Resident doctors in Nigerian public hospitals called off a nine-week strike on Monday, saying some of their grievances had been addressed but others including salary arrears remained outstanding. The strike had begun on 2 August, organised by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to protest against the delayed payment of salaries and allowances — a recurrent problem in Nigeria’s healthcare sector. The NARD said resident doctors, medical school graduates training as specialists who play a major role on emergency wards, would return to work on Wednesday after some of the payments had been made. But it called on the federal and state governments to urgently address outstanding issues such as what it said was a failure to pay benefits to the relatives of doctors who had died of COVID-19 after caring for patients affected by the virus. The NARD said its executive committee would reconvene in six weeks to assess the progress made.
Boko Haram insurgents have taken over multiple communities in Niger state, a local government official has told Reuters. The government official also said that the insurgents offer villagers money and incorporate them in their ranks to fight the government. Suleiman Chukuba, chairman of Shiroro local government area, which borders the federal capital territory, said Boko Haram fighters were now present in at least eight wards out of a total of 25. The Islamist group is typically concentrated in the northeast and its presence in Niger, a state that borders Abuja could indicate a concerning spread at a time the military says its counter-insurgency efforts are working. According to Chukuba, “Shiroro local government has an uncountable number of Boko Haram fighters.” Boko Haram has waged an insurgency since 2009, joined more recently by its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province. The fighting has killed almost 350,000 and displaced millions, according to a United Nations estimate. Shiroro has a population of 331,000 people and spans 4,700 square kilometres, according to Niger state’s official website. Boko Haram fighters, who were initially thought to be armed bandits, had made inroads in the state, Niger state information commissioner Muhammad Sani Idris confirmed. Though the state government and security agencies have been able to curtail the spread, he said. “We are doing whatever it takes as a state,” he said. “And we will combine the methods of our security personnel and our local vigilantes.” The army said last month close to 6,000 fighters from Boko Haram had recently surrendered, attributing the development to the military’s counterinsurgency efforts. Chukuba called on the federal government to send more troops to the area to fight the insurgents.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics has shown that 31.7 percent of youths in Nigeria lack access to bank loans to finance their businesses due to high-interest rates. According to the bureau’s National Youth Survey for 2020, a collaborative effort with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, stringent bank policies, government policies and other measures adopted by banking institutions make it difficult for youths to finance their businesses through bank loans. The breakdown of the report showed that stringent bank policies accounted for 24.8 percent of youths not having access to bank loans, 7.3 percent attributed their challenges to government policies while 13.2 percent of the youths gave other reasons. The NBS said that at zonal level, youths from South-South 45.7 percent and South West 35.5 percent could not access bank loan due to high rate of interest while youths from North-West 54.5 per cent and North-Central 33.8 percent could not access bank loans due to stringent policies. Youths from South-South 15.7 percent and North-East 13.3 percent could not access bank loans due to government policies. It however said that for those that had access to bank loans, nationally, 55.1 percent female youths had access than their male counterparts put at 44.9 per cent. Considering major challenges facing youths in businesses, the report showed that nationally, 86.1 percent of youths faced the challenge of access to funds to finance their businesses, while 4.9 per cent faced the challenge of inconsistency in government policies. It said that another 4.6 percent faced the challenges of obsolete equipment while three percent faced the challenges of lack of proper training in relation to their businesses. For sources of business funding, the survey reported that youths across the six geo-political zones source for funds to set up their businesses enterprises through personal savings, loans, family sources, cooperative/Esusu, grants and other sources. It said that nationally, 34.5 percent of youths sourced funds through government grants to set up their business enterprises, while 29.7 percent of youths used their personal savings. The report, among other things, added that 15.1 percent sourced funds through cooperative thrift and 2.4 per cent of the youth obtained loan to start up their business enterprises.