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Editorial

Medical Tourism: The Rivers Initiative

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The recent revelation that Rivers State
Government has fine tuned moves to
end the frequent overseas medical trips by Rivers people and other Nigerians, and make the state the hub of medical tourism in Africa is indeed heart-warming.
Acknowledging the giant strides being made by the Rivers State Government on medical tourism, the National Coordinator of International Trauma Care Centre (ITCC), Dr. Sydney Ibeanusi had told journalists during a medical facility tour that the state government had already equipped two hospitals, the Kelsey Harrison Hospital in Diobu and the Dental and Maxillo-Facial Specialist Hospital at Garrison, all in Port Harcourt, with world-class medical equipment and experts to handle critical matters.
Said he: “Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has provided for Nigerians two world-class medical facilities. The hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that cannot be found elsewhere in sub-saharan Africa.”
“With these hospitals fully open for service,” Dr. Ibeanusi continued, “Rivers State will become a tourism destination for Nigerians seeking medical attention as  a lot of Nigerians will prefer coming to the state and will no longer like travelling overseas for medical treatment.”
The ITCC coordinator had hinted that both the Kelsey Harrison Hospital and the Dental and Maxillo-Facial Hospital have taken off fully. Both hospitals, he further hinted, are managed by the ITCC with its own foreign experts for a period of 20 years, during which it would train its local personnel to take over from the foreign experts.
That Rivers State was becoming a new hub for medical tourism has eminently corroborated the promise of the state government to make some unmistakable statements with the health sector in the state.
The Tide notes with satisfaction that while the standard of both hospitals compares favourably with the best anywhere in the world, the Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital being built at the Greater Port Harcourt Area would provide for our people the services for which some people go to seek medical attention overseas.
We also applaud the Rivers State Government for the re-assurance by the state Health Ministry that the idea behind the two hospitals was to ensure quality medicare for the people at minimal cost.
Indeed, these efforts, in addition to the hundreds of model training centres across the state and the massive training of medical personnel, clearly positions Rivers State for the giant leap in healthcare supply for which this administration cannot be commended enough.
The Tide expects other states of the federation to borrow a leaf from Rivers State as knee surgeries are now successfully done here while MRS Scan that takes a lot of people out of the country are also available here including of course access to medicare which has since been expanded.
Government’s emphasis in this regard is significant when viewed against the backdrop of the fact that many lives can be saved owing to the inability of some patients to access the needed treatment overseas. It also saves foreign exchange, develops local manpower and restores Nigeria’s image, at least, to the extent that local personnel can be respected.
Nevertheless, The Tide, believing that healthcare is holistic, advises that the effort being made in providing facilities and manpower should also be complemented with the supply of genuine drugs. In this way, the world will come to Rivers State to be treated instead of flying anywhere else, where some even come back worse.

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Editorial

LG Polls: Kudos To RSIEC

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April 17, 2021 local government election conducted by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) has come and gone. All indications were that the polls were successfully concluded across the 23 local government areas of the state. In the results announced by RSIEC 24 hours after the election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the chairmanship and councillorship positions. We congratulate the PDP on their victory.
It was reported that the state recorded a peaceful, credible and transparent election. And that is a demonstration of Governor Nyesom Wike’s commitment to deepening democracy in the country. The governor has always been an advocate of credible and transparent conduct of elections in our nation. The sincerity of his advocacy was witnessed in the just-concluded Rivers local government elections.
RSIEC is commended for conducting a free, fair, credible and peaceful local government election in all the 23 local government councils of the state. The distribution of election materials, accreditation of voters, counting and recording of votes were carried out transparently. The security agencies also acted professionally before, during and after the election. They deserve approbation.
Though there was initial tension and thinking that the results would be doctored, it all turned out to be a farce. All the results declared by the electoral umpire were the same as announced at the various polling units. This is what we wish for the state in particular and the country in general – an electoral process where the people will choose their leaders by their votes, not by coercion.
It is heart-warming that voters expressed so much confidence in the electoral process to the point that even when RSIEC officials arrived late with their materials at some polling units, many voters who had earlier reported at such polling units but left because of the absence of both officials and materials, returned to vote on sighting electoral officers.
Also, the electorate peacefully organised themselves by casting their votes for the candidates of their choice at the various polling units. The electoral commission attributed the peaceful and successful conduct of the elections to adequate security and orderly behaviour of the electorate. Similarly, the candidates of all the parties and their agents are lauded for their peaceful and orderly disposition while participating in the exercise.
Some stakeholders have attributed the peaceful atmosphere of the election to the non-participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the poll. We agree no less with that view. Truly, if the APC had participated, they would have coerced security agencies and done all manner of negative things like instructing cultists or even security agents to shoot at voters as well as hiring thugs to do away with ballot boxes.
The message to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is that they could conduct credible elections if they resist pressures from different quarters. Indeed, INEC can be committed to doing the right thing. The federal electoral body should build confidence and borrow a leaf from RSIEC. Every other thing will move on smoothly and our democracy will be better for it.
Following the successful poll, a deluge of commendations has continued to trail RSIEC. Stakeholders in the state are united in describing the election as credible, free, fair and transparent. Those who expressed satisfaction with the commission’s handling of the election include the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and Labour Party, among others. IPAC declared that the outcome of the poll was fair and credible.
The result of this election has come as a surprise to critics of the Wike administration as they thought violence and intimidations would disrupt the ballot. We urge RSIEC to build on this success in subsequent elections as its continued credibility is key to the success or outcome of elections in the state. The state electoral body may wish to embark on early preparations as well as plugging identified loopholes in future elections.
Again, the aftermath of the election was a sign that RSIEC had been listening to the cries of Rivers people. Even though there were a few reports of ballot box snatching, intimidation, thumbprinting of ballot papers and pockets of violence as well as buying of votes, the election was far much better than others conducted by INEC under the present APC government.
Having been voted for, it is expected that the elected council officials will deliver dividends of democracy in their respective local government areas. They must desist from abusing the opportunity they have been given to serve the people at the grassroots. The craving for money that characterises the conduct of political office holders at the grassroots must be shunned.
The newly-elected local government officials should be responsible and responsive to the needs of their people. They have to interact with their subjects, identify their problems and solve them. After all, that is why they were elected in the first place. For the elected chairmen to succeed, they have to work in synergy with their deputies and councillors. This will check unnecessary bickering among them that may result in poor governance of the councils.
On the whole, we congratulate all the elected chairmen and councillors across the state. We urge those who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll to seek redress in the court of law where justice is expected to be served and stop vilifying an election that has been adjudged free and fair by the good people of Rivers State.

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Editorial

Task Before New IGP

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As Nigerians eagerly awaited judicial pronouncement that would have sealed the constitutionality or otherwise of the extention of service period for former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, by the court on April 16, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari, acting through his Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, aborted that expectation when he announced the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba, as the 21st indigenous IGP to replace Adamu in acting capacity on April 6, 2021.
Until that appointment, Usman Baba who holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, was the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in charge of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID) at Force Headquarters, Abuja. He had also served as Force Secretary, Commissioner of Police in Delta State, the Federal Capital Territory, as well as being the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of Zones 4, 5 and 7, respectively.
Being the third in a row of Northern Muslims appointed into that position by President Buhari, there are many who see the President’s action as not only insensitive but a brazen disregard for the increasing tension in the land occasioned by heightening clamour against perceived sense of exclusion and frustration, given vent in violent rage against the state.
There are other Nigerians who think that the president acted without due process in the appointment of the new IGP without recourse to the Police Council as required by law. The argument is that it is erroneous for the president to rely only on Section 171 of the Constitution without taking due regard to the Third Schedule Section 215 (2)) of the same 1999 Constitution in the discharge of his function as touching the subject matter.
Created by Section 153 of the Constitution, the Police Council which has the President as chairman and the 36 state governors as members is saddled with the responsibility of appointing the IGP based on the recommendation of the Police Service Commission. As things stand, there is no indication that even the Police Service Commission was involved in the appointment of Usman Baba. For many, this is a disservice to the nation and an apparent breaking of the law by the President himself.
While The Tide agrees that the President ought to have exercised better discretion, sensitivity, circumspection and adherence to the rule of law in his choice of a new helmsman for the Nigerian Police Force at this time, the fact cannot be denied that the task before IGP Baba is very huge and challenging and requires uncommon bravery, courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness, patriotism and sincerity of purpose to surmount.
It is not for nothing that Usman Baba’s appointment was announced while his predecessor was on an on-the-spot assessment of one of the most massive destructions ever visited upon the headquarters of a police command and a correctional facility in the country. It is also instructional that barely 48 hours upon his assumption of duty, five state governors, acting in concert, proclaimed the establishment of a regional security outfit, following the footsteps of some others who had gone before.
The truth of the matter is that Nigeria at the moment faces an existential threat, not from without but from within its borders. With festering insurgency in the North East, banditry in the North West, farmers-herder’s deadly confrontations in the South West, North Central and South’ South, and a fledging insurrection in the South East, a general sense of insecurity pervades the entire landscape of Nigeria.
In the last three months, bandits have attacked and kidnapped students from four different schools in the North West region with some students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Kaduna State still being held by their captors. Attack on police formations and killing of law enforcement personnel is almost becoming a daily occurrence. Separatist voices are getting louder while ethnic war lords are springing up in their numbers. Kidnapping, cultism and sundry violent and deadly crimes are spinning out of control. In fact, there is an intolerable level of breakdown of law and order while overall safety and security of lives and property have reached an all-time low in the country.
To say the least, lack of security and effective and efficient enforcement of law and order fueled by uncontrolled influx of small arms and light weapons is the unfortunate reality in Nigeria. There are indeed, those who describe the country as a failing state because of the level of lawlessness and the security agencies’ seeming lack of capacity and capability to stem the overwhelming tide. Perhaps, the job of maintenance of law and order in Nigeria has never been this challenging and it is now the unenviable lot of IGP Usman Baba to put a lead on the spiraling ugly situation and give his compatriots a new hope of a safe and secure environment for their lives and property.
However, for the police to be able to undertake this task effectively, it must itself attain certain basic standard requirements. To begin with, the police are ill-equipped and understaffed. Clearly, adequate equipment of the police in the light of the equality and calibre of weapons in the hands of the criminals is a fundamental requirement if they are to make any impact at all.
The new IGP must also work with relevant authorities to ensure that the personnel strength of the force is significantly increased in order to have enough manpower for the work. The situation where you have less than one million officers to police about 200 million people is no longer sustainable.
Deliberate purposeful efforts must be made to earn the people’s trust and confidence for the police to achieve results. The police cannot continue to be in confrontation with the same people they’re paid to protect. The need for a properly trained, highly professional and truly civil police force cannot be overemphasized.
IGP Usman Baba must also work to ensure that the police does not find itself working at cross purposes with sister security agencies but always endeavour to fashion out workable synergy and partnerships for the overall good of the country. The Nigeria Police Force needs to reform itself, motivate its officers and men through adequate remuneration and the provision of welfare packages that will boost their morale and reduce their tendency to be compromised without much ado.
Of course, IGP Usman Baba has already made public his new policing vision to include: Deploying cutting-edge policing technology; integrating intelligence-led policing practices to core policing functions with a view to strengthening police capacity to stabilize the internal security order; and restoring public confidence in the force.
Of course, IGP Usman Baba will require the support, assistance and cooperation of the Federal Government as well all Nigerians to succeed but he must work to justify the confidence reposed in him by the president and prove himself worthy to be taken seriously by the people.

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Editorial

Imo Jail Break: One Attack, Too Many

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Nigeria is going through its worst moments. Lawlessness is fast gathering impulsion in the coun
try and there is every justification for Nigerians to palpitate and tremble. Criminal elements are labouring very hard to snatch the soul of the nation. The latest theatre of anarchy is in the South-East, especially in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi States and a fraction of the South-South in Akwa Ibom and Delta States where security agents are daily confronted by non-state actors.
Jailbreak and bomb onslaughts on security formations in Owerri, the Imo State capital, led to the escape of 1,844 prison inmates with at least three people dead. The parallel attacks may be indicative of the fact that security agents are recording a streak of losses in the battle against felons. Specifically, on April 6, 2021, gunmen attacked the prison in Owerri. They also razed the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area Divisional Police Headquarters in Imo State.
Not done, the gangsters again bombed the Imo State Police Command Headquarters where about 50 vehicles and other property were razed. Military checkpoints were equally assailed with two soldiers reportedly killed. President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be incapacitated as he watches Nigeria voyaging towards self-destruction. Trouble everywhere. In the North-West, bandits are having unusual pleasure while in the North-East, terrorists have altered things for the worst. North-Central and South-West have persisted in the tenacious grip of bandits as well as farmers/herdsmen configurations.
Even the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, recently expressed concern for Nigeria’s unpleasant situation: “We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation…Nigeria is facing a lot of problems everywhere – in the North-East, terrorism; in the North-West, banditry, kidnapping; in the Middle Belt, the farmers-herders conflict; in the South, the Niger Delta conflict everywhere. And the secession movements in the South-East. So, Nigeria is really struggling.”
It is sad that Nigeria still contends to live on after more than a century of amalgamation and six decades of independence. For all these years, our country, rather than wax stronger, is diminishing in strength. It has continually failed to provide welfare and security for its people. The state has lost power and control to criminals, regardless of the vain conceited posture by the government. Two days before the Owerri attacks, seven Hausa/Fulani ‘suya’ (roasted meat) vendors in Owerri markets were killed by gunmen.
Before the Owerri incident, Anambra, Ebonyi, Nasarawa and Delta States had also had their fair share of attacks. In the Obeagu, Egedegede, Amaizu and the Effium communities in the Ishielu and Ohaukwu Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, gunmen suspected to be of the Fulani extraction massacred 22 persons. The assailants are yet to be apprehended.
At Garaku Market in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, bandits bared their deadly fangs, and shot dead the chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and another official. Also in the throes of killing is Anambra State where six police and four Naval officers including civilians were killed. A Chief Superintendent of Police was burnt alive in Akwa Ibom State. The deadly trail continued as criminals killed two police officers on escort duty in Warri, Delta State.
Bandits have seized Niger State and effectively control many communities. Farmers are surcharged before they can gain entrance to their farms. School children are abducted in large numbers in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara States at random. The situation is such that within the first six weeks of this year, 1,525 persons had been killed by terrorists, bandits and killer herdsmen. The Global Terrorism Index reported 1,606 killed in 125 incidents to make Nigeria the world’s third most terrorised country in 2020.
Similarly, Amnesty International affirmed that 1,126 people in rural communities in the North were slaughtered by bandits and herdsmen in the first six months of 2020. Alarmed by the figures, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Hassan Kukah, clearly captured the state of utmost abhorrence, “being the poverty capital of the world comes with its rewards such as banditry, violence, death, sorrow, blood, poverty and tears.”
The successive invasions and sacking of police stations, checkpoints and usurpation of arms in the South-East ought to have precipitated prophylactic intelligence action from security agents. It should have been apparent to the police that the criminals would eventually assault bigger targets if not arrested. Besides, the police headquarters in Owerri is near the Government House and much less than 30 minutes drive away from the Nigerian Army’s 34 Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters. Slow response to emergencies is part of the unfortunate banes of our security system. Thus, criminals operate for hours without any response from law enforcement agents.
Nigeria is disintegrating and we need to act fast. There is a deep mistrust towards the authorities by the people and likewise profound mutual antagonism among the ethnic nationalities and the numerous faiths. The government should stop alienating Nigerians particularly in the manner Kukah described as the incredible funding of billions of naira in “rehabilitating” terrorists and bandits who battle against the country with no programme of rehabilitation for their victims.
Certainly, our country is going through significant divergent forces. However, we think that the situation is not hopeless. The nation can still be rescued. As a first step, the government needs to soak up illicit arms. This has become necessary given the unrestrained arms inflow from Mali, Libya and Central African Republic, according to the US Military’s Africa Command. Also, the toxic mixing of politics and religion with security by the authorities should cease as this country may not survive another civil war.
To pull back from devastation, state governors must quickly set up and fund formidable state security outfits. To be effective, these must be completely devoid of politics and sectarian or partisan contemplations. Furthermore, State Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly should, in the ongoing amendment of the 1999 Constitution, decentralise policing immediately. The current failed central policing structure must be disbanded forthwith.

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