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COVID-19: Interministarial Committee Takes Enlightenment Campaign To Religious Leaders

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The Rivers State Inter-Ministarial Committee on COVID-19 Enlightenment on Sunday, commenced another phase of its campaign with a focus on religious organisations, beginning with Churches.
Addressing volunteers to the campaign at the State Secretariate Complex, Chairman of the Committee, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, charged the volunteers to take this phase of the campaign as serious as they had taken the previous one.
Nsirim, who is also the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, stated that the need to embark on this phase of the campaign is necessitated by the revelation that many people are not adhering to the COVID-19 prevention advisories of wearing face mask and social distancing.
Recalling that the State Governor noted this in his last State broadcast, the Chairman said the Governor “lamented that people in the State are not observing the protocols of social distancing and wearing of face mask.

“The danger”, he continued, “is that if we don’t adhere to these protocols, we may likely enter community transmission of coronavirus in the state”.

 

Consequently, he explained, “We are going to be doing targeted sensitization. The three Sundays that we have in this month we will use to sensitize churches, and on Fridays, we will also do targeted sensitization to Muslim community”.
He further explained the importance of reaching religious leaders in the fight against the coronavirus, saying they are strategically placed to reach a considerable population.
According to him, the churches and mosques are very important because “the religious leaders wield a lot of influence. Members of their congregation listen to the things that they say. If we are able to get the churches to begin to observe the protocols, we are going to get to a greater number, a greater population in the society”.
He, therefore, charged the volunteers to go beyond the jingles currently being aired by the Committee in delivering COVID-19 enlightenment messages to interfacing with the people, noting that they shouldn’t add the role of enforcement to their assignment.
“As you interface with people, you must be wearing your face mask very well. Don’t put it under your chin.
“You are not an enforcement team. Don’t go and give yourself the power of enforcing the wearing of face mask. Don’t go and harass people that are not wearing face mask. Don’t go and assault people that are not wearing face mask. Your duty is purely enlightenment and sensitization.
“When you see people who are not wearing face mask, you enlighten them on the importance of wearing face mask. We don’t want to hear that any member of this team went and entered into any form of altercation”, he charged.
While assuring them of immeasurable rewards accruable from selfless service to humanity, the Chairman also reminded them of the innate desire of the the State Governor, which is ultimately to make Rivers State safe, as far as COVID-19 is concerned.
“Anyone that is called to do patriotic duty needs to understand that the crux of the matter is that you are here to save lives, and for you to save lives, you must have the passion to render selfless service. It’s important that I underscore that fact”, he said.

Responding on behalf of the volunteers, one of the Team Leaders, Adata Brown, assured that they will do their best to ensure that Rivers

people get the required message to enhance their safety from the virus.
“We want to say we are going to put in our best, we are going to work and make the governor of the state proud, and to make the whole Rivers State proud”, she said.
Other members of the Inter-Ministarial Committee present were the Commissioner’s of Environment, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, and Youth: Dr Igbiks’ Tamuno, Barr Olisaeloka Tasie-Amadi, and Prince Ohia respectively.

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Money We’re Spending On Cancer Hospital Justified -Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that the money his administration is spending on the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in the state is not a misplaced priority.
The governor made the assertion, yesterday, when he visited the project site at Rumuokuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, to inspect the progress of work done already.
Wike said that no amount of money spent in putting in place facilities that will secure the health of all residents in the state will be considered a waste.
“I’m very happy that the money we have spent here is not a misplaced priority. The healthcare of our people is important to us.
“It will save the time people travel overseas for cancer treatment. I think it will be something every Nigerians will be happy with. Here will be like a tourist centre. It has helipad, and doctors’ quarters. In case of emergency, they will fly in helicopter to this place and doctors who stay here will attend to them.”
The governor explained that the State government decided to build doctors’ quarters within the precincts of the Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre so that no doctor will claim he is unable to attend to patients timely, particularly in emergency situations, because of distance of where he stays to the hospital.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the pace of work done in view of the gigantic nature of the project and the difficult topography that requires massive piling.
“We have confidence in Julius Berger and having come here today, I think they are on schedule. We are happy with the level of work.
“It’s not a job you must rush. They are taking their time to make sure they give the citizens of the state the best and to Nigerians in general.
“You knows it is a specialist hospital, the first of its kind in this country. We are quite comfortable and confident that by end of July 2022, they would have handed over this very important project to the State.”
The Regional Manager of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, Juergen Fischer, said they are conscious of the promise they have made to the governor to deliver the project as agreed.
Already, he noted, the milestone achieved has surpassed what was initially expected because they have done ground piling and concluded the critical baseline underground structural work done.
“You can be sure that by the end of July as we promised his excellency, we will deliver this hospital. We are a little bit ahead of schedule even in the rainy season.”

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US Lawmakers Stop $875m Defence Equipment Sale To Nigeria

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The United States lawmakers are holding down a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria amid mounting concerns about President Muhammadu Buhari government’s human rights record as it grapples with multiple security crises.
US lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have reportedly delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military.
The deal is worth $875million, according to US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale includes 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine.
A report by ‘Foreign Policy’, last Tuesday, said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful US lawmakers want to push President Joseph Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that Buhari is drifting toward authoritarianism as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including the Boko Haram insurgency.
But Western governments and international human rights organisations have ramped up their criticisms of the Buhari regime, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on #EndSARS protesters, last October.
The Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to ‘Foreign Policy’ on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then-former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has just received six out of the 12 Tucano jet fighters purchased from the US Government.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military, and whether the military is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
Administration officials say they are tired of regular efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms sales to some countries.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” the Director of the Africa Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, Judd Devermont, said.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.
“There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, said.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organizations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now,” Ewang said.
“The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

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Nigerians Waiting To Elect PDP In 2023, Atiku Claims

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The former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar says Nigerians are waiting eagerly for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to take over power at the federal level in 2023.
Speaking to journalists at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Atiku said his meeting with the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was fruitful.
Atiku explained that party affairs brought him to Port Harcourt, and he had spent the time reconciling touching issues with the governor.
According to him, the issues bother on how to ensure unity and stability in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), that are critical for the party in clinching electoral victory in 2003.
“Well, I came here to reconcile with the governor on party affairs and how we can ensure that there is unity and stability in the party, so, that we can take over government in 2023. I believe that Nigerians can’t wait for 2023 to come, so that PDP will return.”
Speaking on the current insecurity challenges that have overwhelmed the capability of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, Atiku described the prevailing situation in the country as bad.
He urged Nigerians to wait for the appropriate time when PDP shall unveil its policies on how it wants to address the issue of insecurity across the country.
“I have never seen it (insecurity) this bad. I am 70 years plus, I have never seen it this bad in terms of security challenges, in terms of economy, in terms of unemployment. This is the worst.
“Why can’t you give us time? We will come up with our policies. We will present them to Nigerians when the time comes.
“We have done that before. Under PDP, we recorded the highest economic growth, the best foreign reserves, we reduced unemployment. You know that we can do it”.
The former vice president also acknowledged the tremendous leadership success recorded by Wike, who he described as a topmost governor among his peers in the party.
“I think he (Wike) is the topmost governor we have in the party. There is no doubt about that in terms of projects, youth empowerment and employment; in terms of security. Yes, we have security challenges all over the country.”
He further commended the governor for his outstanding leadership and sterling performance in office.

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