Press highlights delay in planed vaccination of 30 percent of Nigerians this year, others

The delay in the planned vaccination of 30 percent of Nigerians against COVID-19 this year is due to scrutiny, after…

The delay in the planned vaccination of 30 percent of Nigerians against COVID-19 this year is due to scrutiny, after South Africa paused its rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Guardian reports that Nigeria’s plan to vaccinate 30 percent of citizens against COVID-19 this year could be delayed for scrutiny, after South Africa paused its rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

The South African move had followed a study, which showed that the vaccine offered reduced protection from the COVID-19 variant first identified in the country. South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, said the hold would be temporary as scientists tried to figure out how to most effectively deploy the vaccine.

Consequently, Nigerian medical experts called for caution and greater scrutiny of vaccines ordered by the Federal Government before they could be administered on citizens. They expressed apprehension over claims that the $8 AstraZeneca vaccine, one of the cheapest and most suited for Nigeria, could be appropriately stored and deployed with the country’s existing cold chain infrastructure.

According to the experts, it could cost the country a lot more than anticipated to procure, distribute and vaccinate targeted population with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Interestingly, the Federal Government on Monday said Nigeria was no longer expecting the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BIONtech vaccine through the COVAX facility, but had been allocated about 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected to start arriving the country in two weeks.

The Punch says that members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria on Wednesday disrupted loading of petroleum products at private depots in Apapa as well as Ibadan, Ejigbo and Mosimi depots belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The correspondent of Punch learnt that the marketers picketed the facilities to protest their inability to get products due to a new payment method introduced by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.

The Chairman, IPMAN, Ore Depot, Mr Shina Amoo, confirmed the development in an interview with our correspondent in Ibadan on Wednesday.

He said the members of the association blocked the depots with tankers to protest the new payment method. Amoo said independent marketers were angry because the new payment method, called ‘PPMC Customer Express’, was foisted on them suddenly and the NNPC expected compliance immediately without considering the business interests of many members of the association.

He explained that with the new arrangement, major marketers and very few independent marketers with huge funds could pay for 200 trucks and load them while those who had paid for one or two trucks would be on queue for many months unattended to.

The newspaper reports that Emirates Airlines has suspended flights from Nigeria to Dubai for two weeks, until February 28 2021.

It said travellers from both Abuja and Lagos would not be accepted for travel prior to the date, according to a statement issued by the airline on Wednesday.

Also, the carrier warned that passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days would not be allowed entry into the United Arab Emirates (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).

The statement read, “In line with government directives, passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended until February 28 2021. Customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date.

“Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).”

Emirates noted that flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja would continue at the normal schedule as it urged travellers to contact the airline’s customer centre or their booking agent in terms of rescheduling.

 The Sun says that barring any unforeseen developments in the local and international economy, the 200,000 barrels per day BUA Petroleum Refinery will commence full commercial operation in 2024, after a groundbreaking ceremony billed for May this year.

Giving graphic details on the economics of Nigeria’s second largest petroleum refining complex in Lagos at the weekend, the Executive Chairman of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu, said the project was initiated against the backdrop of the huge amount of foreign exchange the nation spends importing refined petroleum products into the country.

Rabiu, who defended the sustainability of his Group’s investment in the various sectors of the economy, said the refinery project will meet the government’s economic diversification agenda in the long run, as new fuel standards continue to evolve in line with the climate crisis.

He said the project is being constructed with the best of technology from Axens of France rated as one of the best in the world in petroleum refining industry and would enable the nation save huge amounts of foreign exchange in addition to creating thousands of jobs for the citizens.

“Nigeria consumes over 50million liters of fuel daily and over 90 of that is imported with about 35 percent of the country’s scarce foreign currency spent on imported products.

The Nation reports that experts across various industries have advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to regulate but not ban cryptocurrency because of the benefits it offers to innovative youths.

President, Stakeholders in Blockchain Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), Senator Ihenyan, said the group had made efforts since 2017 to engage the CBN to regulate the cryptocurrency market in the country but to no avail.

According to him, regulation is the approach most developed countries have taken which has some come up with a robust regulatory framework.

The United States currency regulator recently allowed banks to trade in stablecoins. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that attempt to peg their market value to some external reference like the US dollar. Singapore, Iceland, and Malta have become top destinations in blockchain investment because of their approach to regulating the market.

 Former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Kingsley Moghalu, had also faulted the apex bank over the ban. “The CBN has said it is not a legal tender but they don’t have to tell you or me what we can exchange for value. If I want to give you my shirt and you give me your shoe the Central Bank has no business with it,” Moghalu had said.