The devastating effects of the global COVID19 pandemic is now evident at the Niger Delta Development Commission in Port Harcourt as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has ordered the immediate shutdown of the headquarters of the following the sudden demise of the Commission’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Etang, who is suspected to have from coronavirus complications.
Senator Akpabio directed all staff of the Commission currently exhibiting symptoms report to the nearest NCDC centre in Port Harcourt for evaluation following the death of Chief Etang in the early hours of Thursday at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt
The ministry in a statement by its Director, Press & PR, Mrs Deworitshe Patricia said the “Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Godswill Akpabio, has directed the immediate temporary closure of the Corporate Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Port Harcourt as a result of a suspected outbreak of COVID-19, Coronavirus disease. “He has also advised all staff currently exhibiting symptoms not to panic but to report to the nearest NCDC centre in Port Harcourt for evaluation and possible treatment. Further actions shall be communicated as would be directed by the Headquarters of the NCDC.”
in a related development, a non governmental agency, Act for positive Initiative (API) has alleged that the decision to shut down the headquarters of the Niger delta development commission (NDDC) was part of the grand design to cover up wrongdoings in the outfit.
The group in a statement signed by it’s Head directorate of research, strategy and.programme, Mr
Kolawole Johnson contended that there was no basis to shut down the NDDC headquarters under the pretext of containing the Coronavirus pandemic.
The group called on President Mohammadu to take note of the unfolding drama at the NDDC, insisting that the probe of the NDDC must go ahead since key officials like the Executive Director, Finance & Administration and the Managing Director in the know of financial dealings are still alive.
Most of the documents in our possession have both names, there is no way the other party can feign ignorance.
It noted: “We had earlier raised an alarm in the early hours of the day on a rumored satanic scheme to weave the death of the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the commission around COVID-19 in order for members of the commission to proceed on self- isolation, shut the office and frustrate the ongoing probe.
“We alerted some journalists as early as 7:30am on this dubious plan and later appeared on a National Television to warn all involved to respect the dead and halt such inhuman plot.
“Event this afternoon has finally confirmed this plan that was leaked to the public several hours before it was officially hatched.
“The commission has released a memo to begin the series of drama planned; from isolation to fake test and eventual fake confirmation. We call on the President to direct security agencies to investigate and frustrate every ploy in this regard.
“The late EDFA was no doubt an accounting officer, but not the chief accounting officer. The Managing Director/CEO is the chief accounting officer. All payments are authorized by the Executive Director, Finance & Administration while the final approval lies with the Managing Director.
“Most of the documents in our possession have both names, there is no way the other party can feign ignorance.
“We also make a special appeal to the security agencies to protect the Managing Director/CEO of the commission.”
Minister Challenges Local Broadcast Media To Tell Nigerian Story
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has challenged the Nigerian broadcast media to take the lead in telling the Nigerian story in order to guard against distortion of facts by a section of the foreign media.
The Minister gave the challenge in Oko, Oyo State, while commissioning the 89.3 FM Station on the stable of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria on Saturday.
“Please permit me to use the occasion of this commissioning to challenge broadcast media in Nigeria to take the lead in telling the Nigerian story, especially by informing the people about the various projects of government and their impact on the people.
“A situation in which foreign broadcast stations arrogate to themselves the power to tell our own story gives room for distortion of facts, the type of which we saw recently when CNN reported that 38 people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate during the EndSARS crisis, only to backtrack and review the number to one – after 35 days of what it called exclusive investigation,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed noted that had the local broadcast media lived up to their billing, CNN would have relied on them for news about EndSARS in particular and other happenings in Nigeria, in general, stressing that the broadcast media would have saved Nigeria from the one-sided, unfair, unbalanced and jaundiced narrative that CNN foisted on the world under the guise of exclusive investigation.
“A situation in which the local media will rely and quote a foreign broadcast media, for an event that happened in Nigeria, is an anomaly. It has to stop,” he said.
While quoting a website www.lifelineenergy.org, to underscore the critical role of radio in public communication in particular, the Minister said ”radio goes where newer technologies can’t. – Beyond electricity, beyond a mobile signal, beyond literacy. It’s the most effective way of delivering information in remote corners where having the right knowledge can mean the difference between a harvest and hunger, between feeling confident or humiliated, or even between life and death.”
He commended the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Value, Mr. Olusegun Odebunmi, for initiating the project, adding that this is the first time ever that a Federal Lawmaker is initiating the construction and equipping of a radio station as his constituency project.
Alhaji Mohammed implored the people of Oko and its environs to take ownership of the radio station, guard it jealously and ensure its viability.
In his remarks, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Value, Mr. Odebunmi, said information is power but that it will be less effective without the means to transmit it in order to counter fake news and hate speech that are threatening the peace and unity of the country and the world in general.
The Director General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Dr. Mansur Liman, and the management staff of the Corporation, traditional rulers as well as religious and community leaders attended the inauguration of the radio station.
The Minister and Mr. Odebunmi were the first guests to feature on the live discussion programme on 89.3 FM ‘Ogo Ilu’ station
Gbajabiamila makes case for persons living with disability
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2019.
The Speaker said the full implementation of the law could address issues of discrimination, empowerment and equal opportunity for Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWSs) in Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chairman of the newly-created House Committee on Disabilities, Rep. Miriam Onuoha, spoke on Friday during the celebration of the 2020 World Disability Day hosted by the Office of the Speaker.
The event was also attended by a virtual audience that included Barrister Bolarinwa, Senior Counsel, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Dr Ifeanyi Chikunie and others.
Gbajabiamila noted that though it’s often what happened, disability of any kind should not take away from the dignity of the individual or take away the right to dream big dreams or hinder the achievement of grand ambitions.
“This is because we have designed our societies, our governments and our systems of policymaking and implementation without considering the rights, hopes and prayers of our less-abled brethren”, Gbajabiamila noted.
The Speaker, while expressing sadness over the inability of the government to meet the objectives of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act that became law in 2019, said it had become imperative for all stakeholders to ensure that the letters of the law were implemented without delay.
He said: “When the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition), Act became law in 2019, it was the cause of much joy because we had such high expectations. Those expectations have not been met because we have not fully set up the infrastructure to support the full implementation of the law.
“It is now our joint responsibility to make sure that we do all that is required to bring this law to life so that all our nation’s people can receive the protections they deserve. And just as importantly, make sure that no citizen of Nigeria will ever again be deprived of the opportunity to live a full life due to disability of whatever kind.
“I hope that in our conversations today, we will speak freely about how we can work together across government and outside to achieve the ambitions that motivated this vital legislation”.
In his presentation, Barrister Bolarinwa said the issue of inclusion was germane to the PLWDs, noting that the Act would address the challenge of discrimination against them
He, however, emphasized that to address the discrimination issue, public and private sectors should not design special programmes and policies for PLWDs.
He suggested that issues of concern to these special people should be mainstreamed into the general programmes for everyone.
“Let them have access to every programme”, he said.
On his part, Dr. Chikunie said the coronavirus pandemic had dealt a big blow to the PLWDs and as such, they should be integrated into the society, empowered, and their skills developed for economic and self-reliance.
He said programmes that could lead to the realization of these goals should be developed by governments and private organizations.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Special Assistant to the Speaker on Special Needs and Equal Opportunities, Abdulsalam Kamaldeen, noted that the negative perception by the public was even more damaging to the PLWDs than their disabilities.
The highlight of the celebration was the presentation of scholarships to six students from Government Secondary Schools, Sherati and Gosa as well as the LEA Primary Schools, Karamanjiji and Kuchigoro by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Hon. Sanusi Rikiji.
Six PLWDs, an amputee and another with needs for calliper, among others, were also gifted with special sponsorship for their needs.
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