Press focuses on release $26m for domestic vaccine production, others

The announcement by Nigeria's Minister of Health of the release of over $26 million to support domestic vaccine production and…

The announcement by Nigeria’s Minister of Health of the release of over $26 million to support domestic vaccine production and the high cost of rail projects in Nigeria are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Guardian reports that the Nigerian Government has announced the release N10 billion (about $26 million) to support domestic vaccine production.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure during a briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 yesterday in Abuja.

He also announced that the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines would arrive the country in few weeks.

The N10 billion for local vaccine production, he explained, was released by the Ministry of Finance and would be used to explore “options for licensed production in collaboration with recognised institutions”.

On importation of vaccines, he said Nigeria had requested 10 million doses of the injection, which could be supplied from March.

The newspaper says that an investigation has shown that the average cost per kilometer (km) of the newly contracted Kano-Maradi rail line exceeds similar projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), as estimated by the African Union (AU) by, at least, 100 percent.

The Federal Government, recently, announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mota-Engil Group for the construction of the 283.75 Kano-Maradi standard-gauge rail at a contract cost of $1.959 billion.

A press release by the Federal Ministry of Transportation said the line would traverse Jigawa and Katsina to get to Maradi in the Niger Republic, raising eyebrows from different parts of the country.

A breakdown of the contract sum shows that it will cost the Federal Government approximately $6.91 million (or N2.6 billion) per km to deliver the project expected to be ready in the next three years.

Findings have shown that it is much cheaper to deliver similar projects in other parts of Africa. More importantly, the quotation for a similar distance under Africa’s rail connectivity programme being discussed at the continental level is less than half of what Nigeria will spend to execute a bilateral project but which the country has chosen to shoulder alone.

The Guardian also reports that venerable writer and 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has called on Nigerians to take extreme care before imputing any act or pronouncement as an attack on faith.

He was reacting to the criticisms that have followed the Christmas Day speech of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, including one by a group – Muslim Solidarity Forum – which asked Kukah to apologise or leave Sokoto, a state in the Muslim-dominated North.

Soyinka, in a statement issued yesterday and titled, “The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives”, said such threats were diversionary from the main critical issues, which the cleric raised in his message that were obvious concerns of many Nigerians.

The bishop had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of institutionalising northern hegemony, while reducing other parts of the country to second-class status.

While lashing out at those who criticised the speech, the playwright noted that their threats to excommunicate Kukah should not be condoned.

 ThisDay says that the KanInvest and Diaspora, in partnership with the Links, a UK-based company and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has secured N10 billion intervention fund from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in its bid to revive industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic disease in Kano State.

The intervention fund targets at least 50 companies that had been affected by the pandemic under the state’s Turnaround Project.

The Director General of the KanInvest and Diaspora, Ms. Hama Ali Ware, said yesterday during a sensitisation meeting on the Kano State Turnaround Project at Government House that the aim of the programme is to facilitate the revival of the affected companies in order to sustain the prosperity of the state.

Ware also added that the CBN has agreed to support the project with additional funds if the need arises in the future, adding that the agency would interface with the affected companies on one-by-one basis to get information about the problem they are facing and how to support them.

Ware said: “We will sit down and discuss with the companies, one by one, not crowd. Through that way, we will gather information about the problem of a company and see the way to support it.”

The Punch reports that the first export cargo of Nigeria’s newest crude grade Anyala is on its way to Northwest Europe, trading and shipping sources said on Monday.

This is coming less than three months after the announcement of the commencement of oil production from the Anyala West field in Oil Mining Leases 83 and 85. OMLs 83 and 85 are in the shallow waters offshore Bayelsa State where FIRST E&P is the operator of the two blocks, on behalf of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/FIRST E&P Joint Venture.

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, fell by $0.35 to $54.75 per barrel as of 8:15pm Nigerian time on Monday.

The Aframax Minerva Clara loaded a 700,000-barrel stem of Anyala crude from the Abigail-Joseph floating production, storage and offloading vessel on January 10, and the tanker is on its way to the Fos-sur-Mer terminal, located at France’s Mediterranean port of Marseille, according to data intelligence firm Kpler. S&P Global Platts quoted sources as saying on Monday that a trading house, Vitol, had chartered this tanker, as it has a stake in indigenous producer FIRST E&P.

The Sun reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has posted a trading deficit of N1.22 million for the month of September.

The low revenue figure is cointained in the September 2020 edition of its Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR).

The September 2020 MFOR indicated a trading surplus of N28.38 billion, slightly lower than the N29.60 billion surplus in August 2020, representing the N1.22 deficit.

The marginal reduction in surplus, according to the report, was as a result of lower contribution from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) which recorded zero crude oil lifting from the Okono Okpoho facility during the month due to ongoing repairs.

Meanwhile, the corporation also announced a total export receipt for crude oil and gas valued at $120.49 million for the month of September 2020.