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Yar’Adua’s Ill Health: PDP Hails Jonathan, FEC For Steadfastness

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Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Eze Ogbulafor has reviewed the nearly two months absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from the country on medical grounds and commended Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and the  Federal Executive Council (FEC) for holding brief for the President, describing them as patriotic and  steadfast.  

Prince Ogbulafor  who was presenting his New Year Message at a press briefing Wednesday in Abuja also chided opposition politicians and civil society groups who he accused  of desperation in their desire to truncate the nation’s democracy,  describing their conduct as unnecessary, shameful, and completely out of tune with the national mood.

 The message reads in part: ‘I pray that this year would bring forth peace, prosperity and stability to our dear nation, Nigeria.

    I wish to also thank you all for the cooperation we enjoyed from you last year and I hope that the mutual goodwill that exists between us will be enhanced and sustained this year.

As we join hands to serve Nigeria better this New Year, there is the need for an extra vigilance on the part of all Nigerians in the face of the onerous challenges that the emerging national circumstances have imposed on us.

I once again wish to express our deep concern on a trend that is becoming a favourite pastime of some politicians who do not know when to draw the line between mere politicking and the larger national interest.

I am referring to the tendency by some politicians to exaggerate the health condition of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, leading to the recurrent unfounded rumours all aimed at destabilizing the country.

The President’s interview on the BBC yesterday has finally put the lie to the malicious, baseless and devious rumours orchestrated by those who do not wish Nigeria well.

We are indeed alarmed at the level of desperation manifested by some people in their desire to truncate the nation’s democracy.  We are at a loss as to why some people for whatever reason would want to contrive an atmosphere of instability and confusion when what is required is a sober reflection and a firm commitment to the National cause.

It is in the light of this that we find yesterday’s road show by some politicians and some members of the Civil Society unnecessary, shameful, and completely out of tune with the national mood. It is clearly an insensitive display of lack of respect for our institutions, our leaders and a debasement of our common humanity.

I wish to use this occasion to commend the entire leadership and members of the National Assembly for the unrelenting crucial roles they have been playing in defending and advancing democratic values.

We also wish to state very clearly that what the nation demands from each one of us at this point in time is  unmitigated patriotism, maturity and restraint especially on the part of all those involved in our democratic project.

There is no stronger evidence of the commitment of leaders to the people they represent than allowing the full import of these values to guide their actions.

Now that the President has personally reassured all Nigerians on the progress made in his recovery, we call on all compatriots to continue to pray for his complete recovery and safe return to continue the goodwork he has been doing.

I also want to use this opportunity to express our gratitude to His Excellency, The Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCON and all members of the Federal Executive Council for their patriotism and steadfastness so far in steering the ship of state effectively while the President has been away. They have been an outstanding example of the values of team work and commitment to duty.

In conclusion, we wish to restate our commitment to the ideals of democracy, justice and the rule of law as the guiding principles of all our actions.       We shall continue to pursue those ideals that would lead to the transformation of Nigeria in line with the Seven Point Agenda of Mr. President’.

 

Justus Awaji, Abuja

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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