Monkeypox Spreads to Akwa Ibom

The highly infectious Monkeypox disease which was recorded in Bayelsa State is now reported to have reached Akwa Ibom State.

One case of the disease, which was first detected in Bayelsa state, has been confirmed, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, said. He added that two other suspected cases are under investigation.

Moneypox manifests as various stages of rash and an intense weakness among other things. Rashes, ranging from a few to several thousands, begins on the face, then palms and feet soles. The lesions (or rashes) later become fluid-filled blisters and lastly crusts which can affect the oral membranes, genitalia, eyelids and eyeballs.

Details later…

Militants Attack Vessel in Bayelsa, Kill NSCDC Official, 2 Others

Suspected Niger Delta militants have again attacked a tugboat in the same area and killed three crew members.

Mr Asinim Butswat, Police Public Relations Officer for Bayelsa Command who confirmed the incident said that one police operative was still missing as his remains has yet to be recovered.

He said “On Sept. 22, at about 18.45hrs, a Tugboat, towing a Barge with a combined team of policemen from the Nigerian Inland Waterways, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and civilians on board was attacked by suspected sea pirates.

“The incident took place at Ekebiri Waterways in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa.

“A reinforced team arrived shortly and rescued one policeman, three NSCDC personnel and four civilians.

“However, a policeman, one NSCDC personnel and a civilian were shot dead by the sea pirates; one policeman is still missing.’’ Butswat said.

According to him, a search party has been deployed to find the missing policeman while all security operatives in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area have been alerted, while efforts are ongoing to arrest the culprits.

Why We Can’t Conduct LG Election Now – Gov. Dickson

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has said that his administration could not conduct local government election due to dare financial challenges facing the state.

This was expressed through a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Markson-Iworiso, in Yenagoa on Tuesday.

He said that the delay was not deliberate, but due to economic downturn in the country.

He blamed financial constraints for the delay in conducting the elections, but said plans are on to ensure that the election is conducted.

“The local council elections have not been conducted as the current economic situation has made it practically impossible to do so.

“The situation is not peculiar to Bayelsa, but to many states that are also finding it difficult to muster the courage to hold elections at that level of government.

“Conducting local council elections is very expensive as it cost billions of naira, but I am assuring that if the revenue of the state improves, the polls will be held before the end of 2018,” he said.

The governor, however, appealed to the people of the state to shun propaganda and divisive tendencies.

Dickson said that‎ the era of wastages in government was gone for good as public funds were being used judiciously for the benefit of the people.

On the issue of power, the governor said the ongoing ‘Operation Light Up Bayelsa’ would‎ continue until the state sufficiently achieved improved electricity supply.

He said that the project would stimulate small and medium enterprises that would in turn grow the local economy.

UNICEF Urges Bayelsa, Delta To Fast Track Process Of Establishing RUWASSA By Law In Their States

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged the Government of Bayelsa and Delta states to fast track the process of establishing the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) by law in their respective states to aid the attainment of the rural component of Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) championed by UNICEF and the European Union (EU).

UNICEF Specialist on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Ms Martha Hokonya who said this at a media dialogue in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state also urged the government of the two states to upgrade the WASH units in the local government Areas in the states into departments for effectiveness and efficiency.

Hokonya explained that the overall objectives of the NDSP by EU and UNICEF was to mitigate the conflict in the Niger Delta by addressing the main causes of the unrest and violence,unemployment and poor delivery of basic services through the WASH intervention programmes.

She noted the objectives of NDSP were designed to contribute to strengthening social bonding and peace building among communities in the project states through local capacity building and provision of access to improved sources of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in ten self-selected Local Government Areas in the Project states.

According to her, “there are five key objectives under the project which include upgrading the Local Government Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Units to Departments and strengthen the capacity of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Institutions in the five Niger Delta states to drive and implement sustainable WASH projects.”

“The objective is to increase access to safe and sustainable water supply services in the rural communities of the selected Local Government Areas, increase access to improved sanitation and proper hygiene practice in rural communities and schools, institutionalize dialogue among stakeholders, strengthening social bonding and contributing to resolution of conflict situations and to establish a state and national monitoring and evaluation system,” Hokonya explained.

Speaking on the keys achievements of Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) which is jointly funded by EU, UNICEF and three tiers of Government, she explained that a total of 206,954 people have been able to gained access to safe water and that 224 Water Safety Plans were developed in 224communities.

Also, on the keys achievement in the area of sanitation, Hokonya said a total of 508 communities have been triggered and mobilised to engage in Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), 143 communities stopped open defecation and that 146,364 people have gained access to improved latrines.

She added that 35 Primary Schools were provided with safe water and sanitation facilities while 28 schools in Delta got Hand Pump Boreholes. She also said that 14 schools got 2 VIP latrines each and that 10,520 pupils gained access to safe and gender sensitive WASH facilities. The UNICEF WASH specialist also disclosed that 12 Primary Health Care facilities were provided with 12 solar motorized borehole water facilities.

Hokonya commended the Federal, state and local government in the Niger Delta for their willing to ensure the wellbeing of the people in the region. She charged the three tears of government to put necessary mechanisms in place for the prompt payment of their counterpart funds at commencement of projects to enable early procurement of supplies and avoid delay during construction.

NSCDC Ambush Stolen Oil Loaded In Govt Vehicle

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Bayelsa State Command, has intercepted stolen petroleum products conveyed in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

It was gathered that the vehicle, a Toyota Hilux van, which was used by the suspects to beat security checkpoints, was rounded up on Thursday in Yenagoa, by the anti-vandal team of NSCDC.

One of the suspects identified as Philip Tuma confessed that he worked in the ministry and was allowed by the ministry’s authority to keep the vehicle with registration number 28A-36FG in his care.

He, however, said his boss in the ministry knew nothing about his illegal mission of using the vehicle to transport stolen oil.

Tuma said he embarked on the dirty deal in connivance with his younger brothers, who were idle at home following the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“I work in the ministry and was given the bus to keep as a worker. My boss has no knowledge of what I have done. This is my first time.

“My younger ones, who are at home because of the ASUU strike convinced me to follow them because they needed money for their fees”, he said.

Also, a female suspect, Mercy Ekereme, paraded for her alleged involvement in illegal bunkering, said she was arrested by NSCDC while trying to convey the products from Ogbia to Yenagoa.

Ekereme, who hailed from Delta State, said she was once a hawker of sachet water but was introduced into the oil theft business by an unnamed woman.

“The woman who introduced me into this oil business saw me selling pure water and said my pure water business was embarrassing. She helped me to get a loan and linked me with a dealer who gives me products to sell.

“I got the product and decided to take them to Yenagoa. I met a man who came to buy fuel into a Hilux vehicle for his boss. We agreed on a fare and he decided to carry the products to Yenagoa. But we were arrested at Okaki”, she said.

Speaking shortly after destroying some of the impounded products, the Deputy Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Chikere Isidore, said the suspects would be prosecuted.

“We are always in their trail and each time we intercept them, we arrest and prosecute them. You can see the suspects carried some of their products in a van of a known ministry to escape arrest. But they failed. Out men are always on the lookout”, he said.

He said some of the impounded products were burnt because they were abandoned by suspects, who ran away on sighting operatives of NSCDC.

He, however, said that other products at the command were arrested with their owners and were used as exhibits in court.

SS3 Student Wins N1m Essay Writing Competition In Bayelsa

A 16-year-old SS3 student of Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama, Franklin Martin, on Thursday won a one million Naira cash prize for essay contest organized for Senior Secondary Schools in Bayelsa.

The competition, organized by an NGO, Robert Sunday Iworiso (RSI) Foundation, was aimed at encouraging creative writing amongst the youth in the state.

The topic for the competition was captioned “Education as imperative for National Development for global relevance.”

Martin, who spoke at the grand finale in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state, beat other 10 best writers selected from both public and private schools for the final.

The second place went to Tamara Ayameiya of Biedomo Premier School, Yenagoa with a N250,000 while the third place went to Blessing Tari of Tari-pet International School, Yenagoa who received N150,000.

The winner said the feat would propel him to do more in attaining his dreams and potentials.

“I am very thrilled and thankful to God and the organizer for this huge opportunity and for taking a huge financial burden off my parents, especially at this trying time.

“I believe the money will be judiciously used, especially on my education as I move on to the next levels and to the university,” he said.

Mr John Iworiso, Director of the Foundation, said the competition was to discover and nurture gifted students in the state.

“The competition is one of the several ways through which we hope to discover untapped talents from the creeks and farmlands of Bayelsa to the rest of the world.

“We have engaged and inspired their minds as change agents and the true leaders of tomorrow for the state and Nigeria.

“It is important to state that, with all that has befallen us as a people; education remains the key to the survival and liberation to the Niger-Delta region.

“I urge you to continue to learn how to write as we make plans to make it an annual event for SSS 3 students,” he said.

Mr Michael Afenfia, Chairman of the Organizing Committee praised the students for their outstanding performance.

“Every student who sent in an entry is a winner. It shows that he or she is confident about his or her writing skill.

“For those that did not win, I will say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing and enter the competition again in the next edition,” Afenfia said.

Mr Bina Illagha, Bayelsa Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), urged students across the state to tap and key into the opportunity to build their career.

Illagha also called on students to continue to improve their habit of reading and writing.

Community Protest Over Agip Oil Pipeline Explosion In Bayelsa

The people of Ayamassa community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have prepared for a showdown with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company over a pipeline explosion that occurred in the community last week.

The trunkline, which is said to be owned by Agip, reportedly exploded last Tuesday and was allegedly in flames for two days before the firm’s contractors came to put out the fire without due consultation with the community leaders.

The Ayamassa community-folks claimed that explosion which rocked the area devastated the community’s means of livelihood.

 

They, therefore, gave the management of the oil major one-week ultimatum to comply with due process following the pipeline fire, saying that non-compliance might be visited with the shutdown of activities of the oil company.

The Ayamassa-Toumo trunkline, which exploded and caught fire last week, reportedly destroyed farming and aquatic life of the community.

Reacting to the incident, the Chairman, Ijaw Youth Council, Central Zone, Tare Porri, noted that youths from the community were currently ”spoiling for war”, threatening to shut down the operations of the platform.

Porri said, “Ayamassa end of the trunk line got exploded and the fire was on for two days before Agip’s pipeline contractors put it out and left the community without a word.

”Up until now, the community has not heard from them and the community folks are now threatening to shut down the operations of that platform.”

Porri lamented that it was sad that neither Agip nor government agencies visited the site or the community to access the damages caused by the explosion.

He noted that the most of the pipelines crisscrossing the entire zone had expired, calling on the oil companies to replace them in the interest of peace and security.

FG Cites Multi-Billion Dollar Plant in Bayelsa

The Bayelsa Government has commended the Federal Government for citing a multi-billion dollar private sector-driven fertilizer and petrochemical plant in Brass.

The state Governor, Seriake Dickson gave the commendation when he led the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, Commodore Alfred Diete-Spiff (rtd), and a team of private investors on a thank you visit to the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

According to Dickson, we are also here to discuss other issues concerning the take-off of the project.

Brass is a Local Government Area in Bayelsa State, with headquarters in the town of Twon-Brass on Brass Island along the coast.

It has a coastline of approximately 90 km on the Bight of Bonny.

Dickson told state House Correspondents on Tuesday that the project would create enormous jobs and transform the economy of the state and the country at large.

The governor assured investors of adequate security.

“We came to discuss issues on the Brass Fertilizer Project billed to take off in Bayelsa. That is a big ticket investment running into billions of dollars.”

“The government team is here, the traditional ruler is here because the project is taking place in his domain.”

“We are here to assure the Federal Government and investors that Bayelsa as they all know is one of the safest states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

“We have worked hard in the last five years I have been governor to bring that about.’’

The governor also commended the Federal Government for its new approach in pursuing integrated development in the country based on partnership and collaboration evidenced by the fertilizer plant.

Dickson noted that the Acting President’s dialogue on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari with Niger Delta stakeholders, saying that a new understanding was emerging for the stability, security and development of the region.

“It is when we bring big ticket investments, create jobs and we affect the economy and create other legitimate options through which young people can survive that some of the crises that we see here will be addressed.”

“This is a good way to begin to address that and that is why I am here to assure the Federal Government and investors for the steps so far taken.’’

The governor also commended the Federal Government for directing oil producing companies that did not have offices in Bayelsa to open offices in the state.

He recalled that the story of oil exploration began in Bayelsa but lamented that it was shocking that no oil company had an office in the state.

Dickson expressed concern that the state had been denied the economic benefits of oil production.

“There are no jobs, no employment, they don’t even pay much tax, and a number of them don’t even pay tax at all.

“The Federal Government has said that they should go back.”

“So we expect to work with the Federal Government and engage with all the oil producing companies to see how they can begin to have respectable presence.’’

Dickson also commended the Federal Government forits decision to establish modular refineries in the Niger Delta region.

Citing the NLNG as one of the plants in the region, Dickson said it was yielding a lot of revenue for the country as one of the most profitable partnerships the Federal Government had gone into.

“You have other big ones like the Gbarain/Obie gas plant project in Bayelsa owned by Shell, there are other ones.”

“But this one is a fertilizer petrochemical company, And they will do a lot of skills development and skills transfer, a lot of jobs will be created and there will be a boom in the local economy, state economy and ultimately affect the national economy positively.’’

He said the Bayelsa government would engage the oil companies to ensure that they did their businesses without inhibitions.

Eight Sailors Kidnapped In Bayelsa

Men of the Nigerian Navy are making frantic efforts to locate the whereabouts of eight sailors kidnapped by yet to be identified gunmen in the Atlantic Ocean close to Brass waters in Brass Local Government Area Bayelsa State.

News reaching Osun Defender indicates that the victims have been identified as employees of Tethys Nig. Ltd and Sylver Global Ltd were abducted on April 19 about 17 Nautical Miles off Brass terminal.

The suspected kidnappers were said to have forcefully boarded the vessel after shooting sporadically into the air to scare the sailors.

The victims were identified as Smart Kungborde, Isaiah Ebiewe, Christopher Wisben, Gabriel Enayon, Sylvester Ovwigho, Mathew Enegbuma and Kelly Shaka.

The abductors were said to have stolen all their victims’ valuables, hounded them into their speedboats and drove them to an unknown place.

It was however gathered troops of the Forward Operation Base (FOB) Fomoso at Egweama in Brass were making some efforts to free the captors.

Navy authorities in the state kept mute on the matter following an indication the affected vessel belonged to a powerful politician and retired senior naval officer from the state.

But the politician with the companies was said to have established contacts with the gunmen and gone far in negotiation for a ransom to free the abductors.

A senior security source, who spoke in confidence, confirmed the development and said the victims were still held by the kidnappers.

NSCDC Uncovers Plot To Attack MTN In Bayelsa

The Bayelsa state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has revealed plans by some persons to attack investments of MTN in the state as a reprisal following the ongoing xenophobia attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

 In a statement, the Bayelsa Commander of NSCDC, Mr Desmond Agu, said that the corps is on red alert to stop aggrieved persons from destroying MTN facilities in the state.

Mr Agu said intelligence reports revealed that such persons were planning to vent their anger on MTN’s masts and other facilities.

The Commander however advised the people behind such plots to desist from toeing a violent path and appealed to members of the public to report suspicious people to the corps.

“Our attention has been drawn to an intelligence report that some people are planning to carry out an attack on South African investments, especially the MTN’s telecommunication masts and other facilities following the ongoing xenophobia attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

“Members of the public especially Bayelsans are hereby advised to desist from such acts and avoid taking laws into their hands.

“As an organisation saddled with the responsibility of protecting our critical national infrastructures, the command remains committed to deliver on its mandate.

“Members of the public are hereby advised to report person or group of persons suspected to be planning such attacks to the command,” Mr Agu stated.

Why I Flogged My Staff- MD of Bayelsa’s Glory FM

Mr John Idumange, the General Manager, Radio Bayelsa “Glory FM”, on Friday confirmed that he flogged four union leaders of the station in self-defence.

Idumange told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Yenagoa that the incident happened on Monday after the union leaders shut down the FM station operated by the state government.

The Radio Bayelsa Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) had alleged that Idumange was running the station outside public service rules.

Idumange, who explained the details of the incident to NAN, alleged that the unions in the station were working against his reforms aimed at repositioning the broadcast outfit.

“At about 7.20 p.m on Monday, the day RATTAWU and NUJ embarked on strike, I heard voices near my window.

“So I went out to see what was happening. I saw four persons, one of them a lady.

“I could recognise Tonye Yemoleigha, one of the union leaders, who was in white shirt. I asked why they were there after chasing away all the workers,” he said.

According to him, “Tonye stood up and asked if the compound belonged to me. At that point I discovered he was ready for a fight but I did not bulge.

“He brought his hands near my eyes so I blocked it. I had learnt Karate years back. One of them threw a chair at me and they all rushed to fight me. I had to fight back in self-defence.

“They could have beaten me up but my Karate skills rescued me,” he said.

Idumange, who was appointed on Dec. 6, 2016, claimed that he recently uncovered a N5.7 million fraud and redeployed some staff.

“The transferred workers have been meeting with them at NUJ Centre, they benefitted from the corruption and are fighting back,” Idumange said.

Reacting, Mr Tonye Yemoleigha, the NUJ Chairman in Radio Bayelsa, said that the unions had reported the incident at Ekeki Police Division.

“Four of us, myself and three staff were flogged by Idumange himself. The report that it was thugs is inaccurate. It was the general manager himself that attacked and beat us up.

“We have reported the matter to the Ekeki Police Division and sought medical attention at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.

“Workers have been constantly intimidated and threatened for no just cause.

“Mr John Angese, Bayelsa Council Chairman of NUJ who is a staff of Radio Bayelsa, has also been threatened with a sack.

“We are all being victimised for insisting that the General Manager complies with Public Service Rules.

“We have been under siege since he was appointed on Dec. 6, 2016. We are not opposed to repositioning the station which is in our interest, but we want the procedure to follow due process,” Yemoleigha said.

NAN reports that after the station went off air, the management mobilised armed security men and few employees who rebuffed the strike and reopened the station.

Yemoleigha said that workers of the station were not opposed to staff redeployment.

“But we are insisting that the unions should also be part of the process to ensure that the best hands are not sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, sentiment or witch-hunt.

“We are also aware of the alleged N5 million payroll fraud which Idumange claimed to have uncovered which has been referred to the Police for investigation.

“Ordinarily, in line with established procedures, an investigative panel should have been instituted to look into the matter and come up with a report with which management would act.

“All these are expressly spelt out in the Public Service Rules; however, we are also requesting for a copy of the police report after their investigation,” Yemoleigha said.

NAN