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COVID-19: It costs over N400k to treat one patient – Governor El-Rufai

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Speaking on Monday during an executive committee meeting with traditional rulers chaired by Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, the governor said the amount is as a result of the increasing cost of drugs, feeding, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors.

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El-Rufai said the government cannot tell patients to bear the cost of the treatment because it will lead to further spread of the disease.

“We have a very high success rate in treating COVID-19 patients. Even a 90-year-old person, with underlying conditions, diabetes and hypertension was treated successfully in the state,” el-Rufai said.

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“The virus has not left us. We may ignore it, but it is still there. We urge you to sensitise our people to protect themselves against this virus, particularly those that are above the age of 60.

“It costs about N400,000 to treat one coronavirus patient. They have to be isolated and fed. The cost of medicine has increased, even the personal protective equipment that the doctors treating them have to wear. When you add all this up, the average cost of treatment is over N400,000 per person. We have to bear the cost.”

In March, el-Rufai contracted COVID-19, but he recovered after nearly four weeks.

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Kaduna has recorded a total of 2,214 COVID-19 cases so far.

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Food prices increase in 12 months — NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), says the price of selected food items have increased in the last twelve months.

This is according to the NBS Selected Food Price Watch Report for April, 2022 released in Abuja on Thursday.

The report showed that the average price of 1kg of Beans (white, black eye, sold loose) rose on a year-on-year basis by 44.32 per cent from N359.64 in April 2021 to N519.05 in April 2022.

Also, on a month-on-month basis, this increased by 2.59 per cent to N505.94 in March 2022.

The report revealed that the average price of bread sliced 500g increased on a year-on-year basis by 35.31 per cent from N332.95 in April 2021 to N450.51 in April 2022.

“On a month-on-month basis, the average price of this item increased by 0.61 per cent in April 2022.’’

Similarly, it said that the average price of 1kg yam tuber on a year-on-year basis, rose by 42.88 per cent from the

value recorded in April 2021 at N252.80 to N361.20 in April 2022.

It said on a month-on-month basis, it increased from N353.56 in March 2022 to N361.20 in April 2022, indicating 2.16 per cent growth.

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In the same vein, the report revealed that the average price of Palm oil (1 bottle) increased by 45.59 per cent from N578.86 in April 2021 to N842.75 in April 2022. It also grew by 0.06 per cent on a month-on-month basis

The report said the average price of 1kg Plantain (unripe) rose by 38.66 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N243.37 in April 2021 to N337.47 in April 2022.

It added that the average price of Groundnut oil (1 bottle), stood at N1, 007.68 in April 2022, showing an increase of 46.21 per cent from N689.19 in April 2021.

“On a month-on-month basis, it rose by 1.31 per cent from N994.62 in March 2022.’’

The report showed that at the state level, Ebonyi recorded the highest average price of Beans (white, black eye, sold loose) with N875.71, while the lowest was reported in Borno with N256.67.

It said the highest average price of bread sliced at 500g was recorded in Ebonyi with N650.0, while the lowest was recorded in Borno with N261.38.

The report showed that Akwa-Ibom recorded the highest price of 1kg yam tuber with N695.93, while Bauchi recorded the lowest with N133.28.

Analysis by zone from the report showed that South-East recorded the highest average price of beans brown, sold loose with N831.09, followed by the South-South with N676.13, while the North-East recorded the least with N307.21.

“Similarly, the South-East recorded the highest average price of bread sliced 500g with N601.09, followed by the South-South with N550.21, while the lowest was recorded in the North-East with N278.51”.

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The report also showed that the average price of 1kg of yam tuber was higher in the South-West and the South-South with N528.78 and N495.02 respectively, while the lowest was recorded in the North-East with N142.79.

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Retailers, consumers decry hike in cooking gas price

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Retailers and consumers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas, on Thursday decried the hike in the price of the product across the country.

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They made their views known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos following the increase in the price of cooking gas within the last one month.

Consumers have been struggling with the high cost of cooking gas due to global supply challenges, high international prices, limited availability of foreign exchange and high exchange rates.

The price of a 12.5kg cylinder has increased from about N8,400 to N9,500 in Lagos and environs and N10,000 in other parts of the country.

Mrs Ayo Olaiya, a businesswoman told NAN that the hike in the price of cooking gas was putting strain on women managing the home front.

“With gas you can quickly get food ready for the family, especially when you are in a hurry but now I can’t even use it all the time because of the cost.

“Now, I am using charcoal stove mostly because it is cheaper despite the stress and discomfort,” she said.

A food vendor in Iyana-Ipaja area, Mrs Iyabo Olowokere, said the increase in the price of gas was affecting her business negatively.

Olowokere said she normally used 12kg cylinder with three burners for cooking but had started using firewood as an alternative due to the cost of cooking gas.

“Government should help us stop this increment because it is not easy for us at all and even if we increase the cost of our food or reduce the quantity, we will be losing customers,” she said.

Mr Michael Umudu, National Chairman, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers (LPGAR), branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said the situation was, indeed, worrisome for both retailers and consumers.

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He confirmed that the price of 12.5kg cylinder had risen from about N8,400 to between N9,500 and N10,000 in Lagos and other parts of the country.

According to him, prices at the depots have similarly risen to about N12.6 million for 20 metric tons from N11.4 million, which was the average price a few weeks ago.

He said: “The worrisome aspect of this development is that it has continued to rise on daily basis for weeks now but began to escalate in the last few weeks leading to significant increases in both depots and retail outlets.

“For us as retailers, it is a big problem because we can’t even afford to stock up our shops and even when we do, it will take time before we can make enough sales to get back our investments.

“What we find now is that people even bring in 12.5kg cylinders but opt to fill them with less than 6kg of gas just to manage at home.”

Umudu said the union, therefore, expected the government to come up with clear policy direction for the development of LPG in the country to forestall the ugly situation.

He said: “LPG as a clean energy has steadily been embraced by low income earning Nigerians in the last seven years against previous years when it was seen as the preserve of the rich.

“What we are witnessing now is that demand for LPG is reducing drastically because people can no longer afford the product and are resorting to firewood and kerosene stoves which have health implications.”

Umudu appealed to the government to create a dedicated forex window for LPG importers, noting that the allocation from the Nigerian LNG Ltd. could only meet about 40 per cent of the consumption in the country.

But the Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) said Nigeria consumed a total of 1.2MT of LPG in 2021 with about 60 per cent imported into the country by marketers.

Mr Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, NLNG, explained that the company supplied about 400,000MT of LPG to the domestic market in 2021.

He said the board approved the supply of 450,000MT, 100 per cent of the company’s LPG production (Propane and Butane), to the domestic market in 2022.

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Odeh said this marked the company’s strong commitment to the continued growth of the domestic LPG market.

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APC to decide on zoning after screening presidential aspirants- Adamu

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Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that the party would take a decision on zoning after screening its 2023 presidential aspirants.

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Adamu said this in an interview with selected Hausa service media organisations late Wednesday night, adding that the presidential aspirants would be scrutinised in accordance with the party’s guidelines for the 2023 general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the party’s electoral guidelines provide three methods of choosing its candidates for an election, which include: direct, indirect, and consensus.

Speaking on the party’s zoning arrangement, Adamu said that no decision would be taken until its aspirants were all screened.

“We have not produced our candidate for the presidency yet, we have to screen the aspirants to know the way forward.

“We have aspirants from across the country in the presidential race. We will take the decision when we get there,” the APC national chairman said.

On the number of the presidential aspirants, Adamu said members of the party could not be denied the right to contest for president.

“You can’t stop our party stalwarts from contesting elections or aspiring for the presidency. It is their right, and we are happy for them.

“There is nothing wrong for anybody aspiring for the exalted seat of the president, it is God that decides who gets what.

“We have 28 aspirants for the presidential ticket, and everybody knows that all of them cannot get the ticket. If it’s God’s wish, they all can even be president of the country one after the other.

“Our goal is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges as the candidate of the party, that does not mean we are perfect, but we pray we do the right thing,” he said.

On the possibility of the party adopting the type of consensus arrangement that produced him as its chairman, Adamu said the chairmanship position was not the same as that of the president.

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He stressed that there was no comparison between the two positions.

“However, the party has laid down its rules and regulations for the aspirants, we would scrutinise all of them based on our guidelines to be sure we pick the right candidate for the party,” he said.

He debunked insinuations that a large number of the party’s presidential aspirants was a subtle ploy to extend the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in office.

“I can only say that God will deal with those behind such insinuations. President Buhari had since 2019 declared that he would not seek a tenure extension.

“He told everybody and swore with the Qur’an that he would not breach constitutional provision on his two terms tenure.

“The issue does not even arise, the president, while performing the Lesser Hajj reiterated this position.

“If there is truth in such talks, none of the aspirants would have procured the party’s Expression of Interest and Nomination forms,” he said.

Speaking on the allegations that the party’s aspirants were sharing money with delegates, Adamu said he had no evidence to that effect.

He said, for now, there was, however, no law against aspirants taking their campaign to delegates.

“I don’t have evidence that aspirants are sharing money with delegates, for me, it’s the delegates that are selling their conscience, which is not proper.

“Our delegates should know that anybody sharing money with them can’t be the right candidate for the party, he doesn’t mean well for the country. I don’t have a solution for the problem,” he said.

With 145 governorship aspirants and 25 presidential aspirants, Adamu explained that politicians were rushing to the APC because it is the government in power with everyone that matter in the country as its member.

“It is because that is where those that matter in the country are. It didn’t start today; we are the government in power.

“Today, in spite of all the insults, the APC has an advantage far ahead of other political parties.

“Today, the APC is the biggest party in Nigeria. It’s natural that it will attract more Nigerians than any other party. This is where it is happening.

“Any right-thinking politician would naturally gravitate towards the APC.

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“Of course, we have our problems, but today we are the cynosure of all Nigerians, and I am hopeful, God willing, we will retain power in the general election,” he said.

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I’ll leverage agriculture, industrialisation to diversify Nigeria’s economy – Amaechi

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Former Minister of Transportation and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, Rotimi Amaechi, has promised to diversify Nigeria’s economy through agriculture and industrialisation.

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Amaechi said this during a meeting with Nasarawa State APC statutory delegates in Lafia, on Wednesday.

According to him, it is time to change the nation’s economy by focusing on agriculture, building industries; manufacturing and processing industries as well as fabrication in order to create job for the teeming youth.
“I will not only focus on agriculture, but also create manufacturing and processing industries.

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“If you have a poultry farm and turn it into a commercial farm that produces and processing your chickens, you will employ more hands,” he said.

Amaechi said Nasarawa State was blessed with arable lands suitable for agriculture productions, which puts it at vantage position to change the economy if given the necessary support.

The APC presidential aspirant, said that Nigeria needed a president who have the capacity, tested and trusted to navigate the country into a prosperous nation.

According to Amaechi, having served in several capacities as two term governor of Rivers state, Minister of Transport, he has the capacity to replicate and surpass his achievements if given the opportunity to rule the country.

“As a Minister of Transport, I delivered on Abuja – Kaduna railway, Warri – Itakpe, Lagos – Ibadan, while work is ongoing in Kano – Kaduna and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railways.

“I have changed the face of Maritime Security and revived the seaports, so I’m tested and trusted, I count on you to vote for me so that together we can move Nigeria to greater height,”he said.

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Gov Abdullahi Sule, represented by his Deputy, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, described Amaechi as a man, who was tested and trusted, given his records of his performance and antecedents in various offices he had occupied in the country.

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Why queues for petrol returned last weekend– NNPC

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained why queues for petrol returned at some filling stations in Abuja last weekend.

The petrol queues were blamed on “low loadouts” at depots. Garba Deen Muhammad, NNPC spokesman added that purchases by residents who recently returned after the public holidays also contributed to the queues.

Muhammad further revealed that efforts are ongoing to address the situation. The statement read;

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“The NNPC Ltd notes the sudden appearance of fuel queues in parts of Abuja. This is very likely due to low loadouts at depots which usually happen during long public holidays, in this case, the Sallah celebrations.

“Another contributing factor to the sudden appearances of queues is the increased fuel purchases which is also usual with returning residents of the FCT from the public holidays.

“NNPC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), in conjunction with our marketing partners, have taken necessary measures to ramp up loadouts from all depots.

“We assure all residents of the FCT, and indeed all Nigerians, that we have ample local supplies and national stock in excess of 2.5 billion liters, with sufficiency of more than 43 days.

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“The NNPC Ltd hereby advises motorists not to engage in panic buying as supplies are adequate as will become increasingly evident in the coming days.”

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Mixed reactions trail FG’s duty on recharge cards

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Mr Adebayo Adesina, President Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITAN), says the approval of five per cent exercise duty on telephone recharge cards by the Federal Government is more of an indirect tax.

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Adesina said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

“This sort of taxes is factored in the purchase of a commodity, with the individual paying without been aware as much.

“The purpose is to boost government fiscal revenue, and a common practice in many advance countries,” Adesina said.

He noted that introducing these taxes would boost government fiscal revenue position, particularly in this era of declining revenue.

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“While the people expect the government to be prudent and judiciously utilise the funds to provide public good.

“The authorities must begin to be more accountable to the people in order
to enhance trust and key into their policies with no objection,” he said.

However, Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, Head of Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the new taxes on recharge cards was unnecessary.

“The introduction of the new taxes on recharge cards is not fair giving the economic condition of an average Nigerian.

“Nigerians have been dealing with soaring inflation and weak purchasing power and implementing this policy will exacerbate their woes,” he said.

He noted that the tiers of government should cut down the high cost of governance, so as to free funds rather than imposing taxes.

NAN reports that the Federal Government on May 5 approved the collection of five per cent as excise duty on telephone recharge cards and vouchers.

The charge is part of new items on the list of goods liable for excise duty on the Finance Act in the country.
Excise duty is a levy charged at the time of manufacturing.

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It is also a form of indirect tax on the sale or consumption of certain goods and products.

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