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Anger As Labour Leaders Abort Mass Action Against Petrol, Power Tariff Hike



Anger and disappointment by workers and the public, Monday, trailed organised labour’s suspension of the proposed general strike and mass protest against the recent hike in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff by the Federal Government.

It would be recalled that most Nigerians had gone to bed on Sunday, prepared that the strike, scheduled to start in the early hours of Monday, would be in full swing by daybreak.

But this was not to be as labour leaders reached a compromise with government even before the strike commenced.

From Port Harcourt to Calabar, Lagos to Ibadan, Benin to Makurdi and Birnin-Kebbi to Maiduguri, the general feeling of workers and other Nigerians was that of betrayal by labour leaders who had in the last three weeks, insisted that nothing would stop the strike and mass protest from holding, if government failed to reverse the hikes.

Pro-labour civil society organizations, CSOs, under the umbrella of Joint Action Front (JAF), some state councils of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), also rejected the suspension of the strike.

Similarly, some national officials of both the NLC and TUC, who spoke, on Monday, expressed disgust over the suspension without recourse to the organs of the two labour centres that gave the ultimatum for the strike.

The resolutions reached by both sides at the meeting include: ‘A fund to be accessed by 240,000 workers under the NLC and TUC for use in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the ministry of agriculture

‘No tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the effect of the pandemic on the lowest vulnerable

‘Federal Government to provide 133 compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas mass transit buses to labour and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all states and local governments before December, 2021.

‘10% of the ongoing ministries of Housing and Finance initiative to be allocated to Nigerian workers through the NLC and TUC.

‘Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to integrate the leadership of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into an already established steering committee.

‘NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.

‘Port Harcourt Refinery to reach 50 per cent by December, 2021, and a steering committee to determine completion date for Warri and Kaduna refineries.

‘After rehabilitation, NNPC to involve PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the refineries.

‘NNPC to expedite work on the build, operate and transfer framework for the pipelines and depots network for transportation and distribution of petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries.

‘Federal Government to facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involve upstream companies in petroleum refining and establish a financing framework in the downstream sector.

‘Federal Government to ensure delivery of one million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December, 2021 for cheaper transportation and power fuel.

‘A team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), will be established to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the steering committee.

‘Federal Government, labour unions to set up a technical committee to examine the justification for a new cost-reflective tariff introduced by the NERC, advise Federal Government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the six million meters, examine the tariffs imposed by DisCos in comparison to NERC’s order and examine the NERC act with a view of expanding its representation to include labour.

‘Suspension of new electricity tariff while the committee concludes its assignment.

‘Federal Government’s 40 percent stake in DisCos should be reflected in the composition of the board of the DisCos.

‘An all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatisation MoU will be carried out before the end of 2020, with labour represented.

‘The moribund National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), be inaugurated before the end of 2020 to institutionalise the process of dialogue on major socio–economic and labour matters to avoid crisis’.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting, the Federal Government had told organized labour that it would incur the wrath of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other international lending institutions to which Nigeria is indebted, should it reverse  the hike in electricity tariff and petrol pump price  to the old prices.

A source at last Thursday’s meeting between the Federal Government representatives and leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), had said that the government representatives confided in the labour leaders that government’s hands were tied by international financial institutions that the country is indebted to.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, had said: “The disclosure confirmed the long-held belief that the Bretton Woods Institutions have been responsible for most of the economic policies of our government.

“They told us bluntly that Nigeria will incur the anger of IMF, the World Bank and other international lending institutions. In fact, they refused to discuss the issue of price reversal and rather, asked us to nominate representatives to discuss palliatives.

“It is obvious that they do not have mandate to discuss issue of price. We bluntly refused refuse to nominate which was the major cause of the stalemate of Thursday meeting.

“You could see that against the usual practice where it was the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), that was announcing new prices of petroleum products, since the beginning of this so-called market-driven prices in March or thereabouts, it has been the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), an arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), that has been doing so.

“Again, unlike the PPPRA where Labour and other stakeholders have representatives on the board, stakeholders are not on the board of PPMC. Only the Federal Government appoints the management team.

“As you aware, NLC has two representatives on the board of PPPRA, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), oil markers, NECA, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and its Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), counterpart, are among the stakeholders in the board of PPPRA.

“On the issue of electricity tariff, we have insisted that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has become an agent of government and private capital in the power sector. We demanded that Labour and other critical sectors must be members of the commission”.

However, the communique announcing suspension of the strike, Monday, was read by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who disclosed that the decision to suspend the strike followed an agreement reached between both parties.

According to him, the agreement was designed to stave off the industrial action which would have grounded economic activities in the country.

Organized labour, however, warned that the strike was suspended and not called off, adding that it could be recalled if government failed to fulfill its part of the agreement after two weeks.

Reacting to the suspension, some workers in Rivers State said that the action of labour leaders was suspect, arguing that they have disappointed many Nigerians who feel the negative impacts of the increases in petrol pump price and electricity tariff hike.

They said that as one of the most expensive states to live and work in, workers were being emasculated by the many anti-people policies off the Federal Government.

Rejecting the suspension, labour leaders and members of the civil society in Edo State expressed disappointment with the national leaders of NLC and TUC.

Led by the Chairman of the NLC, in Edo State, Comrade Sunny Osayande; and TUC counterpart, Comrade Marshall Ohue, the labour leaders and other aggrieved workers and activists, stormed the King’s Square Arena in Benin City, the state capital, in protest.

According to the displeased state labour leaders and their members, the decision to suspend the planned strike was hurriedly taken by the national leaders without consultation with NEC, members and key stakeholders across the country.

They chanted slogans such as “No to Electricity Hike”, “No to Fuel Hike”, “Kill Corruption”, among others, the protesters who assembled at downtown Ring Road, slammed the government for increasing the price of fuel and electricity tariff.

Speaking, former presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, and state Chairman of NLC, Comrade Sunny Osayande, insisted that they would embark on a total strike if the government refused to reverse the increment in two weeks.

Obayuwana said: “We say no to the increase in electricity tariff, fuel and VAT. We say no to privatization where our wealth is given to a few persons. They are just buying time but before you know it, two weeks will be over.’’

He said the union decided to embark on the peaceful march to express its displeasure over the manner the unions called off the strike.

On his part, NLC Chairman, Comrade Sunny Osunde, warned that in the event that the government refuses to listen to the grievances of organised labour in two weeks time, the union would have no choice but to embark on a total strike.

He added: “We took to the streets to tell the masses that what the Federal Government brought is nothing. The hike in VAT, fuel and electricity tariff should be reversed within two weeks, otherwise, we will go on strike.”

In Kogi State, workers described the last-minute decision by NLC and TUC to suspend the strike a colossal disappointment.

One of the workers, Mr. Philip Rotimi, said the labour leaders had with the latest development emboldened the people about perceived insinuations that they could easily be persuaded by government of the day to do its bidding.

Philip, a GL-09 officer in the state said: “The decision to suspend the strike is a colossal disappointment. In truth, we have lost trust in our labour leaders.

“We don’t even know the reasons behind calling off the strike, aside the insinuation that they have compromised. We hope they don’t call for any strike again because it will be an insult on us and we may not honour it.”

In Ibadan, Oyo State, residents joined the JAF, and Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Oyo State branch, to protest suspension of the strike.

The protest, which began at the NLC secretariat in Ibadan, moved through Agodi-Gate, Oje, Yemetu and terminated at Government Secretariat.

Security personnel were, however, stationed in strategic locations within Ibadan metropolis to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

Addressing newsmen, ASCAB Vice-Chairman, Mr Femi Aborisade, said the group was against the resolution entered into by the leadership of the NLC and TUC.

Aborisade said the labour leaders had, with their actions, betrayed the general interest of the Nigerian masses.

He recalled that a Federal High Court had, in 2013 and 2016, declared the increment of petroleum pump price and electricity tariff illegal and unconstitutional, adding that government failed to obey the order.

Aborishade said the leaderships of TUC and NLC were supposed to have briefed Nigerians on the outcome of their meeting and gauge the feedback from them before announcing the suspension of the strike.

He called on the Federal Government to follow the rule of law and reverse the petroleum pump price and the electricity tariff for the benefit of the masses.

Also speaking on the suspension, Chairman of Kwara State, NLC, Comrade Issa Ore, said: “We had fully mobilised our members to storm the streets for the strike today (Monday) because our morale has already been dampened  by the hike in the prices of petrol and electricity tariff.

“So, when we were directed to suspend the strike, we were surprised but we have no option than to suspend the already planned strike.”

One of the members of NLC’s Central Working Committee (CWC), who spoke to Vanguard on grounds of anonymity after the suspension, lamented: “We are all shocked and disappointed by the suspension because we had mobilized our members and Nigerians for the strike only for some few people, for whatever reason, to suspend the strike without even having the courtesy to refer back to the CWC and NEC (National Executive Council) that ordered the strike in the first place.

“It is wrong and unacceptable. Now, they have called an emergency CWC meeting for today (Monday). To tell us what? I am afraid we have created a crisis of confidence between labour and Nigerians.

“Nigerians were ready for the strike because the level of poverty, suffering, hardship and deprivation in the country at present are better imagined than experienced.

“Tell me, what did we achieve as organized labour? You said you are suspending hike in electricity tariff for two weeks, who cares about electricity? Even if you bring the tariff to N1, Nigerians will not have power.

“So, they will not feel the impact. But any increase or decrease in pump price of petrol will have effect on everybody. What Nigerians and workers were expecting was a drastic reduction in the pump price of petrol.

“I am ashamed with what happened. We have betrayed the trust of workers and Nigerian masses.”

Also, an official of TUC simply said: “This would have given labour the opportunity to save its face after the 2016 fiasco when similar hike in the pump price of petrol could not be challenged by organized labour because of internal wrangling within the movement.

“It is so disappointing for you to spend such energy to mobilize both workers and other Nigerians for a nationwide strike, only to suspend it at the last minute without achieving anything.

“Some of us do not agree with them, but that cannot change anything because the deed has been done by our leaders who represented us in the so-called meeting with government representatives.

Similarly, the Joint Action Front while reacting to the suspension, disowned organized labour and rejected the suspension.

The group also stormed the streets of Lagos in protest, calling on Nigerians to fight to liberate themselves.

JAF’s Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, lamented that by agreeing to suspend the strike, organized labour has accepted deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

He said: “It is a death pill on workers and poor masses. It is Nigeria for sale to IMF and World Bank. The point is that JAF entirely rejects the policy of privatization and deregulation because such policies are essentially designed to undermine the interest of workers and the poor masses.

“They are policies of hardship and underdevelopment imposed on us by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF. Experience has shown that if Nigeria enters into the trap of deregulation, it will be one economic crisis after another.”

Reacting to the development, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) said it was “not disappointed that the Nigerian labour unions bowed to pressure at the last minute as usual as it has long become their trademark.”

The CNPP, in a statement by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said: “We expected that this would happen and that was why the CNPP opted to rally civil society movements across the country.

“We are monitoring the situation and rejigging our plans in view of the now obvious reality that ordinary citizens who cannot travel to Abuja are on their own.

“In the last five years, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), have remained toothless bulldogs and compromised arm of the Federal Government.

“The suffering masses who believed the labour unions can now continue to suffer, while all voices are shut.

“Following the current compromise and sell out, we advise Nigerians never to take labour unions seriously until there is a rebirth when these current leaders of the unions are gone.

“We join the Nigerian people to clearly declare that we have completely lost confidence in the current leaders of the labour unions in Nigeria. For them, getting ‘palliatives’ for the unions is all they want, while the masses can continue to suffer.”

On its part, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, described the suspension by  labour as a sell out.

In a statement by its Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, the group said: “We have carefully studied the excuses given by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to shelve the general strike and protests, which had been slated to begin today (Monday).

“While we are not advocating strike for the fun of it, we make no mistake about the fact that the Nigerian people need to send a strong message to the government that its strangulating policies are unacceptable.

“It is apparent from the details of the agreement signed with the Federal Government that Labour has once again sold out cheaply.

“It is shameful that the leaders of the two labour centres have now reduced important and historic struggles of the Nigerian people for social and economic justice to opportunities to grab appointments in various government committees.

“It is yet another grand betrayal by labour to have allowed itself to be bought over by government’s empty promises to take steps to ostensibly cushion the effects of the harsh policies it has unleashed on citizens.

“As far as we can see, government has not offered any tangible road map to end dependence on fuel importation. Yet, labour lamely accepted the argument that price should be hiked in addition to the token of 133 buses to serve as palliatives.

“Ironically, the important question left unanswered is, if 133 buses would really cushion the multiplier effects of the hike in terms of galloping inflation, higher cost of basic necessities like food, transport, healthcare, school fees; cost of doing business and increase in the rate of unemployment as a result of the strangulating business environment.

“It is apparent that they went into negotiation with government using the workers as bargaining power for their selfish interests. And they, therefore, ended up inflicting further hardships on the Nigerian people in order to sit on the table with oppressors in government.”

Meanwhile, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof Chidi Odinkalu, has accused the NLC and TUC of sabotage, in its last minute move to suspend the planned labour strike which was to begin on Monday.

Expressing disappointment at the actions of the labour leaders, Odinkalu, in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle, @ChidiOdinkalu, said the meeting was done in what he described as willful orchestration.

Odinkalu, who is the senior team manager of the Africa Program of Open Society Justice Initiative, said: “The NLC/TUC bunch didn’t even pretend to negotiate. It was all done with willful orchestration – for the price of ‘review’ of downstream sector without benchmarks to end in rapt that does not promise action; suspension of electricity tariff for two weeks; and 133 buses.

“You cannot read this communique without marvelling at the criminal cynicism of the leadership of Nigeria’s organised labour. No, it’s not naivete; it is organised, criminal cynicism.”

Also, former TUC President, Comrade Peter Esele, said the current leadership of the various labour unions had been very patient with the government.

He noted that there had been a lot of infractions that would have warranted the industrial action of labour over the years.

Esele said: “The government should be grateful because this current labour leadership has been so patient with it because there are enough things that would have led to strikes in the country.

“So many things have happened, ranging from insecurity to devaluation of the naira, to privatization, to corruption and we are all just quiet about all these things. This would have just been a starting point.”

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31 States Lack Insurance Cover For Workers



Thirty-one states in the federation have no insurance cover in place for workers as of March, despite the provision of the requirement in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
Figures obtained from PenCom on ‘Status of implementation of the CPS in states as at March 2021’, last Saturday, showed that only five states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have insurance in place for their workers.
Other compliant states are Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Edo, which also have pension schemes for their workers, according to PenCom.
A former President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, said it was not appropriate that most states lacked insurance cover for their workers.
Esele stated, “It speaks volumes to the fact that when the private sector has not shown respect for group life insurance, they are actually borrowing a leaf from the state governments.
“Ordinarily, what you should expect is that respect for our laws should be what state governments should be all about, but what they have done now is to show lack of respect for the law and their citizens because, ordinarily, it is in the best interest of not only the workers but also the management, that is, the government.
“It is so that whatever happens, the families of the people working with them are safe. For them not to have done that is sad and discomforting.”
The Director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy, Ivor Takor, urged state and local governments to comply fully with the regulations in the CPS.
He expressed worry that most states had yet to comply with the law.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Hon Darlington Nwokocha, said the lawmakers were reviewing the insurance laws which would enhance the sector’s performance and assist the implementation of the compulsory insurance laws.
The Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the commission was engaging states to ensure full compliance with the PRA.
She noted that it had continued to review the implementation of the scheme in the states.
Also, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the National Insurance Commission was seeking compliance on the compulsory insurance schemes.
Thomas stated that NAICOM had visited some of the state governors to solicit the support for compliance with insurance laws.
Also, PenCom, in a recent circular, ordered employers of labour to comply with the Group Life Insurance Policy as stipulated in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
PenCom also ordered employers to display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within the premises before the end of July 31, 2021.
It stated this in a circular to all employers and employees titled ‘Re: Compliance with PRA 2014 on Group Life Insurance Policy for employees and display of insurance certificate for 2021’.
The commission said, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, every employer shall maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy in favour of all employees.
“The GLIP should be a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employees. Similarly, Section 5.5 of the revised guidelines on GLIP for employees provides that the employer shall display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within its premises, for the information of the employees and as evidence of having taken such policy.
“Employers that have not displayed a copy of the GLIP certificate within their premises are advised to do so on or before 31 July, 2021. Failure to provide GLIP is a violation of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014.”
PenCom disclosed that only 15,418 organisations got its clearance to do the business of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government between January 4 and May 10.
It said the clearance was given to them for having pension accounts and life insurance cover for their employees.
According to the commission, the clearance enables them to do the business of the Federal Government for the 2021 financial year.
PenCom said companies that had no insurance cover for their workers would no longer be allowed to do any government business.

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One In 100 Die By Suicide, WHO Alerts



The World Health Organisation (WHO), has said, suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide and responsible for one in 100 deaths globally.
In its latest estimates entitled, “Suicide worldwide in 2019”, WHO noted that every year, more people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer or war and homicide.
The latest estimates noted that in 2019, more than 700 000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting the WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.
The WHO guidance is to help the world reach the target of reducing the suicide rate by 1/3 by 2030.
Speaking on the new estimates, Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world cannot and must not ignore suicide.
“Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide 6 job loss, financial stress and social isolation still very much present.”
He said the new guidance would provide a clear path for stepping up suicide prevention efforts.
“Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence. The rates vary, between countries, regions, and between males and females.”
The report also explained that more than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100 000 males compared with 5.4 per 100 000 females).
“Suicide rates among men are generally higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100 000). For females, the highest suicide rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100 000).
Suicide rates in the WHO African (11.2 per 100 000), European (10.5 per 100 000) and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100 000) regions were higher than the global average (9.0 per 100 000) in 2019. The lowest suicide rate was in the Eastern Mediterranean region (6.4 per 100 000).
Globally, the suicide rate is decreasing; in the Americas, it is going up. Suicide rates fell in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate decreasing by 36 per cent, with decreases ranging from 17 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47 per cent in the European Region and 49 per cent in the Western Pacific.
“But in the Americas Region, rates increased by 17 per cent in the same time period. Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted.
“Currently only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.
“A significant acceleration in the reduction of suicides is needed to meet the SDG target of a one-third reduction in the global suicide rate by 2030.”
However, WHO has released comprehensive guidance for implementing its LIVE LIFE approach to suicide prevention. The four strategies of this approach are: limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
WHO further recommended the banning of the most dangerous pesticides given that pesticide poisoning is estimated to cause 20 per cent of all suicides while national bans of acutely toxic, highly hazardous pesticides have shown to be cost-effective.
Other measures recommended by WHO include restricting access to firearms, reducing the size of medication packages and installing barriers at jump sites.
On responsible reporting by the media, the guide highlighted the role the media plays in relation to suicide.
“Media reports of suicide can lead to a rise in suicide due to imitation (or copycat suicides) – especially if the report is about a celebrity or describes the method of suicide.
“The new guide advises monitoring of the reporting of suicide and suggests that media counteract reports of suicide with stories of successful recovery from mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts. It also recommends working with social media companies to increase their awareness and improve their protocols for identifying and removing harmful content.”
WHO also noted that support for adolescence (10-19 years of age) was a critical period for acquiring socio-emotional skills, particularly since half of the mental health conditions appear before 14 years of age.
“The LIVE LIFE guidance encourages actions including mental health promotion and anti-bullying programmes, links to support services and clear protocols for people working in schools and universities when a suicide risk is identified.
“Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up apply to people who have attempted suicide or are perceived to be at risk. A previous suicide attempt is one of the most important risk factors for future suicide.
“Health-care workers should be trained in early identification, assessment, management and follow-up.
“Survivors’ groups of people bereaved by suicide can complement the support provided by health services. Crisis services should also be available to provide immediate support to individuals in acute distress.
The new guidance, which includes examples of suicide prevention interventions that have been implemented across the world, in countries such as Australia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, Sweden and the USA can be used by anyone who is interested in implementing suicide prevention activities, whether at the national or local level and in the governmental and non-governmental sectors alike.
On his part, suicide prevention expert at the World Health Organisation, Alexandra Fleischmann said, “While a comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy should be the ultimate goal for all governments, starting suicide prevention with LIVE LIFE interventions can save lives and prevent the heartbreak that follows for those left behind.”

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Wike, Others Grace Prof Antonia Omehia’s Thanksgiving



Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and other eminent personalities were among personalities that graced the thanksgiving ceremony in honour of Professor Antonia Celestine Omehia, yesterday.
The thanksgiving organised by former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia was to mark the conferment of his wife, Professor Antonia with the rank of Professor of Library and Information Science by Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni.
Professor Antonia Omehia is a lecturer in the Library and Information Science Department of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State.
Governor Wike, his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Austin Opara, former Presidents, Nigeria Bar Association ( NBA) Onueze C.J Okocha (SAN), and Okey Wali (SAN) were among other dignitaries who attended the thanksgiving ceremony at Omehia’s residence in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Former Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia said his family decided to organise the thanksgiving to honour God for his wife’s unparalleled academic excellence and passion for scholarly research.
He acknowledged that it is not an easy feat to attain the rank of an academic professor. According to him, his family will remain eternally grateful to God for granting his wife the grace of academic excellence.
Former NBA President, Okocha, who spoke on behalf of Rivers’ elders, said Professor Antonia Omehia has indisputably distinguished herself in academics, because professors are scholars that are experts in their fields and teachers of the highest rank in the university.
He heaped praises on Sir Omehia for allowing his wife to soar in her academic pursuit, because most men often feel intimidated when their wives excel in life.
The legal luminary said when women excel in academics, they should be celebrated.
He commended Professor Antonia Omehia for making her husband and children proud by virtue of her unquestionable commitment to academic excellence.
”We are proud of you for honouring our brother.”
Eminent personalities that also attended the thanksgiving included: Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, former Minister of Transportation, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Senator (Dr) Bennett Birabi, Davies Ikanya among several others.

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