The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is ready to help in the case of COVID-19 but the acting Managing Director, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, says the nation has only 500 ventilators.
He also said in Port Harcourt that Nigeria of about 200 million people has only 500 ventilators; worse, most of the few oxygen plants in the country have broken down.
These are the findings of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which has pledged to intervene in the Niger Delta on COVID-19.
Pondei told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the commission just carried out a study to determine how to intervene.
He said; “This morning we found that there are about 500 ventilators in the entire country. We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators. Similarly, oxygen is difficult to procure in the country.
“The Federal Government through the ministry of health has a policy on oxygen which has not been disseminated very well. There are very few oxygen production plants in the country and some of the existing ones have actually broken down. But the provision of oxygen is key to the treatment.”
The NDDC boss said the commission was looking at contributing in the area of treatment because most of the activities so far had been on prevention; social distancing and hand washing as well as using sanitizers.
He remarked: “We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment; there are some anti-viral drugs that we are trying to make available in a proactive manner. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing.
He assured that the commission would intervene to protect the people of the Niger Delta region from the dreaded Coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Pondei said as an intervention agency, the commission would collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “We have started looking at different isolation points in the nine states of the Niger Delta region. We are interacting with the states to find out what is on ground and we are taking stock of the ventilators and oxygen in health facilities across the region.”
The NDDC CEO observed that the treatment of the disease was not limited to drugs but included the ability to make sure that the patients were able to breathe properly and this should be done using ventilators.
“As for testing, we are leaving that with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which is coordinating the testing, but we will also like to let people know that most of the kits that are being used are not efficient and cannot detect COVID-19. This is because everybody has one way or another been exposed to Coronavirus and those kits just test for antibodies that already exist in most of us.”
Pondei affirmed that the NDDC would identify the isolation centres in the Niger Delta states so as to assist in strengthening them and building their capacity for service delivery.
He added: “It is not enough to build a place and say it is an isolation centre. It has to be properly equipped and properly stocked. They should have personal protective gears for health workers and must have dedicated conveniences for each of the patients. Anything you use for one patient cannot be used for another patient.”
Pondei stressed the need for people to imbibe simple health tips like social distancing, not smoking in a crowd, good coughing etiquette and regular hand washing with soap and water.
He advised that hand washing techniques be taught on radio and television.
Speaking on the free medical programme of the NDDC, the acting MD said that the commission’s 2019 budget made provisions for its resuscitation, stating: “Right now, the directorate of Health, Education and Social Services (EHSS) is already working on a template for it.
“We are also looking at people that will partner with us. What we are planning is to roll out a monthly programme that will run across the nine states of the region. Our plan is to have three in every state under the NDDC mandate in a month at the same time. We believe that it will reduce the disease burden, especially in the hard to reach areas of the region.”
Pondei said that his inaugural lecture last year at the Niger Delta University was prophetic because it was entitled: “Viruses: Ignored, Neglected, Poorly Understood with Resulting Devastating Consequences.”
He decried a situation where people fail to learn from experience, noting: “When Ebola Virus was our problem in 2014, we did exactly what we are doing now. Hand washing became serious with sanitizers and temperature testing but after Ebola, everything went back to normal.
“Few isolation wards were allowed to be used for other things. In developed nations, you build more isolation centres and equip them properly but in Nigeria here when this Coronavirus disappears, we will then forget all we have learnt and we will not plan for something subsequently.”
Okowa Signs 2021 Budget Of N383bn
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Monday in Asaba assented to the state’s 2021 Appropriation Bill of N383 billion.
The bill tagged “Budget of Economic Recovery” is made up of N210 billion capital expenditure and N173 billion recurrent expenditure
The Delta House of Assembly increased the budget figure of N378.48 proposed by the governor to N383 billion.
Signing the budget, Okowa assured the people that the state would strive to recover from the economic challenges engendered by Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The governor commended the state house of assembly for the speedy passage of the bill.
He said that signing the budget before December would avail the state government the opportunity to further plan towards its implementation from January, 2021.
According to him, the state government would remain focused on the implementation of the budget as passed, for the benefit of the people.
The governor noted that there was a warm working relationship between the executive and the legislature in the state.
“You have just witnessed my signing into law, the 2021 Appropriation Bill, and as I said on Oct. 27, during the presentation of the bill, we are in very difficult times this year.
“The second wave of the pandemic will create a further challenge for the recovery of the economy of our nation.
“However, we are optimistic that in the 2021 fiscal year, things will gradually improve and we will be able to get back to the desired levels of infrastructural and human capital development for our people.”I pray that God will help us and this nation to rediscover ourselves and to commit every work of our people and our state and nation for the common good of all our citizens.
The budget is termed ‘budget of economic recovery’ because we are very much aware of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on both our health systems and the economy of the country.
“The pandemic obviously impacted negatively on our budget in 2020 that we had to reduce it twice in the year.
“I want to appreciate our contractors who have continued to stay in their various sites to work even when it is becoming increasingly difficult to make payments on contractual agreements already made.
“We will continue to be very responsible as a state, and we will continue to work with them to deliver on our projects,” he said.
Gunmen Attack Delta Monarch’s Wife
There was pandemonium on Monday in the Ughelli area of Delta State as gunmen numbering five laid siege to the palace of Ughelli Kingdom.
The Queen of the Kingdom, Queen Rachael, narrowly escaped after the gunmen ambushed her in front of the palace along Isoko Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
An orderly attached to the palace, Inspector Bello Chinye, also narrowly escaped the incident but sustained a gunshot wound.
It was gathered that the monarch’s wife and her driver had gone to a new generation bank along the Isoko Road and were returning to the palace when they were accosted by the gunmen.
A source said, “The gunmen upon sighting the policeman, opened fire on him and shot him on the hand. It was during the melee that ensued that the queen also ran into the palace for safety while the hoodlums also fled the scene.”
The remains of the deceased has since been evacuated and deposited in the morgue by the Police.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Oneme Onowakpoyeya, who confirmed the incident on Tuesday, said it was an incident of attempted robbery and not kidnapping.
“We were told it was attempted robbery not kidnap. However, irrespective of their intentions, they didn’t succeed,” Onowakpoyeya said.
Meanwhile, there was tension in Ovwian Community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State as gunmen shot a yet-to-be identified man dead in front of Free-Nice Hotel, adjacent Izomo Junction.
Details as to why he was killed were still sketchy at the time of this report.
Residents of the area scampered for safety when the gunmen struck.
When contacted for comments, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya confirmed the report in a telephone chat with Warri yesterday.
The Police Image maker said, “It’s true. He was shot in the stomach.”
Delta LG Polls Hold, March 6
The Delta State Independent Electoral Commission has fixed March 6, 2021 as date for the conduct of elections into chairmanship and councilorship positions in the state.
The Chairman of the Commission, Michael Ogbodu, made the announcement after meeting with stakeholders and party chairmen yesterday in Asaba, the state capital.
He said, “The Commission is set to organise credible local government elections in 2021. We will further use this platform to urge our esteemed stakeholders including the various registered political parties in the state and electorates to give us the much needed support as we embark on the journey of delivering free and fair election.”
Ogbodu disclosed that additional 34 wards were created to add to the existing 466 wards across the 25 local government areas in the state.
The commission’s chairman approved that pre-election activities such as campaigns commence immediately.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Emeka Bidokwu, appreciated the commission and sought more cooperation to ensure the election is violence-free and successful.
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