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Umahi openly declares support for FG’s border closure

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has declared support to the Federal Government’s closure of the nation’s borders, commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his courage in taking the action.

Umahi made the declaration on Monday at Onueke, Headquarters of Ezza South Local Government Area (LGA) while declaring open the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Account Opening Week (AOW), adding that the nation would gain tremendously from the closure.

Umahi urged Nigerians to weigh the option of consuming poison from foreign produced-rice and ‘killers’ crossing the borders into the country in the name Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty.

“We should consider the benefits of protecting lives and quote me anywhere, I support the president on the issue of border closure.

“The closure of border means that the illegal smuggling of petroleum products is minimised and so many other benefits,” he said.

The governor queried the pressure from other countries for Nigeria to open the borders, noting that they should not be more ‘Catholic than the Pope’.

“When China closed its economy against the world, it sat and provided a pathway for its survival, bearing in mind, its population.

“When it eventually opened its economy to the world, one can see that it is a super power and so our nation should not be a dumping ground.

“I believe the CBN supports the border closure because it has helped to ‘shore’ up the value of the Naira,” he said.

Umahi said the campaign for the opening of accounts would be intensified in the state during the period, as political officers holders, especially the new appointed ones will be expected to open accounts if they have not.

“The People Democratic Party (PDP) chairman should stop paying party executives by cash and when one includes the market women of over 10, 000 who are expected to open accounts, we will have about 15, 000.

“We will support each rural farmer who have not opened account from the 64 LGA development centres with N1, 000 to open accounts.

“The CBN must therefore, lobby the development centre coordinators to ensure that the beneficiaries do not have to come to Abakaliki to do this,” he said.

Mr Chris Adayi, CBN Abakaliki Branch Controller, said that the event which starts from Dec. 2 to Dec. 7, was going on across five other states of the country namely: Bayelsa, Ondo, Kano, Nasarawa and Gombe.

“The AOW is an initiative of the Bankers Committee, Financial Service Providers and all financial inclusion stakeholders in the state.

“We are expecting open 47, 000 to 50, 000 new accounts and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) in 2019 and 2020 respectively and this means a lot of work for us.

“The activity is part of the initiatives aimed at driving collective action and achieving the intended targets, while targeting the grassroots,” he said.

Adayi said that during the event, deposit money banks, micro finance banks, pension, insurance and capital market operators would mobilise to open accounts for the citizens.

(Edited & Vetted By: Peter Ejiofor)
(NAN)

Economy

COVID 19: Umahi threatens shutdown of Ebonyi international market over precautionary measures non-compliance

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Ebonyi government  has threatened to shut the Margaret Umahi International Market, Abakaliki, over the traders non-compliance to Coronavirus (COVID-19) precautionary measures.

The warning is contained in a statement signed and issued on Saturday in Abakaliki by Mr Uchenna Orjii, state Commissioner for Information and Orientation.

The commissioner said  that the governor was dismayed with findings during recent visits to the market by Gov. David Umahi

The commissioner  said that Umahi had observed that over 80 per cent of traders and buyers did  not use face masks, hand sanitisers or washed their  hands in running water.

“Government will have no option than to shut the market for any form of business transaction if violations of the COVID-19 protocols continue,” he warned.

The commissioner said the governor  also observed with dismay that traders were chased from the market at an unauthorised period while market leaders collected N50 from each of them to allow them into the market.

“All forms of illegal levies collections must cease and ‘marketers’ are free to conduct their daily activities anytime they wish-to.

“Government has equally observed that business activities have  re-commenced at the old Abakapa Market and we hereby remind everyone that the old market was designated as a residential area.

“No form of sales or business transaction should be conducted at the entire location as any one found opening shops other than residential reasons, shall be arrested forthwith,” he said.


Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye (NAN)

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Health

COVID -19: Umahi decries spread among Govt officials, orders closure of offices

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has ordered the closure of all government offices in the state from June 4 to June 10 2020, to check the spread of COVID- 19 among government officials.

Umahi gave the directive in a statement signed by Mr Uchenna Orji, State Commissioner for Information and Orientation on Thursday in Abakaliki.

The governor expressed displeasure over the infection rate of the virus among state Executive Council (EXCO) members.

Umahi however, stated that though the affected government officials were in stable condition, the closure was to ensure effective contact tracing.

“All civil servants shall work from their various homes within this period but shall leave their phones open to respond to official imperatives.

Dr Richard Nnabo and his medical team should commence comprehensive decontamination of government offices including the new and old complexes.

All EXCO members and government officials especially those of the ministries of finance and that of budget, are advised to undergo COVID-19 tests within this seven-day period,” he said.

The governor  further directed that during the period of closure, all workers especially from the two aforementioned ministries, should go into self-isolation.

“All site operations shall however, remain open but must be in strict observance of COVID-19 protocols.

“All sons and daughters of Ebonyi living outside the state are advised to avoid the risk of returning, as records show that the positive cases hitherto recorded in the state are from people who returned from epicentre states,” he said.

He expressed dismay over the number of COVID-19 cases in the state which had ‘unfortunately’ risen to 75 out of over 3, 000 samples tested.

“I plead with our people to take the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols seriously especially all precautionary measures of hand-washing, use of sanitisers and face masks, observation of social distancing, avoiding crowded places among others.

“This is important because we have entered into another phase of the COVID-19 spread called community transmission.

“We have however, discharged a total of 26 COVID–19 patients while 49 are still receiving treatment and are in stable conditions,” he said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

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Defence/Security

Umahi urges community to cease farming on disputed land in Ebonyi

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has urged Ishiagu Community of Ivo Local Government Area of the state to cease farming on the disputed land with Lokpanta community of Umunneochi LGA of Abia.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the age-long land dispute between both communities came into focus on May 30,  when two indigenes of Ishiagu were allegedly shot by Lokpanta indigenes as both sides abducted hostages.

Umahi, represented by his Deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, gave the advice on Tuesday while addressing the Ishiagu people, urging its traditional ruler to prevail on his subjects to cease farming on the disputed land.

“We realise that this is rainy season and people will engage in farm work but of what need will it be to plant and others will reap the proceeds.

“There is no gain to farm and in the process, you get shot and killed while other people still reap from the farm.

“I will call the deputy governor of Abia immediately to prevail on the Lokpanta people to cease further attacks on our people in keeping with the peace pact reached by both parties,” he said.

The governor said that overcoming the temptation of farming on the land would  prove to the National Boundary Commission (NBC) that its peace directive reached in 2016 was still being complied with.

“It is true that the Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on most part of 2020 but we will still activate the process for the NBC to permanently demarcate the boundary to ensure permanent peace.

“We know that the ownership of the land is not in dispute but continue maintaining your peace as true owners of the land,” he said.

He commended the people for shunning reprisal attacks despite the provocation and assured them that the state government would not watch ‘intruders and strangers’ possess their land.

HRH Moses Ngene, Traditional Ruler of Ishiagu thanked the governor for the visit and assured him that he would continue to restrain his people even though it was difficult.

“When our people were attacked on their way to the farm, we remembered the governor’s injunction that we should not retaliate and we held our youths from doing so.

“We seek a permanent resolution to the issue because we are convinced that the land belongs to us and farming is our means of livelihood,” he said.

SP Dan Nwonu, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Ivo division, said that he called for reinforcements when he received the report of the shooting of two people from Ishiagu on their way to the farm

“I rushed both of them to the hospital where they are currently receiving treatment and when the reinforcement from the police headquarters Abakaliki arrived, we stormed the disputed area.

“I learnt that the Lokpanta people were holding an Ishiagu man hostage and I called the DPO of that area to ensure the safety of the hostage.

“I also ensured the safety of the Lokpanta hostage held by the Ishiagu youths and when my colleague in Abia safely brought and handed the Ishiagu hostage to me, I equally handed the Lokpanta hostage safely to him,” he said.

Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Caretaker Chairman of Ivo LGA, thanked the governor for the visit and called for a lasting solution to the age-long land dispute.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Politics

Umahi swears in caretaker chairmen for 13 LGAs in Ebonyi

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi on Friday, swore-in caretaker chairmen for the 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the tenure of elected chairmen in the councils elapsed on May 28.

The state House of Assembly had earlier, confirmed the list of the caretaker chairmen nominees submitted by the governor.

The governor charged them to assist the government in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Umahi, who also swore in other appointed political office holders at the occasion, reminded the chairmen that they were coming into office at a very ‘terrible period of COVID-19 pandemic’.

“The virus infuses fear into people but God has given us strong heart to overcome fear.

“We will not allow anyone to use COVID– 19 to instill fear into us and the disease is still avoidable through observance of personal hygiene, adherence to all precautionary protocols and prayers of our religious leaders,” he said.

The governor said that in the coming months, the state would  be working with the Federal Government on re-opening of schools and its economy.

“We did not completely shut our economy but because we cannot  operate in isolation, our economy cannot  grow the way it is supposed to grow.

“Presently, with the gradual opening of the economy in the country, we believe that we will reach the level we planned with or without COVID– 19..

COVID– 19  has brought lots of challenges and opportunities and we Africans should start thinking of how to develop our health institutions and agricultural potentials and technologies,” he said.

He urged the incoming chairmen to realise where their predecessors made mistakes and their areas of strongholds, all in the effort to keep to their oaths of office.

“Whatever you are doing presently, realise that you are before the social media, the public and that you must account for every fund that enters your council’s coffers.

“Your enemies will not be my enemies, make friends as you will meet challenges where people expect you to make magic and manufacture money,” he said.

Umahi thanked the out-gone chairmen for their efforts in developing the state, noting that the average of two kilometre of concrete roads they constructed in their councils would be indelible.

“These roads cost N200million each and when you pass through them on your way home, you will be revived, happier and beat your chest for doing well,” he said.

Mr Cletus Ofoke, state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, said that the caretaker chairmen came into being due to the inability of the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) to conduct council polls in the state.

“This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe and most importantly, the need to avoid vacuum in the leadership of the councils.

“This action is in line with section 26 sub section one and two of Ebonyi Coronavirus and other Infectious Diseases Law 2020, section 10 paragraph C of the Ebonyi local government council and development centres law and the LGA transition committee amendment law of 2015,” he said.

Mrs Amuche Otunta, Caretaker Chairman of Afikpo North LGA, thanked the governor for appointing them and pledged on behalf of others, to justify the confidence reposed in them.

/

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma (NAN)

 

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General news

Ex-commissioner lauds Gov. Umahi’s achievements in Ebonyi

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Mr Donatus Aja, former commissioner for Environment in Ebonyi, on Friday commended Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi’s achievements in infrastructural development, in the past five years in the state.

Aja gave the commendation Umahi in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, while reacting to the state’s ranking as the fourth poorest in Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He said that the Umahi-led administration had touched all aspects of the economy such as agriculture, education, health among others and ensuring quality infrastructural development across the state.

The former commissioner described the governor as very creative, hardworking, intelligent and determined.

According to him, Umahi works day and night to make Ebonyi what it is today, despite the little allocation coming from the Federal Government.

“Umahi is developing Ebonyi very well; previously, people nicknamed Abakaliki as “Wawa people’’.

“Whenever they come to Abakaliki, they will say they want to enjoy Abakaliki powder, which is the dust on the road sides.

“But now, many people who have not been to Abakaliki in the last five years sometimes miss their way when they enter the city, because everything has changed.

“Umahi is very wonderful, he is not even owing any salary; though there is no way everybody will be clapping for you if you are doing well.

In Nigeria today, people prefer a governor or politician sharing money to them than the leader who tries to change the environment for good, and laying the foundation for the young ones.”

Aja described Umahi as the only governor with the highest number of political appointees, “as he wants to carry everybody along and make sure that families are touched.

“Our prayer is to get another person like him in the next dispensation, so that development will continue, as he is serving his last term,” he said.

Aja noted that he had empowered no fewer than 100 people including women in skills acquisition across the state, in a bid to support the Umahi-led government.

“I did it through cooperative society and interest free loan.

“Okada (commercial motorcycle) riders benefitted from the same loan and most of them started their businesses with my assistance,” Aja said.

NAN reports that recently, the NBS released the poverty index of states, ranking Ebonyi as the fourth poorest state in Nigeria.

The rating also placed the state as the first poorest in the South-East, with regard to economic development.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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General news

Mrs Umahi pledges to tackle social challenges confronting children in Ebonyi

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The Wife of Ebonyi Governor, Mrs Rachael Umahi, has promised to engage all relevant agencies to help improve living standards of children in the state.

Mrs Umahi made the promise on Wednesday in a statement issued to mark the International Children’s Day celebration in Abakaliki.

The day is celebrated every May 27, to honor children and create awareness on challenges facing them.

She assured them that the government was working hard to provide quality education, healthcare services, recreational facilities, among other amenities to better their lives.

“Be sure that the present administration under the leadership of my husband, Governor David Umahi is addressing some social challenges affecting children in the state.

“On my part, I will continue to intervene on matters concerning our Children and engage all relevant agencies that will help better their lot.

“As we mark another children’s day, let us harvest the huge lessons that follow the celebration, leverage on them and put it to work,” she said.

The governor’s wife expressed dissatisfaction that the 2020 event would not be celebrated in its usual euphoria, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The fact that world leaders remembered this day, reflected the values and what they have for children as future leaders.

“I am sincerely proud of your many exploits, particularly in education, sports and technology with your amazing efforts,”Umahi said.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Health

COVID 19: Umahi bemoans astronomical rise of cases in Ebonyi

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has bemoaned the astronomical rise of COVID-19 cases in the state, describing it as ‘shocking and disturbing’.

Umahi made the remark on Monday during a news briefing after an emergency meeting with the Ebonyi COVID-19 response team and relevant stakeholders.

He stressed that all the cases were from returnees intercepted at the state’s various boundaries.

The governor said that between April 26, and May 20, the state had 13 confirmed cases of the disease but nine new cases were recorded on May 22, another nine  on May 23 and two on May 24.

“We presently have 33 confirmed cases with six victims discharged and it should be noted that there is no community infection yet in the state.

“A breakdown of the cases shows that Afikpo North LGA has nine cases, Izzi – eight, Ishielu – six, Ikwo – four, Ohaukwu – two, Ohaozara – two, Onicha and Ezza North one each,” he said.

Umahi added that the state could not have recorded such upsurge in the cases if the various inter-state boundary lockdowns were working.

“Another problem is that we are ‘holding these returnees down’ at the various centres in our LGAs yet we have issues with test kits from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“You can’t hold people down above 14 days without testing and the Federal Government (FG) should do something about this urgently.

“These people can’t go to their houses to isolate because some people stay up to five in a room in the rural areas.

“We can’t do anything even if they are kept at the centres for 21 days so there should be enough kits to appropriately follow NCDC guidelines,” he said.

The governor declared that the state-floated security outfit, ‘Neigbourhood Security Watch’, would be disbanded from June 1, due to the ineffectiveness of its members.

“Chairmen of various LGAs should strive to pay the members’ May salaries and we have authorised traditional rulers and other stakeholders to recommend 100 persons from various communities to be recruited in the new outfit.

“Their salaries will be N30,000 monthly and they will secure the 50 boundaries of the state alongside the various security outfits.

“We would no longer pay the allowances of security officers at the boundaries through their various heads, but through the monitoring team to be inaugurated by the deputy governor,” he said.

The governor said that all political office holders in the state would be members of the monitoring team including members of the state House of Assembly as would be approved by its Speaker.

“It is disheartening to see the deputy governor running through the bushes to intercept returnees.

“If by May 27, security at the borders does not improve, all political offices at the various LGAs will be dissolved.

“We thank the various LGA chairmen whose tenure expires on May 28 for their services and we will be relying on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the guiding template in conducting our council elections,” he said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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General news

Umahi is lifting Ebonyi people out of poverty — Commissioner

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Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State has reiterated his commitment to lift the people  out of poverty.

He said this in a statement signed and released to News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja by Mr Oluchukwu Ezeali, Ebonyi Commissioner for Project Monitoring and Evaluation.

According to the statement, the governor intends to achieve the feat through massive infrastructure development.

The statement said that areas of emphasis would be in  manpower development, improved health care system and building social infrastructures among others.

Ezeali had expressed concern over the recent ranking by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which rated the State as the 4th poorest state in the country.

The rating also placed the state as the first poorest in the South-east, with regard to economic development, attributed to urban migration.

He noted that the ranking did not take into consideration the attemps of the administration to bridge the gap between urban and rural poverty rates.

He noted that more young productive labour had fled the rural areas in search of opportunities in urban areas.

The commissioner said in the statement that the governor had been doing his best to ensure that Ebonyi people were  lifted out of poverty since assumption of office in 2015.

“The governor embarked on an urbanisation drive across Ebonyi State not just to create an enabling environment for business and productivity, but also to make the entire State habitable.

“Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics released the poverty index of States, ranking Ebonyi State as the 4th poorest State in Nigeria.

“It came to a lot of us as a surprise, given the massive infrastructure development of governor David Umahi-led administration over the past five years.

“Ebonyi State was fast becoming an old people’s home before the emergence of Umahi as Governor.

Almost every young productive and enterprising Ebonyi person lived in the diaspora, but the story is different today,’’ he said.

Ezeali also said that the governor had created huge industrial clusters in the three senatorial zones of the State located strategically with proximity to raw materials and markets.

He added that the industrial clusters had the capacity of creating over 200,000 jobs for Ebonyi people and others and reduce the brain drain that the State had suffered over time.

According to him, poverty is eradicated through building social infrastructure, mostly by creating job opportunities.

The commissioner further observed that more Ebonyi citizens and non-indigenes were investing in the State and creating jobs. 

“More young people shun the dangers of an uncertain sojourn in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Onitsha among others.

“They are taking advantage of the opportunities that the urbanisation and modernisation of the State has provided.

“The high quality roads constructed across the State by the present administration have bridged the gap between rural and urban categorisations.

“ The productive labour force in the hinterlands are growing due to the accessibility of markets for farm produce and other crafts that the State has always been known for.

“The State is now a route for commercial motorists plying Enugu/Onitsha to Cross River, Akwa Ibom and parts of Abia State and in these busy routes have emerged commercial activities to cater for the needs of commuters’’.

Ezeali said that the State had also become a busy haulage route and features prominently on the development plans of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

He added that “Umahi was laying a solid foundation for economic growth and like most reform policy interventions, the gains are usually in phases and most are already manifesting’’.

He also said that schools in the State were being upgraded in infrastructure and manpower while the health sector had received a boost.

“Today, Ebonyi State is home to a Federal Teaching Hospital, a Regional Virology Centre and a state-of-the-art Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital (EBSUTH) approaching completion.

“Functional Primary Health Centres (PHC) are available across the State, catering for the healthcare needs of rural dwellers and providing training and jobs for healthcare givers, nurses and midwives.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

 

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Politics

Ebonyi House of Assembly has been enjoying financial autonomy under Umahi — Speaker

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The Speaker, Ebonyi House of Assembly (EBHA), Chief Francis Nwifuru, on Sunday said the House had been enjoying financial autonomy since the inception of Gov. David Umahi’s administration.

Nwifuru said this in a radio programme monitored by News Agency of Nigeria in Abakaliki.

He was reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing into law an executive order granting financial autonomy to states’ legislature and judiciary.

The EBHA Speaker  said the executive order was a welcome development.

He, however, added that it was not new in Ebonyi because the House had  long been enjoying financial autonomy from the state’s executive arm led by Umahi.

“This has been a struggle in the country between the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government to be autonomous financially and administratively.

“Fortunately in Ebonyi, the governor understands the principles of separation of powers and within six months in office he constituted the state House of Assembly Service Commission.

“The law governing the commission was passed in 2011 but no one ever constituted the commission.

“I presented the matter to the governor and within six months in office, he approved and constituted the commission immediately,” he said.

Nwifuru recalled that the National Assembly had passed the House of Assembly autonomy into law – 4th alteration; section 121 (3) of the constitution.

“Once the section had come into place after the President’s assent, whatever is due to EBHA will go to it and it will make a financial management law in the House.

“The governor assented to this law which entails that every fund meant for the House must be transferred directly to it,” he said.

He commended Buhari for signing the law, noting that it was in line with the constitution of the country.

“The president has given more clarifications and directives to ensure that the financial autonomy is implemented 100 per cent.

“We are, however, lucky in Ebonyi because what the President signed is exactly what is happening in the state,” he said.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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