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Kidnapping: Traders Close Down Shops In C’River

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Traders under the aegis of Calabar Traders Union have persistently closed down their shops and markets stalls for two days running in protest over incessant kidnap of their members even as the Cross River State Government has threatened the arrest and prosecution of those who attempt to coerce traders to shut down their shops.
Our correspondent gathered that the latest kidnap of Chief Jude Odinka, who has been in the kidnappers’ dens for the past two months, may have constrained the traders to take the action. They lamented that over 18 of their members have been kidnapped in the last 10 months.
In a chat with Journalists, the Vice President, Electrical Dealers & Allied Product, Akparawa David Esien, said traders have become easy targets.
His words, “we are closing our shops, shades and markets including timber markets, spare parts market/shops, electrical stores amongst others for two days to protest the incessant kidnap of our members.
“We laud the government’s efforts at demolishing houses of kidnappers but the state government must rise up and take the bull by its horn.
We can no longer keep quiet because our members are suffering, some of these traders use loans while some get goods from importers on credit and pay back after selling them.
“But due to the ransom they pay to these criminals, they have become perpetual debtors because it seems they now work for the kidnappers.
Some have paid as high as N7million. We are appealing to Gov Ayade and the police to come to our aid.”
The Chairman, Building Materials Traders Association, Calabar, Festus Mbanu, on his part, said “This is our way of letting the authorities know that most of us no longer go to our shops or business places, because you don’t know if you are the next target. They kidnap us on a daily basis now.
“No one is spared, both male and female. Once you are perceived to be able to pay, you are picked up and you are forced to pay the ransom  for your release. A lot of shops and businesses have packed up already because of this ugly trend,” he lamented.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Spare Parts Dealers Association, Obi Ajuluchukwu, said “some of my members have been kidnapped more than once; even a pregnant woman and many others are still in their dens.

“Over 25 of my members have relocated to Akwa Ibom state. Calabar is no longer safe as it used to be. The two day shutdown is a warning strike. Government should declare a state of emergency on security,” he enthused.
It would be recalled that government had earlier warned against the strike, saying that it would arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons under any guise seen obstructing any trader from opening his/her shop.
A press release signed by the Permanent Secretary, Governor’s Office, Dr Alfred Mboto, read in part: “the attention of the Cross River State Government has been drawn to a plan by some members of Igbo traders  union in the Calabar metropolis to force their members to close their shops for two days with effect from Monday, June 22, 2020.

“Government is also aware of the threat of a N50,000 surcharge by the union on any Igbo trader who opens his or her shop for business within the two days. Their plan is unacceptable to government and government will do everything within her power and the law to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons under any guise seen obstructing any Igbo trader from opening his/her shop for business in the state on Monday, June 22, 2020 and Tuesday, June 23, 2020.”
Mboto charged traders to disregard the call for strike and advised the striking traders “to encourage the state government on the on-going war against kidnappers, cultists, drug trades, arm robbers and other illegal operations in the state.”
But, the situation on ground indicated the traders did not heed the advice, our correspondent reports.
From Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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FRSC Decries The Deplorable State Of Roads In C’River

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has decried the deplorable states of roads in Cross River State.
Chatting with correspondents in Calabar, the State Acting Sector Commander, Benedict Akunne lamented the state of roads at Odukpani junction in particular.
Akunne said, “presently we are having a pathetic gridlock along Odukpani junction. It is terrible, the place is too bad and today I have dropped a letter to the government of Cross River State, pleading to help us work on the deplorable state of the road so that this traffic gridlock will be over.
“One of our responsibilities or mandates in FRSC is to locate bad spots on the road and communicate with relevant authorities about the bad spot and urge them to come and effect repairs. We have an outpost at Odukpani but what is happening there is terrible, what is happening there overwhelmed our men, we have to move our men from other areas to ensure that traffic congestion and grid-lock is reduced,” Akunne stated.
The Acting Sector Commander explained that the new normal the FRSC has put in place after the lockdown was the reintroduction of Mobile Court in full force.
“The Mobile Court operation will be in full force, we are set to go out to the road because we don’t want people to die anymore. We will move from park to park and ensure that every driver obey the protocol, washing of hands, wearing of facial mask, sanitizing and fumigation of motor parks,” he said.
He said that there was no gain stating the obvious that road traffic crashes are on the increase in some part of Nigeria even here in Cross River State and now that the ban on the interstate travels has been lifted.

According to the FRSC boss, “the first thing we will do is to check how we will stem the rising tide of road traffic crashes, known fully well that people have been hungry, people have been indoors, people have not been travelling and now the roads have been opened, we will experience a whole lot of travels,” he stressed.

“We must ensure that there is social distancing, we will also ensure that people that are entering the vehicles do not contact coronavirus just because they want to travel,” he stressed.
From Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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COVID-19: No Resumption Date Yet For Schools, Says Bayelsa Ministry Of Education …Warns Private Schools Proprietors, Commences e-Learning

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Permanent Secretary Bayelsa state Ministry of Education,comrade Walton Liverpool says no date has been slated for the resumption of schools in the state.

Liverpool hinted The Tide this during an interview held with him in Yenagoa.

According to him,that the Federal Government has slated part reopening of schools for 3rd August is not a yardstick that the state must do so.

He noted that due to the peculiar nature of the state in terms of having more far-flung communities in all the Local Government Areas,the Government is being meticulous in resuming schools without adequate preparations, saying that before doing so the state Government through the Ministry of Education would work out appropriate and sustainable modalities to ensuring that Covid-19 is contained in the Education sector within the requisite National centre for disease control,NCDC stipulated guidelines.

Liverpool restated his commitment towards ensuring an unimpeded school curricular,emphasizing that the Ministry has since introduced various e-learning platforms comprising the social and electronic media to

cushion the learning deficit occasioned by the pandemic.

While reacting to the recent feud between the State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers,NUT and the Academic staff union of secondary schools,ASUSS the Education Permanent Secretary who served as the pioneer state chairman of the NUT berated ASUSS,saying they took the laws in their hands.

He described ASUSS as an association and not a registered trade union,advising that they desist from further parading themselves as such,just as he restated that under his leadership in NUT years ago a similar splinter group sprung up, reassuring however,that there was a solution to the problem which can still be applied today to amicably resolve the lingering issues rather than parade as a splinter group.

“We’ve not taken a date to resume schools in the state.Even though the Federal Government has taken and again reordered,due to our peculiar problems we’ve not slated any date”, he said.

“Before we reopen we would have to provide measures to containing the spread in and amongst our schools”, he added.

“But to bridge the learning vacuum created by

Covid-19 the Education Ministry has commenced e-learning programmes on different social media platforms and on Radio too for schools and students in both primary and secondary schools in the state”, he stated.

“For ASSUS, my advise for them is that they stop parading themselves as a trade union henceforth.They’re an Association under the NUT and not a trade union as they claim. I’ve been the NUT state chairman and I know this very well” he concluded.

Meanwhile in a press statement made available to The Tide by the Ministry,the permanent secretary has warned owners and the management of private schools in the state to desist from resuming schools.

The pioneer State NUT chairman restated that even though the West African Examinations council has fixed 3rd August and 5th September as the date for the commencement and rounding up of the 2020 WASSCE the schools in the state may not resume until the state is certified fit by the NCDC to reopen schools.

In another development it seems not yet Uhuru with the proposed schools reopening date in Nigeria as the Federal Government has again reordered its earlier decision on the resumption

date.

In the same vein there are indications that in consonance with dissenting opinions on a possible resumption date as earlier expressed by some state Governments and stakeholders in the Education sector, the Federal Government may no longer be willing to permit Nigeria’s participation in the regional examinations this year following the resurgence of more cases of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tide learnt that the Federal Ministry of Education has expressed concerns on the safety of Nigerian students when schools are resumed amidst rising number of the Coronavirus infections in the country.

You would be recalled that penultimate week the Federal Government announced August 3rd as the resumption date of schools in Nigeria, while the West African Examinations council,WAEC also followed suit by giving 3rd  August through 5th September as dates for kick-starting and ending up of this year’s WASSCE.

Inset:comrade Walton Liverpool, PS Bayelsa state Ministry of Education.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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LG Service Commission Chairman Calls For Recognition Of RDAs, Creation Of More LGAs For Bayelsa State

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Acting Chairman, Bayelsa state Local Government service commission, Barr Uroh Omiekumo Kiani says the 8 local government status of the state remains a ploy by the Nigerian Government to continue marginalising the people of the state in Governance.

Kiani stated this on Tuesday while fielding questions on prospects and challenges of the state local Government service commission with The Tide in Yenagoa.

The legal practitioner and administrator stressed the need for the recognition of the existing 32 rural development authorities,RDAs in the state and creation of more Local governments, saying that when this is done the state would also be receiving more funding from the Federal Government, as according to him outside the usual 13% derivation formular that is employed by the Federal Government in sharing revenue between the states,Federal and Local governments in the nation, the number of Local Governments in a state is also used as a parameter to make allocations.

He added that over the years efforts by the state’s national Assembly caucus and other sympathisers to effect changes in the number of Local governments in the state has proved

abortive due to parochialism in the nation’s politics.

“Given the opportunity I’ll move for the recognition of the existing 32 RDAs in the state as local governments and ask for the creation of more”, he said.

“But the Nigeria system,our constitution has made it very difficult,because all the existing 774 LGAs in the country are listed in the constitution. So to create more you’ll have to amend that provision of the constitution”,he added.

“Our National Assembly members over the years have been helpless,that is because in Nigeria given the chance every state would want to ask for more just because Bayelsa is asking to be treated well in the number if recognised LGAs”, he restated.

The Local government service commission boss who also spoke on the welfare of staff in the various RDAs and councils ares of the state noted that the last time recruitment exercise was done in the Local Government system in the state was in 2012,emphasizing that the recruitment of staff for the LGAs by the commission is restricted to grade levels 7 and above,just as he pointed out that the junior staff recruitment committee of the unified Local

governments.

Inset: Barr.Uroh Omiekumo Kiani,Ag.Chairman Bayelsa state LG service commission.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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