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Reps task CBN on access to N250bn gas expansion fund



House of Reps

The House of Representatives has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove bottlenecks preventing Nigerians from accessing the N250 billion gas expansion facility at the bank.

Rep. Benson Babajimi, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee on petrol price hike said this on Wednesday, when CBN officials appeared before the committee.

Babajimi said that the removal of the bottlenecks would cushion the effect of the removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians.

“My point is that you oversight the commercial banks, you have the right and powers to remove bottlenecks.

“The information we are giving to you is that you go back and see how you can make the process seamless,” he said.


Responding, the Programmes Manager, CBN, Mr Clement Osawi, acknowledged that the bank had an intervention fund called Oil and Gas Stabilisation Fund.

He said that as a matter of procedure, most CBN interventions went through commercial banks to qualified beneficiaries.

Osawi said that the commercial banks had the responsibility to do the due diligence and feasibility studies on beneficiaries.

“From what you are saying, it is like a new venture where it is very difficult to assess the capacity of the person requesting for the funds.

“So the likelihood of them having access to large sums is very difficult; it is easier to give CBN funds to establishments with clear track records otherwise, CBN will be accused of just giving someone who is not doing anything with funds.


“For IPMAN to have mentioned it, they were informed that the facility exists; CBN can announce that there is a facility and ask commercial banks to send those qualified beneficiaries.

“You can stay for two years, they won’t send one; this is because having drafted the criteria, the commercial bank will tell you, we have checked this customer, we have checked the other customer, it is not okay,” he said.

Osawi, however, said that he would carry the message of the committee to the management of the apex bank for further actions.

Osawi blamed the current hike in petrol price on exchange rate and other factors playing out in the global oil market.



Diphtheria: Children at risk as 7,202 cases are confirmed in Nigeria



A staggering 7,202 cases of diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment, were confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The outbreak has been particularly severe among children under 14, with three-quarters of cases (73.6%) in this age group.

Most cases have been recorded in Kano state, Nigeria’s second most populous state. In the past three months, there have been 453 deaths from diphtheria in Nigeria.

Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease, but low vaccination rates in Nigeria have made the outbreak possible. Only 42% of children under 15 in Nigeria are fully protected from diphtheria.

Diphtheria symptoms begin with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, the bacteria produce a toxin that can block the airway, causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. The toxin can also spread to other body parts, causing heart kidney problems and nerve damage.


Save the Children is launching a wide-scale health response in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe, and Katsina. The organization is deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help overstretched clinics detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support mass vaccination campaigns.

However, Save the Children warns that a mass vaccination campaign will only be successful if the vaccine shortage is urgently addressed.

Severe shortages in Nigeria of the required vaccine and the antitoxin needed to treat the disease mean that the situation could continue to escalate, placing many children at risk of severe illness and death.

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WHO releases $16m to tackle cholera, says Director-General



The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies to tackle cholera.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said this during an online news conference.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation was providing essential supplies, coordinating the on the ground response with partners, supporting countries to detect, prevent and treat cholera, and informing people how to protect themselves.

“To support this work, we have appealed for 160 million dollars, and we have released more than 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

“But the real solution to cholera lies in ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, which is an internationally recognized human right,” he said.


According to him, in the previous week, WHO published new data showing that cases reported in 2022 were more than double those in 2021.

He said that the preliminary data for 2023 suggested was likely to be even worse.

“So far, 28 countries have reported cases in 2023 compared with 16 during the same period in 2022.

“The countries with the most concerning outbreaks right now are Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

“Significant progress has been made in countries in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but these countries remain at risk as the rainy season approaches,” Ghebreyesus said.


According to him, the worst affected countries and communities are poor, without access to safe drinking water or toilets.

He said that they also face shortages of oral cholera vaccine and other supplies, as well as overstretched health workers, who are dealing with multiple disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.

On COVID-19, Ghebreyesus said that as the northern hemisphere winter approaches, the organisation continued to see concerning trends.

He said that among the relatively few countries that report them, both hospitalisations and ICU admissions have increased in the past 28 days, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

WHO boss said that meanwhile, vaccination levels among the most at-risk groups remained worryingly low.


“Two-thirds of the world’s population has received a complete primary series, but only one-third has received an additional, or “booster” dose.

“COVID-19 may no longer be the acute crisis it was two years ago, but that does not mean we can ignore it,” he said.

According to him, countries invested so much in building their systems to respond to COVID-19.

He urged countries to sustain those systems, to ensure people can be protected, tested and treated for COVID-19 and other infectious threats.

“That means sustaining systems for collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures and coordination,” he said.

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