LATEST ARTICLES

ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL ANNOUNCES LONG-AWAITED CORONATION OF PARAMOUNT RULER, INAUGURATES PLANNING COMMITTEE

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By Nsidibe Akpan In a historic move, the Transition Chairman of Itu Local Government Council, Barr. Etetim Onuk, has revealed plans for the official coronation of the paramount ruler of Itu local government, His Royal Majesty, Edidem (Dr) Edet Akpan Inyang. The coronation comes after 19-years on the throne. The announcement was made during an event held on Thursday, February 29, 2024, at the Itu Council Secretariat in Mbak Atai Itam. The occasion also marked the inauguration of the Central Planning Committee tasked with organizing the coronation ceremony. Mr. Emmanuel Ndon, the Secretary to Itu Local Government, will lead the committee in planning and executing the long-awaited event. The committee is also responsible for suggesting a suitable date for the coronation in collaboration with the council. Addressing the gathering, Barr. Onuk expressed his commitment to rectifying what he deemed an oversight in the history of traditional institution. He emphasised the importance of official coronation of the paramount ruler, acknowledging His Royal Majesty, Edidem (Dr) Edet Akpan Inyang, as one of the longest-serving paramount rulers in the state. “This is one project that has been so dear to my heart,” Onuk said, “We came and inherited a wrong history that our Paramount Ruler, who has been one of the longest-serving Paramount Rulers in the state has not enjoyed official coronation “I saw it as an error, I think one of the reasons God has given me the grace to be here in my first term, second and now as a transition chairman, because God did not want me to leave this council without doing the needful of restoring the sanctity of that office and the importance of that exercise. “I want to congratulate all of us, that we are going to be part of history. This is a long overdue event. I had thought about it within myself and also brought it to the immediate past executive committee of this council. After having waited for this long period, we should not just do a coronation after 19 years in on the throne, we should host a befitting event that was worth waiting for.” To complement the coronation, Barr. Onuk unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art Traditional Rulers Office Complex in Itu LGA. He envisioned it as the best of its kind in the state, aiming to replicate the standards set at the state level. “That is why we came up with the idea of having a befitting Traditional Rulers Office Complex in Itu LGA. Without sounding immodest, that is going to be the best of its kind in this state, we are trying to replicate what is at the state level. “We feel that this is one way that we can justify why we had to wait this long to have the coronation.” Members of the planning committee were carefully selected to ensure the success of the event. Emmanuel Ndon serves as the chairman, supported by Nyong Ebong as the secretary, and Dr. Bassey Okon as adviser. The committee comprises various respected individuals, including Engr. Bassey Ekanem, Unyime Ikpe, Mrs Emem Ekpanya, Engr. Otobong Edward, Chief Daniel Udoh, Engr Ndifreke Usanga, Obonganwan Ofonmbuk Inyang, Ime Ekeng, Chief Effiong Okon, Elder Obonganwan Eno Udok, Prof. Edna Akpan, Madam Rose Ansa, Aniedi Essien, and Effong Davies. Barr. Onuk charged the committee members to be diligence, urging them to ensure the meticulous planning and execution of the coronation event, which promises to be a historic and memorable occasion for the Itu Local Government Council.

EKET/ESIT EKET/IBENO CRISES: N’ASSEMBLYMAN SUES FOR PEACE, UNITY

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The member representing Eket/ONNA/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, has appealed to residents of the federal constituency to embrace peace and unity, amidst the eruption of tensions and violence in Eket, Esit Eket and Ibeno Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, for development to thrive. The National Assemblyman, who made this known on Wednesday in a press release he signed and made available to newsmen in Uyo, said though the event “has led to the tragic loss of lives and the destruction of properties, such avoidable acts of violence only deepen wounds and sow seeds of discord among our people.” He urged all parties involved to “co-operate fully with the authorities in their commendable efforts to de-escalate the ugly situation and ensure the safety of all citizens living in or passing through the Federal Constituency.” Hon. Etteh said “This solemn appeal is made in recognition of the critical importance of harmony and solidarity in fostering development and progress. We must, as a people, against all odds and provocations, attach greater importance to lawful and peaceful coexistence and mutual respect for one another, ancestral origins notwithstanding. The inciting comments and publications which have heightened tensions leading to disruptions to the daily lives of the ordinary people of our Federal Constituency were most unnecessary and highly regrettable. We can speak and do better than we have done in this unfortunate situation.” He lauded the Governor Umo Eno for his “timely intervention and prioritising the safety of lives and property. It is unimaginable what would have happened had His Excellency not intervened at the time and in the decisive manner that he graciously did. Thank you, Your Excellency, for exhibiting that you are a father to all.” The national lawmaker implored “all parties involved in this avertable crisis of conscience to give premium to dialogue in conflict resolutions as violence only begets more violence and serves to widen the divide between us. I particularly urge our community leaders and major stakeholders of the Federal Constituency to exercise utmost restraint in their contemplation of either further acts of aggression or retribution, particularly as the bone of contention in this crisis is sub judice or pending resolution by the Federal High Court, Uyo Judicial Division.” Hon. Etteh further prayed God “provide us all the opportunity to rebuild trust, strengthen our bonds, and chart a course towards sustainable development and prosperity for our Federal Constituency vis-à-vis Akwa Ibom State.”

ENO AKPAN LEADS CAMPAIGN TO END RICE SCARCITY IN A’IBOM

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… Distributes Upland Rice Seeds To Over 300 Farmers Ukpong Ukpong Towards reversing incessant hike in price of rice in Akwa Ibom State, a former commissioner for agriculture, Obong Eno Akpan, has recently launched a campaign to boost production and end hunger. Speaking while distributing upland rice seeds to over 300 farmers at a training program for rice farmers in Uyo, Akpan, now the chairman, board of trustees, Large-scale Farmers’ Development Association, Akwa Ibom (LSFDA), stated that considering the current reality, government needs the support of large-scale farmers to feed citizens. He revealed that his association has come up with an initiative to support government sustain food security by ensuring that every household is able to plant rice. According to him, the association have identified upland rice as specially fit for both subsistence and large-scale cultivation because it can be planted like any other crop unlike ‘swamp rice’ which must essentially be planted in muddy soil. “Upland rice can be planted in backyard gardens and farmlands like other crops. Hence, we can survive these hard times relying on our people, resources and skills to produce rice for ourselves”, he noted with optimism. Earlier, the Chairman of LSFDA, Dr. Asikpo Essien Ibok, traced the formation of the association to 2008, when Akpan was commissioner for agriculture, saying he was instrumental to it’s birth. Ibok, commended government efforts toward food sufficiency so far, but warned that current reality demands more to be done. “I’ve never seen food so scarce as it is today. We can reverse this by producing more. We can produce more through the support of government. “Rice is a staple food but it is becoming unaffordable hence the need for the training to increase rice production among households rather than depending on importation.” Also speaking, Prof. Trenchard Ibia, one time commissioner for agriculture in the State, commended the rice initiative by LSFDA, saying it should be sustained and scaled up to ensure availability and subsequent exportation. “Interestingly, agriculture stands out as the flagship of the ARISE agenda as such this revolution should be seen in tonnage to eat and export. “Farmers must be able to produce and earn from their investment, but high cost of input is a challenge to farmers wishing to produce more”, he noted and called on government to support farmers with input and extension services. In her goodwill message, Prof. Edna Akpan, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Akwa Ibom State University, lauded the initiative saying it is in line with AKSU’s drive towards food sufficiency in the State. Akpan, famously called ‘mma okpo iwa’ for introducing improved cassava varieties to the State while working with International Institute of Agriculture, IITA, disclosed that her Faculty in partnership with Thailand is setting up 500 hectares of land for research on rice production in the State. She pointed out that efforts should be made to provide micro processing units as these will encourage households to invest in rice production. “We must identify value chain in rice production and earn from there. “Also, we should take advantage of the ban on bulk purchase of grains from the North to increase production of our local rice.” She enthused. The training program witnessed a large turnout of farmers and would-be farmers across the State, who were lectured on various related topics including ‘upland rice production’, ‘the role of rice in Nigeria Agriculture’, ‘insight on upland rice production in Akwa Ibom State’ and others.

OKPOLUPM ETTEH ADVOCATES FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION AMONG REGIONAL PARLIAMENTS

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Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on University Education and Member representing Eket/ONNA/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency has emphasized collaboration and cooperation to promote efficient regional parliamentary operations. He underscored the importance of fostering effective partnerships among regional parliaments at the just concluded 64th Session of the Organization of African, Caribbean, Pacific States (OACPS) Parliamentary Assembly and Constitutive Meeting/1st Session of the OACPS-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly (OACPS-EU JPA) which took place in Luanda, Angola. The event, held from the 17th to the 21st day of February 2024, revolved around the theme “A New Dawn in OACPS-EU Relations: Towards a People-Led Partnership.” Hon. Etteh also hinted that the event afforded members of the OACPS-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly a better ground to inaugurate new joint institutions and commemorated the enactment of the Samoa Agreement, signed on 15 November 2023, which replaced the Cotonou agreement of 2000 and the former Lomé Convention of 1975. Nigeria is among the few other Countries that are yet to sign the Samoa agreement. Among the Nigerian delegation, led by Rt. Hon. Dr Adewunmi Onanuga, Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, were Hon. Ishaya David Lalu, Hon. Amobi Godwin Ogah, and Hon. Murtala Usman Banye. (C) Media Unit

PHOTO NEWS

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PHOTO NEWS
Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo with the Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, His Excellency, Hocine Latli, during a meeting held at the Minister’s office in Abuja to deliberate on the Nigeria – Algeria gas pipeline project, yesterday.
Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo with the Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, His Excellency, Hocine Latli, during a meeting held at the Minister’s office in Abuja to deliberate on the Nigeria – Algeria gas pipeline project, yesterday.

AKHA Considers For Second reading A Bill for a law To Establish A’ Ibom Bulk Purchase Agency for purchase of bulk Commodities

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In its avowed commitment to ensure adequate food security for its citizens, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly ( AKHA ) has considered for a second reading during today’s plenary a bill for a Law to establish the Akwa Ibom State Bulk Purchase Agency for the Purchase of Bulk Commodities in the State. The Bill, being an Executive Bill is Sponsored by the Deputy Leader of the House and a two-term member for Nsit Ubium State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Otobong Bob. The Agency, Rt. Hon.Bob said would be saddled with the responsibility of mitigating the high cost of foodstuff, ensuring food security and sufficiency as well as improving the socio-economic conditions of the population at the grassroots level by delivery of relevant food items at a subsidized rate geared towards poverty reduction in the State. He explained that the Agency which would have the Governor as the Chairman would purchase relevant food items in commercial quantities and sell the same at its various depots at subsidized rates, collaborate with market associations and unions for proper coordination and supply, formulate long and short-term policies for the purchase and sale of food items in the State, control and monitor the distribution and sale of food items in the State as well as advise the government on the best method of distribution and formulate strategies for such. Rt. Hon. Bob informed the House that foodstuffs to which the law applied include garri, rice, beans, melon, wheat, millet guinea corn, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, yam, maize, palm oil, salt, seasoning cubes, groundnut, groundnut oil, beverages, and livestock. Lending support to the Bill, the Chief Whip, Mr. Effiong Johnson, and the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem described the bill as people-centered which would have a direct bearing on citizens and bring down the cost and availability of foodstuffs. Presented before the House also for the second reading was the Bill for a Law to establish the Akwa Ibom State Infrastructure and Assets Management and Maintenance Agency. After due deliberation, the Speaker, Elder Udeme Otong, referred the Bills to the Committee on Agriculture and that of Special Duties for the public hearing to be conducted on the two bills to encourage accelerated passage.

RETIREES PLIGHT: REP. JIMBO CALLS FOR AMENDMENT OF PENSION ACT

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Worried by the level of injustice meted on public and private retirees by their former employers, the Honourable Member Representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency in Nigerian House of Representatives, Rep. Clement Jimbo has called for the amendment of the 2004 Pension Act to address inhuman treatment of senior citizens of Nigeria who have paid their dues through diligent services to the government and private sectors of the Nation. Presenting the motion on Tuesday, at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, the Deputy Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, frowned at the agony bedevilling our elderly citizens in the course of collecting what they saved for their olden days while in active service. Rep. Jimbo, further expressed displeasure on how Managers of their Contributory Pension Scheme denied them of having greater share of their lump sum after retirement as a paltry sum (25% of the total amount credited to their Retirement Saving Accounts) is usually dispensed to them across board under the scheme; whereas the balance of 75% is usually retained by the Pensions Fund Administrators for investment in capital market with high returns, which is never added to the retirees’ monthly payments. He further reiterated that the rising value of dollar against the naira, the recent removal of fuel subsidy and increase in price of goods and services has made such paltry monthly payments, which remain the same for several years grossly insufficient to sustain the retirees who had served the country honourably for 35 years and called on the National Assembly to amend the 2004 Pension Act which deals with retirement benefits, to make it optional and to bring it in conformity with the current economic realities. The motion which was widely supported by the Parliamentarians, was referred to the House Committee on Pension to interface with relevant stakeholders to address the yearnings of the retirees.

A’IBOM CIVIL SERVICE COMMENDS NIPR, ASSURES OF SUPPORT

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The Akwa Ibom State Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien, has commended the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in the state for being a pacesetter in professionalism and excellence through its Uyo Study Centre. The Head of Civil Service made the commendation when he received a delegation of the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Institute, led by Elder Manasseh Umoette. He added that the Uyo Study Centre of the Institute is of great advantage as it will help in raising the standard within the profession, ease certification effort and promote best practice among practitioners. Elder Essien stressed the importance of public relations practice in every aspect of life, and called on practitioners to continually promote best practice in the state. Early in his address, the Chapter Chairman, Elder Manasseh Umoette thanked the Head of Civil Service for granting the audience and for being a continual partner of the Institute, particularly in its quest for caderization. According to Elder Umoette, the purpose of the visit was to keep the Head of Civil Service abreast with the resolution of the National Council on Establishment, and also on the need for him to encourage civil servants manning any Public Relations related department or unit to take advantage of the Uyo Study Centre. He further solicited collaboration with the Office of the Head of Civil Service in the training and retraining of Information Officers and other officers at the Uyo Study Centre for optimal delivery of their public relations duties. Present at the event were the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Civil Service, Mr. Joseph Esidem; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Research and Documentation, Dr. Essien Ndueso, the Director of Administration, Doris Ikpuho; Elsie Udofia, Fellow Sam Uko, Fellow Okon Imerh, and members of the NIPR Executive Council. Press Unit Office of the Head of Civil Service

HENSEK: EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES, TOUCHING LIVES THROUGH MEDICAL OUTREACH

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By Darlington UDOBONG In a time marked by inflation, economic instability, and high cost of living burdening ordinary individuals, and where access to affordable healthcare remains a pressing issue for countless households and communities nationwide, initiatives like the HENSEK Free Medical/Surgical Outreach shine brightly as beacons of hope and wellness. In Akwa Ibom State, the name HENSEK has unequivocally become a household name and brand. For many, it represents an indigenous construction giant, a caregiver, a pathfinder and a torchbearer. HENSEK’s consistency in rendering free medical/surgical services to residents of Akwa Ibom State shows its holistic approach to healthcare delivery. Through 10 successful editions, HENSEK has partnered the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to provide care and cure to vulnerable and poor citizens and residents of Akwa Ibom State. It is, indeed, humanity at work. Many thanks to the man behind the HENSEK brand, Engr. Uwem Stephen Okoko. The 10th Edition of the outreach, which caters for all forms of ailment and is open for everyone, is currently on at the General Hospital, Iquitaz Oron. So far, the exercise which commenced on Monday, February 12, 2024, has recorded huge successes in 592 Optical cases, 117 Dental cases, treated over 1500 outpatients, handled four Gynaecology cases (1 CS), handled 82 Ear-Nose-Throat cases and 208 Surgeries including cases of fibroid, myomectomy, Lipoma, hysterectomy and excisional biopsy. The event will come to an end on Friday, February 16, 2024. Some of the outreach grounds in the past include the Atan Offot Health Centre, Ituk Mbang General Hospital, the Oruk Anam General Hospital, and the Ikot Abasi General Hospital, where an Ultra-Modern Medical Theatre, christened Stephen Robert Okoko Memorial Theater, was constructed, equipped and donated for public use. Cardinal on the scorecard of the HENSEK outreach is its contribution to improving healthcare access for rural communities. By bringing medical services directly to dwellers of these communities, regardless of their financial status or social, HENSEK bridges the gap between healthcare providers and those in need. Again, through health check-ups, screenings, and awareness campaigns carried out by the HENSEK outreach, individuals have been empowered with knowledge about preventive measures and the importance of early intervention, thus reducing the burden of advanced-stage illnesses and improving overall health outcomes. Still on the scorecard of the HENSEK Free Medical/Surgical Outreach, it is noteworthy to mention that beyond medical treatment, the HENSEK outreach program has empowered communities by fostering a sense of self-reliance and ownership of their health. Through active involvement of host community members in health education sessions and awareness campaigns at every outreach event, HENSEK has instilled a culture of health consciousness and encouraged individuals to take proactive steps towards improving their well-being. The HENSEK Free Medical/Surgical Outreach also goes beyond addressing physical health concerns. It addresses socio-economic disparities that hinder access to healthcare. This is true in the sense that by offering services such as free consultations, medication distribution, and referrals to specialized care, the outreach alleviates the financial burden associated with healthcare expenses, enabling individuals to prioritize their health without facing financial hardship. This, indeed, is an undisputable mark on the scorecard. Another significant benefit of the HENSEK Free Medical/Surgical Outreach is the trust it builds within the community. The commitment of the outreach to community engagement and collaboration has fostered trust between NMA (the healthcare provider) and the communities it serves. Through this community engagement, HENSEK has also cultivated a supportive environment in which individuals feel valued, heard, and understood, thereby strengthening the foundation for sustainable healthcare interventions. So, the scorecard of HENSEK Free Medical/Surgical Outreach is unparalleled. The benefits of the Outreach extend far beyond the realm of healthcare, touching the lives of individuals and communities in profound ways. By championing accessibility, empowerment, and holistic well-being, Engr. Uwem Stephen Okoko, through this programme, exemplifies the transformative power of grassroots initiatives in addressing healthcare disparities and fostering healthier, more resilient communities. As our nation continues to navigate the complexities of healthcare delivery, HENSEK’s unwavering commitment to leaving no one behind in the pursuit of better health for all remains an incredible inspiration.

CONSTITUENTS HONOUR ETTEH WITH GRATITUDE, APPRECIATION

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In a heart-warming display of gratitude, four constituents recently stormed the Osongoma residence of the Member representing Eket/ONNA/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency, Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, to express gratitude to him. Hon. Etteh facilitated their employment as registered Nurses and Midwives in the state. The constituents are Idorenyin Otu Eshiet (Ibeno), Florence Clement Jackson (Esit Eket), Martha Cliff Bassey (Ibeno) and Grace Okon Jeremiah (Esit Eket). Hon. Etteh is the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on University Education. (C) Media Unit