The National Assembly has expressed fears over the worsening insecurity in the country, particularly the recent attacks on the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by terrorists.
Following the worsening insecurity, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, summoned the security chiefs to a marathon meeting where he described the situation as the “most frightening.”
Also at the meeting, the senators advised the security chiefs on how better to protect the FCT and the country in general.
The various House of Representatives Committees on Security had similarly met with the security chiefs last Friday over the developments in the country.
Also, the House said the terrorists were daring to have attacked the seat of power, warning the security agencies to go after the militants.
In the last few weeks, the FCT had faced grave security threats with terrorists launching separate attacks on troops and the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre.
Last Thursday, suspected terrorists launched a vicious attack on soldiers at a checkpoint at Zuma rock, a few kilometres from the nation’s capital.
Also on July 24, terrorists attacked the Presidential Guards Brigade troops at Bwari-Kubwa road, Abuja, during which a captain, lieutenant and six soldiers were killed and others wounded.
An attack by Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja, resulted in the release of 69 Boko Haram commanders and hundreds of felons on July 5.
A memo from the NSCDC had also suggested that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were amassing dangerous weapons for massive attacks on Katsina, Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, and Zamfara States.
Speaking before the security meeting went into a closed-door session, the Senate President said the upper chambers had hoped the security situation would have been better by now.
Lawan admonished the law enforcement agencies to perform better and protect the rural populace.
He stated, “This session is to look into where we are today and this current position where we are is most frightening. This is like there is nowhere to go. We have to review what more we have to do and what differently we have to do.
“Insecurity is everywhere and especially if it is coming to the point of dislocating the security situation where the government is quartered. We will really review and see what more we have to do and how differently we have to do.’’
In his remarks, the Chief of Defence Staff said that issues of national security must be seen from a collective perspective.
While noting that quite a lot had happened and quite a lot had been done, Irabor assured Nigerians that the military would do more to improve the security setting across the country.
Aside from Irabor, those who attended the meeting include the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Faruk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff; Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, and Chief Air Staff; Air Marshal Oladayo Amao.
Others are the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba; the Director-General of Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Ahmed Audi and the Director General National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar. The meeting started at 2pm and ended at 7.30pm.
Although the National Assembly began its annual recess on Wednesday, members of the security committees of both chambers stayed back in Abuja because of the rising insecurity in the country.
In a chat with The PUNCH on Wednesday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, decried that the terrorists were not afraid of attacking the FCT despite hosting the Presidential Villa and headquarters of the military and paramilitary agencies.
Kalu said, “On security, a lot needs to be done there. I agree that we have always emphasised that intelligence sharing among the Armed Forces should be better than it is.
“I don’t see a reason why the Federal Capital Territory that houses the headquarters of the Armed Forces would be here and insurgents would be approaching the Federal Capital Territory, the symbol of our national unity.
“There is no reason why this place should not be protected. There is no reason why the insurgents or terrorists should not be afraid of coming to this place. It is a call for them to all wake up and begin to share intelligence and see how they can synergise to work together, and not wait until it is too late.”
He added, “What is happening to the resolution that we passed for (Closed Circuit) Cameras to be mounted all around the streets of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory? What is happening to the use of technology to survey the perimeters of the FCT? What happened to the new technologies like drones? Why can’t we use drones to monitor the activities around the FCT?
“I think the Office of the NSA also needs to step up in its work as well as the NIA, DSS, DIA and the Armed Forces need to step up their games and begin to see a way of securing this particular place; not only the FCT but the entire country. The Nigerian Armed Forces have the capacity to protect this nation.”
The House’ spokesman, however, dismissed the ongoing move by the opposition members of the National Assembly to impeach the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the growing insecurity in the country and failing economy as belated.
Members of the opposition in the Senate and the House had last week issued a six-week ultimatum to Buhari to address the security and economic issues, failing which they would commence impeachment process against him.
Waiving off the impeachment threat, Kalu noted that the regime would have been over by the time the process was concluded, arguing that section 143 of the 1999 prescribes various timeframes of each of the processes.
Kalu noted, “The issue is that if you are talking about impeachment, you cannot talk about it without making reference to Section 143 of the Constitution. The question is, ‘Does Section 143, in view of the procedural timeline, support any move to this effect?’ The answer is no.
“All the seven days, 14 days, seven days, three months and other timeframes; by the time you add them together, in view of the nine months that this administration has left, it will be an exercise in futility.”
IG meets CPs
Earlier before the senate meeting with the security chiefs, the IGP held a conference with state commissioners of police and other senior officers to review the security in the country.
Baba ordered the CPs to begin a special visibility policing operation across their commands.
He explained that the operation should include crime mapping, identification of flash points , raids on criminal enclaves in their areas of jurisdiction among others.
He said, “As part of a major operational initiative to stabilise the internal security order, you are all directed to immediately commence a special visibility policing operation across your Commands.
“This initiative will encompass the crime mapping of your areas of jurisdiction, identification of vulnerable points and massive deployment of personnel on motorized and foot patrols of the cities. The initiative also involves the utilization of intelligence to undertake targeted raids on criminal cells. “
He, however, stated that the level of compliance to his directives that the CPs should liaise with the Nigerian Correctional Service Authorities in their areas of responsibility to jointly review the existing security architecture would be reviewed at the meeting.
The IGP added that the National Security Council’s resolution on the documentation and streamlining of the operations of commercial motorcycle and tricycle riders across the country as part of the initiatives to address national security threats would be discussed.
Meanwhile, suspected terrorists have attacked the convoy of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 12 with Headquarters in Bauchi, Audu Madaki injuring him and killing one of his police guards.
The AIG was on his way to Abuja to attend the IGP conference when some gunmen who had laid ambush, shot at his vehicle.
The incident was said to have happened between Barde and Jagindi area in Kaduna State on Tuesday at about 2.30pm.
The PUNCH learnt that the Madaki had been transferred to a hospital in Abuja for treatment.
The Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Umar Sanda, confirmed the incident to journalists.
A source said, ‘’The bandits trailed him from Bauch and Jos; they overtook him twice before they were able to engage him. He didn’t travel with his convoy, he was in a vehicle with his guards. We have advised him to travel with his convoy but he didn’t listen.’’
Sequel to the rising insecurity in the country, the Chief of Defence Staff said the military was implementing new strategies that would bring an end to the insecurity in the country.
The CDS also said the military was working on upgrading the intelligence management procedures of the defence and security sector to strengthen the overall security architecture in the country.
Irabor stated these while delivering a lecture at the National Defence College on the topic, ‘National Security and Development: Strategic Options for Nigeria,’ in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Amao, said he has directed Nigerian Air Force operational Commanders in the various theatres of operation across the country to show no mercy to terrorists.
He also ordered them to ensure they employ maximum firepower against terrorists, urging them to effectively allocate and utilise all NAF platforms deployed for operations in the North-West and North-Central for enhanced operational effectiveness.
These, according to him would deny the terrorists freedom of movement while boosting the confidence of the populace in the service.
The Air Chief was quoted to have stated these in a statement on Wednesday by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet during a visit to Air Officers Commanding and Air Component Commanders at the NAF Base in Kaduna on Tuesday.
The statement partly read, “I urge you to show no mercy against any terrorist and their accomplices while also denying them the freedom of movement and ease to cause mayhem against innocent Nigerians.”
Amao, however, said efforts were at an advanced stage to procure more combat platforms for the service to meet the ever-increasing demands of air assets in various theatres of operations across the nation.
He assured that training of more combat pilots, imagery analysts and other specialties in the service would continue to be his priority to address the manpower challenges within the operation areas.
In a move to curb insecurity, the Benue State Government on Wednesday restricted the activities of motorcyclists from 6:00am to 8:00pm across the state.
It also sustained the order banning the use of motorcycles in the Sankera axis of the state.
This is part of the resolution of the State Security Council meeting held at the new banquet hall of the Government House, Makurdi.
The steps, according to the State Governor, Samuel Samuel Ortom, was sequel to the alarm raised by his Nasarawa counterpart, Abdullahi Sule of the movement of suspected bandits fleeing from Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi to his state. (PUNCH)
Fire razes NTA Network Centre
Fire on Sunday razed structures at Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Sokoto Network Centre.
The cause of the fire has not been ascertained as at the time of filing in this report.
The fire that gutted parts of operational building of NTA Sokoto network centre has been put out by the combined efforts of staff and intervention of fire fighters.
The inferno which lasted for more than three hours is now under control and has not affected the studio, equipment and other sensitive operational areas.
Engineers suspect that the fire may have been as a result of high electricity voltage.
The OB Van, equipment and office furniture have also been saved from the inferno.
This is coming 24 hours after the Head of Service Office in the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, was gutted by fire on Saturday, which affected Block C in the complex.
The Director of Communications for the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mohammad Ahmed, confirmed the incident, noting that the fire that occurred in Block C was caused by an explosion in the Electrical Utility Room on the third floor.
The room, he said, was being used as a solar and inverter room by the current occupant, the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ahmed revealed that the incident was brought under control by the Federal and FCT Fire Services at around 5:00 p.m., noting that the fire affected the utility rooms on the second to the eighth floors of the building.During the operation, Permanent Secretaries from the Common Services Office-OHCSF, Lydia S. Jafiya, and the Special Duties Office, Faruk Yusuf Yabo, as well as directors from the affected MDAs were present on the scene.
Japa: Health workers shortage forces hospitals to reduce outpatients, surgeries as 4,000 doctors migrate
The migration of doctors and other health workers to other countries is taking a toll on hospitals across the country as the institutions have reduced the number of their outpatients and surgeries due to a shortage of manpower.
Almost all the health institutions were battling with the shortage as they could not cope with the high number of patients who thronged the government hospitals, which were affordable compared with the private ones.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health had on Wednesday raised the alarm that not less than five wards with about 150 beds, had been closed down at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, due to a shortage of health workers.
The Chairman of the Committee, Dr Amos Mogaji, said the five wards had to be shut because there were no workers to operate them despite the large number of patients received at the institutions daily.
Findings showed that LUTH was not the only hospital battling with the problem as health workers lamented the heavy workload because their counterparts had left the country.
Although the Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors could on Sunday not give the exact number of medical doctors that had left the country, the NMA had a few years ago said 2,000 health workers were leaving yearly.
Also, the NARD had in January 2023 stated that a survey it conducted indicated that more than 2,000 of its members left the country in 2022.
However, the harsh economic conditions in the country have been pushing many doctors to leave the country as 1,197 doctors had moved to the United Kingdom since May 29, 2023.
With health institutions including the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta; Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife losing close to 1,000 doctors to japa in the last two years, there are strong indications that over 4,000 doctors might have left the country in the last two years.
In the FMC, no fewer than 200 doctors, including 50 medical consultants have left the country for greener pastures abroad.
Because of the shortage of doctors, it was gathered that the hospital was forced to reduce the number of its outpatients attended to and elective surgeries.
According to veryhealth.com, an “elective surgery” is the term used for a procedure that can be safely delayed without great risk to a patient’s health, such as cataract surgery. A nonelective (or emergency) surgery is a procedure that must be performed immediately for lifesaving or damage-preventing reasons.’’
In Kano State, The PUNCH gathered that no fewer than 789 nurses and 162 doctors had left the state, while about 50 doctors had left hospitals in Benue State.
One of our correspondents gathered that as many as 65 doctors left the OAUTH, Ile-Ife, in the last year, while about three wards had stopped admitting patients over inadequate manpower in the hospital.
An official of the NARD in the hospital, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “65 doctors left OAUTH last year. 45 of them completed their training and left, while 20 abandoned their training and left for other countries.”
He also said about three wards in the hospital had stopped admitting patients due to inadequate manpower.
“Out of three units we have in the emergency section, only one is admitting patients. Two other units in the emergency ward are not admitting patients due to inadequate staff.
“Also, the psychiatric unit is not admitting new patients because we don’t have enough nurses. The Paediatric Unit is seriously understaffed. Generally, we don’t have enough staff in the hospital. Some people are available to work, but they are not employed,” he said.
OAUTH management could not be reached for reaction to the claim, as calls to Kemi Fasooto, the hospital Public Relations Officer, rang out and she has not responded to a text message sent to her by our correspondent, as at the time of filing this report.
At the FMC, Abeokuta, the Chairman of the Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria, Dr Jimoh Saheed, stated that in the last four years, the hospital had lost about 50 consultants and 150 resident doctors to the japa syndrome.
He said, “The japa syndrome has really affected and is still affecting the healthcare system in Nigeria. About 50 medical and dental consultants left FMC Abeokuta alone in the last four years. The number of resident doctors who left for greener pastures should be times three the above number.
“Therefore, the implication is that there is a severe shortage of manpower in the hospital, which has hampered the service delivery and care of patients. We have had to reduce the number of patients seen per clinic and also, and the elective theatre cases per day also dropped.
“As it stands, some segments of our emergencies had to be collapsed for the unit to work efficiently. The implication of all these will mean that we can’t function optimally and the japa wave has affected service delivery, training of medical specialists as well as research.”
Jimoh said the way forward was for the government to declare a state of emergency in the health sector, which would include massive recruitment of various health personnel, and equipping the hospitals to international standards, among others.
Similarly, the Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Ogun State Hospital Unit, Ijaye, Abeokuta, Mrs Lola Idowu, said nurses that had left the hospital in the last three years could not be less than 40, including those who had retired.
The Benue State chapter of the NMA confirmed that more than half of the number of medical doctors working in the state Health Management Board had left the country to search for jobs in better locations.
The NMA Chairman, Dr Usha Anenga, described the situation as pathetic.
Anenga said, “We used to have over 100 doctors at the Health Management Board but now there are less than 50 left. We used to have a consultant and epidemiologist at the Federal Medical Centre but they have left. The gynecologist at the University Teaching Hospital has also left.”
At the University of Jos Teaching Hospital, Plateau State, about 100 resident doctors have left the facility as the remaining ones at the hospital lament the shortage of manpower in the health institution.
The President of the ARD in JUTH, Dr Ishishen Artu, stated that last year, more than 70 resident doctors had left the hospital.
“What is happening across the country about japa syndrome is not different from the situation here in JUTH. When I came on board as ARD president about 11 months ago, we had 410 members.
“But during our last nominal roll from the accounting department, we were about 340. So that is to tell you how doctors have been moving away from the hospital,” Artu stated.
He blamed the manpower shortage on poor welfare packages, insecurity, and inadequate equipment, and called on the government to intervene to avoid an imminent collapse of the health system across the country.
He added, “Some of us who are still around are not finding it easy. Many of our mates outside the country including Ghana, and South Africa are receiving three to five times what we are receiving in Nigeria.
“They want to come home to practice but they can’t come under the present situation. That is why the government has to look at the issues holistically to address them so that the health sector will not break down completely in the country.”
Kano hospitals hit
Over 789 nurses and 162 doctors have relocated outside Nigeria from Kano State alone, according to the NMA in the state.
Similarly, over 162 medical doctors relocated to other countries across the world within the same period under review.
The Chairman of the Kano State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Abdullahi Sulaiman, disclosed this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.
“Many medical doctors and other categories of healthcare workers are exiting the state in droves. So, I cannot tell you the exact number of doctors and nurses that have left the country. I can only give you an estimate.
“It is a bad situation and this is across almost all healthcare workers, not only doctors. They are leaving for Gambia, Somalia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and many others every week,” he said.
According to him, the shortage of such personnel was causing a lot of problems, as those left behind were forced to bear the brunt in the form of overwork, exhaustion, and burnout in a non-conducive working environment.
“About two years back, we wanted to open some wards that were constructed and donated by some wealthy individuals at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, but because there were no healthcare workers to man the places, we had to suspend the opening until later,” Sulaiman stated.
He stated that recently, five anesthetic doctors were employed by the AKTH but three had since abandoned the work and relocated abroad.
“We have been talking about the issue but the government is not taking deliberate steps to address the problem.
“To prevent doctors and other categories of health workers from going out of the country, the government must take deliberate action to address the issue,” he added.
1,197 doctors move
Findings showed that approximately 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors moved to the United Kingdom since May 29, 2023, to date.
At the moment, Nigeria is set to overtake Pakistan and become the country with the second-highest number of foreign-trained doctors in the UK. Currently, India remains the country with the highest number of foreign-trained doctors in the UK.
This is according to the register of the General Medical Council of the UK. The GMC is a public body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners within the UK.
Though about 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed between May 29, 2023 and December 1, 2023, the total number of Nigerian doctors licensed to practice in the UK is now 12,198.
This figure, however, excludes Nigerian doctors who were trained in other countries.
Presently, there are 73 Nigerian-trained doctors in the field of anaesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine, 61 in the field of emergency medicine, 241 for general medicine, 207 for obstetrics and gynecology, 17 for occupational medicine, 16 for ophthalmology, pediatrics field with 164, and 50 for pathology.
There are 35 of them for public health, 357 for psychiatry, 29 for psychiatry and 135 for surgery.
The rate of migration of medical doctors has recently become a matter of concern. The Nigerian Medical Association, while lamenting the high rate of medical brain drain, had said Nigeria might import doctors in the future.
In 2015, only 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK. The number increased to 279 in 2016, while the figure was 475 in 2017. In 2018, the figure rose to 852, while it further increased to 1,347 in 2019.
In 2020, the figure was 833 even though the GMC closed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The figure for 2021 was put at 932.
The Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Prof. Emem Bassey, commenting on the brain drain said, “Some African countries are also beginning to poach from Nigeria.
“The West Coast is looking for our specialists. So many people are now going to places like Sierra Leone and Gambia and the wages they earn $3000 to $ 4000. It is about three to four times what they earn back home. So we are beginning to see that people are leaving for other African countries too.
“The health sector is currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower. What we are seeing is that medical specialists, not just doctors, even nurses even more nurses are leaving. Doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and all manner of health professionals are leaving the country in droves.” ( PUNCH)
$30bn GDP: Igbo Captains of Industry Embrace Gov. Mbah’s Economic Growth
… As governor inaugurates Enugu Investors Network
Captains of industry and prospective investors of South-East extraction have expressed their readiness to key into the investment and economic growth plans of the Dr. Peter Mbah-led Enugu State government.
They expressed satisfaction with the administration’s effort at rallying local domestic business leaders and de-risking the state’s business environment, stressing that investments go to where the risks are less and return on investment (ROI) is high.
This was even as Governor Mbah harped on synergic regional cooperation for economic development, saying a people could only get respect outside their land proportionate to the socio-economic growth in their own homeland.
The business moguls gave the indication in Enugu at the weekend during the inauguration of the Enugu Investors Network, an initiative of the Enugu State Government for mobilising domestic investment.
One of the many business leaders at the event, which also served as the inaugural roundtable of the Network, Dr. Sam Onyishi, CEO of Peace Group of Companies, commended the governor for improved security.
He urged Ndigbo to think home, emphasising that the long-term security of Igbo investment could only be guaranteed in their homeland.
“The government is thinking what I was thinking. The first thing that this government did was to work on the Monday sit-at-home. Two years ago, we did not go to work for 62 days. Last year, we did not go to work for 67 days. This year was going to be worse than that.
“Why I said that the government is thinking what I was thinking is because on the 23rd of November 2013, I told my family that I was not going to make any investment that is worth more than N1 billion outside the South-East.
“I am happy with this government. This is the first time that anybody is inviting me in Enugu State to come and have this kind of heart-to-heart discussion with the governor seated too. The other ones were a kind of ‘come, talk and go home.’ But this one is action. The governor says, ‘This is what we have and what we are going to do together’. It is straight to the point.
“We must be plain and frank with ourselves. So, I do not want to talk about what Nigeria is and what Nigeria is not. As far as I am concerned, I am made for where I come from. Charity begins at home.”
Corroborating, the Chairman of Coscharis Group, Sir Cosmas Maduka, said the Group had since turned homeward, investing heavily in agriculture, among others, in Anambra State and would be eager to explore any of the outlined investment opportunities in Enugu State.
“I want to thank the Governor for thinking alike. However, security is a priority for a true investor, and it is the role of government. That is why I said that investment capital goes where it is safe.
“But you are on the right track. If opportunity presents itself, I would be interested, and that is why we are here”, Maduka stated.
In his remarks, Governor Mbah, who recalled how Dr. Michael Okpara turned the Eastern Region economy around by assembling eminent personalities such as constitute the Enugu Investors Network, said the narratives of insecurity, economic underdevelopment, laxity, and lack of ambitious development initiatives could be changed as they did not represent people of the South-East.
“So, we now have a government in Enugu State that has expressed a humongous vision and ambition as to where we want to see Enugu in the next four to eight years under our watch. We proposed to grow this economy from $4.4 billion to $30 billion to become one of the top players in Nigeria by GDP in the next four to eight years.
“This growth we envision in Enugu is not one that is going to come through the public sector. We expect that the growth would come from investments from the private sector.
“So, my intention here today is to elicit your engagement, your questions, and indeed your involvement on how we can grow Enugu’s economy and, by extension, the South-East economy”, Mbah stated.
Earlier in their remarks, the Secretary to Enugu State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia and the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Adaora Chukwu, said the launch of the Enugu Investors Network underscored the fact that while it was important to look outward for global partnerships, the domestic business leaders were key to Enugu actualising its potential and experiencing irreversible growth and prosperity.
“This administration plans to grow the economy from the inside to outside, putting domestic industry at the centre of our economic plans”, Onyia stated.
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