With over 99% of Nigerians being aware of Covid-19, according to NOIPolls, the Federal Government has rolled out a new set of campaigns to contain the rampaging novel Coronavirus in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed announced this, yesterday, during the daily update briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) in Abuja.
He said that the ministry rolled out a new set of TV campaigns and radio jingles focusing on the NPI interventions after the ministry and its agencies had ramped up their public enlightenment and advocacy campaign to continue to reach Nigerians with information on how they can protect themselves and avoid contracting the disease.
Accordingly, Mohammed explained that the TVCs and the jingles, were packaged in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, and had started playing on the NTA and the FRCN.
This he said is necessary because, in the absence of vaccine or drugs, Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI) remains the most effective way to contain the spread of the disease and protect Nigerians.
“The campaign has therefore continued to focus on the need for the populace to adhere strictly to social distancing and mass gathering restrictions, wear face mask and ensure good personal hygiene.
“The ministry has now rolled out a new set of TVCs and radio jingles focusing on the NPI interventions.
“The TVCs and the jingles, in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, have started playing on the NTA and the FRCN.
“We are in the process of rolling them out on state and private radio and television stations across the country. We have no choice since information remains the most potent tool that can be deployed against the virus today.
“NTA, FRCN, NAN and VON are also fully engaged in the public enlightenment and advocacy campaign. These agencies have used their own resources to produce TVCs and jingles, which they have continued to air and disseminate, in addition to devoting a large chunk of their programmes and time to the campaign.
“I am also happy to announce that, contrary to the belief in certain quarters, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), despite lacking adequate resources, has shown creativity in its bid to take the campaign to Nigerians.
“The agency has leveraged its relationship with NGOs and the private sector to produce Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials which are now being disseminated to Nigerians in English, Pidgin and some of the major indigenous languages.
“The NTA and the FRCN have provided their platforms for the dissemination of these IECs. The advantage here is that some of these materials can also be disseminated to Nigerians through their phones, thus helping to spread them quickly and widely,” he added.
On the next phase of the public enlightenment and advocacy campaign, the minister said the ministry is to develop and disseminate IEC materials on the need to avoid stigmatizing those who have contracted the virus; the need to shun fake news and the need to reach those who are visually-challenged and hearing impaired. We have already started working on this.
On misinformation, the minister added that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had taken steps to prevent misinformation via the broadcast stations by warning them to adhere strictly to the professional ethics of balance and fairness in reporting Covid-19.
In particular, the commission, according to him, has warned the stations against bringing on their programmes ‘panellists’ with agenda to make reckless statements and insinuations.
“The commission, in its warning letter to the broadcast stations, quoted the relevant sections of the Broadcasting Code.
“The NBC quoted Section 5.4.1, which says ‘The broadcaster shall at all times ensure that the coverage of a disaster or crisis is aimed at overall public interest, guidance and safety’.
“The commission has warned that failure to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Broadcasting Code will attract sanctions, as stipulated by the Code.”
The task force also clarified that members from the same family cannot receive money from the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme currently ongoing in many states.
It also stated that a total of 279 trucks of grains had been deployed to the frontline states that were put on lockdown by the President.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, disclosed this at the daily briefing on Covid-19 updates in Abuja.
She further said the government was focusing on digitalising the CCT scheme and was getting the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of beneficiaries as well as their mobile phone contacts to improve on the transparency of the process.
On claims that two members of a family were paid N20,000 each recently, the minister said it was highly impossible for such to happen.
Umar-Farouq said, “This is near impossible because the process involved is a very tedious one, where all critical stakeholders in the community are involved.
“The faith-based organisations, leaders of the community and other stakeholders are the ones who came up with the list of those to benefit from the intervention in that particular community.”
She added, “And if you go through the list, every particular household must be captured in all three or four of the lists being managed by that community.
“So, it is almost impossible for the same members of a household to get this intervention.”
The minister noted that her ministry would look into the matter to ascertain the claim but insisted that it would be “highly impossible”.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has said the Kano State Government has set up a team to investigate the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.
Though the task force said it was closely monitoring Kano, Osun, Oyo and Edo states amid the recent surge in Coronavirus cases, it expressed “particular concern” with Kano.
The National Coordinator, PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who spoke during the daily task force briefing in Abuja, yesterday, said, “We note the concerns about increased reporting of cases. We are closely monitoring Kano, Osun, Oyo and Edo.
“I think it is important to let us know that the country is about to witness turbulent times induced by the pandemic Coronavirus. We may soon be hard hit. The reason for this is that, we, I mean the Nigerian Government, delayed in taking proactive action at the onset.
“However, I can assure us that the government is serious about taking necessary steps to curtail the level of casualties. Well coordinated measures are about to be put in place from a broad, diverse spectrum. All the necessary Working Groups have been inaugurated today.
“International bodies such as WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, CDC, World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the private sector, civil society groups are partnering the task force, providing technical and financial assistance and support. Donations are quite streaming in.
“From Global Fund, we got $33million, another $3.3million came from another body I cannot give the name immediately. Max Air donated $200,000, the Chinese firm, Huawei, doled out N100million. There are a number of other handsome donations. We have been holding these meetings with some foreign experts.
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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