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We’re Prepared For Schools’ Resumption, RSG Assures

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The Rivers State Government has assured parents, guardians and students in the state that it was fully prepared for the resumption of schools for exit classes in line with the Federal Government and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) COVID-19 guidelines.
The state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, gave the assurance while meeting with staff of the ministry in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, to brief them on the preparations for schools’ resumption in the state.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had, last Monday, announced that secondary school students in the exit classes would resume on Tuesday, August 4.
He enjoined the ministry staff to work assiduously to ensure successful reopening of schools, noting that all hands must be on deck to achieve successful resumption and safe operations of schools.
Ebeku said: “all necessary hygiene kits needed for the safe resumption of schools will be deployed to all public schools”, disclosing that the ministry will also deploy its staff “to ensure strict compliance with the wearing of nose masks and other COVID-19 hygiene protocols within the school premises”.
The commissioner said “there will be a team that will be going around enforcing the compulsory wearing of face masks at the entrance gates, around the schools and in the classrooms.”
He disclosed that the ministry, with support from the state Ministry of Health, will make provision for a sick-bay or nursing stations with first-aid boxes in all schools to facilitate immediate response to emergency cases in schools, and added that the “ministry shall provide hand sanitizers, buckets with running water and infrared thermometers for temperature checks which will be placed at the entrance gates and at the front of each classroom.”
Ebeku emphasised that all schools must ensure strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines, noting that a task force comprising officials of health and education ministries as well as security agencies would be constituted and deployed to monitor compliance and enforcement of extant Coronavirus protocols.
The commissioner explained that the state government was working ahead to ensure a seamless reopening of schools to allow students writing their external examinations to start revision classes.
However, the National Association of Parents of Private Schools Students (NAPPSS), Rivers State chapter has restated its readiness to support the state government’s plan to reopen schools in the state.
The President of the association, Mr Ovie Chukwu, who stated this in Port Harcourt, said the association would support government guidelines with a monitoring team, which would regularly go round, especially private schools to ensure full compliance with government directives on safety of pupils/students and teachers in the state.
“We are making effort to raise a monitoring team to go round to various private schools to see that compliance is effected; and not only that, we will teach the children the guidelines for them to follow to ensure they are safe while in school”, he said.
He commended the decision of government to reopen schools while maintaining strict compliance with Covid-19 safety procedures.
Meanwhile, worried by the spate at which hoodlums sabotage government efforts in the rural communities, the Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, has challenged community leaders and all stakeholders to safeguard completed and ongoing government projects in their domains.
He gave the charge while condemning the wanton act of vandalism on school facilities at Western Ahoada County High School, Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Expressing concern on the level of theft in the school, Ebeku explained that what he saw during his assessment tour of ongoing schools’ construction works in Ahoada East and Abua/Odual local government areas, was unfortunate and condemnable.
Ebeku, who maintained that the durability of government facilities was dependent on their protection from hoodlums by community members, disclosed that facilities installed in some schools have been burgled while others have been damaged by miscreants.
“Communities where government projects are sited must see the projects as their own. They must strive to protect the projects. I will sincerely urge communities where government projects are ongoing to partner with government and the contractors to see that these projects are protected”, he advised.
On the ongoing review exercise by the ministry, the commissioner said it was to ensure that contractors meet the standards and specifications for the projects which the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, was executing in the state.
He urged contractors to ensure timely completion of their projects, and expressed satisfaction with the quality of work and pace of delivery by some of the contractors.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, Kevin Nengia & Enoch Epelle

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Rivers Assembly Approves MTEF …As Wike Presents Budget, Today …Sets Aside N2.7bn For LG Polls

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The Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, passed and approved the state’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2021 to 2023.
It also announced formal plans by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to present the 2021 budget, today.
This follows a letter from the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to the House for the approval of the MTEF 2021 to 2023.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule, who led the debate on the floor of the House, said the state Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2021 to 2023 was in line with the state’s Fiscal Responsibility Law of 2010.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, in his submission, said the MTEF would have positive impact in the state.
As part of plans to present the state’s 2021 Appropriation Bill to the House, the Rivers State Executive Council had after a meeting, last Monday, approved a budget proposal of N478, 660, 773, 476 for 2021 fiscal year.
The Commissioner for Finance, Hon Isaac Kamalu, who briefed journalists after the meeting, at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, said the proposed budgetary estimate would help government to accomplish all ongoing projects in the state, and also enable the government to make life better for the people.
Kamalu, who is also supervises the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, said the council further approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the state for 2021-2023.
Also addressing the journalists, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that the council further approved a budget for the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC).
The budget would enable the state electoral umpire to conduct the 2021 Local Government Elections tentatively in April.
According to him, a total sum of N2, 747, 351, 405.13 was approved for RSIEC, which is expected to conduct the local government election in line with 1999 Constitution.
Nsirim further said that the council also approved the construction of a new motor park within the precinct of the newly commissioned Rebisi Flyover, which is intended to curb activities of illegal park operators in that axis.
“This is in line with the urban renewal vision of His Excellency. Recall that the new Rebisi Flyover Bridge that was commissioned a few weeks ago has changed the landscape and skyline in that vicinity.
“And to ensure that the illegal motor parks around the flyover do not deface the aesthetics that have been achieved, government is acquiring land near the flyover bridge to build a befitting motor park for them”, he added.

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Release My Husband’s Corpse For Burial, Widow Begs Police …As Panel Strikes Out Nine Petitions

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A widow of late Mr Kitoye Itari, an indigene of Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mrs Comfort Ameiofori, has appealed to members of the state Commission of Inquiry Investigating the alleged Acts of Killing, Violence, Torture and Abuse of Fundamental Rights of Citizens committed by officers, men and operatives of the Nigerian Police in the state to prevail on the police high command in the state to release the corpse of her late husband for burial.
Late Mr Kitoye Itari was said to have allegedly died while in the custody of operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Unit, Borikiri in August, 2019.
She said that after her husband’s death, the corpse was taken to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital mortuary in Port Harcourt.
Amiefori made this appeal when she appeared at the resumed sitting of the commission at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, yesterday, adding that efforts by the deceased family to secure the release of the corpse have been unsuccessful.
She took time to narrate how her husband was allegedly tricked by the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Officer (DPO), one Mr Joseph, who handed over her late husband to detectives of the IGP Intelligence Unit, Borokiri, where her husband allegedly died in their custody, adding that one Supol Dauda Abraham was the team leader of the policemen that effected her late husband’s arrest in Abua on that fateful Saturday evening.
According to her, it was the Abua Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that called her late husband, who was his friend to come and see him, adding that her husband, without suspecting anything, graciously went to honour the invitation but could not return to the house.
“When I waited for my husband to return on May 8, 2019, which was on Saturday, I went to the DPO’s office at about 6pm to ask about my husband, but he told me not to worry that my husband will return in two days.
“He later asked me to go and visit my husband at Borokiri in Port Harcourt where the people that arrested my husband were.
“I went there severally, even travelled to Force Headquarters in Abuja, looking for my husband but to no avail.
“Later, I got a call from somebody that my husband’s corpse has been deposited at UPTH mortuary. When I approached Supol Dauda Abraham, he asked me to bring N300,000 before we can bury my husband. Please, help me tell Supol Dauda to release my husband’s corpse for burial,” she pleaded.
In his ruling, the presiding Chairman of the panel, Justice Chukwunoye Uriri (rtd), adjourned the matter to December 9, 2020, for cross-examination by the police counsel.
Meanwhile, the panel has struck out additional three petitions for lack of jurisdiction, bringing to nine the number of petitions so far dismissed by the commission since it began sitting.
The commission had, last week, struck out three petitions and another three last Monday.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Chukwunoye Uriri while striking out the petitions, said there were subjudice and amounted to contempt of court, adding that the commission would be going out of its scope, if it delves into such matter.

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Insecurity: Use Foreign Help To Fight B’Haram, Govs, Elders Urge FG

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The Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, has declared support for Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum’s request for President Muhammadu Buhari to engage mercenaries to fight Boko Haram.
Ishaku said they should be involved to assist the Nigerian military in its ongoing fight against terrorists.
Darius spoke, yesterday, in Maiduguri when he, alongside Governors of Adamawa – Ahmadu Fintiri; Bauchi – Bala Mohammed; and Gombe – Inuwa Yahaya; paid Zulum a sympathy visit in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
It would be recalled that last Saturday, Boko Haram insurgents had slaughtered more than 43 farmers from the Zabarmari community.
The massacre has been regarded as one of the most gruesome killings by the Boko Haram sect.
Ishaku said they were saddened and traumatized by the heinous crime.
“I will key into your (Zulum) request, which you said that the Federal Government should invite some mercenaries to come and help us out of this problem, because what you can’t do, what you can’t solve. I think we should invite who can solve it for us.
“We cannot continuously be mourning, there has to be a time to stop the mourning. All of us in the North-East Governors’ Forum, we are pleading with the Federal Government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram because, if we neglect it, it will become even worse,” he said.
The Taraba helmsman also appealed to the Federal Government to fix the infrastructural deficit in the North-East.
“We call on the Federal Government to look at the North-East with sympathy. It is embarrassing that in the 2021 budget, what is given to the North-East is 0.35 per cent. With all these problems, the insurgency, the insecurity, only 0.35 per cent was allocated for the region. This is very unfair.
“The Federal Government should look at the issue of infrastructure in the North-East. I, once again, call on the Federal Government to remember the Mambilla hydropower project. Without power, we will not, indeed, have any meaningful development”, Ishaku added.
In his remarks, the Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum expressed appreciation to the delegation for the visit.
Also miffed by the current state of insecurity in the country, some elders in the country under the aegis of Coalition of Nigeria Elders for Peace and Good Governance (CONEPAGG) have urged the Federal Government to seek foreign help to tackle the worsening situation.
The elders, whose call was necessitated by the latest killings of innocent farmers in Borno and Sokoto states by both insurgents and bandits, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to save Nigeria of further loss of lives of its citizens by not only immediately removing the service chiefs but also completely rejigging the entire security architecture.
They equally appealed to the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Nigeria’s growing deteriorating security situation, asking the international security body to consider stiff sanctions against any member state that refuses to sell arms to the country.
They stated their positions in a statement, yesterday, and signed by the National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni; Coordinator for South-West, Prof. Adebola Adeboye; Coordinator for South-East, Dr. Ugwuanyi Emeka; Coordinator in North-West, Sheik Ibrahim Mohammed; Coordinator in North-Central, Barrister Peter Shima; Coordinator, North-East, Hajiya Zainab Bulama; and Coordinator of South-South region, Dr. Solomon Dagogo; respectively.
The elders said their action followed an emergency meeting convened to air their feelings and present their demands to the Nigerian authorities as well as appeal to the necessary international bodies for possible intervention in the country’s worsening security situation.
“As concerned Nigerians with love for our dear country, we had to urgently summon this emergency meeting to appraise the current security situation and proffer possible solutions.
“Today, December 1, 2020, we are here in Abuja to appraise the security situation in the country, particularly in the North, and make some necessary and urgent demands on the President, Muhammadu Buhari; the National Assembly and the United Nations Security Council,” the statement read.
They condemned the gruesome killing of farmers in Borno State by insurgents, describing the action as inhuman and barbaric.
“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms ever, the barbaric, senseless, and gruesome killing of over 43 Nigerian farmers in Borno State”, they said, adding: “Our hearts are with the families and people of Borno State.”
The elders also took a swipe at the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, over a statement credited to him to the effect that the farmers died of carelessness, demanding that he be sacked immediately.
“We also describe as unfortunate, the senseless, irresponsible and insensitive statement credited to Mallam Garba Shehu, the spokesman of the president, who made a statement suggesting that the innocent farmers died out of their carelessness.
“Nothing can be more callous and insensitive as this statement at a time the whole country is mourning. We demand his immediate sack by Mr. President to serve as a deterrent to people who always put his government in a bad light,” the statement read.
According to them, “The insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the North, has taken an alarming and dangerous dimension, and we strongly believe that now is the time to act swiftly or we will have ourselves to blame.
“Food security is already threatened, inflation and recession are already terribly with us. If nothing is done within these few days, Nigeria may collapse totally,” they added.
They said: “Our demand as Nigerians with repute and equal stake like other well-meaning Nigerians in the country from the executive are: Immediate sack of the current service chiefs and replace them with younger generals with federal character colouration that have the zeal and commitment to change the game on insecurity immediately.”
The other demands, according to the elders, are “total overhaul of the entire intelligence and security architecture of the country for effective results; increase in the budgetary provision and early release of funds by the Federal Ministry of Finance to security sector because we discovered that lack of timely release of funds to all the security agencies has hampered operation and quick response.
“Our police stations don’t even have fuel in their vehicles to respond to threats, allowances of troops in the North-West and North-East and Niger Delta have not been paid for months,” they claimed, asking: “How can we be that insensitive to the people on the frontline? How can our security be active with an empty stomach and low motivation?”
They called on the National Assembly to stop the consideration of the 2021 Budget until President Buhari sacks the service chiefs, saying the president’s retention of the security chiefs in spite of the resolutions of both chambers of the National Assembly, asking for change was an affront on the supremacy of the Legislature.
“Our demand for the Legislative Arm is one: Stop every deliberation on the 2021 Budget until Mr. President sacks the service chiefs and restructures the entire security architecture in accordance with the resolutions of the two chambers of the National Assembly to that effect. The action of the president in ignoring the resolutions is no doubt, an affront on the Legislature,” they said.
The second demand on the National Assembly from the elders, according to the statement, is for the Legislature to immediately commence debate on true federalism.
The elders called on the United Nations Security Council to, “as a matter of urgency, come to our aid in the fight against insurgency and banditry because the most powerful nation in Africa is about to be consumed with insecurity and hunger.
“We demand that they sanction any member state that refuses to sell arms and military hardware to Nigeria going forward,” they said.
In the statement, the elders appealed to the youths to believe in Nigeria and continue to pursue their demands for a better Nigeria peacefully and legally without taking laws into their hands.

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