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Bayelsa Govt Set To Pay COVID-19 Hazard Allowances …Sues Health Workers’ Cooperation

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Bayelsa State Government has indicated willingness to pay special allowances to frontline health workers combating the novel COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Governor Douye Diri gave the indication yesterday at a meeting with representatives of labour unions including the Nigerian Medical Association,NMA and the Association of Resident Doctors,ARD in Government House, Yenagoa.

Other unions who were part of the meeting includes the Nigeria Labour Congress,NLC ,Trade Union Congress, TUC,NANNMW,National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria,PSN and the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSN.

The Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, reassured health workers of the present administration’s commitment to giving priority attention to their welfare and other challenges affecting healthcare delivery in the state.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Deputy Governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, said government was prepared to pay the COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances

effective from April 2020 when the state recorded its index case.

Governor Diri, however, pointed out that the state does not have the financial capacity to adopt the Federal Government’s template for implementing the payment due to the steady decline in its revenues.

On the issue of skipping for medical doctors, Senator Diri assured that government would implement the policy as soon as modalities were worked out by the committee handling it.

He therefore urged the labour unions to show understanding by prevailing on their members to accept the well considered position of the state Government.

“Health issues will never be at the tail of this administration. Rather, they will be on the front burner and occupy a very prominent place as far as we are concerned”,he said.

“Our team has had useful discussions with yours. Our position which we are appealing to you seriously to consider is that, we will pay only the frontline health workers who are directly engaged in the COVID-19 response”, he added.

“And our position is not in isolation. It is a position we know quite a number of states are

working on. Federal Government can afford to do anything because it has less responsibility but more money.On skipping, the Head of Service, Hospital Management Board, the Ministry of Health and officials of the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital are working hard to get the final figures. We take it seriously because we believe that our doctors should not be treated differently from other doctors in the country”,he noted.

Earlier, the State Chairman of NMA, Dr Peter Alabrah and President, Association of Resident Doctors, Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital Okolobiri Chapter, Dr Oru Inetsol had urged government to pay the special allowance to all health workers in the state.

On their part, the Head of Service, Mrs Biobelemoye Charles-Onyema and Technical Adviser on Treasury, Accounts and Revenue, Mr Timipre Seipulou, called on the unions to come up with more  feasible options for Government to consider at the next meeting later this week.

Others who made contributions include the Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Governor’s Office, Barr. Alex Dumbo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Inodu Apoku and the Chief Medical Director, NDUTH, Prof Dimie Ogoina.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa, UK Seek Investment Partnership

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has promised that his administration would provide and guarantee the enabling environment for United Kingdom investments in the state.
Governor Diri gave the pledge last Monday when he met with the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs. Catriona Laing, in Abuja.
He requested the envoy to pave the way for British investments in the state in the areas of agriculture, transportation, education, maritime, aquaculture, ICT amongst others.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the relationship between the UK and Bayelsa predated the creation of Nigeria, which was further consolidated by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Otuabagi, a community in the state, by Shell in February 1956.
He however noted that despite Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) being one of the leading oil companies in the state and the long history of economic relations with the UK, Bayelsa had nothing to show as there was no other investment from UK companies in the state.
Diri sought the UK government’s support and collaboration to establish a skills acquisition centre in the state that would train and empower women and youths in carpentry, refrigeration, solar power assembly, fashion designing and masonry.
Other areas are farming techniques for high-yield crops production, aquaculture, ICT as well as mechanical/electrical training.
“With Bayelsa occupying a major portion of Nigeria’s 853-kilometre coastline, the government intends to concentrate on fishery development, particularly deep-sea fishing.Bayelsa State has the best potential in Nigeria for the production of rice, cassava, yam, plantain, banana and palm produce. Our government is therefore embarking on a massive programme to train our youths in modern form of agriculture in order engage them in productive activities and divert them away from militancy, restiveness and criminal activities”, he said
“Bayelsa remains one of the main crude oil and gas production states both onshore and offshore. The state provides the best setting for oil and gas investment. About 60 per cent of Nigeria’s gas reserve is in Bayelsa and the government has resolved to create the best incentives and operating environment for all British investors through Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, he added.
Governor Diri also solicited support for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship to Bayelsa students as well as inter-city collaboration with either the city of London, Liverpool or Manchester in order to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure, urban planning and waste management.
“I equally seek grants from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support the state government’s urban renewal efforts in the provision of potable water, rural electrification, construction of schools/learning materials. We are aware that the FCDO’s Overseas Development Assistance through the Conflict Overseas Stability and Security Fund programme worked through the Social Democtatic Network, an NGO, in some communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state to carry out rice farming, which was successful. But this stopped since March 2020 and we wish to request that it resumes, this time, with collaboration with the state government for better results and continuity”, the governor noted.
He commended the envoy for the warm reception and presented a copy of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission (BSOEC) and an overview of its work, which he said highlighted the challenges Bayelsa people faced from decades of degradation of their environment.
In her brief response, the UK High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, thanked Governor Diri for the visit, saying the mission encouraged collaboration with states and organisations that border on mutual interests.
Laing said the UK was interested in the economic development of Bayelsa, particularly in the area of sustainable agriculture and other areas that the governor highlighted.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

Police Arrest Two, Recover 44 Phones, Others In Delta

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The Delta State Police Command has arrested suspected cell phone snatchers in two separate operations in the state.
The command’s acting spokesman, DSP Edafe Bright, announced this to newsmen yesterday in Warri.
He said that one of the suspects identified as Bernard Aloba, was arrested on June 7 by operatives of the Safer Highway Patrol team of the command on the Warri-Sapele road.
“On June 7, 2021 while men of the Safer Highway Patrol team were on stop and search duty on the Warri-Sapele Road”, intercepted one passenger bus of the first suspect simply identified as Amusa.
“On searching the bus and the owner, 20 cell phones, three laptops suspected to have been stolen and one bullet proof material were recovered from a suspect,” he said.
The police spokesman said that investigation was ongoing.
Bright said that the second suspect, Iliyasu Hamzat was nabbed on June 20.
He explained that Hamzat was arrested by men of the Safer Highway Patrol team while on a stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani axis of the East-West road.
“On June 20, 2021 at about 1500hrs, while on stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani road, intercepted a commercial vehicle.
“While search was on, one of the passengers whose name and address is unknown suddenly jumped into the bush and escaped.
“On searching his luggage, 24 android phones of different makes was recovered.
“However, one of his gang members, Hamzat who kept calling the suspect’s phone to find out what is delaying the delivery of the stolen phones was tactically lured and arrested by the police,” he said.
Bright said that the police have launched a manhunt for the fleeing suspect.

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Tribunal Affirms Victory Of Senator Odey

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The Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has upheld the victory of Dr. Stephen Odey, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared on December 6, 2020, as the senator representing Cross River North senatorial district at the National Assembly.
The tribunal also demised the petition filed by Joe Agi, SAN, praying the tribunal to upturn the result of the Cross River North senatorial election in his favour, claiming that he is the authentic winner of the contest, having come second in the contest since, according to Agi, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, didn’t have a candidate in the election.
Recall that Agi had approached the tribunal to upturn the election result in his favour and declare him the winner, given the fact that the PDP, the 3rd respondent and INEC, the 4th respondent in the petition, presented two candidates in the elections.
But delivering its judgment, the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Yusuf Ubole Muhammad in suit No: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, squashed Agi’s petition and uphold the result of INEC, which declared Dr Stephen Odey as the winner, stressing that Odey, the PDP candidate participated in all the stages of the senatorial contest, and scored the highest votes.
The three-man tribunal, which had as other members Hon. Justice s John Olajide Abe and Gilbert Ngele, averred that Odey, who participated in all the stages of the elections scored 129,207 votes, against his APC petitioner Barr. Agi, who scored 19,105 votes in the said senatorial election, is still the winner of the election.
The Director-General, Cross River State Due Process, Mr. Alphonsus Ogar Eba, while reacting to the judgment at the court premises said, “I am very happy, but happier, because God has come in human form to show Himself in this judgment that has just been delivered.”
Ogar stated that the good thing about the judgment delivered is the fact that the action of INEC on the 18th of December, 2020 which was the plank on which the second respondent, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has been hinging on, has been declared by the tribunal as a jiggery pockery, stressing that he doesn’t know what those who had never been pleased from the time Odey was declared winner would do.
He described the journey of political opponents as vain expectation, stressing that Odey’s persecutors have stamina and energy for trouble.
He opined that that probably is the reason why the tribunal found no reason to upturn the election result against Odey, who he described as winner of the contest.
He said: “What the court has said today was that the petition Agi (SAN) filed, saying that the PDP had no candidate was not true at all.
“That court found here today that Senator Dr. Stephen Adie Odey was the candidate that was dully sponsored, who participated in all the stages of the election, and was declared winner on the 6th and everything that was done there was perfect and court could not find any reason to upturn that.
“It also went further to say that, because the second respondent Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe’s, name was not forwarded, he did not participate, everything he did was just a nullity and of no avail”.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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