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Lai Mohammed says NTA can compete with CNN

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Information Minister, Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, is seeking for the approval of N181.5 billion ($500 million) credit facility from President Muhammadu Buhari.

The loan, according to Mohammed, will enable the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) compete with the likes of Cable News Network (CNN).

While defending the loan request before the senate committee on Local and Foreign Loans, the minister explained that there is no better time for NTA to digitize its operations.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2006 gave June 17, 2015 as deadline for all members of the organisation to migrate from analogue to digital. Regrettably, we were unable to meet the deadline alongside most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the deadline was moved to 2017, which was not reliable and today the target is June 17, 2020,” he stated.

On how the loan will be deployed, the minister explained that the loan is aimed at establishing the media and culture industry centre, digitize all NTA stations, and at the same time construct integrated television services to infuse on network, which is the signal distributor and essential component of the digitization project.

Mohammed restated the need for the country to meet the new deadline, saying if the world migrates from analogue to digital and Nigeria remains analogue, it means the country would be unable to enlighten, entertain and educate Nigerians.

The minister further stressed that Nigeria has the manpower and technology to operate on a global scale, as he said the creative industry was not just about television alone, but film, music, fashion and photography.

According to him, the creative industry employs no fewer than one million young persons directly and indirectly.

Mohammed said, “If this project is approved, there will be more visibility for our people in the music, fashion and film industries.

“In 2014, we made $23 million from music alone and about $53 million in 2019 and we are looking forward to making $83 million in 2025. You can imagine the kind of growth we will have if only we digitize all the NTA stations in the country.”

The minister maintained that the project for which the Ministry of Information and Culture planned to borrow the loan, is about employment and revenue generation, as he said the industry contributes 1.492 to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Reps disagrees with FG, says WASSCE must be conducted

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House of Representatives has disagreed with the Federal Government on the alleged cancellation of 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examinations due to be conducted soon.

Speaking through its Committee on Basic Education and Services, the House expressed dissatisfaction over the statement of Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu that Nigerian students would not be participating in the examination WASSCE for fear of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a press statement signed by the Chairman of the House Committee, Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere on Friday in Abuja, the lawmakers stated that the Education Minister did not inform the country if the decision was in agreement with other West African leaders or in consultation with the examination bodies, the state governments and other stakeholders in the education sector.

The House called on the relevant ministers to immediately interface with various State governments and stakeholders in the education sector on how to conduct a hitch-free exercise.

They warned about the adverse effects of failing to conduct the examination.

Ihonvbere said:

“The Minister also did not also inform the public if the decision was the outcome of a meeting with all State Governments that are in charge of all but the Unity Secondary Schools that are owned by the Federal government.

“The Hon. Minister of State, in his usually consultative and participatory approach, had briefed the nation at the COVID 19 presidential Committee briefing, over the airwaves and in an appearance before the House Committee on Basic Education where he assured Nigerians that all steps had or were being taken to ensure full compliance with all COVID 19 protocols.

“This sudden policy reversal is not good for the country. It is bound to create further confusion in the education sector, create disappointment and suspicion among parents, frustrate the students, and show to our development partners and Nigerians that the distortions and disarticulations in the sector are only getting worse.

“The reversal also shows that our policymakers may just be adopting a laid-back approach to the need to confront the novel coronavirus rather than taking proactive and creative steps to manage and contain it.

“House Committee disagrees with the Honourable Minister and believes that reconsideration is urgently needed to save our educational system on the following grounds that Nigeria is not the only country expected to write the examination in the midst of Covid 19, that Nigeria should insist that the examination be based exclusively on the already covered syllabus of schools.

“The Federal Ministry should not chicken out of its responsibilities but take charge, provide policy direction, engage the states and other stakeholders; that WAEC should quadruple its invigilators and use all classrooms and event centres to conduct the examination and comply with COVID protocols.

“The Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as the Ministries of Environment and Health, should immediately work out an agenda to fumigate all classrooms, provide handwashing buckets with soap and water, and facemasks to all students; that the original plan of opening hostels for boarding to facilitate so-called revision classes should be cancelled immediately and the students should come from home, write the paper and disperse immediately and Mr President should direct all his Ministers to return to their states, work with the Governors and ensure the smooth implementation of the policy and conduct of the examination.

“We are parents just like him. No Nigerian parent would want to delay, distort, even terminate the progress of their child. We are convinced that if our policy of no boarding house, the reconceptualising scope of exams, use of all classrooms and halls in the schools, quadrupling the number of invigilators, provision of facemasks, sanitizers and handwashing facilities are followed, the WASSCE can be conducted with ease and with no repercussions. Let us collectively save and advance our educational system and build a future we can be all proud of”.

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Buhari signs reviewed 2020 budget on Friday – Presidential aide

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday sign into law the revised 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly in June.

The Personal Assistant on New Media to the President, Bashir Ahmad, confirmed this on his Twitter handle in Abuja on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two chambers of the National Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives, had on June 10 and June 11 respectively passed the revised 2020 budget of N10,805,544,664,642.

NAN recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on May 13 approved a revised budget of 10.523trillion.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this, said the Council approved the reduction of oil benchmark price from the initial 57 to 25 dollars per barrel, crude oil production from 2.18million to 1.94million per day.

She said: “The council has approved our recommendations and the approval has these key parameters.

“The crude oil price is approved at $25 per barrel, crude oil production is at 1.94 million barrels per day and then an exchange rate of N360 to $1.

“The revised budget is now in the total sum of N10.523 trillion, a difference of just about N71.5 billion when compared to the approved budget.

“This is because, as we cut down the size of the budget, we also have to bring in new expenditure previously not budgeted, to enable us adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The federal government in this budget will have direct revenue of funding the budget of N5.158 billion. The deficit to this budget, N5.365 trillion and this will be financed by both domestic as well as foreign borrowing.

“The foreign borrowing we are doing for 2020 are all concessionary loans from the IMF, which has already been approved and has crystallized, from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank as well as Afro EXIM bank.

“There will also be some drawdown of previously committed loans for major ongoing projects that we will be drawing from both existing facilities as well as some special accounts with the approval of Mr. President and the National Assembly,’’ she said.

However, the legislators increased the budget from the initial N10.5 trillion submitted by President Buhari to N10.8 trillion.

The figure shows that the sum of N2,488,789,433,344 is for capital expenditure and recurrent non-debt expenditure rose to N4,942,269,241,984.

Others are N2.6 trillion for debt service and N2.9 trillion for sinking funds.

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Lebanese ambassador walks out on Nigerian lawmakers

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Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab walked out on the house of representatives committee members on diaspora affairs on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Diab had gone to the National Assembly for a meeting called by the House of Representatives to discuss the maltreatment of Nigerians in Lebanon.

The meeting was also said to have been called to discuss the detention of one Temitope Arowolo, who’s being detained over the alleged attempted murder of her master.

The ambassador, who according to reports was expecting a closed-door meeting met lawmakers with other government officials and journalists at the venue of the meeting.

Irked by what he saw, Diab got up and walked out on the lawmakers.

Reacting, Chairman of the committee, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, said she was shocked that the ambassador could walk out on them.

According to ThePunch, Some members of the committee went after the ambassador and later called for a closed-door session, sending journalists, security men and aides out of the venue.

Speaking after the meeting, Akande-Sadipe said, “It was an informal meeting because the Ambassador was nice enough to join us at the meeting. There is no law that says he has to be here today but because he has an interest in the joint relationship between Nigeria and Lebanon.

“We have a lot of Nigerians in Lebanon and we have a lot of Lebanese in Nigeria. We have a relationship with Lebanon from the 50s so you can imagine how we have been.

“This meeting today has further reiterated that the Lebanese community and the Nigerian community always stand together to ensure that justice and respect for human lives is a priority, and we will work together to bring modern-day slavery to an end.”

Akande-Sadipe said the Lebanese government had agreed to release Arowolo and other Nigerians held in the country.

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