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AESID Urges EFCC, ICPC, Others to Probe Palliative Sharing in Ebonyi

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A diaspora group, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has called for caution in the spending of resources by the Ebonyi state government, even as it called on anti-graft agencies to monitor closely the sharing of another Covid-19 palliative in the state.

The group specifically called on the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant agencies to come to the rescue of the state.

In a statement signed Tuesday by its President (Worldwide) Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, the association expressed disappointment on the way the current administration in Ebonyi continued to manage what it described as scarce resources in the state.

The group claimed it has information that the state government is about to spend another N4 billion as ‘Second phase palliative’ to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AESID therefore call on the relevant anti-graft agencies whose mandates include monitoring and forestalling of financial crimes to beam its light very brightly on the Ebonyi state government to uncover, expose this obvious plot to swindle the poor State of its scarce resources in the guise of palliatives. The Ebonyi State government should be brought to book to also account for the various sums ordinarily meant for the development of the State which has officially been reported to the anti-graft agencies as having been diverted.

“We at AESID are quite disturbed about the way and manner the Ebonyi state government has continued to mismanage the scare resources of our poor state without any scintilla of accountability. We hold this view because the Umahi-led administration to the best of our knowledge is yet to give any account of an earlier approval of N4bn it made in July this year which it had christened ‘palliatives for Ebonyians.’

“Of course, we still recall the hues and cries of the Ebonyi poor masses over the extremely bizarre food items which included few sachets of noodles shared to just a hand-few of particularly party loyalists in the guise of palliatives after a very protracted period by the government. As a non-interest group whose mandate remains to continue to hold state actors accountable, AESID is calling on the Ebonyi state government to halt the proposed plan to lavish another whooping N4bn under the façade of COVID-19 palliatives.

“Rather, the government should first of all account for its management of the earlier sum approved and released as palliatives. It should show accountability by detailing the masses with how same was expended. We say so because of our vehement suspicion that the COVID-19 has since its outbreak in the country become for Governor Umahi and indeed some other Nigerian leaders a huge business and the most unsuspecting means to loot and divert lean resources accruing to the States they govern.

“Otherwise, how can Ebonyi state that never recorded more COVID-19 cases than states like Lagos claim to have now proposed to spend over N8bn? What kind of palliatives would take away over N4bn from the coffers of a government with lean allocation like that of our dear Ebonyi state? There is actually nothing less to suspect except to conclude that this is not just another hoax but another masterfully-designed plot by the Governor Umahi administration to siphon Ebonyi’s poor treasury!

Again we may wish to ask: Why is Umahi focusing only on projects and contracts that would enrich only him and his family without paying attention to genuine human empowerment programmes for our state which is rated as the poverty capital of Southern Nigeria?

“Why has he allowed rural roads that are completely impassable for local farmers to concentrate on mere cosmetics and artificial monuments that add no reasonable value to the lives and economic well-being of the average Ebonyian?

“What achievements can the Umahi administration truly boast of in the critical Education and Health sectors in Ebonyi state? What about attracting firms interested in operating in the State that can offer the teeming unemployed population job opportunities? This platform therefore urge the Ebonyi State government to reverse itself and not tow this path of ignominy by wasting resources in the guise of palliatives.”

The group, however assured the people of Ebonyi “that we shall continue to do all within the ambits of the law, the principles of fairness, equity and natural justice to protect and defend their interests at all times even as they pass through this difficult era of deceptions, lies and vicious propaganda.”

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Group Hails NPHCDA Over Arrival, Distribution And Administration Of Covid-19 Vaccines

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The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy (NVVAA) has commended the management of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) for the seamless arrival, distribution and administration of coronavirus vaccines across the nation.

The group, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Akor Oche, on Monday, said the agency has displayed a high sense of transparency and accountability so much so that Nigerians should expect the safety of the vaccines upon administration.

Following the arrival of the first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the NPHCDA began the massive roll out on Friday with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo subsequently receiving their first jabs.

By setting up a website for Nigerians to register, the NVVAA noted that the health agency eradicated all forms of encumbrances that would have marred the successful rollout of the vaccines.

The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy, however, called on members of the general public to extend their support to the NPHCDA by disregarding the narratives against the suitability of the vaccine for humans.

On its part, the group urged the NPHCDA not to relent in the task of ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated in the coming months.

Read the full statement below:

The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy is issuing this press statement to commend the management of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) on the arrival and subsequent distribution and administration of the AstraZeneca COVID 19 Vaccine across the country.

It is indeed commendable that the NPHCDA put in motion mechanisms that ensure that all states of the federation receive their doses of the vaccine in a timely and orderly manner that remains a disconnect from the norm whereby exercises such as this are always marred by poor logistics arrangements.

The NPHCDA has by its actions in recent times displayed a high sense of transparency and accountability so much so that Nigerians should expect the safety of the vaccines upon administration.

It is thus the considered opinion of the National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy that meeting the various timelines from the arrival to the country and its subsequent rollout is indicative of the sustainable efforts of the NPHCDA towards ensuring that the vaccines are safe for humans, as well as ensuring that there is an equitable distribution across the country.

It is also commendable that the NPCHDA opened an online registration platform for Nigerians to register for vaccination. This is indeed an exemplary display of foresight by the management of the NPHCDA in the sense that it has successfully eradicated all forms of encumbrances that would have marred the successful rollout of the vaccines in Nigeria.

The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy calls on members of the general public to extend their support to the NPHCDA by disregarding the narratives against the suitability of the vaccine for humans.

It also states that with the level of expertise displayed by the NPHCDA, Nigerians should be assured that there shall be equitable distribution of vaccines across the country and all Nigerians regardless of their status in the society shall be vaccinated in record time subject to availability.

Nigerians are also enjoined to continue to support the efforts of the government towards ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated in the race to put COVID 19 behind us as quickly as possible.

We also encourage the leadership of the NPHCDA not to relent in the task of ensuring that all Nigerians are vaccinated as the vaccines become available in large quantities in the coming months.

The National Vanguard for Vaccine Administration and Advocacy as a critical stakeholder in the country is pledging its continuous support to the NPHCDA in ensuring that the vaccination programme is successfully implemented across the country.

The NPHCDA has indeed displayed exemplary service to Nigeria and it behoves all mischief makers to desist from spreading negative information with regards to the safety of the COVID 19 vaccines been administered in Nigeria.

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BREAKING: Fire Breaks Out In Aso Rock

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A fire outbreak has been reported at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja, causing confusion among workers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s abode, SaharaReporters reports.

It was learnt that the fire started at 4 pm as the fire service officials tried desperately to put it out.

“The security men were chasing people not to capture the incident, but I tried my best to capture it. The fire is still on,” a source disclosed around 9 pm.

Although the cause of the fire is not yet known, fire service trucks have moved in and were seen in the villa.

More details soon….

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We Won’t Allow Hijab In Kwara Mission Schools, CAN Insists

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The Christian Association of Nigeria in Kwara State has insisted that it will not allow its pupils to wear hijab, despite the Kwara State Government’s directive that Muslim female pupils in Christian mission schools should wear hijab.

The state government, last week, said it had approved wearing of hijab by Muslim female pupils in Christian mission grant-aided schools in the state.

It also said the 10 Christian mission schools closed down in the wake of the hijab crisis would be reopened on Monday, March 8.

However, the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria said it would not agree to the use of hijab in schools established by Christian missions, alleging that they were surprised that the government was trying to make a decision on a matter that was still before the Supreme Court.

CAN said, “The body condemns the use of hijab in Christian missions grant-aided schools as this will cause discrimination in schools and allow terrorists to easily identify our children and wards.”

Two missions, Evangelical Church Winning All and the Kwara Baptist Conference, said they would not allow the wearing of hijab in their respective schools when the schools reopen on Monday.

The leadership of ECWA said it would not welcome the directive in all its schools in the state.

The Chairman, ECWA Ilorin District Church Council, Rev John Owoeye, who spoke at a press conference in Ilorin on Friday, said ECWA schools were established by Christian missionaries for purposes of reaching communities with the love of Christ and to meet educational needs of the indigenes irrespective of religious affiliations, among other reasons.

The ECWA church leaders, who demanded return of ECWA schools to them, said since 1974 when there was agreement on collaboration between the state government and the proprietor for the school to be grant-aided schools, “the policy has never been total takeover of our schools by the government.”

Owoeye, who said Christians are bona fide citizens of the state, added, “We have equal rights under the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

He argued that the government was aware that Christian Religious Knowledge teachers were not posted to Muslim grant-aided schools and that the gathering of Fellowship of Christian Students was not allowed in Muslim grant-aided schools.

“Similarly, we want the government to be informed that her decision and plan to provide hijab and enforce its use in our Christian mission grant-aided schools will not be tolerated as it is an infringement on our freedom of religion as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria,” he said.

Also, the President of Kwara Baptist Conference, Rev Victor Dada, in a separate press conference, said the mission would not allow the use of hijab in its 38 schools across the state, adding that the government was wrongly advised in taking the decision.

Dada argued that the state government took a wrong decision by its blanket approval of wearing of hijab for female pupils in mission schools.

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“The state government was wrongly advised to take that decision. The state even acted in contempt of court as the case is still pending before the Supreme Court.

“We want to warn the government that the step it wants to take by approving the use of hijab for all public schools and grant-aided schools in the state will lead to an avalanche of reactions, the end of which no one can predict.

“With this move, the state government is saying the Muslims’ purported rights are superior to those of the Christians.

“What we are saying is that no one, whether the Kwara State Government or even the Federal Government, can force hijab on our children or in our schools. We shall not hesitate to use all legitimate means to protect our heritage. We will defend our faith and protect our property.”

Meanwhile, Muslim stakeholders in the state have urged the state government to stand by the rule of law in taking a final decision on the hijab issue.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Alhaji Is-haq AbdulKarim; and Secretary, Professor Ibrahim Abikan, the Muslim Stakeholders said the state branch of CAN, which engaged the state government in a legal battle over the issue of ownership of the grant-aided schools since 2013 lost its two cases in Ilorin High Court in 2016 and the Court of Appeal in 2019.

In a related development, Chairman, Kwara State branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Olu Adewara, said the union was not part of the hijab crisis currently going on in the state.

The NUT Chairman, Adewara, told reporters, “The hijab matter is basically an issue between the government, the Muslim parents and the owners of these schools, regardless that such schools are grant-aided by the government. The NUT is not involved because this is not a matter bordering on teachers’ rights.”

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