In four years, Chief Nyesom EzenwoWike, Governor of Rivers State has emerged as Nigeria’s most remarkable success story in good governance, pro-people politics, empathetic leadership and commitment to the improvement of the fortunes of Rivers State and her people.
Through creative implementation of the New Rivers Development Blueprint and the prudent application of scarce resources, Governor Wike has turned Rivers State into the cynosure of all eyes. Nationally and internationally, Rivers State has been recognised as the best performing state, despite the political distractions and economic difficulties created by the powers that be.
Right from his swearing in on May 29, 2015 till date, Governor Wike has entrenched the right form of governance for the development of the state. On his first day as Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike appointed the State Acting Chief Judge, the State Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal and flagged off the Operation Zero Potholes Programme.
The development of a New Rivers State started in line with the New Rivers Development Blueprint. It commenced on day one . The entire first term has been action-packed, with the delivery of pro-people projects and programmes.
Over four years, Governor Wike has delivered roads, schools, hospitals, new courts, modern markets, security infrastructure, empowerment programmes, reclaimed communities, tourist sites, jetties, sports facilities, housing projects, water supply, agricultural projects among others.
By virtue of his superlative performance, GovernorWike has earned himself different names of appreciation across the globe. He is called “Mr Projects”, an appellation conferred on him by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Rivers people call him “Talk and Do” Governor because of his promise keeping status. Governor Wike is synonymous with delivery of projects and the empowerment of the people.
The 2015-2019 journey has been remarkable in all respects. It has placed the good of the people in the front-burner and created the right framework for the emergence of a New Rivers, which was the basis for the social contract between NyesomEzenwoWike and the good people of Rivers State.
Governor Wike has created a world class network of roads across Rivers State with the multiplier effect of improved economy, rapid social growth and de-congestion of traffic in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
The investments in world class roads and bridges have been handled by reputable international and renowned local contractors. Key roads have been dualised, while Governor Wike has initiated and completed over 150 roads across the state.
In four years, Governor Wike has executed the most outstanding roll-out of roads under the present dispensation. The governor’s integrated Strategic Road Development Programme (SRDP) has transformed the landscape of Rivers State.
By investing about 70percent of the State Capital Expenditure on Road Development, Governor Wike has connected the entire state. Also, he has completed all major roads inherited from past administrations in the state
Similarly, Governor Wike within the past four years initiated new roads to expand the State’s existing road network and connectivity;
.Improved road network in urban/residential neighbourhoods; and
·Expanded existing road network in the highly urbanised Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
ª%Several key roads to different parts of the state have impacted the economy of semi-urban and rural communities. The administration has constructed internal roads across the state.
(i) Provision of Internal roads
1. Abonnema town (completed)
2. AmadiAma community (completed)
3. Elele-Alimini community (Phases 1 and Phase 1 completed)
4.Isiokpo town (Phases 1 &Phase 1 completed)
5. Omoku town (completed)
6. Okochiri community (completed )
7. Ozuboko community (completed)
8. Odiokwu Internal Roads (ongoing)
Urban Neighbourhood Roads
Governor Wike renewed and improved the roads in several urban neighbourhoods in the State capital and revived the social and economic life of residents of these areas. The uplifted neighbourhoods include:
. Port Harcourt township/Borokiri neighbourhood
. Old and New Government Reservation Areas ;
.Trans Amadi Industrial layout and adjoining neighbourhood;
. Rumuepirikom community neighbourhood;
. Woji community neighbourhood
. Ozubuko/Amadi-Ama /Abuloma neighbourhood iconic roads.
. Dualisation of Sakpenwa-Bori Road
This is one of the most important road projects since the creation of Rivers State. This road has been a source of vain political promises. Governor Wike pledged to construct this road which connects Tai, Gokana, Khana, Opobo-Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas to the heart of the state capital and he has delivered on that promise.
. Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road
This road started by the Odili administration was abandoned by the immediate past administration in the state. Governor Wike has connected the Ancient Opobo town by road. Since December 2018, Opobo people started driving into the ancient kingdom.
Governor Wike received the Golden Key to the city of Opobo as the first governor to drive into the ancient island.
The Amayanabo of Opobo Kingdom , King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, presenting the key to Governor Wike, thanked him for building the road.
Similarly, key communities of Andoni Local Government Area have been connected by road, while the road is heading to NGO, the headquarters of Andoni LGA.
. Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway
This is a Dual Carriageway and Bridge, a major inter-change between three local government areas of Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt and Eleme. The road was awarded in 2009, but the previous administration failed to fund it, leading to its abandonment in 2012.
Governor Wike re-started the project because of its relevance to the economy of the state. The Wike administration completed the road and the bridge. The road is an alternative route to Trans-Amadi-Slaughter Road. The road was constructed on a swampy area, with a beautiful flyover, streetlights, an under-pass and 750 metre bridge.
.Obiri-Ikwerre Airport Dual Carriageway
This is a 12. 2 kilometre Dual Carriageway that is an alternative route to the Port Harcourt International Airport. This road has eased travel time. Before the reconstruction of the Obiri-Ikwerre Airport Road by the Wike administration, the road was impassable due to abandonment.
This is an 8.4 kilometre road completed by Governor Wike in the heart of the Rivers State capital. The Garrison-Trans-Amadi-Slaughter-Woji-Elelenwo Road which leads to the economic nerve centre of Rivers State is a major contribution to the growth of the state.
Fitted with 16 telecommunication ducts on the two sides of the dual-carriageway, the Garrison-Trans-Amadi-Slaughter-Woji-Elelenwo Road has six bridges and seven exquisitely designed roundabouts with delicately placed walkways and gardens.
The contract was awarded by the immediate past administration in 2009 but abandoned due to lack of funding. Upon assumption of office, Governor Wike financed the execution of the project through Internally Generated Revenue.
. Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road and Chokocho -Igbo-Etche-Rumuokurushi Inter- Change
The Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu road is a 16 kilometre road that is key to the evacuation of agricultural products from Etche LGA.
The Chokocho -Igbo-Etche-Rumuokurushi Inter- Change is another road that serves farmers in the area. Governor Wike delivered both roads in record time.
.Igwuruta- Chokocho Road
The Igwuruta-Chokocho Federal Road was abandoned by the Federal Government foe over 20 years , cutting off the Etche people from the rest of Rivers State. The reconstruction of the road was flagged off in January, 2016 and completed within seven months by the Wike administration.
This Road was abandoned by the Amaechi administration at less than 30 percent completion stage . Governor Wike upon assumption of duty, mobilised the contractor for the completion of the important project.
The dual carriageway of 1.672 kilometers has a bridge of about 207.5metres long, and 20 meters road-width with a total of 63 beams.
.Airport–Ipo-Omademe -Ozuoha Road
This 22 .3 kilometre road cuts across different agrarian communities of Ikwerre Local Government Area. It is a key project that helps farmers convey their wares to markets in Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike constructed the two Nkpogu Bridges which makes access to the NLNG Office and other business districts in Port Harcourt possible.
This is one of the key ways of expanding access to land for different communities.
The Wike administration has reclaimed lands in Abalama and Bakana communities of Asari-Toru and Degema LGAs.
Also, 18 hectares of land reclamation and sand-filling at Nkpogu/Ogbnabali;
and14 hectares of land reclamation and sand-filling at Eagle Island.
The administration embarked on shore protection for the following Ndoni communities
· Aze-Azaga community
· Isukwa community
· Owikwu community
· Obiofu community; and
· Utu community
Quality Healthcare Delivery
Since taking over the reins of leadership on May 29, 2019, Governor Wike has revitalised and fortified the primary healthcare system; restored and rehabilitated the long-abandoned General Hospitals;
And established a medical school in the State’s University to enhance the training of health personnel for the State.
He also restored and upgraded the Schools of Health Science and Technology as well as that of Nursing and Midwifery.
The Wike administration has also partnered with the private sector to develop and ensure efficient healthcare delivery in the State.
The administration renovated 17 existing primary Healthcare Centres and built
three new primary healthcare centres at Bile, Mgbuosimini and Ogbakiri communities.; and
To strengthen Secondary Healthcare, Governor Wike reconstructed
12 existing but completely abandoned General Hospitals, namely:
Abua General Hospital, Abua Local Government Area;
Nchia General Hospital, Eleme Local Government Area.
Isiokpo General Hospital, Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Rumuigbo, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Abonnema General Hospital, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
.Bodo General Hospital, Gokana Local Government Area.
Opobo General Hospital, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area.
.Ngo General Hospital, Andoni Local Government Area.
.Emohua General Hospital, Emohua Local Government Area.
.Buguma General Hospital, Asari-Toru Local Government Area.
.Eberi General Hospital, Omuma Local Government Area.
.Okrika General Hospital, Okrika Local Government Area
.There is the ongoing completion of four Zonal Hospitals the administration inherited from the previous administration;
.Ongoing construction of additional zonal hospital at Omoku
. Completed the Mother and Child Hospital, Port Harcourt;
. Constructed 22 nos. Of 3-bedromm Doctors Residential Quarters;
Introduced the N500,000,000.00 interest-free Private Hospitals Support Loan Fund.
The administration has embarked on the
Upgrading Braithwaite Memorial Hospital to Teaching Hospital for the Rivers State University.
The Wike administration also procured and installing new equipment and facilities worth 6 million United States Dollars in the hospital.
Improving the Quality of Education
Governor Wike inherited a decayed education sector. By the roadside, the immediate past administration created the impression that it has made inroads into the sector. But the story in the communities was disheartening.
Since 2015, Governor Wike has embarked on the revival of the education sector. This has expanded access to quality education.
In doing this, the Wike Administration increased budgetary allocation to the education sector, strengthened the implementation of Universal Basic Education, rehabilitated and equipped schools and improved infrastructure in tertiary schools
The administration achieved the following
· reconstructed 175 primary schools, including classroom blocks, landscaping and the provision of water, toilet facilities and power generators;
· supplied furniture and equipment to over 100 primary and Junior Secondary Schools;
· supplied sports and information and communication Technology equipment to a record number of Primary and Junior Secondary Schools.
· provided training to basic education teachers across the state; and
· completed the construction of the Headquarters building of the State Universal Basic Education Board.
.Senior Secondary Education
This is one area where key interventions by the Wike administration have been appreciated by Rivers people.
Aside upgrading 11 junior secondary schools senior secondary schools, the administration cleared all salaries owed to teachers and security contractors in the State’s secondary schools and ensured the regular payment of salaries to the secondary school teachers, pensioners and other staff.
The administration also subsidised the registration fees for Rivers State students undertaking the West African School Certificate Examination (WAEC) and the National Examination Council Examination (NECO) and sustained provision of science equipment, chemicals, materials and consumables to all secondary schools in the state for WASSCE and NECO examinations;
The most outstanding in this sub-sector is the reconstruction of 13 Secondary Schools, out of which six have been completed, furnished and equipped:
In the under-listed schools, the reconstruction involved Classrooms and teachers’ Science and arts laboratories, Sports and recreational facilities; Dedicated water sources and power generator for regular electricity; Perimeter fencing and gate for improved security; New hostel blocks and Assembly halls.
1. Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta (completed)
2 Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori (completed)
3Nyemoni Grammar School Abbonema(completed)
4 Government Secondary School, Ogu(completed)
5. Government Secondary School, Onne(completed)
6. Bonny National Grammar School, Bonny (completed)
7. Community Secondary School, Bille(ongoing)
8. Government Secondary School, Okarki(ongoing)
9. Western Ahoada County High School, Ahoada (ongoing)
10. Government Secondary School, Abua(ongoing)
11. Community Secondary School, Ubima(ongoing)
12. Model Primary School, Mgbuosimini, Rumueme (completed)
13. Construction Of Model Primary School, Abara Etche .ª%Tertiary Education
.Rivers State University
From the very beginning, Governor Wike started improving the infrastructure at the Rivers State University. The administration improved the funding of the university which led to the accreditation of all programmes earlier denied accreditation.
Similarly, Governor Wike has given approval for the recruitment of new staff at the Rivers State University.
Key infrastructural projects delivered at the institution include:
ª%Faculty of Law Building
ª%Faculty of Management Sciences Building
ª% Faculty of Science and Technical Education Building
ª%College of Medical Sciences Building
.Other Tertiary Institutions
ª%Key funding interventions for Captain ElechiAmadi Polytechnic Port Harcourt; the Kenule Beason Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, and the Ignatius Ajuru University, Rumuolumeni have led to improved infrastructure in these schools. Each of the institutions got N200million from the State Government.
. The State Government is upgrading Rivers State School of Nursing and Midwifery while a scholarship programme with the PAMO University of Medical Sciences to train 100 students of Rivers State origin for the next five years is on course.
.Administration of Justice
As a life bencher who believes in the rule of law, Governor Wike has made access to justice as a cardinal goal of his administration. On the very first day of his administration, Governor Wike opened the courts closed by the immediate past administration for two years.
The revival of the Judiciary stands out as one of the mostoutstanding achievements of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike since he assumed office as the elected governor of Rivers State.
Right from the very beginning on the day of his inauguration, Governor Nyesom EzenwoWike kick-started the process of rebuilding the battered structures of the state judiciary. On May 29, 2015 after taking his oath of office, Governor Wike in his inaugural address announced the appointment of an Acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Daisy Okocha and an Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo. These two key judicial officers were sworn in on the 1st of June, 2015. This was the beginning of the visionary revival of the Rivers State Judiciary.
Four years down the line, Governor Wike’s administration has appointed new heads of our courts and filled all existing vacancies in the State’s High Court and Customary Court of Appeal.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.
To be continued…
Rivers SEEFOR: The Journey So Far
The need for youth employment and access to socio-economic services formed the bases for the formation of the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) Project, to consolidate the gains from the amnesty programme of the Federal Government and ensure that youths do not fall back to social vices.
The Project which is financed with credit from the World Bank, grant from European Union and counterpart fund from the State Government, commenced implementation on July 31, 2013. The objective is to enhance opportunities for employment and access to socio-economic services whilst improving the Public Financial Management Systems in the four Niger Delta participating States of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
SEEFOR has two main components: Component A: Youth employment and access to socio-economic services and Component B: Public Financial Management (PFM) Reforms.
Since implementation commenced in Rivers State, the project has traversed the nooks and crannies of the state and transformed lives of several youths, women and communities at large.
Reviewing the activities of the multifaceted project across its sub-components: Public Works, Technical, Vocational and Agricultural Training (TVAT), Community Driven Development-Economic and Community Driven Development-Social as well as its Public Financial Management Component, beneficiaries bared their minds on the activities of the Project.
Under the Public Works Sub-Component, which entails executing small road maintenance and waste management projects, the State Project Coordinator, Mr Kelcious Amos said it has surpassed its target of executing 224 projects and engaging 10,845 beneficiaries to executing 497 projects and engaging 21,770 beneficiaries.
Some beneficiaries and resident of communities visited expressed their gratitude: At Okwutake Community in Degema LGA where Utie-Iwula Road was maintained; a resident, Mrs Elizabeth Brown said “the road was very bad that people could not even use it during rainy season, people could not go through the road to the Waterside, but after SEEFOR’s intervention, the road is now very assessable.”
At Apostolic Church Road, in Eleme one of the beneficiaries, Miss Christy Ogbaji said the project has given her engineering knowledge that she can apply anywhere.
At Lawson’s Compound/Health Centre Road where a mini bridge was constructed to replace a worn-out wooden bridge that was there, the community members thanked the project for the bridge that has eased transportation of sick people and pregnant women in and out of the Health Centre. They also said the bridge is connecting them to nearby communities and called for more projects in the community.
Speaking on the TVAT sub-component, the State Project Coordinator said the project had a target of training 5,436 youths but 6,134 youths have benefited from this sub-component and some have received starter packs. He explained further that SEEFOR has intervened in four technical schools that include Government Technical College (GTC) Ahoada, Ele-Ogu, Port Harcourt and Tombia. Others are Government Craft Development Centre, Port Harcourt, School-to Land Authority, Rumudomaya, Women Development Centre Taabaa, Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori and Capt. Elechi Amadi Polytechnics, Rumuola.
He explained further that under Ken Saro-Wiwa and Elechi Amadi Polytechnics youths were trained in the following short-term skills; air-conditioning and refrigeration maintenance, carpentry/wood work, computer and phone repair/maintenance, electrical installation, block laying, concreting and iron mongery, automobile technology, electronics installation/maintenance, plumbing/tiling, and welding and fabrication.
SEEFOR in collaborated with some non-state actors also trained youths in Fashion Designing, welding and fabrication, Carpentry/wood work, livestock farming, catering and hotel management.
In addition to the above, the project engaged volunteer teachers to augment the effort of the State government in technical schools.
The Community Driven Development (CDD) sub-component has provided both economic and social succour to rural dwellers. A review of the Community Driven Development-Social (CDD-S) that was designed to provide access to social infrastructure in rural communities based on needs assessment and project selection, reveal that the project has intervened in 448 communities and implemented 94 micro projects across 17 LGAs
Assessing the impact of the project in communities showed a visibly elated people who applauded SEEFOR for infrastructural development through micro project provided for them.
At Ewika in Eleme where a Civic Centre and Borehole was constructed, the traditional ruler, Chief Jacob Mpka said the project was the first of its kind in the history of the Community. He explained that since the inception of the community they have being without potable water, that the construction of borehole by SEEFOR Project was a big relief to the entire Egbere Ewika Community and its environs. The Chief further said the Civic Centre is now a source of social gathering for the people.
Similarly, in Igwuruta where 240 km walk way was constructed; Hon Ken Amaewhule who spoke on behalf of the community thanked SEEFOR for the road, that has boosted both their individual and commercial activities.
At Kalaibiama Community in Bonny LGA, members of the community thanked the project for the electrification of the community which had hitherto being in darkness.
The CDD-E sub-component is created to provide grant for the implementation of agricultural micro project in rural communities thereby increasing their income base. SEEFOR Project is collaborating with FADAMA III to implement this sub-component. So far, 712 cooperatives have benefitted from this sub-component across 49 communities.
Members of some communities who spoke on behalf of their communities were unanimous in their accolade for the project.
At Somiari-Ama, Tere-Ama Community in Port Harcourt LGA where a poultry and lives stock cluster farm was implemented as well as public convenience;
Mrs Dorathy Somiari thanked the project for given the community opportunity to raise their income base as some youths in the community where employed to work on the farm in addition to the proceeds from the farm which is sold periodically. A representative of the community Mr Emmanuel Somiari said by siting the public convenience there, several causalities have been averted, noting that before SEEFOR’s intervention, aged people usually fall down while trying to climb the wooden bridge to toilet.
At Umuagwu in Omuma LGA where market stalls, public convenience and water micro projects were sited, members of the community thanked SEEFOR/FADAMA, adding that it has improved their businesses, social and individual lives as people now have markets stalls to sell their goods without fear of rain and sun, while the search for portable water has been eliminated.
Speaking on behalf of Ido SEEFOR/FADAMA Community Association in Asari-Toru, Mr Sagbe Endure thanked the project for the Cluster farm sited in the community and the borehole water project that has replaced the well water that was the only source of drinking water in the community.
The State Project Coordinator, speaking on Component B of the project said; the Public Financial Management Component is designed to deepen the on-going financial management reform effort of the State Government to ensure judicious utilization of public fund. It is also to improve and modernise the PFM systems, practices, processes and institutions with the aim of improving efficiency and effectiveness in managing public resources to achieve value for money.
Enumerating on the achievements of the component, Mr Amos listed the following:
• Draft Bills for the PFM Legislation and Audit has been passed by the RSHoA and await executive assent.
• Fiscal strategy paper and budget manual developed
• Socio-Economic survey of the State completed
• 10 year State Development Plan (2017 – 2027) completed
• Procured ICT Equipment to the Min. of Budget & Economic Planning
• IPSAS based Chart of Account developed
• Production of IPSAS based Annual budget since 2015
• Procedure Manual for financial reporting developed
• IPSAS cash based financial Report produced since 2017
• Capacity building within and outside the country across all sub-component of the PFM Reform
• SIFMIS infrastructure all in place
• Training of 300 SIFMIS End-Users in basic ICT skills completed
• Standard bidding document developed for BoPP
• Public Asset register developed for BoPP
• Development of document management system completed
• Establishment of procurement Data Base for BoPP completed
• Rivers State BoPP website upgrade completed
Giving an over view of the assessment of the performance of SEEFOR Project in the State, the National Project Coordinator, Dr Greg Onu said “Rivers SEEFOR has surpassed its targets in most indicators, some by 200%, some by 250%”. He applauded Rivers Project Team for the success recorded and ensuring that the project objective is achieved.
The National Project Coordination Team was in the State on a Media Tour of some project sites to access the success of the project in preparation for the project closure in September 2020.
Coronavirus: FG’s Deadly Double Standard In Rivers
The politicisation of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus has brought to the fore the deadly application of exclusive list by officials of the Federal Government when it comes to issues that relate to Rivers State and the safety of its people.
This morning (April 12, 2020) as I perused through the newspapers, one report published by Punch Newspaper caught my attention. This report exposed the deadly double standards against Rivers State and her people. It also exposes the underlying deliberate plot to undermine the health security system of the state.
The report: “Chinese doctors’ flight: How three airline crew members ‘disappeared’ from Lagos quarantine centre” highlighted how the Federal Government is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to quarantine pilots and crew members of Air Peace who flew in Chinese doctors into the country. These pilots and crew members will be isolated from the rest of the Lagos community for 14 days to ascertain their Coronavirus status.
Please click this link to read the full report: https://punchng.com/chinese-doctors-flight-how-three-airline-crew-members-disappeared-from-lagos-quarantine-centre/
From the report, the Lagos State Government has quarantined 17 personnel of Air Peace who went on that national assignment on behalf of the Federal Government, operators of the ALMIGHTY EXCLUSIVE LIST. Amongst these 17 personnel are pilots and flight attendants.
Reading through the report, it is clear that the quarantine procedure is mandatory, especially when such crew members have entered a Coronavirus impacted territory. In the case of Nigeria, Lagos State is a Coronavirus-impacted territory.
The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, declared that community transmission of Coronavirus is in full swing in the state. With this public declaration, it is necessary that precautionary measures be taken as long as the persons are coming from that location.
Please read this report for the confirmation of community transmission of Coronavirus in Lagos: https://businessday.ng/exclusives/article/rising-community-transmission-of-covid-19-strengthens-case-for-social-distancing/
Recall that the Federal Government has quarantined the Chinese doctors that are in the country to carry out medical outreach on behalf of the Federal Government.
This brings me to the main point that I have set out to make. The Federal Government that has emphasised EXCLUSIVE LIST every step of the way in relation to interactions with pilots and AVIATION, has willingly allowed the LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT to quarantine 17 Air Peace pilots and crew to stem the spread of Coronavirus.
In fact, three crew members that escaped from quarantine were located by the joint team of the Federal and Lagos State Governments to apprehend them for the overall safety of Lagos State.
Air Peace did not raise alarm. The Federal Government did not raise alarm to warn the Lagos State Government that it has touched the ALMIGHTY EXCLUSIVE LIST.
The quarantine of the 17 Air Peace personnel who were on National Service was never programmed to be an issue during the daily press conferences at Abuja. Therefore, the Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, the chief advocate of EXCLUSIVE LIST had no reason to insult the Lagos State Governor the way he insulted Governor Wike for defending the people of Rivers State and the health security system of the state.
If you read through the report of Punch on the issue, it was programmed to present Lagos State Government as caring for her people. Several Pro-APC Media will replicate this report. Pro-Lagos Editorials will be written about the proactive isolation of these Air Peace personnel on National Service.
I will also throw up another point highlighted in the Pro-APC Report on the quarantine of the Air Peace personnel by the Lagos State Government. There is a standing order of the Federal Ministry of Health that persons flying from Coronavirus-impacted territories be quarantined to check the virus.
Let me quote a paragraph from the said Sunday Punch report of April 12, 2020 that underlines the preferential treatment accorded Lagos State and the unfortunate politicisation of the fight against Coronavirus by the agencies of the Federal Government, operators of the EXCLUSIVE LIST.
“The 17 pilots and flight attendants later on Wednesday proceeded to Lagos to be quarantined by the Lagos State Government in line with an agreement the Ministry of Health reached with the carrier’s management. The Chinese medical personnel were quarantined in Abuja,” Sunday Punch wrote.
The above paragraph indicates that each time a flight leaves and returns, necessary precautionary measures must be taken to check the spread of Coronavirus and the general transmission of the virus. In Lagos State and Abuja, the Federal Government is ever ready to observe the established health protocols to check the spread of Coronavirus.
But when it comes to Rivers State, the operators of EXCLUSIVE LIST are willing to risk the lives of over six million Rivers people and Nigerians just to drill barrels of oil. They are willing to insult the Rivers State Governor everyday on National Television and Mainstream Media for insisting on the implementation of an agreement for the observation of basic health protocols to protect the lives of Nigerians, wherever they may be.
This is what the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said about the observation of the health protocols on flights.
He said, “They knew that before they came and have undergone tests before they left their country. Nevertheless, they will be in quarantine for 14 days. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has gone to see where they will be quarantined.”
To think that two leading national newspapers allowed themselves to be used to lampoon the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, for insisting on the operation of the health protocols underscores the rot in the country. The hatred for the truth is nauseating, embarrassing and unfortunate.
If 17 personnel of a leading airline who flew 14 hours nonstop to China to ferry essential health equipment to tackle Coronavirus for the overall safety of Nigeria could be quarantined for 14 days in line with established health protocols, why would anyone justify the reckless flights into Port Harcourt by Caverton Helicopters, who consistently refused to observe health protocols?
If the Federal authorities allowed the Lagos State Health Authorities to freely operate at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, where they apprehend pilots on essential services and quarantine them for the safety of Lagos people, why embolden CAVERTON HELICOPTERS to disregard health protocols when they fly into Rivers State?
The entire world is singing from one hymn page to ensure the safety of everyone. But in Nigeria, the situation is different. The Federal Government has instituted measures that frustrate the fight against Coronavirus in major opposition states. Aside encouraging private businesses to compromise the health security system of Rivers State at this critical time, there is no federal support for Governor Wike to carry out this herculean task.
With the 17 Air Peace personnel on compulsory quarantine, nobody has heard of threats from the Airline Operators of Nigeria threatening fire and brimstone. But they issued deadlines on Rivers State Government because they were primed to do so, even though they know of the health protocols operational at this time.
It is sad that the Federal Government will engage in this needless game of double standards. Introducing politics into the fight against the spread of Coronavirus is counterproductive. It makes the entire country vulnerable and weakens the health defence mechanism of all the 36 states.
The objective of the fight against Coronavirus is to stop the virus from decimating the Nigerian population. In this fight, all established health protocols must be respected whether in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt or Enugu. Undermining health protocols in Port Harcourt because Rivers State is on another political path, is dangerous and would undermine the national struggle.
This double standard is deadly. It is unnecessary and it is unfortunate. Nobody should fuel the spread of the virus in one part of the country because of the irregular application of EXCLUSIVE LIST. God has exposed this aspect with the quarantine of Air Peace personnel by the Lagos State Government. All Nigerians should begin to reason along the safety of the population and not the falsehood of operators of EXCLUSIVE LIST.
It is in our national interest for the Federal Government to discard the politicisation of the fight against Coronavirus and enthrone national respect for the operation of the established health protocols agreed by all tiers of government. What is EXCLUSIVE LIST in the face of national ill-health?
I conclude with Governor Wike’s advice to the Federal Government on the dangers of politicising the fight against Coronavirus.
He said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of Coronavirus has been politicized by the Federal Government. Every state is important in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. Therefore, no state should be singled out for special treatment. The Federal Government should prevail or its agencies that connive with Aero Contractors and Caverton Helicopters to fly in workers on essential services to the state to ensure that the health status of these individuals as it relates to COVID-19 is ascertained.”
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media
COVID-19 Is Not A Joke -Buhari
Fellow Nigerians In my address on Sunday, 29th March, 2020, I asked the
residents of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory to stay at home for an initial period of fourteen days starting from Monday, 30th March 2020.
Many State Governments also introduced similar restrictions.
As your democratically elected leaders, we made this very difficult decision knowing fully well it will severely disrupt your livelihoods and bring undue hardship to you, your loved ones and your communities.
However, such sacrifices are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country. They were necessary to save lives.
Our objective was, and still remains, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action.
The level of compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines issued has been generally good across the country. I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the great sacrifice you are making for each other at this critical time.
I will take this opportunity to recognise the massive support from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during this pandemic.
I also acknowledge the support and contributions received from public spirited individuals, the business community and our international partners and friends.
I must also thank the media houses, celebrities and other public figures for the great work they are doing in sensitizing our citizens on hygienic practices, social distancing and issues associated with social gatherings.
As a result of the overwhelming support and cooperation received, we were able to achieve a lot during these 14 days of initial lockdown.
We implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified our case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities.
To date, we have identified 92% of all identified contacts while doubling the number of
testing laboratories in the country and raising our testing capacity to 1,500 tests per day.
We also trained over 7,000 Healthcare workers on infection prevention and control while deploying NCDC teams to 19 states of the federation.
Lagos and Abuja today have the capacity to admit some 1,000 patients each across several treatment centres.
Many State Governments have also made provisions for isolation wards and treatment centres. We will also build similar centers near our airports and land borders.
Using our resources and those provided through donations, we will adequately equip and man these centres in the coming weeks. Already, health care workers across all the treatment centers have been provided with the personal protective equipment that they need to safely carry out the care they provide.
Our hope and prayers are that we do not have to use all these centres. But we will be ready for all eventualities.
At this point, I must recognise the incredible work being done by our healthcare workers and volunteers across the country especially in frontline areas of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
You are our heroes and as a nation, we will forever remain grateful for your sacrifice during this very difficult time. More measures to motivate our health care workers are being introduced which we will announce in the coming weeks.
As a nation, we are on the right track to win the fight against COVID-19.
However, I remain concerned about the increase in number of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.
On 30th March 2020, when we started our lockdown in conforming with medical and scientific advice, the total number of confirmed cases across the world was over 780,000.
Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally was over one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand. This figure is more than double in two weeks!
In the last fourteen days alone, over 70,000 people have died due to this disease.
In the same period, we have seen the health system of even the most developed nations being overwhelmed by this virus.
Here in Nigeria, we had 131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 12 States on 30th March 2020. We had two fatalities then.
This morning, Nigeria had 323 confirmed cases in twenty States. Unfortunately we now have ten fatalities. Lagos State remains the center and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. When combined with the FCT, the two locations represent over 71% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria.
Most of our efforts will continue to focus in these two locations.
Majority of the confirmed cases in Lagos and the FCT are individuals with recent international travel history or those that came into contact with returnees from international trips.
By closing our airports and land borders and putting strict conditions for seaport activities, we have reduced the impact of external factors on our country. However, the increase in the number of States with positive cases is alarming.
The National Centre for Disease Control has informed me that, a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities, through person-to-person contacts. So we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person.
At this point, I will remind all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility for the recommended measures to prevent transmission, including maintaining physical distancing, good personal hygiene and staying at home.
In addition, I have signed the Quarantine Order in this regard and additional regulations to provide clarity in respect of the control measures for the COVID-19 pandemic which will be released soon.
The public health response to COVID-19 is built on our ability to detect, test and admit cases as well as trace all their contacts. While I note some appreciable progress, we can achieve a lot more.
Today, the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective way of reducing the transmission of the virus. By sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, we can take control and limit the spread of the disease.
Our approach to the virus remains in 2 steps – First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners.
With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight.
This is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. Mosques in Makkah and Madina have been closed. The Pope celebrated Mass on an empty St. Peter’s Square. The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held Easter Mass with less than 10 people. India, Italy and France are in complete lockdown. Other countries are in the process of following suit. We cannot be lax.
The previously issued guidelines on exempted services shall remain.
This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear.
The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable. 43. We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer.
I will therefore take this opportunity to urge you all to notify the relevant authorities if you or your loved ones develop any symptoms. I will also ask our health care professionals to redouble their efforts to identify all suspected cases, bring them into care and prevent transmission to others.
No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy. I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, day-workers, artisans and manual workers.
For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and about seeking work. But despite these realities we must not change the restrictions.
In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained.
I have also directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programs. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week.
The Security Agencies have risen to the challenges posed by this unprecedented situation with gallantry and I commend them. I urge them to continue to maintain utmost vigilance, firmness as well as restraint in enforcing the restriction orders while not neglecting statutory security responsibilities.
Fellow Nigerians, follow the instructions on social distancing. The irresponsibility of the few can lead to the death of the many. Your freedom ends where other people’s rights begin.
The response of our State Governors has been particularly impressive, especially in aligning their policies and actions to those of the Federal Government.
In the coming weeks, I want to assure you that the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force, will do whatever it takes to support you in this very difficult period. I have no doubt that, by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic.
I must also thank the Legislative arm of Government for all its support and donations in this very difficult period. This collaboration is critical to the short and long-term success of all the measures that we have instituted in response to the pandemic.
As a result of this pandemic, the world as we know it has changed. The way we interact with each other, conduct our businesses and trade, travel, educate our children and earn our livelihoods will be different.
To ensure our economy adapts to this new reality, I am directing the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works and Housing, Labour and Employment and Education to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a “Nigerian economy functioning with COVID-19”.
The Ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee in executing this mandate.
I am also directing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized.
Finally, I want to thank the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for all their hard work so far. Indeed, the patriotism shown in your work is exemplary and highly commendable.
Fellow Nigerians, I have no doubt that by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic and emerge stronger in the end.
I thank you all for listening and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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