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21 Jan

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun says Nigeria's present economic downturn could be an act of God to remind Nigeria on the need to implement and embrace radical change, particularly in the country's current economic model.‎

Odigie-Oyegun made the disclosure when he received in audience a 15-member delegation of an APC support group, Change Agents Foundation (CAF) led by its Director-General, Dr. Felix Felix at the party's National Secretariat in Abuja.

"I think God has a hand in the current economic predicament of the country. Imagine the sudden fall in the price of crude oil, the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, from its heights in 2014, averaging $112 per barrel down to the current price of $28 per barrel -- lower than the $38 per barrel which the proposed 2016 budget is predicated on. It is an object lesson for us. It tells us that we must embrace radical change in our economic model." Odigie-Oyegun said.

He said the drop in oil price has taken its toll on the revenue and expenditure of the Federal Government and as a result is having a severe effect on the economy.

Odigie-Oyegun: "The concept of change is a difficult one. Nigeria must be ready to adapt to new ways of doing things. As a party, we know and understand it calls for tremendous sacrifice, there is no other way. Yes the economy is in a bad shape, but maybe that is the kick we need to be innovative and find ways to drive the economy out of the woods.

"The luck we have is that we have as president a man committed to personal probity and sincerity of purpose to the project of developing Nigeria. Today, we must think and be innovative in ways of fashioning out new economic models which diversifies from the present over reliance on oil.

"We are in the process of organising a three-day dialogue which will bring the party, government and stakeholders for an exposition on the realities facing the country, particular the economy.  It will provide an opportunity to exchange ideas so that we go home with a clear direction on how to go forward."

Also speaking at the meeting, the Director-General, Change Agents Foundation (CAF), Dr. Felix Felix congratulated the APC National. Chairman for leading the APC to victory at the last presidential election which ushered in the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He said: "We are here to identify with you in this success and to say that while achieving success is a difficult thing, sustaining success is even more difficult. It is this realisation that prompted our coming together to form the Change Agents Foundation."

The Director-General said the fight against corruption being waged by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is already yielding results.

"Our party promised Nigerians Change and this change Nigerians have already started experiencing through the unprecedented simplicity and transparency our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has brought to governance of Nigeria. The fight against corruption has already started yielding results as looted public funds are being exposed and returned while everybody occupying public office today is conscious of his actions knowing that there would be consequences for any inaction or wrong action." Dr. Felix said.

The Director-General of Change Agents Foundation requested the National Secretariat of the APC to register the organisation to enable it contribute it's quota towards efforts to deliver on the Change Mantra and objectives of the APC.

The 15-member delegation included: Dr. Felix Felix; Henry Odili, Engr. Paul Iheayichukwu; Philip Chikwe; Amb. Tony Anucha; Amb. Alban Paulinus; Eze Emeghara; Amb. Prince Uzoka Emeka; Hon. Tubonemi Aggo; Engr. Iroigak Ikann; Iyke Oginah; Chigbo Eligwe; Awu Pereowei Kelvin; Comrade George Jeremiah Oba and Graham Waribo (Secretary-General).

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21 Jan

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dangote Foundation, as well as the USAID on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with six states in the North to promote routine immunisation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governors of Kaduna State, Sokoto State, Yobe, Borno, Kano and Bauchi States signed for their states, while Bill Gate, Aliko Dangote and the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, signed for their organisations.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the occasion, which was held in Kaduna, was to strengthen routine immunisation in Nigeria and end vaccine-preventable deaths of children. 

Ehanire said ``the initiative is in line with Federal Government’s priority in Public Private Partnerships in improving routine immunisation which was critical to improving primary healthcare in the country.

He pledged Federal Government’s determination to ensure that vaccines were made available at all times across the country. 

The Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Ado Mohammed, appreciated the partnership with the foundations in the past, saying it had helped to save millions of children in the country. 

He said ``our partnership over the years had successfully assisted in decreasing child mortality by fully introducing vaccines which helped to save 50 per cent deaths in the country.’’

He identified weak data management and human resource availability as some of the challenges that needed to be tackled in order to strengthen the exercise. 

In his remarks, Entwistle said the partnership was aimed at ending vaccine-preventable child death in Nigeria.

He explained that ``under this partnership, we are helping to increase and sustain high immunisation coverage. 

``This occasion demonstrates the willingness and commitment of the governors and organisations to tackle the challenges to achieving the goal.’’

According to him, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s contributions in the areas of health and agriculture have yielded concrete results in Nigeria. 

He noted that ``in the area of polio, the Foundation provided invaluable guidance and constant oversight as Nigeria pushes to rid the land of this disease.’’

He said that ``each year, we provide more than 600 million U.S. dollars to address serious health issues such as child mortality, maternal and newborn health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Nigeria.

``Our ultimate goal is to end preventable child and maternal death and to achieve an AIDS-free generation.’’

Entwistle noted that the MoU would further offer a platform predicated on evidence-based approach, adding that the results would include stronger systems for immunisations and equal access to routine immunisation services.

In his remarks, Dangote urged the federal and state governments to take ownership of the immunisation services to enhance access and facilitate quick results.

He said ``as you have done for polio, I encourage you to visit a health centre every month for supportive supervision role.’’

He challenged traditional rulers to take a leadership role in ensuring that every child in their communities was immunised .

In their separate remarks, the governors of Bauchi and Kano, Mohammed Abubakar and Abdullahi Ganduje respectively, pledged their commitment to sustaining the progress made so far in saving the lives of children through routine immunisation.

Abubakar said his administration had set aside 16 per cent of its 2016 budget for healthcare, in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration.

He said the administration had launched free medical care services for children under five and pregnant women.

The governor pledged to strengthen primary healthcare, routine immunisation and reproductive health services.

``We will offer motivation and re-training of front line health workers for quality service delivery.

``We are devoted to fulfilling our financial contribution up to 50 per cent in the first quarter and the rest will follow immediately.’’

On his part, Gov. Ganduje of Kano State said previous partnerships with the foundations had helped in offering sustainable services to mothers and children in the state.

(NAN)

Photo Credit: Premium Times

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