inability to correct some of them when he was in office contributed to the sorrowful state of the primary healthcare centres across the country,” the group said.
Tinubu Travelled Abroad to Rest, Will Return Soon–Aide
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The office of the president-elect has confirmed that Mr Bola Tinubu has jetted out of Nigeria for a rest in the United Kingdom and France ahead of his swearing-in ceremony slated for May 29, 2023.
An online platform on Wednesday reported that the winner of the February 25 presidential election travelled to Europe for urgent medical attention.
But in a statement issued by one of his aides, Mr Tunde Rahman, it was emphasized that the former Governor of Lagos State only left the country to have a rest in London and Paris before going to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.
It was disclosed that Mr Tinubu travelled out of Nigeria on Tuesday night via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos.
“After a very exhaustive campaign and election season, President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to rest and plan his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.
“The President-elect left the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, for Europe on Tuesday night.
“The President-elect decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and election season to rest in Paris and London, preparatory to going to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) and the Ramadan Fasting that begins Thursday.
“While away, the President-elect will also use the opportunity to plan his transition programme.
“He is expected back in the country soon.
“We enjoin the media to stop publishing rumours and unsubstantiated claims and to always seek clarifications from our office,” the statement said.
INEC Declares Labour Party’s Alex Otti Abia Governor-Elect
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The candidate of the Labour Party in the governorship election in Abia State, Mr Alex Otti, has been declared as the winner of the exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The former banker polled a total of 175,467 votes to defeat his closest rival in the poll, Mr Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 88,529 votes.
The Abia State governorship election was earlier declared inconclusive by the electoral umpire due to issues arising from over-voting. The collation centre had to be moved to Abuja from Umuahia, the state capital.
The governor-elect, in a short post via his verified Twitter handle, reacted to the development by saying, “See what the Lord has done.”
Mr Otti left the banking industry a few years ago after serving as the managing director of the defunct Diamond Bank, which merged with Access Bank. He left his office in the bank to pursue his political ambition in 2015, but he failed until he succeeded in 2023.
Cash Scarcity: NLC Orders Workers to Embark on Strike
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed public sector workers in the country to embark on strike beginning from Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
President of the union, Mr Joe Ajaero, gave this directive at a media briefing at Labour House in Abuja on Wednesday, March 22.
He also directed affiliate unions of the NLC to be on standby for a picketing exercise across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationwide.
The union leader said the directive became imperative following the expiration of a one-week ultimatum given to the apex bank to make cash available for Nigerians.
The scarcity has heightened with plans by the central bank to mop up the old Naira in circulation. The apex bank recently said it had removed N2.3 trillion from circulation between October 2022 and February 2023 while printing fewer new notes.
Business Post reported that between October last year and February 2023, the cash in circulation dropped to N982.09 billion from N3.29 trillion.
This is one of the factors that has extended the scarcity of the Naira and have also prolonged it into March.
Despite the Supreme Court judgement on March 3, 2023, that the old Naira remain legal until December 31, 2023, new notes have not reached many households with the old notes and new notes difficult to acquire.
With the cash in circulation dropping and the currency in commercial banks’ vaults or that of the CBN rising, Nigerians still find it difficult to access the money deposited in their accounts despite the ruling that the new and old notes should co-exist for 10 months.
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