The Rivers State Government has stated that the story being carried in some media that the two pilots and 10 passengers of Caverton Helicopters who were arrested by the state government because they acted to the directives of the Ministry of Aviation, is misleading.
Stating this in a press briefing, last Saturday, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that on the contrarily, the arrest was made because the pilots repeatedly disobeyed the Executive Order of the governor to the effect that everyone coming into the state must present themselves for health checks to determine their Coronavirus status.
According to Nsirim, “Contrary to the view being peddled by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the two pilots of Caverton Helicopters and their 10 passengers were not arrested because they operated a permit granted them by the Ministry of Aviation.
“They were arrested because they constantly contravened the Executive Order issued by the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, which requires that everyone coming into the state for essential duties subject themselves to mandatory health checks to ascertain their Coronavirus status”.
He stated that before their arrests, the Rivers State Government had issued several warnings to Caverton and other operators to ensure that their pilots and passengers are tested by Rivers State Health Authorities, but that Caverton Helicopters had disregarded the warnings.
“At the last count, Caverton Helicopters ferried over 220 passengers into the state without allowing health professionals of the Rivers State Government ascertain their Coronavirus status. They also refused to avail the state government their contacts, so they can be traced and tested”, he said.
While stating that the state government was more committed to the protection of the lives of over six million Rivers people, rather than issue landing permits to airlines, or contending for the control of the airspace, Nsirim said, “The issue on ground has nothing to do with the Exclusive List.
“The focus of the Rivers State Government is to ensure that nobody under the guise of transporting workers on essential services, ferry in persons who will compromise our health system. Therefore, these pilots and passengers must be subjected to health checks before they carry out their responsibilities. That is standard practice”.
It is for the same reason, Nsirim noted, that the Federal Government has isolated Chinese doctors they invited into the country to assist in the fight against the Coronavirus.
“The Federal Government, as we speak, has quarantined Chinese doctors who are in the country on invitation of the operators of the Exclusive List. These Chinese doctors will be isolated for 14 days as a precaution before they mix with Nigerians. If the Federal Government has done that in Abuja for Chinese officials that they invited, why do they insist that persons coming into Rivers State must enter the state without health checks?”, Nsirim asked.
He noted that, given the foregoing, the aviation minister’s claim that the arrest was effected because Caverton Helicopters’ operations were based on permit granted them by the Ministry of Aviation amounts to an “indecent and reckless politicisation of the fight to check the spread of Coronavirus by agents of the Federal Government, especially as it relates to Rivers State”.
The information boss added that, “From all indications, it is clear that there is a plot to compromise the health of Rivers people. Otherwise, what is the motive for the grandstanding and the sponsorship of false editorials to mislead Nigerians by agents of the Federal Government?
“The Rivers State Government urges the Federal Government to direct all their business associates to subject themselves to health checks to ascertain their Coronavirus status. On this premise, the Rivers State Government is not prepared to compromise.
“The safety of Rivers people is beyond any other consideration. No amount of yellow journalism will diminish the leading role Governor Nyesom Wike has provided the entire country since the outbreak of Coronavirus.
“Governor Wike, through the various prevention strategies he had initiated, has demonstrated to the entire world that he is prepared for leadership. The truth is that it is in time of crisis like the whole world is facing now, that you know genuine leaders.
“The Rivers State Government respects the rule of law and has acted within the ambit of the law,” he added.
Meanwhile, as the lockdown on markets alongside the stay-at-home order by the Rivers State Government continues, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has assured that the underprivileged people living and doing business in the state would be catered for.
Making this known, last Saturday, during the distribution of food items to the people of Ward 18, Nkpolu-Oroworukwu in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, as part of palliative measures by the state government, the commissioner stated that it was part of the governor’s commitment towards alleviating the suffering of the downtrodden in the state.
“The governor of Rivers State said that he has seen the hardships the people of Rivers State are facing, because of COVID-19, and as a man, who has sworn an oath to protect lives and properties of Rivers people; he would do all within his powers to ensure that nobody suffers from hunger in this period. This is what a visionary leader would do”, he said.
It is in pursuant to this stance, Nsirim explained that the governor has taken various steps in not only checking Coronavirus infection in the state since it came to the fore in Nigeria, and food items are made available to the downtrodden.
“You will recall that since this Coronavirus broke out in Nigeria, the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has played a leading role in showing leadership in terms of strategies for prevention and other things. Right now, he is also showing leadership in terms of catering for the downtrodden and less privileged in the state”, the commissioner stated.
He noted further that for this purpose, the governor had set aside the sum of N2billion to ensure that “no matter where you are in Rivers State, as long as you live and do business in Rivers State, you’ll not die of hunger. There’s a committee that he (governor) has set up again to purchase all the foodstuffs that are produced in Rivers State: yam, garri, plantain, fish, etc. All those things that are edible that Rivers people like to eat, that committee is going round now in all the LGAs in Rivers State to buy them”.
While expressing appreciation over the leadership style of the governor, Nsirim also noted that Rivers people in Diaspora, in countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, have at various times, expressed the same appreciation since news of COVID-19 broke out in Nigeria.
Receiving the food items on behalf of the ward, a religious leader, Prophet Michael Ichemati, expressed gratitude to the governor, and promised that they would ensure the food items get to the needy in the ward.
Ichemati said: “I want to use this opportunity given to me to express our gratitude to our governor, who has been so much forthcoming to reach out to the people. We want to also thank the committee for their time, and, having seen what they have presented to the ward, we want to say God will reward you all.
“We’re promising that what you have given to us today will get to those that need it most. We sincerely appreciate what you people have given to us. God bless you”, he added.
In his response, the state Commissioner for Transport, Sunny Ejeku, who is a member of the ward, said “This is my community, this is my ward, and I know the impact of what HE has done will create in the lives of the people here. When you give a man food, you’re preserving his life. The COVID-19 pandemic has come with all other side effects, most of which have to do with complaint of hunger. Social distancing has to be maintained.
“Thank God that His Excellency has the drive and the leadership style, which he has employed to save the lives of Rivers people”.
On his part, the traditional head of the ward, Eze Omunakwe Innocent Ejekwuaka, also thanked the governor for the food items, praying that God should grant him more ideas to cater for the needy.
Also present at the presentation were the Councillor of the ward, Henry Ichemati, and the Women Leader of Oro-Obaziolu Community, Madam Mercy Orlu.
Presidency: Wait Till 2031, PANDEF Tells Northerners
Pan Niger Delta Forum PANDEF has called on Northerners to wait until 2031 before thinking of producing another President for the country.
Recall that several Northern groups and prominent leaders, especially from the North Central zone of the country have been clamouring to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
PANDEF, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said the call was in the interest of national harmony and peace.
The statement reads in part: “The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) is advising and cautioning politicians from the North, seeking to run for the presidency, to wait till 2031, for the sake of national harmony and peace.
“Everyone has the right to take part in the governance of his/her country; to vote and be voted for. But, it’s equally fundamental to uphold the indispensable principles of fairness, equity, and justice. Noting that without these, there can be no overall peace and progress.
“PANDEF avers that it should be, therefore, unthinkable that the North should contemplate clutching onto the presidential seat, in 2023, at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two tenures of eight years. Nature abhors injustice; the sun does not rise in the east and set in the east.
“We consider declarations, by some individuals and groups, now, suddenly opposing the extant practice of rotational zoning of political offices, particularly that of the Presidency, as unpatriotic and self-serving”.
Sun Awards: We’re Building For Present, Future Generations, Wike Insists …As Kalu, Dare Eulogise Gov
The Sun Man of the Year 2020 and Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has reiterated the reason driving the infrastructural development stride of his administration, saying that at the core of the effort was the desire to ensure that he bequeaths a legacy to the present and future generations.
This is as the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, commended Wike for the infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State, just as they said that governor’s statesmanship and apolitical posture were legendary.
The 2020 Sun Newspapers Award ceremony held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, at the weekend.
Wike, who was represented the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, thanked The Sun Newspapers for the honour done to him.
Receiving the award on his behalf, Banigo said the Wike administration had continued to vigorously pursue the new Rivers State vision, touching on every aspect of the state for the present and future generations.
Banigo dedicated the award to God and the people of the state.
She said that since 2015, Wike has used the NEW Rivers Vision to transform the state.
The deputy governor was accompanied by the Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Edison Ehie, and some members of the State Executive Council and some LG council chairmen.
In her opening remarks, daughter of the Publisher of The Sun Newspapers, Neya Orji Kalu, urged the Sun Awards winners to remain consistent in their individual endeavours.
Neya, who represented her father, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, commended the awardees for being singled out among millions of Nigerians for the award, saying it was a great feat.
Noting that they deserved the award, she reminded them that “to whom much is given, much is expected”, and urged them to work together and live in peace for the progress of the country.
She regretted that the award could not hold last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the world and brought economic hardship to many countries of the world, including Nigeria.
Neya paid tribute to all the frontline workers in the fight to contain Coronavirus, even as she called on all to remember those that were lost to the pandemic as well as those that were lost to the senseless killings in Nigeria.
Presenting the award to the governor, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
“I have taken official and unguided tours of projects up to Opobo Town. It is quite amazing that Governor Wike is doing so much.
“I am a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the truth must be told that Governor Wike is doing well,” he said.
The senator also commended Wike for his courage to speak the truth to power in the country.
Kalu described Wike as “his good friend who has not allowed political differences to separate them.”
He added that Wike’s choice as The Sun Man of the Year was well-deserved.
Also speaking, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, commended the Rivers State governor for his statesmanship and apolitical posture.
Dare recalled that Wike invited him, an APC member, to commission the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt.
The minister stated that such posture was very good for the political development of the nation.
He described the Real Madrid Football Academy as a model for education and youth development in Africa.
Speaking in similar tone, Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu, who got the Sports Personality of the Year award, dedicated it to Governor Godwin Obaseki, who was physically present to support and felicitate with him, saying he created an enabling environment for him to thrive and excel.
“I’m very grateful to Governor Godwin Obaseki for the opportunity he gave me to serve and if he didn’t entrust the sports sector to me, this would not have happened. He gave me the wings to fly, and I am very grateful to him for it. This is a reason for me to work harder and I do not take it for granted. For us in Edo, we do not complain, we only proffer solutions and that is why things are working well the way they are,” Shuaibu said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, while receiving the Exceptional Philanthropist of the Year award, urged the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Yoruba separatist leader, Sunday Igboho; and leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
He said he believes in the unity of Nigeria and also believes that with dialogue, the issues that have given rise to insecurity in the country can be resolved.
Onyema said if amnesty could work in the case of Niger Delta militants, it could also be used for the separatist leaders.
The First Lady of Ondo State, Betty Akeredolu, who was given the Most Supportive First Lady award for her advocacy against breast cancer and the many projects she has embarked on to help women in the state, expressed her gratitude to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for his support, and thanked The Sun for the award.
“Thank you for finding me worthy of this award among all the first ladies. What we do is a lot of work to make sure that we make this world a better place than we found it. This work is not just me alone; I have a team that spurred me on.
“For those that follow me in doing what I have done, I want to say thank you and to also appreciate my husband because without him giving me space, I don’t think I would be here. We have made sure that vulnerable women are taken care of in Ondo State even during Covid-19 and today we have an organisation that supports widows and anyone who wants to help us can go to the website and contribute,” she said.
In his response, The Sun Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, Nnamdi Ezeigbo, expressed gratitude to The Sun management for the recognition.
He said: “I feel so honoured. I thank The Sun leadership.”
He called on the government to pay attention to entrepreneurship, saying, “It is high time government paid attention to entrepreneurship because it is the bedrock of any society. Let us build a Commonwealth for our people.
Also, winner of the Investor of the Year award, Dr. Chris Igwe, said he was grateful and highly honoured to receive the award, and thanked The Sun management for the honour.
He said the award is evidence that nothing on earth can stop a man with the right mental attitude from reaching his height in life.
“I dedicate this award to the staff and management of Mainland Oil. I thank everyone that attended this event,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, The Sun Hospitality Icon of the Year, Chief Obi Iyiegbu, popularly called Obi Cubana, expressed gratitude to God for placing him where he stands today.
He dedicated the award to his late parents and his wife who has stood by him all through, his associates and well-wishers as well as his teeming fans.
“You can see the result of our hard work. This is just the beginning; we are going to do more,” he said.
Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who was the recipient of Political Icon of the Year, thanked The Sun for ensuring through its reportage that there is political stability in the country.
He dedicated the award to President Muhammadu Buhari.
CAFCL Qualifier: Rivers United, Al-Hilal Draw In PH
Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt yesterday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium played out a 1-1 draw against Al Hilal FC of Sudan in the first leg of the second round of the CAF Champions League in Port Harcourt.
The match, which was thrown open for fans, saw a lot of dignitaries who came to cheer the pride of Rivers.
It would be recalled that Rivers United defeated Young Africans of Tanzania 2-0 on aggregate to qualifier for the second round of the competition.
Speaking with Tidesports just after the game, the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on School Sports, Barrister Aribitoye Okiri expressed disappointment over the players’ lackluster performance.
Top government officials in the state, including the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalipo Harry Banigo, LG council chairmen and commissioners, are amongst other sports men within and outside the state that graced the event
According to Okiri, the state government has done its part by giving the team all the necessary support needed, adding that Rivers United need to play more aggressive football.
He further explained that the pride of Rivers can do better in the second leg of the game going by the massive support by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
“Some time you cannot count on the first result but the final result.
“I am optimistic that Rivers United will do better in the second leg with the current form of the team,” Okiri stated.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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