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Wike: How Amaechi tried to truncate my political career

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Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has claimed his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi who is currently the Minister of Transportation had vowed to commit suicide if he won the election to succeed him in 2023.

Wike who spoke when he was giving his acceptance speech after he was conferred with the honorary doctorate degrees during the first PAMO University of Medical Sciences convocation ceremony, Port Harcourt on Saturday however said Amaechi refused to carry the threat of killing himself out when he was elected governor.

He was conferred with the honourary award alongside former Head of State, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar.

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General Abubakar, who is also the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the University was conferred with Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) Honoris Causa, while Wike bagged honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) Honoris Causa.

The University which has former governor of Rivers, Peter Odili as the Vice Chancellor said the award were conferred on the two men for their distinct contributions to the development, peace, democracy and general good of Nigeria.

In his acceptance sppech, Wike attributed his success in life to his faith in God and education.

He added that his political life, just like that of Odili, has been a lesson in devotion, hard work and passion for success and service.

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He narrated how his predecessor and current Minister of Transportation, under whose administration he served as Chief of Staff, tried to truncate his political career.

“But midway into his first tenure, I got the signal early enough that I have become a foe and penciled down to be politically, brought down, extinguished or terminated.”

He explained that although his predecessor had reluctantly included his name among those he nominated to former President Goodluck Jonathan to be appointed as minister, he was never his first or preferred choice.

“He therefore worked twice as hard behind the scene to truncate my confirmation by the Nigerian Senate, but failed because God said otherwise.

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“Moving further forward and when he noticed my ambition to succeed him as the Governor of Rivers State; he immediately drew the battle line and vowed that I could only succeed him over his dead body.

“Our contest was as intense and jugular as typical political enemies. Ultimately, I won and prevailed over him; but he acted the coward by refusing to commit the suicide he had promised if I became the Governor of Rivers State. Thank God he chickened out and did not die.”

Wike added that government and people of Rivers state are delighted with the establishment of PUMS, and the vast opportunities it has availed youths in the State to become highly educated and skillful medical professionals and practitioners.

He said the state government has maintained and sustained a close, symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship with the University from its inception to date, by identifying with and contributing materially to its steady growth and progress.

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“Back in 2017, we instituted a special public scholarship, covering tuition, accommodation and feeding to encourage our indigenous students to take advantage of the University and become graduates and professionals of the areas of interest.

“We have religiously implemented this scholarship programme for four consecutive years with almost 600 beneficiaries as at the last academic session.

“Today, I am very pleased to note that all the graduating students of Rivers State origin are scholars of the Rivers State Government educated and trained with public funds.

“In addition to the scholarship, which now costs well over 2.9 billions of Naira to implement annually, we have also made several generous financial donations towards the infrastructural development of the University.”

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He commended former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili, for establishing the first and only private medical university in the entire South-South geo-political region of Nigeria.

Governor Wike announced a N500 million grant to PUMS University; a post graduate scholarship to the overall best graduating student, and N5million reward for each of the best departmental graduating students. L-R: Dep Gov of Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo; Dep Gov of Niger State, Ahmed Muhammad Ketso; Vice Chancellor of PAMO University, Professor Michael F.E. Diejomaoh; former Head of State, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar; Gov of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike and Pro- Chancellor and Chairman of PUMS Governing Council, Dr. Peter Odili at the first convocation ceremony of PUMS, Port Harcourt, where Gen Abubakar and Gov Wike were conferred with honorary doctorate degrees on Saturday

General Abubakar in his remarks commended Governor Wike’s administration for offering scholarship to students of Rivers extraction studying in PUMS University.

According to him, the governor’s unrivaled contribution to the development of the University will forever be in the annals of her history.

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The former Head of State noted that the success of PUMS is a demonstration of what can be achieved when State Governments come in to support the provision of private education in their respective States.

He urged the Federal Government to extend similar support to private universities through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and other agencies of government through the various initiatives currently being enjoyed only by public institutions.

The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, who delivered the convocation lecture, said private universities have continued to play a vital role in the national development of Nigeria.

He said PAMO University is currently the 19th best private university, and 35th best out of 200 universities in the country.

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The Pro- Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr. Peter Odili, said the management of the institution remain unapologetically committed to total compliance to the rules and sanctions for any breaches by staff and students.

He lauded Governor Wike for offering scholarship to over 600 Rivers State students to study medicine and allied medical courses in PAMO University.

The Vice Chancellor of PAMO University, Professor Michael F.E. Diejomaoh announced that the University graduated 21 students from the Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Physiology.

He explained that all courses in the faculties of Basic Medical Sciences and Allied Health Sciences have been fully accredited by the NUC with high scores.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Ortom pardons 50 prisoners

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Fifty prisoners who were on death row have been granted pardon by the Benue State State Governor, Samuel Ortom in line with prerogative of mercy.

The lucky prisoners included 34 who were on death row and awaiting execution as well as 15 others whose death sentence were commuted to life imprisonment even as another convict had his 21-year jail term reduced to 15 years.

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State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mike Gusa who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Makurdi on Friday said some of them are indigenes of Benue state while other some are Nigerians who committed criminal activities; were arrested, tried and convicted in Benue.

He said the decision to pardon the convicts was reached following the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy and the Federal Government’s policy on the decongestion of correctional centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of them (convicts) appealed their sentences, but their appeals have failed, but His Excellency in his compassionate way has decided to invoke the provisions of the Constitution to give these citizens of Nigeria; these citizens of Benue reprieve and granted them amnesty, so that they will be released and granted a second chance.

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Gusa said the gesture was one of the humanitarian steps that the Governor has taken as one who is committed to the rule of law, due process and passion for humanity and in compliance with Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution.

“He signed a warrant to grant amnesty to some of the convicts who have been awaiting execution, because they have been sentenced to death and were transferred to Jos Correctional center.

“Out of this number, 34 convicts who were sentenced to death and awaiting execution are now released. We also have 15 convicts who were actually sentenced to death, but now have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

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“And we have another convict who has his term reduced from 21 years to 15 years imprisonment.

“So, in total 50 convicts are affected by this act of magnanimity and act of compassion by His Excellency, the executive governor of Benue state.

“The Governor’s approval is based on the recommendations that was made by the management of the correctional centers in Jos, Owerri and Sokoto, where you have these inmates.

“They made recommendations on the conduct of these convicts, while they served their jail terms and awaited execution. They testified to the effect that they (convicts) have changed from their bad ways and have become good citizens

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“And it’s based on these recommendations that the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy sat and considered individual cases and made recommendations to His Excellency who then gave the approval.

“This (amnesty granted the convicts) is also in consonance with the federal government’s policy on decongesting the Correctional centers as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is the desire of the federal government that correctional centers should be decongested and it’s in consonance with this, that the Governor decided to exercise his powers under the Constitution to give a new lease of life to this convicts,” Gusa stated.

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Nigeria Newspapers

NSITF vows to prosecute uncooperative employers

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From Adannna Nnamani, Abuja

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Mike Akabogu has assured to prosecute recalcitrant employers who have refused to comply with the Employee Compensation Act.

According to a statement by Ijeoma Okoronkwo, NSITF Spokesperson,

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Akabogu stated this at the 2022 Management Performance Review Conference of the Fund held at the Nigeria Airforce Centre, Abuja.

The NSITF boss said the fund’s focus for the year, is to include aggressive enforcement on Non-Treasury Funded MDA’s, States and LGA’s and as high net worth private sector employers, using both the special enforcement and inspection team as well as partnering the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Corporate Affairs Commission for data harmonization

The MD further noted that the Fund paid the sum of N857, 754, 394.51 as claims in 2021. He charged the staff of the agency to work harder towards the consolidation of its strategic reforms.

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Akabogu who took charge of the Office barely a year ago, said the agency was being reformed to raise the bar of performance, hence the need for continuous cross-level engagement of the workforce to engender synergy needed for the achievement of target goals.

He said, “ In our quest for the optimum realization of the mandate of the Employee Compensation Act, we must continue raising the bar, by implementing landmark decisions for our strategic reform. Hence, we deem it necessary to continually engage our workforce so that the activities of various departments and units will be streamlined for easy realization of our core targets and objectives. That’s why we are here today.

“We are here for stock-taking, to measure our performance in the previous year. How did we fare? What are the obstacles, the challenges? The feedback is necessary for the re-engineering of our strategic reforms and setting the tone for the year 2022 and beyond.

“Our new approach is horizontal, hence the decision to invite the branch managers across the country, who are frontline leaders in the organization, to give first-hand accounts of service to the fund. It was the regional managers who did so hitherto.

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“The new format will enable senior managers to appreciate the challenges on the ground and the way forward as well as work in sync with the fund’s dynamic model for the consolidation of gains made for efficiency and greater productivity

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“Others include prosecution of recalcitrant employers, prompt payment of claims and compensation, increase the productivity of every department and staff welfare.

In a performance review by the General Manager, Claims and Compensation , Barr. Nkiru Ogunnaike, the fund revealed that in 2021, it processed and paid 18,128 claims , amounting to a total sum of N857, 754, 394.51, with Lagos and Abuja regions accounting for 7,688 and 4,223 of the claims.

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She specifically noted a pathetic case of an employee of Bougeus Construction Company who sustained injury in the course of work, leading to total deafness in his two ears and requiring Cochlear Implant Surgery to enable him to hear again.

“The Board of the NSITF sat and exhaustively deliberated on this case of 100% disability and graciously approved the sum of N14m for the surgery . He has also been added to the monthly payroll of the NSITF/Employee Compensation Scheme Unit, pending successful operation and recovery, and if not, until he attains the age of 55.

In his presentation, the General Manager Health, Safety and Environment, Dr. Kelly Nwagha said the agency is centred on occupational health and safety which is the convention the world over, noting that key to its operation is prevention which again, is anchored on proactiveness.

He stated the department has taken occupational safety awareness campaigns to the doorstep of the employers and employees to ensure accident prevention in workplaces.

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He said, “ in the year under review, the department has undertaken a total of 867 accident/ incident cases involving prompt medical intervention, identification of accurate root causes, proffering of correct remedial actions and collation of factual statistics.

“ We have also carried out 690 Occupational Safety and Health awareness and enlightenment programmes, imparting an improved knowledge base on participants (Employers & Employees) with sensitization topics tailored towards identified organizational needs. Participants were assessed before and after sensitization.

“ We have equally taken 1426 occupational safety and health audits and investigations in the year under review.”

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