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Rivers state April 17 LG polls, sacrosanct – RSIEC

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By Dennis Essang, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State lndependent Electoral Commission (RESIEC) has insisted that the April 17, 2021 local government elections in the state remained as scheduled.

Speaking to journalists shortly after an interactive session with the Council of Government Recognised Traditional Rulers, yesterday at the council secretariat in Port Harcourt, the chairman of the Rivers State independent Electoral Commission (RESIEC), Hon. Justice George Omereji (Rtd) assured that the election would hold according to the timetable, adding that, so far, there was nothing to suggest otherwise.

In his words: “There is nothing like shifting of election. We are still in order, according to the timetable.”

While commenting on the dissident political parties, the RESIEC boss said the commission had been talking with all political parties, adding that there had been mutual understanding.

 “l have been talking to them. I have even told them that it is not RESIEC’s fault. It is INEC’s fault. That if they want to go to court, they should go to court and sue INEC because it was INEC that delisted them, not RESIEC which has no right to delist any party,” he argued.

He described the interactive session as a success, noting that the traditional rulers had assured the commission of support to make the election peaceful.

“lt was a very wonderful interactive meeting with the royal fathers. They have assured us that they are going to talk with their community people so that there will be peaceful elections “, Omereji said.

Earlier in his opening address, he had noted the key role traditional rulers play in maintaining peace, order and security in various communities and solicited their support in making the April 17 polls peaceful.

“lt is our strong conviction that you know how better to communicate with them, to persuade, to nudge, to influence them unto the right path.

“We want Rivers people to use the opportunity offered by the forthcoming elections to choose who their ward councilors should be; who should be their local government chairmen.

“They should elect credible and responsible people who can deliver to them the dividends of democracy, Leaders who will conceive plan and execute meaningful projects to enhance the living standards of the people.”

In his reaction, the chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas-Jaja, expressed the readiness of the traditional rulers in the state to ensure that there would be peaceful elections.

The royal father, who is equally Amayanabo of Opobo kingdom, charged the commission to give a level-playing field to all political parties and candidates in the election.

“Though this is a local election, but it is expected that they show good example to other states by giving level-playing field to all parties and candidates,” he stated.

Reform NYSC to current realities, Makinde to NYSC Board (News)

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state has asked the Governing Board of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to reform the scheme to bring it in line with modern realities.

The governor, who gave the charge while receiving the governing board led by its chairman, Ambassador Fatimah Bala Abubakar, at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, equally urged the board members to make the scheme more relevant to national realities.

He also pledged to continue to provide infrastructural uplift for the permanent orientation camp of the scheme in Iseyin, Oyo state.

Speaking during the courtesy visit, Governor Makinde said that his administration would continue to provide facilities that will make operations at the permanent orientation camp conducive.

He also urged the NYSC to introduce more initiatives that would modernise the scheme and make it remain relevant with modern realities.

He said: “We believe so much in the NYSC programme. I never had the opportunity to go outside of this region until I went for my NYSC in 1990. The programme has brought a lot of people together and it has helped in fostering national unity.

“There should have been a lot of modifications to the programme. So, I will encourage the National Board to look at those things we can modernise so that the programme will remain relevant to our situation right now as opposed to when it was founded in 1973.

“I am aware of all of the things listed here as challenges because I have had the opportunity to meet with the NYSC state coordinator and she has made some requests. We are looking at them. We could not do some last year because it was obviously a tough year for everybody in this country and for the whole world.

“We hope to support NYSC in Oyo state, despite the pandemic and other challenges the state is being faced with and we will support them with some of their requests this year.”

Makinde noted further that the NYSC scheme had continued to be a source of personnel for the state, especially from the health and medical sector.

“I must add quickly that NYSC in Oyo state has been a source of personnel for the state, especially from the health and medical sector. They have played vital roles for us. So, we want to support them and ensure that all the protocols and requirements imposed on all of us by COVID-19, they are able to meet up and adjust their facilities accordingly,” he said.

The governor added that he had directed the commissioner for finance to factor the NYSC into the state’s COVID-19 support funds, adding that his administration would continue to improve the standards of the NYSC in the state.

Earlier, Abubakar, said that the team was on visit to inspect the state’s NYSC permanent orientation camp.

She acknowledged the state government’s numerous interventions in improving the situation of the Camp, saying that the increment of corps members’ allowance from N4,000 to N5,000 was a welcome development.

She equally commended Governor Makinde for approving the construction of additional hostel accommodation in the camp.

She also thanked the governor for approving the purchase of additional bunk beds and mattresses for use of corps members in the NYSC camp.

She, therefore, appealed to the government to assist in upgrading other facilities at the permanent as well as the office accommodation being used as the state secretariat of the NYSC.

CBN sponsors COVID-19 research, partners investors on health facilities (Business)

Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said on Friday in Asaba, that the bank was partnering government at all levels and the private sector to provide sophisticated health facilities in the country to address healthcare needs of the people.

He said that such intervention had become necessary in view of the widening gap in the health service provision due to poor medical facilities across the nation, adding that it was also in response to challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

Emefiele made this known during a condolence visit to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta at the Government House following the deaths of his father on January 28, 2021 and the Majority Leader of the state’s House of Assembly, Mr Tim Owhefere, who died a day earlier.

He also disclosed that the Monetary Policy Committee was working to sponsor research into pharmaceuticals on different diseases, and would in addition give funds to private sector participants in the health sector to build pharmaceutical plants in the country.

The apex bank’s governor added that the bank was ready to fund research on COVID-19 and in medicine and pharmacy so as to elevate Nigeria, and said “we are determined to do this’’.

“This is a very difficult time not just in Nigeria but also in the global community where we have seen unprecedented health crises that have devastated the entire world.

“We have decided as the Central Bank to support the efforts of the government; we will do everything possible to ensure that we upgrade the health facilities in the country.

“I can say with all certainty that in the very near future, Nigerians will begin to see what the Central Bank is going to do to show that we really mean what we are doing.

“No doubt, it is not just about building health facilities, but we have also tried as much as  possible to extend various facilities to people that are interested in upgrading the health facilities in Nigeria.

“We are interested in supporting people who want to build pharmaceutical plants in Nigeria, and that is the reason I never minced words in practically all the Monetary Policy Committee meetings. We read out to the world through the Monetary Policy Committee to help to alleviate the health crisis in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Emefiele lauded Governor Okowa for his giant strides in the development of Delta, especially in the health sector and pledged CBN’s partnership with him in the task of making healthcare affordable and available for residents of the state.

Condoling with the governor, he said “your dad is our father; he has sown great seed not just in our kingdom, but in Ika nation and in Delta state as a whole.

“The people of Ika nation and Deltans will miss him dearly. We pray that his soul and all the faithful departed rest in peace.

“We also condole with you on the passing of Tim Owhefere, the Majority Leader of State House of Assembly, who was another fine gentleman and good lawmaker.’’

In his response, Gov. Okowa commended CBN for its intervention in the country’s health sector, and said that any funding that would help to reduce the widening gap in the health sector was in the best interest of the many families in the country.

He said that the apex bank’s policy on upgrade of health facilities and agricultural revolution in the country was a move that would enhance the health of Nigerians and stimulate the nation’s economy.

According to Okowa, health and agriculture remain the mainstay of any growing economy like Nigeria and CBN’s sponsorship of research in the health sector and provision of funds to upgrade facilities in both public and private hospitals would be a new dawn in healthcare services in the country.

He thanked Emefiele for identifying with his family in this period of grief, and said that they had been consoled by the fact that their late father died in Christ and also made a positive impact in the society.

“As I appreciate you for this condolence visit, I must thank you for the policies you have put forth through the CBN and the most recent is funding agriculture.

“I believe that’s a very strong point that has been made in this country that the CBN can truly help to turn around the agricultural sector for which a lot of success has been made.

“In spite of the fact that the issues of farmers-herders clashes have continued to be a challenge, we know that there has been a lot of growth in the agricultural sector because of the policies made by the CBN.

“We are glad also about the current policy of the bank as it relates to the health sector in terms of improving infrastructure, capacity and research.

“It’s something that we welcome because unfortunately, most of the budgets that we have in this country are usually littered with recurrent expenditure and there is usually little left to respond to the health sector under capital development.

“I believe that the current policies being made by the CBN are such that will help to step in to reduce that gap both in the private sector and also in the public sector,’’ he said.

Okowa expressed hope that in a few years “we will begin to reap the gains of these policies that you have made. So, we thank you, we appreciate you because Nigeria’s health sector is very important.

“The COVID-19 or not, the people will continue to definitely have challenges in the sector and we will need viable places where we can treat people.’

Emefiele was accompanied on the visit by the deputy governor, Economic Policy Directorate of the CBN, Dr Kingsley Obiora.

Pix: (L-R): Delta governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and the visiting CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele during a condolence visit on the governor on the death of his father, Pa Arthur Okowa. Pix: Yinka Oladosun

Pix: CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, signing the condolence register during his visit to Delta state Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at Government House, Asaba last week. Pix: Yinka Oladosun

 Pix: (L-R): The special adviser, Financial Markets, Mr Emmanuel Ukeje, CBN deputy governor, Economic Policy Directorate, Dr Kingsley Obiora, Delta Governor Senator, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele and CBN Asaba Branch Controller, Mrs Patricia Ukwu, at a condolence visit on the governor at Government House, Asaba last Friday. Pix: Yinka Oladosun

COVID-19: Obiano imposes 9-hour curfew from today (News)

By Chukwuemerie Anyene

Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has imposed a nine-hour curfew in the state to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Orient Daily gathered that the curfew takes effect from today, Monday, February 8, 2021, until further notice, and is for the period 9pm to 6am daily.

Anambra was said to have recently been coming up with high cases of COVID-19 positive, close to that of Lagos state, the epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

Secretary to the Anambra state government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, as directed by Governor Obiano, also said that “civil servants from grade levels 1 to 12, should work from home till further notice, with immediate effect,” he stated.

Chukwulobelu also stated other measures the state government was taking to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state, saying “The state government has activated and made operational mobile courts to try COVID-19 protocol offenders, beginning from Monday, 8th February, 2021.” He added that “the state COVID-19 Task Force, including the ministry of health, and ministry of trade and commerce have been empowered to increase their hospitals and markets surveillance, and to close immediately any hospital (private and government owned), and markets that do not comply with COVID-19 protocols in their operations,” he disclosed.

COVID-19 Enforcement: Task team seals hospital for fake certificates (News)

By Ben Adoga

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) COVID-19 Enforcement Taskforce, last Friday, sealed a hospital for allegedly conducting illegal COVID-19 tests and also issuing fake certificates to intending travelers.

Chairman, FCTA COVID-19 Facilities Accreditation Committee, Dr. Yakubu Mohammed, said credible information revealed that one BMT Tourist Clinic and Diagnostic Centre was carrying out illegal COVID -19 test.

Mohammed stated that the clinic, located in a highbrow Wuse 2 District, was never given approval for COVID -19 healthcare services.

Also speaking, the head, media and enlightenment of the taskforce, Ikharo Attah, stressed that medical experts confirmed that the clinic was contravening important guidelines that must not be overlooked, regarding the deadly pandemic.

Attah noted that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had also alerted the FCT minister over the unethical practices of the clinic, hence the need to quickly seal it and save residents of untoward health emergency.

He further revealed that the NCDC had expressed concern over the practices of some illegal health facilities, acts that are capable of casting doubt over the fight against the pandemic.

According to him, FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, had vowed that both organisations and individuals engaging in illegal COVID-19 health services must be prosecuted.

He further warned members of the public to be wary of unscrupulous merchants who want to feed fat on people’s ignorance.

He said, “The FCT minister’s office got a tip that there was contravention to the guidelines regarding testing for COVID-19 and issuance of certificates.

“The health response team and the enforcement team are here because there is a credible information, as it is coming from the office of DG NCDC himself.

“FCT has decided that this illegality cannot stand; we are here to seal this place and also warned all other illegal health facilities to stop doing so.

He warned the public, especially those travelling to patronise only those approved by FCT health secretariat or NCDC.

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