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Customs rice: APC mourns member, others who died in stampede

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

The All Progressives Congress has confirmed the death of one of its members, Comfort Adebanjo, and six others who attempted to purchase seized rice put on sale by the Nigeria Customs Service to cushion the effect of the economic hardship in the country.

The ruling party made the confirmation on Saturday in an obituary message released to mourn the late party member and the other Nigerians.

The PUNCH reports that customs says it has concluded plans to commence the direct distribution of seized food items to Nigerians due to the demonstration against the soaring cost of living in the country.

The National Public Relations Officer of the service, Abdullahi Maiwada disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.

Maiwada said that the move was in response to the critical challenges of food security and the soaring cost of essential food items in the country.

He added that the items must be certified fit for consumption before they could be distributed to Nigerians.

However, there was a stampede on Friday, which led to the death of seven persons.

The Coordinator of FKL Ward E1, Lagos State of the APC, Oluwafemi Fadahunsi, and Secretary, Comrade Adebari Adewale, confirmed that Adebanjo was one of the seven persons who died during the stampede.

In the obituary released on Saturday, the party wrote, “It is with heavy hearts and regret we announce the painful death of one of our members in FKL WARD E1, Mrs Adebanjo Comfort Funmilayo of house number 104, Ibidun street by AKINHANMI street, Ojuelegba.

“She was among the 7 victims who died in the course of buying custom rice at Yaba.

“May God grant all the members of her family and all the residents of WARD E1 the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.”

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NIMC Speaks On New National ID Card

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Following the announcement of the planned release of a new National Identification Number in the country by the Federal Government last week, the National Identity Management Çommission, NIMC has provided further clarifications on the proposed ID.

In a statement released and signed by Head of Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke on Friday, the Commission said the new National ID Card is coming as a single, convenient, and General multipurpose card (GMPC), eliminating the need for multiple cards.

The single card with GMPC is said to have multiple use cases. as: Payments/Financial, Government intervention/services, travel, etc.

The card, according to the National Identity Management Commission is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System to deliver the payment and financial use cases.

“The card will be powered by the AFRIGO card scheme, an indigenous scheme powered by NIBSS.

Applicants for the card will have to request with their NIN through the self-service online portal, NIMC offices, or their respective banks.

“The card will be issued through the applicants’ respective banks in line with existing protocols with the issuance of the Debit/Credit cards.

“The card can be picked up by holders at the designated centre or delivered to the applicants at the requested location at an extra cost to be borne by the applicants’” the statement said.

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Nigerian Breweries shuts down two of its 9 plants due to ‘persistently challenging business environment’

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Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB plc) has indicated plans for company-wide reorganisation as part of strategic recovery plan which entails the temporary shutting down of two out of its nine breweries in Nigeria.

Following the recent announcement of its business recovery plan, the conglomerate which is a member of the HEINEKEN Group and Nigeria’s pioneer and largest brewing company indicated plans for a company-wide reorganisation aimed at securing a resilient and sustainable future for its stakeholders.

The company said the move is essential to improve its operational efficiency, financial stability and enable a return of the business to profitability, in the face of the persistently challenging business environment.

In letters signed by the company’s Human Resource Director, Grace Omo-Lamai, and addressed to the leadership of the National Union of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), the company informed both unions that its proposed plan would include operational efficiency measures and a company-wide reorganisation that includes the temporary suspension of operations in two of its nine breweries.

As a result, and in accordance with labour requirements, the Company invited the Unions to discussions on the implications of the proposed measures.

It would be recalled that the company recently notified the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) of its plan to raise capital of up to ₦600 billion (Six Hundred billion naira) by way of a Rights Issue, as a means of restoring the company’s balance sheet to a healthy position following the net finance expenses of N189 billion recorded in 2023 driven mainly by a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion resulting from the devaluation of the naira.

Speaking on these developments, Managing Director/CEO Nigerian Breweries Plc, Hans Essaadi described the business recovery plan as strategic and vital for business continuity:

“The tough business landscape characterised by double-digit inflation rates, naira devaluation, FX challenges and diminished consumer spend has taken its toll on many businesses, including ours. This is why we have taken the decision to further consolidate our business operations for efficient cost management and optimal use of our resources for future sustainable growth”.

“We recognise and regret the impact that the suspension of brewery operations in the two affected locations may have on our employees. We are committed to limiting the impact on our people as much as possible by exhausting all options available including the relocation and redistribution of employees to our other seven breweries; and providing strong support and severance packages to all those that become unavoidably affected. We are also committed to supporting our host communities in ways that ensure they continue to feel our presence.”

“We remain wholly committed to having a positive impact on our host communities and our consumers; leveraging our strong supply chain footprint; excellent execution of our route to market strategy; and our rich portfolio of brands across the Lager, Stout, Malt, Soft drinks, and Energy drinks categories; and more recently, Wines and Spirits with the acquisition of Distell”, he added.

The Nigerian Breweries’ business recovery plan includes a Rights Issue and a company-wide reorganisation exercise which includes temporary suspension of two out of its nine breweries in the country and an optimisation of production capacity in the other seven breweries, some of which have received significant capital investment in recent years.

The company reaffirmed its commitment to the long-term future of Nigeria and “stands as a cornerstone of Nigeria’s beverage industry.”With over 77 years of operations, the company said it would continue to demonstrate its enduring commitment to the Nigerian market and its people.

Incorporated in 1946 as “Nigerian Brewery Limited,” NB Plc made history in June 1949 when the first bottle of STAR lager beer rolled out of its Lagos brewery bottling line.

Today, it has a rich portfolio of 21 high-quality brands, including iconic brands like Heineken, Desperados, Maltina, Life, Amstel Malta, Gulder, Fayrouz, and Legend produced from nine breweries and distributed nationwide.

NN Plc recently added to its portfolio with the acquisition of an 80% business stake in Distell Wines and Spirits Limited, a local business in the wines and spirits category, as a demonstration of its resilient and forward-thinking strategy to deliver long-term value creation for its shareholders and other stakeholders.

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Nigeria becomes first country to introduce new 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis – WHO

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By Francesca Hangeior

Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine – Men5CV – recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), to protect people against meningitis.

The World Health body, in a statement on Friday, said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of Meningococcus bacteria and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries in Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted that in 2023, there was a 50 per cent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of the 36 Nigerian states between October 2023 and March 2024.
The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on March 25–28, 2024, to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis is a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathogens.

“Symptoms often include headache, fever, and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y, and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

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