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HOS Explains Xmas Gifts, Flays Reports

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The Rivers State Head of Service (HOS), Mrs Esther Anucha, has urged civil servants and the general public to disregard unsavoury reports published in some newspapers in the  state aimed at tarnishing her hard earned reputation.

Mrs Anucha stated this yesterday at a meeting with staff of the office of the Head of Service held at the conference hall, Point Hall Block, Secretariat Complex in Port Harcourt.

The Head of Service, who used the forum to formally announce her statutory retirement from the service in September this year, recounted the series of negative reports dating back to the year 2010 when it was falsely reported that she had been suspended by the governor for allegedly embezzling N1million gift given to each civil servant in the state.

Recently, another report of monies for Christmas hampers and falsification of age documents were dangled to embarrass, malign and discredit her.

Mrs Anucha described the report  as malicious and wicked, and wondered where on earth such things had happened before, that a governor would leave important projects to be executed which would benefit the masses to give N1million each to 55,000 civil servants who were on the payroll of government at that time, which would have amounted to a whopping N55billion.

The Head of Service, who said it was necessary to clarify these issues, pointed out that most of the local newspapers that published such false stories were not registered and had no fixed address, noting that she directed her lawyer to file a court action on the criminal and malicious publications but neither the address of the newspapers nor the publishers could be located.

On the alleged embezzlement of N175million meant for Christmas hampers to civil servants, the Head of Service explained that when the governor directed her to organise a party for workers as a platform to apologise for the delay in the payment of November and December, 2011 salaries, she suggested that a little purse be presented to them as well for Christmas hampers, considering the Yuletide season.

She said a committee comprising Permanent Secretaries, directors and members of labour unions including the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council was set up to plan for the party and a memo was submitted with a proposal for cash gift and the governor in his wisdom, graciously approved N5,000 each, noting that the records were available for anyone to cross-check.

On the age falsification report, Mrs Auncha said, “ I started work in the Governor’s Office and by the grace of God, I am retiring from the same office. My records are there in the civil service commission and in all the MDAs I had worked. I  have worked in the schools board, the Ministries of Education, Transport, Agriculture and in all these MDAs, my records are there for anyone to cross check”.

She said the state governor was very pleased with her office for successfully reducing the staff strength from 55,000 staff paid between 2008 and 2010 to 47,000 being paid presently, at the conclusion of the staff biometric exercise.

She thanked the staff for their cooperation without which, what had been achieved would not have been possible, and called for their continued prayers.

In their separate responses, the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare, Mr Lambert Ekwueme, the Director, Computer Department, Mr Ernest Chap-Jumbo and chairman of  the Association of Senior Civil Servants, Mr Jonas Okere condemned the erroneous publications and their sponsors; describing the development  as unfortunate and outrageous’, and expressed their continued commitment, royalty and support to the Head of Service.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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