The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his firm, strong, committed and personal leadership to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus disease in Rivers State.
Speaking during a meeting between Rivers State governor and officials of NCDC at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Ihekweazu said that Rivers State was important in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.
Ihekweazu said: “This is a working visit. I want to thank you for your firm, strong, committed and personally-led response to Covid-19 in Rivers State.
“Rivers is one of the most important gate-ways into the country and one of the most important economies in the country. So, Rivers is important, not only to you but to the entire country.
“We thank you very much for your leadership and we need your leadership to continue in order for us to continue doing our work nationally.”
The NCDC director general said that his team was in Rivers State to engage with the state Public Health Team to consolidate on the successes on the fight against Coronavirus.
“This is actually a joint team. I have come with the officer in charge of World Health Organisation (WHO). We have come together to offer our support.
“Your Excellency, you have an excellent public health team to which I have an excellent working relationship with. We have a close technical working relationship.
“The purpose of this visit is to engage with the team and understand their challenges and continue driving that close coordination,” he said.
Ihekweazu noted that because of the unique nature of the virus, all stakeholders must work in unity, stressing, “The unique nature of this virus is that it is a global pandemic. None of us can do this on our own. No country can do this on its own.
“We share information across the states to make sure that everyone is informed as they can possibly be. We share Information on new developments, strategies, what works and what doesn’t work.
“Whether it is in detection, prevention and treatment, our role as NCDC is to make sure that our technical colleagues are able to respond at all levels and are supported in any way with the expertise they need.”
He said that because the prolonged lockdown cannot continue indefinitely, stakeholders must begin to work towards gradually reopening the economy without endangering the population.
The NCDC leader also urged the private sector to focus more on helping the states to build their capacity to respond to the virus.
Responding on behalf of the Rivers State Government, the Health Commissioner, Prof Princewill Chike said that Governor Nyesom Wike has strengthened the public health system of the state to fight Coronavirus.
Chike said that before the Coronavirus pandemic, the Rivers State Government was already battling Lassa fever, Monkey Pox and HIV/AIDS.
He said as a result of the proactive leadership of the governor, the state has no current confirmed case of Ccoronavirus, adding that the two cases in the state have been treated and discharged.
“Since January, Rivers State has had two cases of Coronavirus; a 19-year model and a 62-year old retiree. They have been treated and discharged. All the 214 persons that had contact with them were placed under surveillance. Except for two cases, all other contacts have exited Isolation,” he said.
The commissioner noted that the proactive approach of the governor in tackling Coronavirus centres on early detection, prevention and treatment.
Chike said: “We give kudos to our governor for his proactive approach at tackling Coronavirus. It has been successful. The Rivers State Executive Council set up a sensitization committee to sensitise and inform the people on ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.”
The Rivers State Government said that it has PCR machines, but added that they were devoted to the treatment of other major ailments before the outbreak of Coronavirus.
The commissioner said that another set of PCR machines to be devoted to the testing and treatment of Covid-19 was on its way to the state, and also announced that all public hospitals in different local government areas of the state have Covid-19 centres, developed by the Wike-led administration.
He said: “They have been developed to hold suspect cases before the intervention of the State Rapid Response Team on Covid-19.”
The Rivers State Government called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to stop oil companies from violating the state Executive Order on restriction of movement.
Chike said: “The way some oil companies breach the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State governor to restrict movement in and out of the state can jeopardise the fight against Coronavirus. The Rivers State Government needs the support of the Federal Government in this regard.”
The Rivers State Government also requested the establishment of a functional infectious diseases laboratory to handle Coronavirus testing, emphasising that even though it was in the process of setting up its major laboratory, the strategic place of Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub requires a federal testing centre.
Similarly, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for taking proactive steps to protect Rivers people from Coronavirus.
This is as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Rivers and Bayelsa State Chapter also praised Wike for setting up measures to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
They spoke in Port Harcourt, last Friday, while presenting palliatives for Rivers people to the Rivers State Government.
The General Manager Corporate Services, NLNG, Sir Joseph Alagoa, said that the Rivers State Government has done well in the fight against Coronavirus.
Alagoa said: “Permit me on behalf of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to commend the Rivers State governor on the proactive steps he has taken in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We also commend him for ensuring that the people of Rivers State are protected from its spread.
“While we applaud your efforts, we also recognise that the state government cannot go it alone. It is also important for the private sector and individuals to provide support.”
The NLNG made donations to the Rivers State Government to assist it in the fight to check Coronavirus.
“We will be donating two pickup vans, five ventilators, 30 monitors and 17,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs).
“In addition, we will be donating equipment and materials worth $1million to upgrade specific facilities at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital.
“In addition to that, we will be refurbishing and setting up 10-bed Isolation and holding Centre at the Bonny Zonal Hospital, and this will cost $1.05million.
“This centre will be equipped with all the necessary medical equipment to ensure that it is fully functional in the event that Covid-19 becomes present in the Bonny area.
“We will be donating food items valued at over $250,000 to our host communities as palliatives. We are doing this to guarantee the safety of lives and property. In total, what we have donated is about $2.8million,” he said.
Alagoa called on all stakeholders to work together at this crucial time.
He said: “This is to show our stand and determination to work with the Government of Rivers State and also the people of Rivers State at this time that all hands need to be on deck to work together to tackle this challenge.
“These are trying times, and we all need to stay together, standing together and most importantly, supporting each other at this trying time.”
The Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Rivers and Bayelsa State, Senator Adawari Pepple lauded the governor for taking the right steps for the state.
Pepple said: “So far, all the steps that have been taken by the Rivers State Government have been very positive. We are glad to note that we haven’t recorded more incidents than what we have.
“Even those who were declared positive have now been treated, and they are negative. This is worth celebrating.”
MAN assured the Rivers State Government that it would support its efforts at offering palliatives to the people, adding, “We have come to lend our support to Rivers State Government in its fight to check the spread of Coronavirus.”
Also, last Friday, one of the largest shopping complexes in Africa, Next Cash and Carry donated different foodstuffs and beverages to the Rivers State Government.
The Chief Financial Officer, Next Cash and Carry Ltd, Sir Nnaedozie Okwoli, lauded the governor for the fight to check the spread of Coronavirus.
Responding, the Chairman of Rivers State Covid-19 Palliatives Committee, Amb Desmond Akawor, thanked the donors for supporting the Rivers State Government to reach out to her people.
Akawor said: “Today, Next Cash and Carry has scored a major point by donating these items to a friend in need. The efforts of Governor Wike have yielded efforts as the state for now has nobody with the virus.
“But there are consequences for the lockdown. The shops and markets are not there. He has set up committees to buy off foodstuffs from farmers and fishermen, and then, distribute to the less privileged.”
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Chike Princewill assured that all the donations would be judiciously used by the Rivers State Government for the benefit of Rivers people.
Similarly, the Rivers State Government says the stringent measures it has taken since the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country are targeted at preventing its community spread which would be difficult to manage.
The Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, made the assertion shortly after taking delivery of four truckloads of bags of rice and noodles donated by the Lebanese Community in support of the ongoing distribution of palliatives to natives of the state.
Danagogo, while appealing for the support of the media in sustaining public enlightenment and awareness about the virus, warned that the facilities put in place would not be sufficient should the virus degenerate to a pandemic through community spread.
The Chairman of the Lebanese Community in Rivers State, Charles Solomon, said he was satisfied with measures taken so far by the state government to curtail the spread of the virus in the state.
RSG’s Medical Scholarship Producing Quality Health Professionals, Wike Affirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the medical scholarship offered to Rivers students by his administration was a deliberate policy intended to produce well-trained professionals that would enhance quality healthcare delivery beyond the state.
The governor made the explanation at the 4th Matriculation ceremony of PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Elelenwo in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Friday.
Wike stated that in the last three years, 100 Rivers students were awarded scholarship yearly to study medicine and other related courses at PAMO University, which was creating access to education for most indigent students.
He said the state government was impressed with the Founder and Pro-Chancellor of PAMO University, Dr. Peter Odili, for the establishment of the institution that has developed within a very remarkable time to be a centre of excellence in medical education with adequate capacity to produce medical doctors, pharmacists, medical technologists, and other healthcare professionals for the state and the country.
Wike said that such initiative by Odili, and indeed, any Rivers indigene, was worthy of support from the state government.
To this end, he announced additional N500million grant to enable management of the university to put in place the necessary educational infrastructure.
“We have decided to further support the growth and development of this university with yet another grant of N500million only. As we all know; the promise of education is better life just as no healthcare system can be effective without adequate number of qualified and skillful medical doctors and other related professionals, which our state, Nigeria and the world over are in dire need of.
“This was the reason we instituted the special scholarship scheme to cater for not less than 100 indigenous students of this university yearly for five consecutive circle of admissions with effect from the very first set of students.
“This special scholarship programme has covered four admission circles and benefitted 490 Rivers State students who are pursuing various medical courses in this university from inception to date.”
Wike observed that if Odili, a former governor of Rivers State, did not establish PAMO University, all the students that matriculated, last Friday, and others who were already at different levels of their studies, would not have had the chance to pursue their educational dreams due to the admission crisis that continues to plague and frustrate the immediate transition of most youths from secondary to tertiary education.
The governor enjoined all the 490 Rivers State students, who are benefiting from the scholarship and others, to be diligent and committed to hard work in order to achieve academic success.
In his address, the Founder and Pro-Chancellor of PAMO
17, 000 Teachers Write Qualifying
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sony Echono, has harped on the need for quality delivery in the education sector.
Echono gave the charge at the 2021 Batch ‘A’ Professional Qualifying Examination for teachers, organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) in Abuja, last Saturday.
The TRCN conducted the examination for 17, 141 candidates in 43 centres across the nation.
He said that the Federal Government, in its effort to ensure an improved education system in the country, had put modalities in place to ensure quality delivery.
He said that one of the modalities was ensuring that teacher sat for the professional qualifying examination before qualifying to teach.
“With time, if you do not have this certification you are not a teacher. You do not have the right to practice.
“We have commenced the process of enforcing and implementing the policy that only qualified teachers would be allowed to teach in our schools across the country.
“We are starting with all the government schools then we move to private schools.
“Right now we are discussing with state governments and school proprietors to ensure this is done.
“This is because the single largest investment one can make for the future generation is ensuring that they get quality education,” he said.
He said that the introduction of technology in the sector, particularly in the writing of the teachers’ qualifying examination had ensured an improved process.
The permanent secretary stressed that, “this year there is additional innovation in terms of Information Technology (IT).
“We now have an application where even the process of verification of identity is done electronically.
“Our ultimate goal in education is to collaborate with relevant agencies.
“We have been doing this with the Ministry of Communication and other agencies that require data.
“We want a situation where from the point where a child registers in any primary school in this country up to death, you have your record.
“You can update it but you will not change your identity,” he said
He added that the database of all qualified teachers had been compiled as part of efforts to ensure only qualified teachers were allowed to teach.
According to him, there are qualified teachers that are not employed across the country, adding that no state had an excuse to keep unqualified teachers in their schools in view of that.
Echono assured teachers of the government’s commitment to ensuring better welfare for them.
He said, “One thing the Federal Government has done is to approve a new welfare package for teachers and this has been encouraging.
“People now want to return to teaching because the remuneration will be higher than the civil service scale and tenure longer than what the civil servant has.
“We have commenced the implementation of this.
“We are working closely with the Head of Service and the Salaries and Wages Commission in computing rural allowances, science allowances, hazard allowances and all of that.
“This is to ensure that teachers get their reward on earth and not in the hereafter.
“We are also working out modalities to ensure that teachers with special needs get required facilities to teach effectively.”
The Acting Director, Certification and Licencing, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Dr Jacinta Ametepe Ogboso, said the process was seamless across the centres nationwide.
She said that TRCN conducted the examination for 17, 141 candidates in 43 centres across the nation.
She added that of the 17,141, about 1, 300 candidates wrote the examination in Abuja.
“The examination went smoothly from all the centres, thanks to the use of technology.
“The technology is helping with accreditation online, helping with crowd control and impersonation.
“In terms of the number of registered candidates and performance, there is much improvement.
“It is a Computer Based Test (CBT) and when it was introduced there were challenges but today there is much improvement,” she said.
The acting director disclosed that the professional qualifying examination was always conducted in two or three batches, adding that the next batch would likely be in October.
Narrative Of Unsafe N’Delta, A Conspiracy Theory, Wike Alleges
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has accused international oil companies (IOCs) of being part to a conspiracy theory that the Niger Delta was unsafe in order not to relocate their corporate headquarters to the region.
The governor observed that so long as this kind of negative narrative geared at perpetuating injustice was not addressed, the country’s corporate existence and stability would continue to be threatened.
Wike made these assertions at the official commissioning of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) corporate headquarters, sitting on 126,060 square meters of land, in Port Harcourt, the River State capital, last Wednesday.
The NLNG head office is located at Amadi-Ama, on Peter Odili Road.
Wike noted that for several years, multinational oil companies and some vested interest groups have been promoting the negative narrative that Niger Delta was not safe to legitimise their sheer refusal to relocate their corporate head office to the region.
“If Rivers State is not safe, why will NLGN be operating in Rivers State, and have its headquarters in Rivers State? So, those proponents of insecurity, please, try to have a second thought. This state is safe. If the state is not safe, you cannot construct this edifice”, the governor said.
Wike commended the NLNG management for taking a bold step towards strengthening its relationship with the people of Rivers State.
He stated that NLNG’s presence in Port Harcourt City spoke volumes of the company’s respect for Rivers State people, adding that the decision by the company to construct its head office in the state showed that Rivers State was safe for business.
“I am here because NLNG has shown a lot of commitment and support for the host communities and the state. The company has done well and has set an example for other companies to emulate.
“I am happy with what the company has done for the host communities during the construction of the building. That is what is expected. It has a very good relationship with its hosts in Bonny, and in other parts of the state, and I believe it will continue to enjoy a hitch-free business in the state,” Wike said.
The governor said it was morally offensive for oil companies to continue to exploit oil and gas in the Niger Delta and locate their headquarters elsewhere in the country.
According to him, the claim that the Niger Delta was unsafe is not tenable.
“Understand that this conspiracy theory against the Niger Delta is a temporary thing. I can assure you, one day; everybody will come back to their operating base. Nobody can change it.”
Wike challenged the multinational companies to prove if Lagos and Abuja don’t have security issues as the rest of the country, today.
He maintained that the idea of flying in oil workers from Lagos to work in the Niger Delta, and then, fly them back, was detrimental to the nation’s economic wellbeing.
The governor commended NLNG for showing the right example by relocating its corporate headquarters to Rivers State, which is its operational base, and assured the management that the state government would continue to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Wike further thanked the company for funding the 40kilometers Bonny-Bodo Road project of which the Federal Government was expected to provide counterpart funding.
He said that it was unfair for the Federal Executive Council to approve over N780billion for the Abuja-Kano Highway, but refuse to provide counterpart funding of just N60billion for the Bonny-Bodo Road project.
“There is so much injustice in the country, and if you don’t correct it, there will continue to be problems. Injustice brings insecurity, whether you like it or not. When a people feel they are not part of the sharing of our national cake, what do you want them to do?”, Wike asked.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NLNG, Tony Attah, said the iconic edifice was intended to convey the company’s bold presence in Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta region.
According to Attah, the building and commissioning of the corporate head office, was in line with its vision of being a global LNG company, helping to build a better Nigeria.
He stated further that the corporate head office has made the company more visible, adding that the office was an unequivocal statement that NLNG remains a committed partner to the people of Rivers State in the sustainable development of the state.
“Nigeria LNG’s resolve to relocate its corporate head office from Lagos, where it was established from inception of its operation was a well thought-out decision that, among other things, demonstrates our strong bond of friendship with Port Harcourt and Rivers State, even as we reinforce our commitment to stand tall as a Nigerian brand in the global marketplace.
By this action, we also attest that Rivers State is not just the ‘Treasure Base of the Nation’ but the home of uncommon hospitality, which we have come to enjoy and reciprocate at every opportunity.
“Beyond building a head office for our business, the beautification of this once remote locality was also in our hearts when we started this project. Earlier in August, 2018, we had opened a part of this complex – an ultra-modern Transit Lounge – to enable a smooth and comfortable sail between our operating base on Bonny Island and the state capital.
“The construction of the facility was actually our first major step at transforming the shoreline, and since then, we have intensified our usual efforts at making the creek a viable waterway for meaningful human activities. Today, we can pride ourselves, even if modestly, as a beacon of modernity in this axis of Port Harcourt. But equally important, we hope that our presence will trigger positive developments in real estate and ancillary businesses in the area.
“The commissioning of this complex is coming at such an auspicious time in the life of Nigeria LNG, a time when we have astutely proven our self as an excellent and reliable player in the global LNG market, with 20 years record and still counting. Our doggedness towards achieving even more success in both the international market and the domestic energy sector has prompted the commencement of our Train 7 project, which has been avidly socialized among all critical stakeholders,” he said.
He stated that one of the signs of the company’s commitment to the people of Rivers State in the sustainable development of the state is the N120billion Bonny-Bodo Road, which NLNG was partly funding.
Attah added that some progress has been achieved in one of the most significant CSR initiatives by any single entity in the country, and that the 40-kilometre road would boost economic activities and ultimately better the lives of thousands of Nigerians in Rivers State.
He expressed delight that the company was driving Nigeria’s gas revolution and investing huge resources in human capacity development in its host communities.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; thanked the NLNG for playing a very crucial role in the country’s gas expansion project.
According to him, for decades, the NLNG has demonstrated commitment to the country’s aspiration to be a leading gas producer in the world.
Former managing director of NLNG, Chima Ibeneche, said he initiated the move to relocate the NLNG corporate headquarters from Lagos to Port Harcourt because it was just the right thing to do.
As part of the commissioning, the governor was led on a tour immediately after the ribbon-cutting by the Chairman of NLNG’s Board of Directors, Dr Edmund Daukoru; together with the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Tony Attah; Deputy Managing Director, Engr. Sadeeq Mai-Bornu; and other members of the company’s Senior Management Team.
The head office is a four-storey complex with cluster buildings occupying 76,000 square metres of land, and equipped with one board room, 121 office spaces, 51 meeting and huddle rooms, smart and ergonomic workstations, a library, a press centre and a crèche.
Other features of the office include a transit lounge for the company’s jetty, warehouse, a dedicated fire station, gym, two banking halls, an ATM gallery, and ample green area.
The governor had in 2015 flagged-off the construction of the building at its ground-breaking ceremony.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders; namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%); Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%); Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15%); and Eni International N.A. N. V. S.àr. l (10.4%).
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