The FG has said that 122,410 people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. While giving updates on the ongoing vaccination across the country, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said, “At this stage, it is important to update Nigerians with the number of vaccinations. A total of 122,410 persons have so far been vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine in Nigeria”. Shuaib said that available records at the various vaccination centres across the country did not indicate any adverse records from those so far vaccinated. “No Nigerian has so far developed any adverse side effects due to the vaccination. While we have observed some mild body pains and fever at some of the centres, it is important to note that it is possible for you to take the vaccine and develop other diseases that are unrelated to the vaccination process,” he said. He said the NPHCDA will continue to collaborate with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to conduct a pharmacovigilance exercise on the roll-out of the vaccine. Shuaib said that as at Monday, full implementation of COVID-19 vaccination had commenced in 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory. He said Kebbi, Kogi, Oyo and Zamfara were yet to commence vaccination exercise.
Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), says export cargoes have been suspended from gaining access into the Lagos ports for two weeks. The NPA boss told Radio Now 95.3 FM in an interview on Monday that the suspension is effective Monday, 22 March. Usman explained that the move is aimed at preventing parking on port access roads as part of efforts to end the Apapa gridlock problem. “All export cargoes for two weeks will not be allowed access into the port. We have a backlog of over 600 trucks that have approached the port coming out of their truck parks and are currently in that location within the port corridors, within the Lilypond. So we are suspending all export cargoes,” she said. “We have noted the challenge we have with export cargoes which resulted in this congestion. A lot of export cargoes start approaching without completing their documentation. “This has been a challenge for us, the documentation, in terms of readiness of the terminal operators to receive them, some of the certifications they require from supervisory agencies based on the type of exports that they carry. They also have several custom certifications and [Central Bank of Nigeria] documents that they need to complete. “Recognising that as a problem, we have invited the export promotion council to join us this week to meet with the large exporters to make them understand the procedures as it relates to documentation. “If any of your documents are not ready, you must remain within your location. Actually, you shouldn’t even start your journey to the ports.” The authority recently launched an electronic call-up system to regulate the movement of trucks in and out of the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos. With the call-up system, trucks are required to remain in designated truck parks and wait to be called upon before approaching the ports.
Nigeria adopted a new flexible exchange-rate policy for official transactions in a move that effectively marks the third devaluation of the naira in a year. The FG will start to use the flexible rate that has until now applied to investors and exporters, for government transactions too, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters Monday in Abuja. The Nafex, as the flexible rate is known, has averaged ₦410 to the dollar since the beginning of the year and compares with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s old fixed rate of ₦379. “Within the government and the central bank, there is only one official rate and that’s the Nafex rate,” Ahmed said. A weaker naira will boost Africa’s biggest crude producer’s revenue from oil, which has been converted at the fixed official rate. Earnings from oil exports account for about half of Nigeria’s revenue and about 90% of foreign-exchange earnings. Nigeria has already devalued its currency twice since March last year. The adoption of the flexible-rate policy could assist discussions with the World Bank for a $1.5 billion loan that is partly conditional on currency reforms. The Nafex rate was introduced in 2017 as a way of wooing foreign investors without formally devaluing the currency. Recently, investors have complained about dollar shortages. The central bank is clearing a backlog of demand for dollars “by releasing some certain amounts a month,” Ahmed said. The International Monetary Fund estimated the backlog at about $2 billion in February.
The main opposition candidate in the Republic of Congo’s presidential election, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas has died while being evacuated for medical treatment, aides said on Monday, as early results from Sunday’s vote showed the incumbent in the lead. Kolelas’s election campaign had said on Sunday that the 61-year-old former minister was in hospital with COVID-19, which prevented him from casting his own vote. Kolelas had been seen as President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s strongest challenger, although diplomats and analysts said there was little doubt the incumbent would win and extend his 36-year rule. Full results are not expected until later this week, but tallies from about 40% of the 86 districts showed Sassou Nguesso ahead, including some where he won 100% of the vote, the electoral commission said. “They are all showing the same trend,” the commission’s president Henri Bouka told a news conference in the capital Brazzaville. Kolelas’ heart stopped when his plane landed in Paris and the ambulance team was unable to save him, said his adviser, Didier Loco. His spokesman, Justin Nzoloufoua, declined to give the cause of death. Kolelas, the son of former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, worked in the government for many years and came second in the 2016 presidential election. President Sassou, 77, changed the constitution in 2015 to extend the term limit. An internet blackout across the country on election day continued on Monday, witnesses said.