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Re-Instatment Of Council Chairmen: Matters Arising

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Political activities in the 11 local government areas, of Rivers State, whose chairmen were suspended from office by the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, had within the past few weeks been riddled with intrigues, suspense and a climax that had further heated the polity.

The affected LGAs, are still wearing an ominous political cloud. There are also indications that most of the returning helmsmen are still pondering, and may not just gloss over the perceived excesses of their deputies during their brief suspension from office.

Angered by the daring effrontery of some of the vice chairmen, who in a jifty dislogded the political structures on ground before the political pitfall, most of the re-instated chairmen are tightening their political knots.

The political scene in most of the affected LGAs is also suggestive of visible pall of apprehension, among the power players. Bearing the brunt of perceived insorbordination, most of the re-instated chairmen, seem more cautious in the review of their relationships with their deputies.

The Chairman of Ahoada East Local Government, Casidy Ikegbidi, was the first among his re-instated colleagues to yield to the anticipated reactions and predictions of pundits.

On resumption of office, boss sacked all political appointees engaged by his Vice, Britain Ewoh, while serving as Acting Chairman. He also revoked all contracts awarded by the acting chairman.

The AHELGA boss did not attach the sacking of the engaged political appointees and revocation of contracts to any specific excuse. He only “urged the workers and political office holders to brace up for the new era of leadership”, and assured that he would work with them to develop the area.

The Ahoada East chairman’s action, shortly on resumption of office is startling of what is heard in some of the affected LGAs. The Political rumour mill is already awash with tales of impending poltical ‘lockhorn’ between the key players.

As put by a Port Harcourt-based analyst, Dr. Steve Wodu “the action of the Chairman of Ahoada East LGA, should be no surprise to anyone, it should be expected in most of the other affected LGAs; it shows that vested interest is the hub of Nigerian politics, and it undermines the will of the people as expressed at the polls”.

He cautioned that the growing disagreement between most council chairmen and their deputies was a “plausible, tactical political flaw” which could lead to “lack of development focus and a protracted political tussle if not properly addressed.

Corroborating Mr. Wodu’s view, another political analyst, Comrade Lekia Christian said , “a replay of the Ahoada East chairman’s action should not be entirely ruled out in the other 10 affected LGAs, as most of the council chairmen who have lost faith in the loyalty of their Vice may stop at nothing to smoothen their political ride”.

He said the suspended chairmen considered the actions of the deputies during their brief romance with full executive powers as betrayal, as some of their actions were to forestall their political backlash of losing the popularity and political control to the deputies.

Investigation also revealed that the sudden elevation of the Vice Chairmen of affected LGAs, as Acting Chairmen, compounded the brewing crisis of mutual distrust between them and their chairmen with political sentiments piling up in most of the councils, political analysts forsee a crisis of impeachment looming ahead in the councils.

In Ahoada East LGA, which is glaringly in the political spotlight, the councillors are said to be divided as those loyal to the chairman and his vice repeatedly are already pitted against themselves.

A top council source, revealed that the development at it stands, ‘may cause a disruption in the smooth running of the affairs of the council”.

The source, however, expressed hope that the council will get over its present challenges soon.

A Port Harcourt based Legal practitioner, Barrister, Kio George, described the suspension of the 11 council chairmen and swearing in of their deputies by the Governor, as a “prelude to a battered relationship between the duo”.

According to Kio, “the manner of operations and governance at the LG level had always placed vice chairmen on a passive level of participation, and as such the opportunity to test full scale executive power was provided within the period of suspension”. He added that the development had drawn a battleline between most chairmen and their deputies. He however called on the Rivers State House of Assembly to ensure that activities in the affected LGAs, do not drift into full scale political crisis.

Ironically, while the acting chairmen were already consolidating their sudden elevation and romance with full executive powers, they were also interceptws by a sudden reversal of the order to status qo by the Governor.

However, not all the vice chairmen seem to have betrayed such passionate obsession to succeeding their bosses.

In Port Harcourt City Local Government, it was obvious that for unfathomable reasons, the vice chairman, reluctantly assumed power, as she was sworn in about a week after her colleagues has assumed duties and revelling in the ‘new found power’, perhaps, ignoring the prying eyes of political agents and gold diggers.

It could be recalled that during the period of suspension of the bosses, the acting chairmen of Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Ahoada West and some others, had existing bodies and political structures in their various councils.

But the former acting chairman and Vice Chairman of Akuku Toru LGA, Stanley Benibo said his decisions were a continuation of his boss’s agenda, which was based on wide consultation with the people. Benibo added that his decision had no personal under- current.

The debates generated by the suspension and eventual re-instatement of 11 council chairmen, in Rivers State have also opened new vistas, in the realm of local government administration, especially in role playing, among the key players in the councils.

This had led to the inclusion of new clauses in the Rivers State Local Government Amendment Bill recently passed to law by the Rivers State House of Assembly. According to the House Leader, Hon. Chidi Lloyd while contributing to the bill before its passage, “the new clause is to stretch the specificity of role to avoid its tendencies of usurpation”. Another critical area of concern raised by analysts, is over the constitutional requirements and procedure to sack a local government chairman. If anything, the unfolding political activities in the affected LGAs have sent a signal to others over the necessary vigilance expected of chairmen in response to Governance and other constitutional duties.

 

Taneh Beemene

 

 

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eNaira, BVN, TSA, NIN Should Give Investors Comfort, Buhari Insists

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said initiatives to drive the digital economy and fight corruption in the country should give investors “a lot of comforts”.
Among the initiatives mentioned by the president are e-Naira, Treasury Single Account (TSA), Bank Verification Number (BVN), and National Identification Number (NIN).
Speaking at the fifth Edition of Future Investment Initiative Summit holding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Buhari said his regime would keep encouraging public and private initiatives that increase investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change, and food security.
A statement from the Presidency quoted the Nigerian leader as urging more interest in infrastructure such as healthcare and education, which “present enormous opportunities for investors in a country our size.
“Digital economy in Nigeria has many potential for investment, as it has remained the fastest growing sector in both 2020 and 2021. Nigeria has many opportunities for investment in broadband, ICT hardware, emerging technology and software engineering.
“We have recently approved the national policy on Fifth Generation (5G) network. Our aim is to attract investors in healthcare, smart cities, smart agriculture among others. The benefit of real time communication will support all other sectors of the economy,” he noted.
To further improve and reposition the economy to attract investors, the president said, “e-Naira, the electronic version of our national currency, which puts us on track to become the first African country to introduce a Central Bank Digital Currency” was launched on October 25, 2021.
“We believe this and many other reforms will help us increase the number of people participating in the banking sector, make for a more efficient financial sector and help us tackle illicit flow of funds.
“To further strengthen our anti-corruption drive, increase accountability and transparency, we have centralized government funds through a Treasury Single Account, and ensuring that all Nigerians with a bank account use a unique Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“These initiatives, coupled with our nationwide National Identification Number (NIN) exercise, reinforce our efforts to tackle corruption and fraud. We believe that this should give investors a lot of comforts.”
Buhari attributed growing social unrest to inequalities and unfair policies that exclude the majority from opportunities for participation, admonishing world leaders and global investors to prioritise inclusive and humane policies.
He said, “By so doing, it will go a long way in reenergizing the global economy in a post-COVID-19 era.
“Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on ‘humane’ investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.”

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Cancer: Jonathan, Others Seek Homegrown Solution

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, recommended the implementation of homegrown solution to tame the scourge of cancer in Nigeria.
According to him, such measures would ensure that the nation makes significant progress in cancer management and treatment.
He also stated that Africa bore a heavy burden of cancer, with a significantly high mortality rate, adding that a recent projection by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that over 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, many of which were in Africa.
Jonathan stated this in Abuja during the 28th annual Lift Above Poverty Organisation Development Forum, a non-governmental organisation committed to the social, health, and economic empowerment of poor and vulnerable persons in Nigeria with the theme: ‘Promoting community-based cancer control programme in Nigeria’.
He said, “A recent projection by the World Health Organisation indicated that over 70 per cent of cancer patients occur in low and middle-income countries, many of which are in Africa.
“The reason for this most times may be due to late detection and referral for treatment, poor access to treatment thus account for the high mortality rate in poorer countries.
“These delays in diagnosis and proper referrals lead to a situation where a high percentage of cancer cases arrive at the point of treatment at advanced stages of the disease when it is difficult to recover from or even manage.
“Cancer management is quite expensive and a technology-dependent endeavour, but homegrown solutions such as the community-based LAPO C4 present us with hope.
“With the required effort and manpower, we can evolve a system that works for our peculiar environment and give us the best possible outcomes and reduce the possibility of loss of lives.
“I believe that LAPO Community Campaign for Cancer Control was born out of the need to galvanize people and resources around the critical issue of early detection of cancer as well as its proper management and treatment.
“The community-based approach to creating the early detection awareness campaign and controlling the spread and management of cancer from the bottom up as proposed by LAPO is quite laudable.
“This is because it promises to deliver better treatment outcomes through early diagnosis and referrals. I believe that a collaborative and community-based health care system will go a long way to improve our health sector.
“I believe that as more stakeholders key into this initiative there will be an uptick in awareness and pooling of resources to effectively manage and treat cancer. A strategic awareness campaign such as this will also go a long way towards eliminating the fear and misconceptions people generally have that cancer is a death sentence.”

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Politics

NHRC Urges Police, Others To Locate, Rescue ‘Missing’ Journalist

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The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Tony Ojukwu, has urged the police and other security agencies in the nation’s capital to do everything within their powers to locate a missing journalist.
This is just as journalists, editors and media owners across the country have charged security agencies to immediately locate and secure the release of Tordue Salem, a Vanguard Newspaper’s House of Representatives Reporter, who reportedly went missing on October 13 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Ojukwu’s call is contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs in the commission, Mrs Fatimah Mohammed.
He expressed sadness over the news of the National Assembly Correspondent who has been missing for 15 days.
“There is no place for enforced disappearance in modern history”, he said, describing the act as one of the worst human rights violations which leave the victims, family members and the society traumatised.
“It is needless for the family members of the journalist to go searching for him in hospital mortuaries and police stations if the security situation and intelligence gathering was better.
“NHRC stands for press freedom and will continue to advocate for same.
“A free press is important because people are able to express themselves in a constructive manner such that the views and concerns of ordinary people are also heard,” Ojukwu said.
He added that journalists serve as the watchdogs of any society and should be allowed to do their work without harassment and intimidation.
Ojukwu further said that the role of a journalist is crucial in a democratic society like ours.
He described Salem as a journalist who has passion for his work.
“He has painstakingly reported human rights issues as well as educated the masses on their rights since his days with the LEADERSHIP Newspaper.
“Enforced disappearance is one of the hazards associated with the practice of journalism in Nigeria” Ojukwu added.
He, therefore, called on the authorities to respect the rights of journalists.
He also urged the journalists to always work within the ambit of the law and ethics of the profession.
He assured the family members of the commission’s support to ensure that Tordue Salem is found and reunited with them.
The FCT Commissioner of Police, Babaji Sunday, last Monday, assured that officers are looking for the journalist.
Sunday said the case was reported at the National Assembly Police Station and that he directed the immediate transmission to all Areas and Divisions.
“We are seriously on the matter. However, we have not received any information about kidnap or demand for ransom.
“My men have not received any information about any corpse on the road or abandoned corpse from the mortuary. We are searching,” the CP added.
The commissioner made the remark while responding to the demand by journalists under the auspices of FCT Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), during a protest march to the police command headquarters in Abuja, led by its Chairman, Emma Ogbeche.
The journalists took the protest to the Force Headquarters where they delivered same demand to the Inspector General of Police.

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