The Tide Correspondent Sweeps NACA Awards …As RSG Pledges Support To Combat HIV/AIDS
Tide Health Correspondent of The Tide Newspaper, Sogbeba Dokubo, last weekend, in Port Harcourt garnered two top awards from the South-South NACA Awards.
Dokubo took home the Outstanding Investigative Story and Outstanding Diversified News Story Awards.
She dominated the award list further with her NGO: Journalists’ Alliance Against HIV and Media Initiative Against HIV/AIDS.
Over the years, Dokubo has through her reports pushed for behavioural change and campaigned to raise awareness about the virus.
She stood out among other broadcast journalists from the Akwa Ibom State Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC).
The Outstanding Media Performance Award went to Imaobong Akpabio of AKBC, while Amelok Ndong of the Pioneer clinched the Outstanding Feature Story award.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has affirmed that it has broken new grounds in its effort to deliver quality healthcare to Rivers people.
The state Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo disclosed this during the first NACA HIV Award Night at Landmark Hotel in Port Harcourt, last Thursday.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Transport, Mrs. Fanny Barango, Banigo said as part of deliberate efforts to give succour to people living with HIV, Wike abolished health facility user-fees for persons living with HIV and took over payments in all public health facilities.
Banigo said the governor had established a Faculty of Medicine in the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital that has been upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment.
According to the deputy governor, the Mother and Child Hospital, Dr. Peter Odili Cancer/Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, the upgraded Government House Clinic, as well as the zonal hospitals in the three senatorial districts were set up to add value to the health system.
Banigo expressed delight that NACA South-South Zonal Office produced NACA HIV Media Reference Package for Practitioners, and noted that it has been adopted as a national resource document, which has been placed on the website of NACA for wider dissemination to the public.
She said as the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) Ambassador to NACA in Rivers State, she would continue to collaborate with NACA in perfecting the good work they were carrying out in the South-South Zone and Nigeria as a nation.
Shortly after being announced as the state with the Outstanding Media Advocacy, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, pledged support of state government against checking HIV /AIDs.
Nsirim, who spoke through the Director of Enlightenment in the ministry, Mr Celestine Ogolo, said the state has been partnering with NACA , National Council Against HIV and AIDS in the fight to curb the virus.
He said, “All the platforms of our ministry are open and available for the campaigns”.
Lauding the award recipients and South-South Office of NACA, Nsirim commended organisations and individuals who are on the frontline to check the menace, and urged them not to relent.
On her part, the South-South Zonal Coordinator of NACA, Dr. Uduak Daniel, explained that the intention of the zonal office is to ensure that all the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) live up to expectations as far as containing the spread of HIV is concerned, even in the midst of COVID-19.
“Not long after the Zonal Office was commissioned in 2020, the corona virus pandemic came in and HIV now had other public health issues to compete with.
“This made us in the South-South very innovative and flexible working with other partners and stakeholders. We were able to ensure that we had contingency plans for the NACA and COVID-19 integration”, she said.
Daniel explained further that working with partners, “we were able to ensure that HIV was still in the fore front of everything public health”, adding that while it had not been easy, there had been rewards.
Some of the gains recorded within the period in the South-South Zonal response, she said, include the strengthening of structures in NACAs in the Zone, such that even those without functional boards could still operate effectively.
By: Soibi Max-Alalibo & Kevin Nengia
Wike Dissolves Cabinet, Attributes RSG’s Success To Members’ Sacrifices
Governor Nyesom Wike has dissolved the Rivers State Executive Council, and expressed profound gratitude to the cabinet members for their service to the government and the state.
The governor announced the dissolution after the State Executive Council’s special valedictory session, held in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike directed the commissioners to hand over government property in their custody to the Permanent Secretary or most senior director in their respective ministries.
He commended members of the cabinet for their immense sacrifices, commitment and dedication to service, which was responsible for the tremendous transformation the state had undergone in the past eight years.
“Everybody is saying today that we have done well, no one person did well, everybody did well. The governor alone cannot, on his own, be in charge of everywhere. The governor needs people who will work for him. All he does is, from time to time, find out whether things are moving on well or not.
“So, that I have done well, for me, is not about me. Those that are responsible for our state shining today, are all of you who are seated here, who have worked from morning till night. I want to sincerely thank you for the support.”
Wike said all those who served as cabinet members can confidently return home with their shoulders high, having successfully changed the narrative of governance in the country.
“Be happy to say, yes, I participated when they said Rivers State became one of the leading states in this country; when they said there was infrastructure revolution in the state, when they said we stood our ground and challenged the authorities. We stood our ground and fought the Federal Government, when we know they have violated the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The Rivers State governor recalled that at the inception of the administration in 2015, it was faced with series of challenges because of the hostility of the Federal Government, culminating in the nullification of the governorship, state and National Assembly elections.
“In 2015, when elections were nullified from State Assembly to National Assembly, to governorship, we remained undaunted. There were re-runs and re-runs, but God was on our side. We survived it, and we have never chickened out to speak the truth. We have never chickened out to say what we believe in, and we give God the glory. I want to sincerely thank all of you for your contributions.”
Wike described the immediate past administration as callous and vicious for looting state assets, and not formally handing over to his government.
He, however, thanked God for the privilege that he would be successfully handing over to the incoming Sir Siminialayi Fubara-led government on May 29.
The governor implored the cabinet members to conscientiously pray for the success of the incoming administration.
According to him, “All we need is to pray for the incoming government, support them. Where he finds you necessary to be part of his cabinet, do not disappoint us by saying no.”
In her valedictory remarks, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, thanked the governor for availing her the privilege to be the first female deputy governor since the creation of the state in 1967.
She said history will remember Wike for his gender-sensitive policy, which has paved way for another woman, Prof. Ngozi Ordu, to be her successor.
In his remarks, the former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, said he was proud to be part of the Wike-led transformational government that changed the landscape of the state with impactful infrastructure projects.
Similarly, the Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, said when Wike assumed office in 2015, the state purportedly had 54,472 civil servants on her payroll, but following the introduction of biometric system, the number has reduced to 39,451.
On his part, the former Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Engr Emeka Woke, thanked Wike for giving him the opportunity to serve the state under his administration.
Former Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, said by virtue of his appointment, he had learnt how to apply law for public good.
Adangor commended Wike for recovering Rivers State oil wells from other states through the ministry.
The former Commissioner for Works, Dr Dakorinama Alabo George-Kelly, disclosed that over 920-kilometre roads and 600 kilometres of drains were constructed by the Wike-led administration since 2015.
Health Workers Declare Indefinite Strike
The Joint Health Sector Unions/Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (JOHESU), and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have declared an indefinite strike.
According to the aggrieved workers, the strike is as a result of the failure of the Federal Government to adjust the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) and other demands.
JOHESU/AHPA is a conglomerate of four registered trade Unions which include Medical and Health workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institution(NASU).
Declaring the indefinite strike on Thursday morning in Abuja, the Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Dr.OgbonnaChimela, said, “Consequent upon the nonchalant, bias and lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Ministry of Health against JOHESU members and the resolution of the expanded National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the unions held on Monday, May 8, 2023, our members in Federal Health Institutions nationwide are hereby directed to withdraw their services indefinitely commencing from 00.00 hour on Thursday, May 25, 2023.”
The unions had earlier on May 9 through a letter to the Federal Ministry of Health, giving the Federal Government a 15-day ultimatum to meet their demands.
Ogbonna said the issues in dispute were: Adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS; payment of peculiar allowances to health workers; immediate and unconditional implementation of the Consultant Cadre circular for pharmacists in all federal health institutions; payment of withheld salaries of members in Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and outstanding April and May 2018 salaries of members in Federal Medical Centre, Azare; as well as payment of health workers excluded in payment of wage new hazard allowances.
He said the mode of payment of all health workers in Nigeria is Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) while Physicians are on the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
He said, “As at 2009, the Memorandum of Understanding at the inception of these two salary structures and subsequent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Federal Government and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) established strongly that once there is an adjustment in any of the salary structure, the other structure should be adjusted commensurately.”
The unions called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately approve and implement the technical committee report on the adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS).
They said “the unending vicious cycle of tyranny meted against members of affiliate of the Joint Health Sector Union members of the respective (JOHESU) in the health sector by the physicians dominated and oriented Federal Ministry of Health.”
The unions also called on the National Assembly especially Senators – elect and House of Representatives members — elect to only facilitate the appointment of seasoned administrators and managers of cognate experience as ministers in charge of the health sector.
“This remains the only way to normalize and do away with the perennial entropy that continue to engulf the health sector where productivity is at the lowest hub,” they said.
Presidential Poll Tribunal: Parties Disagree As Court Rules On Live Broadcast, Today
Ahead of today’s ruling on the application for live transmission of the proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress have disagreed over the need for the hearing to be broadcast by the media.
The PDP and LP told The Tide source, yesterday that the live telecast of the court sittings would remove any doubts about the transparency of the judiciary and promote fairness, but the APC argued that it would not advance the course of justice.
The PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who came second behind the President-elect, Bola Tinubu in the February 25 election, had prayed the tribunal to broadcast its sittings live to Nigerians to enable them to have firsthand information of the processes that would guide the tribunal in determining the authentic winner of the contest.
Atiku and the PDP in an application dated May 5, filed by their counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, specifically prayed to the court for an order directing the court’s registry and the parties on modalities for admission of media practitioners and their equipment into the courtroom.
The LP and its standard bearer, Peter Obi filed a similar application through their lead counsel, Awa Kalu, SAN, in which they argued that Nigerians being stakeholders have a right to have real-time information about the election petition proceedings.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the president-elect and the APC vehemently opposed the application, describing it as frivolous.
They argued that the application relates to policy formulation of the court, which is outside the PEPC’s jurisdiction as constituted.
Counsel for APC, Lateef Fagbemi, asked the court not to concede the request to turn the court into “a Big Brother electoral series.”
The counsel to the president-elect, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, noted that the live broadcast if approved, would expose both the judges and lawyers to danger while the counsel to INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, argued that the application was needless since already, “the court is a public place and is accessible to all, subject to the availability of space.”
After hearing the arguments from all the parties last Thursday, the court reserved a ruling on the application till Monday (today).
But speaking on the issue ahead of the ruling, Obi is insisting on the live broadcast of the court proceedings.
Obi, who spoke to our correspondent through his media aide, Emeka Obasi, urged the tribunal to rule in favour of his application in the interest of transparency and democracy.
He said, “We are in the modern age where transparency is required. An election is being disputed by four political parties. To be fair and for equity, it is very much expected that processes are steamed live for people to follow. We are talking about over 200 million Nigerians. The courtroom cannot contain 1,000 people.
“Every interested Nigerian should be given the access to see for himself or herself the proceedings of the most important ruling in the history of the country. So, if we are practising democracy, the tribunal has nothing other than to approve the live streaming.”
Buttressing his principal’s arguments, the Spokesperson for Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko noted that the approval of the live broadcast would build trust and restore “the hope of the common man as the judiciary is seen to be the hope of the common man, especially now that the judiciary is seen also to be on trial.”
PDP insists on broadcast
In a telephone conversation with The PUNCH on Sunday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba gave strong reasons for the party’s demand for a live telecast of the hearing.
According to him, voters needed to be carried along by the tribunal throughout its sittings to give them a sense of participation.
He noted, “Live telecast is consistent with democracy because participatory democracy provides that the people have the right to know. As a party, we are saying that elections are a process, not an event.
‘’The Independent National Electoral Commission in its guidelines to the elections under the Electoral Act enjoins parties to be transparent and in most cases, what the political parties did were televised.’’
“The process which led to the emergence of the candidates which is an internal process of the parties was witnessed by INEC. That is a process. Starting from the party primaries to the sponsorship of candidates, everything was done in the open. The next part is the actual election conducted by INEC.
“INEC has been televising its processes-voting, collation, counting, announcement, and declaration of results were done in the open. In the presidential election, in particular, INEC’s collation and declaration of results were in the open and televised live worldwide.
‘’The other part of the election is the tribunal. Now, if the first two processes can be televised, we expect that the last one which involves the judiciary should be televised live,” he submitted.
Similarly, the Media Adviser to the PDP standard bearer, Mr Paul Ibe maintained that the live telecast would enhance the transparency of the court proceedings, stressing that it is of primary interest to Nigerians.
He added, “The live telecast is to give Nigerians, who were participants in the election as citizens, whether they voted or not, an opportunity to be part of the process. It (live telecast) is good for transparency too. All eyes are on the judiciary and what the tribunal will make out of it.
‘’We are of the view that the court should grant this request because it is one made on behalf of Nigerians regardless of their political affiliations. It will make sense for the process to be open to Nigerians. We don’t know what INEC is saying because it is acting as if it is a political party in the election. It should stop acting as if it is an agent of a political party.
‘’Let’s hope they are not hiding anything and in any case, what they are hiding is what they don’t want Nigerians to know. The commission conducted elections in the negation of its own rules. People should be able to see in real-time the tribunal’s proceedings.”
The supporters of the LP presidential candidate who took to social media on Sunday, are also insisting on a live broadcast of the proceedings of the court.
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