The All Progressives Congress (APC), has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of violating the non-violence pact, signed by him and other presidential candidates in Abuja on January 14th 2015, by acceding to the incendiary, insensitive, reckless and provocative death-wish-for-Buhari advert sponsored in his name by the zany Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, on Monday.
“But for our party’s ceaseless enlightenment of our members and supporters to shun violence of any kind even when provoked, and the peaceful disposition of the APC as a party, one can only imagine what could have happened in the wake of this demonic advert, laced with ethnic put down and a morally-repugnant death wish for a fellow being,” the party said in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed.
“We are therefore calling on all those who witnessed the signing of the pact, especially former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku, to take note of this very serious breach of the agreement and urgently call President Jonathan and his party to order.
”We are also calling on all Nigerians, as well as security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) to take note of the political desperation of the PDP and its supporters, while warning that we will hold President Jonathan and his party responsible if anything untoward should happen to the APC Presidential Candidate,” it said.
APC said for the avoidance of doubt, the unprecedentedly-provocative advert was not the first time that the President and his supporters have broken the Abuja Peace Accord.
“Two days after the pact was signed, our party’s office at Ngo community in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers was bombed, the second of such incident in the state, by PDP thugs. Then our party members were attacked severally in Sokoto by PDP thugs aided and abetted by the police, while the PDP Governor of Kaduna State, Mukhtar Yero, has been inciting violence against the opposition in his state,” the party said.
It said the fact that the perpetrators of those incidents got away with their actions without any censure from the President emboldened another die-hard supporter of the President to throw caution to the wind and embark on a course of action that has now exposed, for the world to see, the level of desperation by the President and his party ahead of next month’s polls.
“Never in the history of our nation has there been a more egregious act of desperation by a politician who would wish death to his opponent, with the action aided and abetted by otherwise respectable media organizations that chose to put financial consideration over professional ethics, morality and even national unity,” APC said.
The party urged the media, which has always been in the forefront of the fight for democracy in Nigeria, to exercise the utmost restraint at this difficult period, calling its attention to the inciting role played by the hate radio, called Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC), in the Rwandan genocide in 1993.
It said President Jonathan, who has been saying his political ambition is not worth the blood of anyone, could have had the blood of many Nigerians on his hands had the APC supporters not been peaceful and cool in the face of this egregious act of provocation.
“When we saw the advert on the front page in certain papers, we were taken aback not because we had any grand expectation of civil conduct from the indecorous and immoral Governor Fayose, but because no one could have imagined that PDP’s desperation would descend to the level of publicly expressing death wish for political opponents.
“That this is coming from the Governor of a State is appalling and highly distasteful. No doubt Gov. Fayose is the poster boy for what the PDP stands for: insensitivity, desperation and deception. Otherwise, how could any well-bred person, whether or not he is a state Governor, attempt to incite a whole section of the country against another in such brazen manner?
“PDP can choose to disrespect Nigerians, old, young and even past leaders. It has the prerogative to determine what issues are important to it and how it intends to run its campaign. But for us, this election is about security, employment for our youths, war against corruption, a buoyant economy and shared prosperity for Nigerians.
We will not shift focus from these issues that affect Nigerians. We will continue to spread the message of hope to our people,” APC said.
The party thanked Nigerians for their collective condemnation of such abominable publication, adding: ”Nigerians have shown that despite their different political affiliation, religion and ethnicity, they are humane and reasonable people who cannot be set against themselves by the trivial-mindedness of some desperate politicians.
“While appealing to all our members to remain peaceful, we must continue to stay focused on our common goal which is to have a Nigeria that works. We must resist the ploy to instigate violence in order to force a postponement of next month’s election, which is the grand plan of the PDP and its supporters.
”To those who are incredulous and affronted by the acts of desperation by the PDP, we say use the most potent ‘weapon’ at your disposal, your vote, to express your outrage during the forthcoming polls.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign organisation has distanced itself from the controversial death-wish advertorial authored by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose.
Fayose in the said advertisement, published in two national newspapers, warned Nigerians against voting for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, predicting that if elected, Buhari too would die in office.
Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP presidential campaign organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode on Tuesday said the views expressed in the publication were personal to Fayose.
According to him, the message in the said advertorial did not in any way reflect the views of the PDP presidential campaign organisation, adding that questions regarding the advertisement should be directed to the Ekiti State Governor.
Fani-Kayode said: “Governor Ayo Fayose is a distinguished leader of our party. A democratically elected governor and someone we have immense respect and affection for, but he released this advert in his own name.
“That represents his own personal opinion which he is entitled to. What I can tell you on our part as the presidential campaign organisation is that does not represent the opinion of the campaign organisation or indeed that of the President.
“It is his opinion which he is entitled to and he is somebody that we have immense respect for, he is a leading member of the party. I have spoken with him and we respect him, but for anybody to suggest that this is the position of the presidential campaign organisation or President Goodluck Jonathan that will be most unfair.
“If we wanted to say something like that we will say it without any kind of apology but of course we will never say that because we believe in the sanctity of life. Age is not a function of how long you will live. It is important that we recognize the fact that age is not an indication of how long somebody will live,” the party said.
31 States Lack Insurance Cover For Workers
Thirty-one states in the federation have no insurance cover in place for workers as of March, despite the provision of the requirement in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
Figures obtained from PenCom on ‘Status of implementation of the CPS in states as at March 2021’, last Saturday, showed that only five states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have insurance in place for their workers.
Other compliant states are Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Edo, which also have pension schemes for their workers, according to PenCom.
A former President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, said it was not appropriate that most states lacked insurance cover for their workers.
Esele stated, “It speaks volumes to the fact that when the private sector has not shown respect for group life insurance, they are actually borrowing a leaf from the state governments.
“Ordinarily, what you should expect is that respect for our laws should be what state governments should be all about, but what they have done now is to show lack of respect for the law and their citizens because, ordinarily, it is in the best interest of not only the workers but also the management, that is, the government.
“It is so that whatever happens, the families of the people working with them are safe. For them not to have done that is sad and discomforting.”
The Director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy, Ivor Takor, urged state and local governments to comply fully with the regulations in the CPS.
He expressed worry that most states had yet to comply with the law.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Hon Darlington Nwokocha, said the lawmakers were reviewing the insurance laws which would enhance the sector’s performance and assist the implementation of the compulsory insurance laws.
The Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the commission was engaging states to ensure full compliance with the PRA.
She noted that it had continued to review the implementation of the scheme in the states.
Also, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the National Insurance Commission was seeking compliance on the compulsory insurance schemes.
Thomas stated that NAICOM had visited some of the state governors to solicit the support for compliance with insurance laws.
Also, PenCom, in a recent circular, ordered employers of labour to comply with the Group Life Insurance Policy as stipulated in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
PenCom also ordered employers to display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within the premises before the end of July 31, 2021.
It stated this in a circular to all employers and employees titled ‘Re: Compliance with PRA 2014 on Group Life Insurance Policy for employees and display of insurance certificate for 2021’.
The commission said, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, every employer shall maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy in favour of all employees.
“The GLIP should be a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employees. Similarly, Section 5.5 of the revised guidelines on GLIP for employees provides that the employer shall display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within its premises, for the information of the employees and as evidence of having taken such policy.
“Employers that have not displayed a copy of the GLIP certificate within their premises are advised to do so on or before 31 July, 2021. Failure to provide GLIP is a violation of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014.”
PenCom disclosed that only 15,418 organisations got its clearance to do the business of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government between January 4 and May 10.
It said the clearance was given to them for having pension accounts and life insurance cover for their employees.
According to the commission, the clearance enables them to do the business of the Federal Government for the 2021 financial year.
PenCom said companies that had no insurance cover for their workers would no longer be allowed to do any government business.
One In 100 Die By Suicide, WHO Alerts
The World Health Organisation (WHO), has said, suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide and responsible for one in 100 deaths globally.
In its latest estimates entitled, “Suicide worldwide in 2019”, WHO noted that every year, more people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer or war and homicide.
The latest estimates noted that in 2019, more than 700 000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting the WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.
The WHO guidance is to help the world reach the target of reducing the suicide rate by 1/3 by 2030.
Speaking on the new estimates, Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world cannot and must not ignore suicide.
“Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide 6 job loss, financial stress and social isolation still very much present.”
He said the new guidance would provide a clear path for stepping up suicide prevention efforts.
“Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence. The rates vary, between countries, regions, and between males and females.”
The report also explained that more than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100 000 males compared with 5.4 per 100 000 females).
“Suicide rates among men are generally higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100 000). For females, the highest suicide rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100 000).
Suicide rates in the WHO African (11.2 per 100 000), European (10.5 per 100 000) and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100 000) regions were higher than the global average (9.0 per 100 000) in 2019. The lowest suicide rate was in the Eastern Mediterranean region (6.4 per 100 000).
Globally, the suicide rate is decreasing; in the Americas, it is going up. Suicide rates fell in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate decreasing by 36 per cent, with decreases ranging from 17 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47 per cent in the European Region and 49 per cent in the Western Pacific.
“But in the Americas Region, rates increased by 17 per cent in the same time period. Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted.
“Currently only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.
“A significant acceleration in the reduction of suicides is needed to meet the SDG target of a one-third reduction in the global suicide rate by 2030.”
However, WHO has released comprehensive guidance for implementing its LIVE LIFE approach to suicide prevention. The four strategies of this approach are: limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
WHO further recommended the banning of the most dangerous pesticides given that pesticide poisoning is estimated to cause 20 per cent of all suicides while national bans of acutely toxic, highly hazardous pesticides have shown to be cost-effective.
Other measures recommended by WHO include restricting access to firearms, reducing the size of medication packages and installing barriers at jump sites.
On responsible reporting by the media, the guide highlighted the role the media plays in relation to suicide.
“Media reports of suicide can lead to a rise in suicide due to imitation (or copycat suicides) – especially if the report is about a celebrity or describes the method of suicide.
“The new guide advises monitoring of the reporting of suicide and suggests that media counteract reports of suicide with stories of successful recovery from mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts. It also recommends working with social media companies to increase their awareness and improve their protocols for identifying and removing harmful content.”
WHO also noted that support for adolescence (10-19 years of age) was a critical period for acquiring socio-emotional skills, particularly since half of the mental health conditions appear before 14 years of age.
“The LIVE LIFE guidance encourages actions including mental health promotion and anti-bullying programmes, links to support services and clear protocols for people working in schools and universities when a suicide risk is identified.
“Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up apply to people who have attempted suicide or are perceived to be at risk. A previous suicide attempt is one of the most important risk factors for future suicide.
“Health-care workers should be trained in early identification, assessment, management and follow-up.
“Survivors’ groups of people bereaved by suicide can complement the support provided by health services. Crisis services should also be available to provide immediate support to individuals in acute distress.
The new guidance, which includes examples of suicide prevention interventions that have been implemented across the world, in countries such as Australia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, Sweden and the USA can be used by anyone who is interested in implementing suicide prevention activities, whether at the national or local level and in the governmental and non-governmental sectors alike.
On his part, suicide prevention expert at the World Health Organisation, Alexandra Fleischmann said, “While a comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy should be the ultimate goal for all governments, starting suicide prevention with LIVE LIFE interventions can save lives and prevent the heartbreak that follows for those left behind.”
Wike, Others Grace Prof Antonia Omehia’s Thanksgiving
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and other eminent personalities were among personalities that graced the thanksgiving ceremony in honour of Professor Antonia Celestine Omehia, yesterday.
The thanksgiving organised by former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia was to mark the conferment of his wife, Professor Antonia with the rank of Professor of Library and Information Science by Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni.
Professor Antonia Omehia is a lecturer in the Library and Information Science Department of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State.
Governor Wike, his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Austin Opara, former Presidents, Nigeria Bar Association ( NBA) Onueze C.J Okocha (SAN), and Okey Wali (SAN) were among other dignitaries who attended the thanksgiving ceremony at Omehia’s residence in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Former Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia said his family decided to organise the thanksgiving to honour God for his wife’s unparalleled academic excellence and passion for scholarly research.
He acknowledged that it is not an easy feat to attain the rank of an academic professor. According to him, his family will remain eternally grateful to God for granting his wife the grace of academic excellence.
Former NBA President, Okocha, who spoke on behalf of Rivers’ elders, said Professor Antonia Omehia has indisputably distinguished herself in academics, because professors are scholars that are experts in their fields and teachers of the highest rank in the university.
He heaped praises on Sir Omehia for allowing his wife to soar in her academic pursuit, because most men often feel intimidated when their wives excel in life.
The legal luminary said when women excel in academics, they should be celebrated.
He commended Professor Antonia Omehia for making her husband and children proud by virtue of her unquestionable commitment to academic excellence.
”We are proud of you for honouring our brother.”
Eminent personalities that also attended the thanksgiving included: Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, former Minister of Transportation, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Senator (Dr) Bennett Birabi, Davies Ikanya among several others.
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