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Niger Delta

Commercial Drivers Shun Govt’s COVID-19 Preventive Measures

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A cross section of commercial vehicle drivers in Rivers State have remained defiant to the directive of the state Ministry of Transport to limit the number of passengers they carry to prevent the spread of Coronavirus into the state.
Some of the drivers, who spoke with The Tide, yesterday, complained that the directive was counter-productive as the spread could not be halted by the restriction of the number of passengers in a small bus or taxi, insisting that no distance between two passengers in a bus or taxi was up to six metres, which the social distancing rules effectively recommend.
One of the bus drivers, Maxwell Bassey, who plies Port Harcourt-Aba Road, said the directive by the state Commissioner for Transport, Hon Sam Soni Ejekwu, would not work, as most motorists were unwilling to abandon passengers at bus stops when their cars were empty.
He argued that the social distancing rules may be difficult to apply to commercial vehicle operators, who were struggling to make ends meet in the face of harsh economic realities, and terrible road infrastructure.
Another taxi driver, who plies Mile 3 to Borikiri, Ikechi Amadi, complained that a reduction in the number of passengers per car will place serious burden on them, saying that government needs to implement palliative measures to cushion the negative impact of the directive on their business.
He argued that it would be difficult for the drivers to comply fully with the order, saying that they were still buying tickets and paying tolls to police at various stop-and-search checkpoints along the road, in addition to the fact that fares have not gone up.
A tricycle driver, Chinedu Chukwu, also complained of the high cost of doing the business without carrying full passengers as provided for on the seats.
He argued that after buying tickets and paying police at locations randomly spaced on the roads, it would be impossible for them to realise enough money to settle the ‘Keke’ owners, and still have something left to feed their families at the end of the day.
A tricycle driver on Agip-Mgbuoshimini road and another taxi driver on Ada-George-Mgbuoba Road also lamented that government had not done enough to motivate them to comply with the directive to carry only two passengers instead of four for tricycle, and three instead of five for taxi, arguing that profits that would be lost as a result of such action will be difficult to recoup.
It would be recalled that the state Commissioner for Transport, Hon Sam Ejeku, had issued a comprehensive directive to guide commercial vehicle drivers in the state to navigate their business without compromising the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
The commissioner had said, “I am glad to issue this communiqué following the joint meeting between the Ministry of Transport and officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other stakeholders in the Transport Sector in Rivers State.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Niger Delta

Minister Urges NDDC Board To Be Unique

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, has called on the newly inaugurated Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to ensure they make a difference for the development of the region.
Umana said this in his keynote remarks, while declaring open the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board and Management retreat in Uyo, at the weekend.
He said the inauguration of the board was meant to enhance the development of the Niger Delta Region and charged them to live above board in the discharge of their duties.
He urged them to strictly adhere to the rules of due diligence and transparency in line with the Establishment and Public Procurement Acts.
He said the inauguration of the board was meant to enhance the development of the Niger Delta region, adding that the region, which has suffered neglect and deprivation for so long, needed a new lease of life
The minister called on the board to focus on key areas like the establishment act and public procurement act as Nigerians expect a turnaround of the commission to reflect the core mandate of developing the region.
Umana called on the participants to set a template that would facilitate rapid development of the niger delta and Nigeria in general.
“This retreat is principally to ensure that the new board are properly equipped to provide a new direction for the development of the Niger Delta region,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NDDC, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, in his address of welcome, said the board was expected to do something differently to take the Niger Delta region to greater hight.
Ogbuku said the new board had a template for sustainable programme for youths and every citizen of the region.
He said the commission would endeavour to create partnership with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other stakeholders through public private partnerships initiative.
He urged participants to evolve ideas, programmes and blueprints towards taking the region to a new level of development.
“We will soon unfold our packages for the development of the region. The Niger Delta Development Commission Board is expected to make great difference this time around,” he said.
The Tide’s source reports that the three-day retreat for NDDC board and management is with the theme; “NDDC: Making a Difference.”
The source also reports that a communique is expected at the end of the retreat to address issues affecting the niger delta region and proffer possible solutions.

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Niger Delta

FG Trains 50 Farmers On Agroforestry Model In Edo

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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has trained 50 coconut farmers and processors on agroforestry system-based plantation model, to improve the livelihoods of the farmers in Edo State.
The capacity building was organised under the coconut value chain of the ministry, in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin.
Declaring the training open, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the exercise was part of efforts of the Federal Government to attain food security and self-sufficiency in Nigeria.
Represented by Chukwuemeka Ukattah, a Director in the ministry, Abubakar said President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to turn around the nation’s economy through agriculture by its unwavering support for farmers and empowerment of women and youths.
He said it was an effort to attain food security, self-sufficiency as well as improve the livelihood of coconut farmers and processors.
“The government, through the coconut value chain, decided to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain a successful coconut plantation.
“We will cover topics such as nursery establishment, field development, harvesting and processing to meet local and international markets standard and demand.
“With the right training, coconut value chain has the potentials to contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP and generate employment,” Abubakar said.
The Executive Director of NIFOR, Dr Celestine Ikuenobe, who welcomed participants to the workshop, said Nigeria’s coconut production was far below the demand.
“I am sure that if the National Coconut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN) works with this agroforestry based plantation model, the value chain will be on a scale to contribute significantly to our economy.
“We suddenly got a huge demand for coconut seedlings in the last three to four years and we were caught napping because we did not prepare for the fact that there was going to be an upsurge in the demand for coconut seedlings,” he said.
Ikuenobe explained that NIFOR was strengthening its capacity to meet the sudden upsurge in the demand for the seedlings.
“We are working to invigorate our coconut gardens in addition to other identified seed trees,” he added.
According to him, in the last two years, “we have replanted our coconut germplasm and in the next five years, there will be enough to provide nuts and materials for the industry.”

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Niger Delta

Council Re-Proclaims Ekpo Abasi-Otu As Obong Of Calabar

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The Etubom’s Conclave of the Obong of Calabar Palace has re-proclaimed Edidem Ekpo Abasi-Otu V, as the Obong of Calabar.
This was in compliance with the Supreme Court Judgement of January 13, which ordered the Etubom’s Conclave of the Obong of Calabar’s Palace to conduct fresh selection process for the throne of the Obong of Calabar.
Chairman, Etubom’s Conclave, Etubom Ntiero Effiwat, stated this recently while reading a document signed by 13 of the conclave members before the others at the palace of the Obong of Calabar.
According to Effiwat, Abasi-Otu of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, having fully satisfied with candidate qualifications and eligibility, the Etubom’s Conclave therefore, declared him the successor.
“He is hereby on this day, Jan. 18, 2023 been proclaimed as successor to the throne of the Obong of Calabar.
“The qualified Etuboms who fall under this group were communicated to and directed to produce and present their nominee to the Etubom’s Conclave by Jan. 18, 2023.
“The most senior Etubom of Atai Iboku group, Etubom Otu Efa-Otu, presented thier selected nominee for the throne of Obong of Calabar in person of HRH, Ekpo Abasi-Otu of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House,” he said.

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