President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was among thousands of distinguished personalities that attended the national inter-denominational Christian funeral rites organised at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, yesterday in honour of former Biafran warlord and Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
In the same vein, Rivers State Governor, who was among the dignitaries who honoured and eulogised Ojukwu noted that he was a hero who succeeded in creating history as Igbos are no longer taken for granted in whatever form or shape.
The Nigerian Civil War, he said, had been fought and won, adding that Ojukwu was a hero, freedom fighter, hater of injustice and an intellectual of an Igbo stuff.
Governor Amaechi therefore called on Ndi Igbo to help in building all inclusive society for which Ojukwu struggled and died for, pointing out that, “we must be able to provide a vision Ojukwu will smile in his death”, he stressed.
President Jonathan, who was unavoidably absent was represented at the occasion by the Vice President, Arch. Namadi Sambo.
In his tribute, President Jonathan noted that since the demise of the great Igbo leader, a lot had been said and written about him, both in local and international media organisations.
According to him, shortly after the dust raised by the Nigerian Civil War settled down, Ojukwu became strong advocate of a united Nigeria, adding that during his life time, he believed in justice, equity and fairness.
The president also made it clear that the fallen hero equally continued to play active role in the advancement of the Igbo nation in democracy.
Others who paid tribute to the icon included the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, as well as the host governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime.
Apart from the distinguished personalities who paid tribute to the fallen hero, other dignitaries present at the occasion included former President of Ghana, Flight Lt. Jerry Rowlings, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado-Bayero, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue. GOC 82 Division Nigerian Army, Enugu, Major-General OO Oshinowo, Chief Sonny Odogwu, former Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonnia Onovo, as well as the governors of Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi States, among other important personalities.
Earlier, inter-denominational church service was officiated by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Dr Callistus Onaga, assisted by his Anglican Communion counterpart, Bishop Emmanuel Olisa Chukwuma and other clergy men.
The high point of the ceremony was the laying of Wreaths by some important personalities present at the event which attracted people from far and near, including traders, students, artisans, market women, lawyers, doctors, among others.
Meanwhile, the people of Anambra from all walks of life yesterday gathered at the Alex Ekwueme Sqaure, Awka, to receive the body of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra led other dignitaries in the procession that followed, while Rt. Rev. Alex Ibezim, the Anglican Bishop of Awka, led other priests to conduct a prayer. Ibezim asked God to unite the Igbo race and bind Nigeria together.
In his tribute, Chief Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), commended the accolades made by national and international figures on Ojukwu.
Also speaking, the Nigeria Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Amb. Dozie Nwanna, noted that the late Ojukwu was the most illustrious Nigerian on the soil of the United Kingdom throughout the time he was at the London hospital.
Dr Oby Ezekwesili, the Vice President of World Bank for African Region, said Ojukwu was a leader who personified the dignity of the Igbo people.
In his tribute, former Police Service Commission Chairman, Chief Simon Okeke, described Ojukwu as “human lion and human tank,” noting that in death, Ojukwu’s battle on earth was over, but that the battle he fought was against injustice and corruption.
Anambra Governor, Mr Peter Obi, described Ojukwu as one of the most forthright personalities Nigeria ever had.
Also, former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, in his message, said Ojukwu was his personal friend of 67 years, adding that “when the call is sounded, all must hear, and for him, the call has been sounded”.
Others present at the occasion included former CBN Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, former Secretary-General of Ohaneze, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, former Director-General of MAMSER, Prof. Elochukwu Amuchezi, former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, members of the clergy and traditional rulers.
The occasion was also graced by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, the five South-East governors and their counterparts from Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Bauchi States.
Members of the National Assembly, former and serving ministers, former governors, traditional rulers, war veterans and political stalwarts, especially from the zone, attended the event.
The event commenced with an interdenominational church service officiated by the Bishops of the Catholic, Anglican and Methodist Churches in Enugu.
In his tribute, President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by his Vice, Namadi Sambo, said that Ojukwu was a servant-leader who contributed to the political development of the country.
On his part, Rawlings emphasised the need to address the circumstances that led to the Nigerian Civil War.
While extending Ghana’s condolences, Rawlings commended Jonathan for giving Ojukwu a state burial.
In a message at the funeral, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, said Ojukwu would forever be remembered for his courage, boldness, focus and unwavering desire to fight for justice, equity and fair play for his people.
The Chairman of the Governors’ Forum and Rivers State Governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, described the Ikemba Nnewi as a freedom fighter, adding that Nigeria’s history would not be complete without mentioning the Civil War and Ojukwu.
The host governor, Mr Sullivan Chime, said that Ojukwu was “born like a king, lived like a king and died like a king’’.
In a related development, economic activities were disrupted in parts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State , following a rally organised by Igbos to mark the burial of ex-Biafran warlord, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Areas mostly affected are Iloabuchi axis of Port Harcourt where most of the shops owned by Igbos were shut, the Mile I and III Markets and the Flyover market among others.
The Eze Ndigbo, Rivers and Bayelsa States, HRH Eze Adiele Maduegwu had earlier told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the Igbos in Rivers and Bayelsa States decided to close their shops to join their kith and kin across the country in the traditional ritual of searching for the dead.
Eze Maduegbwu said that the Igbo communities in the states were mobilising their members to ensure mass participation in the search programme.
According to him, to ensure the success of the rally, the community decreed that any Ibo man who opened his shop would be treated as a saboteur.
Canice Amadi, Enugu
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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