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NGF Approves Quarterly Campaigns For Polio Eradication …Rivers Target 90% Eradication

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The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has approved quarterly campaigns on poliomyelitis eradication in the 36 states of the country, the Chairman of the Forum, Governor Chibuike Amaechi, has said.

Amaechi who made the disclosure at the inauguration of the campaign last Saturday in Port Harcourt, said that the next campaign would take place in November.

He explained that the governors decided to accord priority to polio eradication because Nigeria was listed among polio endemic nations.

Amaechi said: ‘At the inception of this administration, polio and general immunisation coverage was 72 per cent but currently, the coverage is 75 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively’’.

The governor said the state was targeting 90 per cent coverage, adding: “ There is still a lot of work to be done, although government has built, equipped and commissioned Model Primary Healthcare Centres across the state for use by its citizenry.

“Our people are advised to use these facilities for all services and interventions, including immunisation as this will ensure attendant decrease in morbidity and mortality, especially among the vulnerable groups-children and women,” he said.

The governor urged the state’s ministry officials to ensure that the campaign was given the desired seriousness, not withstanding that the state still maintained zero status on polio infection.

“Though Rivers State is polio-free, Rivers people still travel outside and as such are prone to this deadly disease. For this reason, polio campaigns must be given the attention it deserved.  The Ministry of Health supervising polio eradication campaigns should not see this as a mere road show, because it is the right of every child to have polio vaccination free of charge in Rivers,’’ he said.

Dr Godwin Mpi, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health  described as ‘a good omen’, the decision of the NGF to address the problem of polio in Nigeria.

Mpi said, “what had continued to drag back polio eradication in the past years, is lack of political will, but with the recent position of the governors, Nigeria will soon eradicate polio’’.

The Permanent Secretary said the choice of the theme, “Men Against Polio’, was selected, due to the significant role men play in society, noting that emphasis would be shifted to the role of women, youths and community in future campaigns.

Dr Akuro Okujiagu, the State’s Director of Public Health, urged nursing mothers in the state to always take part in the polio vaccination exercise, adding that the vaccine was potent and free.

Mrs Ladid Nasuru, a nursing mother who attended the event, told newsmen that she resolved to bring her children out, due to the problems faced by children who failed to take the vaccination.

“Some children who were not given this polio vaccination end up crippled and at times suffer all manner of disorder,” she said.

Our correspondent reports that Amaechi had  in a broadcast to Rivers people said that the crusade against polio was an initiative of the NGF to eliminate the poliomyelitis scourge in Nigeria.

Rt. Hon Aamaechi said the first quarter programme tagged,”Men Against Polio” is targetted of the men folk whom he said ,”wield tremendous influence in decision-making both at homes and in our communities, especially in matters of health.”

The Rivers State Governor said so far immunisation coverage to curb the disease is between 75 to 87 percent but stressed that the ultimate target is to achieve 90 percent hence the need for the citizenry to support in achieving the target.

He lamented that the country was still battling with preventable polio virus. In order to address the menace, he stated that the Governors’ Forum has decided to take up the challenge to raise awareness and  take proactive measures to check the spread of the viral disease.

He remarked that,” the Rivers State Government will show increased commitment in the fight against polio as well as the control, reduction and elimination of other childhood diseases”.

The governor while calling on the citizenry to avail themselves of the opportunity of immunising their children free of charge, said the state government has built and equipped  new Model Primary Health Centres to help provide the services in the local areas, and called on the various local council chairmen to help drive the scheme in their domain.

He used the opportunity to commend Rotary International, UNICEF, WHO and the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation and other bodies that have lent support towards the drive to eliminate the scourge.

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Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede

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The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.

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Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie

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A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.

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Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns

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In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.

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