The Omega Power Ministries (OPM) Worldwide, joined the rest of the world, on Monday to celebrate the World Down Syndrome Day to actually draw attention to children born with the condition, with a view to creating awareness on their plight, particularly in Rivers State.
As a way of truly marking the day and giving it meaning, the church organised and packaged a special programme at its Free Special School for Children Born with Autism and Down Syndrome in Umuakpu-Rukpokwu Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State, with the General Overseer of OPM, Apostle Chibuzor Gift Chinyere; the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku; and other personalities in attendance.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s event, which is “Inclusion Means…”, Apostle Chinyere and Prof. Ebeku, stepped out in grand style and danced with the children, wriggling their bodies and waists in ecstasy to the admiration of those present. The special way the General Overseer in particular stooped and danced with the children drew thunderous applause from the audience, who were mostly parents of the victims, amid laughter and jocularity. The children and their teachers wore special T-shirts designed specifically for the event.
The crowning moment, however, came when a handful of normal children, decked in their school uniforms, drawn from OPM Free School, presented the famous. “We Are One” rendition to their physically challenged counterparts, assuring them that like the rest of humanity, they were not supposed to be treated less than other human beings by circumstances of their birth, and telling them in essence that they had indeed not been forgotten by the society, as epitomised by all that OPM is doing for them.
As captured by the presentation, the reality of this assurance is underscored by the sheer fact that OPM itself through the uncommon magnanimity of the General Overseer had deemed it necessary to establish on January 11,2021 a special school for them where they are provided educational materials and among other items free of charge.
Another strong point about these special children is the fact that some of them, through the tutelage of their teachers, who the General Overseer described as core professionals and God-sent, are now able to do what they were not able to do before now.
Cakes, weavons, among other items made by them were actually displayed and exhibited at the event.
To crown it all, a special cake was also cut by the children alongside the General Overseer; Prof. Ebeku; among other dignitaries, to mark the day, while a popular radio presenter in Port Harcourt, Mr. Akas Baba anchored the proceedings.
In his remarks, Apostle Chinyere gave reasons for establishing the free special school in the first place, hinting that children of the wealthy, with similar conditions were privileged to be sponsored in special schools by their rich parents unlike the poor children who were more or less sent to public schools, where ordinarily they could not blend.
The General Overseer further noted that he decided to site the special school in the same environment with a regular school for the purpose of inclusion, a situation where, according to him, physically challenged children could conveniently blend and interact with normal children.
Chinyere stressed the need for the society not to discriminate against children born with autism and down syndrome because, according to him, they are created by God, adding that everything created by God is good and beautiful.
He disclosed that within 90 days, he was going to establish a department where persons with autism would be employed so that multinational companies would borrow a cue, to drive home the point that disability is not limitation.
Chinyere was full of praises for teachers in the special school whom he said were given adequate incentives to effectively do their work, contending that persons with disabilities actually needed to be accepted by the society instead of being seen as a curse.
On his part, the State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku thanked Apostle Chinyere and the OPM Foundation for complementing the state government’s efforts in anchoring free schools and special schools in the State, describing the General Overseer as an icon of education. He said it was an act of great respect for the man of God that he personally decided to grace the occasion.
He said the state government is always happy with organisations that help to promote the process of governance, stressing that the government has spent a lot of money to revamp and reactivate special schools in the state.
“What Apostle Chibuzor is doing is to complement that effort. This is practical Christianity,” he said.
Ebeku also condemned in strong terms discrimination against persons with disabilities, which he said violates the Constitution of the country, and stressed the need for inclusion.
The Principal of the OPM Free Special School, Mr. Idoh Francis said the vision of the church is to alleviate the sufferings of parents and make the society a better place for all, and commended the General Overseer for the bold initiative of establishing the special school where both the regular pupils are playing together with the physically challenged ones.
In her welcome address, the OPM Director of Schools and Welfare, Dr (Mrs) Maureen Chukwu said the church is the only organisation running a free school for children born with autism and down syndrome, and commended the General Overseer for all that he is doing for mankind, describing him as the icon of quality free education.
She further hinted that the special school only recruited teachers with cognate experience in special children care, contending that the school believes in the synergy between teachings, extra-curricular activities and medical attention as well as prayers/spiritual impartations from the General Overseer in order to bring out the best from pupils.
By: Donatus Ebi
2023: Nigeria Needs Clean Leaders-Expert
An environmental consultant in Rivers State, Pali- Alabo Maxwell Fubara has urged Nigerians to avoid those who are part of Nigeria’s rot while voting in the 2023 general elections.
Speaking with The Tide recently in Port Harcourt on the 2023 general elections and the place of good governance, Fubara said avoiding such people is a step towards rescuing the country.
According to him, Nigerians cannot afford to choose the next president from among those who have made a career of living in government since 1999, and expect positive changes in their lives in the country.
He said, “The truth is that some of those who have stayed too long in the status quo have become part of the corrupt system, and it is an illusion to expect corruption to fight corruption”.
Fubara, a former State Assistant Public Relations Officer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) argued that a corrupt system cannot fight corruption, and so the nation needs clean, God-fearing, and caring leaders with vast leadership expertise and exposure to emerge in 2023 from the past failures to break the shacles of the rot in order to move forward.
Fubara noted that either in the PDP, APC or other political parties, those whose only duty has been to change from one government office to another and have never done any other productive thing apart from squandering government and public funds, driving convoys of cars around that they do not fuel themselves, escorted by security paid for by government are far removed from the realities of Nigeria, and are therefore incapable of comprehending the urgency and depth of development Nigerians need currently.
“I laugh when I read about someone who has never set up even a barber shop in his or her life promising young people employment.”
These are people who do not understand how business run.
“ The solution to national security challenges, the unemployment problem, high cost of petroleum products and basic items requires new approach to handle, which those who have never paid for anything they consume in the past 23years running cannot understand.”
The image-maker who said that what attributed him to the people’s Democratic Party (PDP) was Governor Nyesom Wike’s belief that corruption must be crushed in Rivers State.
Ahead of the 2023 general polls, Fubara advised politicians, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the electorate to play the game based on level playing ground, where peace and tranquility would be sustained.
He enjoined them to see election next year as not a do or die affairs, rather do the needful by working towards better Nigeria “Our Founding Fathers Fought For”.
By: Bethel Toby & Oribim Ibama
Navy Rescues Seven Victims From Kidnappers
The Nigeria Navy has said it has rescued seven male victims who were abducted on May 10 by sea pirates off the coast of Bonny Island in Rivers.
The Tide’s source reports the seven passengers were transiting to Port Harcourt from Bonny when their commercial boat was intercepted and the victims abducted by pirates.
Commodore Suleiman Ibrahim, the Commander, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt presented the rescued victims before newsmen on Tuesday at the naval headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He said the kidnappers, after intercepting the commercial boat, diverted it to an unknown location inside the thick swampy forest of the State.
“After the pirates kidnapped the passengers on May 10 along Bonny Channel, near Yellow Platform, we (NNS Pathfinder) immediately mobilised and started tracking to identify the abductors.
“Through intelligence gathering, we were able to identify one Mr Victor Padei, who intelligence revealed masterminded the abductions.
“Thereafter, we mobilised troops and stormed his camp (in Rivers). Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the camp, Padei had already relocated with his victims.
“Padei knows the terrain very well and he deploys his local informants who give him information on the movement of troops”, he said.
Ibrahim stated further that reconnaissance was conducted to determine the whereabouts of fleeing abductors which revealed the suspects relocated to another camp in Bayelsa.
“Again, we mobilised personnel in collaboration with our naval base in Bayelsa to raid the kidnapper’s camp but unfortunately they have already relocated with the victims before we got there.
“However, intelligence later discovered another camp in Bayelsa where kidnappers held the victims against their will.
“Upon storming the kidnappers’ den, we applied pressure (force) and issued them (kidnappers) to release the abductees unconditionally.
“Subsequently, on the midnight of May 21, the seven victims were returned unharmed to us and they are currently with us,” he added.
The navy officer said troops were currently on the trail of Padei and his gang of kidnappers and assured of their arrest and prosecution in no time.
He called on members of the public to go about their legitimate businesses as the navy in collaboration with other security outfits has further secured the waterways in Rivers.
Narrating his ordeal, one of the rescued victims, Jude Ichikpro, 57, expressed gratitude to the Nigeria Navy for rescuing him and his fellow passengers from kidnappers.
The victim told the source that after their boat was intercepted, their abductors blindfolded and took them to an unknown area.
“We transited several hours by sea and later arrived at their camp which I am still not sure about the location.
“After we arrived at the camp, they gave us our phones to contact and inform our family members of our abduction.
“Thereafter, they demanded N350 million (N50 million each) for the seven of us to secure our release; threatening to kill anyone of us whose family did not pay their ransom.
“I was horrified and worried that I would be killed knowing that my family cannot raise such huge funds to secure my release. So, I kept praying fervently.
“The entire experience was horrific as they kept threatening us. I was overly worried knowing that my family cannot raise such huge sums of money to secure my release.
Ichikpro, a Delta State indigene, said that they were held for 12 days and fed with uncooked food; drank dirty and salty water and sometimes slept inside the swampy waters.
He said on the day of their rescue, he heard loud noise which he initially thought was from the villages shadowing the kidnappers’ den.
“But the sound became louder, and only then did I realise that it was from security men because I can hear their voices but I was terrified and confused at the same time.
“Moments later, some men came to where we were kept and requested for our identity. It was only then I realised that they were naval personnel.
Ichikpro said that the navy operatives later took them away for de-briefing.
“I am so grateful to God and the Nigeria Navy for coming to my rescue without paying even a Kobo ransom to my kidnappers,” he said.
2023 Presidency: Monarch Sues For Peaceful Conduct
A royal father in the Niger Delta, and the Mingi of Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State, King Edmond Dakoru, has urged the electorate in the South to maintain a peaceful disposition in the midst of provocation in the quest for a Southern President come 2023.
Dakoru, the former minister of petroleum, in an interview with aviation correspondents shortly on arrival, Wednesday, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, observed that everywhere is tensed with the quest for a southern president.
He stated that no sacrifice is too small or big to make, if we want Nigeria to remain as one country, adding that any position that is good should not remain for one group.
“Whether the principle of zoning is enacted in Constitution or not, I think it’s ideal that it should be rotated between the North and South.
“We have actually operated in that principle. That is the principle that has kept us as one people since independence, and even the principle of national stread and Federal character.
“If a position is important enough, it should not remain in one particular section of country, and why dragging on and on for a long time on this southern president for 2023?
“Zone it to the southern part of the country, instead of raising political tension each time. The southern part will know where it is supposed to go among the three zones, and just leave them to decide.
“There should not be tension, no matter the provocation, but let the right thing be done. The unity of the country is important”, Dakoru said.
The royal father, however, noted that the size of any country matters, adding that Nigeria should not be fragmented, but should remain as one.
He also urged the electorates not to be misled by people who make provocative statements, saying that most of such people who make such statements, will run when they see crisis.
By: Corlins Walter
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