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Wike Blasts FG Over Fight Against Coronavirus …Inaugurates 24-Man Palliatives Implementation C’ttee, Today …As RSG Begins Move To Distribute Foodstuffs To Residents

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has berated the Federal Government for politicizing the fight against the spread of Coronavirus, describing the selective support to states as unfortunate.
In a broadcast, yesterday, Wike condemned the exclusion of Rivers State from the Federal Government grants in the fight against Coronavirus.
He noted that despite the exclusion of the state, Federal Government has continued to endanger the state by flying expatriates into Rivers State.
Wike said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of Coronavirus has been politicized by the Federal Government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the Federal Government.
“One wonders why Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 states to give support. Does it mean that support will come when a state has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support. No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the Federal Government. Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards Coronavirus.
“If they come to come Rivers without us knowing their status, what will be implication assuming they have the virus.”
Wike announced that all markets in the state shall operate between 7am and 12noon on April 7 and April 8, 2020 to allow residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
He declared that Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market will remain closed till further notice.
He said: “All markets in the state except Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans-Amadi shall be open on Tuesday, April 7, and Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 7am to 12noon. After those two days, the markets will remain closed. This is to enable residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
“Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans Amadi shall remain closed till further notice.”
The governor announced the dissolution of the board of RTC for the notorious operation of illegal franchise scheme.
“The Board of the Rivers State Transport Company (RTC) has been dissolved with immediate effect. All those operating a franchise scheme in the name of the company are advised to desist forthwith. Anyone who violates this directive, will be arrested and prosecuted. Government took this measure because the franchise scheme of RTC has become notorious for illegal activities that compromise the interest of the state,” he said.
Wike directed security agencies to fish out and prosecute persons who slaughter animals in the Bush for public consumption.
He said: “Our people must understand that lives are more important than profit.
“We are constrained to note again that despite our directive, commercial vehicle operators have refused to maintain social distancing. Their action portends grave danger because they place the entire society at risk of the virus.”
The governor announced the setting up of a committee to work out modalities for implementation of the state government’s palliative programme.
“In line with our decision to provide palliatives to cushion the hardship being faced by our people, government has decided to set up a committee to work out modalities for the smooth implementation of this directive. This committee reflects all interest groups.
“The members are: Amb Desmond Akawor (chairman), Mrs Inime Aguma, Dr Bariere Thomas, Chief David Briggs, Mrs Florence Amiesimaka, Mrs Stella Ichenwo, Mrs Anthonia Kpakol, Hon. Edison Ehie, Mr Samuel Nwanosike, Hon Hope Ikiriko, Mr Latteh Loolo, ACP Innocent Umerie (representative of Nigeria Police Force), Hassan Yahaya (DSS), Lt-Col Bello (Nigerian Army), AC Mathew Pama (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps), Wing Commander Comfort Visah (Nigerian Air Force), Lt-Commander C.J. Udeh (Nigerian Navy) Ven Richard Opara, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Diepriye, Monsignor Pius Kii, Archbishop Felix Ezebunwo, Mrs Vivian Braide, Prince Ohia and Pastor Paulinus Nsirim (Secretary).
“This committee will be inaugurated tomorrow, Monday, April 6, 2020 at the Government House, Port Harcourt by 12noon. Attendance of the inauguration ceremony will be strictly for members of the committee,” he said.
Wike gave an update on the state’s index case, saying that she will be discharged soon.
He said: “We are grateful to God that the index case of the virus is now negative. As soon as we receive the confirmation result, she will be discharged from the treatment centre. We also thank our frontline health professionals who have displayed a deep sense of professionalism and patriotism during this trying period.
“The state government is also grateful to all Rivers people and private individuals who have contributed to support us in this fight. At the appropriate time, government will publish the names of these individuals.
“May I urge our religious leaders to continue to intercede on behalf of the state as we fight to contain this virus.
Once again, let me restate that with your continued support, Rivers State will remain safe.”
Wike emphasised that all borders of the State remains closed.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government will today, inaugurate the 24-member committee set up to work out modalities for the implementation of palliatives to cushion the hardship faced by citizens of the state as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications and Secretary of the committee, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, advised members of the committee to be seated at 11.30a.m, adding that attendance of the inauguration ceremony would be strictly for members of the committee.
Meanwhile, The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, announced that his administration has set in motion the platform for the distribution of food palliatives to Rivers people following the sit-at-home directive to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the state.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, yesterday, after inspecting the State Food Bank established for the distribution of the food palliatives, Wike explained that a state committee would be set up to implement the distribution of the foodstuffs.
Wike was accompanied by service commanders, who are members of the State Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings.
The governor said: “We inspected where we kept the relief materials for our palliative programme. Our intention is to ensure that we mitigate the impact of the sit-at-home directive.
“We are going to set up a committee for the distribution of the foodstuffs meant to serve as palliative for Rivers people.”
At the State Food Bank, the state government has rice, garri, beans, noodles, yam, palm oil and salt to be distributed to the less privileged in all the 23 local government areas.
Wike warned against the politicisation of the fight against Coronavirus, saying that all stakeholders must make sacrifices.
“We say to our people, this is not a time to play politics. Nobody should play politics with the lives of people. Everybody has to make sacrifices to make sure everyone stays alive,” he said.
The Rivers State governor said that the state government is prepared to tackle the deadly virus.
He said: “For now, we are not hundred percent ready, but we are about 90 per cent ready. Luckily for us, we have no serious cases.
“The confirmed case is doing very well. They have sent her samples and it came out negative. The final sample has been sent and we are expecting the results.
“We are doing quite well. All members of the State Security Council are working together to ensure that we prevent the spread of Coronavirus.”
On the monitoring of the compliance by churches, the governor said the task force was happy with the level of cooperation from the churches.
Wike said: “We are happy with the level of compliance that we have seen throughout Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City local government areas. The churches complied.”
The task force monitored compliance at Omega Power Ministries (OPM); Saint Patrick’s Anglican Church, Rukpokwu; and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chaplaincy, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Rumuibekwe.
Wike also inspected the progress of work at the State Isolation/Treatment Centre under construction.
“We have visited this location to see the readiness of the isolation/treatment centre in Port Harcourt. Even though they failed to deliver the job on Saturday as promised, we are confident in the next four days, it would have been completed”, he said.

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We’ll Enforce ‘No Work, No Pay’ Rule, RSG Warns NARD

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The Rivers State Government has said that it would apply the “no work, no pay” rule against resident doctors under the employment of the state government who embark on strike in solidarity with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the government cautioned that the strike should be restricted to resident doctors that were directly under the payroll of the Federal Government, particularly as Rivers State Government does not owe salaries or benefits to resident doctors in the state.

“We are unable to decipher why resident doctors in the state will embark on sympathy strike with their counterparts in the employment of the Federal Government.

“Rivers State Government,having reaffirmed its position with respect to the above, will not tolerate further strike actions by resident doctors in Rivers State, and will be compelled to invoke the “no work, no pay” rule on striking House Officers.

“We, therefore, direct all resident doctors to call off the ongoing strike in the state, and return to work within 24hours or forfeit their salaries and risk being sacked”, the statement warned.

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Courts, Politicians Frustrating Preparations For Anambra Poll, INEC Laments

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The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), yesterday, complained that politicians were using the courts to frustrate the efforts of the commission to deliver credible election in the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for November 6, 2021.

Addressing participants at the implementation meeting on voter enlightenment and publicity for the election in Awka, the national commissioner in charge of voter education, Chief Festus Okoye, said the action of the courts and the politicians could lead to voter apathy during the polls.

He said, “The commission has variously and consistently complained at the frequency and consistency with which courts of coordinate jurisdiction from different jurisdictions all over Nigeria assumed jurisdiction and delivered judgments and issued orders with far reaching implications on the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.

“Some of the orders have the tendency of eroding the powers of the commission and compromising its independence, powers and timelines for the conduct of the upcoming election.

“In our regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections, as well as the timetable and schedule of activities, the commission issues access code to the national chairmen of political parties with which they upload the personal particulars and list of their candidates electronically.

“This obviated the demonstrations, fights and violence normally witnessed in the premises of the commission by different factions of political parties and the national and state branches of political parties.

“Unfortunately, some of the judgments and orders given recently, especially on the primary elections in Anambra State, have bypassed our portal and sought to restore the manual submission of the list and personal particulars of candidates.

“It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the commission to obey court orders and judgments that are the latest in time or the first in time as some of the political parties and the candidates have perfected the art of shopping for the first in time or the latest in time.

“The planning and preparation for election requires certainty and adherence to timelines. The leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA) and the leadership of the Judiciary must wade into this descent to forum shopping and the multiplicity of orders and judgments from courts of coordinate jurisdiction. This is urgent; it is imperative and cannot be carried over to the 2023 general election.

“The commission has maintained that political parties must obey and conform to their constitutions and guidelines for the conduct of party primaries, as well as the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act.

“Political parties must extricate themselves from the web and crisis of endless litigation arising from the conduct of primaries, own their rules and also comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in all their activities.”

He also explained that INEC is paying special attention to the Continuous Voter Registration(CVR), in Anambra State to ensure that all those who are eligible to register do so in preparation for the November 6, 2021 election.

According to him, the commission would deploy additional staff and materials to the state in the next few weeks to accelerate the registration exercise and would also decide when to suspend the CVR in Anambra State to enable it print the permanent voters card of new registrants and integrate the supplementary voters register with the existing register of voters, while VCR would continue in the state after the election.

He said that the new polling units created by the commission would be used for the first time during the November 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, adding that the people of the state would, therefore, vote from polling units that are closer and accessible.

He added, “Political parties must conduct their campaigns with civility and the best tradition of democratic ethos. Political campaigns or slogans shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or section feelings.

“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous, or base language or insinuations or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.

“Political parties are also reminded that places designated for religious workshop, police stations, and public offices shall not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions.

“As of this day (Tuesday) it is exactly 95 days to the November 6, 2021 governorship election in Anambra State and for this commission, 95 days to the conduct of any election is a race against time and preparations must be in top gear.

“The commission places utmost importance in planning and keeping to timelines for the conduct of elections. On the basis of this the commission pre-delivered over 50% of the non-sensitive materials for the conduct of the election well ahead of time.

“Similarly, the commission places high premium on the deployment of technology in the conduct of elections. This very practice which has become a part and parcel of the operations and activities of the commission has impacted tremendously on the quality of elections in the country”.

Okoye said that the deployment of technology in the delivery of over 26 by-elections since the 2019 general election had remarkably reduced the impact of human interferences in the outcome of the elections, assuring that application of technology would be a hallmark in the Anambra election.

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NASS Opposition To E-Transmission Of Poll Results, Coup Against Nigerians, Wike Insists

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says the rejection of electronic transmission of election results by All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the National Assembly, was tantamount to a coup against Nigerians desirous of free, fair and credible elections.

The governor noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to prevail on APC members in the National Assembly to support the inclusion of electronic transmission of election results in the amended Electoral Act proves that he does not intend to leave a legacy of transparent electoral process.

He stated this during the official presentation of letter of nomination to him as “the 2020 Governor of the Year Award” by the management of the Leadership Media Group at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Wike remarked that the current National Assembly capitalised on the seeming political indifference of Nigerians to deliberately vote against the inclusion of electronic transmission of election results in the amended Electoral Act.

The governor, described National Assembly members who voted against transmission of election results electronically as enemies of the country, because their action was detrimental to the growth and consolidation of the country’s democracy.

“Those who voted against e-transmission of results should be ashamed of themselves. They never mean well for this country. If you are a member of the National Assembly, and you voted against electronic transmission of results, your children should call you and say ‘daddy, are you well’?

“I can’t believe anybody who went to school in this digital period, will vote against electronic transmission of results. What kind of country is this? What kind of National Assembly members do we have?”

Wike declared that the rejection of electronic transmission of election results by APC lawmakers, even when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had affirmed that it has the capacity to electronically transmit results, was tantamount to a coup against the citizens of the country.

“It is a coup against the people, and when you plot a coup, you know the consequences of plotting a coup. National Assembly members have plotted coup against Nigerians, and Nigerians should hold them responsible. All they are planning is to rig election, because they know Nigerians have abandoned them”, the governor said.

The Rivers State governor said he had expected President Buhari, who had openly declared that he respects former President Goodluck Jonathan, for not compromising the 2015 general election, to build on the electoral legacy of his predecessor.

“If Jonathan did not believe in the transparency of the election, he would not have allowed card reader to be used. So, he introduced the card reader as a sitting President, knowing fully well that that could be an albatross to him. But he said no, I want us to move to the next level.”

Wike stated that though President Buhari had repeatedly declared that he will ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible election in 2023, he doubts his sincerity, particularly for failing to rein in those APC members who voted against electronic transmission of election results.

“Mr President cannot tell us that sincerely, he wants to conduct free, fair, credible elections. Let nobody deceive you. It is very clear that there is no sure intention at all.”

The governor, who stated that he has never and will never influence any media organisation to nominate him for an award, advised media groups against bestowing awards on non-performing political office holders.

According to him, giving awards to undeserving governors, for instance, is an act of corruption.

Wike commiserated with the family and management of the Leadership Media Group over the death of the founder of the newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah, and urged them to use the newspapers as a voice for the people.

“Let me thank the leadership of the newspaper for finding us worthy or qualified to be nominated for the Governor of the Year Award. Therefore, we dedicate this award to the glory of God Almighty and to the people of the state.”

He said it was gladdening that there were people somewhere who recognise the efforts he and members of his team were making to change the narrative in terms of governance in the country.

To this end, he reiterated that the award would energise his administration to even work harder for the state.

Responding, the Group Managing Director of Leadership Newspapers, Mu’azu Elazeh, said they were in Port Harcourt to formally present Governor Wike the letter of his nomination as the ‘Leadership Governor of the Year’, and then to invite him to attend Leadership Conference slated for September.

“When the Board of Editors of Leadership met for this nomination, because it is something we do every year, when your name was mentioned, I think it is the only name that received unanimous endorsement because of your practical approach to leadership and governance; because of your focus in infrastructural development which is resetting the business and economy of Rivers State”, Elazeh said.

Similarly, the Executive Director, Leadership Media Group, Abraham Nda-Isaiah said this was the first time in the history of Leadership Newspapers that a governor has been nominated twice in the life of an administration.

He recalled that Wike was first nominated for the award in 2017.

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