Monday, July 31, 2023

Video - Police warn of possible rise in crime across Nigeria

Police in Nigeria are warning of a possible increase in the rate of crime across the country. Law enforcement attributes this to the rising cost of petrol, which is affecting their patrols and other operations.


Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?


President Tinubu orders investigation of Central Bank of Nigeria

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu has appointed a financial watchdog to investigate the central bank, weeks after he suspended its governor, a copy of a letter from the president showed on Sunday.

Tinubu on June 9 suspended Godwin Emefiele, who was then detained by state security agents for allegedly misappropriating funds and a "criminal breach of trust." Emefiele last week appeared in court to deny illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition.

In a letter dated July 28, Tinubu appointed the chief executive of Nigeria's Financial Reporting Council as special investigator of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other government-owned entities.

The letter said the investigator should make weekly reports to the president.

"You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment," Tinubu said.

The investigator was to "provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments."

A presidency source confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Tinubu's spokesperson Dele Alake did not immediately comment.

Tinubu has embarked on the country's boldest reforms in decades, including removing a popular but costly fuel subsidy and lifting restrictions on foreign exchange trading, a gamble which he hopes will boost growth.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related stories: Suspended central bank governor of Nigeria denies firearm charges

Critical mistakes made by central bank of Nigeria in cash swap

Video - Supreme court suspends currency swap deadline in Nigeria

Friday, July 28, 2023

Squeeze on Europe's refiners due to end of fuel subsidy in Nigeria

One of Europe's main markets for gasoline has shrunk, threatening to squeeze European refiners, after Nigeria removed fuel subsidies, which destroyed much of the country's domestic demand and a regional market for smuggled fuel.

North America and West Africa (WAF), with Nigeria at the helm, historically have been the top two destinations for petrol exports from Europe, which produces more gasoline than it uses, meaning its refiners rely on exports to support profit margins.

A steady decline in European refining margins in recent years, as competition from the Middle East, the United States and Asia grew, was reversed when fears of fuel supply shortages boosted profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

So far, benchmark profit margins for gasoline in northwestern Europe have held firm at around $27 a barrel, Refinitiv Eikon data shows.

They have been supported by demand from North America, a shortage of high quality blending materials, disruption caused by low water levels inland and local refinery outages.

But analysts say the reduction of flows following the upheaval in Nigeria will increase pressure on European refiners, and any winners are likely to be newer Middle Eastern refineries.

At the end of May, Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu scrapped a popular but expensive subsidy on the fuel, which cost the cash-strapped government $10 billion last year. Petrol demand in response fell by 28%, official data showed.

Symptomatic of the fall in demand, onshore gasoline stocks in Nigeria have climbed to 960,000 tonnes from an average 613,000 tonnes between January and June, said Jeremy Parker at the CITAC consultancy which focuses on Africa's downstream energy market.

Meanwhile, the black market for smuggled subsidised Nigerian fuel in Togo and neighbouring Benin and Cameroon has collapsed, further reducing demand for shipments via Nigeria.

There is no reliable data on how much fuel was smuggled out of Nigeria under the subsidy regime, but a comparison of estimates from official and independent sources indicate more than a third of petrol could have left state oil firm NNPC's depots every day to be sold illegally abroad.

Without the subsidy, the financial incentive for smuggling disappears.

Average monthly West African (WAF) gasoline imports fell by 56% in the second quarter compared with the first, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

"The key point is demand from West Africa is drying up," said Refinitiv Lead Oil Analyst Raj Rajendran.

Seasonally, June loadings from the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) hub to West Africa fell to 629,000 tonnes this year from 895,000 tonnes last year and 1.2 million tonnes in 2021, Refinitiv data showed.

Loadings dropped to 627,000 tonnes in July so far this year from 1.5 million tonnes last year and 1.4 million tonnes at the same time in 2021.

By contrast ARA exports to the United States rose to reach 695,000 tonnes so far this year in July, compared with 449,000 tonnes last year, although they were down from 791,000 tonnes in 2021.

Gasoline stockpiles in the ARA hub are higher seasonally than they have been at least since 2003, according to Insights Global data, as U.S. exports from the region did not fully compensate for the lower WAF exports.

Nigeria, Africa's largest crude oil producer, relies heavily on imports because of its inadequate domestic refining capacity.

Imports, however, are increasingly unaffordable as Nigeria's naira has weakened to record lows since the central bank removed currency restrictions in June. At the same time, inflation is near two-decade highs.

The huge, much-delayed Dangote refinery was designed to address the domestic supply shortfall, but full 650,000 barrel per day production is unlikely before the second quarter of 2025, CITAC estimates.

Analysts said it was possible demand would not fully recover.

"Demand for barrels into WAF may be lower at the moment as the market sorts itself out again post-subsidies. There may simply be a baseline decrease in demand," said Sparta Commodities gasoline market analyst Philip Jones-Lux.

For alternative supplies that are cheaper and therefore more palatable for Nigerian buyers, Jones-Lux points to imports from the Mideast Gulf and Russia. "The volumes appear small still, but not insignificant," he said.

Sparta estimates that fuel from the Mideast Gulf is around $35-$50 per tonne cheaper than ARA imports, around triple last week's spread, which could mean increased volumes into West Africa of Middle Eastern fuel.

An increase in direct Russian gasoline flows into West Africa started in January, but cumulative volumes, while growing from virtually non-existent in recent years to around 800,000 tonnes year-to-date, are still small, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

"It’s not like (Russia is) capturing a bigger share of that market from European refiners. The challenge is coming from the new refineries in the Middle East that are expanding from their traditional East Africa market to now include West Africa and beyond even to the Americas," Rajendran said.

By Shadia Nasralla, Reuters

Related stories: President Tinubu fuel subsidy remarks causes chaos in Nigeria

Petrol use in Nigeria down 28% after subsidy scrapped

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Video - Australia vs. Nigeria Highlights - FIFA Women's World Cup, 2023



Thursday, July 27, 2023

Video - Guinness world records pursued with gusto in Nigeria

At least 40 Nigerians have previously been recognized by the Guinness World Records. The newfound pursuit of Guinness glory is a surprise for many.


Video - Parents face tough times as public universities hike fees in Nigeria

Many Nigerian students, and their parents, are worried they won't be able to complete their education following a decision by public universities to raise fees by 200 percent. The universities say the hike is necessary due to the surge in the cost of living raising the cost of operations.


Video - Nigeria continues to record surge in adoption of cryptocurrencies

Africa's most populous country is still reporting a boom in the use of cryptocurrencies despite warnings from authorities. Nigerians say bottlenecks around banking transactions, a scarcity of foreign exchange, and the belief that cryptocurrencies are an easy and quick means to make money, contribute to crypto's popularity.


Related stories: Nigeria’s crackdown on Bitcoin echoes global crypto conundrum

Video - Nigeria becomes first African nation to roll out digital currency



Video - Central bank of Nigeria raises key lending rate by 25 basis points

Samson Owolabi, an associate in research and portfolio management at Zedcrest Wealth, says there were several key reasons behind the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increasing the interest rate, including persistent inflation and record levels of money supply. Owolabi, however, added that the CBN needs to find alternative methods of addressing such issues rather than simply resorting to interest hikes.


25 killed by suspected ISWAP militants in Nigeria

Islamist militants killed at least 25 people and wounded others in attacks on two villages in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state, a hotbed for insurgency, a police source and two residents said on Wednesday.

The militants killed 18 herders grazing their livestock in one village and seven other people in another village, both in Kukawa district of the state that borders neighbouring Chad on Tuesday, the police source said.

Habibu Ardo, a herder in the area, said "ISWAP fighters (riding) on more than 15 motorcycles attacked our people while grazing in Kukawa and beheaded 18 of them without firing a single bullet on them in order to avoid the attention of security forces.”

Bakura Mustapha, a local vigilante who helped bury the dead, said “about 18 of the corpses were recovered in the bush and they have been buried today according to Islamic rites.”

A police spokesperson did not immediately respond to calls to confirm the incident.

Borno state is at the heart of a 14-year Islamist insurgency in Nigeria, which has spilled into neighbouring Chad and Cameroon. The conflict was launched by Boko Haram and later joined by its offshoot ISWAP, a regional affiliate of the Islamic state.

The United Nations estimates that the conflict had killed some 350,000 people by the end of 2020 and has left millions dependent on aid.

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Security agency to probe clash between officers and prison officials in Nigeria

Nigeria's Department of State Services (DSS) on Wednesday said it is investigating an "unfortunate" clash between its officers and prison officials on court premises after a bail ruling for the suspended central bank governor Godwin Emefiele.

Emefiele, who was granted bail on Tuesday, was forcefully re-arrested by DSS officers after openly clashing with prison officials who attempted to take him into custody in line with the court's ruling. He has been held by the DSS since June 10.

The DSS has "initiated detailed investigations into the matter. This is with a view to identifying the role played by specific persons as well as undertaking disciplinary actions if necessary," Peter Afunanya, a spokesman for agency, said in a statement.

The agency, which notes the "undue overzealousness" by everyone involved in the incident, "has tremendous respect for the judiciary" and will not deliberately undermine it, he added.

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, Reuters

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

34 killed by armed gang in Nigeria

At least 34 people, including seven soldiers, were killed in an attack by a gang of armed men in Nigeria's northwest Zamfara state, the head of a vigilante group and residents said.

The attack in the remote Dan Gulbi district of the Maru local government area of the state occurred on Monday afternoon, Ismail Magaji, the head of the local vigilante group, told Reuters.

Lawali Zonai, a resident, said, "27 villagers were killed in the attack while seven military personnel were ambushed on their way to aid the community from the gruesome attack."

A spokesperson for the Zamfara state police did not immediately respond to calls seeking to confirm the incident.

Gangs of heavily armed men, locally referred to as bandits, have wreaked havoc across Nigeria's northwest in the past three years, kidnapping thousands, killing hundreds and making it unsafe to travel by road or farm in some areas.

The attacks have confounded Nigeria's security forces that are overstretched combating a 14-year Islamist insurgency in the northeast, violent farmer-herder and sectarian clashes in the central region and rising attacks by a separatist group in the southeast.

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Suspended central bank governor of Nigeria denies firearm charges

Suspended Nigerian central bank governor Godwin Emefiele appeared in court on Tuesday to deny illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition, the first time he has been seen in public in more than a month.

Emefiele was detained by the Department State Services (DSS) on June 10, a day after new President Bola Tinubu suspended him. A judge this month ordered the agency to file charges or release him.

Emefiele, dressed in a white kaftan and looking frail, pleaded not guilty to two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, a Reuters reporter said.

The court granted Emefiele bail on condition of paying 20 million naira ($25,500) and said he should be remanded in custody in prison until the bail conditions are met or until Nov. 14, when next his case next comes up for hearing.

Emefiele was re-arrested by DSS officers after clashing with prison officials who attempted to take him into custody in line with the court's ruling.

Government lawyers had asked the courts in June to authorise Emefiele's detention for allegedly misappropriating funds and "criminal breach of trust", charges that carry lengthy jail terms if proved.

They secured a court order to hold Emefiele pending further investigations.

Emefiele was known for using unorthodox policies to keep the country's naira currency artificially strong and lending directly to businesses to try to boost growth.

Tinubu, who is embarking on the boldest reforms in Africa's biggest economy in more than a decade, criticised the central bank's policies under Emefiele at his inauguration in May, saying they needed "thorough house-cleaning", without providing details.

The central bank is due later on Tuesday to announce its first interest rate decision since Emefiele's suspension. One of Emefiele's deputies, Folashodun Shonubi, is acting central bank governor. 

By Chijioke Ohuocha and Seun Sanni, Reuters

Related stories: Former Central Bank Chief of Nigeria charged with Illegal Firearm Possession

Critical mistakes made by central bank of Nigeria in cash swap

Video - Supreme court suspends currency swap deadline in Nigeria

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Nigeria Raises $500 Million to Boost Agriculture Industry

Nigeria’s government has raised more than $500 million to transform food production in Africa’s most-populous nation.

The funds come from sources including multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, Vice President Kashim Shettima said in a statement on Tuesday. The money will be used for “innovation finance for food system transformation, development of Nigeria’s agro value chain and special agro-industrial processing zones programmes,” he said.

President Bola Tinubu’s administration declared a state of emergency last week to allow the state to take exceptional steps to boost food security and supply, as the country of more than 200 million people grapples with inflation accelerating at the fastest pace in two decades. Measures being considered include clearing forests for farmland to boost agricultural output and ease food costs.

Read more: Surging Food Prices Spur Nigeria to Declare an Emergency

The government is also taking steps to improve security in the country, where a decade-long insurgency by Islamist militants and attacks by bandits have curbed farm output.

“The president has already approved the infusion of a huge quantum of funds towards repositioning of our security architecture,” Shettima said. “We are repositioning our security architecture to provide support for farms and farmers.”


Monday, July 24, 2023

Video - Nigeria hosts largest gathering of sports personalities

Nigeria hosted the largest gathering of the country's best sports personalities, including local and foreign-based Olympians at a summit to recognize heroes who have put the nation on the global map. At the core of the discussion was returning the country to its glory days. 


8 Killed in fuel explosion in Nigeria

At least eight people were killed when a fuel truck exploded in southwestern Nigeria as residents were trying to siphon petrol out of it, police said on Monday.

The truck was involved in an accident on Sunday night in a neighbourhood of Ondo state which caused it to veer off the road and topple on its side, the police said.

"Some people went there to scoop fuel, in the process the tanker exploded," said Ondo state police spokesman Fumilayo Odunlami-Omisanya.

The price of petrol has more than tripled since the removal of a decades-old subsidy at the end of May, hitting motorists and households and small businesses who use petrol generators for power.

By Tife Owolabi, Reuters 

Related stories: Nigeria gas explosion: 17 dead, rescue efforts under way

Explosion at Nigerian illegal oil refinery kills more than 100



Friday, July 21, 2023

Naira hits record low on black market ahead of central bank meeting

Nigeria's naira traded at a record low of 860 per dollar on the black market on Thursday, according to traders, weakening below its official rate a month after the country devalued the currency and ahead of a central bank policy meeting next week.

The bank last month allowed the naira to weaken by more than a third in a bid to unify Nigeria's multiple exchange rates and to lure foreign investment to shore up liquidity in an economy struggling with dollar shortages.

Last month's devaluation helped narrow the gap between the naira's exchange rates on the official window and the black market but pressure is gradually building up especially from individuals paying for expenses abroad.

The naira has been swinging widely on the official market since the devaluation. It touched a new low of 853 naira per dollar on Wednesday, according to OTC market regulator, FMDQ Exchange.

The currency closed at 742 naira against the dollar on the official market on Thursday, Refinitiv data showed.

Dollar shortages on the official market have seen customers turning to the black market, helping to widen the gap between the spot rate and the black market, one trader said.

Nigeria has embarked on its boldest reform agenda in decades, including the removal of a popular but costly petrol subsidy and the loosening of restrictions on foreign exchange trading, a gamble President Bola Tinubu hopes will boost sluggish economic growth.

Analysts have warned that a weaker currency and the fuel subsidy removal would likely to push inflation higher in the short term.

The central bank will meet on Monday and Tuesday to set interest rates with investors looking for measures to support the currency.

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Chijioke Ohuocha, Reuters

Video - Canada vs. Nigeria Full Highlights - FIFA Women’s World Cup, 2023



Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Former Central Bank Chief of Nigeria charged with Illegal Firearm Possession

Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele was charged with the illegal possession of a firearm, according to a court document filed by the State Security Service.

Emefiele will face trial after an unlicensed “single barrel shotgun” and 123 rounds of ammunition were found at his residence in the commercial hub of Lagos, a copy of the charge sheet confirmed by Bloomberg shows. The SSS had said it was investigating Emefiele over allegations of major crimes including misappropriation of public funds and economic sabotage.

The SSS, which is similar to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, filed the charges against Emefiele in Lagos on June 13, the same day as a court in the capital, Abuja, ordered the agency to prosecute or bail the governor within seven days. The governor has been in custody since June 10, a day after he was removed from his post by President Bola Tinubu.

The alleged offense for which Emefiele was charged was not among the specific allegations listed in court filings previously submitted by the SSS. The organization then said it was investigating the governor over suspicions he had committed crimes including misappropriation of public lending programs, money laundering, terrorism financing and economic sabotage.

Emefiele said he is a victim of “a political witch-hunt” because Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, had been satisfied with his management of the central bank, according to a bail application filed on June 13. Tinubu took over from Buhari at the end of May following an election held three months earlier.

Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition carries a maximum prison sentence of five years under Nigerian law.

Anthony Osae-Brown and William Clowes, Bloomberg

Related stories: Suspended Nigeria central bank governor Godwin Emefiele charged

Critical mistakes made by central bank of Nigeria in cash swap



Monday, July 17, 2023

Video - Super Falcons of Nigeria head to World Cup for the 9th time

Nigeria's Super Falcons will represent Africa at the Women's World Cup for the record ninth time with the 2023 edition is been co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Despite being to every Women's World Cup since the tournament began in 1991, the big question in Nigeria is whether the team can hit or exceed the heights of 1999 when it qualified for the quarter-finals.


Video - Capital inflows in Nigeria drop 28 percent in Quarter 1

Capital inflows in Nigeria for the first quarter of the year plunged 28 percent amid uncertainty in the global economy and heightened political campaigns in the country. Data from Nigeria's national statistics agency showed foreign investment inflows dropped to $1.1 billion in the quarter ended March compared to $1.6 billion during the corresponding period in 2022.


Video - Interior design sector in Nigeria a big player in the country's economy

Nigeria's interior design industry is projected to make an increased contribution to the West African nation's economy. Industry players say it currently generates over 40 million U.S. dollars annually for Nigeria's economy.


Friday, July 14, 2023

Video - Aviation sector sees record growth in Nigeria

A report by the International Air Transport Association shows that air travel traffic in the West African country soared by nearly 60 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to figures recorded in 2019.


Video - Nigeria-Ethiopia Central banks exchange $100 million in trapped revenue

The central banks of Ethiopia and Nigeria struck a deal to swap the revenues of two companies, Dangote Cement in Ethiopia and Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria. The deal saw them exchange an estimated 100 million U.S. dollars in frozen funds. 


Suspended Nigeria central bank governor Godwin Emefiele charged

The suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was charged after a month in detention under a court directive Thursday that officials act against the man or let him go, the secret police agency announced.

Godwin Emefiele was charged after being investigated for alleged “criminal infractions,” said Peter Afunanya, spokesman for the secret police, the Department of State Services.

Afunanya’s statement, however, did not specify the charges filed against Emefiele in the capital, Abuja. The police agency had in 2022 accused him of terrorism financing and economic crimes, both of which carry long jail terms.

Shortly after he took office in June, new President Bola Tinubu directed Emefiele’s suspension, saying the move was related to the investigation of his office as the central bank governor and planned reforms in the financial sector.

Emefiele was then taken into custody and has been detained since, prompting him to sue the secret police recently on the grounds of illegal detention and a breach of his human rights.

While ruling on his application earlier Thursday, a high court in Abuja directed that the former central bank governor either be charged within one week or be released.

“The continued detention of the applicant cannot be justified in the absence of any charge against him. At the very least, justice demands that applicant (Emefiele) should be released on administrative bail,” the local judge said.

It is unclear what the duration of Emefiele’s trial could be though such high-profile trials in Nigeria typically last for several months.

The secret police said it would ensure professionalism, justice and fairness in handling the matter. 

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Related stories: Critical mistakes made by central bank of Nigeria in cash swap

Video - Supreme court suspends currency swap deadline in Nigeria

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Video - Bat researchers of Nigeria

"Bats are cool" is the message from renowned bat biologist, Iroro Tanshi. Bats dominate her life, day and night. She and her biologist husband, Ben Obitte, comb the caves high up in Nigeria’s Afi mountains to research, monitor and understand different bat species, in order to protect them. They relate their inspiring journey and share their award-winning work, revealing the story of their love of bats – and of each other. Simpa Samson is an international award-winning documentary director, producer, photographer and video journalist from Nigeria. He works with many global broadcasters, publishers and brands, focussing on health, human rights and international development.

Al Jazeera

New malaria vaccine offers some hope to Nigeria

On April 17, 2023, Nigeria approved a promising new malaria vaccine. It's called R21, and in early trials, up to 80% of kids who were vaccinated did not develop malaria.

Nigeria is a country in need of protection from malaria. Its death toll from the disease makes up nearly a third of the world's 619,000 malaria deaths a year.

But in my view, there's a big stumbling block: Many of the people who need the vaccine the most live in poor and rural areas where malaria is troublesome because living conditions that favor mosquito breeding – for example, low quality housing with broken window nets that mosquitoes can easily infiltrate, standing pools of water in gutters, and the proximity to swamps. But they'll likely not be able to get it. The reason is simple — Nigeria doesn't have the kind of health-care network that makes it easy for people in remote areas to see a health professional.

This isn't the first vaccine to ward off malaria. There is one already in widespread use called the RTS,S vaccine, which reduces chances of developing malaria in a vaccinated population by up to 44%. But the R21 vaccine, which works by inducing high levels of malaria-specific antibodies that help to protect against malaria, has shown to be safe and more effective than the RTS,S vaccine in preliminary results from a 2-year long trial.

In early trials conducted in 2019 and 2020, children aged 5 to 17 months were given three doses before malaria season and a booster 12 months later. Up to 80% of children vaccinated did not develop clinical malaria during the 2-year period of the trial.

This testing on kids is crucial – they are the most vulnerable to dying from malaria. In Nigeria, more than 95,000 children under age 5 die from malaria every year.

Serum Institute of India, the license holder of the R21 vaccine, has expressed commitment to manufacture more than 200 million doses annually. This is important because GSK, the manufacturers of the RTS,S vaccine only committed to producing 15 million doses annually through 2028, due to limited manufacturing capacity and low funding, falling far behind the current need of the vaccine which WHO estimates to range from about 80-100 million doses annually.

While WHO hasn't yet authorized the R21 vaccine because they are awaiting further data from the latest completed trial phase 3, they hope to act quickly when more data are in. In a statement, they said "the R21 vaccine, if approved, could help close the sizable gap between supply and demand and further reduce child illness and death from malaria."

So even though the R21 vaccine is still undergoing larger-scale human trials, Nigeria has joined Ghana in authorizing it because of its promise to be the most effective in preventing malaria and its potential to be manufactured at large scale due to its low cost of just $3 a dose. This provisional approval allows a phase 4 trial to be carried out in Nigeria and also places Nigeria among the first countries who will receive the vaccines at large scale.

But what good is a miracle vaccine if those who need it the most can't get it?

The Nigerian government typically rolls out vaccines through its 30,000 primary health centers, but only 20% out of them are functional. This means that most of the primary health centers in Nigeria lack the capacity to provide essential health-care services, because of poor staffing, inadequate equipment, poor distribution of health workers, poor quality of health-care services, poor condition of infrastructure, and lack of essential drug supply.

And according to data from Nigerian researchers, 78% of primary health-care centers in Nigeria serve upward of 20,000 people within a 30-mile-plus radius. For those who live a great distance, options to get to a center are limited. In a country where most people live on less than $1 a day, they likely do not own a private car or have access to/can afford bus options. That means many parents may need to walk as far as 30 miles to receive a vaccine and wait long hours to be seen in the often crowded centers – and they will need to make that trip four times over the course of 18 months.

Indeed, "long travel times" was listed by one study in Nigeria as one of the most frequent reasons deterring parents from getting routine immunizations for their children. Another reason was long queues at health centers.

And those obstacles take a toll on vaccination rates. "About 9 in every 10 children who lived in the mostly economically disadvantaged communities and states were not fully immunized," according to another Nigerian study that surveyed 5,754 children between ages 12–23 months. "Children of mothers who experience difficulty in reaching health facilities are more likely to be incompletely immunized," the report notes. "Difficulty in getting to health facilities serves as a major barrier to child immunization uptake. This is typical of those living in remote areas."

The obvious fix is one that will not happen overnight: Public health authorities must make a financial commitment, however costly, to set up new primary health-care centers throughout the country to dramatically reduce travel time to and wait times at health centers.

In the meantime, global health authorities need to make it easier for people to get to the health-care centers that already exist. One stopgap solution is to provide transport vouchers for those in the cities, so that people are able to travel for free using bus services that run on a regular basis to the nearest health center.

The other is to bring the health-care center to the families in remote villages through public-private partnerships to set up vaccine administration centers at pharmacies, local markets or schools and churches.

As the founder of a free health clinic in Lagos, Nigeria, funded by the Samuel Huntington Foundation, we partnered with a church in an impoverished neighborhood, transforming a space into a small-scale free clinic run by a lead nurse. We've been able to provide primary care to over 2,000 patients. This model places primary health services in proximity to the poor and saves on the cost and time of building a new facility.

This partnership model could be replicated rapidly by public health authorities on a larger scale to ensure the vaccines reach the most vulnerable children in Nigeria. This is what the United States did with its Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which allowed 300 million more COVID-19 vaccines to reach people through their local pharmacies.

The United States government and the Global Fund have been leading funders of global malaria eradication efforts in the last two decades. They have spent more than $20 billion on important global malaria eradication programs like insecticide bed nets and vaccines. But funding urgently needs to be expanded to go toward building a primary health-care system in Nigeria and other countries with similar circumstances – one that might deliver breakthrough vaccines like R21.

"Everything in Nigeria isn't easy," says Sunday Aromolayan, a bricklayer living in Berger, a city at the border of Lagos and Ogun State, Nigeria. "I have a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, and for past immunizations, we've had to queue at the hospital for 4 hours, sometimes 5 hours. My schedule has prevented me from going to take immunizations many times. If the malaria vaccine is available, of course, I'd want to get it for my child." 

By Tolani Yesufu, NPR

Related stories: FG taking steps to end Nigeria’s reign as top malaria hob

Video - Nigeria accounts for 31% of global malaria deaths

Regulators in Nigeria Grant Approval to Oxford's Malaria Vaccine

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Video - President Tinubu suspends some taxes on businesses

Nigeria’s business community has welcomed the suspension of a set of taxes by President Bola Tinubu. The community, however, wants the government to do more to improve the ease of doing business in the country by completely doing away with the additional taxes.


Video - Smart bins to tackling environmental degradation in Nigeria

In this week's edition of Disruptors, a group of Nigerian students are deploying new innovations to tackle environmental degradation. They collect waste, recycle it into cooking fuel briquettes, and sell the product to local communities. Not only is the solution keeping the environment clean but it's also improving the economic status of the innovators and their community.


Vessel with stolen crude intercepted in Nigeria

Nigeria's state-owned oil firm NNPC Ltd said on Monday an 800,000-litre (211,338-U.S. gallon) vessel carrying stolen crude had been intercepted offshore while heading to Cameroon and would be destroyed as a deterrent to oil theft.

Crude theft from pipelines and wells in the Niger Delta has hobbled the country's output in recent years and is one of the biggest challenges to confront new President Bola Tinubu.

NNPC said the oil was stolen from a well in south western Ondo state. The MT Tura II vessel was owned by locally registered Holab Maritime Services Limited and had no valid documentation for the oil, the company said.

Holab could not be reached for comment on numbers listed on its website.

"Destroying vessels involved in transporting stolen crude oil is of paramount importance as a strong deterrent," NNPC said.

NNPC circulated a video showing the vessel surrounded by armed Nigerian security agents.

Reporting By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Related stories: 12 including 2 British nationals arrested for oil theft in Nigeria

Top buyers of stolen Nigerian oil are in the Balkans and Singapore

Nigerian Authorities Launch App to Monitor Crude Oil Theft



Monday, July 10, 2023

Video - Forex reserves drop by $2.9 billion in first half of 2023 in Nigeria

Experts say the decline in Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserve levels was expected as Nigeria’s import consumption far outweighs its production and exports.


Video - Nigeria confirms diphtheria outbreak

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) confirmed 798 cases of diphtheria in Nigeria since December 2022.


President Bola Tinubu elected chairman of ECOWAS

Speaking at a summit in Bissau after being named chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu said democracy was "the best form of government", despite being "very tough to manage".

"We need it, to be an example to the rest of Africa and the world," he said. "We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa."

Three ECOWAS members – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – have undergone five putsches since 2020.

Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, urged those countries' ruling juntas to respect agreed-upon deadlines to hand power to civilian leaders.

"In the event of a failure to meet the transition deadlines, major sanctions could be imposed," he said.

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on Saturday agreed to lift a suspension of Mali imposed in January 2022 over the military's timeline for returning to civilian rule.

ECOWAS had also imposed a range of measures against the Sahel state, but lifted them in July 2022 after the junta agreed to a March 2024 transition.

On Sunday, Touray said ECOWAS had set up a commission to examine security options in Mali as the UN winds down its decade-long peacekeeping mission there.

"This commission has 90 days to reflect and make proposals," he said.

Mali has since 2012 been battling a jihadist insurgency that has since spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.

Tinubu – who was in May sworn in as president of Africa's largest economy – said ECOWAS members would pursue "inclusive" economic integration in the year ahead.

"We should serve a warning to exploiters that our people have suffered enough," he said on Sunday.

"I am with you – and Nigeria, we are back."


Court in Nigeria tells government to account for recovered Abacha loot

A Nigerian court has directed President Bola Tinubu's government to disclose how much in stolen funds it has recovered from late military ruler Sani Abacha and how the money was used, court documents showed on Sunday.

Abacha ruled Africa's most populous nation and top oil exporter from 1993 until his death in 1998, during which time Transparency International estimated that he took up to $5 billion of public money. He was never charged.

A Nigerian rights group asked the High Court in the federal capital Abuja to force the government to account for Abacha's loot since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.

Over the years, the United States, Switzerland and British dependency of Jersey are among those who have returned hundreds of millions of dollars linked to Abacha.

The court ruled that the government should disclose the "exact amount of money stolen by General Sani Abacha from Nigeria and the total amount of Abacha loot recovered and all agreements signed on same since the return of democracy in 1999 till date."

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), which brought the challenge, said it had on Sunday written to Tinubu calling on him to obey the ruling.

Tinubu's spokesman Dele Alake did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

Nigeria has previously said it would use some of the Abacha funds for infrastructure projects, including roads and bridges.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

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Attack by Gunmen on Village leaves 24 villagers dead in Nigeria

Gunmen killed 24 villagers in a remote part of north-central Nigeria, authorities said on Sunday, raising further concerns about the West African nation’s ongoing security challenges.

The gunmen arrived at the Akpuuna village in Benue state’s Ukum district on Saturday, shooting dead the villagers before escaping the area, according to Tersoo Kula, the spokesman for Benue state's governor.

Police blamed the attack on a “militia gang,” a common reference to armed groups in Nigeria’s hard-hit northwest and central regions where armed violence has claimed the lives of thousands in the last year.

Catherine Anene, police spokeswoman in Benue, said eight bodies were retrieved from the scene. Local officials, including legislator Ezra Nyiyongo, said there were at least 24 killed and several others injured.

“I lack words to express my shock and sympathy to the families of the lost ones,” said Nyiyongo as he published the names of those killed.

Benue Gov. Hyacinth Iormem Alia said the attack was unprovoked and directed security agents to hunt for the suspects, his spokesman Kula said.

“Government will do everything possible to put measures in place to checkmate these things and forestall a re-occurrence,” Kalu said.

Such attacks are common in many parts of Nigeria’s northern region where local herdsmen have clashed in the past with farmers over limited access to land and water. More than 100 people have been killed this year in the violence in Benue alone. Arrests are rare after the killings.

The gunmen in the latest incident operated for more than two hours without the intervention of security forces, according to Emmanuel Udende, who represents the village at the Nigerian Senate. His comment re-echoed concerns about the security of villagers in many violent hotspots where the Nigerian security forces are far outnumbered and outgunned.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Video - Salsa teacher helps to dance the blues away in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the power of dance is being used to battle mental illness and the stigma attached to it. Men and women in the capital, Abuja, are coming together to attend free weekly salsa lessons for those battling trauma and depression … or even just to keep fit. Al Jazeera’s Michael Appel reports.

Al Jazeera

Petrol use in Nigeria down 28% after subsidy scrapped

Nigeria's average daily petrol consumption has fallen by 28% since President Bola Tinubu scrapped a popular but costly subsidy on the fuel at the end of May, data from the industry regulator shows.

Average daily petrol consumption fell to 48.43 million litres in June, down from the previous average of 66.9 million, according to figures released to Reuters by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

A subsidy had kept prices cheap for decades in Africa's biggest economy but it became increasingly expensive for the country - the government spent $10 billion last year - leading to wider deficits and driving up government debt.

Since the subsidy was ended, a black market in neighbouring Cameroon, Benin and Togo that relied on petrol smuggled from Nigeria has collapsed.

Despite having spent $2.41 billion on the subsidy in the first five months, Nigeria could save up to $5.10 billion this year from scrapping the petrol subsidy and from FX reforms, the World Bank said on June 27.

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, Reuters

Related stories: Video - Fuel prices in Nigeria nearly double after oil subsidy's end

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Video - President bola Tinubu on a mission to change Nigeria



Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Video - Documentary on the Omu of Delta State

Her Royal Majesty Obi Martha Dunkwu is the reigning omu of the Anioma people of Nigeria’s Delta State. An omu, or queen mother, is a leader of women, custodian of the market, a spiritual guide to the community and the traditional ruler – a role that goes back more than 820 years and one that was greatly reduced by colonial rule. This important institution, with its ceremonial practices, comes with its own challenges but remains a significant part of holding communities together. Chisom Ifeakandu is a Nigerian filmmaker who has worked on several film and TV productions. In 2016, she was one of 20 young African filmmakers to be sponsored by the Africa International Film Festival and the Ford Foundation to study at the Cinefabrique Film School in Lyon, France. She convened The African Way event to showcase young African theatre talent.

Al Jazeera

Video - Fuel prices in Nigeria nearly double after oil subsidy's end

Many countries are scrapping oil subsidies and raising taxes to help generate revenue. Nigeria's fuel subsidy kept prices below half the real cost since the 1970s. And now, consumers are being forced to pay up as the government tries to recover those losses.


Building collapeses in Abuja, leaving several people trapped

Several people are feared trapped under the debris after a multi-story building under construction in the Nigerian capital collapsed, local authorities said Tuesday.

The building in downtown Abuja collapsed on Monday afternoon. "The search and rescue continues. Nine of them have been rescued, six were discharged from the hospital and three are still in the hospital receiving treatment. Their condition is stable and everything is going on well," said Amiola Adebayo, head of operations at the fire service in Abuja.

According to local media, the building was approved for three floors, but the developer violated the building codes. An unspecific number of people were still trapped under the debris.

Cases of building collapses are not uncommon in Nigeria, and local experts lay the blame on aging structures, non-compliance with building planning and regulations, and the use of substandard materials during construction.


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Video - 24-hour curfew declared in Nigeria's Taraba state, Karim town

The Governor of #Taraba State in #Nigeria imposed a 24-hour #curfew as a result of communal #clashes in some parts of the area which have reportedly led to the death of dozens of people.


Nigeria projected to save $28 Billion after ending fuel subsidies

Nigeria will save more than 21 trillion naira ($28 billion) in two years after scrapping gasoline subsidies and allowing its currency to weaken, according to the World Bank.

The savings will help President Bola Tinubu’s government cut its record fiscal deficit and a debt-service burden that surpassed revenue in 2022, the Washington-based lender said in a report. The budget shortfall will narrow to 3.9% of gross domestic product by 2025 from 5.1% this year, according to the report.

Scrapping the fuel cap will enable Nigeria’s state oil company to export crude instead of setting it aside to pay for the subsidies. Easing foreign-exchange controls will help the government convert overseas earnings at market prices rather than at “overvalued” rates, the bank said.

It forecast Africa’s biggest economy will expand 4% from 2024 should it implement urgently required reforms. The continent’s most populous nation has for years resisted calls by the World Bank to do away with its costly gasoline subsidies and myriad exchange rates that have stymied growth.

Africa’s largest crude producer should take further steps to increase non-oil revenue, lower inflation and expand the social safety net to protect the poor and most vulnerable, the World Bank said.

“The government could propose a compact with Nigerian citizens that directly links the phased-out subsidy to compensatory cash transfers,” it said.

More from the report:

. Inflation will accelerate to an average of 25% this year, compared with 18.8% in 2022

. Debt service as a proportion of federal government revenue will drop to 76% by 2025 from 121% this year.

By Anthony Osae-Brown, Bloomberg

Informal traders targeted in Nigeria to boost tax

Nigeria's federal revenue agency said on Monday it had partnered with a traders association to collect value added tax (VAT) from millions of informal traders, part of a push to widen the tax base by President Bola Tinubu's government.

Africa's largest economy has embarked on its boldest reform agenda in decades, including the removal of a popular petrol subsidy and restrictions on foreign exchange trading, a gamble by Tinubu to try boost sluggish growth.

Nigeria has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at around 10.8% of GDP, according to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Only 47% of this year's budget will come from revenues and the rest from borrowing.

The FIRS said in a statement that it was partnering with the Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) to collect and remit VAT from its members, especially those in the informal sector, using a digital platform.

It said the partnership would help "curb the activities of touts, miscreants and self-imposed tax collectors involved in illegal tax collection in Nigeria's market spaces."

MATAN says it has more than 40 million traders, mostly in the informal sector where a majority of Nigerians earn a living.

The revenue agency said MATAN members will receive identity cards with tax identification numbers and a digital platform would track their turnover for tax purposes.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Related stories: President Tinubu stuns wary investors with quick reforms

Nigerians are feeling the brunt of President Tinubu's economic shakeup



Monday, July 3, 2023

Video - 8-year-old Ivie Urieto spreads love for chess among the youth in Nigeria

Chess is a no-barrier game, and one Nigerian youngster is making her mark on the global stage.


Related story: 12-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy and his family granted asylum by U.S.


Video - Techpreneurs ease operations for SMEs in Nigeria

A team of young techprenuers in Nigeria has developed a financial service platform to enhance transactions and record keeping among small scale businesses. Digital communication experts say using such platforms to boost business processes have the potential to improve the country's economy.


Suspect arrested in stabbing death of Nigerian student in Canada

Toronto police have arrested a suspect wanted in connection with the deadly stabbing of a Nigerian international student in June.

On June 25, 28-year-old Ifeanyichukwu Oseke was stabbed in a Scarborough parking lot after an altercation with another man. He later died in the hospital.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued on July 1 for Tamar Cupid, on the charge of second-degree murder, police said.

Police arrested and charged Cupid, 25, hours into the warrant. He is scheduled to appear before the Toronto Regional Bail Centre on Sunday.

By Santiago Arias Orozco

Related story: Student from Nigeria stabbed in Scarborough, Canada


Nigerians warned against eating Ponmo due to Anthrax outbreak

Following an outbreak of anthrax disease in the West African nation of Ghana, Nigerian authorities have urged citizens to halt consumption of cooked animal hides, a delicacy also known as “ponmo” in the country. Gibson Emeka has this story from Abuja, Nigeria, narrated by Salem Solomon.

By Gibson Emeka

Related stories: Video - Government of Nigeria says cow skin or "ponmo" should be worn, not eaten

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