Irked by the inherent danger posed by the deplorable state of the ever busy Aleto/Akpajo Bridge, along the East-West, in Rivers State, the senator representing rivers South-East Senatorial zone, Senator Barinada Mpigi, Monday, led members of the Rivers State caucus in the National Assembly on a peaceful protest at the bridge to draw Federal Government attention to the situation.
The lawmakers, who carried placards bearing different inscriptions during the protest include, member representing Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency, Hon Dumnamene Dekor, member representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Hon Kingsley Chinda and member representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Hon Awaji Nombek Abiante.
Also on the protest were, member representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency II, Hon Chinyere Igwe, member representing Okrika Ogu/Bolo Federal Constituency, Hon Gogo Bright and member representing Eleme in the state House of Assembly, Hon Igwe Afforji.
The lawmakers called on the Federal Government to carry out urgent rehabilitation work on the facility to save lives and the economy of the people of the area and the state.
The lawmakers, who marched on the bridge, displayed banners with several inscriptions during an assessment of the bridge, and described the bridge as a death trap, wondering if the state was still a part of the country.
Some of the inscriptions on the banners reads, ‘SOS, Eleme Bridge Collapse Imminent’, ‘Akpajo-Eleme Bridge leads to the backbone of Nigeria’s economy’, ‘Eleme Bridge, a threat to our lives’, ‘Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) where is our East-West Road?’ and ‘Rivers is part of Nigeria’, among others.
Addressing journalist at the scene of the protest, leader of the delegation and the Senator representing the Rivers South East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Barry Mpigi said that the Federal Government must immediately swing into action and carry out major rehabilitation of the bridge.
“We are here to draw attention of the federal government to the deplorable condition of this road and the bridge. You know that almost everything that Nigeria benefits from is within us here: two refineries, a petrochemical industry and of course, the oil and gas free zone.
“We’ve seen and you are also seeing what is happening here. It shows that we’ve been abandoned. The people of Rivers State have been abandoned. This is a federal government road and not a Rivers State government road.
“You see that the bridge is shaking and there is the tendency that any moment from now, the total life of people from this area will be cut off from this country.
“One question we must ask: Are we really part of this country or not part of Nigeria? Are we enjoying our tax payers’ money or we are not? The truth is that we have been abandoned and neglected.
“So the essence why we are here this morning is to stage a protest and tell Nigerians that we have been totally cut off from all we are supposed to gain from this country.
“Contract for this road had been awarded to RCC as we are aware. Just to execute. Just to release the fund meant for this road is like we have been abandoned. It’s not about increasing funding or not because there has been existing budget and allocation for this road for a long time.
“We want the job to begin immediately. Once that has been done, we as members of the National Assembly can come back and talk about appropriation because the contract has been awarded and work started but now at a halt.
“The value of the contract to our knowledge was over N2 billion within the Ogoni-Akwa Ibom axis up to the Eleme Junction, the value for now is not known”.
On his part, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, recalled with bitterness, that a motion on the floor of the House regarding the poor condition of infrastructures in Rivers State was not being honoured.
Chinda said, “Like our distinguished Senator has told us, those of us in the National Assembly have severally protested over the treatment of our people particularly concerning this bridge. We know that this place is the spine of this country. If the country is serious with oil and gas, then the importance of this bridge cannot be over emphasized.
“All the refineries, petrochemicals company, fertilizer company, they are all behind us here including Onne Sea Port and Naval Training School. To access these places, you need to go through this road.
“But because this is Rivers State, as usual there is graveside silence to issues that pertain to Rivers State. That is why, having brought motion on the floor of the National Assembly, members have supported that the Executive Arm should quickly ensure that this bridge is taken care of to forestall incidence that might occur that would lead to loss of lives of Nigerians. The Executive Arm is not sensitive to the resolution of the National Assembly.
“That is why we are now taking it to the court of public opinion. We are here to tell the people that we have been calling on the Executive Arm to take steps and we pray and hope, though they have been consistently insensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians. We pray and hope that this will sensitize them into action.
“We also want to assure all of us Nigerians that this is the beginning of the actions from members of the National Assembly from Rivers State. If the Executive Arm does nothing, we’ll take further steps but we’ll ensure that we continue to speak for our people like our distinguished Senator has said.
“I cannot give a time frame to the Federal Government because my leader is here. But the assurance is that we’ll take further steps if nothing is done after this discussion.
“Take note that Rivers people are not the main beneficiaries of this road. Nigerians State is the main beneficiary. What percentage do we get from the oil that we process here? How much percentage do we get from the Ports Authority that is here? We are not the main beneficiary, but rather suffer for all these.
“What we are saying is that the lives of our people are at risk. It’s not just the project. We are interested in what will happen if this bridge collapses and people are on it. Even now that we are on this bridge, anything could happen.
Victor Tew & Dennis Naku
Govs Assure Easy Flow Of Essential Goods
The 36 states governors have pledged their commitment to ensure that the operations of manufacturers of essential goods and services are unhindered during the period of the lockdown in the country.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was quoted as giving the assurance in a letter signed by the forum’s Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, written to the manufacturers.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, yesterday in Abuja, Fayemi assured the continuous operations for food, beverage, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
The governors, according to the statement also threw their weights behind making essential goods and services available to the citizenry, throughout the lockdown period.
This was fallout of the concerted efforts by governors to bring succour to Nigerians during the lockdown and ensure that the remedy did not ultimately turn out to be counter-productive.
The governors noted that the decision was reached “considering the crucial role played by manufacturers in ensuring the production of essential items.
“Following careful and deliberate consideration we are pleased to convey to you our full support to ensure that your operations continue unhindered.”
The forum noted that decision was also taken to guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“We note that the whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of the law.
It added that the governors reasoned that key players in the industry whose products were critical to the daily existence of Nigerians would need some waiver to continue to move their products around the country without hindrance.
The letter reads: “In view of the essential nature of food, beverage and pharmaceuticals, all parastatals and agencies of state governments have been advised as follows: To guarantee the continued effective and efficient movement of essential foods, beverages and medical supplies as well as attendant essential services.
“The whole value chain from farmers to suppliers of raw materials, from manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams and retailers should continue with their lawful operations within the confines of law and to the extent that current realities permit.
“(a) The operations and activities of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical product companies and their suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales team and retailers should not be hindered by officials or agents of the state governments.
“(b) To ensure the safety of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products and also that of the suppliers of raw and packaging materials, transporters, distributors, sales teams, retailers and other employees who will be on the road during this time;
“(c) To guarantee that the distribution and movement of raw and packaging materials and finished products of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceutical products from various points within and across states is seamless;
“(d) That in the event of closure of open markets or shops, clear alternatives are defined on how to get finished food, beverage and pharmaceutical products to consumers in their neighbourhoods;
“(e) The responsiveness of relevant agencies of the state governments in playing their part fully in ensuring that what they need to do as prescribed by the law and extant regulations are carried out with dispatch.”
In order to regulate the operations and forestall abuse, the governors, however, directed all food, beverage, pharmaceutical and medical companies to adhere to certain caveats which include the following:
”Issue all suppliers and transporters a letter of authority confirming that they are authorised by you.
“All your staff need to ensure Identity Cards are carried at all time for all movements, with a copy of this letter of authority.
“All organisations to ensure compliance to all COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene for the safety of individuals and the community at large.”
It added that the suppliers and their operators were to be provided with toll free numbers they could call, in case they had any problems during the course of performing their duties.
Major Shake-Up As Buratai Rejigs Army
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, released the postings and appointments of some affected senior officers in a major shake-up that has swept through critical divisions and commands across the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement reads, “The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, was explained to be a routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.
“The major highlight of the posting included – the posting and appointment of Maj-Gen A.C.C. Agundu from Special Task Force (STF) Operation Safe Haven, Jos to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja as Senior Research Fellow; Major General H.I. Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Defence Liaison Office, National Assembly, Abuja to Army Headquarters Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs; Maj-Gen U.M. Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL; while the erstwhile Special Adviser, Nigerian Army University, Biu, Maj-Gen C.C. Okonkwo is now redeployed to STF Operation Safe Haven, Jos and appointed Commander; Maj-Gen F. Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division, Kaduna to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), Maiduguri and appointed Commander; while Maj-Gen O.G. Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD, Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow; Maj-Gen S. Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director, Liaison.
“Others affected include – Maj-Gen A.A. Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director; Maj-Gen M.G. Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command, Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander; while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ, Abuja, Maj-Gen U.S. Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division, Kaduna, and appointed General Officer Commanding.
“Similarly, Brig-Gen H.I. Daniel from the defunct Army Special Forces Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, and appointed Director, Army Training Support; Brig-Gen B.E. Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ, Abuja as Acting Director, Defence Media Operation; Brig-Gen N.M. Jega from Training and Doctrine Command, Minna to Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff; Brig-Gen L.A. Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja, now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD, Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander; Brig-Gen V.O. Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade, Azare and appointed Commander; while Brig-Gen J.A.L. Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen G.T.O. Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade, Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director, Operation.
“Others are – Brig-Gen L.G. Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji to DHQ, Abuja and appointed Deputy Director, Procurement (Logistics); Brig-Gen M.O. Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director; Brig-Gen E.C. Obi – Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces’ Brigade, Makurdi as Commander; while Brig-Gen G.M. Mutkut is redeployed from the defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD, Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade, Baga and appointed Commander; and Brig-Gen J.R. Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD, Monguno as Commander.
“Also, Colonel D.J. Abdullahi from the defunct Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces’ Command, Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces’ Command, Doma, Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff; Colonel E.C. Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School, Zaria as Deputy Commandant; and Col M.O. Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps, Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff, among others.
“All the postings and appointments take effect from the 1st of April, 2020.
“While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoined them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the nation and the service”, the statement added.
Reacting to the changes, yesterday, a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alleged ethnic motivation and victimisation in the shake-up.
Fani-Kayode, alleged that Maj-Gen Olusegun Adeniyi was redeployed for complaining about the condition of troops in the North-East.
It would be recalled that a video had a few days ago emerged of Adeniyi complaining about the welfare of troops fighting Boko Haram in the North-East.
But, Fani-Kayode alleged that the Major General was relieved of his duty after he made the video.
He wondered why Nigeria always rewarded her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation.
The former minister described Adeniyi as a true and quintessential patriot, who was worthy of commendation.
Fani-Kayode wrote: “Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the gallant and courageous commander who led our troops in Operation Lafiya Dole and who won the hearts and minds of millions of Nigerians when he appeared in a video that went viral two days ago complaining about the conditions that his troops were facing on the war front with Boko Haram and asking for better arms, equipment and welfare for them, was relieved of his appointment, yesterday.
“The GOC of the 1st Mechanised Division was directed to take over his position.
“What a pity and what a waste! Why does Nigeria always have to reward her brightest and best with ingratitude, evil and humiliation?
“I wish Major General Adeniyi well for the rest of his career in the military and I want him to know that we are proud of him, his commitment to the war against Boko Haram and the obvious care, love and compassion that he has for his troops. The man is a true and quintessential patriot.”
When contacted on the allegations by Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, dismissed the claim as a figment of the imagination of its purveyor, saying that the action was a routine/normal exercise in compliance with global best practices in the military.
COVID-19: Prisoners Attempt Jailbreak In Kaduna
There was an attempted jailbreak by some prisoners at the Kaduna Correctional Centre yesterday.
Our correspondent gathered that there was unrest among the prisoners when reports filtered into the facility located along the Independence Way in the metropolis over the possible spread of the coronavirus to the facility.
The prisoners, it was learnt, feared that they might be affected by the deadly virus as a result of the congestion currently being experienced in the correctional facility.
A resident close to the correctional facility said that he heard gunshots from the prison.
Another source said some of the prisoners attempted to escape to avoid contracting the disease but were unsuccessful.
One of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on the telephone that, “We learnt the prison inmates are protesting. There is actually unrest there. They are protesting that they can be infected with the coronavirus.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna Correctional Centre, Mr Nathaniel Gagas, confirmed the incident.
“There is normalcy now. Security has beefed up in and outside the facility. There is no cause for alarm,” another source said.
Our correspondent also gathered that the authorities of the correctional facility sought reinforcement from the Army, Police as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before the situation was brought under control.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as “Shi’ites”, has warned that nothing must happen to their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, currently being held in the facility.
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