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Deplorable state of Onitsha, Nkpor feeder roads: We’re ready to support Obiano if…

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Deplorable state of Onitsha, Nkpor feeder roads: We’re ready to support Obiano if…

•We pay heavy tax yet our roads are deplorable –Residents

 

 

Despite the strides recorded by successive governments in Anambra State in the area of road networks, the inability to fix the feeder roads connecting Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi, we erode the enviable achievements that earned Anambra State, the state with the best road networks. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports

 

R

esidents of Nkpor, Obosi and Onitsha in Idemili North and Onitsha North  Local Government Area of Anambra State respectively, are currently calling on the government of Chief Willie Obianor to fix the feeder roads connecting the high rising buildings in these communities in order not to erode the long-standing achievements of the state as the best with good road networks in the country.

 

 

The residents said Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi are typical example of communities built by private individuals without government involvement hence there is a need for the government to show some concern by fixing these roads which have become impassable and consequently prevented mororits from driving their cars home.

 

 

Many of them have resorted to parking their vehicles on the roads as well as nearby fuel stations instead of struggling to drive their vehicles home on a rugged and slippery roads, the vehicles which occasionally end up in a ditch or deep pothole.

 

 

The residents said if the government will show interest in reconstructing the roads, they will give it all the financial and moral support to ensure that they drive their vehicles to their respective homes, saying the effect of the bad roads is worse during the raining season.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph learnt that the indigineous Anambra traders were the reason for such massive development and investment in the high rising buildings one sees in these communities and were never government’s efforts.

No, the weekly gathered that lack of government’s involvement in this level of development also made it possible for the majority of the landlords of these high rising buildings to build a house without making provision for borehole for the tenants as a number of the residents have to go down stairs to buy water.

 

 

Unlike what obtains in the Federal Capital Territory, where Sunday Telegraph learnt that the FCT government made it mandatory that any landlord who builds more than three storey building must install a lift and ensure water supply, tenants living at the six floor to come down to buy water in jerrican.

 

 

According to a resident of Nkpor, Barr Emeka Ndukwe, despite the huge revenue they contribute to the government, the government is yet to reciprocate by fixing their roads and even portable water, saying that he wants Governor Obianor to tar the roads as his departing legacy.

 

 

“Outside these estates and high rising building areas, Anambra State has fantastic road networks and it seemed as if there is nothing else to do. Former administrations of Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi did well in the areas of roads constructions. And others and they are known for these achievements. We also want this administration to give us this as a parting gift,” he said.

 

 

He urged any potential governor to the state, as a matter of priority, reconstruct these roads to make the cities and estates envy of other states across the country and pride of the state as has always been the case.

 

 

He continued: “There is no state in Nigeria where there are concentration of such high rising buildings on a stretch except for Lagos State to an extent. These are private traders efforts. If government should come in and help them plan, regulate and maintain their roads, properties around these places will appreciate for the good of the state.”

 

 

During Sunday Telegraph’s visit to Ata Road, Nkpor, it was discovered that the majority of these residents park their vehicles some distance away from their houses as the bad roads prevented them from driving their vehicles home. Some of them by vehicles but have never entered their compounds.

 

 

 

In some places, erosion has almost washed off their gate and with the ban of commercial motorcycle operators (Okada) in Anambra State, it makes it more difficult. Prior to the ban, okada was the choice option as it manoeuvre the rugged roads with slippery red mud.

 

 

It was learnt that one of the successive governors in the state paid attention to the plights of the residents except the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, who in his governorship campaign previously showed concern even as he went ahead saying that he will use the high rising buildings to obtain foreign loan to build the state.

 

 

At Uke Street by Transformer, Mr. Chima Obiojor said everybody is on his own here, adding a typical Anambra man does not look on the government when he wants to do anything, the reason Anambra men build houses, pay for electricity poles and transformer, yet provide their own security irrespective of what the government is offering.

 

 

He said: “We have fine buildings here but there are no roads to pass. You know my house and the simple way to follow is Idemili bus-stop but you can see me go through the Nkpor Junction. Not as if the junction is okay but it’s manageable.

 

 

“I change shock absorbers on regular basis. I am planning to pack out from there and go to house in Ogidi so that my motor will last. With this, I will end the unnecessary stress. Obianor’s administration should do something. He is trying but there is a need for him to give these axis a face lift.”

 

 

While in a commercial tricycle, a woman who introduced herself as Mama Junior, a primary school teacher, told our correspondent that some time, the residents and some good landlords organised themselves to do the roads independent of the government but some indigenous people demanded money from them which stalled the work.

 

 

She said, “Our government is not interested here because nobody sees the roads, rather they went and spent money on other roads that are seen by people. Now    that there are no major roads to build in the state, we want the government to fix these roads so that we can enjoy what others are enjoying.

 

 

“Apart from Peter Obi, Anambra has been a state built by private individual efforts of indegineous traders and others. People of Anambra do not wait for government to do anything for them. They find solution to their problems. Anambra State is a solution state.

“They build empires of their own without anybody’s support and the reason they feel nothing is impossible with money. They believe that once there is money, with government or without the government’s support, they can achieve anything they want. They feel that since you don’t want to support them also don’t be an obstacle to them.

 

 

“If the government can fix the roads, there is no estate in any part of the country that can beat anambra state in the area of development and infrastructure.”

 

 

According to Engineer Chibuzor Udokwu, with what Peter Obi did in Anambra State, other governors of this state may end up spending Anambra money on white elephant projects, thinking there is nothing to do in the state again.

 

 

“There are feeder roads in Onitsha and Nkpor that you can’t even pass on foot how much more vehicles yet these are very good link roads that connect to one major community or the other. For long, these roads have not been done and this is the time to do that,” he said. 

 

 

He noted that Anambra State has woken up and never to return to the days of slumber and will not support anybody who will want to return the state to pre-Chris Ngige era.

 

 

He insisted that greater industrialisation of Anambra State in view requires good road, water supply and the ultimate electricity, adding that the state government must rise up to its responsibilities according to the social contract theory.

 

 

On the other hand, Sunday Telegraph learnt that apart from the issue of bad roads, lack of government policy and involvement in these high rising buildings brought about a major structural defect in Nkpor and Onitsha as landlords build houses without provision of water supply.

 

 

It was learnt that some of them are waiting for the government to provide them with pipe bore water even as Onitsha Greater Water Scheme, Nkisi went morribund many years ago.

 

 

“The landlords here are very mean. How can somebody build four story building and without water. They will expect you to go down and buy water and carry it up stairs. I live on the penthouse, the fifth floor, so you can imagine what I face every day fetching water,” said Obiora Chukwunulu, who lives on Obosi Road.

 

 

 

 

“In most cases, I have to pay water vendors to bring water for me. One jerrycan is between N50 and N100; by the time you get the quantity that will be enough for you and your family, you would have spent some fortunes,” he said.

 

 

“We have affordable accommodation here apart from what I have explained and roads leading to inner streets which nobody is concerned about. Obosi is a good place to be and do business. We have good security as well but we need roads and potable water. Everybody depends on boreholes as there is nothing like reliable public water,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, according to Izueke Edwin Madu of Department of Public Administration and Local Government Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, urban centres throughout the world exhibit an incredible diversity of characteristics, economic structure, levels of infrastructure, historical origins, patterns of growth and degree of formal planning.

 

 

He said: “Yet, many of the problems they face are strikingly familiar. But in developing countries, particularly in Africa, urban residents suffer to a great extent from severe environmental and health challenges associated with insufficient access to clean drinking water, inadequate sewage facilities and solid waste disposal.

 

 

“One of the most visible and disturbing characteristics of the urban areas in Nigeria is the decline of their infrastructural base. As urban populations grow, and as available resources decline, public infrastructure is being degraded to the point where cities are seriously losing their capacity to operate as productive entities.

 

 

“Solid wastes are uncollected and piles of decaying wastes are allowed to rot in the streets; schools are overcrowded; urban roads have deteriorated into quagmires in rainy seasons; Public telephone is an impossible dream; public transport systems are becoming severely overloaded; and more and more people are obliged to live in unserviced plots.

 

 

“Not only is little new infrastructures constructed, but existing infrastructures are poorly maintained. Poor urban planning in the face of rapid urbanisation is therefore regarded as one of the major problems confronting many urban areas in Nigeria with special reference to Onitsha Urban area.

 

 

“The filth and infrastructural degradation that have over taken Onitsha, NKpor and Obosi among others, is as a result of poor urban planning. The failure of land subdivision and servicing programmes to keep pace with rapid urban growth has led to widespread illegal and informal developments, hence the growth of squatter settlements or slum areas, for instance, the housing clusters at Okpoko, Fegge, Woliwo and Odoakpu.”

 

 

In the same manner, and corroborating him, Eme Innocent of the same department, said many development projects carried out in these areas were without regard to the environment and this poses potential health problems and other hazards such as flooding, congestion and confusion.

 

 

“This has hindered the extension of not only of water, electricity and solid waste collection services, but also adequate sanitation arrangements and road networks to such areas,” he said.

 

 

He noted that deficiencies in infrastructure provision and waste management, environmental problems in Onitsha also arise from the inability of public sector authorities like the Onitsha Town Planning Authority and the Onitsha Local Government councils to enforce regulations governing land development, and industrial emissions.

 

 

However, there are other areas of these communities that have received one facelift or the other but the fact remains that Anambra State government has to do something about these roads linking one community or the other within Onitsha, Nkpor and Obosi rising buildings.

 

 

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Sunday Extra

Nuclear power stations in Kogi, Akwa Ibom can wipe out Nigerians, others –Scientists

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Nuclear power stations in Kogi, Akwa Ibom can wipe out Nigerians, others –Scientists

•Say neither Russia nor Nigeria can guarantee safety

 

 

Scientists across the country, especially those in Itu and Geregu in Akwa Ibom and Kogi states respectively –  host communities for the proposed twin-reactor nuclear power plants in Nigeria, are currently calling on the Federal Government to rescind the project and save the country from holocaust associated with nuclear disaster. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports that Russian-State-Owned Rosatom which signed the contract with Nigeria, is ready to take off without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

 

 

“N

igeria does not have the capacity to manage a nuclear reactor crisis should anything go wrong. No country can guarantee that, not even the Russia; evidence have shown,” says Prof. Philip Njemanze, a Principal Investigator, NASA Johnson Space Center Neurolab, US.

Njemanze, the Medical Director, Chidicon Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, is reacting to the moves made by Nigerian government, which signed an agreement with Russian-State-owned Rosatom on October 8, 2017, to build nuclear power plants in the country to help its electricity crisis.

 

 

These moves, which were allegedly made without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the consent of the host communities, Itu, Akwa Ibom State and Geregu, Kogi State, where the proposed nuclear power plants will be built, had met with stiff opposition by both the communities and experts across the country due to its known catastrophic disposition.

Njemanze like other experts, including environmentalists, are calling for its abrogation, saying the project is capable of wiping out the entire human inhabitation of those states and other African countries should there be a nuclear plant accident as in the case of Chernobyl.

 

 

They intensified their calls following the latest Nuclear Plant Explosion in Russia, the prototype for Nigeria, which snuffed out lives from five Russian scientists, who were servicing the plant at the time of the incident and left three others with severe burn.

 

 

Njemanze insists that no country has the capacity of guaranteeing safety of the nuclear reactor accident, stating that the Russians who supposed to do the job had had a blow of nuclear reactor crisis including Japan, the nuclear power plant authority.

 

 

He maintained that the agreement, which is expected to permit Russia to construct and operate the nuclear power plants in Itu and Geregu, is as good as giving death warrants to all Nigerians due to its associated hazard.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the project will be financed by Rosatom, under build, own, operate and transfer (BOT) basis and then transfer the cost to Nigeria to pay back.

It is estimated at about $20 billion, each of the four reactors, while four of them amount to $80 billion which Nigeria will pay back, implying that the country will continue to service the debt (loan) for the next generation, if Nigeria goes on with the project.

 

 

By the way, a nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. As is typical of thermal power stations, heat is used to generate steam that drives a steam turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph learnt that Itu and Geregu are twin nuclear reactors. The idea of a nuclear power plants in the country came into play as an effort to find lasting solution to the shortage of power supply in the country.

Those who signed the agreement meant well for the country and perhaps didn’t know what disaster lurking for the country should there be a nuclear accident where the impact will be more than the impact of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

 

 

According to the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), the sites were selected for the construction of two nuclear reactors after due considerations, saying that preliminary licensing of the approved sites was given in 2016 from the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA).

 

 

The fear that the world had witnessed 99 nuclear reactor accidents of which Russia is among the worst hit continues to cast shadows to this multi-billion dollars project.

“Nuclear crisis in Japan has revived fears     over the safety of nuclear power and the potential danger posed to public health when things go wrong,” Njemanze recounted.

 

 

On August 9, 2019, in the Arkhangelsk region, an explosion triggered radiation levels to rise near Nyonoksa, which was later confirmed by Russia’s nuclear energy agency as an accident while testing an isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine.

 

 

It was later learnt that five nuclear scientists lost their lives in the incident while three others suffered from burns. Russian authorities ordered the evacuation of the village close to  the blast site, suggesting grave dangers due to nuclear radiation.

The agency in a report confirmed: “On August 8, Russian scientists were working on miniaturised sources of nuclear energy when a rocket engine exploded. The explosion killed five people and caused radiation readings in neighbouring cities to spike to 20 times above their normal level in half an hour.”

 

 

While the Russian Defence Ministry said the explosion took place during testing of a rocket engine, the country’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, countered in its report that the incident happened during testing of an isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system.

 

 

Recall that Rosatom is the corporation that the Nigerian government is partnering to add nuclear energy to the nation’s energy mix. The decision and the process has been criticised by civil society and communities in Itu, Akwa Ibom State that have warned that sitting nuclear plants in their communities does not have their support.

 

The Environmental Rights Action/Friend of the Earth International (ERA/FoEN), in a statement issued in Lagos, said the current incident should send a clear signal to the Nigerian government to back out of any further nuclear experimentation, which the MoU it signed with Rosatom to build nuclear plants in Nigeria.

 

 

Under the arrangement, Rosatom will build nuclear power plants in Kogi and Akwa Ibom though the host communities in Geregu and Itu respectively, say they were not consulted before the choice of their communities for the project.

ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “Once again, we have another reason to ask the Nigeria government to halt the nuclear misadventure spearheaded by the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) without the consent of Nigerians.”

 

 

Oluwafemi explained that it was very disturbing that at a time the global community is pursuing clean and safe energy options, including wind and solar technologies, Nigeria is doing back-flipping by choosing to embrace nuclear power which is neither clean nor safe nor cheap.

 

He continued: “We have not shown sufficient capacity to manage our hydro and gas-fired plants yet we are plunging into the uncharted waters of nuclear power. This plan should stop immediately.

“The Nigeria-Rosatom deal was brokered on 30 May 2016 on the sidelines of the VIII International Forum ATOMEXPO 2016 which held May 30-June 1, 2016 in Moscow including talks of construction of a Center for Nuclear Research and Technology in Sheba-Abuja.

 

 

“The Agreement provides for the construction of a Center with the two-circuit pool-type reactor of the Russian design and a nominal power rating of 10 MW in Sheba-Abuja. Four nuclear plants that Rosatom plans to build will cost about $80billion, with the first expected to be ready by 2025. The other three will be ready by 2035.

 

 

“We restate our aversion to throwing nuclear plants into the energy mix in Nigeria. The explosion in Russia despite their expertise is enough indication that it is not the path to go. The details are scary enough.

“We reject the nuclear option for power generation because they are dangerous and we do not have the capacity to manage the potential disaster a nuclear breach may cause.”

 

In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Council on World Peace, Global Prolife Alliance, titled: ‘Help Avert Nuclear Holocaust in Nigeria at Russia-Africa Summit,’ which other African leaders were copied, the group called for the project’s repeal.

 

 

The group said, “We want to alert you on the potential danger of a ‘Nuclear Holocaust in Nigeria,’ should the Russian-built Itu Nuclear Power Plant in Akwa Ibom, South-South Nigeria be allowed to go ahead…

“We prolife, environmental and religious groups in Nigeria, collectively oppose the construction of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria. The recent nuclear accident in Russia and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion is a reminder of the dangers of nuclear explosions.

 

 

“WHO estimates that over 600,000 people in close vicinity suffered severe radiation induced cancer and leukemia in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

 

 

“Experts taking clues from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion experience and given the dense vegetation, vast network of rivers and intense rainfall in Southern Nigeria, put the estimate of people to be severely affected across Africa at 25 million people.”

 

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), ecosystem impact of the Soviet built Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion in 1986 affected 200,000 square kilometers of Europe.

 

 

The group continued: “The extent of the deposition varied depending on whether it was raining when contaminated air masses passed. Most of the radioactive isotopes deposited within 100 kilometers of the plant but were carried to thousands of kilometers away by wind, rainfall and rivers.

 

“Talking from the experience of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Itu Nuclear Power Plant explosion is projected to affect the entire ecosystem of West and Central Africa, with spill over to North and East Africa along to Nile flow regions into the Nile Delta and to the Mediterranean across Europe.

 

 

“The entire oil-fields of Nigeria, the main source of national revenue would not be accessible by humans under normal conditions. The Nuclear Holocaust would be a hundred times more than Hiroshima & Nagasaki and several times the effects of Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

 

“The entire ethnic groups and tribes of South-South, South East and South West Nigeria would be wiped out as a people. We have for long argued that the proposed Nuclear Plant project is the most expensive in the world ever.

“At $80 billion, it costs over 30 times the cost of building alternative energy sources of Solar and Hydropower.

 

“The recent Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis by Lazard, a leading financial advisory and asset management firm suggest that the cost per kilowatt (KW) for utility-scale solar is less than $1000, while the comparable cost per KW for nuclear power is between $6,500 and $12,250.

 

 

“This means that nuclear power is nearly 10 times more expensive to build than utility-scale solar on cost per KW basis. Even by world standards, it is unclear why the Itu Nuclear Plant is overpriced.

“Lazard finds that on the average utility solar takes 9 months to build while nuclear plant may take 69 months (or about 6 years) to build.   It is therefore, of great national emergency for all religious leaders, social and human rights activists, and all patriotic Nigerians to advocate for a halt of the construction of Itu Nuclear Power station.

 

 

“We have advocated a new power architecture for Nigeria that includes clean energy sources of solar and hydropower. The upcoming Russia-Africa Forum has provided us another arena for advocacy to avert a Nuclear Holocaust in Nigeria.

“We enlist your support to advocate for a stop of the nuclear power project and for a change to clean energy sources of solar and hydropower.”

 

 

More so, 250 other Environmental Rights Groups in Nigeria have also registered their opposition for the construction of the Itu Nuclear power by Rosatom.

 

 

The recent events at the nuclear military site in Russia underscore the grave risks involved with nuclear accidents.

 

 

“Iranian nuclear power plant is the biggest but it cost $10 billion and how come ours cost $20 billion? This has to be investigated for corrupt practices but this is not even the point, the point is that we can’t use our money to buy death. There is no different between the electricity supplied by nuclear power plant and that of hydro. So, why nuclear? Njemanze insisted.

 

Speaking on the differences and performances of the different sources of energy, Noel Orekhma, a power expert, said nuclear power stations top the list of power plants that can produce massive amounts of energy.

According to him, low-enriched Uranium pellets are loaded into the nuclear power plant. Then the Uranium atom is split creating the nuclear fission. This process releases huge amounts of energy which also come with its adverse effects.

 

 

He said: “The advantage of a nuclear power plant is that they do not need to burn anything to create energy. Hence, the carbon emission from a nuclear power plant is very low. But the major disadvantages of a nuclear power plant are the nuclear waste that it creates and the steep cost of building one.

 

 

“The wastes are very destructive that sometimes, it will be unnecessary building such plants known for causing serious damage to the country and environment. Unlike nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants are one of the most effective and eco-friendliest of all power plants.

 

 

“In a hydroelectric power plant, electricity is granted from water. In detail, the potential energy of water is converted to electrical energy. When water is made to fall from a height on to a turbine, it spins the armature which is connected to a generator.

 

 

“When the turbine spins, the generator starts to produce electricity. This electricity is then routed to all the different substations to distribute the power. The world’s largest power plant is a Hydro-electric power plant called The Three Gorges Dam.

 

 

“The dam creates an astounding 22,5000MW of power.It achieves this feat by using 34 power generators. The dam is so huge that after its construction, the dam single-handedly slowed down the earth’s rotation.”

However, Sunday Telegraph learnt that with the advancements in energy generation, the world now has more than just thermal, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. They are called non-conventional power plants. These power stations are capable of producing clean energy (or Green Energy).

 

Solar power plant is one of them, and it uses the energy of the sun to produce electricity. Solar panels capture the sunlight using photovoltaic cells and convert it into electricity.

“Today, an increasing number of countries are looking towards solar energy to offset their dependence on fossil fuels. Tengger Desert Solar Park is currently the world’s largest solar power plant in terms of capacity. It is capable of producing 1,547MW of energy,” Ajanaku Felix, who works with Heinrich Foundation.

 

 

Meanwhile, over the years, the world had seen a steady incline in the demand for energy all over the world. And moving forward, there is no sign of this pattern slowing down anytime soon! The yearly rise in pollution levels is a testament to the alarming rate of fossil fuel consumption.

 

 

What the world can do, though, is move away from carbon-heavy sources of power like fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy sources. There have been massive efforts poured into this vision by different companies and countries to make this vision a reality. In the coming years, we can hope to see more green energy power plants rather than the CO2 factories.

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Sunday Extra

Commuting through hell

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Commuting through hell

Since Monday September 2, when a section of the Ogun River Bridge on Lagos – Ibadan Expressway was partially closed to traffic due to construction work going – on on the corridor, motorists and commuters have been passing through hell. This is as a result of traffic gridlock on the stretch between Arepo and Berger Bus stop, Lagos. JOHNSON AYANTUNJI reports   

 

F

or most residents of Second Lagos border towns on Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, the fear of commuting on the high way, is the beginning of wisdom.

Since Monday, September 2, when the contractors handling the reconstruction of the busiest highway in West Africa, diverted the inward traffic on the Ogun River Bridge to the outward bound traffic at Kara, border between Lagos State and Ogun States, commuters on this corridor and travelers coming in and out of the centre of excellence, have been passing through hell.

 

A journey of less than 20 minutes now takes between 3 and 4 hours. This reaches a peak during the rush hours when those who work in Lagos but reside around Arepo, Magboro, Mowe and Sagamu are going to work or coming back home.

For most of them they spend nothing less than 6 to 8 hours in the gridlock. Since the first day of the last week of November, Sunday to be precise, it has been hellish. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday, when this report was being put together, were the worst hit.

The scorching sun did not make things easier. Those who had no functional air conditions in their vehicles were sweating and soaked to their inner wears, as the doors of their vehicles were opened to let in air.

 

In order to beat the traffic, most of the residents on this axis, have devised means of doing so. It is either they wake up at dawn or relocate to areas far removed from the axis. They spend most of the working days with friends, come home during weekend and go back Sunday afternoon. Others have abandoned their homes and taken temporary residents with friends and loved ones. Those who have no alternative go through it and it is taking a toll on their health.

“My health is failing,” said a middle aged civil servant with the Lagos State government.

 

Our source who spoke with Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity said she is considering throwing in the towel. “I cannot die before my time. I may resign my appointment with the Lagos State government  soon,” our source who has put in 25 years of service said.

 

An intern with an engineering consulting firm in Yaba, who lives in Mowe with his parents have moved in to stay with a family friend in Ikeja.

The undergraduate of the Yaba College of Technology said he decided to relocate as he almost lost his placement.

“I decided to move to Ikeja due to the stress of waking up early to go to work and get back home late.

“Besides, it costs me more to commute between Mowe and Yaba. Before the partial closure of the road, I spent an average of N1, 500 daily to go to work and get back home. But now I have to part with N3, 000. In some cases you do not even get the vehicle, especially when you are going back home.

 

“The final straw that broke the Carmel’s back was when I left home one Monday morning at 5am and did not get to Yaba until 10:00. The HR (Human Resources) manager did not take it kindly with me. I was 2 and half hours late. I decided to lend myself some sense by opting to stay with a friend in Ikeja.”

Sunday Telegraph’s reporter who decided to have a “taste” of the action shares his experience.

“We encountered the traffic immediately after Arepo junction @ 12:30pm. Between there and office of the defunct Compass, a total of 15 vehicles had broken down, due to malfunctions arising from engine overheating.  Some motorists turn the situation into joke, just to relief themselves of the stress.

 

“We are in it again. It is only those not familiar with the route that it is a surprise to,” the driver of the commercial bus in which I was commuting in between Mowe and Berger, said.   If you get information that your wife has been delivered of a baby, the naming rite would have been over before you get there”, he teased and every one burst into a loud laughter.

 

 

For those of them who do not have sense of humour, the nightmare turns to frustration. Those who lack discipline and jump from one lane to the other, incur the wrath of fellow drivers. In the process of forcing their way through bash one another and this further compounds the situation. The driver of the bashed vehicles gets down. It leads to arguments on who was right or wrong.

Besides, uniform men and bullion van drivers ignore traffic rules and drive against traffic. Others seeing them join them and in the process the whole place is blocked as on coming vehicles have no place to pass.

For those trading in petty things such as water, soft drinks, snacks and the likes, it was an opportunity to make brisk business. For instance a bottle of table water which normally goes for N50:00 is sold for N100:00. Okada (motor cycle) operators charged between N400 and N500:00 from the bridge to Berger. In most cases they pick two passengers.

 

 

“I make between N8, 000 and N10, 000 before noon, whenever there is traffic gridlock on the Long Bridge,” a motorcycle operator called Abu, gleefully told Sunday Telegraph.

 

But this gambit comes at a price. Some have lost their  limbs as a result of the Okada rider plying “One Way”, as driving against traffic is called.

A resident of Arepo told a national newspaper that her neighbour and friend, is currently on admission at the popular Igbobi National Orthopedic Hospital, Lagos.

According to her two days after she noticed the absence and silence of her friend, she decided to call her cell phone only for her to respond that she was on admission at Igbobi and that one of her limbs had been amputated as a result of head on collision which the motorcycle she chartered from Arepo to Berger had with an oncoming vehicle at the OPIC junction before the Ogun River Bridge.

 

 

For commercial bus drivers, the popular saying that one man’s meet is another man’s poison hold true. While the commercial motorcycle operators are smiling to the bank, they are making less money. “The number of trips I make per day between Sagamu and Ketu – Ikosi has reduced greatly. On a normal day I make between five and seven trips per day, hardly do I make three whenever there is a gridlock,” a driver who identified himself as Lati.

 

 

What are the efforts being put in place to ameliorate the suffering of the commuters with the Christmas and New year’s festivities coming? Lagos Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Hygenous Omeje said the contractors Julius Berger, will suspend work till January 20, before they will resume work.

 

 

“In between, the closed roads will be opened to traffic,” he explained on a television programme during the week. He enjoined motorists to obey traffic rule by observing speed limits as well as not driving against traffic as doing so will impede the free flow of traffic.

He said further: “We enjoin motorists and commuters to exercise patience.  The roads are being reconstructed and expanded from three to five lanes. We will all enjoy it thereafter. It is the sacrifice we need to make.”

 

 

A mobile police officer swore he would never travel on the road again. “Nothing will make me come to this side again until I hear on the radio that the road has been opened to traffic. Even if I am on official duty, I will pass through here early in the morning,” he lamented as he wiped away sweat which had accumulated on his brow.

Most journalists living around the axis and work in Lagos have reduced the number of days they come to work from six to three days in a week. “I work from home and send my stories to my editor,” a reporter who did not want his name in print said.

For some it is not just sitting on end in the traffic. Some have robbers who rob in the traffics to contend with.

“This morning (Tuesday) around 5am, a man was dragged out of his car and dumped in the water under the bridge. We were watching from a distance as nobody could go near to rescue him for fear of falling victim. It was after the Policemen on patrol came that we were able to pass through,” a man who called on radio traffic narrated.

 

 

But the Commandant of the Rapid Response Squad(RRS) an arm of the Lagos Police Command, Deputy Commissioner of Police(DCP) Olatunji Disu, said they are doing something about it. “I  do not want to say much on the situation on the Long Bridge. We are aware and very soon, the fruits will be visible for all,” he explained.

“It is not only on Kara Bridge, even those who rob in traffic whenever there is a traffic hold up, will be stopped,” he added.

In the meantime, the commuters are passing through hell.

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Politics

Sen. Nnachi: Electronic voting will eliminate rigging, killings

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Sen. Nnachi: Electronic voting  will eliminate rigging, killings

Senator Michael Ama Nnachi represents Ebonyi South on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the Senate, and he is the Vice Chairman, Senate Committees on Poverty Alleviation and Air Force. In this interview with CHUKWU DAVID, he reacts to the outcome of the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states, and other political issues in the country 

 

 

When the Senate was considering the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for second reading, you urged your colleagues that electronic transmission of votes should be included. What’s your reason for taking the position?

 

Nigeria is part of the global world. Today, every country is going ahead of Nigeria; they are all moving towards electronic transmission of election results. Of course, you know that if we do electronic transmission, the idea of killing and the rest will stop because even at your own polling unit, you already know what you have, and then you know who is winning. If you are losing, you congratulate your opponent; if you are winning, your opponent will congratulate you because he is fully aware that there is no rigging for me or any other process of manipulating the figures. Even in the 8th Assembly, they passed the bill on electronic transmission but it is still before the President for assent. This means that the electronic transmission of election results is a good idea.

 

 

In the Senate we don’t talk of party; we talk of the party which we represent, we talk of our senatorial zones which we represent. And if we have to represent the masses, we have to do what will make the masses to have confidence in us. I think that the masses will follow anything that will bring peace in Nigeria, and not to face one person or one party or one location. Electronic transmission of election results is what will save Nigeria from all these troubles because even if you are in your farm, you can vote and go back to your farm. It mustn’t be done on Saturday. Elections shouldn’t be a source of public holiday. If we start electronic voting, we can vote from Monday to Saturday, and by so doing, everybody, every voter already knows that his/her vote will count. So, by the time the electoral body comes out with the figures, everybody will be sure that the result is the true reflection of their decisions but what we are currently doing is that we have a full day paralyzed, no business, killing the economy of the nation, and at the end we are not doing the correct thing. So, for me, electronic voting is the way to go.

 

Don’t you think that electronic voting is very expensive and Nigeria may not afford it for now?

 

 

It might look expensive from the beginning but in the long run, you will discover that it is cheaper. For me, anything that will eliminate rigging, violence and killing is the cheapest thing we should do.

 

There is the tendency that those who are benefiting from the absence of electronic transmission will kick against its inclusion in the Electoral Act. What’s your take on this?

 

 

Of course, human beings must reason differently. They might think that way but those you have mentioned, what is their percentage in the over 200 million Nigerians? People must always kick against anything that is not in their favour.

 

I said it on the floor of the Senate; it’s a natural tendency that when it favours you, you dance. Tomorrow it might favour another person and the person will dance. However, let’s look beyond our personal interests and make laws for Nigeria and Nigerians so that everybody will have a common platform. If you lose you hug your opponent; if you win you also hug your opponent.

 

 

And you will see that simple inclusion in government will be there because after killing and the rest, you won’t even have that relationship to say, ‘come, you were in this party but I want to work with you because of your expertise.’ But if we have a good electoral process that enshrines peace, if you win, you may call the other person in the other party, and say, come let’s move ahead with the country and forget what happened.

 

 

Another thing is that we must reduce the number of political parties. For me, it’s very funny to have the number of political parties we have today. Yes, Gani Fawehinmi used the Constitution to secure multi-party system for the country. He talked of freedom of association and all that but the system is not helping us. That idea shouldn’t be applicable when it comes to political situation. You can have freedom of association in other areas but the question is, at what limit is freedom of everything? Every freedom has a limit; so we should also limit the number of political parties in Nigeria. For me, we are looking funny in the eyes of the other nations. So, they should reduce the number of political parties.

 

 

What is your ideal number of political parties you want Nigeria to operate?

 

 

For participation, we can take seven. It will make people to participate. But ordinarily, Nigerian unity should have been what Ibrahim Babangida espoused  when he was in power, which is two-party system. Maybe, independent candidates may be entrenched making it three. Two-party system is what will unite Nigeria. So, if you are qualified to stand as an independent candidate, there is no problem, you go. This is my take on the issue of the number of parties to operate in Nigeria.

 

 

If you go for three-party system, it will divide the country along ethnic lines of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. So, to avoid projecting and promoting tribal dichotomy, let’s go with two parties, so that even if two major ethnic groups grab the two, one major ethnic group will now spread into the two, and minorities will also be there. Then what do you get? Peace.

 

Is it correct to say that you are advocating for the establishment of a two-party system in Nigeria?

 

 

Of course, so that this idea of freedom of this or that as contained in the Constitution will stop, and when you raise the issue of going by multi-party structure, somebody will tell you that two-party system is in the Constitution.

Do you intend to sponsor a bill on this matter to give it legal backing?

 

 

It is already in the Electoral Act which has passed second reading. It is going for public hearing and a lot of people will come up with this idea and other ideas. So, there is no need for a separate bill on it. Whatever you have to contribute just bring it out at the hearing, and they will listen to you.

 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the Senate has publicly rejected the Bayelsa and Kogi elections. As an individual, what’s your impression about those elections?

 

 

As far as we are concerned in Nigeria not just me, people are not happy with the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, particularly Kogi. That is why when I was contributing on the floor of the Senate, I said that it disheartening for INEC to see an election that was marred by rigging, violence and killing and still went ahead to announce somebody a winner. So, INEC should be empowered to be able to determine which election is sufficiently compliant and what is not sufficiently compliant with election guidelines, and know when to pronounce a winner and when not to do so.

 

 

But this idea of trying to do arithmetic on their own: this is less than this or that and declare results based on such controversial circumstances or declare election inconclusive, for me is fraud. How many Youth Corps members died in Kogi before the woman leader? And as I am talking to you, the number of deaths is still increasing everyday in Kogi. Why is it that it was that Saturday they did that election that these people died; why didn’t they die yesterday? So, all of us know that it was election violence. Therefore, we should do something to reduce election violence in the country.

 

 

Let me tell you; President Muhammadu Buhari will definitely want to do what will keep Nigeria one and bring electoral process to what is acceptable. That is to say that if there is any document that will be presented before him that will bring electoral credibility, one Nigeria, I bet you, President Buhari will sign it.

 

 

Why didn’t he sign the previous Electoral Act amendment bill which contained these provisions you are talking about and was passed by the last assembly?

That was his first tenure. That’s point number one; number two, you know he is not the Attorney-General of the Federation.

 

 

What has that got to do with his failure to sign the bill when he is even the Commander-in-Chief?

 

 

As Commander-in-Chief, he is commanding soldiers to go and kill Boko Haram and not to take over the duties of those he has appointed to advise him. The Attorney-General is the one to advise him on whether to sign any document or not. They did it to Jonathan over the National Constitutional Conference. When they finished their report, the Attorney-General then told him not to sign certain areas of the report. And that’s why he didn’t sign it till he left. Was he not Commander-in-Chief?

 

Are you saying that the Attorney-General misadvised President Buhari, and that’s why he didn’t sign the Electoral Act amendment bill passed by the last National Assembly?

 

 

I will not use that word. I may say he did his work. If you are appointed by somebody, you will also give your advice. I don’t know the advice he gave but the blame should not be that the President refused to sign but the advice that the Attorney-General gave him may have been the reason he didn’t sign. And of course, they gave reason before the election why that thing was not signed. And I think, that is what the Ninth National Assembly should also look into, and look at the real reasons why he didn’t sign it, and do justice to them.

 

 

How do you see the idea of deploying soldiers for the conduct of elections in Nigeria?

 

 

It is wrong. But you saw the IGP telling that the police men who came to Kogi are fake police men; which means, constitutionally, the use of army is wrong. The use of the police close to the polling booth is also wrong. That was why, in defense of what he saw he said they were fake police.

 

 

Why has the National Assembly not come out publicly to condemn the use of soldiers in the conduct of elections in Nigeria?

 

 

Who told you that the National Assembly has not said anything? That is why this amendment is on the floor of the Senate. It has passed second reading and was committed to committee for public hearing. It’s not everything that you expect the National Assembly to carry microphone and be talking in the street.

Is there any clause in the Electoral Act which bars soldiers from participating in elections?

 

 

The Constitution bars them, not only the Electoral Act. They are not supposed to participate in elections.

 

 

Can you say that Nigerian soldiers are being abused by using them for wrong assignments?

Of course. Sometimes politicians too cause them to come.

The race to 2023 presidency appears to have begun. The expectation is that a president of Igbo extraction will emerge in line with zoning principle. However, the South-West and even the North which is correctly occupying the Villa are also showing interest. What is your take on this?

 

 

You are an experienced journalist; you know that it has always been so till the last point of the election year. There has always been that struggle for who will produce the President of the country. But at the tail end of the election year, you will see that these are the people contesting. Sometimes, election is not like Mathematics that they tell you that one plus one is two. In politics, even in the last second, any decision can change.

 

 

So, I don’t even have a definite answer to what you are asking me now until when it is time for election. You know that politics is all about rumours, permutations and the rest. Again, let me draw your attention to the fact that this government is just five years old. So, why are we talking of something of 2023.

 

 

Right now, zoning is unconstitutional; would you want the idea of zoning presidency to be entrenched in the Constitution to end the uncertainty surrounding it?

 

 

Well, for me, zoning shouldn’t be a constitutional matter. I still believe that we should be able to choose the best not minding where that person comes from. If we keep talking about zoning, that is still going to be dividing us. But what I am saying is that those areas of the country that have occupied the Presidency can also allow their brothers from those areas that have not handled the Presidency to taste it with or without zoning.

 

How can this be achieved without a binding legal framework?

 

 

When Dr. Goodluck Jonathan came as a President, the issue of zoning was not considered. Still, people who want Nigeria to be one put him, after the tenure of Umaru Yar’Adua. When Olusegun Obasanjo came as a President in 1999, there was no issue of zoning. I know there must have been considerations like Chief MKO Abiola’s issue and the rest but that wasn’t the mood. When you talk of zoning, I laugh because even when Jonathan contested, northerners contested with him. Even when Buhari contested, southerners contested with him. So, what I am saying is that we should get to that level where the best should rule us and somebody that will never talk of South, East or West but Nigeria.

 

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Sunday Extra

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: FG to open Kara Bridge

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Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: FG to open Kara Bridge

T

he Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr Adedamola Kuti, has said the barricade around Kara Bridge would be removed on Sunday to ease the traffic situation around that axis.

Kuti said on Saturday that construction work had been completed on that part of the road.

According to him, when the contractors return to the site in January, construction work will commence on the outbound-Lagos traffic side of the road.

 

“Now that inbound has been completed, we don’t want to start work on the outbound and leave it halfway, so we decided to open the road to commuters tomorrow, Sunday, so that people can move freely this Christmas,” Kuti said.

The contractor on section 1 of the road, Julius Berger, diverted both inbound and outbound traffic to one side of the road on September 2, when reconstruction of that part of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway commenced.

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Sunday Extra

More communities embrace Terracares4Naija Project

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he Terracares4Naija project aimed at feeding 10,000 Lagos residents across 10 communities has continued to gain traction since it was launched on October 11, 2019 in Lagos.

A project of TGI Distri Limited makers of Terra seasoning cubes, Big Bull Rice and other household products, the initiative is aimed at putting smiles on the faces of Lagosians especially in the vulnerable communities by feeding them with nutritious food prepared with home grown ingredients from TGI Group.

 

 

The programme which commenced with the feeding of 1000 residents in Agege to mark the United Nation’s World Food Day on October 16 has spread joy to more Lagos communities including Majidun in Ikorodu, Makoko in Yaba  andIwaya also in Yaba. Each week the Terracares4Naija team moves to a community with music and food to engage the residents, provide an atmosphere of fun and give them  food packs to take home.

According to the Marketing Manager TGI Distri Limited, Mr. Govind Agarwal the Teracares4Naija initiative is a way of reciprocating the love and acceptance of the people for Terra Seasoning cube since it was launched in April this year. “We appreciate the importance of good nutrition in growing a healthy community. So as a responsible corporate citizen, TGI Distri Limited  through this project bringing Christmas closer and putting them in the mood for a great celebration of the yuletide,” said Mr. Agarwal.

A community leader at Majidun,  Ikorodu, Mr. Biodun Ogunsanya called on other corporate organisations and wealthy individuals to emulate the gestures of TGI Distri Limited by assisting the government in the care of the poor and the underprivileged in the society as it will help in cushioning the economic hardship faced by millions of Nigerians in this class.

Also a resident of Apollo Street Maroko, Mrs Nwamaka Uchechukwu said the people of the area were appreciative of the gesture of TGI Distri Limited while calling on other corporate organisations to emulate the gesture by doing something for communities like Makoko.

The Terracares4Naija project continues till Christmas as more communities will be visited in the coming weeks.

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Sunday Extra

Kano’s wheel of woes

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Kano’s wheel of woes

They were meant to ease commuting in most parts of the country, especially in metropolis such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and other state capitals where they have become the most available means of transportation. Some state governors have turned it to means of getting votes, as tricycles have become means to empower teeming unemployed able bodied Nigerians. However, the tricycles have become nightmare to residents. MUHAMMAD KABIR reports how they have become a menace in Kano

 

They are called different names in different parts of the country. In Lagos it is called Keke Marwa (Marwa’s tricycle),Keke NAPEP is what they call it in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and most parts of the country being one of the major means of providing jobs for the teeming unemployed youths under the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

In Kano they call it “Yan adaidaita sahu masu titi (Masters of the road). It is not for nothing that the operators are given this moniker. No thanks to their recklessness, carelessness and absolute disregard for traffic rules and regulation and other road users. They are believed to be the highest on the roads as they are found plying every nook and crannies of Kano metropolis. Tricycles formally became means of transportation under the administration of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, now a serving senator in the National Assembly.

 

It was with the view to bringing sanity to the transportation sector by providing easy, safe and free movements of residents, especially women, to minimize hardships and prevent them from mingling with the opposite sex in taxis, buses as well as motorcycles popularly called Achaba, after it was banned during the reign of his predecessor Musa Kwankwaso. A large number of the former operators of Achaba switched to tricycle, including under aged riders.

 

They were ignorant of traffic rules and regulations. They have become threat to safety and lives of other road users. Irrespective of where they are operating, they give little or no respect to other road users as in most cases, they claim rights of ways. They break traffic rules at will, ride against traffic, drop off and pick passengers anyhow. They are not only arrogant, they exhibit act of rudeness by blocking vehicles with their tricycles in total disregard for traffic rules. Children as old 15 years old are operators of the wheel of woes in Kano. Residents who are either victims of these harbingers of danger or have relations who have become victims have nothing good to say about them.

 

A man who identified himself simply as Ali shares his experience: “I witnessed an incidence where a boy of less than 14 years caused an accident through wrong parking where so many matured responsible people fell victims.

 

The most annoying thing is that he is a minor. Even though the boy pleaded guilty but would not be charged and convicted to face the consequences in a court of law because he is an underage.” A 400-Level student of Mass Communications Department, Bayero University Kano, said, “I used to disagree with people when they said that tricycle accidents are fatal because I love riding in them. This belief ended one Friday evening when my friend and I boarded a tricycle to go and buy some foodstuff.

 

 

“On our return journey, the operator of the tricycle, who was on high speed tried to overtake a vehicle, but suddenly ran into a stationary lorry parked opposite our school gate. Luckily, I was the only one that sustained a minor injury. My friend and the tricyclist ended up at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.” Mrs Uchuwa Lawal, a resident of Sabon Gari has this to say: “In March, I boarded a tricycle in front of my house to Kantin Kwari market to buy some wrappers for my younger brother’s wedding. On alighting from the tricycle, I paid my fare and walked away, leaving behind my luggage. Until date I am still waiting for my luggage to be returned.”

 

In Kano, eight out of every 10 vehicles have in one way or the other become a vic-tim of the recklessness of the tricycle operators. “Almost all cars in Kano have indelible yellow mark (paint of tricycles) as a result of either intentional or unintentional collusion with tricycles,” said a Policeman who did not want his name in print because he is not authorized to speak to the press on this. It is because of this that the Kano Police Command not long ago read a riot act to the cycle operators who have turned the highways and the roads to racing tracks. The police alleged that the tricycle riders cause unnecessary and avoidable accidents and related inconveniences to road users.

 

The command’s spokesman, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, said the riders must have authentic tricycle registration plate numbers and KAROTA number affixed appropriately to the tricycles. He said: “Any person or persons seen carrying passengers on his side or riding without due identification marks would be arrested and prosecuted in court”. He noted that the decision was aimed at safeguarding the lives and properties of the good citizens of the state.

 

To underscore this, he said serious action would be taken on riders carrying passengers on either side of the road. The State Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) is equally concerned with the heartache the operators give residents. As a way of curbing their excess, agency is mulling placing a ban on the use of tricycles as a means of transportation.

 

 

Managing Director of KAROTA Dr. Baffa Babba Dan Agundi hinted that the state government is planning to ban the use of commercial tricycle operators by the end of the year. Agundi who made this known said the agency is mandated with the responsibility of sanitising the activities of commercial tricycle operators. According to him, the agency has been receiving a lot more complaints from members of the public than it bargained for on the unbecoming and unruly conduct of commercial tricycle operators.

 

To this extent, he disclosed that the state government is contemplating either banning the commercial tricycle operators or introducing a new policy toward sensitising activities of commercial tricycle operators. He explained the State government may introduce Bus Transport Rapid System (BRT) in order to ease the movement of goods and services in the state. Also, Dan Agundi, said that about 10 cases of alleged Physical assault against KAROTA men are pending before the Kano state Police Command, explaining that many others were charged to court for prosecution. He urged motorists in the state to always abide by the traffic rules and regulations of the agency, adding that KAROTA was established by law to enforce the traffic rules and regulations in the state.

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Sunday Extra

A chance to own properties at zero cost

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A chance to own properties at zero cost

From inception, property World Africa Network (PWAN Homes) has never left anyone in doubt about its innovative and leadership prowess, in the business of helping people own their property with ease.

 

This was the assertion at the gathering of stakeholder in Nigeria’s real estate market who appraised PWAN’s contributions to the sprawling real estate marketing sector in the country, recently. The company, founded in 2013 and nurtured by Dr. Augustine Onwumere and his wife, Dr. Jayne, had commenced operation from a bear parlor located at Okun Ado, one of the developing communities on the Lekki Area of Lagos. Initially it was a way for the couple, who was at the time struggling to get out of their own financial distress.

 

However, they recognised the immense potentials that trading on landed properties hold for millions of other Nigerians who are overwhelmed with varying needs. Faith smiled on the Onwumere when their hard work, focus, and passion to helping others own a home yielded doublepronged positive results. The couple created the first company ever to employ network marketing strategy to market real estate products. The initiative which employs independent marketers known as consultants has not only enables many Nigerians own property they can call their own, through installment payment. PWAN also scored the bull’s eyes having given thousands of unemployed youths a chance to earn legitimate income and become millionaires from selling properties.

 

“What we started in real estate is phenomenal. We actually started business in 2013, recruiting and training people through seminars. We give them free training on landed title documents, how to make sales both online and offline. So it attracted people first because of the kind   of commission we pay. And when any marketer meets the target that we set, he or she gets a car and travel abroad,” Dr. Onwumere related to new set of entrants at a recent recruitment session. According to him, PWAN and its over 16 subsidiaries has over 40,000 independent marketers, doing business in over 11 states in Nigeria.

 

“We are running this business as an empowerment organisation, it is no longer a business for me and my wife to eat, drive cars or anything like that. It is now about how many Nigerians can we empower. We are the highest; we are the first and the best,” the PWAN boss asserted.

 

Speaking at a seminar ahead of the group’s promo and exhibition, Dr. Onwumere reiterated that PWAN is more than ever committed to making home ownership effortless as possible. “We are also not in a hurry to relinquish our leadership and innovative roles in the bourgeoning real sector.

 

“To this end, we are rolling out a new regime of incentives for the benefit of our esteemed stakeholders, associates and property prospectors as a special end of year package,” he disclosed. Prominent among the incentives, is a unique chance for some lucky people to own their own property at zero cost, would be unveiled at PWAN’s property exhibition and promo gifts slated for November 29 –December 1, at its Okun Ad, Lekki, corporate headquarters.

 

The Managing Director, PWAN Group, Dr Afam Okonkwo explained; “The will also be raffle draws for several plots of land by some of the companies, which make it possible for some people to get their own properties at zero cost.” Incidentally, each subsidiary of PWAN Group will be on ground with different incentives for just anyone who comes around to explore.

 

He added; “Like the mission of PWAN group says; we discover affordable lands in the fast developing areas, make known to you and also show you how you can make money and build your own house.” And that is not all; as there will be other raffle draws which will enable many people go home with several household properties such as television sets, fridges, washing machines, gas cookers, generating sets etc. Other incentives include an all-expense paid ship cruise from Dubai on the jewel of the Sea, and a chance for property prospectors to get introduced to mortgage facilities with flexible payment plan up to 15 years under the group’s buy and build estate.

 

The Group Managing Director, Dr. Jayn Onwumere assured that PWAN Group has been instrumental to people owning properties since the company simplified house ownership process seven years ago, adding “We have help over 10,000 people become landlord without any issue.”

 

According to Dr. Onwumere, each of PWAN’s exclusive estates houses aesthetic structures that guarantee maximum comfort for all to savour.

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Abdullahi: If we don’t curb hate speech, it will destroy Nigeria

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Abdullahi: If we don’t curb hate speech, it will destroy Nigeria

A bill seeking to check the prevalence of hate speech with death by hanging has triggered a lot of controversy on Nigeria.  In this interview, sponsor of the bill and Deputy Senate Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi tells ONWUKA NZESHI that the uproar over the bill is more misplaced as the issue hate speech had grown into a monster 

 

The Anti Hate Speech bill has generated so much controversy and we would like to know your reaction to this development? 

 

 

When this bill was read for the first time on the floor of the hallowed chambers, I was indisposed but some people reported mischievously that I deliberately did not come to the chamber that day because I know how controversial the bill is and, therefore, I was trying to avoid the backlash that would follow it. 

 

 

I’m not a coward.  I’m a Nigerian, a full-blown Nigerian and a very patriotic and good Nigerian for that matter. So I have no reason to shy away from my responsibility neither do I have any reason to abdicate my responsibility. I just feel I should make this clarification that this bill has been read for the first time and by the grace of God, at the auspicious time, very soon, I hope to go to the chamber to lead the debate for the bill to be read the second time.  I am sure that given the pedigree of my other 108 colleagues in the Senate chamber, I expect nothing but a very robust debate on this bill. 

 

 

Why did you choose to sponsor such a controversial bill?

 

 

Like you will recall, in the 8th Senate, I actually sponsored that same bill. Unknown to many people, I did not pursue the bill at that time because by the time I was going to consider it for a debate and second reading, the political atmosphere was already getting charged and I recall my own thinking and very rightly so that the atmosphere was not right for even debating the subject matter because at the end of the day we will be missing the point.  So that was why I did not pursue it. But to God be the glory, I came back to the 9th Senate and decided that the bill should be brought back.

 

 

If the bill was shut down last time what makes you think it will succeed this time?

 

 

I can tell you that the bill was neither shut down nor withdrawn.  I told you that I read the mood of the time and did not go for a second reason because politics had crept in, the atmosphere was charged. But by the grace of God, I am back and I can tell you that the basic reasons which motivated me to sponsor the bill at that time are still present with us. Nothing has changed.

 

 

In fact, if anything, hate speech is increasing by the day and that is why I felt I still believe in the cause and that is why I have introduced the bill again. This time round, I started early so that whatever it is, we will have ample time, devoid of politics, to look at these issues dispassionately. I believe that this issue has a lot to do with life and it is not something you toy with or talk about casually. It is a serious matter because I know that there are people who are victims of this hate speech. Like I said, the subject of hate speech is assuming a life of its own and I believe we must check it before it destroys our country. 

 

 

How have you been managing the public outcry over this bill?

 

 

Now, between the days the bill was read for the first time and today, I have listened very carefully and attentively to all the comments on the bill.  I have also read copiously the criticisms, analysis and all the things people have been writing about this bill. I appreciate that we are in a democracy and all the commentaries are actually a demonstration that there is freedom of speech and people are free to comment on issues. It is part of the beauty of democracy.

 

 

Beyond that, I will also say that the commentaries being made can be categorised into the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly. I don’t have problems with anybody making commentaries on the bill because like I said earlier, this is a democracy and people have right to say whatever they want to say about anything.

 

 

 

But, what I want to say is that in introducing this bill, I did that altruistically. I have no other motive than to respond to the constitutional mandate given to me to participate in the process of law making for order and good governance of our nation.  I am aware that when you look at issues which you in your own reckoning require some legislation; they must be issues that conform with the objectives that the constitution itself sets for you, which is to ensure order and good governance.  So for me, the issue of hate speech is not new even though the commentaries I’ve seen were by many people who have never read the bill and they said so even in their commentaries.

 

Many highly respected Nigerians have not read the bill but they’ve gone ahead to still make commentaries and analysis. Therefore, I just want to clear the air on some of the issues people have raised.  This bill was introduced by my humble self. I want to say that those who think that this bill is sponsored by any other interests in this country are wrong.  This bill has nothing to do with ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or geo-politics. It is about bringing succour to many of our citizens who have been victims of so many crises, resulting in deaths.  We have had so many crises across this country and in all instances; research has shown that the precursor of all the violence is hate speech anchored on religion and ethnicity. 

 

 

The question to ask is: Why must innocent people lose their lives to crisis that they were not part of? Usually, the crisis erupts simply because someone made a statement   somewhere and some other people decide to take the laws into their own hands, associate you with the faultiness in the matter and you become a victim of that particular situation. 

So as far as I am concerned, the main import of bringing this bill is to make sure that the issue of people being victims as a result of hate speech is put in check.  Life cannot be bought in the market and every life matters. 

 

 

Has anyone directly attacked you over this bill? 

 

 

Over the past 10 days or so since the bill was read, I’ve received all kinds of messages including threats.  But I’m not bothered about them because I believe that in all of this, if I receive one commendation, it gladdens my heart.  Indeed, I did receive many commendations but one stood out.  He said: ‘There is so much hate in this country. We must check it.’  So all hope is not lost.  I’m happy we are having this conversation but let’s have the conversation as responsible citizens.  Whatever anybody would say, if you’ve never been a victim or your loved one has never been a victim, then you have the luxury of making statements anyhow as far as this subject matter is concerned.  But I bet you, if you meet those who have lost their loved ones arising from violence due to ethnicity or religious intolerance and the likes, I don’t think that they will be smiling with you when you tell them that hate speech is none sense. 

 

 

Don’t you think this bill is a threat to freedom of speech?

 

 

I know people have said the bill is designed to prevent free speech but nothing can be farther from the truth. We are guided by the Constitution which has 11 fundamental rights spelt out in it.  Section 33 talks about right to life which means that if you are not alive, how do you enjoy free speech?  Those who are killed, can they be talking about free speech?  The Constitution says everybody is equal and that is why we don’t support discrimination. This bill talks about discrimination on the grounds of religion and ethnicity. If Nigeria must be one then we must respect each other no matter our differences. 

 

 

I want to debunk the views of all the naysayers, the haters and those who do not wish to see good things happening in this country; I mean those who want to associate whatever we do with the fault lines of ethnicity and religion. I want to debunk their negative thinking and let them know that Nigeria has so much goodness in it and those who are on the different divides of our fault lines have had course to work together and are still working together for the goodness of this country.

 

 

Why did you propose death by hanging as penalty?

 

 

 

I appreciate the fact that the major concern of most Nigerians is the penalty of death by hanging contained in the bill.  When you bring a bill and it is read the first time, it is just a proposal that will go through debates and public hearing. Like we all know, at the stage of debate, the Senate will look at the basic principles behind the bill as well as the merits and demerits of the proposal. For example we would determine if hate speech is a problem in this country. Do we need to legislate on it?  It is when you go for public hearing that those who have seen the content of the bill can pick on the areas they agree or do not and offer suggestions and recommendations.  All of this is taken into consideration and at the end of the day; we come out with something that is implementable and acceptable to all Nigerians.

 

 

Until and unless this is done, I want to say very clearly that there are so many people who have jumped the gun.  In their own imagination, they have jumped to the conclusion that the proposed law is draconian.

So for those who are already shouting and even going to the  extreme of using words that are by every definition,  hate speech itself, let them be guided.  We want to build a country that we can all have confidence in as citizens. 

I’ve read very good submissions from very eminent Nigerians, those in the academics, industries, civil society, traditional institutions and even religious leaders.

In all the things they have said, one beautiful thing that runs through them is the fact that we are all united against hate and all forms of discrimination and everybody is concerned with the subject of death. Nobody wants to see death being unleashed on anybody and I think that is very fundamental.  I am happy we are having this conversation.

 

 

Some critics of this bill have said that it is an unnecessary duplication of other existing laws.  What is your response to this view? 

 

 

Like I said, I introduced this bill because that subject of hate speech is assuming a life of its own and I believe we must check it. Yes, I’ve heard some people saying that there are laws against libel, slander and defamation, therefore what we are doing is duplication. Let me tell you that those issues do not fall under hate speech. They do not.  Slander does not. Hate speech is hate speech, it’s borne out of hatred, and it’s tied down to something that will definitely reach the very foundation of your emotion. If these existing laws you’re talking about were actually made to address hate speech, how come that over the past 10 to 15 years research has shown that violence attributable to hate speech has been on the increase in Nigeria.

 

In all these years, nobody has been brought to book. In spite of all the communal clashes, ethnic clashes and religious clashes, not even one person has been brought to book.  So you can see that hate speech is a different ball game entirely. When I come to debate this matter, we would provide details of the matter.

 

 

We are going to provide additional definition after the debate. Hate speech is when you deliberately incite somebody on the basis of making a statement targeting at getting violent reactions from certain religious or ethnic groups. Hate speech must be hateful which means something that is deep, spoken deliberately to make another person angry, or to debase the person or dehumanise him or her.

 

 

There are signs that the executive arm of government is not comfortable with your bill and has even disowned it.  What are you going to do if the bill is not signed into law? 

 

 

Whether they sign or they don’t sign should not prevent me from doing my duty as a legislator.  It is very important that we get these things correctly because the angle you are bringing it, that is how you guys introduce crisis and conflict between the executive and the legislature and it is bad. It is bad. The point I am making is that at this stage, the opinion of the executive does not count; we have to do our job.  I belong to the legislative arm of government and whatever it is, we will do our own part and let the executive do their own part. 

 

 

At any rate, I stand to be corrected that the executive has made any official statement on this matter. It was a minister who made the comment you’re referring to and she did that in her own personal capacity. How does that amount to the executive disowning the bill?  So, please let’s get these things correctly. I don’t want us to trivialise this issue. We shouldn’t do that because I am doing this with the utmost sense of responsibility. Life, like I said, has no spare. It is not even sold in the market so you cannot even talk about tokunbo life and original life. There is no market for it. 

 

 

 

 

What is your position on speculations that this bill is designed to silence Nigerians and pave way for a third term agenda?

 

 

The assumption by some people who think the bill is a ploy to give the current president a third term is laughable and it is a shame on those holding such views because I don’t see how that is related

If anything, I have seen studies conducted where the issues of violence were catalogued, particularly electoral violence and hate speech featured prominently as a major cause. This clearly shows that if we allow hate speech to fester, it means we won’t get good governance and it would also be difficult to fight corruption.

 

 

Why did you propose death penalty for hate speech and you’ve not thought of such a penalty for corruption among public officials? 

 

 

There are already plenty laws to tackle corruption and there are still being brought to fight it. If I have not thought about it, there is nothing in this wide world that is preventing you from coming up with such a bill on corruption and giving it to us in the parliament. But what is bothering me is what I have introduced as a bill. 

 

 

I also want to let you know that many of the top corruption cases in this country have been frustrated because we also align it with the fault lines of ethnicity and religion. Once a person is arrested for alleged corruption, Nigerians will begin to interpret it in different ways.  ‘Oh, it’s because he’s a Christian. Oh, it’s because he’s a Muslim.  Oh, it’s because he’s Yoruba.  Oh, it’s because he is Ibo and oh, it’s because he’s Hausa.’ We do this, forgetting about the crime the person has committed. So, where do we go from here? 

As far as I am concerned, we have a duty and there is no one single solution that we can proffer that will serve as a panacea to the problems of Nigeria.  But does that mean that we are not going to make efforts?  We have to make efforts because over the years, hate speech has increasingly assumed a life of its own. It is not new or peculiar to Nigeria. Different countries are exploring different ways of tackling hate speech in their countries. For us in Nigeria, the trigger for hate speech is our fault lines of ethnicity and religion.  In other countries such as the United States and Germany, it might be race.

 

 

Some Nigerians say you are chasing shadows with this bill.  Don’t you think so?

 

 

Well, the shadow has become a monster.  Yes, we thought we were chasing shadows but finally, we’ve now seen that it is a monster and not a shadow. 

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Sunday Extra

Solving Apapa gridlock through in land waterways

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Solving Apapa gridlock through in land waterways

Stakeholders gathered in Onitsha recently to deliberate on how the inland water ways which dot the country could be put to use and reduce the pressure on highways and the carnage occasioned by dilapidated roads. OKEY MADUFORO captured all that transpired when the new Managing Director Nigeria Inland Water ways (NIWA) Chief George Moghalu visited Onitsha Port on facility tour

 

 

Importers and business men in Nigeria have continued to tell tales of woe following the challenges they face in transporting goods to its respective destinations. Goods that berth at the Apapa and other international ports in the country most of the time do not reach the end users due to the deplorable state of the Nigeria’s Federal High Ways.

 

Mr. Pius Nwokoye is an importer who deals in building materials and his colleague Mr. Kaodilinye Festus is a motor Spare Parts dealer. In the last two years they have been facing litigations as a result of loan facilities they took from commercial banks and are yet to liquidate.

 

“I took the loan to import and deliver to three of my customers last year but the goods had problems along the Lagos – Shagamu Express way. “One of the trucks carrying my forty feet   container fell down and crashed into a ditch and I lost half of the contents.”

 

“The banks took me to court for not paying back the loan and my customers could not get the full consignment they requested for. I had to sell one of my lands at 33 Road Onitsha to at least service the loan and the court granted me my prayers that I should be given some time to pay off the debt”, Nwokoye lamented. Kaodilinye Festus had a more bitter experience when his container got stuck along Benin 0 Ore highway as the truck spent one week before it was dragged out of the deep gully. But before then, some miscreants had stormed the area at night and made away with some of the goods as the location had no presence of security operatives. “I could not believe what I saw on that day. The driver claimed that he was attacked by the thieves with a machete and he ran for his life, hence giving the urchins enough space and time to operate and I lost over N7 million as a result of that”, he said.

 

The duo of Festus and Nwokoye are just a few of the countless business men and women who have continued to experience the horror which Nigerian highways have become. Apparently government’s efforts at reconstructing the country’s high ways is yielding positive results though the predicament of Nigeria’s business community deepens. In the last one month, there have been incidents of petrol tanker fire in Lagos and in the South East; especially Anambra State and they left on their trail, pathetic and horrifying experience of tears, sorrow and death. The fall of those tankers have been traced to the pitiable state of the Nigerian Highways and incidentally commuters do not have any other alternative but the dilapidated roads.

 

 

The lamentations of the South East and South-south businessmen were well captured when the new Managing Director of National Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA) Chief George Moghalu came on a facility and fact finding tour of the Onitsha River Port, Anambra State,. Ven Chris Orajekwe who spoke at the stakeholders meeting with Moghalu said: “We wonder what has happened to the water transportation sector. In other countries of the world their water ways are busy with commercial activities. But here in Nigeria it is a different ball game. All these cases of trucks and other vehicles getting stuck on their way, is not helping our economy and people lose millions of Naira and even precious lives due to the absence of an alternative means of transportation.

 

“With a good water transport system one can go to Abuja through our water ways and get to Lokoja and the complete   the rest of the journey to Abuja on road”. Anambra State chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Basil Ejidike noted that the economy of the country is not getting the required boost do to what he called the dormancy of the country’s water ways and its inland ports. “When you understudy commercial towns that house the inland ports, you will discover that they are not growing. You can imagine the multiplier effect on the micro and macro economics of these towns if our water ways are working optimally”.

 

The Obi of Onitsha during Moghalu’s courtesy’s visit to his palace could not hide his displeasure over the fate of Onitsha the commercial hub of sub Saharan Africa. “Most people who do business in Onitsha are not resident in Onitsha because of poor basic amenities that encourage trade and commerce.

 

 

Should we have a working water ways with functional inland ports Onitsha will not be like this. It would also create jobs for our youths and expand economic opportunities in the South East. It is my hope and strong belief that with your appointment as the Managing Director of NIWA things would get a lot better” he said. For Chief Moghalu it is a call of duty in salvaging the fate of our water ways.

 

According to him; “I share the same sentiment with you, for  example our Inland Waterways is about 10,000 kilometers as we speak and slightly over three thousand is navigable all year round and our waterways is accessible across twenty eight states which means we have water access to about 28 states.

 

So what we need to do is to develop the water transportation routes, once we do that, there is a lot of advantage that come with it, it is not only the cheapest but also one of the safest and again if I may say, it will reduce pressure on our roads because most of our roads you will agree with me are not designed to carry the weight they are carrying and unless we reduce this weight, we will continue having this problem.

 

You and I know today that the Apapa gridlock that we have been suffering over the years is like a recurrent decimal and the only way to address it is through water transportation. If the waterways are open today, I can assure you that over 50% of the cargo that goes to Apapa wharf can as well go to the hinterland because we have a River Port in Baro, Onitsha, and we have jetties across the country up to Yauri and up to Lake Chad.

 

So if we open our waterways for all year navigation, I can assure you that the gridlock in Apapa will become history.

 

“Naturally like any other serious business, it is capital intensive, because it is not only capital dredging but we also have to do maintenance dredging to make sure that the channels are all year round navigable, we clear it and make sure there are no wrecks and any blockages and also clear water hyacinth and dredge them so that we can achieve the needed depth for barges and small vessels to move all year round.

 

So what we need actually first of all, is governmental support, then the will, before we talk about the funds if there is the will to make this work, it will generate commitment. “We have room for Public Private Partnership (PPP) what you must understand also is that we have to show the way and the private sector will key in.

 

 

Government has to initiate the process, government has to create the enabling environment and Government has to show that it works. “I am confident the moment we do the basic things, the needful and what we are supposed to do, the private sector will be asking us to be part of what we are doing.”

 

The Coordinator Children of Farmers Club, Prince Chris Okwuosa added a new impetus to the need to improve on the country’s water ways. “We have a creek at Ogbaru-Uli-Ihiala- Ndoni water ways that cuts across Imo, Anambra and Rivers States. It passes through Idemili-Akwu – Ukwu Ozubulu to Ose akwa down to Oguta and Nnodni in Rivers States. “The Agro- technocrat village is being developed along that creek and if the water ways are well developed it would improve the ecotourism in the area both in transportation and one can travel through seven states in the federation comfortably”. Similarly former Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim noted that the South East is not land locked.

 

“Igbo land is not land locked at all and the coastal lines of Oguta and Ogbaru are sure link to the world and that was what I tried to develop before I left office and I urge the respective governors of the South East to cue into this idea for posterity” he said.

 

It is expected that Chief George Moghalu is at home with the challenges of the waterways and the inland ports in the country and should the powers that be create the necessary enablers for NIWA to be turned around.

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Onyejeocha putting smiles on faces of Isuikwuato, Umunneochi constituents

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Onyejeocha putting smiles on faces of Isuikwuato, Umunneochi constituents

It is often said that health is wealth. The significance of good health as a decider of the other indices of development and wellbeing cannot be overlooked. Little wonder it tops the priority of most government programmes. Obviously, the development and progress of any community or family depend on it.

 

It is therefore not surprising that House of Representatives member, Nkiruka Onyejeocha brought a free medical programme to her constituents. The ill health of citizens is compounded by the pervasive excruciating poverty so any leader who provides free medical service to the people would have endeared himself indelibly in their hearts. Lawmaker Onyejeocha (APC) is the Deputy Chief Whip of the Green Chambers and member representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, Abia State.

 

She recognizes the peculiar challenges of her constituency as rural local government areas and embarks on projects and programmes that have direct impact on them. Little wonder she has consistently won the election to represent them since 2007. Since she became a federal lawmaker, Onyejeocha has organized yearly free medical outreach for her people every June. This is in addition to the scholarship scheme to indigent students and employment for her people. She was at home to personally supervise the free medical outreach.

 

 

The outreach cut across all ages. The old and the young benefited and both sexes. During an interaction with journalists in her country home, Isuochi, during this year’s medical outreach, Onyejeocha said: “I organise free medical every June. But we discover that there are many diagnosed with one sickness or the other who could not complete treatment until October. That is why we continue until they are all attended to.” The fourth term House of Representatives member said she was impressed with the turn out for the programme.

 

She said about 50 patients had surgeries on the first day, while 48 had their s the following day. In order to preserve the items and equip- ment for the medical outreach, which she lamented, were either damaged or vandalized by the next medical session, Onyejeocha built a facility named after her grandmother, Madam Suzana Mba Health Center, at Isuochi, her home town. She said the challenge the programme had was, among others, convenient and secure venue as a result of which she had to provide fresh facilities and equipment every year.

 

“Each time we had the outreach, the facilities and equipment are vandalized. The result is that every year we will need to provide everything again from the scratch. That is why I decided that the best thing will be to build a permanent medical facility, that’s why I built this.”

 

The outreach, this year, was a huge success. Hundreds benefited from the surgery and treatment of other ailments. At the Madam Suzan Mba Health Center on the Amuda-Umuaku Road, beneficiaries lined up for medical attention for the number days the outreach lasted. One of the beneficiaries who identified himself simply as Mr. Eke said he underwent surgery in the eye the previous day for what doctors described as tenebrous. Eke said: “The surgery on my eye yesterday, was a success.

 

It’s free indeed with drugs. I’m grateful to her.” Also, Okereke Chukwudike Bennett, a medical laboratory scientist and one of the over 30 medical personnel attending to the patients, said that by the second day 50 patients had been attended to while 48 others benefited the previous day, while many were still seated waiting to be attended to.

 

“In all, it has been a successful outreach, no casualty, no death,” Okereke said. Okereke further disclosed that over 30 medical personnel including doctors, nurses and medical laboratory scientists handled different ailments. With the modern facility built and equipped with state of the art equipment and quality drugs, the health needs of the people of Isuochi would have been permanently solved through the magnanimity of their representative, Lady Nkiruka Onyejeocha.

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