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1,000 NNPC graduate trainees begin work on Monday

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)

More than 1,000 graduate trainees recently recruited by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation are to assume duty from Monday, May 4 2020.

NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, disclosed this on Thursday in a statement issued in Abuja.

He said the trainees would assume duty first virtually, while the corporation would monitor the COVID-19 situation and the Federal Government’s directives to determine a date of physical assumption of duty.

Obateru said the option of virtual assumption of duty was necessitated by the need to comply with extant protocol on social distancing and reduced number of people in the workplace, among other measures that had been introduced by government as a result of the pandemic.

He said the trainees had completed online documentation and would commence virtual onboarding by Monday.

The statement stated that the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, was excited about the assumption of duty of the graduate trainees, as he noted that they were part of the succession plan to assure the corporation’s future.

Kyari congratulated the successful graduate trainees and said much was expected of them.

NNPC said the assumption of duty of the graduate trainees marked the successful completion of the 2019/2020 recruitment exercise.

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Prof. Kabir Bala takes over as new ABU vice-chancellor

Kabir Bala, a professor, has formally taken over as the new Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, with a passionate appeal to all staff of the institution to unite and work hard for the advancement of the university.

Kabir Bala, a professor, has formally taken over as the new Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, with a passionate appeal to all staff of the institution to unite and work hard for the advancement of the university.

The Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the institution, Auwal Umar, made this known in a statement in Zaria on Thursday.

He said the new vice chancellor received the handing over notes at a simple ceremony at the university Senate Chamber from the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Danladi Ameh.

The new VC said all hands must be on deck to take the university to greater heights.

He quoted the world’s 18th century literary icon, Shakespeare, to justify his appeal on the need to work together in the overall interest of the university when he said the “world is a stage where everyone will act and go”.

The VC expressed gratitude to his predecessor, Ibrahim Garba, for all his good works and prayed to God to reward him abundantly and help him in his future endeavours.

Mr Bala listed lack of functional academic brief, inability to review the institution’s curricular and lack of master plan among others, as the major challenges facing the university at the moment.

He said the last time the institution’s curricular was reviewed was in 2012 and that was the very first time the university was able to review its curricula, saying also that the present curricular was due for review in 2017 but nothing was done.

“We need to do a lot to catch up with the global trend.

“ABU had never had an academic brief, we don’t have the master plan for long, the last being the one produced in 1982, during the tenure of Prof. Ango Abdullahi. Even the strategic plans we have do not syncronise.

“We have to raise these questions because of ABU’s strategic position.

“Unfortunately, we are now in an academic and intellectual environment where we don’t want to ask questions for fear that we may be tagged as the enemy of the system.

“All we have now all over is mediocrity,” he said.

The VC noted that people looked up to ABU to solve their problems as the institution proffered solutions in the past to challenges faced in agriculture, security and many other sensitive issues.

“When last did we have our discourse as a university?

“I could vividly remember when governments would always rush to ABU to collect the analyses and recommendations after every public discourse organised by the then academics like Dr Yusuf Bala Usman of blessed memory,” he said.

The VC also said for the university to be run effectively and efficiently the committee system had to be revived as a statutory organ of the administration.

Mr Bala described as heart-warming the establishment of COVID-19 samples testing centre in ABU.

He therefore urged members of the university community to continue to observe the social distancing practice, wearing of face-masks, hand washing and use of sanitisers.

Earlier, Mr Ameh, a professor, described the new VC as somebody with vast knowledge of the university, saying “with Prof Kabir Bala in the saddle the university would fare well”.

“The incoming VC is not a stranger to us as he worked in various places in this university which we all cherish and love.

“He is a tested hand and so the university will be in a safe hand,” he said.

Ameh, who described as ‘daunting’ the task assigned him as acting VC, urged the university community and all other stakeholders to give Bala all the needed support to move the institution forward.

The Governing Council of ABU had at its 189th Special Meeting on January 22 approved the appointment of Bala as new VC of the institution.

Bala, a professor of construction management and the immediate past Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), took over from Ibrahim Garba, whose tenure expired on April 30.

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Archbishop Kaigama advises Nigeria to revamp health sector

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Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, has advised the Federal Government to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and fix the health sector, education and the social systems.

Kaigama told newsmen in Abuja that the pandemic was a lesson for leadership of the country to address brain drain in the health sector.

He said that as the country plan to gradually ease the lockdown, it should also plan to fix some lessons learnt from the pandemic.

“We can see that running away from our country has not done us any good.

“We have hospitals here that are not adequately equipped, we have medical personnel that are so many and well gifted but they don’t have all it takes to render medical services.

“I have been to one small village in America; you have more than 20 Nigerian doctors, why?

“It is because the facilities are there, they receive adequate attention about remuneration and what have you.

“So there is a brain drift. We have engineers; we have scientists, doctors, health workers who are drifting to get greener pasture so this should give us food for thought.

“Why should our politicians and those in authority fly abroad? Why do we neglect our hospitals and clinics?

“We neglect out health facility and slightest headache we fly abroad, something is strong.”

The Archbishop also advised the government to fix the education system and social security system, noting that Nigeria education and the social security system should be better.

“Those who have worked and laboured for us; our heroes; they become helpless, no money to take care of themselves in their old age, no pension coming.

“This should be a serious food for thought. Our leaders should look inward now that the oil price has gone down since we depend a lot only on oil.

“We have abandoned agriculture, we have abandoned mineral resources. We must decide to revive these sectors.

“We can run this country with all the blessings that God has given us. We are so blessed with human and natural resources so we can surprise the world with what we have.’’

Kaigama told newsmen that it would be an opportunity to start all over and surprise the world if we assemble all our resources- human and natural and do it right.

“The world will be coming to Nigeria and asking for help rather than us going abroad and also borrowing and borrowing.’’

According to him, COVID-19 is a message that God is giving to humanity as a whole, saying “God is establishing a lesson that He is God Almighty.

“We should be aware of that and that human beings have common humanity, created by God and we should realise the supremacy of God.

“Secondly, God made us with our different culture, characteristic and we should not forget that one thing bind us – our common humanity.

“The Americans have 10 fingers and Africans have 10 fingers, so we have common humanity, it is only the complexion that is different.

“Our difference should not separate us, we should help and support one another,’’ he said.

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Akwa Ibom: Lockdown continues indefinitely

This was made known by the Secretary to State Government, SSG, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem during the routine covid-19 press briefing held in Government House, Uyo on Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The Akwa Ibom State Government has announced its decision to continue enforcing the Quarantine and Restriction of Movement order 2020 indefinitely.

Lockdown in the state started on May, 30, 2020 and was expected to end on Thursday, April, 30 making it one month.

However, the Secretary to the State Government and Chairman, COVID-19 Management Committee. Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, in a 9th COVID-19 update held on Wednesday at Government House, Uyo, said the state government was constrained to continue the enforcement of lockdown regulations at the moment due to the threat of the virus.

Ekuwem said the state government acknowledged the hardship experienced by people as a result of the lockdown noting that the extension was for the wellbeing and safety of the people.

According to the Chairman, “In as much as we identify with the hardship being experienced by our people, we must also acknowledge that the threat of the coronavirus is still with us hence we are constrained to continue the enforcement of lockdown regulations.”

He also announced that state government had set up a post economic reconstruction committee to recommend implementable strategies that would help to revive the state’s economy and urged all citizens and residents to join hands in the fight against COVID-19.

“We have also set up a post economic reconstruction Committee to recommend implementable strategies that would help jump-start the economy of our state.

“We enjoin all citizens and residents to join hands in our fight against COVID-19. It’s not time for the pursuit of selfish interests to the detriment of our collective interest as a people,” Ekuwem said.

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Lagos to inaugurate committee on controlled easing of lockdown

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu says he will formally inaugurate a committee on controlled easing of the Lockdown in the state on Thursday.

According to the governor, who spoke at the State House, Marina, Lagos, the committee would comprise representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Private Transport Operators, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.

‘This Committee will be charged with the responsibility of communicating, to their members, this framework on the controlled easing of the Lockdown, so that we all fully understand what is expected from us.

“We are mindful of the fact that the success of the implementation will be determined by how well it is communicated to all the Stakeholders, and this Committee will play a critical role in this regard,” he said.

The governor also said from May 4, 2020, businesses were allowed to operate within a framework, call a “Controlled Easing Phase,” saying that it should be clear that this was not a full reopening of the economy, but gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown.

“We will continue to monitor the public health situation; the economic impact of the lockdown and always adjust our responses accordingly. Companies that choose to operate within this Controlled Easing Phase are to operate between 9am and 3pm; and are also directed to operate at a maximum of 60% of their staff capacity.

“Let me, however, say this: as many of us that can continue to work online and remotely from the office, please let us do so. Online and Work-from-Home arrangements are highly encouraged to continue as much as is practicable.

“We understand the important roles Banks and Financial Institutions play in our economy, and for this reason they are highly encouraged to open their branches and offer their full complement of services to the general public. They are however to observe the operational working hours of 9am to 3pm. Very important for me to mention is that these Banks are also to ensure regular cleaning and decontamination of the various ATM machines.

“For those institutions operating within the Controlled Easing Phase, certain measures and directives must be strictly adhered to. These are: All buildings are to ensure a 2-meter distancing measure is maintained in all common areas; and at all service and customer facing desks.

“All buildings are to maintain a 60% occupancy limit in all office rooms within the building; and no more than 50% of the elevator capacity in any building shall be utilized,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu added that businesses/companies were encouraged to make adequate arrangement for the transportation of their staff to their places of work to reduce the risk of contagion and exposure while traveling on public transportation.

He said companies transporting their staff to work in their private transportation arrangements shall be expected to strictly adhere to the principles of social distancing; as well as enjoin their staff to practise very high levels of hand and personal hygiene.

“Hand sanitizers and/or wash basins must be made available at all entry points, and temperature checks must be carried out upon entry into the work premises.

“Whistleblowers are encouraged to report companies which flout these directives. Our whistleblower channels will be duly communicated to the public. Whistleblowers are guaranteed full protection; their identities will be kept strictly confidential,” he stated.

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Group assures victims support fund of effective delivery of relief packages

Real Acts of Kindness (RAK) has assured the Victims Support Fund (VSF) COVID-19 team of effective and transparency in distribution of relief package to people in Lagos communities.

Mr Mobolaji Ogunlende, the founder of RAK Foundation gave the assurance in an interview in Lagos on Wednesday.

The VSF, Nigeria’s first private sector-led humanitarian initiative supporting Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the Northeast, donated relief items to 10 NGOs and Lagos State food bank to target about 50,000 households.

RAK, a leading non-governmental organisation in Badagry, Lagos was selected by VSFCovid-19 Task Force as one of the 10 NGOs to implement Emergency Support Programme to local communities across Lagos State.

Ogunlende commended the taskforce for their timely intervention at a critical time, adding that people are hungry and helpless.

He said: “For us at RAK Foundation, this is an opportunity to take charge and show the world that we are capable of doing it right.I want to assure the taskforce that we will ensure that the relief package get to desired people in Lagos communities.

“We appreciate the trust they have in us because this is another rare privilege and opportunity for RAK Foundation to serve humanity more,” he said.

Ogunlende said that his groupn had donated hand sanitisers, liquid soaps and parcels of assorted food items to 3,000 households in Badagry to cushion effects of COVID-19 lockdown in the area in April 9.

In her remarks, the VSF Covid-19 Taskforce Chairperson, Mrs Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji explained that the team had watched the foundation and its activities at the grassroot with apt attention and impressed by their level of commitment and performance.

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Court orders remand of police sergeant who killed female colleague

The Nigeria Police Force says its investigation shows that Boko Haram, Ansaru and other terror groups are getting support from some Nigerians.

A Port Harcourt Magistrate Court on Tuesday order the remand of a dismissed Police Sergeant, Bitrus Osaiah, who allegedly shot and killed his female colleague, Sergeant Lovender Elekwachi, on Thursday April 23 at her duty post in Eneka in Obio-Akpor Local Government area

The court orders the remand of the dismissed Sergeant Osaiah after he was arraigned by the Rivers State Police Command on a one count charge of murder.

Chief Magistrate Ipalibo Iyabo after hearing from the prosecution lawyer said the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

The court subsequently ordered that the case file should be transferred to the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, for legal advice while adjourning hearing of the suit to May 26, 2020.

The prosecuting lawyer and officer in charge of legal matters, Gladys Imegu, stood in for the Police.

However, the court order the remand of Osaiah at the cell of the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID and not in prison because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Recall that Osaiah who was attached to the Task force on Illegal Markets and Street Trading allegedly shot the Late Elekwachi while enforcing road decongestion in Eneka, where the deceased police officer was controlling traffic.

In a related development, Rivers State Police Command says it has withdrawn all the Policemen attached to Rivers State Taskforce Force Operations pending the review of its operations.

Policemen attached to the Taskforce force operations were seen in their numbers loitering at the state headquarters at Moscow road in Port Harcourt.

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed that the men have been withdrawn in the meantime, and subject to reviews by the Inspector General of Police, IGPs directives.

He said the Policemen will be redeployed to other formations in the state to carry on with their statutory mandate of protecting lives and properties.

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Apple and Google’s coronavirus tracing app scores big win in Europe

Apple and Google today said they’re working together on Bluetooth interoperability between Android and iOS devices to empower coronavirus tracking apps for smartphones.

Apple and Google developed a new API for iPhone and Android that would allow app developers to create contact tracing apps for the novel coronavirus. The Apple-Google approach relies on Bluetooth connectivity between devices to determine the risk of exposure of an individual to a person who tested positive to COVID-19.

The object of such apps is for medical systems to be able to perform quick contact tracing and react accordingly. Patients can be isolated earlier and tested for COVID-19 with the help of such apps. But, crucially, participation is voluntary. It’s up to iPhone and Android users to opt-in. When they do, their privacy will be protected, and neither Apple nor Google will collect any data about users. It’ll all stay on their phones.

Several governments in Europe have been working on their own contact tracing app as well, some starting similar initiatives before Apple and Google announced their joint effort. But not all countries went for a privacy-friendly approach. The UK, France, and Germany all wanted Apple and Google to make certain exceptions that would allow these governments to run their own contact tracing app, and collect more user data. Germany announced over the weekend that it’ll drop its requests and instead follow Apple and Google’s guidelines, just as the two tech giants announced new changes for the app that will improve user privacy.

Apple and Google on Friday disclosed various changes to their coronavirus contact tracing initiative, addressing the concerns of privacy advocates.

The initiative is now referred to as “exposure notification” instead of “contact tracing,” a name that better describes the functionality of the app. These apps will notify users of potential exposure, and it’ll be up to the user and authorities to perform the actual contact tracing efforts.

Apple and Google built additional privacy protections in the app to make accidental or intentional identification of users impossible. The keys will be generated randomly, making it impossible for someone to guess them. Bluetooth metadata will be encrypted, and exposure time will be rounded up to five minutes to make it impossible for someone to identify users.

The API will also register the Bluetooth system level to avoid false positives. Bluetooth system travels several tens of feet and can penetrate walls. The farther away you are from someone, the less likely you’d be to get infected, especially if you’re living in different apartments. Without taking into account Bluetooth power levels, the app would still give you a warning.

Germany on Sunday announced that it will no longer pursue its own contact tracing app. Instead, it’ll rely on the Apple-Google approach, Reuters reported. Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a joined statement that the country will go for the “decentralized” approach that Apple and Google are championing.

“This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards and guarantee a high level of IT security,” they said. “The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.”

Germany joins other countries who’ve worked on similar, privacy-friendly, contact tracing apps. Austria, Switzerland, and Estonia developed a decentralized protocol called DP-3T (Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing) that will work with the Apple-Google API.

Users would be able to share their phone numbers to pass relevant information about their condition. But this would be part of the app, not the system architecture, and the apps will not contain location data.

A contact tracing system where the app would collect more data, such as the UK and France propose, would require the app to be working in the foreground, so the Bluetooth connection stays active at all times, especially on iPhone. This would not only kill battery life fast but would also present security issues. Stealing a phone whose display isn’t set to automatically lock would allow thieves to bypass some of the safety features set in place to reduce smartphone theft.

The NHS said in a blog post on Friday that a future version of its contact tracing app would let users provide more data to help authorities “identify hotspots and trends.” Having such capabilities built into an app means the app can pass on information to servers, which can gather more data than the scope of the contact tracing app.

Privacy advocates will say that allowing governments to collect more data from the simple Bluetooth “handshake” that occurs between phones could help them create various surveillance initiatives beyond the need for tracking the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, should western democracies have their way with Apple and Google, then other countries might have similar requests in place.

Apple and Google aren’t willing to budge, and Germany’s quick change of mind is probably an indication that France and the UK will play by Apple and Google’s rules as well.

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FRSC advises Nigerians to maintain social distancing

The Jigawa Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) is to depoy 285 of its staff to ensure free flow of traffic and carry out rescue operations in the state during the Eid-El-Kabir break.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has urged Nigerians to continue maintaining social distancing to avoid further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Gora Wobin, the Sector Commander, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said it was important for all Nigerians to continue to maintain social distancing to ensure that COVID-19 was completely out of the country.

He said people should know that COVID-19 was real, adding that people should not doubt its existence because they were yet to see someone close to them contracting it.

“Coronavirus is real. People should not think it does not exist. It is something everyone must take seriously to ensure it does not spread, and we should see to its reduction and not increment.

“And, if there must be increment, it should be those who had contracted and had been treated and discharged. Issues of contacts and deaths should be decreased.

“The FRSC’s advice to motorists is to maintain social distancing by carrying one passenger in front and two at the back for saloon cars and two passengers on each seat for any other vehicle,’’ he said.

Wobin advised those who do morning exercises to practice social distancing as an essential way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

He noted that Coronavirus was not written on anyone’s forehead, adding a carrier could have strong immunity and might not show symptoms.

“There are some people that may be carriers till the whole pandemic goes down and they may not show any symptom.

“These are people who have strong immunity and they may not have symptoms within 14 days or one year. So, whoever is standing by you should be assumed as a carrier and adjust yourself immediately.

“Do your exercise at home. Stay at home, do not go out,” he said.

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President Buhari extends Lagos, Ogun, FCT lockdown by one week

President Muhammadu Buhari has again, addressed Nigerians on the efforts of its government to contain the coronavirus pandemic (covid-19) that is ravaging the country 4

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday extended the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the country’s capital city Abuja by a week.

“The lockdown in the FCT, Lagos & Ogun States shall subsist remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Saturday, 2nd May 2020 at 9 am,” Buhari said in his national broadcast.

The president after the expiration of the lockdowm, there will be a national “curfew from 8 pm to 6 am.”

“This means all movements are will be prohibited during this period except essential services,” he said.

He added that some selected businesses and offices will be allowed to open between 9 am to 6 pm daily, while there will be strict mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.

“Furthermore, the restrictions of on social and religious gathers shall remain in place,” Buhari said.

“State Governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.”

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