Thursday, August 25, 2016

Video - U.S. pledges more military aid to help fight Boko Haram

The fight against Boko Haram has topped the agenda in talks between Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and US Secretary of State John Kerry. They met on Tuesday at Buhari's residence in Abuja.

Video - Nigeria's Ogun state turns to industrialization and agriculture

Falling global crude oil prices and a depreciating currency have devastated the Nigerian economy. It recently slipped into a recession and economists predict that it could get worse in the coming months. It's prompted the government to look into diversifying the economy.

Nigeria's first light rail ready for inauguration

The multi-billion Naira Calabar Light rail project, the first in Nigeria, would soon be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The 12-car monorail system, when fully operational, would use an Intamin P8 electric powered passenger shuttle train to convey passengers from Tinapa Resort, across Lake Tinapa to Calabar International Conference Centre (CICC).

The monorail would also allow access to Studio Tinapa, Tinapa Shopping Centre and Tinapa waterpark as well as provide a quick alternative access to Summit Hills.

Each car is primed for seven to eight passengers all seated, while the train’s length, width and height are approximately 38, 1.95 and 2.2 metres, respectively.

Gov. Ben Ayade had recently told journalists in Calabar that Buhari would inaugurate the train to mark his first year in office.

Mr Mba Mba, the station’s Electrical Engineer, said the light rail project was completed in December last year.

“Right now, the Calabar Monorail is ready for use pending inauguration by appropriate authorities.

“We have test-run the system and confirmed its readiness. Gov. Ben Ayade was here with his team to see for himself what is on ground.

“Tourists troop here on daily basis to take a ride. But they were disappointed as they were turned back.

The light rail project has three stations, Tinapa, Tinapa Lakeside Hotel and the Calabar International Conference Centre.

Nigerian banks are being barred from forex trading

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has suspended nine banks in the country from the inter-bank foreign exchange market due to a failure to remit government income to the government’s coffers, according to reports. The affected banks collectively failed to remit a total of $2.3 billion in deposits belonging to the national oil and gas firms.

Over the past year, under president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s apex bank has taken a tougher stance on having banks remit government revenue, imposing strict deadlines and a new remitting system. While government agencies and ministries previously maintained multiple accounts at local banks, president Buhari instituted a Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure that all government funds were pooled. This was to instill more accountability in monitoring government revenue and to eliminate opacity in government.

In addition to the ban, the affected banks may also be fined. But the banks have blamed the inability to remit the funds on the scarcity of dollars in Nigeria for most of the past year. That scarcity has remained despite a recent full currency float. In a bid to avoid a sharp currency slide following the drop in oil prices and its revenues, the government chose to adopt a fixed exchange rate but with the problem of the supply of foreign exchange unsolved, increased demand drove up the the value of the currency on the parallel market. Despite calls for devaluation, the central bank, towing the official position of the presidency, maintained the policy. Rather than result in growth, as promised, the policy scared off investors, resulted in major fuel shortages and adversely impacted the economy. The full float has not assuaged the situation either as it is yet to result in tangible growth and inflow of investment.

Given the situation, Mike Omeife, spokesman of Diamond Bank, one of those affected, told Bloomberg “banks expected the CBN would have allowed them to pay in naira instead of dollars”. The ban is expected to be lifted after the government’s funds are remitted but until then, the banks will not be able to operate the inter-bank market. Late on Wednesday CBN said United Bank of Africa had refunded money owed to the treasury account and would be readmitted to the forex trading market the next day (Aug. 25).

95% of medical laboratories in Nigeria operated by quacks

The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, MLSCN, has said that about 95 per cent of the medical laboratories in some hospitals in Nigeria, as well as private medical laboratories that are scattered throughout Nigeria are manned by quacks and unqualified medical laboratory scientists.

This was disclosed by the Acting Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, Mr. Tosan Erhabor at the 18th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors of Nigeria, GMLDN, held at Emmaus House, Awka, Anambra State ,yesterday. He said: “MLSCN was determined to engender confidence in laboratory results, and is therefore, seeking the co-operation of GMLDN in its efforts to rid the medical laboratory science profession of quackery and illegal practice. 

Advocacy meetings had been mounted across the country. “The Council EQA programme first set of samples from participatory laboratories has been received and analyzed, medical laboratories that were yet to key into the scheme to do so. 

The management and stakeholders have completed the protocol for assessment of laboratories as a way of objective assessment geared towards global best practices”. He described the theme of the conference “Medical Laboratory Automation in a Challenging Economy”, as apt given the “technical recession” the nation’s economy is experiencing presently, adding that medical laboratory automation is the use of clinical laboratory instruments to assay large numbers of samples with minimal human intervention”. 

He said that the major obstacle to the implementation of automation in medical laboratories had been its high cost which has prevented laboratory scientists in a challenged economy like ours to adopt, but nevertheless, advocated the use of simple and low cost automated devices like robotic arms or 3D printers which he said can also perform tasks done by large automations, adding that “in a challenging economy like ours, bench top automation is recommended”. “It consists of machines of reduced size compared to large automation units found in resource –rich laboratories. 

Bench top automation is often flexible and can deal with many different tasks. It is an attractive solution for many laboratories bearing in mind that majority of laboratories in a challenging economy do not need employment of full scale automation”, he said. National President of GMLDN Dr Fabian Chukwuezi in his speech said “GMLDN was faced by many challenges that were borne by principal officers with their own personal resources leading to some leaving the stage, but the present National Executive Committee has been consistent and have continued to contribute to series of achievements, especially to the call by the National assembly for public opinion on various challenging health issues”. 

Chairman Anambra State, branch of GMLDN, Dr. Uche Ngenegbo said the state government has now moved to ensure that all the laboratories in the states hospitals are certified.