240 firms have submitted their statements of qualification to the Federal Government in a bid to commercialise gas flaring in Nigeria.
The firms handed in their statements of qualification following a request by authorities, as part of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme.
This was disclosed in an email sent by Mr Rabiu Suleiman, the Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee on the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme. According to him, the received statements of qualifications would be evaluated in June, even as results would be released four weeks afterwards.
“NGFCP is very pleased to advise that 240 SOQs (Statements of Qualification) were received. As you are aware, a Proposal Evaluation Committee and an Independent Observer Group have been appointed and inaugurated on the 11th of April, 2019 by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu.
“the PEC shall evaluate the SOQs submitted by the applicants to determine qualified applicant status in compliance with the design criteria of the request for qualification and also to evaluate the proposals that would be submitted by qualified applicant to determine those bidders that achieve preferred bidder and reserved bidders status.”
Why this matters: The Nigerian Gas Flaring Commercialisation Programme is a fundamental aspect of the Federal Government’s gas revolution initiative. The programme seeks to significantly reduce gas flaring significantly by exploiting it for economic purposes.
The programme is expected to encourage investments, create jobs (especially in the Niger Delta region), and ultimately facilitate economic development in the country.
More Insight: Note that the National Gas Policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council in June 2017. Its main objective is to ensure flare capture and utilisation. It is also expected to encourage industry collaboration and develop partners; including providers of flare-capture technologies and third-party investors.
Will it work this time? Note that this is not the first time efforts is being made to put an end to gas flaring along with the economic and environmental challenges that come with it. Last May, Nairametrics reported that world leading energy company, Vitol, has been in talks with stakeholders in Nigeria to monetise the country’s flared gas. One year later, nothing concrete has come out of those talks. Perhaps the story will be different this time around.
COVID-19: FG asks Nigerians to prepare for societal changes as deaths near 1000
The minister said COVID-19 is still around and would be for a long time.
As Nigeria’s COVID-19 death toll nears 1000, the Federal Government has asked Nigerians to prepare for societal changes that will arise due to the reopening of the economy. This is in view of increased transportation, trade and human interaction, including the possible reopening of international air travelling.
Speaking during the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the situation requires efforts in order to perfectly balance the benefits of a reactivated economy with the need to keep citizens safe.
Ehanire said that Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Mask Week since Friday, August 7, and emphasised the importance of wearing face masks to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in the absence of a vaccine.
“Our focus is still to reduce fatality to less than 1%, not only with preventive measures but also with a strategy that encourages citizens to report early for treatment and for hospitals to attend to all patients in distress; most importantly to be able to provide oxygen treatment,” the minister said.
Quick facts: By midnight of Monday, August 10, Nigeria recorded 950 deaths from 46,867 confirmed cases, while 33,346 have been discharged after making full recovery.
According to data provided by the Minister during the briefing, 549 out of the 774 local government areas in the country have confirmed cases of the virus, with half of the cases concentrated in 20 local government areas. It is in view of this that Nigerians need to become more careful. As the minister said, COVID-19 is still around and would be for a long time.
“Until there is vaccine, the only options we have to protect ourselves, are still the non-pharmaceutical measures that are proven to be cheap and effective, such as the appropriate use of face masks, physical distancing and avoiding crowds. If we do not adhere, there could be regrets,” he warned.
Policy changes: In line with the new figures, the government is now turning its priorities to gadgets that provide oxygen to be in many facilities, including General Hospitals and larger Primary Health Centres (PHCs), as well as solar-powered aggregates, where available, Ehanire said.
He added that federal health institutions with oxygen plants should activate them as a matter of priority and ensure delivery to their Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments.
According to him, the other measure is the activation of an ambulance service that can easily and safely move patients to treatment centres. According to him, “This strategy worked well in Kano and all states should prepare to set up the system.”
He added that the National Council on Health (NCH), which is the highest policy-making body on matters relating to health in Nigeria, had approved the revised Guidelines for the Administration, Disbursement and Monitoring of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), also called the BHCPF Guidelines 2020.
This new document addresses anomalies in the 2018 operations manual and restarts the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the process of disbursement of funds, which had been suspended at the start of the year.
“The new BHCPF has much better country ownership structure, offers a much-improved benefit package and more robust fiduciary control for transparency and accountability. Development Partners are invited to support the new revitalization plan in whatever manner they desire,” he explained.
The National Council on Health (NCH) also approved the establishment of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS).
WHO admits huge funding gap in pandemic fight, reveals amount needed for vaccine
WHO DG also noted that over $100 billion would be needed for the vaccines alone.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that there is a huge gap between funds that are required to fight the Coronavirus pandemic and the funds that are actually available.
The UN health agency revealed that they have about 10% of the needed funds.
This disclosure was made by the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a briefing in Geneva on Monday.
Tedros, while referring to the access to Covid-19 tools said, “The coming three months present a crucial window of opportunity to scale-up the impact of the ACT Accelerator for global impact.
“However to exploit this window, we have to fundamentally scale up the way we are funding the ACT Accelerator and prioritise the use of new tools. There is a vast global gap between our ambition for the ACT Accelerator, and the amount of funds that have been committed.”
He disclosed that the WHO is only 10% close to funding the billions of dollars required.
Tedros also noted that over $100 billion would be needed for the vaccines alone. He said that although the amount might appear huge, it is small when compared to the $10 trillion that had already been spent by G20 countries in fiscal stimulus to deal with the consequences of the pandemic so far.
Going further, Tedros said, “It is never too late to turn the pandemic around. The message is to “suppress, suppress, suppress.”
Also commenting on the situation, the head of WHO’s emergencies programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, said the Coronavirus is simple, brutal, and cruel.
About 20 million positive cases of the Coronavirus pandemic, have been reported globally, with about 730,000 fatalities. The WHO had said that over 150 vaccines are currently on different phases of the trial.
BEWARE: Harmful products are on your local store shelves!
Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming a product.
Time was when the seal on a product bearing a NAFDAC registration number was considered the ultimate seal of authentication. Nowadays, not only are substandard and adulterated products dragging the market share with genuine products, some of them now falsify the NAFDAC seal of approval – registration number.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently advised consumers to beware of some products with fake registration numbers being sold in stores and outlets. The agency advised Nigerians to always examine a product thoroughly (particularly food, drugs, medical devices, or packaged water) before purchasing. Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming.
The agency’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Jimoh Abubakar, while speaking during a recent interview said: “examine the content of the product, the seal of authority or the approved registration number from NAFDAC which is sacrosanct; NAFDAC registration number is not just a number, it is not plate number of a vehicle.
“The number is a rigorous scientific elaboration of a product through our laboratory analysis and through certain compendium references, and after all these by NAFDAC, a product will then be certified for safety, efficacy and wholesomeness”.
In summary, the registration number from NAFDAC is a confirmation to consumers that the product (content and processes) has been examined and is now certified fit for human consumption. The certification process ensures first that good manufacturing practice has been followed, in the right location and environment, and with the right contents, before the product can be labelled.
A recent experience
I purchased a multi-vitamin from an online store recently, and the product was delivered four days later. I was about to break the seal and consume when I noticed there was a slight difference in the name.
I examined the packet closely and discovered that even though the product had been packaged in exactly the same orange-coloured package, the name was different and the details showed that it was manufactured somewhere in Lagos state (the expected product was supposed to be manufactured in the USA).
I wanted to return it outright but then I convinced myself on the need to patronise locally made brands as well if it could give me the same results. I typed the registration number into the NAFDAC verify page and this was the result; “Warning! This product is fake. – report product”.
The scourge of fake registration numbers
In as much as registration numbers are a key differentiator between approved and uncertified products, NAFDAC has admitted that there are fake registration numbers out in the market.
According to Abubakar, the agency is also on the lookout for perpetrators of this deceptive act, even as consumers have been urged to take an extra step in examining a product before consuming it.
He added that technology had made most things easier now and urged Nigerians to visit NAFDAC’s website to get more information about products.
He noted that some products are listed on the website, especially sachet water, as the agency’s staff strength is not enough to be everywhere or to police the country’s population.
“Public awareness and information are very cardinal for people to help themselves; NAFDAC leverages so much on public sensitisation. So, people must help themselves on the consumption of these products,” he said.
Harmful products alert!
Sometime in July, the agency sent out a public alert notifying consumers that the “Pure Tassie Organic Apple and Blackcurrant Juice originating from Australia” had been examined and considered unsafe for consumption, due to unacceptable level of patulin (a mycotoxin) which had exceeded the maximum limit in fruit juice.
The agency’s verdict had also been confirmed by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, before the alert was sent out.
According to the notice, the level of patulin content in the juice is high enough to “induce liver, spleen and kidney damage”, and also toxic to the human immune system, causing nausea, gastrointestinal disturbance and vomiting.
In the alert, NAFDAC implored importers, distributors, retailers and consumers to immediately stop the importation, distribution, sale and consumption of the affected fruit juice, urging them to turn in all current stock of the product to the NAFDAC office, although no mention is made as to compensations for their losses.
A month before this, there was a similar alert from the agency about three cosmetic products namely “Sifu Kunyit Day Cream, Sifu Kunyit Night Cream and JJ Skincare Glowhite Night Cream”.
The products were confirmed by the agency to contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, betamethasone valerate and mercury, all of which are targeted at lightening the skin and changing the pigmentation.
Given the quantity used in these products, NAFDAC confirmed that they can cause damage to the kidney, get absorbed into the blood circulatory system and increase the risk of skin cancer along with other ailments.
Apart from harm caused to the user of products containing mercury, NAFDAC confirmed that mercury can disrupt the brain development of unborn children when consumed by nursing mothers, and also inhibit brain development of young children.
This time around, the products originated from Malaysia and had been imported into Nigeria. Deducing from the notice, one can see that the product had already been banned by the Malaysian Ministry of Health before ever it was imported to Nigeria.
In April, it was a World Health Organisation (WHO) alert on falsified Chloroquine products in circulation in Africa, all originating from three African Countries are Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger.
Why would people buy banned products?
A trader who spoke to Nairametrics confirmed that it is possible for such products to still be imported despite being banned. Tolani, who manages a warehouse where she sells consumables (snacks and drinks ) in wholesale quantities affirmed that when supplies are being made, the suppliers sometimes introduce new products at ridiculously lower prices.
“Some of these brand names that we know are very expensive and their price continues to increase without regulation. So, sometimes when we make to buy new stocks, the supplier can show us a new and similar product that is even less than half the price of the popular brands we know, so we buy them as well.
“They are all imported products, and people like to try out foreign products so we know for sure that they will buy it from us,” she explained.
She added that there was no way to confirm at such times whether or not the product was original, imitated, safe or harmful since the traders are no experts.
“They are foreign products, and I believe that if they passed through customs officers and entered the market, then they should have been checked there” she added for emphasis.
Any synergy between NCS and NAFDAC
Consuming harmful products is bad enough, but exchanging hard-earned money for things that could be detrimental to one’s health is even worse.
NAFDAC already has to combat imitated or harmful drugs produced locally. Doing same for imported products means they have even more on their plate to deal with. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is responsible for manning the borders of the country and monitoring what goes in or out, and if unsafe products still find their way into the country, it means that there are gaps that need to be sealed.
Tweets on the NCS twitter handle shows that much of the organisation’s activities have been centred around the impounding of smuggled bags of rice, kegs of vegetable oil, cartons of spaghetti/macaroni, bags of foreign sugar, cartons of soap, bales of textile materials, parcels of India hemp, NPK fertilisers and vehicles among others.
There is a striking absence of activities around the importation of fake or harmful drugs or other consumables, and all the focus has been on the more lucrative items contained in the import prohibition list such as frozen or live poultry, refined vegetable oils, cocoa butter, bagged cement, etc.
Even though pharmaceutical and consumable items make up 5 out of the 25 item list, it would appear that the list has not been updated recently in line with the recent public alerts from NAFDAC.
Clearly, consumers will have to take precautions themselves as NAFDAC has advised because the agencies appear to be overwhelmed with the amount of criminal work going on in the space. Thankfully, some products now include a sealed number on the packet which the consumer is meant to text to the unique code and confirm the authenticity. Unfortunately, consumers are often in a hurry and not many are patient enough to wait for the confirmation message.
From creams to drinks, foods, drugs and other things that are used in or on the body, an extra minute for verification might just be the deciding factor at the end of the day.