Nigerian press focuses on 1204 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, others

The report of 1,204 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday takes the total number of infections to 91,351 and…

The report of 1,204 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday takes the total number of infections to 91,351 and
the survey report that says that Nigerians are more worried over insecurity, unemployment, poverty, corruption and high cost of living than they are of the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.

The Vanguard reports that Nigeria on Monday recorded 1,204 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of infections to 91,351.

According to the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) Nigeria recorded 1,145 cases on December 18, 2020.

The centre also announced seven deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 1,318. It stated that three of the deaths occurred in Lagos, two in Sokoto, while Kebbi and Abia recorded one fatality each.

The NCDC said that the number of recovered COVID-19 patients stood at 75,699, including 655 patients that were discharged on Monday after testing negative from the virus.

It said that Lagos, the epicentre of COVID-19, recorded the highest number of cases with 654, while FCT recorded 200.
The Punch says that Nigerians are more worried over insecurity, unemployment, poverty, corruption and high cost of living than they are of the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed over 1, 300 people in the last nine months, a poll says.

The poll, which was conducted by Infotrak Research and Consulting, shows that only seven percent of respondents expressed worry over COVD-19 than other issues in 2021.

It showed that 16 percent of those surveyed placed insecurity and crime as their major worry in 2020, while 14 percent indicated that it was unemployment.

About 13 percent of those surveyed said the high cost of living was their major worry in 2021, while 12 percent indicated that it was poverty.

About 10 percent indicated that corruption was their major concern, while just seven percent noted that COVID-19 would be their major worry in 2021.

The newspaper reports that the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and prominent economists on Monday assessed the country’s economic situation and concluded that another COVID-19 lockdown would unleash hunger and malnutrition on Nigerians.

The groups stated this in separate interviews with The PUNCH while reacting to a statement by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who on Sunday said the Federal Government was considering all options, including lockdown, to battle the second wave of COVID-19.

Aliyu, who lamented rising COVID-19 cases in the country, said the virus infected 6,000 people in the last one week, while 33 died of the disease during the same period.

According to him, Nigerians can avoid another lockdown if they adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures, including wearing of face masks and hand washing.

Recall that the Federal Government first imposed lockdown on Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory on April 27, 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The lockdown, which started with the first phase in April ended with the third phase in July.

However, the PTF on December 17 said the country had entered COVID-19 second wave of the virus with a surge in the infection and deaths resulting from it.

As of December 4, 2020, the country had recorded 68,627 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,179 deaths.

The Sun says that Nigeria’s total debt indebtedness to China now stands at $3.121 billion, representing about 3. 69 percent of its total loan stock of $84.574 billion.

This huge indebtedness comes amid China’s rising influence as major financier of a number of large ticket projects in Nigeria, including the $874 million, 187km Abuja-Kaduna rail, the $1.2 billion, 312km Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the $1.1 billion Kano-Kaduna railway lines and the $600 airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. China’s incursion into Nigeria’s economy followed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) both countries signed in 2006 on the establishment of a strategic partnership, the first for an African country.

This was further anchored on an oil-for-infrastructure arrangement, in which Chinese companies were offered first access to oil-processing licences. Since then, the Asian nation has infiltrated other sectors of Nigeria’s economy with legal and sometimes illegal businesses.

Available records show that as at 2012, there were approximately 20,000 Chinese nationals in Nigeria many of whom allegedly involved in illegal businesses in league with Nigerian counterparts. In the construction industry for instance, there are growing concerns that Chinese engineering constructers prefer hiring expatriate Chinese as against local hands thus breaching the nation’s local content policy.

The newspaper reports that the Nigerian Government has reiterated that the latest economic recession would be short-lived.just as the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the country’s exit from the recession is not feasible during this first quarter of the year, but hopefully in the second or third quarter if the federal and state governments do the right things at the right time.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance on Monday in Lagos at a New Year media briefing.

According to him, the Federal Government has taken several steps to ensure that the country does not go into the worse decline of the economy and alleviate the negative consequences of the pandemic,

“The latest recession in Nigeria will be short-lived, and Nigeria will return to positive growth soon, unlike the 2016 recession which lasted five quarters. “This is because of several airline operators have complementary fiscal, real sector and monetary interventions proactively introduced by the government to forestall a far worse decline of the economy and alleviate the negative consequences of the pandemic,” he said.

To justify the position, Mohammed said that as the year 2020 was rounding off, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was named the best-performing stock market among the 93 equity indexes being tracked by Bloomberg across the world.

The Guardian says that some airlines have expressed displeasure over the sharing formula adopted for the distribution of N4 billion aviation bailout funds, saying it skewed the largesse in favour of few airlines.

The complainants, who operate smaller capacity, were displeased with the ratio 70:30 adopted between the schedule and non-scheduled carriers.

As of yesterday, the likes of Air Peace, Azman, Arik, Aero Contractors, Overland, and Dana Air had been listed as the biggest beneficiaries.

The Federal Government had, last week, shared the sum of N4 billion bailout funds among a total of 18 scheduled and non-scheduled carriers.

The special intervention was thrown open to all airlines with a valid Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and distributed according to the size of the carrier. The parameters, however, made some ‘dead’ airlines beneficiaries of the COVID-19 stimulus package.