Idris Ahmed, Lafia
Nasarawa State Government has announced a five-year Hepatitis C elimination plan, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination goal of 2023, aimed at screening 2.4 million persons, as well as providing treatment for over 124, 000 others.
Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Governor of the state, disclosed this while inaugurating a Technical Working Group (TWG) to execute the plan, which held at the Government House, on Thursday.
The Governor further disclosed that, as a demonstration of the commitment of his administration to fight the viral disease, the state government has committed N40m as seed fund to combat the disease.
While commending the Clinton Health Access Initiative, (CHAI) development partners for the programme, for collaborating with the state government, Engineer Sule said the intervention has become necessary considering that viral hepatitis, among other communicable diseases, contribute greatly to the high mortality rates with estimated 1.3m deaths yearly across the globe.
Maintaining further that health is indeed wealth, the Governor underscored the determination of his administration to save lives and help people of the state live healthy lifestyles, stressing that the present administration is committed to building on the gains of the immediate past administration by working closely with other development partners, such as CHIA, in order to domesticate the national treatment guidelines and integrated innovative diagnostic technologies for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
“A study conducted in Nasarawa State, showed a sero-prevalence rate of 13.2 percent for Hepatitis C Virus, a figure significantly higher than the country’s average. This calls for great concern and immediate attention,” the Governor stated.
He urged members of the TWG to live aboard board in the fight against the disease, calling on development partners and other stakeholders in the health sector, both local and international to work in synergy with the TWG, in the collective determination to reduce the scourge of hepatitis C viral infection in the state.
Earlier, Deputy Country Director, CHIA, Mrs. Folu Lufadeju, commended the state government for empowering its citizens by reinforcing investment in the healthcare by addressing the issues of public health.
According to the country director, Hepatitis C is a growing public health burden, with over 325m persons are living with the disease, with the epidemic a growing concern.
She pointed out that while deaths due to HIV Aids is decreasing, deaths through hepatitis C is increasing.
Fortunately, she added, there is now effective and affordable tools for diagnosing and treating patients with hepatitis C that allows for simplification of care and decentralization of services, allowing for treatment of complicated cases of the disease.
In an opening remarks, Pharmacist Ahmed Baba Yahaya, State Commissioner of Health, who doubles as the chairman of the TWG, restated that Hepatitis C has been a great health burden across the world.
Yahaya disclosed that 9 per cent of deaths globally is caused by the disease, with Nigeria contributing almost 8.1 per cent of hepatitis B and 1.1 per cent of hepatitis C, with Nasarawa State having 13.2 prevalence rate, the highest in the country.
No Evidence Kwara LG Funds Were Diverted: Judicial Panel
Allegations that the Kwara State Government diverted or deducted N300m monthly from local government funds since May 2019 to date are null and void, panel of inquiry on the finance of the 16 local government areas has said.
The panel also said it found no evidence that the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration has borrowed to pay salary or pension since it was inaugurated on May 29, 2019.
“We want to state categorically that there is no evidence either oral or documentary to support the allegation of N300m monthly deduction from the local government funds by the state government. The allegation of such deductions is therefore baseless, unfounded and false,” its chairman retired Justice Mathew Adewara said late Wednesday when the panel submitted its report to the Governor.
AbdulRazaq had on August 11 inaugurated the panel to investigate the allegations of diversion of local government funds or borrowings from the bank to pay salaries of local government workers.
Justice Adewara said a total of 35 witnesses testified before the panel while several documents were produced and tendered by them. He said the panel also visited some of the local governments to see what projects they have done as had earlier been submitted by the director of personnel management (DPMs) who appeared before them.
The report of the panel meanwhile has found that the state government “does not deduct money from the SUBEB account while salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff are paid as and when due from May 29 to date”.
Adewara said the panel only received a memorandum from the Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD), adding however that the questions the civic group raised in its memo were “all based on incomplete information sourced from the internet and social media.
“Meanwhile, all the grey areas have been thoroughly thrashed out to the satisfaction of Mr Suleiman Oladimeji (of ENETSUD), having been confronted with the documents earlier submitted to the panel by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance.”
The report meanwhile confirmed that the last administration took two separate loans in the name of the local governments: N4bn and another N1.6bn.
“The past administration obtained a loan of N4bn from a commercial bank for payment of two months arrears of salaries of local government staff. It was this loan that the Local governments were repaying at monthly instalments of N317m. The loan of N4bn has been fully repaid in September 2019.
“There is another loan of N1.6bn also obtained by the past administration while the repayment of the loan is ongoing and will terminate in August 2022. It means therefore that the present administration inherited the obligation to repay the loan.”
The committee meanwhile urged the government to ensure “monthly publication of the total wage bill, IGR and expenditure at the state and Local government levels. This, we are sure, would guarantee accountability and transparency which will enrich the integrity of the government in the minds of the people; thereby preventing future reoccurrence of doubt, allegation of financial misappropriation emanating from the people against government.”
Justice Adewara commended the Governor for his boldness to direct a probe of his own administration — a development he asserted was new to the country.
“We commended Your Excellency’s courage to set up the panel to inquire into the finance of the local government from May 29 to date, which is the same as setting up a panel to investigate your administration,” he said.
The Governor, for his part, commended the panel for accepting to serve the state in such delicate capacity.
“We believe that the document you’re submitting will enrich us. I never authorised the deduction or diversion of any money and so nothing could have been so diverted,” he said.
“However, it was important to clear public doubt when allegations came that we were diverting some money. That was the essence of setting up the panel to see if there has been any anomaly as alleged. Your findings and recommendations will help us to strengthen the civil service both at state and local government levels, especially how funds are spent and managed.
“We campaigned on not interfering with local government finances and since we came in we have not done so. If anybody has done so it was without my knowledge. The local governments do not need my approval to spend any money. The main interface between the state and local governments is when the commissioner of finance and planning goes to Abuja for FAAC meetings, comes back and meets with the local governments that this is what we got for you from Abuja. That’s where it ends.
“Truly, we appreciate what you have done. We will go through your recommendations properly and implement them. Just as we set up this panel, the state house of assembly set up their own and I also invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to come in and investigate the issues. That is ongoing. I thank you for your time.”
The eight-member panel comprised people drawn from various walks of life, including retired Justice Adewara (chairman); Mrs Halimah Bello (DSS); Mrs Titilayo Adedeji (CSOs); Barrister Aisha Bello Mohammed (NBA); DSP Adekunle Iwalaiye (police); Mohammed Baba Ibrahim (ICAN); Alhaja Asmau Apalando (NLC); and Barrister S.K Grillo (Secretary).
Mob Attacks Fed. MOW, Fire Service Over Failure To Quench Fire In Kogi.
By Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
Angry mob early morning on Saturday attacked the Federal Ministry of Works and the Federal Fire Service over failure to quench fire that engulfed the multi billion naira ‘P — LINK’, an electrical and electronics super store in Lokoja, Kogi state capital.
The super store located on the popular IBB road in the state capital is alleged to have gutted fire following intermittent power outages at about 10.30 pm and continued to burn till the next day , despite efforts of sympathisers and volunteers.
Irked by the absence of fire fighters from both the state and federal fire fighters, some youth constituted themselves in to a mob and launched an attack on the Federal Ministry of Works situated directly opposite the scene of the inferno.
Both the Federal Ministry of Works and Fire Service which happen to be in the same premises were vandalised and property worth millions of naira including office equipments were allegedly destroyed.
The mob was also alleged to have uprooted the pole hoisting the national flag and went ahead to shatter the window pales of the mosque in the federal ministry’s Lokoja office.
All efforts to reach the Kogi state Commissioner of works, Engineer Abubakar Ohere, or other relevant officials of state ministry of works to comment on the incident and the alleged failure to discharge their responsibility and raid on the federal Ministry of works tailed as all phone calls were not answered.
However, officials of the federal ministry of works and fire service have confirmed the attack and vandalization of their facilities by the suspected mob, whom, they alleged acted in ignorance.
The officials who spoke under conditions of anonymity, said normally the federal fire service in the state is to compliment the state fire service, but was handicapped due to breakdown of its machines.
“It is true that irate mob attacked the federal fire service in Lokoja over the fire incident that raised down the P-Link super store, but it is on record that the federal fire service has always performed its duties, until when our vehicle got damaged due to an accident in the course of duty and has been taken to Abuja for repairs. This office should not take blame for the unfortunate incident”, the official stated.
The owner of the mall, Mr Peter Ojuneme, who expressed shock over the unfortunate incident, thanked the people of Lokoja and the Kogi state as a whole for their support, sympathy and encouragement, calling on relevant agencies to investigate the cause of the inferno to avert future occurrence, not only to him, but others.
Bauchi State Govt. Debunks Online Newspaper Publication Over Sacking Of Head of Service, Says Reports Mischievous
By Yahaya Idris, Bauchi.
A Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Bauchi State, Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, had denied an online Newspaper Publication allegedly stating that Governor Bala Mohammed has “sacked” Alh Ahmed Abubakar Ma’aji, as Bauchi State Head of Civil Service.
According to the statement: “For the avoidance of doubt and in order to put the records straight, it is imperative to clarify that at no time did His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed sack the immediate past Head of Civil Service. Alh Ahmed Abubakar Ma’aji, rather has reached the normal retirement age on Friday 25th September, 2020 haven meritoriously served the State for 35 year”.
“The news report is therefore a misrepresentation of the press release earlier issued conveying the appointment of the Acting Head of Civil Service Dr Bala M Lukshi .
The Governor’s Media Aide call on media practitioners to always cross check their facts before going to press for proper and effective information dissemination. He stated.
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