For President Muhammadu Buhari, the past 18 months have been the most difficult period in the history of Nigeria since the civil war.
Buhari stated this in a nationwide broadcast to mark the nation’s 61st independence anniversary on Friday in Abuja.
The president noted that the nation had never witnessed more heightened challenges than what happened in the past 18 months.
President Buhari identified the devastating impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy as one of the major challenges facing the country.
“Fellow Nigerians, the past 18 months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period.
“Our original priorities for 2020 were to continue stabilising our economy following the deep recession while restoring peace in areas confronted with security challenges.
“But the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on all nations meant we needed to shift gears and re-strategise.
“Nigerians came together as one to fight against COVID-19. It is this attitude and by the special grace of God, we continue to survive the pandemic as a nation and indeed, provide leadership and example at regional and international levels.’’
The Nigerian leader, however, assured citizens that his administration had successfully invested heavily in response to COVID-19 to tackle possible future outbreak pandemics in the country.
He said: “The doomsday scenario predicted for our country never came. Even as the Delta variant continues to spread, we have built the capacity we need to respond now and into the future.
“I will, therefore, appeal to Nigerians not to take COVID lightly, adhere to public health and social measures, put your mask on and get vaccinated.
“We can control this pandemic, but it requires effort on everybody’s part. The investments we made in response to COVID-19 will also serve our country to tackle any future disease outbreaks or pandemics.’’
According to the president, despite the global inequity in access to vaccines, the Federal Government has continued to explore all available options to ensure Nigerians have free access to safe and effective vaccines.
He revealed that already five million vaccine doses had been administered to Nigerians through efforts led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
The president assured that the government would continue to explore options for purchase or acquisition of vaccines such as through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.
“I will take this opportunity to remind the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. We cannot afford a situation where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.
“We must act now to accelerate equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.
“As we push to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we shall invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines. Should another pandemic arise in the future, our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?
“Accordingly, I have directed the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and International pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to enhance Nigeria’s domestic pharmaceutical capacity,’’ he said.
President Buhari disclosed that already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a 200 million dollars fund for the initiative that would complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.
According to him, this is to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19.
On his administration’s approach to food security, the president said: “I am proud to announce Nigeria has commenced its journey to pharmaceutical independence.
READ ALSO: Protesters Demand Buhari’s Resignation
“This journey, which will take years to achieve but will ultimately result in Nigeria-based companies developing the active pharmaceutical substances and competence needed for us to make our own drugs and vaccines.’’
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Socio-cultural And Economic Strides Of Anioma
By Augustine Anonyai Ojei
The Anioma people are found in the Northern senatorial district of the present Delta State, originally (at Independence (1960) part of Western Region before the creation of Mid- Western Region in August, 1963.
Rt. Hon. (Chief) Barr. Dennis Osadebay (native of Asaba), one-time Acting Governor General of Nigeria, was the first and only Premier of the then Mid-West Region.
Anioma still remained part of that entity renamed Bendel State in 1976. Anioma constituted one of the five Senatorial Districts (Bendel East) of the defunct Bendel State.
At creation, Delta State which crystalized from the division of the defunct Bendel State into Edo and Delta States, Anioma became part of the newly created Delta state in August 1991, and had the privilege of hosting the State capital in Asaba.
In the geo-political configuration of Delta State, Anioma (called Delta North) is made up of nine out of the 25 local government areas of the state as follows : Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East (which produced the immediate past Executive Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa), Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ukwani Local Government areas.
Anioma people are linguistically of different ethnic backgrounds. There are communities within it that trace their origins to Benin, for instance, the Ezechime Clan, Aboh, Agbor, Owa, etc. Other trace theirs to the East ,majorly Nri (some Isu and Nteje, ecetra). These communities include Ogwashi-Uku, Ibusa, Okpanam (which according to tradition have some with different origins), Asaba (in part- Nteje) and some others trace their roots to Igala in present-day Kogi State. These communities include largely Ebu, and partly Asaba and Illah. Some other communities in Anioma,for instance Eko efun (popularly called Ukwu’Nzu, and Odiani communities who speak Olukunmi; a variant of Yoruba language) trace their origin to Ile-Ife and Owo. The same with the Ubulus which claim similar origin and linkage to Ile-Ife ,though with counter linkage claims between them and Afor in Ndokwa.
What can be rightly deduced from these diverse accounts of the origins, is that various communities in Anioma must have likely evolved from the aforementioned language groups. What is equally clear is that various Anioma communities or groups have their spoken dialects with strong linkages to Ibo/ Igbo languages for which reason Anioma dialects are largely grouped as part of Ibo language in Nigeria.
The Anioma people, thus culturally appear to be caught in between her brethren in the East and her geopolitical brothers and sisters in Midwest, now called Edo and Delta States. Music with its emotional soul-lifting attributes is another area Anioma people are known for.
As part of its cultural heritage, Anioma people hold to the highest esteem among others the following values, prominent among which is Eziokwu-bundu (truth is life), put in other words “honesty is the best policy”.
This is complemented by other values such as:
-Respect for the elderly,
-Respect for the healthy family life,
-Respect for hard work (dignity in labour),
-Sanctity of life, – Sanctity of marriage,
-Reverence to God Almighty (Chukwu), etc.
The native attires often adorned by Anioma men and women is white, popularly called “Akwa-Ocha” or Otuogwu. These clothes and related costumes are worn as ceremonial dresses, especially in major ceremonies,such as marriages,burial of the elderly and other major cultural or traditional ceremonies.
These dresses are classy and stand out anyone that adorns them. Most Anioma towns celebrate their annual festivals between the months of August and December every year. Such festivals include Ine , Ogbanigbe, Igwue, Ofala, New Yam, etc. In most of these communities, burial ceremonies of any form are suspended until the expiration of the period of festivities.
Social-political And Economic Spheres
Several Anioma indigenes have contributed ,and many are still contributing to the socio-political and even economic development of Nigeria. We may wish to note that at Independence (1960) Lt Commander O.Z Chiazor was recorded to be one of the most senior military officers in the then Nigerian Navy under whose command the Union Jack (British flag) was lowered on October 1, 1960.
Similar notables include Ms. Helen Anyamelune (Ugbodu) who was Miss Nigeris 1958; the highly celebrated Ms. Rosemary Anieze-Adams (Onicha-Olona) who was Miss Nigeria at Independence 1960, Mrs. Clara Ifeoma Okwechime (nee Emefiene), wife of Rtd Col. (Chief) Micheal Nduka Okwechime (one of the founding fathers of the Nigerian Army). Ms. Rita Anuku (Ika) was crowned Miss Nigeria in 1986. Mention must be made of Reverend Father Paul Obodochina Emecheta, the first West African to be ordained a Catholic Priest, 1928.
In the same vein, honour and reverence must be given to the late Rt Rev. (Dr) Samuel Wadie Martins, D.Litt (Honorary Causa), pioneer Baptist Missionary/Evangelist, who saw to the in-planting of Baptist missionary churches throughout the old Benin and Delta Provinces between 1922 when he returned from USA, till his death in 1976. He saw to the establishment of Baptist Primary Schools in most towns including Asaba, Warri and Benin-City. The same for the establishment of Baptist Hospital, Eku, Baptist Girls High School, Agbor, Pilgrims Baptist Grammar School, Ewohimi, Pilgrims Baptist Grammar school, Issele-Uku, Pilgrims Baptist Teachers Training College as well as the Technical College in Issele-uku, and Baptist High school, Benin -City, among others.
Anioma people are traditionally agrarian, vast in the production of food crops and livestock. Those in the riverine areas ply their trade in fishing and pottery, others generally in traditional cloth making.
This is aside from their great academic attainments in the educational sphere. Many Aniomans are found in the corporate world contributing to national economic development, be it in academics, banking, marketing communication, insurance, real sector/manufacturing industry, public service, non-governmental services, informal sector and the diaspora.
Many mini and micro enterprises have sprung up in Anioma area since the advent of this millennium. Asaba, the state capital and its environs are continually witnessing transformation. Towns like Agbor, Kwale, Okpanam, Obiaruku, Owa, Ogwashi-Uku and others have notably improved in terms of physical infrastructure. There is a clarion call for investment in the area. We welcome the establishment of the Dennis Osadebay University in Asaba, and University of Delta, Agbor. These in addition to earlier existing tertiary institutions in the area will boost socio-economic and educational development in Delta State and the nation at large .The establishment of a Federal University of Health Science in Kwale, is equally a welcomed development.
Our Appeal To Government
We would like to use this medium to passionately appeal to the Delta State as well as the Edo State and Anambra State governments where exist some Anioma people, to take greater interest in infrastructural development in these areas. These include roads, utilities, health and educational facilities.
We also appeal to the Federal Government to establish an industrial hub in Anioma area. The creation of an Export Processing Zone in Illah, Ugbolu, Asaba, Oko, Ewulu, Isheagu, Amai and Aboh/Ndosimili axes of Delta State to boost industrial development which will induce the venturing into the production of goods, that could be exported, and earn foreign exchange for the nation, will be economically worthwhile. The Warri, Sapele and Koko Sea ports would form a good linkage to the proposed processing zone. The multiplier effects this will achieve are better imagined.
Let me at this junction thank the Executives of Nji’ko Ndi Anioma, especially the President, a worthy comrade and champion of Anioma cause, Obuzor Chuks-Smith and his very visionary team. I join everyone in commending their efforts.
God bless them;
God bless Anioma;
God bless Delta state;
God bless Lagos state;
God bless Nigeria.
.Being a lecture delivered during the 2023 General Assembly of Njiko Ndi Anioma in Lagos on September 24, by Chief Augustine Anonyai Ojei, Ugwu’Eze Issele-Azagba; Ugwu’Anioma; member, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
Abiodun Flags Off Aviation Village, Says Project Will Complement Cargo Airport
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, on Tuesday flagged off the construction of 200 units of two-bedroom expanded bungalows, at the Gateway Aviation Village, located at Iperu in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State.
He said the project was divided into two phases, with the first 100 units ready in six months.
The governor, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Housing, Jagunmolu Jamiu Omoniyi, said the project would herald the creation of a new city in the town and would serve the entire Remo cluster and the state in general.
According to the governor, the siting of the housing scheme would serve institutions and people who will make use of the Gateway Agro-Cargo Airport, noting government agencies like the Customs, the Nigerian Air Force and corporate bodies, have already indicated interest in the airport.
He added that the project would create jobs for about 5,000 artisans of various skills in the course of execution of the project.
The governor said: “This is the people’s project. This housing scheme will complement the airport and serve those who will work in this town. I can assure you that within two years, the story of this town will change. We will not engage outsiders to work in this estate, but the people of this town.
“We have done similar projects at Kemta, Idi-Aba and Kobape. The siting of a similar housing estate has changed the landscape of Kobape which was a village before to a lively city.”
He called on prospective buyers to start the process by obtaining their forms, charging the people to support and take ownership of the project for the development of the town.
On behalf of the Alaperu of Iperu, Oba Idowu Basibo, Ebi Idena, Oba Lukman Salami, expressed delight that the project is being sited in his domain.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Ikenne Local Government Area, Mr. Segun Ogunleye, expressed gratitude to the governor, saying with the siting of the housing estate and the cargo airport, the development of the town is assured.
Also, the Chairman of Ogun State Park Management Service, Engr. Wale Yusuf, said the project would change the face of the town for good, urging the indigenes to support it.
BREAKING: NLC, TUC Declare Indefinite Strike
Workers under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) are set to begin an indefinite strike on Tuesday, October 3.
The announcement came after a joint press briefing held by both leaders of the union in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Tuesday (today).
The unions also asked their state chapters to mobilize for protests across the country .
The leaders of the two labour centres have resolved their differences that made only NLC embark on a two-day warning strike without the participation of TUC.
According to the notice of meeting signed by the NLC Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the meeting is holding virtually.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong has appealed to the NLC leadership to shelve the planned strike, assuring them that the Federal Government is determined to address the concerns raised.
The minister also noted that one of the major demands of the NLC in their last meeting has been met, which has to do with the release of the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Road Transport workers.
A statement signed by the spokesman of the ministry, Olajide Oshundu, urged the workers’ unions to give the government a little more time to address other issues.
On Tuesday, September 5 and Wednesday 6, 2023, NLC embarked on a two-day warning strike to force the government to address the mass suffering of Nigerians, especially workers.
Sources privy to the matter said the two sides after their separate organs’ meetings, commenced a joint press briefing at 3 p.m. on Tuesday to announce an indefinite nationwide strike following the Federal Government’s failure to address the suffering and other socioeconomic hardships occasioned by the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol.
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