The Rivers State Government says it has made significant progress in curbing the HIV epidemic in the state.
The State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike disclosed this during the flag- off ceremony of Wike’s Waiver of User Fees and Antenatal Care Charges at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The Governor, who spoke through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, said at the advent of the present administration, there were only 15 sites for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of AIDS, which today, has risen to 112 sites accessible for PMTCT.
According to him, “Our aim is to extend PMTCT services to every health facility in the state”, noting that “all user fees for People Living with HIV/AIDS who are accessing services including antenatal registration for new enrolees has been abolished in the state”.
The State Chief Executive, who expressed commitment to meet all the healthcare needs of Rivers people said: “we are on the verge of kicking polio out permanently in the State and Nigeria”.
He noted that the State Immunization coverage has improved from 44.6% in 2016 to 82.6% in 2018 and gave the assurance of more improvement.
Wike, who said his administration is encouraging baby friendly initiative in health facilities across the state, further said the Wife of the Governor, Hon Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike was the number one Nutrition Champion, while stressing that his administration was developing creative ways to reach communities with family planning services.
He thanked all partners like Human Virology Institute, Nigeria, Rotary International, WHO, Rivers Field UNICEF, the Challenge Initiative, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Religious Bodies, Traditional Rulers, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Societies, the Media, Corporate Organisations, the Armed Forces, especially the Nigeria Police Medical Services and the Air Force, the academia and all stakeholders for their support and continued participation towards improved access to quality health services for all.
In their goodwill messages, Dr. Jahun Jbrahim of the Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Patrick Dakum, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria commended the Rivers State Government for this bold initiative, noting that it would not only give succour to people living with the virus but would go a long way to stemming the spread of the disease.
The Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Health, Mrs. Caroline Wali, said the waiver of user fees for Persons Living with HIV by Wike was unprecedented in the country.
Meanwhile, in fulfillment of the pledge made by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike after he signed into law, the Rivers State Pensions Reform Law (No 4 of 2019), the Rivers State Government has commenced the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
The Head of Service of Rivers State, Barrister Rufus Godwins, who disclosed this in an interview, clarified that 800 pensioners under the scheme, who had completed their biometrics, have been paid.
The Rivers State Head of Service said that further biometric capture of other pensioners under the scheme has been scheduled by the state government in line with the directive of the governor.
“We have placed over 800 of them on the payroll, and we have started paying them. The window for biometric capture is open, and we shall continue the process for the purpose of payment of all outstanding benefits.
“Now that the process has started, none of those who fall into this category, and the labour unions have gone out to talk about it on the radio, the way they did when the administration was working to address the challenge it inherited”, he said.
He said by initiating the amendment of the state pension law, Wike set out to comprehensively tackle the challenges he inherited under the Contributory Pension Scheme from the immediate past administration in the state.
Godwins recalled that other pensioners, who were not under the Contributory Pension Scheme have been receiving their monthly pensions since Wike assumed office on May 29, 2015.
The governor, he noted, also cleared the four months’ pension arrears he inherited from the Chibuike Amaechi administration, before entrenching the regular payment of monthly pensions.
He said that “ahead of the last elections, the opposition in the state misinformed members of the public regarding the true position of pensions in the public service.
“They created the wrong impression that all pensioners were being owed by the state government, whilst those owed were under the defective contributory pension law operated by the immediate past APC administration,” he said.
“The Wike administration had to follow due process to amend the law and create the platform for payment of those under the Contributory Pension Scheme,” he added.
It would be recalled that Governor Nyesom Wike had said that the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019) would help in resolving the challenges generated by the Contributory Pension Scheme.
He assured that the state government was committed to ensuring that civil servants and pensioners were catered for, with the challenges they faced completely addressed.
CAN Kicks As Kaduna Gives Quit Notice To 110-Year-Old Church
The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised alarm over a purported quit notice handed to one of its churches in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency allegedly served the 110-year-old St. George, Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria, a seven-day quit notice.
The notice also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.
The quit notice, which was not dated, was addressed to House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which is St George’s Church.
It reads, “Reference to the directive given by the executive governor on the issue of market development which compensation has been duly paid.
“You are hereby directed to vacate your residence within seven days from now; failure to comply will leave the agency with no option than to evict you at your own expense (from 19h – 24 September).”
The signatory of the notice did not include his name, but it was signed by the “Zonal head” of KASUPDA on behalf of the “Zonal Manager.”
It was gathered that the agency planned to pull down the structure to pave the way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market.
The state CAN Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in a statement, yesterday, in Kaduna, faulted the quit notice.
Hayab noted that the quit notice smacks of foul play as according to him, such an order wouldn’t have emanated from the Governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai.
Though in 2016, the chairman claimed that the state had made such moves to relocate the church to pave ways for the expansion of the market but later realized that the church had all valid documents.
The chairman in the statement entitled, ‘Governor Nasir El-Rufai should call KASUPDA to order,” partly stated, “We are alarmed and apprehensive about this, if it is true, that it is a directive from the governor. But we doubt much if the governor issued the directive.
“This is because in February, 2016, the government made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market, but later realized that the church has all valid documents and that even some parts of the market are on the church land.
“Following the presentation of the necessary documents by the church, the matter was resolved amicably. We wish to state categorically that no compensation was paid to the church.
“Where did the KASUPDA officials get this false information that compensation had been paid?
“It should be noted that the church which was founded about 110 years ago, was liberal enough to allow the market in question to operate in some parts of its land. Is it now a crime to be liberal and accommodating?
“How could the governor revisit the issue which was resolved amicably in 2016, by issuing a 7-day quit?”
The CAN leader also called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit notice from KASUPDA and take prompt action.
“This will go a long way in allaying fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large”, the body added.
We’re Proud Of You, Fayemi Tells Wike …Commissions Rumuwoji Int’l Market
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has said that the frequency with which Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike churns out quality projects justifies his world acclaimed name, ‘Mr Project’.
Commissioning the Rumuwoji International Market built by the Wike administration in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, as part of activities marking the first 100 days of his second term in office, Fayemi commended Wike for his outstanding performance.
The Ekiti State governor said: “We are proud of Governor Wike. We are proud of the work he is doing in Rivers State. He is going to continue to commission projects till 27th September. That is almost 10 days from now.
“Even if it is one project per day, it will be almost 10 days. Now I understand why they refer to him as ‘Mr. Project'”, he added.
Fayemi said that governance was about improving the living standard of the people, noting that Wike has worked hard for Rivers people.
He said: “The promise that the governor made is what he is fulfilling today. That is what government is all about. Government is about affecting the lives of our people.
“Governance is about improving the quality and condition of our society. Governance is about ensuring that we fulfill promises that we make to the people”.
He said though he is not in the same political party with Wike, his duty as chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum is to support, protect and defend all governors irrespective of their party affiliations.
In his address, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike described his Ekiti State counterpart and NGF Chairman, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, as a highly focused leader who does not discriminate against members of the opposition party, but sees them as partners in progress.
Wike said Fayemi was given the honour of commissioning the market in recognition of his rare qualities as a leader who does not discriminate based on political party affiliation.
The Rivers State governor recalled how Fayemi’s intervention helped douse the tension that was brewing over the issue of mosque demolition in the state earlier in the month.?
Wike said that he pledged to rebuild the market, and that the commissioning of the Rumuwoji Market was a fulfillment of that promise.
“I made a promise to construct this market. We started this market from the foundation to its completion.
“When we make promises to the people, we are bound to fulfill the promises. Hold us accountable to our promises, because there is no need for excuses. We made a promise and we have fulfilled that promise”, he noted.
He explained that the Rivers State Government has finished paying for the project.
Wike established a management committee for the market, directing the committee to ensure that the market serves the people.
He announced that he would give allocation to Rumuwoji community, Rumuwoji women while other people would get their shops through open balloting.
“I will give Rumuwoji women shop allocations in this market. I advise that they should not sell their shops because we will release funds for the Rumuwoji women to ply their trade”, he said.
The governor stated that he would build a market for the Nkpolu community as a means of improving the economy of the area.
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Mr Joseph Amiofori said that the market has two banking halls, clinic, police post, fire station, fire hydrants, pumping station and fire alert system.
Amiofori said that the market has 421 lock-up shops, 34 open stalls and 441 concrete tables.
Also speaking, Mayor of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Hon Victor Ihunwo commended the Rivers State governor for delivering a market of international standard to the people of the city.
The Chairman of the Rumuwoji Market Association, Eze Nyeche thanked the Rivers State governor for keeping his promise to the traders.
Meanwhile, residents of Port Harcourt City have applauded the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for the successful completion of the Rumuwoji ultramodern market in Port Harcourt.
Some of the residents, who spoke to our correspondent during the commissioning of the market, last Wednesday, said the feat would end the hardship being faced by traders since the unfortunate fire that gutted the former market.
One of the residents, Chief Wilford Egbule said, “I am happy to be alive to witness the commissioning of the new Rumuwoji market today.
“I thank the Rivers State governor for this feat. It touches the life of our people directly”.
Also commending the governor, another resident, Madam Cecelia Nwafor said, “I can still reflect back on that unforgettable day when traders cried and wept uncontrollably as fire burnt their goods.
“Comparing that heartbreaking day with the excitement of today, I must thank God for using Governor Wike to wipe out the horrible tears and replacing the tears with laughter.
“I must thank Governor Wike for keeping to his promise”.
Similarly, Ms Gloria Fineface, described the project as a historic one.
She said; “Honestly, I must tell you this is historic for those of us in this city when the former market was gutted by fire
“Yes, subsequent administrations in the state made one effort or the other, but I think this is the mother of them all.
“From make-shift arrangements for traders around Rumuwoji community hall, former Obi Wali Cultural Centre and others, the governor has finally provided a permanent market for us.
“I commend Governor Wike for this huge concern to the people especially the traders who were mostly affected”.
To Mr Jackson Bassey, it is not the new market Wike built that excites him most.
According to him, “I saw raw care and concern for the people when the governor said he was even going to build another market for those helpless street traders around.
“This goes to tell you that Wike, unlike most selfish political leaders we have in Nigeria, thinks of the common people.
“Let God bless Governor Wike for us and also turn the minds of self-centred politicians in the country to emulate Governor Wike”, he prayed.
Reps Minority Leader: PDP’s BoT Chair, Secretary Disagree Over Report
It was all drama as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoTs) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Walid Jubril and its Secretary, Senator Adolphus Wabara, disagreed over the submission of an investigative report on the minority leadership position in the House of Representatives, yesterday.
Briefing journalists shortly after a marathon meeting of the board at the party’s Abuja secretariat, yesterday, the two elderly chieftains contradicted each other on the status of a report of the committee that investigated the embarrassing sell-out.
At issue was a report of a five-man committee set up by the BoT on July 9, to investigate why PDP members in the House of Representatives elected Hon Ndudi Elumelu of Delta State in the Green Chambers as minority leader, against the party’s choice of Hon Kingsley Chinda of Rivers State.
Miffed by the action, the leadership of the party had suspended Elumelu for one month.
Besides Elumelu, others affected by the suspension order were Lynda Ikpeazu, Wole Oke, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
The BoT investigation committee, chaired by a former Senate President, Dr Iyiorchia Ayu also had two other former Senate Presidents, Chief David Mark and Chief Adolphus Wabara as members.
A former Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibahim Mantu was also a member while a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Austin Opara served as secretary of the committee.
However, Opara resigned from the committee before it concluded its assignment.
During a question-and-answer session at the briefing, the BoT chairman said the board had received the Ayu committee report but had yet to submit same to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Jubril said: “We have received the report from the Ayu committee but we have not submitted it to the NWC because we are still deliberating on it, and we have not taken a decision on it yet.”
But he was swiftly countered by BoT secretary, who said that the board had, indeed, submitted the report to the NWC.
Wabara said: “We have considered the report and we have submitted the report on Elumelu to the NWC”.
This was followed by muffled disagreement between the two elderly party chieftains with the BoT chair raising objection to the secretary’s statement even as the latter stood his ground.
Their verbal exchange was in hushed tones but was audible enough for journalists to hear their voices.
The disagreement dragged till the end of the media briefing, with the two board members frowning and mumbling at each other as they left the venue and walked through the drizzling rain into their waiting cars.
Curiously, however, while the BoT meeting was still ongoing, the leadership of the party had issued a statement regarding the disputed report.
The statement, signed by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the NWC had not received the said report from the BoT.
The statement reads in full: “In the light of public enquiries and conflicting reports on the position of the leadership of our great party on issues related to the minority leadership of the House of Representatives, the National Working Committee (NWC) hereby clarifies that it has not yet received any report from the Board of Trustees (BoTs) concerning the outcome of the five-member committee it set up to intervene on the contentious matter.
“Consequently, the NWC maintains that it has not taken any decision to review its subsisting stance on the minority leadership of the House of Representatives.
“The NWC, therefore, urges critical stakeholders, party members and the general public to completely disregard any report to the contrary”.
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