The United Kingdom has relaxed COVID-19 restriction for 50 countries excluding Nigeria and other African countries.
The measure which came into effect yesterday had countries and territories categorised as either “red” or “rest of the world.” With the new travel rules, the UK has stopped the previous traffic light system of green, amber and red lists. Nigerians entering the UK will be subjected to COVID-19 test and isolation in spite of their COVID-19 vaccine certificate obtained in Nigeria.
A statement published on its website said eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under-18s returning from the over 50 countries and territories not on the red list, can do so without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT), a day 8 test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period, making it easier for those travelling, whether that’s to see friends and family, or on business trips.
“Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after five days.
“The UK government is continuing to work with international partners as we seek to more regularly expand the policy to further countries and territories.” The statement said that eligible fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list would be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.Commenting, Grant Shapps, US transport secretary, said:
“We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.
“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than 8 in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.
“Also from today, under-18s from the over 50 countries whose vaccination status the UK recognises will not need to present a negative PDT before travelling to England. This applies regardless of their vaccination status.”
Responding to Daily Sun query over the exclusion of Nigeria from the approved list of countries, the UK High Commission in Abuja said the current approach would be kept under regular review and further changes were likely as part of a phased opening up of international travel for vaccinated travellers. The UK is committed to opening up international travel and we are using our COVID-19 vaccine certification process to enable all those wishing to enter the UK to do so safely.
“We understand that there has been some frustration that the new UK travel rules will continue to require people travelling to the UK from Nigeria to quarantine despite having received two doses of recognised COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria.
“Following a pilot with the United States of America and the European Union, the UK is working to recognise vaccine certificates from other countries as part of a phased review of the many COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued across the world. This includes recognising Nigeria’s vaccine certificate and – in the spirit of our long-term partnership – we are working with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that this happens as soon as possible,” the High Commission’s Political Counsellor, Jonathan Bacon said.
Nigerian travelers had in September complained over the COVID-19 restriction they suffered in the UK despite being fully vaccinated before leaving the country. Nigerians were forced to undergo test and isolation even though they had certificate to show for the vaccine that took before traveling. Also, they were made to pay for accommodation for isolation and the test.
Following the complaints, the Federal Government assured Nigerians that it was handling the matter. The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said Nigerian officials “are in talks with the UK government.”
He said all the vaccines administered in Nigeria were recognised by the UK adding that the UK in the past had three classifications for vaccination by countries: green, amber and red of which Nigeria is on the amber list. Shuaib said the new advisory would only see countries classified into two lists green and red and hopes that Nigeria maintains the status quo by not being restricted.
On her part, the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing denied reports that her government has placed restrictions on Nigerian travelers. She was confident when she issued a statement that the UK authorities will soon simplify existing travel rules for Nigerians and other international visitors to the country.
“From October 4, 2021, the current system will be simplified. There will be a single red list of countries and territories where stricter rules apply, and there will also be a “rest of the world” list, with simplified travel measures.”
She said the “rest of the world” list will include countries currently on the UK’s amber list, such as Nigeria.
Laing dismissed as untrue reports suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccines administered in Nigeria are not approved by the UK.
In the list of countries approved yesterday, no African country was included. Recall that in September, the head of Africa’s health agency had warned that the UK’s policy of not accepting COVID-19 vaccine certificates from the continent could increase vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. John Nkegasong, head of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the UK’s stance was confusing and had far-reaching implications for vaccination campaigns.
“We do not understand why the UK has taken this position,” he told a virtual news briefing.
Many Africans are furious, and have called the policy discriminatory. He described the UK policy as “discriminatory.”
President Has Recovered Over N1trn Stolen Funds, Says PACAC
•Funds used to finance annual budget
The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) yesterday put the total amount of stolen assets recovered by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since 2015 at over N1trn.
Briefing journalists in Lagos yesterday, the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, who reeled out the achievements of the committee said the federal government had been deploying some part of the recovered funds towards financing the annual budget, especially its social intervention scheme.
Sagay, who said the fight against corruption in the country had come a long way, describing it as both sweet and sour, stressed that a lot of work still needed to be done to rid Nigeria of corruption.
He also said PACAC has continued to carry out capacity building initiatives for the various anti-corruption agencies as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“This has resulted in these stakeholders having an improved understanding of their individual roles in the criminal justice system, both in its substantive and procedural aspects. The impact of this effort is reflected in increased number of cases filed and concluded and the improvement in the rate of conviction of looters.
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“Total recoveries are hovering around the N1 trillion mark, and even more remarkably these recoveries have been recycled into the budget to uplift the oppressed and most vulnerable victims of corruption, namely, the young unemployed youths, young school children, who can now enjoy one free nutritional meal a day at school, extremely poor families who now receive the conditional cash transfer of N5,000 a month and women, youths, farmers, etc, who now receive interest free loans to capitalise their small scale businesses.
“So the recovered loot is pumped back into the lives of the most vulnerable Nigerians, in order to transform them into proud productive Nigerians, who will end up as employers themselves, contributing to the development of Nigeria,” he added.
According further, he said another contribution of PACAC in the war against corruption was the Committee’s concentration on illicit financial flows (IFF).
He claimed that very little was known about IFF in the country before PACAC brought it into centre stage nationally and internationally.
“Now, we know that this silent, quietly stalking source of financial bleeding, could even be worse in terms of volume of loss, than the typical looting we are all used to. Over invoicing of external expenses, under reporting of resources obtained from the developing countries, tax evasion, under declaration of profits, out sourcing of what could be done within the victim country, etc, all constitute IFFs,” he added.
The PACAC chairman disclosed that the massive losses underdeveloped countries like Nigeria were experiencing as a result of IFFs were recently documented and published by the Global Financial Integrity.
According to the report, Nigeria lost $83 billion in the period 1960 – 2011 and currently, “it is losing more than $45 billion annually.”
“Therefore, the importance of concentrating our minds on IFFs, as PACAC did for two consecutive years, through major international conferences and other strategic engagements, cannot be over stated.
“I have concentrated on only a few items of PACAC’s work, but the varied and extensive level of its work has been remarkable. We have organised Workshops for the Management and Protection of Assets, and an Asset Tracing Team/Central Asset Management Committee, was established in the first term of this Government with membership drawn from the Anti-Corruption Agencies, the Security Agencies, our Committee (PACAC) and from the highest echelons of Government.
“We have also produced manuals and protocols to assist the ACAs (Anti-Corruption Agencies) in their work. These include one on Effective Prosecution, entitled Corruption Case Management Manual, a Plea-Bargaining Manual, and Sentencing Guidelines for High Profile Cases, and A Frame Work for the Management of Recovered Assets, etc,” he added.
Sagay said the committee believes that productivity would be greatly enhanced and corruption greatly curbed if parents arouse themselves to inculcate the needed core values in the children; if schools at all levels become centres of character moulding and manpower development and religious values are deployed by Pastors and Imams in both theory and practice to re-mould the character and orientation of Nigerians.
He also advised the federal government, labour unions, civil society organisations and main stream civil servants to work together to reform the civil service to make it productive rather than a drain on the nation.
LPG, Nigeria’s most viable way to zero emissions – Osinbajo
The use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a transition fuel is the viable option for Nigeria to address climate change and energy poverty, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
Laolu Akande, the VP’s spokesperson, said this in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Laolu, Osinbajo made the declaration while delivering his keynote address in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the week-long World Liquified Petroleum Gas Association (WLPGA) forum themed ‘Energizing Tomorrow.’
Osinbajo said LPG and natural gas are sustainable energy fuels that could address both climate change and energy poverty simultaneously.
“The world should not have to choose between energy poverty and climate change as this can be addressed with both natural gas and Liquified Petroleum Gas as transition fuels alongside other renewable sources,” the VP reportedly said..
- The VP said that it was ‘worrying that a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas.’
This, according to the vice-president, resulted from increasing pressures to address climate concerns in the world without reviewing the economic importance of such investments to developing countries.
“Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fossil fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some of these fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
“As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments in developing and emerging economies.
“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure.”
While acknowledging that all countries should play important roles in the fight against climate change, he emphasised that ‘a global transition away from carbon-based fuels must account for the economic differences between countries and allow for multiple pathways to net-zero emissions.
FG: We have enough COVID vaccines to cover 70% Nigerians
Nigeria has enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of the country’s population before the end of 2022, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has said.
The SGF said this at the national COVID-19 summit held at Muhammadu Buhari Conference Centre in Abuja, tagged ‘Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’.
He said, “Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious; hence, it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now.”
He said the summit was to create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in Nigeria’s national response to the pandemic since March 2020 to date.
He added that the summit is also aimed at developing strategies to actualise the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of 2022.
“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our national response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better,” he said.
The SGF said, “There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.
”Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years.
“This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence, the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end the COVID-19 pandemic by the year 2022.”
He said the summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by 2022 and build back better.
“Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and the ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics,” Mustapha said.
He asked stakeholders to encourage all eligible persons to get vaccinated and keep observing the necessary preventive COVID-19 measures.
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