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FG, states, others review terms for schools reopening

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Another step towards the reopening of schools will be taken today as Federal and state governments meet to review the level of compliance with the conditions.

The 52-page guidelines released by the Federal Ministry of Education is designed to navigate the path for the resumption of pupils in exit classes to enable them write their external examinations despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision on the return to school by exit class pupils may likely be taken at the end of today’s meeting.

The ministry’s virtual meeting with Commissioners of Education and special advisers on Education in the 36 states and the Education secretary of Federal Capital Territory will also pick a likely date for the safe reopening of schools.

The meeting will be attended by officials of the National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC).

Also expected are representatives of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), the umbrella body of private school owners and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS).

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But National President of NAPPS Chief Yomi Otubela said on Sunday that he was not aware of the meeting.

Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE) Sonny Echono said a decision on 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination organised by WAEC will be taken having received a feedback on the options available to Nigeria from the examination body.

He said the government had agreed on a date to hold the national common entrance examination into unity colleges.

The permanent secretary said the date for the common entrance examination will be announced at the end of today’s meeting.

Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba had last week said Nigeria was open to the option of writing the General Certificate Examination (GCE) organised in November/ December.

Echono said:

“We (FG), all the commissioners of education, examination bodies, private school proprietors, ANCORPS, Secretary of Education, FCT and other stakeholders are going to meet tomorrow (today).

“We have invited them so that if they require explanations and their own input we will hear from them at once.

“The subject is for us to decide on the issue of reopening of schools for all the exit classes to take their final examinations.

“We have already agreed on a date for the common entrance. That one is for primary schools so it is not an issue. It doesn’t have much problem. The date will be announced after the tomorrow’s meeting.

“We have received a feedback from WAEC on what options are available and we want to discuss those when the new date will be and let us agree as a group and not just impose our view on the others.”

Director of Information in the ministry, Ben Gong, said:

“The emphasis is on the exit classes who are going to do WASSCE, NECO, Common Entrance and NABTEB, With the decision they (WAEC) took, by next month they should be starting the examination. Being a bigger customer we said no.

“We want to meet within us to discuss and look at the timetable. WAEC is proposing either August or November. We are saying since we have a number of exams there is nothing cast in stone to say that we must start with WAEC.

“Since WAEC is saying next month; which we have disagreed with or November, the exit classes can resume and start preparations and do all these exams (NECO, NABTEB and common entrance) then we will meet WAEC by November.”

Some of the conditions given to state by the Federal Government include school management, provision of infrastructure for social distancing, disinfecting schools, provision of water and soap for handwashing, the provision of infra-red thermometers, the use of face mask, appoint incident managers, appointing classroom wardens, among others.

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National President of NAPPS Otubela said he was only aware of a meeting to review preparations for resumption scheduled to hold on July 30.

He said:

“The one I heard about should be on 30th of this month but I have not confirmed the Invitation.

“Until after that meeting before update. They have asked schools to fill a form based on the 52-page guidelines and submit by July 29. After July 29 there will be a meeting.”

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Don’t bottle-feed your children, practice exclusive breastfeeding, Abia Govt official tells mothers

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Dr. Chinagozi Adindu, the Executive Secretary, Abia Primary Healthcare Development Agency, has advised nursing mothers against bottle-feeding their babies, saying it discourages healthy child development.
Adindu gave the advice in an interview with the Newsmen in Umuahia, in commemoration of the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week.
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanize action on themes related to breastfeeding.
According to WABA, an Online publication, WBW is celebrated every Aug. 1 to 7 in commemoration of the  1990 Innocenti Declaration.
It started in 1992, with annual themes: including healthcare systems, women and work, theInternational Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes,  community support, ecology, economy, science, education, and human rights.
Since 2016, WBW is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, a  World Health Assembly resolution endorsed WBW as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy,” WABA said.
Adindu urged mothers to ensure proper breastfeeding of their children, saying it has many advantages.
“In all our 722 facilities in the state, when mothers come for their ante-natal or post-natal, we usually use that opportunity to educate them on the need for proper breastfeeding.
“We dissuade them from bottle-feeding their babies. In fact, we confiscate such things, if they come to us with the bottles,” Adindu said.
He highlighted the importance of breastfeeding, saying, “it is nutritionally sound and helps the baby to develop very well”.
According to him, breastfeeding helps to strengthen the baby’s immunity against diseases as well as its cognitive development.
The medical doctor said that proper breastfeeding would also help the mother to lose weight, child spacing, maternal bonding, and cheaper.
Adindu said that, in commemorating the week, the agency had held Town Hall meetings, sensitization meetings, road walks, and as well engage the media to create awareness on the need for mothers to breastfeed their children.
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Expert urges shipowners to negotiate with AMCON to forestall foreclosure

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Dr. Chamberlain Peterside, a Financial Expert, has urged maritime stakeholders to come together and aggressively negotiate with the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to forestall their foreclosure.

Peterside made the appeal on an Instagram live program on Saturday organized by Mrs. Ezinne Azunna of the MaritimeTv.

The program had the topic, “State Guarantees, Sovereignty Clauses and all Borrowers in the Maritime Industry Need to Know’’.

According to him, the protracted action by AMCON to come after indigenous shipowners to try to repossess or foreclose them will cripple the already weak indigenous shipping industry.

He proposed a set-aside, urging stakeholders and government to see the industry as a special case as presently the coronavirus pandemic had caused more havoc and the need to protect indigenous shipowners.

“Yes there are some defaults but they should not take a strictly commercial view in this. We are not saying they should walk away but AMCON should cool down and work things out.

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“AMCON has to understand the trend of the industry and if the need is in the negotiation, the executive council should be involved.

“The indigenous shipping industry should be taken as a special case because if it is crippled, the multiplier effect will be very huge,” he said.

Peterside noted that presently discussions in the industry were about Cabotage, developing indigenous capacity, helping the industry grow, saying that already people who had taken the risk and had emerged would suffer.

The finance expert said that as regards borrowing now, it was not advisable to advocate for any measure for capital campaign till the end of the year.

He advocated that shipowners should let the dust settle due to the pandemic so that people would know where the market was heading and also the global economy as prices were rebounding.

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“At the level, things are right now, there is still a lack of comfort. The International Oil Companies (IOC) do not feel too comfortable to make key decisions and so the need to watch the IOC’s body language.

“Shipowners should be thinking of diversification. Those in the business of hauling cargoes for IOCs should consider other assets that they can invest in,” he said.

Peterside pointed out that the industry was a very capital intensive one and unfortunately, raising funds was burdened with few lapses such as operational, environmental, regulatory framework, and also risk profile.

He noted that the only sector that had the least risk in Nigeria was the natural resources sector.

He said that as regards guaranteeing Shipowners, a portion of their services should be guaranteed, like a set-aside, an intervention fund which was done all over the world.

Peterside called for the deployment of the cabotage funds which could be used as an intervention fund to create an avenue where indigenous players could tap from.

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“The government is already over-burdened and so cannot guarantee and the Cabotage fund should run very efficiently and on a commercial basis so that it is not frittered away,’’ he said.

He said that another way of generating funds for the industry was to concentrate on cargo and services instead of vessels because one could leverage cash flow.

Peterside noted that as regards banks funding the sector, they needed to have the expertise to be able to operate the trends as the sector was exposed to the global market.

He added that lack of expertise would lead to default in loan servicing, non-performing loans, saying that unfortunately, a lot of indigenous players did not have financial buffers to withstand loan cancellation, suspension of service, or any disruption.

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ExxonMobil Nigeria gets new chief executive

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ExxonMobil on Saturday announced the appointment of Richard Laing as Chairman and Managing Director of its three affiliates in Nigeria.
Mr. Ogechukwu Udeagha, Manager, Media, and Communications, ExxonMobil confirmed in a statement in Eket.
The three affiliates are Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Offshore East).
Udeagha said that the appointment takes effect from Aug. 1.
He said that Laing replaced Paul McGrath, who has been appointed Vice President, Global Projects for ExxonMobil in Houston after more than three years in Nigeria.
“Prior to his appointment, Laing was executive director of oil and gas production and related support groups for all of the ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria.
”Laing joined ExxonMobil in 1989 and has held a variety of engineering, planning, safety, and managerial positions in upstream and downstream operations while working in the U.K, Qatar, U.S., and Nigeria,” he said.
Udeagha said that Laing holds a bachelor’s degree in Mining and Petroleum Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Master’s in Petroleum Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
Responding, Liang said; “It is a privilege to lead the ExxonMobil team in Nigeria and build on the work that Paul McGrath had done over the last three years.
“I look forward to the work that lies ahead and continuing the company’s outstanding relationships,” Liang said
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