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COVID-19: NDDC Shops For Ventilators For N’Delta States

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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.”

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A’Ibom Moves To Enforce Ban On Motorcycles

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Akwa Ibom State Government has set up a task force to enforce its decisions to ban the use of motorcycles for transport within Uyo metropolis.
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters and Special Services, Mr. Iniobong Ekong, said government’s action became necessary to ensure directives were obeyed for safety and security of the people..
He said: “We have seen ugly development involving Okada, especially in Uyo metropolis, and parts of Uyo capital city. This has not, in any way, helped the positivity of our security architecture.
He added that the enforcement became imperative to tackle internal insecurity in the state, noting that most heinous crimes, such as rape, burglary, stealing were being perpetuated with motorcycles.
Ekong disclosed that a mobile court would be sitting in Ibom Hall Uyo for trial of defaulters, adding that motorcycles seized would be crushed publicly as arrangements had been concluded with a crushing company from Aba, Abia State.
Addressing law enforcement officers, he charged them to be diligent and not to engage in physical combat with defaulters, as there exist laws to handle them.
“Again, we have seen the menace of scrap operators on the livelihood and peace of our people. Actually, government has not in any way positioned itself to block peoples’ sources of livelihood, but the freedom of one to conduct business must not impede on the right of existence of the other.
Also on the list of banned activities include; scavenging and open grazing.
“Government will not keep quiet and allow ‘entrepreneurs’ who want to survive and grow their businesses at the expense of freedom and livelihood of any other person. Every other citizen or resident is equal to the other in all ramifications and government has the responsibility to guarantee freedom, safety and peace for all,” Ekong reaffirmed.
Recall that the state government, through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, had on January 4, 2022 banned the activities of scavengers in the wake of death of three persons caused by face-off between scavengers and indigenes of Oku community in Uyo council area.

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Delta 2023: Okowa Urges Political Aspirants To Seek God’s Face

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Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has urged political aspirants to seek the face of God in the positions they are vying for ahead of the 2023 elections.
Governor Okowa gave the advice at a thanksgiving service at the Government House Chapel, Asaba.
He said, “pray with us, pray for us and pray about the State.”
“Whatever positions we are contesting for, let us seek the face of God because if you genuinely pray, God will reveal His will for you.
“As a man, I will also try to avoid people pushing me to a direction that God is not pleased with because if God has made a choice and we go in the wrong direction, it will not augur well for the State.”
He cautioned political stakeholders on the need to concentrate on governance and not be distracted ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Let us approach the next few months with the oneness of love. Towards the end of every administration, there are usually distractions here and there.
“But one thing is sure, whoever will succeed me must be one who keeps the fire in this altar burning, and God must direct me on the choice of the person.
“I can never take the place of God in deciding who will succeed me; I will pray for God to direct me and not a man so that I don’t go in the wrong direction”.
Governor Okowa also appealed to politicians as well as stakeholders to pray for the oneness and unity in the state.

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Bayelsa Dep Gov Warns Against Disturbances On Western Senatorial Road Project

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Bayelsa State Government has warned youths of the area against unnecessary interference with ongoing projects funded by the state, in particular the Sagbama-Ekeremor road project in the state’s West Senatorial district.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who issued the warning at a meeting with traditional rulers and youth presidents of some communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Area in Government House, Yenagoa, recently urged the youths to refrain from collecting illegal taxes from contractors.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Deputy Governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, the Deputy Governor was quoted expressing his displeasure over the alleged harassment of truck drivers conveying materials being used for the construction of the road by youths demanding different kinds of revenue.
The state’s number two citizen warned youths involved in such acts in any part of the state to either desist from the unwholesome practice or face the wrath of the law.
He directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to issue letters of authority to truck drivers supplying raw materials to Setraco, the contractor handling the road so as to enable them enjoy tax waivers and unfettered movement.
Addressing the community leaders, the deputy governor maintained that government attaches high premium on taking the road to Ekeremor Town before the end of this year, noting that government would not tolerate any bottleneck that will slow down the pace of work, just as he constituted a 20-member patrol taskforce to check the issue of illegal tax collection on the road.
Members of the Taskforce include, the Chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area, Mr Alale Embeleakpo and the Divisional Police Officers in charge of Sagbama Town, Ekeremor Town and Aleibiri Federated Community.
Other members are one representative each from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Sagbama, Aleibiri and Ekeremor as well as youth presidents of Adagbabiri, Sagbama, Ofoni, Ayamasa, Isampou and Ekeremor communities.
Other members are, the paramount rulers of Angiama, Aleibiri, Ofoni, and a nominee from the Amananaowei of Ekeremor, His Royal Highness Agbodo Gbaseimo.
The Tide reports that the taskforce, which is divided into two to patrol the road from the Adagbabiri and Ekeremor ends to Bulou Orua Bridge, also has the state Government Revenue Agent, Mr Doubara Kumokou, and the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in charge of Bayelsa West and Oporomor Clan as members.
“You will be divided into two. Some of you will patrol from Adagbabiri to Bulou Orua bridge, while the other group is to patrol from the Ekeremor/ Aleibiri end to the Bulou Orua Bridge also.
“You will be mobilized to carry out this task effectively because government will not tolerate any situation that will slow down the pace of work on that project.
“Henceforth nobody should go to any of our project sites to do any ‘marching ground thing’ with our contractors because the money we give them does not include that. We know of things you will ask from contractors that are your legitimate rights.
”But certainly not collection of money from truck drivers supplying stone base and other materials for our contractors. That must stop forthwith, “The deputy governor said.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Surveyor Moses Teibowei, called on people of the area to play supportive role to enable the present administration achieve its set target on the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road project.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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