After weeks of discussions with leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, would defect to the opposition party, early next week.
Specifically, and barring last-minute hitches, sources close to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said he will defect on Sunday.
Penultimate week, Tambuwal, alongside the Kwara State Governor, AbdulFatah Ahmed, met with national leaders of the PDP.
Considered to be angling for the Presidency in 2019, the governor is said not to be in the good books of some powers in the Presidency, said to have been behind recent subtle media attacks on the governor over his policies in Sokoto State, among others.
The hitherto peaceful caliphate woke up to attacks by unknown persons who invaded the state from a border town.
After the mayhem, no fewer than 35 people were killed, thousands of people were displaced and several houses and other property were destroyed.
In a statement, Tambuwal attributed the widespread killings across the country and the seeming inability of the security agencies to secure lives and property of citizens to “failure of leadership” and ineptitude in spite of the huge amount of money being spent on security by the Buhari administration.
He also called for the re-jigging of the national security architecture, in order to make it more effective and efficient.
His attribution of the killings to “leadership failure,” sources said angered some forces in the presidency.
Besides, Tambuwal’s Agriculture policy, under the “Cattle Breeding, Milk and Beef Production Project,” which the Sokoto State Government said is designed to make the state a model of modern agriculture hub especially in animal husbandry that is driven by technology as against the current problematic mode of cattle herding in Nigeria, is also generating angst against him.
The source said, “Tambuwal’s cattle-breeding policy in Sokoto is said to be offensive to a Federal Government that is determined to set up cattle colonies. Following the senseless killing, this project that is to train the people ‘in the new and modern methods of Cattle Breeding for sustainable upgrading of our Local Cattle Breeds in the state and beyond for maximum productivity in terms of good quality Milk and Beef production’ is now in danger of abandonment, as many of the expatriate and other personnel working on the project, have become so frightened by the recent carnage that they are now expressing unwillingness to remain in the area. The horrendous killings were curiously carried out in the same Rabah area of the state where this project is sited.
“The ill fate that befell Sokoto was just a mindless ploy by some interests, to bully Governor Tambuwal, and blackmail him into abandoning his 2019 presidential ambition. But the governor has made up his mind. He will the APC and decamp to the PDP on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said it was stunned by the defection of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
APC National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullah said: “The governor had left the (reconciliatory) meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to chose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk.
As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible.
“We once again call on members across the country to remain calm as the party leadership continues to work hard to position the party strongly for the next general elections.”
A wave of defection in the National Assembly on Tuesday robbed the party of 14 senators and 37 members of the federal House of Representatives.
In what seemed a desperate move to stop the revolt, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly held a meeting last night with all APC senators.
Ortom last week had declared that the APC handed him a “red card”, prompting the party’s national chairman Adams Oshiomhole to engage the governor in peace overtures.
But as he left Government House for Abuja yesterday to honour another leg of the peace parley, his convoy was blocked by hundreds of placard-carrying youths protesting his continued romance with the ruling party.
The youths, led by one Dave Ogbole, swore the governor must abort the mission or run over them.
They threatened that if he attended the meeting, he would be voted out in next year’s general election.
Ortom’s plea for passage and promise to consider their interests were rebuffed. He conceded, turned around and returned to base. Shortly after, he announced his defection.
At a meeting with the state’s 13 local government chairmen and 276 councilors in Makurdi, he said: “I have formally resigned from APC to PDP and have presented my letter of resignation to the party chairman of my ward.
The chairman and other officers of my ward also indicated their interest to join me in my new party. I am too young to retire from politics.
“I was in PDP and I discovered that my interest was not protected. That was why I left the party.
Now, I am in APC and I discovered to my dismay that my interest and that of my people are not being protected in the APC. The party has been hijacked and is being robbed by one man who is behaving like a dictator.
“But now that the PDP is rebranded and a lot of reforms are going on to ensure that the true tenets of democracy are observed, I feel that if I return to the party I will be able to add value to my people.
I intend to consult widely with other aspirants, most of whom are my brothers.
I do not have issues with them resisting my coming back to the party. The more the merrier. And I think we are stronger together.”
Ortom regretted that aggression against him persisted despite efforts by the national body of the APC to broker peace between him and some party members in the state.
He expressed dismay at alleged smear campaigns against him by the same people that endorsed him for a second term during the state’s party congress.
“I was the one that advised them to allow other people to contest for governorship with me, in line with the tenets of democracy.
They said they endorsed me because I performed creditably.
I wonder why the same crop of people are now criticising my administration.”
In separate remarks, the leader of the Councilors’ Forum, Tom Hanmaikyur and chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Anthony Shawon, pledged on behalf of their colleagues to follow the governor to any party he picks.
They also promised to support the actualisation of his political dreams.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu meanwhile has opened up on one of the events that preceded Tuesday’s mass defection.
He had been invited to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for questioning over alleged charges.
“I agreed to follow them but they were not eager to let me answer the invitation,” he told reporters.
According to him, the action was a ploy to keep him away from presiding over the widely anticipated defection.
Senate President Bukola Saraki was also stopped from honouring a police invitation but managed to evade the blockade.
He described the incident as a “decline in our democracy” and a “dangerous development”.
Also, the PDP and Social Democratic Party (SDP) have jointly criticised the current APC administration, saying Buhari is a common enemy who must be unseated in 2019.
SDP’s spokesperson Princess Goldba Tolofari told her PDP counterpart Kola Ologbondiyan when she paid a courtesy visit: “They (APC) are not democrats.
That is why things are deteriorating and we cannot watch and see things going the way they are.”
Ologbodinyan said the mission to rescue Nigeria was already on. He welcomed Ortom to the PDP and urged others to follow suit.
31 States Lack Insurance Cover For Workers
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
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
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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