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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

By: Michael Mike

The enactment of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act – a national law hinged on the protection of the rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their HIV status, is indeed progressive. However, to date, only about 18 states in Nigeria have domesticated the Act.
Evidence from the Nigeria PLHIV Stigma Index Survey revealed that 24.5% of adults aged 35-44 and 21.7% of young adults aged 18-24 have experienced stigma and discrimination. In some instances, key populations in Nigeria have experienced discrimination, violent law enforcement practices, arrests and other forms of human rights violations. Violence and discrimination against women and girls also remain pervasive. These violations often shove persons living with HIV and key populations to the margins of society, denying them access to life-saving health and social services, including HIV services.
Globally, 38 countries have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (Global Partnership). These are hard-fought gains. Nonetheless, Nigeria is yet to formally join the Global Partnership.
However, the unwavering commitments and investments by stakeholders including the Nigerian government, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS, Global Fund, United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, have been instrumental in catalyzing progress towards ending stigma and discrimination in Nigeria. Communities of persons living with HIV have also been at the frontline of combatting stigma and discrimination. Recently, the Community of Practice to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Nigeria was launched by the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) & Association of Young People living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN). The platform seeks to facilitate capacity strengthening, exchange of best practices and promote synergy amongst stakeholders in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care, education, workplace, justice systems, communities, emergency and humanitarian settings.
When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized, their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. Countries that are beating the AIDS epidemic are doing so by repealing laws and policies that discriminate, by expanding human rights for all and by allowing marginalized communities to lead the response.
Public health is undermined when laws, policies, practices or norms enshrine punishment, discrimination or stigma for people because they are women, key populations, or persons living with HIV. Discrimination obstructs HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and holds back progress towards the end of AIDS.
We have hope, however, from communities on the frontlines. As Dr. Martin Luther King noted, “Social progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people.” It is the communities most affected by discrimination that are leading the pushback against the erosion of their right to health, against the right to life. They are uniting their efforts to protect and advance human rights. They need, and deserve, all our support. The rights path strengthens entire societies, making them better equipped to deal with the challenges we face today and those that are emerging.
The right to non-discrimination as guaranteed under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights treaties and standards, is the cornerstone of international human rights law. Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant treaties, the Nigerian government has an obligation to ensure that national laws and policies do not discriminate against people and that all persons including persons living with HIV are protected against such discrimination by third parties.
Furthermore, the Global Aids Strategy requires that all countries including Nigeria create an enabling legal environment by removing punitive laws, introducing and enforcing protective legislations and policies, and eradicating the abuse of criminal and general laws to target people living with HIV and key populations.
Discrimination against anyone is harmful to the health of everyone. For Nigeria to deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030, action is urgently needed to advance the protection of the human rights of everyone, everywhere. The Zero Discrimination Day, celebrated around the world every 1 March, presents an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen its commitment through ensuring the domestication and effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act in all states across Nigeria, formally joining the Global Partnership, committing to take actions on HIV-related stigma and discrimination across all six settings; and letting communities lead in addressing stigma and discrimination.
Dr Leopold Zekeng, UNAIDS Nigeria Country Director, writes from Abuja.

To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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Troops nutrialised bandits kingpin Shuaibu Danlukutu, scores of bandits in Zamfara

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Troops nutrialised bandits kingpin Shuaibu Danlukutu, scores of bandits in Zamfara

By: Zagazola Makama

Nigerian Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in collaboration with the Zamfara State Community Protection Guards on Wednesday, April 24, eliminated scores of terrorists in Zamfara including a top Bandits kingpin, Shuaibu Danlukutu.

It was gathered that the terrorists met their gruesome end after they were ambushed by the troops at Gengene village located along Magami Road in Gusau.

The renewed onslaught against bandits in the general area has continued to be in the upswing as scores of bandits are daily neutralized and their enclaves busted by troops of the Nigerian Army in conjunction with other security forces.

Troops nutrialised bandits kingpin Shuaibu Danlukutu, scores of bandits in Zamfara

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NCP Mulls BOA-NIRSAL Merger, Injection Of Fresh Capital

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NCP Mulls BOA-NIRSAL Merger, Injection Of Fresh Capital

*We must reposition BOA to drive Nigeria’s food security- VP Shettima

By: Our Reporter

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has received key recommendations from its committee on the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), including a proposed merger with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s NIRSAL Microfinance Ltd and a fresh capital injection to revitalize the bank.

Addressing the second NCP meeting of 2024 at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima reiterated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to repositioning and reforming BOA to drive the administration’s food security agenda.

“Let’s get very sound professionals with integrity to manage the bank. If we use it well, it’s going to be a tool for the transformation of our economy because agriculture is the key,” the Vice President said.

Presenting the committee’s report, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, who doubles as NCP Vice-Chairman, said the Council’s decision was informed by the challenges identified and the need for urgent resolution of the issues confronting the Bank.

Edun outlined the major recommendations, including “the immediate reconstitution of the Board of Directors of the Bank to enhance corporate governance” and “a merger of BOA with the CBN’s NIRSAL Microfinance Ltd.”

He also highlighted the proposal to “cede National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) land titles to BOA so that it reflects in its Balance Sheet, thus increasing its capital adequacy for the purpose of raising funds from institutional investors.”

Acknowledging the need for financial reinforcement, the Minister identified “adequate capital injection into the Bank by the shareholders” as a crucial step forward.

The committee’s report comes after the NCP empanelled an 8-member inter-ministerial body in December 2023 to review the state of affairs at BOA, given agriculture’s critical role in the economy and the Tinubu administration’s commitment to food security under the Renewed Hope Agenda.

In 2016, the NCP had approved the collaboration between the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the then Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Ministry of Finance to restructure and recapitalize BOA.

A consultant, Lead Capital Consortium, was engaged in 2019 to review the bank’s operations and advise on strategies for rebirth and growth. The consultant’s core recommendation was for the government to recapitalize the bank, implement reforms, provide technical assistance, and transform BOA into a sustainable agricultural development bank.

Edun further outlined additional recommendations, including “Provision and upgrade of the Bank’s ICT infrastructure to automate processes, reduce costs and enhance the Bank’s outreach to the grassroots” and “Enhance governance and risk management by appointing qualified Board members and senior management with relevant expertise.”

In a move to bring transparency and efficiency to the nation’s energy sector, the NCP also noted the proposal seeking approval for the establishment of an independent system operator from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

NCP Chairman, Vice President Shettima, set up a committee to liaise with the Special Adviser to the President on Energy and the Federal Ministry of Power to provide a roadmap and reach out to stakeholders.

The committee is chaired by Mr. Oye Hassan-Odukale, Technical Committee Chairman of NCP.

On a Strategy Paper for the Optimisation of Oil and Gas Assets, the Council also formed a committee to look into issues concerning oil and gas infrastructure, stressing the strategic importance of investors in the sector.

The committee chaired by the Minister for Budget and Economic Planning includes the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, the NCP Secretariat, the Ministers of Power, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil) and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas),

The committee was given three weeks to come up with its report on optimizing the nation’s oil and gas assets.
End

NCP Mulls BOA-NIRSAL Merger, Injection Of Fresh Capital

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USAID: Zulum passionate on livelihood of Borno citizens

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USAID: Zulum passionate on livelihood of Borno citizens

… Gov says we would focus more on medium, long term solutions to our problems

By: Our Reporter

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has commended Borno State Governor, Banagana Umara Zulum, for his passion for enhancing the livelihood of Borno citizens.

The Mission Director of USAID, Melisa Jones, made the commendation in Maiduguri on Wednesday while speaking to journalists at the Government House.

She said, “The governor (Zulum) is very passionate about ensuring the livelihood and well-being of his citizens. That is what we as USAID would continue to do.”

She added, “Our partnership is with this government, and our partnership would be strengthened by this visit and by the leadership of this Governor (Zulum). We are very appreciative of his thinking, thought leadership and direction and we will continue with this partnership.”

Earlier the USAID Mission Director to Nigeria, Melisa Jones, held a meeting with the governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara Zulum, which was concluded behind closed doors.

… Gov says we would focus more on medium, long term solutions to our problems

Meanwhile, Governor Babagana Unara Zulum said that Borno State Government would shift its focus from a short-term humanitarian solution to a medium and long-term development-driven approach.

Zulum made this known on Wednesday when he received the Mission Director of USAID, Melisa Jones, at his office in Maiduguri.

The governor said, “We are not objecting to the continuous provision of humanitarian support, but gradually, we want to shift our focus to the medium and longer-term sustainable solution.

He added, “However, we still need humanitarian support; all the concerns of the humanitarian partners will be addressed, and we shall work to see how areas in need continue to receive humanitarian support from our partners.”

The governor also extended gratitude to the government of the United States of America and the US International Development Agency (USAID) for their support to the government of Borno State.

“I convey our deep appreciation to the government of the United States, particularly USAID, for all the support they have been rendering to the government of Borno, the people of Borno State and indeed the entire northeast,” Zulum said.

USAID: Zulum passionate on livelihood of Borno citizens

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