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Omo-Agege queries sale of Zamfara gold to CBN for N5b

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THERE were more dusts on Wednesday over the alleged sale of a bar of gold to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at N5 billion by the Zamfara State Government.

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and Ijaw youths kicked against the arrangement that allows a state to sell mineral resource to the Federal Government, which according to them, is the constitutionally owner.

Omo-Agege described the sale as a breach of the laws guiding exploitation of mineral resources in the country. The youths, under the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), accused the Federal Government of double standard and injustice.

The Deputy Senate President faults the arrangement while contributing to a debate on the 2021 Appropriations Bill at yesterday’s Senate plenary.

He told his colleagues that his constituents and other Niger Deltan people were worried about the development since all proceeds from oil in their territory solely go to the Federation Account.

The senator insisted that the proceeds from the sale  ought to be remitted to the federation account and not credited to the account of the Zamfara State government.

Omo-Agege said: “There is also something that is troubling our people which I think I should also bring up here.

“It is clear that the only two sources identified in the budget for the funding of the budget is the revenue from oil on the most part and borrowings, both local and foreign.

“But, we also have other sources or potential sources of revenue that is not being looked at.

“We often talk of leakages (in the system) but why even go into leakages when we can go directly to the solid mineral sector?

“Not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion.

“The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.

“They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to the CBN.

“There are two problems with that. We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belong to the entire country and not belonging to the state government.

“That is number one and we should actually look into that. That is an area we really need to develop.

“There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from this international borrowing.”

In Port Harcourt, the IYC accused the Federal Government of injustice by allowing artisanal mining of gold in the North, especially in Zamafara State, and forbidding a similar practice on crude oil in the Niger Delta.

In a statement, IYC President Timothy Igbifa observed that in the North where there are gold and precious stones, the locals and indigenes were mining them unmolested to enrich themselves.

The statement reads in part: “But it is illegal in the Niger Delta to engage in artisanal exploration of the vast hydrocarbon deposits in their area. If you say, it is double standard, applying two different set of rules in the same country, it is an understatement.

“It is the height of injustice that the people of Niger Delta have been forced to live with since 1914. Several attempts have been made to re-negotiate our   continuous existence has an indivisible entity but to no avail.”

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FG launches application for N75 billion Youth Investment Fund at 5% interest, how to apply

FG has flagged off the application for the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund.

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The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, on Thursday, October 15, 2020, flagged off the application for the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) recently approved by the Federal Government.

During the launch of the application, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said that the NYIF underscored the importance placed on youths by the current administration.

The Minister said that the fund, which is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), would be spread over 3 years to cater to youth-owned businesses and investment needs.

Sunday Dare stated, “I must mention the support we enjoyed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which in line with the President’s directive, provided the initial N12.5 billion required for the Fund to operate in the remaining part of the year 2020.

“We are also grateful that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has on its part, committed to providing the next tranche of the fund in the 2021 budget.’

The Minister said that the loan, provided under the NYIF, has an interest rate of 5% per annum and a tenor of 5 years with a moratorium of up to 12 months.

He explained that any youth who wished to apply as an individual or a non-registered business could draw up to N250,000, while youth-owned registered businesses could apply for up to N3 million.

Going further, he said, “Our commitment to seeing the youth succeed is such that the loan is bundled with training that will ensure business sustainability for successful applicants.

“It is my belief that the fund will grow to become a permanent feature of our society, where beneficiaries run successful businesses and repay the loans.”

The Minister said that application is available on the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund Application Portal on NIRSAL Microfinance Bank’s site, www.nmfb.com.ng; and the ministry’s website, www.youthandsport.gov.ngor www.noya.ng.

Applicants are expected to provide their Names, Email address, and Website (if available).

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Coronavirus

US Tennis player Sam Querrey accused of fleeing Russia on private jet after testing positive for COVID-19

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33 year old US tennis player Sam Querrey, has been accused of fleeing Russia on a private jet after he and his family tested positive for Covid-19.

Querrey and his wife had tested positive for the virus ahead of the St. Petersburg Open this week and were placed in quarantine at a  hotel, according to the tournament organizers.

Doctors had recommended Querrey and his family be moved to a private apartment but he did not allegedly answer the door when doctors were dispatched to evaluate his condition.

“Sam Querrey was scheduled to retest on Thursday, October 15, however, instead of acting in accordance with ATP rules and the tournament’s sanitary protocol, Sam Querrey was recorded leaving the hotel by hotel security cameras at 5.45 a.m. on October 13, with his family, without notifying the reception,”

“As Querrey told the ATP representative, he and his family left Russia on a private plane.” read a statement from organizers.

The ATP which is the World tennis controlling body, said it was aware of an incident “regarding a player’s serious breach of protocol”

Querrey has not won a grand slam singles title in his career but is ranked world number 47.

Querrey has not responded to the allegations as at press time.

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Coronavirus

WHO study reveals new discovery about remdesivir drug’s effect on Covid-19 patients

The study found that the regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the length of the in-hospital course.

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A World Health Organization (WHO) study has discovered that Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir had little or no effect on COVID-19 patients’ length of stay in the hospital or chances of survival.

The only antiviral drug authorized for treatments of Covid-19 in the US failed to prevent deaths among patients.

The antiviral medication, among the first to be used as a treatment for COVID-19, was one of the drugs recently used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection.

The results are from WHO’s Solidarity trial, which evaluated the effects of 4 potential drug regimens, including remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon, in 11,266 adult patients across more than 30 countries.

The study found that the regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the length of the in-hospital course among patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the WHO said on Thursday.

The results of the trial, which were posted online on Thursday, October 15, 2020, are yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal

Earlier this month, data from a U.S. study of remdesivir by Gilead showed that the treatment cut COVID-19 recovery time by five days compared with patients who got a placebo in a trial comprising 1,062 patients.

Gilead told Reuters, “The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir.

“We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design.”

Remdesivir, which was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola and Hepatitis C, interferes with the reproduction of viruses by jamming itself into new viral genes.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday that during the study, hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after they proved ineffective, but other trials continued in more than 500 hospitals and 30 countries.

Swaminathan said, “We’re looking at what’s next. We’re looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we’re looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months.”

Remdesivir received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 1, and has since been authorized for use in several countries.

Gilead, however, disputed the conclusions of the W.H.O. study on Thursday, noting that a variety of drugs and drug combinations had been evaluated under a wide range of circumstances and that more rigorous studies had found a benefit.

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