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COVID-19:FG Rules Out Another Lockdown Amid Rising Cases

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Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire
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The Federal Government on Thursday said it was not considering a lockdown despite rising cases of COVID-19 infections across the country.

Speaking at the weekly ministerial briefing organized at the State House in Abuja, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the number of cases were not threatening enough, yet, for a lockdown to be considered.

On Wednesday Nigeria had recorded 790 cases of new COVID-19 infections, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The figure was the highest in about six months.

A recent surge in infections has been partly attributed to the Delta variant, which is believed to be more contagious and deadlier.

Nigeria is expected to step up its Covid vaccination program after receiving over four million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the US government last week.

Only about one percent of the population has been vaccinated, so far.

The second phase of the national vaccination programme is expected to kick-off next Monday.

Minister Ehanire also said on Thursday Nigeria is not only relying on donated vaccines from other entities.

The countries has benefitted from vaccines donated by COVAX and the US.

According to Ehanire, Nigeria has procured nearly 40 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine through the African Union.

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Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK

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In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.

The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.

According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”

A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.

Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.

The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.

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SON Commends FAO, NCC on review of food standards

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) for critical role played in the elaboration of food Standards at the International level especially at the various committees of the Codex Alimentarius Commission where Standards are adopted at the National level.

The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim disclosed on Thursday while speaking at the awareness and advocacy workshop organized by the National Codex Committee (NCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

for high level policy and decision makers and public presentation of the 4th Edition of the revised National Codex Committee Procedural Manual in Abuja said the review was apt in order to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Olobayo Kunle, SON Director General said NCC has also contributed to the review of the Food safety policy and Food safety Bill in Nigeria.

“The National Codex Committee Procedural Manual was first prepared in line with CAC procedural manual published in 2002, with further revisions in 2007 and 2012 to guide the activities and improve functions of all the stakeholders involved for effective operations.

“The review of the NCC Procedural Manual was necessary to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities over time, incorporate major changes, improve and strengthen Codex structure in Nigeria

“The National Codex Committee (NCC) Nigeria successfully applied for the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) 2 support to build strong, solid and sustainable national capacity to engage in Codex activities through the organization of annual awareness and advocacy workshops with political decision-makers, targeted competent authorities and other stakeholders to disseminate more information on Codex.

“The overall objective of the activity is to sensitize public decision-makers and competent authorities on the need to engage more in the national codex and to regularly provide all the support to increase its actions in favour of food safety at national level” he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero said since the inception of CAC, FAO has worked with World Health Organisation in the development of international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade using the principles of risk analysis and scientific advice provided by joint FAO/WHO expert bodies and consultations.

Represented by the FAO Assistant Representative Administration, David Fehintola said its country office in Nigeria with support from the regional office for Africa has continued to partner the Government and the National Codex Committee towards creating effective and efficient policies and strategies to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

He said FAO believe that ensuring the supply of safe, quality and nutritious foods is as important as ensuring the availability of foods and food standardization as “Poor quality foods do not ensure food security” he said.

The FAO Representative to Nigeria said the agency has been supporting the National Codex Committee (NCC) in Nigeria, which has members from all the MDAs and the Private sector through the execution of the Codex Trust Fund 2 activities with a focus on the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

“We, at FAO believe that it is vital that the NCC commits itself to the core values of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in its Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Consensus Building and Transparency in all its work.

“FAO in its support through the CTF2 project endeavors to ensure the participation of all Codex members in the country in standard setting process to ensure these core values are met.

“A lot has been achieved this year in terms of capacity building of codex members, advocacy, sensitization and public awareness as well as in the review, finalization and dissemination of the NCC procedural manual” he said.

 

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Export4Survival: NEPC partners NOA to drive campaign in 36 States

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As part of strategic collaboration to promote the export of Made-in-Nigerian products and thereby increase foreign exchange earnings for the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has team up with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to create awareness for the Export4Survival campaign in 36 states of the federation.

The Executive Director of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak while on a working visit to the NOA in Abuja, said the visit was borne out of the need to seek strategic collaboration with relevant government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in a bid to rejuvenate the nation’s fragile economy in the wake of dwindling revenue from crude oil.

In a statement by Ndubueze Okeko, Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, Dr Yakusak, pointed out that the #Export4Survival is a patriotic call on all Nigerians to realize the urgency of engaging in non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth, poverty alleviation, industrial development and boosting our foreign exchange earnings.

“We must export our goods and services or perish. That is the only way the country could create jobs, create wealth and ensure a sustainable economy that guarantees prosperity for all Nigerians”, he added.

Responding, the NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari commended the NEPC for initiating the Export4Survival campaign as part of strategic initiative to increase the awareness of opportunities in the sector and benefits of exporting Nigerian goods and services to the overall growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With 813 offices spread across the country, Dr. Abari said the NOA was strategically positioned to help the Council drive the campaign to the 36 states of the federation as well as the 774 local governments areas.

“Export4Survival is indeed strategic in finding a solution to the nation’s fragile economy. It is the only way to regain the value of the Naira as it will create wealth and job opportunities for all Nigerians”, he noted.

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