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Fuel Scarcity Persists In Rivers, FCT Groans

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Pensioners at the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate Stakeholders Forum in Abuja last Thursday.

Pensioners at the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate Stakeholders Forum in Abuja last Thursday.

The scarcity of Petrol in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, has remained high since last week with some filling stations selling at between  N110.00 and N120 per litre as against the official pump price of N87.00 while most do not have product.
The situation is even worse at the outskirts of Port Harcourt city as marketers sell at between N120.00 and N130.00 per litre.
It would be recalled that scarcity of the product resurfaced in the state since last week Saturday thereby engendering panic buying by helpless buyers who have the fear that full scale scarcity night hit the state.
A motorist, Mike Odeh said he bought petrol yesterday at Eliozu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area at the cost of N120.00per litre.
Another commercial bus driver, Zubi Iyke, who plies Port Harcourt/Yenagoa route, said he bought a litre of Petrol at N120.00 in Ahoada.
“The problem is that there is no product in most filling stations on the way. So, you have no option than to buy it at any price”, lyke said.
Investigation by The Tide shows that marketers have started to hoard the product in anticipation of more serious scarcity and pump adjustment has become a bizarre thing.
A reliable source close to some of the marketers disclosed to our correspondents that there might be imminent shortage of product across the nation as marketers are not comfortable with the official reduction from N97.00 to N87.00 and the consistent depreciation of Naira, Nigeria’s official currency.
He blamed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for not effectively monitoring the activities of marketers in the state.
“DPR in Rivers State feels less concerned while marketers embark on all sorts of fraud as selling above official pump price and adjustment of meters”, he said.
The source, who expressed worry at the attitude of DPR, said it takes serious monitoring to check the excesses of the marketers.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Energy, Hon. Okey Amadi blamed the Federal Government over the situation, saying the circumstances surrounding the price adjustment is responsible for the situation.
Meanwhile, the NNPC, yesterday, promised that it is working to ensure that the situation is addressed quickly and assured Nigerians that the fuel supply situation will improve in the coming days. The fuel crisis in Abuja worsened weekend, as many of the petrol stations across the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, were shut down, leaving motorists stranded.
This was in spite of claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Friday, that it is injecting about 688 million of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, into the market. Motorists had to resort to the black marketý, where roadside petrol sellers now sell the commodity for as high as N250 per litre.
Spokesperson for the NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said, “On Friday, we had stated that in 48 hours we will wet the market with 688 million litres of petrol. Distribution of products is by trucking. You will agree that it is some distance from the depots and tank farms in the south to the depots and retail outlets in the hinterland. Expectedly, the ýqueues should disappear before long.”
Alegbe blamed the scarcity oný panic buying by motorists and sharp practices by some retail outlets who are hoarding the commodity, thereby frustrating efforts to stem the scarcity.
He said the NNPC has informed the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, of the ýthese sharp practices by some petrol stations’ owners for adequate sanctions against them.
He said, “Panic buying has persisted in spite of our appeal to motorists. Secondly, some retail outlets are hoarding product by dispensing from only one pump head. We have reported some of them to the DPR and we believe appropriate sanctions will be meted out to them.
A source in the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, disclosed that the scarcity currently being experienced in Abuja is as a result of panic buying and not because of non-availability of petrol.
According to the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, DPR officers ýin depots across the country and even in the FCT have been sending in reports of availability of the commodity at the various depots and liftings by trucks to various petrol stations.
“The DPR had also had discussions with a number of petrol stations’ owners who told us that the long queues is as a result of panic buying. A particular owner of one of the petrol stations told us that he received a tanker load of fuel on Friday morning and is expecting to receive another consignment of the product before the end of the day. So, it is evident that the product is not scarce, just people buying the commodity out of fear of the unknown,” the source said.
In addition, the source urged motorists to avoid panic buying as there are large quantity of the products in depots across the country.
ýAlmost all the petrol stations in Wuse, Maitama, Nyanya, Abuja – Keffi expressway, Asokoro, Jabi, Gwarinpa, Kubwa Expressway, Airport Road among others were closed while the few that were selling had long queues of motorists to contend with.
Some residents said they had to abandon their vehicles at home throughout the weekend, hoping to conserve the little fuel they had for their journey to their various offices during the week.
Some of the respondents called on the Federal Government to intervene urgently and bring the situation under control, before it escalates.
ýThe crisis had started on Thursday when long queues resurfaced in petrol filling stations in Abuja, over rumour of an impending scarcity of the product earlier in the week.
The rumour of the impending scarcity was hinged on the debt owed marketers by the Federal Government, a development which was claimed has made it impossible for the marketers to import the commodity.
However, to forestall the crisis in the sector, the Federal Government quickly stepped in and promised to pay off about N264 billion between now and end of March, as subsidy reimbursement applications submitted to marketers as at end of January 2015.
The sum comprises 2014 outstanding debts of N164 billion in addition to N100 billion derived from foreign exchange and bank interest charges.
The decision to pay the debts was arrived at a crucial meeting with the Ministries of Finance, Petroleum Resources, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and oil marketers in Abuja on Monday at the instance of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

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31 States Lack Insurance Cover For Workers

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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.

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One In 100 Die By Suicide, WHO Alerts

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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.”

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Wike, Others Grace Prof Antonia Omehia’s Thanksgiving

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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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