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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas



USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital



Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council



Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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Mali: The coup misadventure and its ripple effects



Mali: The coup misadventure and its ripple effects

Widespread international condemnation has continued to trail the seizure of power by soldiers in Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries. The United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the United States, France among others, have condemned the coup misadventure, which began as a mutiny, in strong terms, with ECOWAS invoking diplomatic and economic sanctions on the turbulent and strife-torn country.

True, there may be a hint of self-protection among African leaders who are often quick to denounce challenges to governance mediocrity, in which they all are implicated. Nonetheless, the central message is that military adventures are not the way to resolve the issues of declining, sometimes catastrophic governance.

Interestingly, either because of international pressure, or a hard-headed calculation of their narrow survival chances as military rulers, or both, the National Committee For The Salvation Of The People has announced plans for credible elections ‘within a reasonable time’. As a measure of their sincerity, they should go ahead to release the ousted president Ibrahim Keita and all other political detainees.

Affirming the instability and unsuitably of the coup remedy is not the same thing as being chloroformed concerning the huge governance deficit which gave rise to them.
Consider for example, that the coup was preceded by months of open demonstrations, and street protests with the agitators calling on Keita to resign. Indeed, there is a bit of crocodile tears in some of the recent postures by nations, including Nigeria, and international organizations who are pretending that they have no knowledge of the context in which the newest events took place. If we stretch the matter a bit, we could raise the issue whether the mediation committee, headed by former President Goodluck Jonathan could have indicated that they had awareness of the grouses of the opposition against the government, and perhaps could have tried to prevail upon Keita to either incorporate them or even consider resigning.

Furthermore, is it not instructive that when the military struck, crowds of Malians cheered them on; hailing them like heroes because they appeared to provide temporary reprieve for the hard pressed Malians, whose repeated protests fell on deaf ears? Recall too, that in a manner characteristic of many African leaders Keita, came to power in a landslide victory in 2013, promising to unify the country, to revamp the economy, tackle corruption, and to put an end to the Islamic fundamentalist challenge which continued to ravage the Northern and Central parts of Mali with backing from Al-Qaeda.

However, by the time of his re-election in 2018, the bubble had burst and it was a diminished Keita that won the election. As a gauge of Keita’s record, the United Nations estimated that terrorism-related deaths have increased fivefold since 2016, while in the first six months of 2020 deaths from armed conflicts have almost equaled the tally for 2019. The picture one has, therefore, is that of a country desperately poor, misgoverned by corrupt leaders, steadily falling apart under the weight of insurgency, mismanaged elections, and poor economic management. To be sure, Mali was not always a basket case, and there are some elements of truth in the statement of Ishmali Wague who promised that the army ‘can restore this country to its former greatness’.

Many will recall for example, that in the aftermath of the transition to democracy in the 1990s, Mali became a model of sorts for credible elections, and relative stability. International observers used to point to Mali as an example of best practices in the smoothness, and quality of elections. Not anymore.

Indeed, one of the grievances of the opposition relates to controversial legislative elections allegedly manipulated by Keita’s government. In other words, the rot has been steadily extending to several facets of Malian life. In the reckoning too, is the deteriorating security situation symptomized by the inability of the military to deal decisively with the challenge. Unsurprisingly, several commentators including the Nigerian-based Human Rights Writers’ Association (HURIWA) have drawn parallels between the situation in Mali and that of other African countries including Nigeria.

According to HURIWA, “What is happening to Ibrahim Keita should be seen as a big lesson to the Nigerian president in particular, and to other African leaders in general, who have decided to be African big men who do not respect divergent opinions”. Although HURIWA went on to condemn the coupists, calling on them to give way to democracy, its statement was particularly eager that Nigerian leaders should take to heart the lessons that are taught by the unfortunate event in Mali.

Historically, political leaders with enlightened self-interest have always learnt from the misfortunes of other countries and taken proactive measures to avert the fate that befell them. One of the most cited examples is that of the English ruling class which in the wake of the French Revolution introduced welfare measures to prevent a similarly horrifying experience in England. Of course, France is England’s neighbour and the possibility of contagion was more real and vivid.

Only a fortnight ago, a report on the state of Nigeria’s economy indicated that there are close to 40 million Nigerians who have no jobs. This says much not just for the state of the economy but for associated socio-economic woes especially the upsurge in crime and banditry connected with joblessness. It also has implications for President Buhari regime’s pledge to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.

The point being made therefore is that while Nigeria as a sub-regional leader should continue to invest in diplomatic efforts to get Mali back on course, it should not lose sight of the ways in which the internal turmoil and cry for change in Mali mirror certain elements of the Nigerian circumstance. Undoubtedly, the possibility of a Malian type coup occurring in Nigeria is extremely remote, and certainly unlikely, only because most Nigerians following years of disastrous military rule do not see the military as a viable option for fixing the country. That said, what is advocated is a strengthening of the reformist impulse among the political class, and civil society in order to bring back the vision of good governance that has now been derailed.

The other aspect of the Malian situation that should be of interest to us is the possibility of deterioration in our security situation given the influence of Al-Qaeda in Malian terrorism. Just recently, the United States warned that banditry in Northern Nigeria is being fuelled by Islamic fundamentalists especially Al-Qaeda. The tendency, therefore, for a spill over across the Sahel region is not as remote as might at first seem the case. Restoring stability and good governance to Mali, therefore, beyond the mere condemnation of the coupists, and the imposition of sanctions should be of interest, and concern to security experts in all West African countries, given the age old interconnections, and migrations across the Sahara desert.

For good reasons, therefore, there is a lot that Nigerian and other African leaders can learn from the tragic events which continue to set back and virtually paralyze that sprawling but sparsely populated country.

Culled from Punch By Ayo Olukotun

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