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COVID: FG releases N6.45bn for oxygen plants in 38 locations nationwide

…Another N255m approved for repairs of oxygen plants in 5 hospitals
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N6.45 billion for the setting up of gas plants in 38 locations nationwide in a bid to enhance the treatment of COVID-19 patients who need oxygen.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this yesterday at the first National Economic Council, NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Present at the meeting were state governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and other senior government officials.

Mrs Ahmed said the release of the money was necessitated by the increased number of patients who needed oxygen due to the surge in COVID-19 infections in the country.

The minister told NEC that as at January 20, 2021, the balance in the Excess Crude Account, ECA, stood at $72,411,197.80, while balance in Stabilization Account and Natural Resources Development Fund Account stood at N28, 800, 711,295.37 and N95, 830,729,470.82 respectively as at January 19, 2021,

Similarly, the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire, informed NEC that sequel to President Buhari’s decision to activate the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, based on the National Health Act, N55.1billion was approved in 2018, adding that 50 percent of the sum had since been released to states and the FCT.

According to him, Federal Government also allocated N35billion for 2021 for the Fund.

The Council also received update from the Vice President who is the Chairman of Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Public Engagements regarding the fallouts of the EndSars protests of last year.

In the update, the NEC engagements will focus mainly on Wealth creation, social safety nets and employment; education; digital economy; sports development; creative industry and hospitality; security as well as governance

According to the update, the engagement, which will evolve three stages, read: ‘’Stage One: State Government(and FCT) facilitated youth engagements, guided by a panel of seasoned professionals (for compre hensiveness,practica bility and effectiveness).

‘’This will essentially be a youth-driven engage-ment organised by each State Government or the FCT Administration. As the initial engagement, it will allow for streamlining of the thought processes of the youths’ interaction with state officials and the selection of representatives, who will participate in subsequent engagements at zonal and national levels.

‘’Stage Two: This is the zonal-level engagement where the issues of concern and the consensus reform ideas developed from the state-level engagements are presented by the individual states’ representatives.”

This engagement is a collaboration between the youths and the State Governments in the respective zones.

‘’Stage Three: This the national engagement, where select representatives from states and the Federal Capital Territory participate in an interactive session with federal and other government officials.

‘’The youth representatives present the consensus issues of concern and reform ideas developed from the first two stages. The session will be people-centric, providing a platform for the government to listen to the youth and focus less on presenting its own achievements or defending its perspectives.’’

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