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Business News

Senate approves N348 billion to clear oil subsidy claims

The Nigerian Senate has approved over N348bn outstanding petroleum subsidy claims.

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Petrol Subsidy gulped over N11 trillion in 6 years - Senate Committee

The Nigerian Senate has, yesterday, approved over N348 billion for payment outstanding petroleum subsidy claims to 74 petroleum marketers. The approval came following the Senate’s adoption of an interim report submitted by its Committee on Petroleum Downstream sector, on the Promissory Note Programme as well as a Bond Issuance to Settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations to Petroleum marketers.

According to the report, the breakdown of the payment showed that 55 oil marketers are to receive N275,750,415,108, while 19 others will get N73,452,639,866 of out of the N348 billion.

This means 55 oil marketers will be paid 100 percent of their claims, while the remainin 19 will be paid 65 percent as a result of irregularities in their claims and as recommended by the committee.

The upper chamber asked the committee to continue engaging with the Ministry of Finance, oil marketing companies, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and other stakeholders so as to enable them update all the outstanding liabilities and clear all outstanding debts, interests accrued and forex differential once and for all.

Senator Kabir Marafa, who is presently the chairman of the committee, alleged that the marketers had informed the committee that they were being owed the sum of  N670,497,543,15, as of June 30, 2017. The PPPRA had verified and approved the sum of N429,054,203,228 to the Federal Ministry of Finance.

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According to Marafa, despite the fact that the verified figure was approved by the Federal Executive Council, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) reduced the amount to N407,255,263,288 after further verification.

The senator also stated that:

“The continuous delay of the of the approval promissory note request would affect the liquidity of the Oil Marketing Companies and undermine their crucial role in the development of the economy.”

The approved amount is expected to be shared to oil marketers as follows: Aiteo – N4,988,199,360; Conoil – N5,588,285,132; Forte Oil – N15,480,455,907; Bovas – N5,953,684,258; Capital Oil – N8,339,052; Mobil – N8,282363; MRS Oil and Gas – N20,948,270; Oando – N14,972,585,600; and Total – N21,569,996,843.

Adaugo is a graduate of Political science from Abia State University.A graphic designer with a passion for content curation. She has an interest in all things business. In her free time she loves to surf the net and learn new things.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: Sanwo-Olu discloses how Lagos intends to fund vaccination programme

Lagos government has disclosed that it is in talks with the organised private sector to raise funds required to purchase vaccines.

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#EndSARS: Anyone found culpable in Lekki Toll Plaza shooting would be held accountable - Sanwo-Olu, Covid-19: Sanwo-Olu discloses how Lagos intends to fund vaccination programme

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has revealed how the state government intends to fund the vaccination programme as they fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Governor said that although the Lagos State Government had earmarked billions in fighting the scourge of the Covid-19, his administration was engaging with the private sector as the amount they had would not be enough.

This disclosure was made by the governor while appearing on a Channels Television programme, Sunday politics, on Sunday, January 24, 2021.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu said, “The conversations are still at various levels. We are speaking with the organised private sector so they can help us raise some of the finance that is required.

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“We have our friends in the private sector who are saying to us that they understand this is a public health issue but we also can work with you. The citizens are your citizens but they also are our staff.’

The governor also said that his administration did not need to vaccinate over 20 million residents of the state against the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

He said, “It is important for me to make this. We don’t have to vaccinate the 20 or 22 million population that we have. The plan is to ensure that there is herd immunity and that typically speaks about 50 to 60 percent of your population, that is the kind of target that you really meet.

“We have started a conversation with some of the vaccine manufacturers. Pfizer for example. I have made contact with them. Johnson and Johnson are not out yet; the Moderna has written to us and we have written back to them.”

What this means

  • The Lagos State Government is looking for private sector participation to help raise funds to fund the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines due to budgetary shortfalls.
  • The state, which has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country through the vaccination programme, is trying to get most of its population immune from the Covid-19 disease.

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Coronavirus

Cost of Ivermectin soars after research suggest 75% chance of cutting Covid-19 deaths

Ivermectin prices have risen after Research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team shows drug can reduce Covid-19 deaths

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As Azuka laid down in bed feverish, he had resigned to his fate believing he was not going to make it to the next day.

Just 3 days into the new year and all the fun he had, attending weddings and burial ceremonies in the east all seemed like a big mistake. He must have caught covid-19 at one of those events, he thought.

Since attending the last event, he fell sick and has been exhibiting the symptoms of Covid-19 and just waiting to die until someone recommended Ivermectin, a little known drug as a potential medicine that could help save his life.

READ: Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

A few days later he recovered and spread the news to friends and family – he believes Ivermectin cured him.

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The rush to purchase Ivermectin in Lagos has increased of late after stories similar to that of Azuka (not his real name) spread. As Nigeria’s caseloads rise past 120k cases, some Nigerians are increasingly worried about contracting Covid-19, rushing to pharmacies to purchase a drug that they all believe is the most portent to fight Covid-19.

READ: Hepatitis C drugs may be effective against COVID-19, virus may spread through high-rise buildings

What is Ivermectin?

According to the World Health Organisation, Ivermectin was originally produced in the 1980s as a veterinary drug used largely for nematode control in cattle, horses, pigs, and dogs and became the standard for control of the ectoparasitic disease, scabies. It soon became the world’s most profitable veterinary drug.

Since then, Ivermectin has been used on humans for controlling strongyloidiasis, a human pathogenic parasitic roundworm causing the disease strongyloidiasis. According to medical sources, it is also known in the US as threadworm, UK, and Australia as pinworms.

In Nigeria, it has been used to treat worms, according to a pharmacist who spoke to Nairametrics.

READ: Nigeria, others to receive first-ever HIV generic drug for babies in the first half of 2021

“Originally it’s a worm expeller (Antihelminthic) used in the elimination of parasitic worms from the body. They use it in combination with doxycycline. They also use Vitamin C in combination with Axrthromycin.”

However, more recently, the drug is now being used for the treatment of Covid-19 pushing demands for the drug high across pharmacies in Lagos. A Nairametrics survey suggests the drug cost as high as N100,000.

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Another pharmacist who craved anonymity explains.

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“It was one of the available free drugs dispensed to patients at clinics in Nigeria – for eliminating different types of worms from the body. People usually don’t buy it from pharmacies because of the low price, thinking it’s not good quality tabled for expelling worms. It was not expensive and almost cost next to nothing, but now it sells for as high as N200 per tablet”

At N200 per tablet, a pack of 500 tablets could go for as high as N100,000. From all indications, the prices are unstable and could be purchased from as little as N20,000 per pack of 500 tablets to as high as N100,000. It all depends on demand and supply and who is under pressure to get a “cure”.

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READ: COVID-19: WHO warns against Gilead’s remdesivir drug approved by US FDA

Is the drug credible?

Several social media posts and videos allude to the efficacy of the drug in “preventing and curing” Covid-19 but this is yet to be certified by the WHO.

The drug however came into the limelight after a Financial Times article claimed the drug had a chance of cutting covid-19 deaths by up to 75%.

The article was based on research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team led by the University of Liverpool lecturer Andrew Hill. A Nigerian Olufemi Emmanual Babalola, from Bingham University/Lagos University, Nigeria is also part of the group.

READ: WHO study reveals new discovery about remdesivir drug’s effect on Covid-19 patients

Here is an excerpt of the result of the research conducted by the group

“Ivermectin was associated with reduced inflammatory markers (C-Reactive Protein, d-dimer, and ferritin) and faster viral clearance by PCR. Viral clearance was treatment dose- and duration-dependent. Ivermectin showed significantly shorter duration of hospitalization compared to control. In six RCTs of moderate or severe infection, there was a 75% reduction in mortality (Relative Risk=0.25 [95%CI 0.12- 0.52]; p=0.0002); 14/650 (2.1%) deaths on ivermectin; 57/597 (9.5%) deaths in controls) with favorable clinical recovery and reduced hospitalization. “

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Currently, the only other drug with the same level of worldwide unofficial approval for treatment of Covid-19 is Remdesivir, after it also showed an effect on improving recovery rate for Covid-19 patients.

READ: US Mission recognises Nigerian doctor who helped develop COVID-19 vaccine

The choice between waiting for a vaccine or self-medication

More recently, the search for cures for Covid-19 has been overshadowed by vaccine breakthroughs across the world. For most governments, preventing covid-19 is better than curing it which is why more effort is geared towards vaccine distributions and other preventive measures such as insisting on facemasks and introducing new lockdowns.

But for developing economies like Nigeria, where self-medication is prevalent, drugs like Ivermectin are easier to purchase over the counter as well as administer. Just like the demand for chloroquine, zinc, and vitamin C soared in the first wave of Covid-19, demand for Ivermectin is rising along with its price.

Fortunately, Ivermectin is backed by research even though the researchers expressed caution as more trials need to be conducted.

READ: Nigeria records 1,964 new cases of Covid-19, highest daily surge

“Despite the encouraging trend this existing data base demonstrates, it is not yet a sufficiently robust evidence base to justify the use or regulatory approval of ivermectin. However, the current paucity of high-quality evidence only highlights the clear need for additional, higher-quality and larger-scale clinical trials, warranted to investigate the use of ivermectin further.

“The maximum effective dose of ivermectin needs to be clarified and new clinical trials should use a consistent multi-day dosing regime, with at least 0.4mg/kg/day. The appropriate dose and schedule of ivermectin still requires evaluation and the current randomized clinical trials of ivermectin need to be continued until ready for rigorous review by regulatory agencies.” International Ivermectin Project Team 

Asides Ivermectin, Nigerians have also resorted to traditional medicine such as a beverage of lemongrass, dogonyaro leaves, garlic, ginger, and bitter kola to prevent and cure Covid-19, despite orthodox vaccines proven to be effective.

Perhaps it is because no one is sure when the vaccine will get to Nigeria after it was initially meant to arrive in January and since pushed to February 2021. And even if it does arrive in Nigeria, most people do not believe it will get to ordinary Nigerians on time especially when they cite the way the Covid-19 palliatives was handled.

For now, the need for self-reliance is driving people towards any drug they believe can cure covid-19.

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Obituaries

Veteran talk-show host, Larry King dies at 87

Legendary longtime CNN talk show host, Larry King is dead.

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Larry King, the multiple award-winning TV and radio host has died at the age of 87.

King who had a long-running show on CNN, Larry King Live was a household name for his many interviews with political leaders, celebrities and newsmakers.

King’s death was announced on his official Twitter handle stating that he passed on Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA.

The statement read in part:

“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”

The statement did not however, reveal the cause of death, but sources say King was hospitalised for COVID-19 in early January.

Since the news broke, friends, colleagues and admirers have taken to different social networks to express their sadness and condole with the family of the celebrated broadcaster.

What you should know about Larry King

  • King rose to fame in the 1970s with his radio programme The Larry King Show, on the commercial network Mutual Broadcasting System.
  • He hosted the Larry King Live on CNN for 25 years, between 1985 and 2010, carrying out more than 30,000 interviews, including every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.
  • King also wrote a column for the USA Today newspaper for over 20 years.
  • After leaving CNN, King hosted another programme, Larry King Now, broadcast on Hulu and RT, Russia’s state-controlled international broadcaster.

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