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Buhari names Dangote as Chairman of National End Malaria Council

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…As Dangote pledges private sector support

Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has been named the pioneer Chair of the National End Malaria Council (NMEC), a body established by President Muhammadu Buhari to eliminate the scourge of malaria in the country. The National End Malaria Council (NMEC) was inaugurated by the President at a well-attended event in the Presidential Banquet Hall, Aso-Rock Villa, Abuja yesterday.

Dangote, who accepted the responsibility of chairing the Council, said the new function was in tandem with his current roles as the Nigerian Ambassador for Malaria, his role on the Global End Malaria Council, and with the work that his Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation is doing to mobilise the private sector to support malaria control in Nigeria in particular, and Africa at large.

While inaugurating the 16-member Council, President Buhari projected that the successful implementation of the Council’s agenda and savings from the estimated economic burden of the disease would save Nigeria about N687 billion in 2022 and N2 trillion by 2030.

The President told the Council that beyond improving the quality of life, health and well-being of Nigerians, the concerted strategy to tackle malaria had both public health as well as socio-economic benefits for Nigeria.

“Our inauguration today will therefore ensure that malaria elimination remains a priority on our agenda, with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels. Additionally, the End Malaria Council will provide a platform to advocate for more funding to protect and sustain progress made so far by our country, and put us on a pathway to ending malaria for good,” the President said.

Expressing concern that the age-long disease had remained a major public health challenge in Nigeria, the President cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2021, showing that Nigeria alone accounts for 27 per cent of all cases of malaria and 32 per cent of deaths globally.

On his choice of Dangote to chair the Council, Buhari explained that it was in recognition of the track record and passion of Africa’s richest man in supporting initiatives on various health issues such as polio and primary health care system strengthening.

He expressed confidence that Dangote would bring his outstanding achievements to help the country achieve its goal of malaria elimination, adding that a group of eminent personalities, who have also made their mark across all walks of life, have been selected to work in the Council. He added that the membership of the Council reflects Government’s commitment to significantly reducing the malaria burden in Nigeria, to a level where it is no longer a public health issue.

President Buhari also thanked the Chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, the Executive Secretary of ALMA, RBM Partnership in Nigeria for their continuous support to the Federal Ministry of Health and the malaria programme, in particular. He also acknowledged the contributions of the Global Fund, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the President’s Malaria Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, UNICEF, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, other implementing partners, and the private sector.

In his acceptance speech, Dangote thanked the President and all members of the Council for entrusting him with the enormous responsibility, pledging to work hard to achieve the mandate.

“I must confess that this resonates with my current role as the Nigerian Ambassador for Malaria, my role on the Global End Malaria Council and with the work that my Foundation is doing to mobilise the private sector to support malaria control in Nigeria and Africa at large,” he said.

“It is with humility that I today accept the responsibility to be the Chair of the National Malaria Elimination Council. I am also grateful to the Minister, Federal Ministry of Health for nominating me to serve in this capacity. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the members of the Council for entrusting me with an enormous responsibility which I pledge to fulfil.

“In 2016, Aliko Dangote Foundation supported the development of a Private Sector Engagement Strategy for Malaria Elimination in Nigeria. The document highlighted private sector support in the fight against malaria as well as a strategy for private sector engagement and steps for implementation. In fulfilling our longstanding commitment/investment to end malaria, my Foundation will continue to support all efforts at mobilising all sectors to end malaria in Nigeria and Africa at large,” Dangote added.

Speaking on behalf of the Council members, Dangote said, “Together we will work hard to ensure that malaria elimination remains high on Nigeria’s agenda with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels. We will advocate at the National and State levels to ensure sufficient funding for malaria elimination. The Council under my watch will drive progress toward malaria elimination by focusing on two key areas: Ensure that malaria elimination remains high on Nigeria agenda with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels; and advocate at all levels to ensure sufficient funding to protect the progress made so far, sustain the progress, and be on an irreversible pathway to ending malaria for good.”

In separate remarks, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama Nkama, said since 2010, Nigeria has been recording a continuous decline in malaria from 42 per cent in 2010, 27 per cent in 2015 to 23 per cent in 2018.

Quoting figures from the 2010 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey and the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, they attributed the decline to the thorough implementation of the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP). Both ministers, however, admitted that funding gap has impacted the implementation of the malaria programmes in Nigeria, adding that the country needs N1.89 trillion to reduce malaria prevalence and mortality by 2025.

The Council members are: Shehu Ibrahim, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President on Political and Economic Affairs, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Sen. Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Hon. Abubakar Dahiru, Chairman, House Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria, Dr. Ehanire, Hon. Ekumankama, Mahmuda Mamman, Permanent Secretary, Federal Minister of Health.

Others include Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Board of Directors, UBA, Folorunsho Alakija, CEO, Rose of Sharon Group, Herbert Wigwe, CEO, Access Bank, Femi Otedola, CEO Forte Oil, Hajiya Lami Lau, President, National Council of Women Societies, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Alhaja Rafiyat Sanni, National Amira, Federation of Muslim Women Nigeria (FOWAN) and Dr. Perpetua Uhomoibhi, NEMC Secretariat/National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP).

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 627,000 in 2020.

The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2020 the Region was home to 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of deaths. Children under 5 years of age accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the Region.

Four African countries accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (31.9%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13.2%), United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%) and Mozambique (3.8%).

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Court adjourns suits seeking to stop Secondus, Omehia from PDP NEC, BoT meetings

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, fixed April 16 for hearing of a suit seeking to stop former Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, from participating in the party’s meetings.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a short ruling, also fixed the date in a separate suit filed to bar sacked Rivers Governor, Celestine Omehia, from attending the PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

Titus Jones, a member of the PDP at Ward 5, Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, had filed a suit marked marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/440/2024.

In the suit, Secondus; PDP; acting PDP Chairman, Umar Damagun; PDP Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu; PDP NEC; PDP National Working Committee (NWC); PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are 1st to 8th defendants respectively.

Jones, through his counsel, Joshua Musa, SAN, had sought an order restraining the NEC, NWC, party’s chairman, secretary, and BoT from allowing Secondus to attend any of the meetings pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice, having been suspended from the party.

Also in another suit filed by Precious Wobisike, a member of PDP at Ubima Ward 8, Ikwerre LGA, Omehia, PDP, Damagun, Anyanwu, NEC and INEC as 1st to 6th defendants respectively.

In the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/436/24, Wobisike, also through Musa, sought an order of Injunction restraining Omehia from demanding from Anyanwu, the party’s secretary, any notice of meetings of the NEC.

He also sought an order of injunction restraining Omehia from attending any NEC meeting of the party or participating in the proceedings/deliberations of such meetings in any manner howsoever.

Besides, Wobisike sought an order of injunction restraining Anyanwu from giving notice of meetings of the NEC to Omehia, “not being a former Governor of Rivers State as to be a member of the National Executive Committee.”

He equally sought an order restraining INEC from according recognition to the reports, proceedings, conclusions or resolutions reached at any NEC meeting attended by Omehia.

This, he said, is in violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of AMAECHI v. INEC (2008) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1080) p. 227, the judgment of the High Court of Rivers in the case of Sir Celestine Omehia v. The Governor of Rivers  & 2 Ors – Suit No: PHC/3317/CS/2022 and Article 31(1)(w) of the Constitution of PDP (2017 as amended).”

NAN observes that Justice Ekwo had, on April 5, granted the motions ex-parte moved by Musa on behalf of Jones and Wobisike restraining Secondus and Omehia from participating in the party’s meetings pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matters.

The judge, who ordered that the processes be served on the respondents within five days, fixed the matter for today for motion on notice.

When the first matter was called, Musa, who appeared for Wobisike, told the court that the ex-parte order had been served on the defendants.

He said the matter was fixed for hearing of the motion on notice.

However, Ibrahim Mark, who represented Omehia, told the court that they were served on Monday and due to the public holiday, they were yet to regularise their processes.

He sought an adjournment to enable them regularise their court documents.

M. S. Atolagbe, who appeared for 2nd to 5th defendants, aligned with Mark’s submission, and Musa did not oppose the application for adjournment.

Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned the matter until April 16 for hearing.

The judge equally fixed the sister case against Secondus to April 16 for hearing.

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Price crash: Dangote Refinery diesel will reduce Nigeria’s inflation — Aliko Dangote

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President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has revealed how diesel obtained from the Dangote Refinery can reduce Nigeria’s inflation rate.

Nigeria’s inflation rate reached 31.70 percent in February 2024, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with food inflation at 37.92 percent – a 27yr high. The country’s inflation rate has been on the rise since January 2023.

Similarly, the fluctuating exchange rate of the dollar to naira has been pushing the prices of commodities and services. However, with the gradual gains recorded by the Naira over the past weeks, economic experts predict a gradual fall in the price of goods and prices with some manufacturers like Dufil Prima (makers of Indomie), airlines already crashing their prices.

The price of Diesel had also been affected in recent times by the exchange with the cost per litre rising to over N1,700.

Responding to this hike, Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has urged Nigerians to expect a drop in inflation given the reduction of diesel pump prices.

Speaking on Wednesday during a chat with journalists after he paid Eid-el-Fitr homage to President Bola Tinubu at his Lagos residence.

“I believe that we are on the right track. I believe Nigerians have been patient and I also believe that a lot of goodies will now come through. There’s quite a lot of improvement because if you look at it, one of the major issues that we’ve had was the naira devaluation that has gone very aggressively up to about N1,900.

“But right now, we’re back to almost N1,250, N1,300, which is a good reprieve. Quite a lot of commodities went up. When you go to the market, for example, something that we produce locally like flour, people will charge you more. Why? Because they’re paying very high diesel prices.

“Now, in our refinery, we started selling diesel at about N1,200 instead of N1,650 and I’m sure as we go along, things will continue to improve quite a lot,” Dangote said.

Speaking further, he said, “If you look at it now, when you are buying N1,650 or N1,700 for a litre of diesel, and that one has been cut off by almost two-thirds, you are now paying N1,200 for diesel.

“Maybe, going forward, even though the crude prices are going up, I believe people will not get it much higher than what it is today, N1,200. It might be even a little bit lower, but that can help quite a lot because if you are transporting locally-produced goods and you were paying N1,650, now you are paying two-thirds of that amount, N1,200. It’s a lot of difference. People don’t know.

“This can help to bring inflation down immediately. And I’m sure when the inflation figures are out for the next month, you’ll see that there’s quite a lot of improvement in the inflation rate. So a step at a time. And I’m sure the government is working around the clock to make sure that things get much better because it is in the interest of everybody that things get better.

Recall that marketers had earlier confirmed that the Dangote Refinery had commenced the sale of Diesel and that the product was dispensed to marketers at between N1,225/litre and N1,300/litre depending on the volume of purchase.

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Lagos-Calabar Coastal road to be completed in Tinubu’s tenure — Works Minister

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The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi has noted that the Lagos-Calabar Coastal road will be completed in President Tinubu’s tenure.

While fielding questions about the project on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief, Umahi said, “We are looking at eight years in the life tenure of Mr President [Bola Tinubu].”

The Minister said each kilometre of the coastal road would cost N4 billion but said the government’s prudence made that possible.

“You know, there are other projects not awarded by me that are also going for about N4 billion per kilometre,” the former lawmaker explained.

“So, I will pride myself, to the glory of God, that this project is the most prudent project that I’m starting. Other projects I made, we are reviewing, we are fighting, and we’re trying to review, the cost,” he said.

Umahi, however, said the cost is a tentative one.

“Well, I cannot sign my signature on that because it can come down, it can go up,” the minister said.

But there are plans to recoup the money via tolling, according to the minister.

“Let me leave out the infrastructure along the corridor. Let me just concentrate on the tolls and I put 50,000 vehicles as an average passage on these toll points per day,” Umahi said on the breakfast show.

“I put N3,000 as an average cost. N3,000 because the cars could be like N1,500, and the big trucks could be like N5,000,” he said. “So, we put an average.”

“In 15 years, you make back the money,” he said, dismissing calls that the cost budgeted for the road was high.

He explained further that there will be security at the toll gates and also some facilities like filling stations.

“At every point of tolling, we also have toll station where we have a kind of relief activities: the restaurants, filling stations, parking lots, and so on and so forth,” Umahi said.

“So, people will now have confidence. In these sections, we intend to put CCTV all through.”

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