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COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Some of the Western diplomats on Friday expressed fears over the abysmal way the Federal Government was handling the Coronavirus outbreak.

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coronavirus, COVID-19: Infections rise to 42 as 2 new cases are confirmed, COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Some Western diplomats expressed fears over the abysmal way the Federal Government was handling the Coronavirus outbreak. They warned that the number of infections could witness a sharp increase in the coming weeks if the Nigerian Government does not review its strategy and the poor way it’s been handling the pandemic.

The country as at late Friday had 81 confirmed cases, recorded 1 death of the pandemic and 3 who have been released after being treated of the disease.

A monitored report by Nairametrics suggests that diplomats are predicting that the Covid-19 infections could rise to more than 10,000 in the coming weeks, as there are at least 5,000 persons, who had come in contact with infected persons in Nigeria already.

These set of people, it was gathered, had also subsequently come in contact with thousands of others in society without realizing that they might have the virus.

[READ MORE: COVID-19: Lagos State to begin curfew on Sunday to disinfect metropolis)

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The monitored report disclosed that a senior diplomat attached to one of the European high commissions in Nigeria on Friday said, “This is the real danger. A lot of people who have had contacts with original carriers of the virus don’t even know they have the ailment and have in fact gone ahead to mingle with hundreds and thousands of others in the society, spreading the virus further.

“From the information we have in the diplomatic community, there could be an explosion of confirmed infections in the coming weeks. It is going to disrupt a lot of things.”

JUST IN: Second case of Covid-19 now tests negative

Osagie Ehanire, Health Minister, Nigeria

Another diplomat, who is from a country that has provided technical support to African countries trying to curtail the spread of the disease said that the country was in a desperate and extremely serious situation.

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This is partly because of the suspicion that the untested infection cases far outnumber those who have been tested by government agencies due to the unavailability of testing kits.

There is also palpable fear amongst Nigerians over the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading and lack of medical facilities and preparedness by both the federal and state governments.

Although as part of their philanthropic gesture, some wealthy Nigerians, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, have been donating testing kits and protective items to Nigeria to help combat the virus, a huge number of potentially infected persons are yet to be tested, increasing the risk of an epidemic in the West African state.

According to the diplomat on Friday, “We could be having tens of thousands of confirmed cases across Nigeria in a few days from now. 

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“There are thousands of people with the virus already on the loose in the country and many of these people cannot be traced. They have taken this pandemic into every nook and cranny of this country. 

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“I think Nigeria must act fast to avert a full-blown war.”

[READ ALSO: COVID-19: NCDC, NPA clarify controversy over cases)

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Already, there have been reported cases of people being asked to self-isolate after reporting to health agencies of having symptoms of the Covid-19 virus.

Without proper monitoring and stringent measures to ensure such persons do not expose others to infection in case they have the virus, thousands of individuals in this category have gone on with their daily activities and opened up the chance of an epidemic in the country.

As a result of this lacklustre and unsatisfactory approach to the pandemic by the Nigerian government, some European countries have started evacuating their citizens from Nigeria.

Nairametrics had reported that An Air France flight on Thursday, airlifted 260 Europeans from Nigeria to France to prevent them from being infected with the virus.

Also on Thursday, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing CB, said the mission was exploring available options to send staff and their families back to the United Kingdom.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Financial Services

Niger Insurance Plc gets shareholders nod to restructure business

Niger Insurance Plc has announced plans to restructure its insurance business into distinct but mutually dependent business entities.

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Edwin Igbiti

Niger Insurance Plc has obtained shareholders’ approval to restructure its insurance business into general, life and business insurance, with each segment to be structured as a separate legal entity.

This is part of the resolutions passed at the 50th Annual General Meeting of Niger Insurance Plc., held on 20th of January, 2021 at Peninsula Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.

The decision to restructure the company is in a bid to make it more efficient and profitable to stakeholders, especially as efforts are geared towards overturning a loss of about 1,1723.2% Year-on-Year, earlier made by the company in its last reported financial statement, Q2, 2020, as reported by Nairametrics.

Other key decisions reached at the 50th AGM include;

  • The re-appointment of Mr Ebi Enaholo and Mrs. Olufemi Owopetu as Directors of the company.
  • Acceptance of the presented financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the report of the audit committee, directors and auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to fix the remuneration of the auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to appoint external auditors to replace retiring auditors of the company.
  • The appointment of four individuals as members of the audit committee.
  • A decision to restructure the company’s business capital was also reached.

In case you missed it: The shareholders of Niger Insurance Plc in the 49th Annual General Meeting approved the decision by the company’s board to raise additional capital to the tune of N15 billion, in a bid to meet the revised recapitalization targets for general and life insurance companies.

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What you should know: The House of Representatives had in December 2020 directed NAICOM to suspend the mandatory deadline for the first phase of 50%-60% of the minimum paid-up share capital for insurance and reinsurance firms.

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Energy

Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude exports resume as ExxonMobil lifts force majeure

ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil exports as production resumes.

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ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil export terminal, as crude exports resume for the first time in almost six weeks after a fire at the terminal halted operations.

This is according to a company spokesman yesterday, who confirmed the company had lifted force majeure on Qua Iboe crude loadings.

Qua Iboe production started to ramp up to normal levels of 200,000 b/d in the past week, according to sources, with the release of both the February and March loading programs.

The VLCC Dalia was also in the process of loading a 1-million-barrel stem at the Qua terminal since January 21, 2021, according to data intelligence firm Kpler. This will be the first export of Qua Iboe since December 15, 2020, after a fire hit the facility and injured two workers.

The company has been under pressure since the closure and prices have taken a hit as a result of the disruption. S&P Global Platts last assessed the grade at a discount to Dated Brent of 50 cents/b, down from a premium against the benchmark in December.

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Bonny Light, a mainstay Nigerian crude which typically trades at roughly the same level as Qua Iboe, was last assessed 30 cents/b higher.

What they are saying

One trader said: “If you get a cargo of Qua now it could be 50 cents to a dollar below Bonny even – a January cargo is completely out of cycle and the reliability issues mean people won’t touch it.”

Another trader stated that: “[The return of Qua Iboe] is not what West African crude assessments (WAF) differentials needed.”

What you should know

  • Qua Iboe is one of Nigeria’s largest export grades, and is very popular among global refiners, with India, the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and the Netherlands being key buyers.
  • Qua Iboe is light sweet crude, which has a gravity of 36 API and sulfur content of 0.13%. The crude, produced from fields 20-40 miles off the coast of southeast Nigeria, is brought to shore at the Qua Iboe terminal via a seabed pipeline system.
  • Indian demand has steadied following a buying spree late last year, and European demand has been hit by renewed coronavirus lockdowns in the region.
  • Prices for Nigerian crude have suffered in recent weeks, even with lower supply due to the outage.
  • February and March loading programs have been issued for Qua Iboe averaging 169,643 b/d and 153,226 b/d respectively.
  • Production of this key grade ranged between 180,000-220,000 b/d in 2020, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

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Financial Services

CBN says revised new cheque book to become fully operational from April 1, 2021

The CN has announced plans to discontinue the use of old cheque books with effect from March 31, 2021.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has in a circular to all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), accredited Cheque Printers/Personalisers, and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), stated that the revised cheque book will become fully operational from April 1, 2021.

The apex bank has directed all DMBs to enlighten their customers on the revised cheque book, introduced across all banks as full enforcement of its usage will commence on the stated date.

READ: CBN reviews minimum interest rates on savings deposit to 1.25%

The disclosure is contained in a circular that was issued by the CBN and signed by its Director Banking Services, Mr Sam Okojere.

The CBN in the circular noted that the clarification became necessary as some stakeholders had been interpreting the circular differently from the intended purpose.

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READ: CBN moves to ring-fence Disco collections

The CBN in the circular stated, ‘’Please refer to our circular dated 9th December, 2020, referenced BKS/DIR/CIR/GEN/02/042 on the above subject.

It has come to our notice that some stakeholders interpret the circular differently from the intended purpose. Consequently, it has become imperative for the CBN to issue the following clarifications;

  1. The parallel run, in which old and new cheques are allowed to co-exist, will end on 31st March 2021, and thus only new cheques would be allowed in the clearing system from 1st April 2021.
  2. Full enforcement of the second edition of the Nigeria Cheque Standard (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS) Version 2.0 will commence April 1, 2021 and the NCS/NICPAS 2.0. Sanction grid will be fully operational on April 1, 2021.
  3. All deposit money banks are (therefore) directed to actively enlighten their customers and ensure necessary provisions are put in place for a smooth migration to the New standard.
  4. The extension of full implementation date from Jan. 1 to April 1, 2021 is due to outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the Nigeria Cheque Standard (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS) Version. 2.

READ: CBN grants approval for banks to debit accounts of loan defaulters 

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What you should know

  • It can be recalled that in an earlier circular issued on the revised cheque book, the CBN had put the cut-off date for the parallel run of the old and new cheques at August 31, 2020.
  • This was further extended to December 31, 2020, with only new cheques intended to be allowed in the clearing system from January 1, 2021, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it had on the project.
  • This further adjustment of the deadline gives room for more sensitization by the deposit money banks to their customers, taking into consideration the disruptions that have happened in the economy.

READ: CBN temporarily suspends cheque clearing during Coronavirus lockdown

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