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FG to end $1bn annual expenditure on medical tourism



Joel Oladele-Abuja

The Federal government is set to end the one billion dollars annual expenditure on medical tourism. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed this while signing a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of government with the African Export and Import (AFRIEXIM) Bank for the establishment of the African Medical Centre of Excellence in Abuja.

The $300 million Medical Centre will cater mostly for unknown tropical diseases which the Minister said is on the increase because Africans have failed in research and development hence the project is a giant leap for Nigeria.

According to him, developed countries claimed to assist the less developed countries when in actual fact it is the other way round as the less developed countries have a greater number of experts especially Medical Doctors working abroad which in itself is technical assistance to those countries.  Speaking at the event, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, this is another testimony that Nigeria is concerned about the healthcare of its citizens.

He disclosed that already, the Federal Government had, in conjunction with the India government, begun an affordable Diagnostic Centre in Kano with state of the art laboratory equipment to cater for the needs of citizens.

“The Federal Government is partnering with many private sectors just to ensure that medical tourism is reduced to its minimum and also to make money from people who are coming from other parts of the world.

“So, honestly we can’t thank AFRIEXIM Bank enough for this historic occasion and the fact that this will be the first of its kind in Africa. I must say that this is not the only sector AFRIEXIM Bank has been helping to promote Nigeria, my sector , the creative industry, we have also engaged the bank in ensuring   that our digital switch over is a success.”

Earlier, the President of AFRIEXIM Bank, Professor Benedict Oramah, paid glowing tributes to President Muhammadu Buhari administration for accepting to be the host country for other African countries that would house the Medical Centre especially as no human development is possible without quality health care.

He said the Medical Centre which will be the first of its kind in the continent will promote international trade in Medical tourism in a full spectrum of services in various specialist areas and general healthcare services in addition to training, research and development.

“Once operational, the African Medical Centres of Excellence (AMCE), Abuja will: offer a full spectrum of medical services (diagnostics, inpatient and outpatient) in oncology, hematology, cardio-vascular and general healthcare services (including trauma and emergency services) as well as other essential services including training, residential, hospitality and retail.

“Provide research and development capabilities to ensure it remains at the leading edge in clinical services. A significant focus of the AMCE is to perform innovative and ground-breaking research, development and educational programs in partnership with leading global institutions in order to develop additional insights into diseases and treatment trends to improve the quality of care available in Nigeria and the West Africa region.”

Recall that President Buhari had performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project in December, 2021.

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Mixed reactions as accidental bomb kills, injures many in Kaduna community



…Air Force denies involvement

…Army has explained itself, claimed responsibility — Kaduna Govt

By Austine Emmanuel, Kaduna

Mixed reactions have trailed an accidental bombing of Tudun Biri village in Igabi local Government Area, (LGA) Kaduna state by the Nigerian Army on Monday.

As at the time of filing this report, Nigerian NewsDirect confirmed that over 80 persons were victims of the bombing.

While the Nigerian Air Force denied its involvement, later confirmation from official sources established the fact of the event.

The Overseeing Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, Samuel Aruwan In a press statement personally signed and made available to Journalists in Kaduna on Monday said the incident happened on Sunday night, while the Army was in a routine mission against terrorists in the area.

He explained that search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of injured victims have been evacuated to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the government.

“The Kaduna State Government has received briefings on Sunday night’s attack which left several citizens dead and others injured.

“In a meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, which had in attendance heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, the Nigerian Army explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack,” he said.

According to him, the General Officer Commanding One Division Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community.

“The Deputy Governor at the end of the closed door meeting, conveyed the condolences of the Government and People of Kaduna State to the families that lost their loved ones, and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls.

“As of the time of this update, search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of injured victims have been evacuated to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the Government.

“Heads of security agencies who attended the meeting include the Commissioner of Police, MY Garba, and Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) Abdul Eneche. The Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of Jam’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Professor Shafi’u Abdullahi, led other religious leaders.

“Also present at the meeting was the District of Rigasa, Alhaji Aminu Idris in whose domain the incident occurred,”  he said.

Earlier reports mentioned that scores of villagers in Tudun Biri in Igabi LGA of Kaduna State were killed after a bomb was allegedly dropped by a military jet during a Maulud celebration. No fewer than 30 residents were numbered to have been killed in the incident which took place around 9pm on Sunday.

Earlier, the Nigerian Air Force denied responsibility for the attack. According to a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF has not carried out any operations in Kaduna in the last 24 hours.

The statement read,  ”The news making the rounds alleging that Nigerian Air Force aircraft accidentally killed innocent civilians in Kaduna is false.

“Please be informed that the NAF has not carried out any air operations within Kaduna State and its environs in the last 24 hours.

“Also, note that the NAF is not the only organisation operating combat-armed drones in the Northwestern region of Nigeria.

“It is also important to ensure that due diligence is always exhausted by the media before going to press with unverified and unconfirmed reports.”

…Army’s wrong target regrettable — CAN

Reacting to the sad incident, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has commiserated with victims and families of those who lost their lives in the air strike.

In a press statement he personally signed and made available to journalists in Kaduna on Monday, the CAN Chairman, Kaduna state, Rev. John Joseph Hayab said that the wrong target by the Nigerian Army is not intentional and regrettable.

While encouraging Muslim Ummah and the good people of the Tudun Biri area to accept the ill-fated incident not as a deliberate act, but as an error that the Nigerian Army has acknowledged and showed regret, Hayab said that the incidence happened at a time when the security agencies and Nigerians alike are working tirelessly to ensure that “our society is free from criminal elements that go about killing, abducting, cattle rustling, and destroying property of innocent citizens.”

He said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kaduna State chapter is saddened by the sad news of a wrong target bombing carried out by the Nigerian Army which occurred in Tudun Biri, Igabi Local Government area of Kaduna State. The situation occurred when the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community leaving several citizens dead and many others injured.

“CAN wishes to commiserate with the Muslim Ummah as many of the affected were said to be celebrating the Maulud, which is an unfortunate incident.

“CAN sends its heart-warm condolences to the families who lost loved ones, the Tudun Biri community, and the good people of Igabi Local Government, the Emir of Zazzau, and the government of the state. While CAN prays for the repose of the souls of those who died in the incident, she prays for a speedy recovery for receiving treatment due to injuries sustained.

“The wrong target bombing is most unfortunate, especially as it comes at a time when the security agencies and Nigerians alike are working tirelessly to ensure that our society is free from criminal elements that go about killing, abducting, cattle rustling, and destroying property of innocent citizens.

“Therefore, CAN encourages the Muslim Ummah and the good people of the Tudun Biri area to accept the ill-fated incident not as a deliberate act but as an error that the Nigerian Army has acknowledged and shows regret. It is our prayer that such an unfortunate incident is not repeated in the future, whether in Kaduna state or any part of the country.

“CAN will continue to pray for the government at all levels and the security personnel that God Almighty will give them the wisdom and understanding to end insecurity and support the maintenance of peaceful coexistence so that citizens will go about their legitimate businesses.

“CAN calls on the security agencies not to relent in the fight against insurgency and prays that society will soon be freed from criminal elements in the country,” he said.

…Amnesty International condemns attack

In a statement the international body said it strongly condemns air strikes by the Nigerian Army launched on Tudun Biri village in Igabi LGA of Kaduna state.

“Over 120 civilians have been killed and dozens injured. Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard.

“The air strike on the village community while holding a religious gathering on Sunday 3 Dec. 2023 must be investigated. Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect.

“The airstrikes on Tudun Biri village are an unlawful and excessive force on a catastrophic scale. It is yet another tragic example where Nigeria’s armed forces are found applying deadly military tactics to law enforcement situations.

“On January 24, 2023, Nigerian military airstrikes killed over 40 civilians in Doma LGA of Nasarawa state,” the statement read.

…Reactions by Nigerians

A former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami speaking via his official X (formerly Twitter) handle said, “Around 150 innocent civilians, including women, children, & others, were bombed to death by our own army of the Federal Government in Kaduna today. Our heartfelt condolences to their families. Those behind it are to be brought to justice, as injustice anywhere is a threat to justice.”

Femi Fani Kayode reacting said, “150 innocent civilians, including women & children, bombed to death by their own Army in Kaduna today. This is horrendous. It is mass murder & genocide & those behind it must be brought to justice.”

@donkejo on X (formerly Twitter) said: “Randomly killing 30 villagers in Kaduna is crazier than taking Toke Makinwa and Randos to Dubai but guess which one we will continue to focus on. Civilians killed, no probe no accountability.”

“The unfortunate bombing of Kaduna villagers by the Nigerian Army last night has exposed one shocking detail, the Army operates armed UAVs (UCAV). This is totally wrong, only the Air Force should operate Armed drones and Army can have UAVs for only reconnaissance purposes. Shocking.”

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Sanwo-Olu signs trade agreement with Arabian Gulf Commerce Chamber



…Secures funding for waste conversion projects

Governor of Lagos state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sheikh Abdul Rahman Saif bin Saif Al Sharqi, chairman of Nigerian-Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (NAGCC), at JAFZA One Convention Centre in Dubai.

The agreement will facilitate, mutually undertake, explore trade and investment opportunities between Lagos and Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (GCC) member countries.

The MoU will also provide a structured platform for dialogue, collaboration and exchange of innovative ideas between the business communities of Lagos and Arabian GCC.

The Governor also revealed that two waste conversion initiatives, which the State pitched at the global climate summit, have attracted significant interest from investors. They are the Advanced Garbage Collection and Waste-to-Energy project, and building of a new Sewage Treatment Plant.

Speaking on Sunday, at an event held at th3 Nigeria Pavilion, where he also presented the Phase Two of the Lagos State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan (LCARP) before global partners, Sanwo-Olu said the two waste sector projects were at a pivotal stage, awaiting technical review by interested partners and disbursement of funds in order to transform the ideas to reality.

The development, the Governor said, marked another step forward in Lagos’ journey towards environmental sustainability and resilience, noting that the projects, if successfully delivered, would turn what had been a burden to opportunity for the State.

Sanwo-Olu said the investments represented his administration’s commitment to improve the lives of Lagosians and maintaining the status of the State as a beacon of progress.

He said, “Today marks a significant milestone in our journey towards sustainability and resilience. Two of our key initiatives, which are Advanced Garbage Collection and Waste-to-Energy project, and Sewage Treatment Plant, have attracted significant investment interest. These projects are currently at a pivotal stage; we are waiting on the investors to conduct technical analysis and put in the funds to turn the ideas into reality.

“Given that all cities face a collective threat of climate change, bringing about solutions requires collaboration and partnership. Our participation at COP28 has been driven by the cardinal objective to have direct engagements on sustainability with committed partners who can collaborate with us to create sustainable solutions to our local environmental challenges. The global climate budget is reserved for sustainable development and for all of us to take action in mitigating impacts of environmental pollution and climate change.”

Sanwo-Olu told the multilateral audience that the LCARP document was Lagos’ strategic roadmap towards a sustainable future. The resilience framework, he said, identified 30 ambitious projects, cutting across critical sectors including, transportation, renewable energy and waste management.

The Governor said the State required a long-tenure investment exceeding $10 billion to build not just the required mitigation infrastructure, but also adequate redundancy to ensure sustainability. He added that 14 of the 30 projects were ideal for Public-Private Partnership.

“As a committed Government with dedicated leadership, we are not taking actions on our own; we are in conversations to ensure that real partners get involved. We are ready to lead from the front. We have a clear strategy of what we need to do and how we are going to achieve our climate mitigation objectives. Lagos’ success on this journey would not just be the success of Nigeria, but also an African and global success story,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Hon. Tokunbo Wahab, said Lagos was desirous of environmental sustainability, because of the threat posed by observed rise in sea level and extreme temperatures.

The Commissioner pointed out that the LCARP document was the second of four planned frameworks designed by the State Government as a strategic response to climate change.

Wahab said, “If we fail to seek the required investment and build resilient infrastructure towards mitigating the consequences now, Lagos will be in need of $33 billion by 2050 to fight the threat. Our strategy involves tapping into a variety of blended financial sources.”

Managing Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, said Lagos faced escalating waste management issues, leading to flooding during extreme weather events.

Introduction of Waste-to-Energy plants, he said, would facilitate improved waste collection, treatment, while reducing land demand for landfills. The project, he said, will be sited in the Epe area of Lagos and it is expected to process 760-kilo tonnes of municipal solid waste per year.

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Tony Elumelu rallies global support for immediate climate action to support African youths at COP28



Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Mr Tony Elumelu rallied the support of global leaders at the COP28 holding in Dubai for immediate climate action to support the future of African youths.

At a series of events across COP28, Tony Elumelu delivered a single message to world leaders:  “Africa needs to be heard, Africa’s future is the world’s future and the continent that is most impacted by and the least contributor to climate change, needs our attention. With African youth set to make up one third of the global population later this century, the future of Africa’s youth, entrepreneurial, ambitious, resilient, needs to be given the highest priority.”

Elumelu offered the infrastructure and experience of his own Foundation’s 10 year $100 million entrepreneurship programme to partners, to catalyse a further generation of African entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs who can address climate change and drive the broader wealth creation that Africa requires.  Reaching and funding young entrepreneurs in every African country, the Elumelu approach of sector agnostic seed funding, mentoring, and networking has delivered a robust impact.

The annual COP UN Climate Change Conferences unites the world to assess progress in combating climate change. Elumelu is one of Africa’s leading advocates for an equitable agenda for climate action and through the Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered thousands of green entrepreneurs, shaping a more sustainable future for Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, in partnership with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), hosted a high-level session, bringing together Africans, and key players in the Gulf, Europe, and Americas, where UBA operates, underscoring the urgent need for innovative approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation, while fostering sustainable development, and bringing attention to Africa’s unique position.

Speakers included Dr. Okonjo Iweala, Director General, World Trade Organization; Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, Kevin Frey, CEO, UNICEF Generation Unlimited; Sergio Pimenta, VP Africa, IFC; Wendy Teleki, Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative, World Bank; Adam Wang-Levine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate; Joseph Nganga, Vice President, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, Rockefeller Foundation; Hassan Al Hashemi, VP International Relations, Dubai Chambers; Serge Ekué, Chairman, West African Development Bank (BOAD); Muyiwa Akinyemi, Deputy Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa; and Mattias Frumerie, Swedish Climate Ambassador and Head of Delegation, UNFCCC.

“Addressing climate change is the paramount challenge of our era.  The urgency is unmistakable,”  Elumelu stated,  “It is critical that Africa, as a continent, and African voices, play a key role in global climate conversations, as meaningful participants, and no longer as bystanders.”

“Africa is least responsible and is disproportionately impacted by climate change. I am investing in a generation of green entrepreneurs, and we are extending the hand of partnership, so that others can benefit and use the infrastructure and platform we have created to reach entrepreneurs across Africa.”

Elumelu represented the African private sector at the 2023 New Global Financing Pact in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum in London, at the invitation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom and U.S. President Biden.

At the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) launched a first-of-its-kind Green Entrepreneurship Programme, the #BeGreenAfrica Initiative, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, Dutch Government and UNICEF GenU, to support green entrepreneurship and youth development.

TEF Entrepreneur from Madagascar in the green economy, Marie-Christiana Kola, shared a compelling impact story.

She said, “As a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme, I was able to create a recycled and 100 percent biodegradable hand soap made with waste cooked oil – the number one water polluter of water in African urban cities.

“These soaps do not only protect the environment, but they are also solidarity soaps. I was also able to attend the COP27 conference in Egypt, where I won the Innovation Prize.  Today, I have employed over 30 people because of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”

Speaking at the TEF #COP28 high-level event, DG, World Trade Organisation stated, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, ”I am proud of what my brother, Tony Elumelu, has done in empowering and inspiring so many young entrepreneurs.  We have no choice; the future is green.  The future of growth is two things – it is green, and it must be inclusive. I am very interested in partnerships with organisations like TEF.”

Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, Ahunna Eziakonwa added, “The reason why UNDP associated itself with the Tony Elumelu Foundation years ago is because of the leadership and courage of the Foundation to trust and invest in young Africans.  It was one of the first organisation to do so at that scale.”

The Foundation partnered with the UNDP to empower thousands in the Sahel, with an ambitious project to impact the lives of one million young Africans.

VP, Africa at the IFC, Sergio Pimenta, also stated, “Tony, I salute you and your Foundation for what you have been doing to support young entrepreneurs in Africa. The IFC has deployed $2billion in funding for African SMEs in the last fiscal year and we are very excited to be able to do more, working with you.”

CEO UNICEF Generation Unlimited, Kevin Frey, added, “With TEF, we have moved in a concerted way into the entrepreneurial space. Generation Unlimited now has a flagship programme with the Tony Elumelu Foundation called #BeGreenAfrica, launched in Kenya, and now with the support of the IKEA Foundation and the Dutch Government, we have scaled to Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Senegal.

“We will train and seed 500 green entrepreneurs this year in the pilot project across those countries.  So Tony, thank you so much, you are right it is all about partnerships.”

Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative at the World Bank, Wendy Teleki,  announced, “Our women-focused initiative has been able to secure $3.6 billion to finance women entrepreneurs in 67 countries across the world, and is set to launch a new programme focused on financing African women entrepreneurs to drive the continent’s green energy transition, and we are keen to work with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”

Deputy GMD, United Bank for Africa, Muyiwa Akinyemi announced, “For us, UBA, we give market access into 20 geographies in Africa.  Everything that we do is around Africa, and that is why we have partnered with the Afrexim Bank to launch the $6billion fund for SMEs with a focus on import substitution, working in four key areas including climate emission reduction.”

Earlier, Tony Elumelu joined Ajay Banga, President of World Bank Group; Brian Moynihan, Chair of the Board and CEO of Bank of America; Ms. Ruth Porat, President, Alphabet and Google; and Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder & President of Emerson Collective as a panelist in a session titled “Big, Audacious and Green: A Convergence of Visionaries,” moderated by President of World Economic Forum, Børge Brende.

On Sunday, Mr. Tony Elumelu, also participated in a fireside conversation with Ms. Teresa Ribera, Vice President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Change, moderated by Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and with closing remarks from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalysing job creation in all 54 African countries, and ensuring inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has connected over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed nearly USD$100 million in direct funding to 18,000 African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Foundation’s mission is rooted in Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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