The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has commended the federal and Rivers State governments for their dogged efforts that saw the eradication of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the state.
The commendation is coming even as the union has decried the three-month old strike embarked upon by primary healthcare workers in Rivers State, insisting that the consequences of the strike may be more dangerous than the EVD.
Chairman of NUJ in the state, Mr Opaka Dokubo, who spoke when he led executive members of the union to pay a courtesy visit to the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker in Port Harcourt, specifically thanked the state Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for providing the needed resources that helped to fight the disease to a stand-still.
Dokubo said, “We have come as a union to you to take our message to the Chief Executive Officer of the state, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, that as journalists, who have watched this event, we have come to thank His Excellency and the good people of Rivers State for the dogged way you fought Ebola to a stand-still. It is very easy to criticize and continue to criticize. Today, we feel pleased and very happy, and we know that this is how the people of Rivers State feel.
”We are very pleased and happy the way you went about this fight against Ebola and conquered it. We can only say thank you. We wish to commend you on this effort and without reservations, say you have done well. We also acknowledge the effort of the Federal Government as well, and indeed, we say the Federal Government did very well in this fight against Ebola.
“As you always said, we cannot relax because of this achievement; so, we urge you to do more. How the Ebola came to Rivers State is unfortunate, but all that is history now. The reality of the fact is that Ebola was here and you fought it,” Dokubo said.
He regretted that the regular immunization of new born babies has not been carried out government-owned primary health centres in the state in the last three months due to the strike embarked upon by primary health workers, and called on the 23 local government councils in the state, who are responsible for the welfare of the primary health workers to wake up to their responsibilities before it is too late.
The NUJ chairman said, “The issue of public health emergency is very much present with us. In fact, it is something that we fear we have no alternative but to raise alarm. Since July, primary health workers have been on strike. What this has translated to is that from July to September, immunization has not taken place in Rivers State, and that means that we are seating on a keg of gun powder.
“The challenge presented by this lack of immunization is more dangerous than Ebola. So, we want to call on His Excellency to get the LG chairmen to look into the issue. I am aware this is the responsibility of the local government councils; I want to call on the council chairmen to look into it. This issue must be settled and settled fast. They must sit with the health workers; settle the issues that have to be settled and get them back to work with immediate effect. We cannot afford to have another crisis in our hands,” Dokubo added.
Responding, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker regretted that the campaign set up by the state government to achieve 100% in immunization is almost collapsing due to the action of the primary health workers.
Parker, however, thanked the NUJ for coming out to commend the state government shortly after the eradication of EVD in the state, but said Nigeria cannot claim to be free from the outbreak of the dreaded disease until Liberia and Sierra Leone become free.
He said, “I must really thank you for coming out soon after this battle to commend the government of Rivers State, the governor of Rivers State and the Ministry of Health that put this together. NUJ should be accepting commendations too because your members went with us wherever we went to. I am happy that you came. I am happy that the people of Rivers State got out of this danger that came to us.
“A lot of time, we are quick to condemn and criticize, and we let go the commendations. I believe that this government would have done better if my Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, had gotten all the commendations that are due him. We assure you that we will continue to be at alert. Until Ebola is clear in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the outbreak is not over in Nigeria. What we have done is that we have come back to our pre-preparation stage,” Parker added.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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