Pfizer International, the US pharmaceutical company that carried out a meningitis trovan test in 1996 on a number of children in Kano State, has demanded a Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) report as a pre-condition for beneficiaries to draw down on the $75 million judgment money against it, a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Abubakar Wali, has said.
Speaking at the palace of the Emir of Kano on Friday, Justice Wali, who traced the history of the trovan test, said Pfizer came to Nigeria in 1996 at the peak of the outbreak of meningitis disease in Kano to offer assistance on affected victims. He said, unknown to the government and people of the state, the company had come to test the drug, which resulted to deforming and killing of many children in the state.
The retired Justice also said his team was at the palace to seek the guidance of the emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero, as plans were afoot to sensitise the people against coming in to make wrong claims. He assured that “all the victims must undergo DNA test to ensure that the genuine victims benefit from the settlement.”
Justice Wali also told the emir that out of the $75 million judgement money Pfizer agreed to pay, $30 million would go to the victims and their families. Another $30 million would be used to provide health projects in the state, while $10 million would go for litigations and $5 million used to settle sundry expenses.
Responding, the Emir Bayero explained that he was aware of the task before the committees instituted by the state government to handle both the settlement of compensation to the victims and healthcare issues, as agreed by Pfizer and Kano State government.Bayero said the Kano State Government had constantly been updating him on any development relating to the Pfizer case and commended the government for leading the litigations initially started by the families of victims. He said such an effort had yielded positive results.
According to him, “ I have to commend the efforts of the government in ensuring that justice is done, through the out of court agreement, what I want people to do now is since the monies will be provided soon for settlement of the victims or their families, modalities should be followed to the last letter so that only the affected families benefit”.
He advised that the people should be aware of the modalities to be followed in taking the claims; as such all claimants should be honest because the calibre of persons in the two boards would not in any way allow abnormalities.
He cautioned pharmaceutical companies worldwide to conform to the ethics and avoid testing animal drugs and vaccines on human beings. He said that what happened in Kano in 1996, in which hundreds of children were reported dead or deformed through the application of meningitis trovan test drugs was a great lesson to the whole world.
Other members of the settlement team that accompanied Wali to the palace were Justice S. M Balgore (rtd), Professor Isa Hashim, Dr Musa Borodo, Professor Mutassir Ibrahim and Dr Prosper Igboli.
Besides, Wali said the state government had also instituted a healthcare board under Professor Shehu Ahmed Sa’id Galadanchi as chairman to fast track the implementation of government’s action plan arising from the Pfizer case.
Other members of the board are Professor Auwalu Hamisu Yadudu, Architect Ibrahim Haruna and Dr. Habibu Sadauki, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Kiyawa and Alhaji Adamu Jafiya
Both boards, Wali said, have Mr. David Odiwo and Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim of the SSG office as secretary and assistant secretary respectively.
Kano State Government on July 30 formally signed an agreement with Pfizer over the controversial drug trial. The out-of-court settlement in the multi-billion-dollar suit against Pfizer, in the three-year drug test in the state, came after years of litigation.
“We have settled and we are signing an agreement , Kano State government has finally reached a $75 million settlement agreement with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company, over the 1996 Trovan test in the state,” said Aliyu Umar, counsel for Kano State government, had said then.
Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, had said he was in London with leader of the Trovan test victims’ chairman, the State Attorney-General, and the State Commissioner for Health to finalise agreement and work out modalities with Pfizer executives on how the money would be shared. He said the full payment might take up to 2011.
Nembe Oil Spill From Aiteo Facility Worst I’ve Seen – Diri
The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Wednesday returned from visiting the oil spill site in Nembe Local Government Area of the state, describing it as the worst he had seen in his lifetime.
The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, has been spilling crude unabated into the Santa Barbara River for about one month.
An estimated two million barrels of crude has reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the flora and fauna of the area, the governor’s spokesperson Dan Alabrah, said.
The Minister of State of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, had said the scene of the spill was like a war zone.
Overwhelmed by the spill, Aiteo hired Halliburton’s Boots and Coots to “kill the well” by injecting cement into it. It bought the well from the Royal Dutch Shell in 2015.
As at Wednesday, the Bayelsa government said the spill that began November 5 was still ongoing.
Governor Diri said the continuous spillage has further endangered the lives of people of Nembe, Bayelsa and indeed the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Alabrah, the governor, who expressed shock over the quantity of crude that has been spilled into the environment, called on the Federal Government and operators of the oil field to immediately take action to stop it.
According to him, the prolonged oil spill into the water and air had an immediate and long term effect on the health of the inhabitants.
While assuring the people that appropriate measures would be taken to seek redress, he noted that the quest by oil firms to make money would not be at the expense of the lives of the people.
Describing fishing as the source of livelihood of the people of the area, Mr Diri noted that just as there are grazing routes, Bayelsa State has fishing routes and must be protected.
His words: “Today happens to be a very dark day for me. What we have seen, I believe, is worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In all my life, I have not seen such magnitude of oil spillage.
“Our people are endangered. Our people’s source of livelihood is endangered. I empathise and sympathise with the people of Nembe on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State.
The Bayelsa governor also decried the exclusion of indigenes of host communities in the running of the oil industry, saying that if indigenes were part of the operations of the oil field, they would have looked for ways to address the problem.
To ameliorate the suffering of the people, the governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Health to immediately provide relief materials and healthcare services to the people.
Earlier, the chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, Hon. West Alalibo, and member representing Nembe Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Edward Brigidi, appreciated the governor for embarking on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the site.
‘Emerging Challenges May Frustrate Dev Of Gas Resources’
Although the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is expected to unlock gas potential in Nigeria, especially the current 206 trillion standard cubic feet proven reserves, stakeholders Wednesday said the goals might remain elusive.
Investment to unlock the series of the opportunities outlined by the country according to the stakeholders, may remain a daunting task amidst heavy levies on the sector, domestic gas pricing challenges as well as lack of necessary technology and skills set.
Coming as the price of natural gas Wednesday, tumbled further to $4.4 per MMBtu after rising close to $7, the stakeholders at the 10th Practical Nigerian Content Forum stated that without the right environment, Nigeria may miss out of the window of opportunities available through the energy transition phase.
The Senate Chairman, Local Content, Teslim Folarin at the event also insisted that the cross-sectorial local bill in the National Assembly would make existing executive orders on patronage of Nigeria goods and services a law across sectors of the economy, stressing that it won’t however scrap the NOGIC Act.
With the current high price of cooking gas, the inadequacies of gas to power plants, the experts noted that data challenges, legal framework, lack of collaboration, weak research and development, lack of technology, imposition of taxes on the gas value chain lay heavy siege to the country’s aspirations in the gas revolution.
Group Executive Director, Gas and Power at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Abdulkadir Ahmed, insisted that declining funding for fossil fuels would create challenges for existing gas resources in the country, stressing that the sector must devise a means to fund projects and also produce more with cost.
Ahmed was also concerned about the infrastructure that transports and ensures utilisation of gas, adding that a transparent and market-driven pricing remained sacrosanct.
“We can not make progress without a market-driven and transparent gas price. No one will put in money if they have no feasibility of how they will recover their cost. There won’t be any gas to process if we do not invest in upstream activities,” he said.
Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Gas, Ed Ubong stated that there was a need to build local capacity for gas and ensure that the resources are used to spur industrial development.
According to him, there was a need to support indigenous companies to thrive, adding that the gas space remained a key avenue to grow local content.
A Governing Council Member at Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mina Oforiokuma said with progress being made by countries like Mozambique, Nigeria needs to learn and move fast to address bottlenecks.
Speaking on the expansion of local content across sectors, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote noted that the government may consider a local content department across ministries to develop.
Wabote said: “That’s the only way you can get benefit out of the implementation because what people forget is that NCDMB is like a department within the ministry of petroleum resources saddled with the responsibility of driving local content within the oil and gas industry and controlled by the Ministry in the same way.”
Senator Folarin noted that the government remained concerned about the development of indigenous companies, adding that the move would address inefficiencies, in the long run reduce cost of projects and build strong local companies that can compete globally.
He revealed that some of the key sectors that would be primarily targeted are power, ICT, manufacturing, agriculture and others.
PHCCIMA Boss Lists Core Service Areas
The 62nd President of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Mines, Industries and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Sir Mike Elechi said his administration shall have member oriented, inclusive programmes and opportunities as its hallmark and guiding principles.
Elechi said this during his investiture as the PHCCIMA President in Port Harcourt during the week.
He also listed consolidation of growth, peace, unity, increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue as part of his core mandate to be delivered to the people.
He said that these would be achieved within the confines of PHCCIMA’s constitution and that of the Country.
The President who was a permanent secretary before his retirement, pointed out that the choice of the key areas was as a result of deep reflection and wide consultation with relevant stakeholders in the society.
He said that his administration would reintroduce the monthly PHCCIMA meeting, develope a calendar of member oriented programmes and opportunities as well as trade mission travels and access for the benefit of its members.
On the issue of increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue, he said that it would be realised by creating an atmosphere of welcome and corporate opportunity.
“Another way out among others, was engagement of various governments both state and local, with business strategies especially non oil businesses”, he said.
In his address, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ferdinand Anabrabra, urged those that are yet to be registered with PHCCIMA to hurry and do so in order to meet up with the current speed of the organisation.
Anabrabra, anchored his point on the passion that the new President and his team have for the body, which will definitely pay off.
Also speaking, the former President of Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA), Hon Onueze C.J . Okocha, said that Elechi’s whealt of experience would enable him do the expected.
”As a career Civil Servant and a successful businessman cum Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Vintage Farm and Products in ElelIkwerre Local Government of the state, his administration would be successful.
The Tide gathered that the Elechi-led PHCCIMA executive would elapse in the next three years.
By: King Onunwor
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