The Federal Government has indicated plans to completely phase out high concentration of alcohol in sachets and small Polyethylene Terephthalate and glass bottles in the country.
The moves are contained in a statement by the Director-General of the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, last Saturday titled: “NAFDAC Cautions On Alcohol Abuse”.
She said, “NAFDAC under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Health, once again, wishes to bring to the attention of the general public, concerns relating to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in sachets, small volume glass and PET bottles.
“These concerns relate to negative effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption on public health and on the safety and security of the public, alcohol being a toxic and psychoactive substance with dependence producing properties.
“Uncontrolled access and availability of high concentration alcohol in sachet and small volume PET or glass bottles has been put forward as a factor contributing to substance and alcohol abuse in Nigeria with its negative impact on the society.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that alcohol consumption contributes to three million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people.
“NAFDAC with full support of the Federal Ministry of Health has continued to exercise its regulatory responsibilities by ensuring that all alcoholic beverages and other regulated products approved by the agency meet set standards of quality, safety and wholesomeness.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is concerned about the high incidence of substance and alcohol abuse in the country and NAFDAC, being the competent authority and working with relevant stakeholders, is increasing efforts to stem this.
“With regard to alcohol, major stakeholders have been engaged at the highest level and are already sensitised to the issue. To this end, several interventions jointly agreed upon by major stakeholders are being undertaken and as a first step, no new products in sachet and small volume PET or glass bottles above 30 per cent ABV will be registered by NAFDAC.
“Furthermore, to reduce availability and curb abuse, effective January 31, 2020, producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume PET and glass bottles are to reduce production by 50 per cent of capacity prior to January, 2020. The overall goal is a complete phase out of high concentration alcohol in sachets and small PET and glass bottles in line with the agreed roadmap or earlier.”
Meanwhile, the peace talks between the Federal Government, organised labour and the civil rights groups on the recent hike in petrol price and electricity tariffs would now take place tomorrow in Abuja.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Friday but had to be postponed to enable as many interest groups as possible to take part in it.
The Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, confirmed the development in a text message, yesterday.
He said the meeting will come up at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, first informed reporters of the talks, last Friday, as he emerged from a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ngige said the meeting, called on behalf of Buhari, would provide the government team an opportunity to open its books to organised labour and explain why it took recent decisions.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, had told newsmen moments after the minister’s announcement that the notice of the meeting went out late, and that labour leaders from different parts of the country would not be able to reach Abuja under 24 hours for the talks.
He said labour had proposed that the meeting be rescheduled.
Akpan, confirming the meeting’s postponement, last Saturday, said the leadership of organised labour and other civil society organisations were not likely to be available in one fold.
He said: “The meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday, September 15, at 10 am. Venue is Banquet Hall of Presidential Villa. This is to accommodate all participants.”
In a separate interview, last Saturday, Wabba said organised labour would soon come out with a position on the recent increases in prices of various essential commodities, including petrol and electricity.
He said organised labour would not protest until the Central Working Committee (CWC) had met and agreed on appropriate action.
“Labour takes one battle at a time; it does not make announcement without backing its action,” the labour leader said.
Wabba noted that NLC had remained consistent on neo-liberal policies, and would take appropriate action in respect of the increases in order to achieve desired result.
He also said that it was high time Nigeria started refining products locally to solve importation challenges.
On the suspended planned protest against the Rivers State Government, Wabba said that there was the need to mend fences between the state government and labour to ensure harmonious relationship.
According to him, the will of the people should not always be taken for granted “as injury to one is injury to all”.
The NLC president called on other state governments to take appropriate steps toward addressing labour issues so as to avoid the wrath of the organised labour.
“We will take up any state that undermines the rights of workers. Workers should be conscious of their rights.
“There is synergy and we will confront recalcitrant employers to respect the law so that we don’t give room for sudden situations to rise,” Wabba said.
He further said that the Rivers State Government and labour had concluded negotiations on minimum wage, and the enabling circular would be released for a collective bargaining agreement to be signed.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), had increased the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) to N151, 60 per litre from N145 with effect from September 2.
Also, electricity tariff was increased effective September 1, by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from N30.23 per kwh to N62.33 per kwh.
Rivers PDP To Inaugurate Zonal Offices In Senatorial Districts
The Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has announced its readiness to inaugurate zonal offices across the three senatorial districts in the state.
The state party Chairman, Amb Desmond Akawor, disclosed this, yesterday, while receiving the members of the Forum of Former Local Government PDP Chairmen at the state party Secretariat in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the party zonal offices would serve as a closed medium to settle some minor differences at the grassroots.
Akawor urged the former party chairmen to be committed to the party’s activities, saying that the party cannot make use of somebody who does not show concern in the affairs of the party.
He commended the former chairmen for their commitment to produce two-term governor from the party in the state.
The party state chairman also commended the forum for producing members of the PDP as elected officers in almost all the elected offices, including local government council chairmen across the 23 LGAs in the state.
Akawor urged the forum to use their political experiences to support the party’s new executives in their various LGAs and the state to ensure that the party maintains its standard in subsequence elections in the state.
“Please, don’t say because you are no longer chairman and ignore party activities, involve in party activities and support the governor and the new party leadership to maintain the position of PDP in the state.
“Governor Nyesom Wike knows all of you as former party chairmen by name, some of you now are council chairmen, special advisers, members of the state party executive, among others. I am sure the rest of you would definitely be recognised again before this tenure runs out.
“But you must be loyal and committed to the progress of the party in your various LGAs”, Akawor advised.
Akawor said that no individual would be imposed on the party as council chairman come the next LGA election either because of personal relationship or position, saying that every aspirant must pass through the due process of the system.
In his speech, the Coordinator of the former chairmen forum, Hon Ikechi Chinda, said the forum was committed to support the party despite the fact that some of them were no longer in any position.
The coordinator used the opportunity to commend Governor Nyesom Wike and the leadership of the party for the support to ensure PDP reclaimed Edo State at the just concluded governorship election.
He appealed to the party leadership to always include them in the affairs of the party in the state.
By: Enoch Epelle
Ogoni Clean-Up: Minister Hands Over Seven Completed Sites In Ogoniland
The Minister of Environment, Dr Mahmood Abuakar, has handed over seven completed remediated oil spill polluted sites in Ogoniland in Rivers State to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) for scientific certification.
The sites are among the first 21 sites awarded to contractors by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for clean-up in Ogoniland.
The seven sites are Lots 2,5,6 and 8 in Eleme Local Govenrment Area; Lot 10 in Gokana Local Government Area; and Lots 17 and 18 in Tai Local Government Area.
The minister, while handing over the completed sites during a colourful ceremony, yesterday, in Nkeleoken-Alode community in Eleme Local Government Area, expressed delight that the contractors that handled the sites were able to complete them for onward handover to NOSDRA for certification, and thanked the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his support to the project.
He said after certification by NOSDRA, the sites would thereafter be handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari, who initiated the clean-up project in the first place.
Abubakar further thanked the people of the various communities in Ogoniland, particularly the youths for their cooperation and support to the clean-up project, stressing that the completion of the seven sites is a pointer to the fact that Buhari was determined to change the negative narratives of the people of the Niger Delta who have suffered over four decades of environmental pollution.
“It is a day of promise kept and kept to the letter in terms of standard and depth of work done”, he said, adding that, “a total of 208, 300 cubic metres of soil was treated from the seven lots using bio-remediation option, a method that is environmentally friendly and effective in removing pollutants from the soil.”
He said so far, progress has been made in the clean-up project but hinted that the Federal Ministry of Environment still yearns for more progress, as it does not want the clean-up to be done haphazardly.
“It is a project we want to ensure that it is done very well,” the minister said.
Abubakar further indicated that the clean-up project has created over 2,,000 direct jobs for Ogoni youths, stressing that the contractors would have completed their work earlier but for some factors that slowed down the pace of work.
“As a project, we would need your support and cooperation to achieve set goals, which goals are for the benefit of the Ogoni people,” he said, and appealed to host communities to the remediation sites to allow contractors to do their work without undue interference.
He said HYPREP is already training 1,200 Ogoni women in alternative livelihood skills in agro-allied ventures being handled by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNTIAR), adding that the first batch of 400 women drawn from the four Ogoni LGAs is ongoing.
He assured Ogoni people that “We will sustain progress on the clean-up of impacted sites and all other recommendations contained in the UNEP Report”.
On his part, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr Marvin Dekil, thanked the minister and the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, and the community leaderships as well as staff of HYPREP for their support.
He said the minister’s commitment and input gave a new impetus to the clean-up project, “thus, making us come thus far on the project”, stressing that he (the minister) has left indelible marks on the project that can be copied for similar projects elsewhere.
He hinted that the bio-cell technology adopted for the clean-up of less impacted sites is a success that could be adopted for remediation elsewhere.
“In awarding the contracts for remediation, we factored in the training of community workers in basic remediation skills as a way of developing local manpower so that the skills acquired can be used elsewhere at the end of their contracts,” he said, adding that technical assistants for the project which constitute over 90 percent of the workforce are Ogoni young scientists were trained in Switzerland.
The minister and his entourage, before handing over the completed sites paid a courtesy visit to the King of Eleme Kingdom, Emere Philip Osaro Obele, who assured that Eleme people would give 110 per cent support to the clean-up project.
Among those on the minister’s entourage included the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Director General of NOSDRA, Alhaji Idris O. Musa; the Cross River State Commissioner for Environment, Hon Mfon Bassey; and a host of other personalities.
Ikeazor, in a speech, urged HYPREP to engage more community people, and expressed joy that a reference laboratory to facilitate NOSDRA’s work is located in Port Harcourt, which she commissioned in January this year.
By: Donatus Ebi
40 Killed In Kogi Tanker Inferno …As Gas Plant Blast Rocks Lagos
Tears flowed freely yesterday morning in Felele, a community on the outskirt of Lokoja along Abuja-Lokoja highway, as a tanker truck laden with fuel caught fire and roasted no fewer than 40 people to death.
Most of the victims were said to be school children and their parents who were said to be going to school.
Also, five students of Kogi State Polytechnic living in the area, were reported to have been killed as they were heading to school along the highway
Several passersby, Okada riders and taxi cabs were also said to be trapped in the inferno which caused serious traffic gridlock on the highway.
A witness, who spoke to newsmen said no fewer than 40 corpses were counted on the scene, including those who were roasted beyond recognition.
But the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), confirmed 23 deaths, including seven school children.
Its Sector Commander for Kogi, Idris Ali, said the seven school children comprised 10 male adults and six female adults.
The commander said 10 vehicles, including five cars, three tricycles and two motorcycles were burnt in the inferno.
He said bodies of victims had been deposited at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, where the only survivor was also receiving treatment.
He said 11 corpses had been claimed for burial by their relations.
The incident threw some schools that lost their students in the accident into mourning forcing them to hurriedly shut down.
One of them, the Baptist Group of Schools at Ganaja, lost three pupils and their parents to the accident, and its management immediately closed the school till September 28 in honour of the deceased.
The accident occurred when an Abuja-bound fuel tanker had a brake failure and in the process fell down at a spot close to GT Plaza and spilled its content on the road, which immediately caught fire.
The fire engulfed the entire spot and extended to other parts of the area, including a major a bus stop where school children, workers and other people were waiting to board vehicles to their various destinations.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has expressed shock and sorrow over the accident.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Mohammed Onogu, yesterday, lamented the loss of lives and property in the accident which he described as sad and tragic.
Reacting last night, President Muhammadu Buhari, described the frequent petroleum tanker explosion and fire incidents as a national scandal caused by indifference to safety standards.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said “these frequent incidents that result in loss of lives and property are a national scandal caused by our indifference to safety standards.”
He insisted that “many accidents are preventable if proper proactive and precautionary measures are put in place or properly observed as routine policies.”
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, expressed shock over the petroleum tanker explosion in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital which resulted in the death of about 30 persons.
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, expressed worry over the slow pace of response by concerned authorities, saying “our party is extremely distressed by this horrid and traumatizing incident, which, in a very painful manner, cut short the lives of hardworking compatriots, brought instant anguish to families and painful material losses to many.
“It is even more disturbing that the fire raged without any intervention by authorities, which would have helped mitigated the effect.
“Indeed, the absence of fire and other emergency facilities around the area, despite the frequent occurrence of such accidents in the past signposts the failure and insensitivity of both the federal and Kogi State governments towards the dangers that daily confront the people.
“The PDP demands the Federal Government to put instant traffic measures to forestall such accidents as well as immediately establish emergency facilities in the area.
“Our party also calls on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola, to leave the comfort of their offices in Abuja and immediately visit the area as well as undertake a tour of our highways to witness the sorry state of infrastructure across our country, under their administration.
“The PDP commiserates with the families of the victims, the Kogi State Polytechnic, parents of the school children as well as the entire people of Kogi State,” the statement read.
However, to curb the incessant incidents of oil tanker explosions leading to loss of lives and property, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), yesterday, met with the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to discuss truck renewal project.
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, noted that tanker accidents caused more deaths in Nigeria than most deadly diseases and stressed that the meeting was timely to address the tanker explosion situation.
The minister, who was represented by the Assistant Director of Mass Transit Administration, Mrs Angela Keyede, said: “It might shock you to know that road crashes is a serious ‘epidemic’ in Nigeria that produces more deaths than HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis (TB) put together annually. The ministry through the Nigeria Shippers Council under Public Private Partnership arrangement has identified some locations for Truck Transit Parks in the country.
Also speaking, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, recalling the explosion which claimed over 30 lives, last Wednesday in Kogi State, charged MOMAN and NARTO to do proper safety examination of drivers, trucks and tankers before allowing them to move on the roads.
He said: “We have been battling with the tankers that are falling and killing scores of people. We need to really address these unnecessary killings on our highways, just yesterday around 30 people died in the Kogi explosion and a whole family was claimed. And if you listen to the comments of President Buhari, yesterday, you will notice he charged the relevant agencies and stakeholders to act. And I’m happy that MOMAN and NARTO are here today to address this”.
The Managing Director of MOMAN, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said that 80 per cent of the trucks involved in hauling products from the south of the country to the north do not have the relevant safety equipments needed for preventing ghastly explosions.
In his remarks, the National President of NARTO, Yusuf Lawal Othman, urged his members to renew their fleets and solicited support from MOMAN in the purchasing of trucks.
Meanwhile, panic gripped residents of Lagos and Ogun border communities, yesterday, following an explosion and massive fire.
The explosion, which was heard as far as Harmony Estate and Obawole, Ogba, Iju in Lagos as well as Akute Ogun State, was said to have occurred around 3:30pm around Balogun Bus Stop in Ishaga.
Contacted, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed the incident, urging residents to stay away from the area.
NEMA’s South-West Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye told newsmen, that the agency’s officials were on ground and fire service has been contacted.
He said: “Yes, a tanker exploded at Balogun Bus Stop, Iju Ishaga. Our people are already there and fire service has been informed.
“The tanker was trying to enter a gas plant when it exploded. There were domestic cylinders there and so, those ones also started exploding.
“The fire has not extended to any building. It is still within the gas plant. People sustained burn injuries but no deaths reported yet. We have contacted fire service. We appeal to people to stay away from the area,” he said.
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