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Oyo: Neglect turns Agbele hill into garbage dump

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Oyo state is blessed with several tourist sites with potential of generating millions in income and employment opportunities for the people.

Agbele hill situated along Ago Aare axis, Igbeti in Olorunsogo Local Government Area of Oyo state is one of the tourist sites.

 

Despite its intimidating and enviable potential, the unique Agbele-human-like-rock structure that welcomes visitors to the town of 16 hills -Igbeti appears to have been forgotten, as the tourist site suffers total neglect both from successive administrations and the present administration in the self acclaimed Pace setter state – Oyo.

While the tourist site is waiting to be officially recognized, developed and generate revenue, outlaws have turned the spot into a refuse dump site, and the surroundings endemic in the open defecation practice, putting children at risk of diarrhoea and other diseases and wreaking havoc in its landscape.

In a chat with our reporter, one of the residents, Mr Adebayo Tawheed said, “more and more refuse is being dumped here. The fence and gate awarded several years ago have been abandoned. Our foundation, a Non – Governmental was responsible for the cleaning in collaboration with secondary school students because this is our own heritage and the rock is very dear to us. It has become a recognisable symbol of not just Igbeti town, but Oke-Ogun and Oyo state”.

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Due to the tourist site’s bleak state, Adebayo, therefore called on the state government to declare a state of emergency on the monument so as to  prevent people from continued damage. The fascinating Agbele Rock with its delicate balance wore a physical representation which appears like a woman with a basket on her head and a child strapped to her back.

It was further learnt that this rock formation was formed when a woman stole some yam tubers from a rocky part of the village which was being dried in the sunlight. Surprisingly, like Lot’s wife in the holy Bible who became a pillar of salt after she looked back at Sodom, the woman also became a permanent fixture on the spot.

But unfortunately, the monument, which attracted first time visitors to Igbeti and that could have served as economic booster is now in ruin. Agbele Hill lives in the past glory, as the once great tourist centre is now nothing, but the shadow of itself due to total abandonment.

And the song on the lips of the people of the town housing the monument has since been, “government come to our aid”.

When will Agbele Hill’s prayers be answered?

 

 

 

 

 

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Opinion

Need for discipline in PMB’s cabinet to fight real corruption | By Abba Dukawa

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With three cardinal programs of PMB’s campaigned promises, i. e Insecurity, Corruption and Economy, Nigerians expected effective and rebut fighting of Insecurity, Corruption and improved Economy in the country.  It will be recalled that following the intense presidential campaign and the victory in the March 28 presidential poll in 2015 election.   Let me start with corruption war. For long PMB had been pontificating about his desired to fight   Corruption made Nigerians believed that he is capable to beat the previous administrations ‘efforts in anti-corruption war in the country and improved security and economy of the country.  

To the extent that even the war waged by the administration against corruption proved to be toughest and it’s fighting back each passing day because there are several alleged corruptions within the administration.

The most disturbing point of war against  corruption is becoming a subject of public scorn. There are several examples I can cite as proof of evidence but I will limit myself to a few. Nigerians may recalled less than two years  of  PMB’s administration , face  its first litmus test in fighting corruption when a court fined MTN to pay billions of dollars to the government.

The most   shocking of the administration error was the given approval of $25 billion contract awarded by NNPC without  the input of the acting president at the time of the said approval PMB was lying in a sick bed in faraway London. This cast’s serious doubt in the mind of Nigerians.

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In spite of highly celebrated profiled corrupt cases like ex petroleum minister, Diezeini Allison, Defencegate and PDP campaign funds, five years into the administration, there were no convictions of the alleged looters in this highly profiled corruption cases. The most worrying development is that the anti-graft war, which used to be his major feat, is now all over the place. Magu, the anti-graft Czar, has himself been accused of various infractions — some of them contained in reports submitted to PMB.

Did PMB heard  Prof  Pondei, NDDC acting MD, when he told a senate panel that he spent N1.5 billion as COVID-19 relief on the staff? Did you heard him brazenly told the committee that “we took care of ourselves”, he is still in office. That any of your appointees could make such a reckless statement on record shows how low they rate your anti-graft war.

There is  extraordinary chaos   going on between  President’s   power-drunk ministers and chief executive officers of the  respective departments and agencies under their watch.

Did PMB knows that as a result of these infighting among the administration’s appointees are becoming a subject of public ridicule.  Minister of labour who suspended the management of  NSITF  said he had PMB’s  approval. Former MD of the Niger Delta Development Commission vs. Minster of Niger Delta, Dr Isa Ali Pantami Vs Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Minister of Power Vs MD of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, Minster of power Vs MD of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA)

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Another episode of indiscipline was when police officers were deployed to the house of Mrs Joi Nunieh, former MD of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to intimidate her on a day she was supposed to testify about the massive corruption in the agency. Latest episode of indiscipline was when the minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige Vs James Falaki on the screen of a national TV when he  called him Mushin boy and that he is VI Guy.

It is seem the government is indisposed to instill discipline within the ranks of the administration.  Many Nigerians are asking whether President Buhari is the man of dependability Nigerians saw in him some years back.  This is not the same person Nigerians  ostensible  brought into office in 2015, Buhari’s fear factor has  gone which  the corrupt people and other  had on him disappeared,  the fright  notion of If Buhari catches you, one would bear the consequence also gone and  no longer scares anybody, as we all can see even  there is   apparent lack of coordination and infighting among different agencies of government as well as key functionaries serving in the administration came to the front in the wake of the confirmation of the suspended EFCC chairman DSS, wrote to the senate to counter your choice.  

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If indeed those allegations are true, it should be a major indictment on Mr President, that right under his nose, all these things were happening and you did not act swiftly but the way the whole thing has been handled is damaging to the anti-graft war, and infighting  among the appointees are  hurtful to the administration integrity.   Nigerians never expected negative things to happen under PMB’s stewardship and voters never thought he would head a government bedeviled with boggling financial recklessness of public funds, chaos, in fighting among the administration appointees and endless things which are discrediting his administration’s  goodwill and the nation at large.

 

Dukawa can be reached at[email protected]

 

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Sports

Oyo govt. to spend N5.5bn on Lekan Salami sports complex’s facilities’ upgrade

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Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Thursday disclosed that the contract for the remodeling of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ibadan was awarded to Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, at a total cost of Five Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty Million, One Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty-One Naira, Sixty-Two Kobo (₦5,580,001,151:62k).

The governor stated that the Complex will be upgraded to a world class standard.

 

He also informed that the project will be funded through the Alternate Project Funding Approach (APFA), which entails that the contractor will fund the project, while the state will repay the contractor over a period of 29 months.

 

The governor, who stated this at the main bowl of the stadium, while flagging off the project, asdured that his administration will continue to walk its talk, matching policies with actions.

 

Contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde stressed, “the contractors, Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, have given us the assurance that the project will be completed in 18 months. By God’s grace, in the next 12 months, coronavirus would have left us, and we will have the opportunity to sit here, in this stadium, fully remodelled and watch my team, the 3SC beat their opponents, live! So Messrs Peculiar Ultimate Concerns, 12 months is 12 months. No delays and you have to do a quality job that the people of Oyo State will be proud of.

 

“This is another step in the right direction, positioning Oyo State to attract investments. I hear some people are already saying we should slow down but I am here to tell them that this is not the time to even think of slowing down. Our administration is here to grow Oyo State and to make sure everyone in our beloved state feels the real dividends of democracy.

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“When the history of this place was being traced just now, they flagged off this facility 44 years ago. It was commissioned 32 years ago; and I came here once to watch a 3SC game and, at half time, I went to the changing room to talk to and encourage the players but I could not believe what I saw: players sat on the bare floor. And I asked myself, is this where we want to mould world-beating athletes? So, I said ‘no’. I felt for both the players and the crew.

 

“After that, I decided to, on my own, visit this place and looked at all of the facilities that we have in here. They were all in a state of dilapidation”, he lamented.

 

The governor who declared that the remodelling project was another step in the direction of positioning the state to attract greater investments, said his administration would not be deterred by criticisms and that it would ensure that every resident of the state feels the real dividends of democracy.

 

He added that for the state to attract the right investments, it must raise its game in terms of infrastructure and matching what obtains in other places, saying that this is the path his administration has been toeing, which is responsible for its attention to fix roads, install street lights and invest heavily on infrastructure and security.

 

“Oyo State has had a rich sporting history. Back in 1963, the first World Boxing title fight in Africa was held here in Oyo State. We were able to host that fight and benefit from all the tourism revenue because we had the facilities to do so. And so, we are remodelling this sports complex now, so we can reap the benefits in  Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. If there was a call for cities to host a national sporting event today, can Oyo State boast of having the facilities? The answer is no.

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“So, in Oyo State, we cannot attract investors without the right infrastructure. If we are telling people to leave wherever they are and come here, we should be able to give them what they are benefiting where they are or even more.

 

 

“If we keep saying Oyo State is ready for business, without the right infrastructure in place, they will tell us they like our policies, but they want to see better facilities. So, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that whenever investors come calling, we are ready to receive them and make them stay. And that means we must match our policies with action.

 

“We have already told them there will be no multiple taxation and that we will not wake up and impose random taxes on them. They can see that this is true. We have also promised that they will not spend hours in traffic, we are keeping our promise by investing in road construction and rehabilitation. We are putting street lights all over the place. We also have to match the tourism and recreational facilities that they have in other places.

 

 

“If the government can provide facilities that are comparable to those those in any part of the world, then we can be sure that all our talents and youths will have somewhere to come to. And we will discover more talents and we will have more record setters coming out of Oyo State. And this is why we are here.”

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Earlier, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Seun Fakorede, said the remodelling is essential for the growth and survival of Sports and the engagement of youth productively.

He noted that the remodelling will attract international focus and change the economic fortune of the state, through hosting of national and international sports tournaments.

 

In his remarks, the managing Director of Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Limited, Mr. Adeleke Olanrewaju, said that the benefit which Lekan Salami will bring to the state will be unquantifiable through talent development and others, adding that the remodeling of the stadium will also boost the IGR, of the state.

 

“In the present day, stadium facilities can generate incomes; for example, the hosting of a national sports festival can bring in as much as 7billion Naira, the hosting of a national cup will also bring in as much as 10 billion Naira. Some of these funds go directly into the government purse while a larger percentage goes into the local economy to stimulate it.”

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Health

COVID-19 response in southern Nigeria boosts surveillance of other diseases

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In many countries, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has taken cues from other disease approaches, such as lessons from protecting communities against Ebola. But in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, health workers have found inspiration from guarding against the coronavirus.

They have exploited the rigorous surveillance standard set by the COVID-19 response to keep from losing sight of other priority diseases. Mostly what they have learned is how not to divide their attention.

The unifying surveillance strategy they have enveloped is quickly producing significant and – possibly oddly – uplifting results.

“I recorded my first acute flaccid paralysis case since last year while I was following up on the contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” says Sarah Oladimeji, a Diseases and Surveillance Notification Officer in charge of finding cases of preventable and infectious diseases in Oredo Local Government Area of Nigeria’s Edo State.

When COVID-19 crept into the southern Delta region in April, health workers had to learn to overcome their worries and hunkered down to the needed work. The odds seemed stacked against the six states that make up the South-South zone: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. COVID-19 cases increased daily while community attitudes towards the virus grew lax. Health workers scrambled to manage the time and resources available to respond to both COVID-19 and other endemic-prone diseases.

One solution government teams and health workers hit upon: bring the aggressive COVID-19 surveillance into the systems used to monitor priority diseases.

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Across the Niger Delta, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners retrained 3874 surveillance officers who had been mobilized to detect COVID-19 cases in hospitals and communities to also look for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), polio, meningitis, cholera, neonatal tetanus, yellow fever, measles and more.

After the Government decentralized the COVID-19 response in April, some states began also training religious and community leaders – who are often important decision-makers, influencers and informants – to help find and report suspected COVID-19 and other priority diseases in their communities.

Now, four months into the region’s COVID-19 outbreak, health workers are seeing spectacular efficiency. Detected cases of AFP, for example, increased substantially (doubling and even tripling in one state) between the end of March and end of July as the harmonized surveillance ramped up.

Protecting immunization gains

Keeping eyes on both COVID-19 and other diseases, most of which are vaccine-preventable, is an important but challenging task in the Niger Delta where immunization coverage had been low for years. Located along the Niger River and the Gulf of Guinea, the Niger Delta, or South-South zone, comprises a system of coastal communities that rely on farming and fishing. Waterway systems here are often inadequate and moving around is difficult. In the past, residents in the deepest riverine communities, far from a mainland, had little luck accessing a health centre. Many were discouraged by the distance from taking their children for vaccinations, which led the region to its poor immunization coverage and thus heightened risk of disease outbreaks.

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Since 2016, community engagement, better access to health care and increased surveillance have led to rising numbers of vaccinated children. Health workers now attend patients in on-sea treatment centres or travel into the deep-river communities by canoe to provide services.

Navigating the creek communities may be hard but health workers accept that medical care has no boundaries, says Dr Edmund Ogbe, WHO Coordinator for Bayelsa State. Public health commitment and resourcefulness seem to be ingrained characteristics of this region.

Increased detection of measles and yellow fever

To protect their gains in immunization coverage and keep from neglecting other worrisome diseases in these times of COVID-19, the integrated surveillance is making a difference. In March, Bayelsa State recorded nine cases of AFP. But 16 new cases were investigated over the next four months – a 180% increase.

With COVID-19 case findings now meshed with the systems used to detect and report priority diseases, more cases of measles and yellow fever are emerging, too. The reported numbers of both diseases increased considerably between the end of March and the end of July. In a couple states, case detection nearly doubled.

The next step will be to accelerate case search throughout the region. State governments in the South-South zone, supported by WHO, continue to train more surveillance officers and community informants on combining COVID-19 and preventable-disease surveillance. Involving communities by educating them and appointing them as public health informants will help ensure that the combined surveillance continues to be a success, says Dr Olubowale Ekundare Famiyesin, WHO Zonal Coordinator of the Niger Delta.

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Early detection of any disease is the goal for health workers in the Delta. “All resources for surveillance at our disposal will be deployed to improve early infectious disease detection and reporting, including COVID-19,” Dr Famiyesin promises.

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