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Wike Shuns Elders’ Ultimatum To PDP

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From right, the President General of NUR, Comrade  Raphel Okoro, the Eastern District Union Chairman, Orji Kalu Innocent and the  state chairman, Pastor Woyengidengiyefa Ikoni during the Eastern Rail line flag-off last Tuesday. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

From right, the President General of NUR, Comrade Raphel Okoro, the Eastern District Union Chairman, Orji Kalu Innocent and the state chairman, Pastor Woyengidengiyefa Ikoni during the Eastern Rail line flag-off last Tuesday. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

Barely few weeks to the 2015 governorship election, elders of Rivers State have given the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a week ultimatum to substitute its governorship candidate in the state, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike with a candidate from the riverine axis of the state.
The elders, under the auspices of Rivers Elders and Leaders Council (RELC) also appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the national leadership of the PDP to ensure the withdrawal of Wike in the interest of equity, justice and fairness to various ethnic nationalities that make up the state.
Chairman of RELC, Chief Albert Horsfall, who disclosed this yesterday while speaking to newsmen at Omagwa, near Port Harcourt, shortly after the meeting of the elders, said if by January 5, 2015, the PDP fails to substitute Wike, the people of the state would be mobilised to vote for the riverine candidate of any other political party that can win the 2015 governorship election in the state.
Horsfall said, “What we are saying here is that if the Peoples Democratic Party fails to substitute Nyesom Wike by January 5, 2015, all true Rivers people will vote en masse for the riverine candidate of any other party that can win election in Rivers State.
“Mr President is our son; we are appealing to him to prevail on the PDP to substitute Wike, but if they fail, we will encourage other aspirants to close ranks and produce a riverine candidate who has the potential to win the governorship of this state.”
He said, as elders, they were not opposed to the reconciliation initiated by the PDP governorship candidate, adding that true reconciliation within the party would commence once Wike withdraws as the party’s standard bearer.
The former Minister of State for Education yesterday, made a bold attempt at wooing women of the state when he presented Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, as his running mate ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Wike explained that he decided to choose a woman as his running mate as a result of the desire to create a place for women to play active role in the political and economic development of the state.
He stated that the task of choosing a running mate took him some time, attributing the situation on the rot in the governance of the state.
Describing Mrs. Banigo, who is a former Head of Service in the state, as a rare breed and a leader with uncommon traits, Wike expressed optimism that the ex-Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the State Government would join his team to rebuild the state.
Banigo, who is from Degema Local Government Area, attended various universities, including the University of Ibadan where she obtained her Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (1976), the Harvard (1981) and the University of London (1990).
Speaking yesterday in Port Harcourt while presenting his running mate, Wike observed that though the history of the state was awash with the input of great women, no woman had been given the opportunity to hold an office as high as that of the state deputy governor.
He said, “The search has ended. Dr. (Mrs) Banigo is a rare breed and a leader with uncommon traits. She will join us to rebuild the state. Her choice was informed by the need to create a special place for women to play active role in the politics of the state. Since 1967 when the state was created, no woman has been given such an opportunity. Yet, the history of the state is replete with women of great achievements. The time has come to give women the chance to play pivotal roles in the state.
“Rivers PDP is determined to move away from the primordial era of treating women with disdain and indignity. We want to move away from the acts of our opponents who relish giving out token to women. As a first step, Rivers PDP decided that a woman should occupy the post.” He added.
However, Mrs. Banigo, in her acceptance speech, expressed gratitude to the party and the governorship candidate for picking her as running mate to Wike.
She observed the challenges facing the state and added that such challenges became tougher in the face of the dwindling revenue and security issues in the country.
Describing her nomination as the running mate to the PDP governorship candidate as an honour to Rivers women, Banigo pledges to bring her experience while serving the state to bare and ensure the empowerment of women.
She joined Wike to appeal to the women in the state to reciprocate the state PDP’s gesture and vote massively for the party in the forthcoming election.

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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