Finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, says the FG will present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines. Ms Ahmed had on 12 January said that the FG would seek a supplementary budget for 2021 fiscal year to fund COVID-19 vaccination programme. She had said relevant authorities, including the ministry of finance, health and the budget office of the Federation was currently working on the cost of the programme. Yesterday, she said, “There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March but we will also have a mid-year review like we did last year of the budget. “If at the time we do the review and there is a need to go back to do any amendment for supplementary budget, at that time we will take that decision, if not, we will just report the review.” She gave an indication that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the country next week when “we have a provision in the 2021 budget for immunisation. We are already releasing money to the health authorities to start operation in the first batch of vaccines that is going to arrive in the country in one week. “But what we have in the budget is not enough, so we are working with the health authorities to provide a plan that will be taken to the president for approval and to be taken to the national assembly as a supplementary budget specifically for COVID -19 vaccination.” The FG in December 2020, said Nigerians will start receiving vaccines by January 2021. The arrival date was changed to the end of February.  However, on Wednesday, the FG again extended the vaccine delivery date to March. Meanwhile, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African countries, including Nigeria, on Tuesday. 

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country. Speaking on Thursday during the joint security meeting of the Northern State Governors’ Forum and traditional rulers, Buhari said the country is battling with different dimensions of security challenges, adding that he has asked the new service chiefs to devise new strategies that will end the ugly situation. Represented by Ibrahim Gambari, his chief of staff, Mr Buhari said criminality should be handled without resorting to ethnic profiling. “I must appreciate the efforts of the 19 Northern States Governors’ Forum for their contribution towards national growth and development, especially in this challenging period in our nation’s being where certain fundamental corporate existence needs to be frankly deliberated upon and actionable resolutions reached,” Mr Buhari said. “This meeting is coming at a time when the nation is making steady progress in addressing the many challenges impeding developmental and progress. We are providing critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports among others which are critical to economic prosperity of our people as well as opening up economic opportunities for our citizens to pursue legitimate aspirations that grow the economy. “At the same time, we are confronting the various dimensions of security challenges that continue to slow down the emancipation of our people from poverty and economic deprivation. The Government shall continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country. “Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly, without resorting to ethnic profiling. I have already tasked the new Service Chiefs to devise new strategies that will end this ugly situation where the lives of our people continue to be threatened by hoodlums and criminals. “I expect that at this meeting, your Forum will also discuss and devise ways of building stronger collaboration with the security architecture and the people in defeating criminality across the region and the nation at large.”

Nigeria is currently losing an average of 200,000 barrels of crude oil daily, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation stated on Wednesday. Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, disclosed the volume of crude oil lost daily in Nigeria while speaking at a meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor. The NNPC boss said, “We have two sets of losses, one coming from our products and the other coming from crude oil. “In terms of crude losses, it is still going on. On the average, we are losing 200,000 barrels of crude every day.” On his part, Gen Irabor promised to galvanise the military to provide maximum security for the country’s oil and gas assets. He said, “I am delighted that you made this effort, and I tell you that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will collaborate with you to protect NNPC’s assets.” Gen Irabor, who acknowledged the significant role of the oil and gas sector to the economy, said there was need for collaboration between the NNPC and the Armed Forces to protect oil and gas facilities which he described as critical national assets.

Gunmen have abducted about 300 female students from the Government Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State. The raid happened around midnight on Friday. The father of one of the students and a teacher at the school when the students were abducted confirmed the incident to the BBC’s Hausa service. The state police and the Zamfara state government have not yet commented on the matter. This latest kidnap comes as efforts are underway to rescue Kagara Secondary School students and their teachers abducted by gunmen in neighbouring Niger State. A few months ago, a similarly large number of students were kidnapped in Kankara in neighbouring Katsina state and later released after an undisclosed sum was paid.