The Rivers State Inter-ministerial Committee on Covid-19 would partner the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the disposal of healthcare waste in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, stated this, yesterday, when a NESREA delegation, led by its South-South Director, Mr Jacob Ayuba, paid a courtesy visit on the Inter-ministerial Committee in Port Harcourt.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Nsirim, who is the chairman, stated the committee’s readiness to partner with the agency in ensuring that healthcare wastes, which are products of the fight against the Coronavirus, were properly disposed to prevent further infection of the virus.
According to him, the committee “will be willing to partner with NESREA in designing enlightenment materials that would sensitise our people as it relates to the guidelines on disposal of infectious wastes”.
Responding to commendations by the NESREA boss to Rivers State regarding the successful model of checking Coronavirus infection, Nsirim explained that the success recorded thus far by the state was the manifestation of the visionary leadership of the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
“His Excellency is a very visionary leader: he was the first to close borders in the country, he was the first to sign Executive Order, and just a few days ago, he signed another Executive Order, which will now set up border patrol for the state, to compliment the efforts of security agencies.
“As a government, one can proudly say that we are really putting in our best in the containment of the virus”, he said.
Nsirim, however, explained that the committee would need a guide regarding what assistance the agency requires of the committee.
“We’ll wait for you to give us content in this direction, so that in the next one week or so, we would be able to develop radio/TV jingles, and maybe fliers that we’ll begin to give out to all the various stakeholder groups in the state. That is one assurance we’re giving you. We’ll also say to you that as a committee, we’re open for more ideas in this direction. Whatever ideas you have as an agency, you can bring forth to us”, he said.
Assuring the agency of the state government’s support, the commissioner said, “His Excellency has shown, as a leader, that he’s a man that is dear to our lives, a patriot. He’s giving all federal agencies in this state all the support they require. I’m sure NESREA will not be an exception.
“We thank you for coming, and we’re looking forward to working together to make Rivers State safe, because His Excellency’s goal this period is to make Rivers State safe for everybody living and doing business here”, the information boss stated.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the South-South Director, NESREA, Mr Jacob Ayuba, had explained that the reason for their visit was to commend the committee and the state government over steps taken so far to prevent Coronavirus infection in the state, and to compliment efforts being made with guidelines for healthcare waste disposal.
“On behalf of my Director-General (DG), who had directed us to visit the relevant stakeholders, of which you’re the main contact organisation/committee, that is serving to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread, I want to commend your effort and the good job you are doing.
“He said we should come and commend you, and also encourage you to do more. In whatever area the agency can assist, we will. This is because, from our mandate, we want to ensure that all necessary regulations and laws are complied with, especially when it comes to sanitation issues”, he said.
Ayuba added that, “as a committee, you have done a good job from the statistics we’ve received, that the spread is not as expected. We thank you for your efforts. If not for your efforts in awareness campaign and the effort of His Excellency, the governor of the state, we wouldn’t have recorded the present feat.
“That’s why the spread has not been increasing. We want to thank God for you on the field, because without you, we couldn’t have achieved this feat the state has achieved.
“The purpose we’re here is just to let you know the guidelines…. We have a draft of the regulation of healthcare waste, a regulation that is national. It’s still in draft form… With the Covid-19 ravaging the whole world, the agency felt we should quickly come out with some guidelines, seeing what has been happening around us”, he stated.
He further stressed that in disposing infectious wastes arising from Covid-19, “…we observed that these healthcare wastes have not been properly disposed of. We also found out that most of the healthcare waste managers are not properly kitted with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It’s for this purpose that the agency came up with a draft on safety infectious waste, coupled with another guideline that is very germane too”.
In addition, Ayuba noted increasing manufacture of hand sanitizers by those who are not knowledgeable in the chemical components therein, adding that because of their lack of skills, some have come up with inflammable sanitizers that have proven to be hazardous.
“Consequently, we felt that people using chemicals as disinfectants should be properly guided both in usage and handling, and at the end of the day, how they dispose of these wastes arising from using.
“It has to be properly discharged in a container, not just being discharged anyhow. This is why the agency came up with specific guidelines on how these healthcare wastes can be properly disposed of”, he said.
Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a copy of the guidelines for healthcare waste disposal to the commissioner.
Other members of the Inter-ministerial Committee present were the Commissioners of Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuno, and his Chieftaincy and Community Affairs counterpart, Barrister Olisaeloka Tasie-Amadi.
The NESREA delegation also included the state Coordinator, Mr Jonathan Dajal; Head, Air Pollution Control and Sanitation, Mrs Ibiene Iwuoha; Head, Public Affairs, Mrs Bio Ikuru; Head, Air Pollution and Vehicular Emissions, Mr Ernest Uwakwe; and Scientific Officer, Mr Chinedu Kelechi.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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