The Federal Government has provided loans worth N100 billion to local pharmaceutical companies and healthcare investors in order to strengthen their financial foundations and enhance domestic production of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.
This declaration was made on Tuesday in Abuja as President Muhammadu Buhari greeted the new Executive Members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
The president explained how the loan was made possible by the support provided to the private pharmaceutical business by the Central Bank of Nigeria in a statement issued by the president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, on Tuesday.
He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is currently exploring models for revitalising the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.
On brain drain in the health sector, the President said he has directed the Honourable Minister of Health to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He urged the Association and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the Committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
The President also commended the Association, which is the umbrella body of all Medical Practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.
‘‘I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the diaspora.
‘‘Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.
‘‘I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four (4) newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.
‘‘I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications,’’ Buhari said.
The President also used the occasion to congratulate a former President of the body, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who is now the President-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
While wishing him a successful tenure, the President expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.
He also wished the new Executive Members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who led the medical practitioners to the audience, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.
In his remarks, the President of the NMA, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on the May 21, 2022.
He commended President Buhari for his steadfast war against corruption; assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will “improve the health indices of our nation;” the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.
Dr Ojinmah enjoined the President to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act; provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support;” as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.
Others include: implementation of the Hazard Allowance circularized in December 2021 with the arrears; as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.
He also requested for a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Dr. Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year
Osun: Muslims Observe Jum’uah Prayer As Inisa Central Mosque Reopens After Three Years Of Closure
Muslims gathered on Friday and observed Jumah prayer as the Inisa Central Mosque in Odo-Otin Local Government Area of Osun State, which has been under lock and key for three years over the Imamship tussle, was re-opened today, December 1, 2023, for Muslim men and women of the community to observe Solatul Jum’ah.
The announcement of the reopening was made on Thursday at the palace of Olunisa of Inisa, Oba Joseph Oladunjoye Oyedele (JP) Fasikun II, on behalf of the Grand Chief Imam of Osun State in conjunction with the League of Imams and Alfas in the community.
In anticipation of the first-ever Jum’ah prayers after three years, it was learnt that the Muslim youths in Inisa stormed the central mosque on Thursday to make necessary preparations including cleaning to make the House of Allah conducive for the congregation of Muslims that will attend.
Behind the news
Inisa Central Mosque came to the limelight when Ilorin-born Muslim scholar Sheikh Ahmad Labeeb Lagbaji early this week posted a video of his visit together with his disciples to the mosque on social media.
In the video, the Islamic scholar lamented how the central mosque had been locked for several years without prayers being observed there over leadership tussle.
According to Sheikh Lagbaji, community members said a spell had been placed on whoever leads prayer at the mosque to die following the tussle.
He, however, led the dhuhr prayer at the central mosque during one of his visitations, to break the ‘pray and die’ jinx, saying no evil would befall them.
“It is embarrassing that a central mosque would be shut down for years due to flimsy issues. My mission here is to ensure that the mosque is reopened for prayers. We will achieve that. I come from Ilorin every day to show I am serious about this,” he said.
The Islamic scholar who was accompanied to the mosque by one of the leaders of Inisa Muslim community said he has been enjoying support from various quarters to ensure the mosque is reopened.
“Now, we have the support of Leagues of Imams and Scholars from various parts of Nigeria including Oyo, Lagos and Bauchi, among others. They said there is a jinx that prayer must not be observed here again. We will break that jinx and spell.”
Following his video, the issue came to the front burner with netizens coming up with their versions of stories and experiences about the Inisa Central Mosque crisis.
One of the leading voices in narrating his experience was the Grand Mufti of Yorubaland and Amir of Ta’awunul Muslimeen, Sheikh Molaasan.
In a Facebook live video, the Grand Mufti said the Imamship tussle could be traced back to 2020.
He added that the tussle divided the Muslim community in Inisa town, while also alleging that Oba Joseph Fasikun II had a preferred candidate for the Imamship position despite being a Christian.
“Muslim leaders and stakeholders in Inisa all agreed to select someone with relevant Islamic knowledge, but the monarch wanted a different person who was not versatile and had a pending case in court,”
Sheikh Molaasan said.
“The League of Alfas in Inisa choose someone who had his Arabic education in Saudi Arabia and had been Imam in Canada and Osogbo for over 20 years. Although the person did not seek to be the Imam of the Central Mosque, the clerics visited him and beckoned him to be the overseer of the mosque. The king’s favourite is lower in rank to become Imam. And it is not done that way anywhere in the world.”
Molaasan advocated a competence test between the two contenders to see who is more capable of being the Imam.
He said, “This is the practice laid down by Prophet Mohammad (SAW), which entails appointing someone with a good knowledge of Islam. The two contenders should be invited and asked to sit for a competence exam.”
Also sharing information at his disposal, Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, wrote that a couple of Imams have died in the course of the tussle.
“There is more to the Inisa central mosque saga than meets the eye. This morning, I received a voice note from one of our mothers on this street detailing what transpired and led to the closedown of the mosque,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“I couldn’t believe my ears. I sent it to a couple of friends, and a Shaykh who is familiar with the story corroborated the narration and even added more to it. Apparently, a couple of Imāms have been spiritually ‘kpained’ (by Allāh’s permission) over the Imamship tussle.
“I heard that the last Chief Imam who stubbornly refused to be stopped from leading the Salāt didn’t have the opportunity of leading another Jumu’ah prayer after that day. He became so sick that in one day, he received about 20 IV bags (drips) and none was found in his body.”
Although Dr Lafiagi didn’t mention the names of the imams who lost their lives due to the crisis, an Osun State-based medium, Osun Defender, in a story published in May 2021, revealed their identities.
In the report, titled, “3 Imams Die In Quick Succession In Inisa, Govt. Shuts Central Mosque”, the medium wrote, One of the late Imams, Sheik Surakat Asiyanbi (81), was sick for over 10 years before he died in 2020. When Asiyanbi died, his deputy, Qaseem Adebisi (87) was installed as the new Chief Imam of Inisa.
“However, Adebisi was able to lead one Jumat Prayer before he fell sick and later died in 2020. Another Imam, Sheikh Mustafa Baruwa (85), who was installed after Adebisi did not spend three months before he gave up the ghost in 2020, according to some residents of the community.”
The medium also noted that since the death of the three Imams, there has been a crisis in the Inisa Muslim community on who to fill the vacant Chief Imam position, adding that the Eesa of Inisa, Chief Enoch Ajiboso, slumped and died while settling rift among the Muslim community members, late December 2020.
Realizing the danger in the trend of the crisis, the immediate former governor of the State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola shut down the Inisa Central Mosque indefinitely and also banned any central congregation at the Mosque for Eid prayers.
The announcement read, “Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, as part of efforts to ensure the security of lives and properties in that axis of the state, directed that the central mosque be shut indefinitely to forestall further religious or communal crises. Already, the mosque has recorded the death of two Imams in quick succession.
“Security operatives have been deployed to the town to enforce the closure and ban on Eid prayers. This directive will be in place until reconciliatory process towards amicable resolution is concluded,” it read in part.
Also, The Punch, in her report published on Wednesday, quoted the President of the League of Imams and Alfas in Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, Sheikh Jamiu Bello, represented by Sheikh Iskeel Lawal, saying that the mosque was locked on the order of the court and not by Muslim elders in the community.
He noted that the state’s governor, Ademola Adeleke, is the only one who can solve the lingering Imam crisis in the community, adding, “The Islamic scholars should continue to push for an end to the issue so that the community can begin praying there.”
However, the representative of the Grand Chief Imam of Osun State, while clearing air on the issue on Thursday, November 30, at the palace of Olunisa, stated that the central mosque was not shut down due to the Imamship tussle.
He said that, from findings, it was established that the court ordered the closure because one of the parties in the tussle was charged to court for allegedly falsifying his educational qualifications.
He added that the delay in the trial of the suit account for why an Imam has not been appointed.
In his efforts to ensure that the mosque is opened for Muslims to pray starting today, Friday, after three years, Sheikh Labeeb Lagbaji during his resolution mission paid visits to stakeholders involved in the central mosque tussle, including the Olunisa of Inisa and Iya Sunnah of the community.
He wanted to ensure that the Jum’ah prayer was re-established at the mosque this week.
During Sheikh Lagbaji’s visit to the palace, the Olunisa of Inisa denied having an anointed candidate for the imamship, noting he is a Christian with little knowledge about the appointment of an Imam.
He said the two feuding parties in the tussle have met him severally, noting he only stood by the decision of the majority of the ratibi Imams, who also form members of the League of Imams and Alfas in the community.
“I don’t have any hand in the closure of the mosque. Four Imams have successfully been installed since I ascended the throne of my forefathers and I never went against the decision of the ratibi.
“But the problem is that people are becoming more interested and exerting influence unnecessarily in recent times. From time immemorial, the decision on who becomes Imam rests with the Muslim community in Inisa. So, I don’t interfere. It was the Ratibi Imams that selected the Imam of Inisa Central Mosque which led to the crisis. Out of 36 members of the ratibi, 30 came to me to support and choose an Imam. The advisory I got from my consultations within and outside Inisa was that I should queue behind the ratibi. That’s what I did,” the monarch said.
The issue was, however, later resolved at the palace during a meeting held on Thursday, November 30, with the involvement of Grand Chief Imam of Osun State and other critical stakeholders in the crisis.
It was learnt that with the approval of the grand Imam of Osun State, Jum’ah prayer began at the mosque today, Friday, December 1 and an Imam from Oyan, a member of League of Imams and Alfas in the zone, lead the salat.
As stated by the representative of the Grand Imam of Osun State at the reconciliatory meeting held on Thursday at the palace, “By the permission of the grand Imam of Osun State after consultation with the members of the League of Imams and Alfas, Inisa Central Mosque will be open for jum’ah prayer today. Pending the selection of a substantive Imam, each community under the zone is to present representative Imams that will lead jum’ah prayer at the central mosque rotationally every week,”
Kwara Hotel for modern reconstruction, not ever for sale: Govt
Kwara Hotel is a legacy public property that will not be sold for whatever reasons, Kwara State Government asserted in a statement on Friday, adding however that the facility is to undergo a massive reconstruction and efficient management.
The government said the bidding process began over two months ago through an advertisement published in different newspapers, including but not limited to the Herald of September 8, 2023 and Tribune of October 18, 2023.
The open bidding process has been completed and the cabinet is to consider and approve a successful company to finance, remodel, and reconstruct the hotel on behalf of the state within terms that will never include sale of the property and will ensure maximum values for the state. However, the hotel will retain its iconic outward stature, as handed to us by the illustrious founding fathers of Kwara State.
The public may recall that Kwara Hotel was last given a major facelift over two decades ago. Virtually everything in it has become spent and unusable. They needed to be taken out completely to allow for the rebuilding works. It is for that reason that the government began a few weeks ago the legal process to auction off these spent items and utilities. The process involved all relevant government agencies and registered auctioneers who are allowed under the law to partake in such. Four registered auctioneers were approved in all. The due process of valuation had also been done. The auctioneers have since begun the auctioning of these spent items and utilities to the general public after making relevant payments for same to the state coffers.
To that extent, the ongoing gorging of the spent items is to clear out the facility for the massive construction works that will begin soon. An exercise of that magnitude is best held in an open environment to avoid stampede. Even so, the police have been deployed to maintain law and order, and prevent opportunist behaviours as much as possible.
The public is assured of the government’s commitment to make Kwara Hotel the pride of the people once again.
Hon. Damilola Yusuf
Commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology (BIT)
December 1, 2023
Tinubu commissions TETFund projects in Ebonyi, reiterates commitment to education
President Bola Tinubu has reiterated his administration’s commitment to the development of the country’s education sector.
The president also pledged continued support to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) so that it would continue to play its role in the development of Tertiary Education in the country.
He stated this while commissioning some TETFund-sponsored projects at Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.
Tinubu represented by the minister of works, David Umahi, noted that his administration has demonstrated commitment towards the development of education since the commencement of his administration on May 29, 2023.
He listed some actions and policies of his administration in this regard including the introduction of the students’ loan initiative to ease access to tertiary education for indigent students, and meeting personally with the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to discuss the welfare of Nigerian students.
His administration, he said, also approved a waiver of the No Work, No Pay order on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which would pave the way for members of the union to receive part of their withheld salaries.
He said: “These are part of conscious efforts being made by his administration to address challenges and create industrial harmony between staff unions and Government.”
He lauded TETfund led by the Executive Secretary Arc Sonny S.T. Echono for their efforts at effectively discharging the mandate of the Fund for the continuous development of public tertiary education in Nigeria.
He stated: “As we all know, education plays a critical role in the socio-economic development of nations. I wish to reiterate that education forms an integral part of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s Renewed Hope agenda, hence the Federal Government would continue to provide necessary support towards making our educational institutions globally competitive for economic and technological development.
“It is on record that over the years, TETFund through the support of the Federal Government has performed exceptionally in the provision of physical infrastructure, support for academic staff training and development, book publication, ICT, Research and Development amongst others in public tertiary educational institutions across the country.
“I wish to assure you that the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu remains committed to providing greater support and the enabling environment to enable the Fund to improve on its performance.”
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc Sonny Echono said the institutions have so far enjoyed allocations of over N10bn for infrastructure-related interventions cutting across the Annual, Special, Special High Impact, and Zonal interventions amongst others.
He noted that about 88.24% of these funds have been accessed and deployed to address infrastructural deficiencies in the university.
He commended the Management of the University for assiduously monitoring and ensuring the successful delivery of the various intervention projects executed from inception.
He added: “We do not doubt that the projects undertaken with these funds have remarkably impacted the mandate of the university in facilitating teaching, learning, and research.”
“We are optimistic that these projects will strengthen the efforts of the university to become a global player in the tertiary education subsector and significantly contribute to research and development.
“Our resolve as a Fund is to ensure that our interventions are sustained and improved upon as much as possible to enable our institutions to undertake bigger, and more laudable and impactful projects that will make them become globally competitive and situate them in enviable positions among their peers both nationally and globally.”
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