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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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Headcount: NPC Commences Update Of Database In C’River

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The National Population Commission (NPC) says it has commenced an update on Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State, in preparation for the national headcount which could come up in the first quater of 2022.
Federal Commissioner representing the State on the Board of the NPC, Navy Captain Charles Ongwa, in a press conference in Calabar, said pre-census trial test conducted by the commission threw up some issues in Calabar Municipality, partly because the methods used during the initial phase of the EAD were manual.
He explained that satellite imagery platforms, geo-referencing and other latest applications for data and population capturing would be used this time around and that the exercise is scheduled between July 28 and the last week of August, 28 days to be precise.
“We are doing an update of the EAD in Calabar Municipality. The Commission undertook a pre-census trial test and it brought out Calabar Municipality as the only LGA in Cross River State which we should conduct updates.
“What informed the choice of that LGA is because when the EAD was done in Calabar Municipality, it was manual. The pre-test was to see whether the manual method used and the new scientific method would align and be effective during the census proper.
“The Commission decided that all the phases which were done manually in Calabar Municipality will run and be updated scientifically so that we would not have the challenge recorded during the pre-test. It is not a fresh enumeration. Other States are doing similar thing in those LGAs which the pre-test threw up,” he said.
The Commissioner disclosed that after the completion of the EAD and updates in some LGAs across the country, what would be left would be for President Muhammadu Buhari to make a proclamation for the census to be conducted.
He said the international communities, including the United Nations, were mounting pressures on the country to conduct a head count since the last census was done 16 years ago as against the internationally recommended ten years period for new census to ascertain the true population of a country.
Also speaking, the State Director of the NPC, Mr Billy Bassey Eteng, believed that when the exercise is completed, the country would be happy for it.
He therefore, solicited cooperation from residents of Calabar Municipality and indeed all Nigerians to support the exercise to succeed.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Police Retirees Decry Poor Management Of Pension Scheme

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Retired police officers under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have faulted the poor and inefficient management of the retirement programme in the country.
They disclosed this in a release made available in Calabar and signed by its 16 states Chapter Chairmen alongside four others.
Titled “Retired Police Officers Under Contributory Pension Scheme Applauded No One,” the group noted that Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has denied police retirees of periodic increment of their monthly pension.
The retirees explained that the recently announced consequential adjustment of pension allowance by the federal government in line with section 173(3) of the constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria (as amended) did not include police retirees under CPS.
The release read in part: “No police retiree under CPS who has been exposed to the highest level of frustration and abandonment after suffering to keep the peace of this nation, will ever applaud those who have seized their terminal benefits to run a private profit making business in which the owners of the money (police retirees) are not stakeholders.
“It is unthinkable that police officers who enlisted into the force under Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) and had served this nation up to pensionable years before the introduction of CPS could be coerced into a system that has robbed them of their entitlements.
“The group wondered why “Service Chiefs in other Agencies and the leadership of other organisations are working to better the living standard of their serving and retired personnel, while the police leadership is conspiring with the NPF Pensions Limited to cheat police retirees.”
”The approval of 2.5 percent by the President is not a favour done to anybody as it is the entitlement of the employee that is due the employee following the review of employer and the employee rate of contribution,” adding that, “the propaganda of 300 percent special gratuity for retired police officers awaiting the President’s approval is too old a story to be repeated after four years.”
They also frowned at the denial of the 300 percent annual basic salary and the 80 percent monthly basic salary as gratuity and monthly pension on retirement.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Alleged N3bn Diversion: Absence Of Defence Counsel Stalls Whistle Blower’s Trial

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The absence of defence counsel to a former General Manager of Radio Bayelsa, John Idumange, who raised an alarm over alleged diversion of N3 billion Agric loan by government officials was yesterday stalled at a Bayelsa High Court.
When the case was called for hearing, the prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Bayelsa, Mrs Iyobosa Apulu, noted that the bench warrant issued on the defendant, Idumange, ought to be issued against his surety.
She urged the court to issue another bench warrant on the defendant’s surety, to produce his client in court.
“We do not know the whereabouts of the defendant, who was previously on bail before the case was transfered to this court.
“But his surety can be traced and that is why we want the bench warrant be issued against the surety, to prevail on him to produce the defendant in court,” Iyobosa said.
The court had on July 19 issued a bench warrant authorising the arrest of Idumange, whose counsel, Ebikebuna Aluzu, had informed the court that the defendant was involved in an accident and was hospitalised.
Justice Iniekenimi Uzakah subsequently adjourned the matter until September 10.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa, Biriyai Sambo, (SAN) had filed a suit against Idumange for misdemeanour and seditious publications against government officials.
Reports had it that a Magistrates’ Court had on March 11 in Yenagoa, ordered Idumange’s detention for 30 days, pending police investigation.
Idumange, who alleged that officials of Bayelsa government had diverted a N3 billion Agric loan and subsequently submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was arrested on March 10.
Some officials of the state government had reported to the police that Idumange had made seditious publications that maligned their persons in his claims.
However, the State High Court, Sagbama Division, granted bail to Idumange, who was also an aide on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to former Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson.
The Tide reports that the case, earlier assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro, was reassigned to Justice Uzakah.

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