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Press focuses on reactions to Buhari’s medical trip to London, others

Reactions of Nigerians to Buhari’s medical trip to London on Tuesday and the Federal High Court in Lagos State barring the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers next month are some of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.The Guardian reports that almost two years after his last private trip to the United Kingdom (UK), President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, jetted out of the country on a medical trip to London for the sixth time since he was sworn into office in 2015.

The president and some aides departed the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, for the London ‘routine’ medical check-up around 2:30 p.m.

Before departing the Presidential Villa, Buhari had met behind closed doors with security chiefs, where he directed them “to fish out and crush heads of bandits, kidnappers and their local collaborators to restore confidence in the society.”

The president’s trip has expectedly elicited reactions from Nigerians over the deplorable state of healthcare system with experts saying the country could be losing more than N576 billion ($1.2 billion) yearly to medical tourism.

Meanwhile, despite widespread debate of Mr. President’s visit to UK, medical doctors are divided on whether it is appropriate or otherwise after the country spent huge sums of money recently to refurbish the Aso Rock clinic. In its 2021 budget, the president allocated its highest amount ever to the State House including the ‘presidential wing’ of a hospital the president seldom uses, where N17.3 billion will be spent to run the State House, Nigeria’s seat of power.

ThisDay says that a Federal High Court in Lagos State has barred the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers next month.

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had, through the Nigerian Communications Commission, asked operators to block all SIM cards not linked to NIN by April 9, 2021.

The deadline had caused many Nigerians to gather at offices of the National Identity Management Commission in disregard of COVID-19 protocols.

However, a former second National Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani, filed an originating motion and asked the court to stop the Nigerian Communications Commission from disconnecting all SIM Cards not linked to NINs.

Delivering judgment on March 23, 2021, Justice M.A Onyetenu, ordered that the deadline be extended by two months from the day of the judgement.

The court ruled that the ultimatum of April 9, 2021, be halted as the timeline is grossly inadequate and will not only cause severe hardship, but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Section 39(1)(2) and Section 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

The Punch reports that Nigeria currently spends about N1.89tn annually on the importation of food, the Federal Government said on Tuesday.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said this in Abuja at the national dairy policy stakeholders’ engagement organised as part of measures to develop the dairy sector. Nanono also said Nigeria was spending about N568.5bn on the importation of milk and dairy products annually.

He said, “About $5bn (N1.89tn at the official exchange rate of N379/$) worth of food is imported yearly into the country out of which milk and dairy products account for $1.2bn to $1.5bn.

“Hence, the annual dairy consumption is met by 60 per cent imports and 40 per cent local production.”

The minister noted that at present, the Nigerian dairy industry was largely subsistence and consisted of local milk production, importation, processing, marketing and consumption.

The Nation reports that the Federal Government yesterday said it plans to buy 20,000 tractors in the next six years for mechanised agriculture from its 995million euro loan request now before the Senate.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, made this known when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, in Abuja.

This happened as the Committee chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia, requested for more details about the 995million euros and $1.5billion loans proposed by the Federal Government to ensure food sufficiency and for infrastructure development across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Sun says that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said it is pushing banks to support viable Information Technology firms with potential to not only serve the needs of the local market but able to export Information Communication Technology-related services to countries across the world such as India with annual exports in the range of $100billion worth of ICT-related services.

It said that the sector emerged as a significant source of resilience in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy by contributing over 17.8 percent to GDP growth by the end of last year; 47 percent higher than its contributions before the pandemic.

With ICT start-ups emerging to support SMEs, farmers, and providing quality learning to students, the bank assured that it will continue to leverage ICT as an enabler for growth in key sectors of the economy.

The newspaper reports that Access Bank has become the first Nigerian lender to venture into South Africa after it invested around $60 million to acquire a stake in South Africa’s Grobank.

The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, disclosed this yesterday during a programme with CNBC Africa Television.

He said the bank invested in both equity and debt in the South African bank as part of a regional expansion drive to tap into correspondent and trade banking deals on the continent.

In August, Access Bank agreed to buy loss-making Cavmont Bank from the Zambian arm of Namibian financial services group Capricorn, for a nominal fee of 1 kwacha ($0.0014).

Access Bank is restructuring into a holding company and has received approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Published on 10.02.2021

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