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BREAKING: FG Approves ‘Safe Reopening’ Of Schools

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The Federal Government has approved “safe reopening” of schools in the next phase of the gradual easing of lockdown ordered to curtail further spread of COVID-19.

However, only students in graduating classes will resume.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the ongoing daily briefing of the task force in Abuja on Monday.

He said the reopening of schools was meant to allow graduating classes resume to prepare for examinations.

He disclosed the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

Mustapha said: “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase II of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.

“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:

“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;

“Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;

“Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;

“Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response.”

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Inside Nigeria

356 Soldiers Apply For Voluntary Disengagement, Over “Loss Of Interest” In The Nigerian Army

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Atleast 356 soldiers have reportedly applied for voluntary retirement citing loss of interest in the Nigerian Army.

Many of the soldiers are among the troops engaged in the decade-long war against Boko Haram in the Northeast, while others are from various other formations across the country.

But apart from the 356 who are leaving for losing interest in the army, 24 others are exiting because they want “to take traditional title,” making a total of 380 soldiers, including two Master Warrant Officers and 28 Warrant Officers, voluntarily discharging from the army, according to sources with direct knowledge of the development.

A document written by Gagariga on behalf of Buratai state’s that the soldiers’ disengagement date will take effect from January 3, 2021.

The document reads;

“In compliance with the provisions of Reference A, the COAS vide Reference B has approved the voluntary and medical discharge of the above named MWO, and 385 others listed as Annexes A and B.

“The soldiers are to proceed on terminal leave December 3, 2020, while their disengagement date takes effect from January 3, 2021, in accordance with the Nigerian Army Administrative Policy and Procedures No 27 Paragraphs 3 and 4. Accordingly, I am directed to request formations and units to release all affected soldiers to report at the Headquarters, Garrison, with their unit service documents for documentation.

“All forms of military-controlled items, arms, ammunition, and items of combat kits are recovered from the soldiers prior to their disengagement date and certify that they are properly de-kitted. Please acknowledge.”

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Inside Nigeria

We Used ₦1.5 Billion To Take Care Of Ourselves As COVID-19 Palliative — NDDC MD

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The sum of N1.5bn was used as COVID-19 relief fund for staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Kemebradikumo Pondei, Acting Managing Director of the commission, said.

Pondei disclosed this at the investigative hearing on the N40bn corruption allegation against the commission.

The Senate had on May 5 set up a seven-man ad-hoc committee to investigate the financial recklessness of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC.

The MD and other delegates from the commission appeared before the committee on Thursday for the hearing.

The lawmakers raised concerns over the spending at the NDDC, noting that the commission spent N40bn last three months without due process.

However, Pondei when giving account of how money was spent, said staff of the agency had to be catered for, too.

He said, “We used it (N1.5bn) to take care of ourselves. We are NDDC, we need to take care of ourselves too.”

Part of the audit report read out by the Chairman of the committee, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, said N3.1bn was spent as COVID-19 funds between October 2019 and May 2020.

In the report, the lawmaker said, “N10m was paid to one person, N7m to two people, N5m to three people, 148 people took N3m each, 157 people got N1.5m each, 497 people got N1m each and 464 people were paid N600,000 each.”

Another N475m was given to the police to purchase face masks and hand sanitisers, he added.

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Inside Nigeria

Northern States Back FG On Schools’ Closure

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Education commissioners in the 19 Northern States have resolved to reopen schools only when it is safe to do so, following the spike in cases of COVID-19.

The commissioners in a communique in Kaduna on Saturday, after a virtual meeting to consider schools reopening and other issues to strengthen the education sector, said keeping schools closed in the face of the spike in COVID-19 cases across the country was a sure step to ensure that children remained safe.

The communique was signed by Dr Shehu Makarfi, Commissioner for Education, Kaduna State, who is also the Chairman of the northern states School Exchange Programme (SEP).

Other participants were his counterparts from Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Katsina, Kano, Borno and Jigawa.

The commissioners applauded the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, for taking a decisive stand against school reopening and pledged their full support.

They resolved that “schools should be reopened only when it is safe to do so and when states have complied with the minimum COVID-19 safety protocols as outlined by the NCDC.”

They also said their states would “participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and other examinations only when it is safe to reopen schools and when coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Education.”

They planned to carry out holistic assessment of schools to determine safety status for reopening and submit reports to their respective governors for consideration.

They also urged their respective states to take steps to provide critical facilities required for reopening of schools as specified by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“Schools’ infrastructure, such as dilapidated classrooms, students’ hostels, source of safe water, sanitary facilities, including hand washing equipment and security are critical and should be improved.

“We will equally clear schools of bushes and grasses, as well as fumigate school’s surroundings to support learning and ensure safety when schools resume,” they said.

They, however, appealed to the Federal Government to support states in putting safety measures in place for school reopening.

According to them, many states may not have the financial strength to embark on such a huge capital-intensive project.

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