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Lagos state to introduce flexible work schedule for civil servants

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By Sodiq Adelakun

The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has announced an upcoming shift to a flexible workweek for state government employees.

During a media chat on Thursday, the governor revealed plans that will enable civil servants from level 1 to 14 to work from their offices for just three days a week.

The innovative policy is set to take effect from next week and is designed to create a more adaptable and efficient work environment. It marks a significant change in the traditional work culture, particularly within the Nigerian public sector.

Under the new system, higher-level employees, from levels 15 to 17, will be required to be in the office for four days a week.

Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism that the new work arrangement would lead to multiple benefits, including easing the notorious traffic congestion in Nigeria’s economic capital, reducing commuting expenses for employees, and fostering a less stressful office atmosphere.

The state government’s strategy reflects a progressive stance on work-life balance and is expected to enhance productivity and job satisfaction among Lagos State’s civil servants.

“It will be calendarised and scheduled,” the Governor assured, emphasizing that the new schedule would not lead to a shutdown of government operations but rather a more efficient allocation of workdays.

This policy is part of the Lagos State Government’s broader commitment to implementing forward-thinking work practices that respond to the evolving needs of its workforce and the city’s infrastructure.

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Nigeria first to introduce new 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis – WHO

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Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine – Men5CV – recommended by World Health Organisation(WHO), to protect people against meningitis.

The world health body, in a statement on Friday, said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of meningococcus bacteria, and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries of Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted  that in 2023, there was a 50 per cent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of 36 Nigerian state, between October 2023 and March 2024.

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on 25–28 March 2024 to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis was a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges), that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens.

“Symptoms often include headache, fever and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious, and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

“This is especially important for countries like Nigeria where multiple serogroups are prevalent.

“The new vaccine uses the same technology as the meningitis A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac®), which wiped out meningococcal A epidemics in Nigeria,” the WHO boss said.

The statement quoted Prof. Muhammad Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, as saying that Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe, were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis.

“This vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak and also put the country on a path to elimination,” Pate said.

According to him, Nigeria has done a lot of work preparing health workers and the health system for the rollout of the new vaccine.

“We got an invaluable support from our populations in spite of the fasting period, and from our community leaders, especially the Emir of Gumel in Jigawa, who personally launched the vaccination campaign in the state.

“We’ll be monitoring progress closely and hopefully expand the immunisation in the coming months and years to accelerate progress,” he said.

The minister said that the new multivalent conjugate vaccine took 13 years of efforts and was based on a partnership between PATH and the Serum Institute of India.

“Financing from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was critical to its development,” he said.

Pate said that in July 2023, WHO prequalified the new Men5CV vaccine (which has brand name MenFive®), and in October 2023 issued an official recommendation to countries to introduce the new vaccine.

According to him, Gavi allocated resources for the Men5CV rollout in December 2023, which is currently available for outbreak response through the emergency stockpile managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG),  on Vaccine Provision.

He added that the roll-out, through mass preventive campaigns, was expected to start in 2025 across countries of the Meningitis Belt.

Mr Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister for Development and Africa, was also quoted as saying that the rollout of one million vaccines in northern Nigeria would help save lives, prevent long-term illness and boost the goal of defeating meningitis globally by 2030.

“This is exactly the kind of scientific innovation, supported by the UK, which I hope is replicated in years to come, to help us drive further breakthroughs, including wiping out other diseases,” Mitchell said.

He said that WHO has been supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), in responding to the meningitis outbreak in the country.

According to him, the areas of support include disease surveillance, active case finding, sample testing and case management.

“WHO and partners have also played a vital role in supporting Nigeria to prepare for the rollout of the new vaccine and training health workers,” he said.

Dr Nanthalile Mugala, PATH’s Chief of Africa Region, was also quoted as saying that meningococcal meningitis had tormented countries across Africa, year after year.

“The introduction of MenFive® in Nigeria heralds a transformative era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

“Building on the legacy of previous vaccination efforts, this milestone reflects over a decade of unwavering, innovative partnerships.

“The promise of MenFive® lies not just in its immediate impact but in the countless lives it stands to protect in the years to come, moving us closer to a future free from the threat of this disease,” Mugala said.

According to her, in 2019, WHO and partners launched the global roadmap to defeating meningitis by 2030.

“The roadmap sets a comprehensive vision towards a world free of meningitis, and has three goals including the elimination of bacterial meningitis epidemics.

Another goal is the reduction of cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 per cent and deaths by 70 per cent, as well as the reduction of disability and improvement of quality of life after meningitis, due to any cause.

Ms Aurélia Nguyen, Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was also quoted as saying that with outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive® were critical in helping the fight back.

She said that Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpile as well as vaccine rollout in lower-income countries.

“This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) programme which, with the required donor funding for our next five years of work, will see pentavalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines rolled out in high-risk countries.

“Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa, now we have a tool to respond to other serogroups that still cause large outbreaks resulting in long-term disability and deaths,” Nguyen said.

According to her, following Nigeria’s meningitis vaccine campaign, a major milestone on the road to defeat meningitis is the international summit on meningitis taking place in Paris in April 2024, where leaders will  celebrate progress, identify challenges and assess next steps.

“It is also an opportunity for country leaders and key partners to commit, politically and financially, to accelerate progress towards eliminating meningitis as a public health problem by 2030,” she said.

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Georgieva to serve second term as IMF Managing Director

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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has selected Kristalina Georgieva to serve as IMF Managing Director for a second five-year term starting on Oct. 1, 2024.

In a statement issued by the IMF Press Centre on Saturday, it said that the board’s decision was taken by consensus.

The statement said in line with the selection process it had established on March 13, 2024, the board held several discussions, including with Georgieva, the sole candidate nominated for the position, before making its decision.

It said in a follow-up of the meeting held, the Coordinators of the Executive Board, Mr Afonso Bevilaqua, and Mr Abdullah BinZarah, made the following statement:

“In taking this decision, the Board commended Ms Georgieva’s strong and agile leadership during her term, navigating a series of major global shocks.

“ Ms Georgieva led the IMF’s unprecedented response to these shocks, including the approval of more than 360 billion dollars in new financing since the start of the pandemic for 97 countries.

“Also, debt service relief to the fund’s poorest, most vulnerable members, and a historic Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation equivalent to 650 billion dollars”.

The coordinators said under Georgieva’s leadership, the fund introduced innovative new financing facilities, including the Resilience and Sustainability Facility and the Food Shock Window.

“It replenished the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, with the capacity to mobilise concessional loans to its poorest members, and co-created the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable.

“ It also secured a 50 per cent quota increase to bolster the fund’s permanent resources and agreed to add a third Sub-Saharan African chair to the IMF Board.

“Looking ahead, the board welcomes Ms. Georgieva’s ongoing emphasis on issues of macroeconomic and financial stability, while also ensuring that the fund continues to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of its entire membership.

‘It recognises her focus on strengthening the fund’s support to its members through effective policy advice, capacity development, and financing.

“The board looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Managing Director.”

In her response issued in a statement, Georgiana said she was deeply grateful for the trust and support of the fund’s Executive Board, representing the fund’s 190 members.

She added that she was honored to continue to lead the IMF as Managing Director for a second five-year term.

“In recent years, the IMF has helped our member countries to navigate successive shocks, including the pandemic, war and conflicts, and a cost-of-living crisis.

“ We also stepped up our work on climate change, fragility and conflict, and the digital transition, in line with their increased significance for macroeconomic and financial stability, growth and employment”.

Georgieva said the IMF’s financial support, policy advice, and capacity development work delivered by its exceptional staff had contributed to countries’ capacity to deal with high uncertainty and abrupt shifts in economic conditions.

“ We are and will remain a transmission line of good policies for our members.

“We will also continue to strive to be more effective, incisive, and a welcoming place for countries to come together to tackle global challenges.

“I look forward to continue serving our membership, together with the highly professional and committed staff of the IMF,” she said.

Georgieva, a national of Bulgaria, has been the IMF’s Managing Director since 2019. Previously she served as Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank from January 2017.

From February 1, 2019, to April 8, 2019, she was the Interim President of the World Bank Group.

She previously served at the European Commission as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and as Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources.

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Fleeing Binance Executive, Anjarwalla found as Nigerian govt commences extradition

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Nigerian government says Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped custody in Nigeria, has been found in Kenya.

A source in the presidency, who preferred anonymity, confirmed the development as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

“We know where he is. He is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria”, the source said.

The EFCC chairman, Ola Olukuyede, last month, in a statement, stressed that the commission is collaborating with INTERPOL, the US, UK, Northern Ireland and Kenyan authorities to extradite Anjarwalla, who has been on the run.

The commission had instituted five-count charges bordering on tax evasion, currency speculation and money laundering against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, the firm’s executives.

EFCC arraigned Binance and the two executives on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Recall that Anjarwalla escaped from custody on March 22 and has been at large since then.

Meanwhile, the government confirmed that EFCC had fully taken over the case of Binance from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

For months, the Nigerian government sustained its crackdown on Binance over its role in manipulating the country’s Foreign exchange market.

During the 293rd meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, in February, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, had said that more than $26 billion had been funnelled through Binance without a trace.

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