It was all tears and mourning in Enugukwu in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra state where a fire engulfed corpses and destroyed property at the mortuary of the General Hospital within the community.
About 50 corpses were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in the fire which started at about 6pm on Saturday, December 29.
Families and relatives who deposited their loved ones were left in shock following the incident, which to many still remain a mystery as no explanations were given as to the cause of the inferno at the mortuary.
There were speculations that due to the harmattan period, the fire might have stemmed from a bush burning nearby and had grown extremely wild due to the chemicals used at the mortuary for the preservation of corpses.
A spokesperson for the police command, SP Haruna Mohammed confirmed the incident and appealed to the people to remain calm, noting that investigations were already underway.
While admitting that the cause of the fire is still unknown, Haruna assured the people that the command will ensure that “No stone will be left unturned in order to unravel the mystery behind the incident whether it is natural or manmade.
Meanwhile, Anambra state Governor, Willie Obiano, has visited the scene of the Enugwukwu General Hospital Mortuary fire disaster to see things as they really are on the ground.
He was accompanied by the state commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike, senior police officers and other stakeholders.
The governor upon rounding off inspection of the site condoled with families affected and reassured them of his commitment to unravelling the mystery behind the fire outbreak.
Obiano announced that a committee will be set up to look into the incident.
Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has commended Governor Willie Obiano for deploying his wealth of experience and administrative skills in the growth and development of Anambra state within his short period in government.
Mr Sanusi gave the commendation during his visit to Anambra for a private engagement.
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who was once a colleague of Mr Obiano, noted that the governor distinguished himself even in the sector, resulting to their continued friendship.
He therefore prayed for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming governorship election in the state adding that Anambra under Governor Obiano will continue to make progress.
Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador, Mr Stuart Symington, also paid a visit to the governor where he assured him of the support of the U.S, especially in the areas of agriculture, health, education and industrialisation.
“Working together as one, we can do anything including resolving all those challenges you are facing in security, resolving all those challenges you face in food production and resolving every other challenges that you face that put people away.
“So it is a great privilege to meet your governor, it’s wonderful to meet your commissioners and your team and to have the chance to come once again to this very important part of Nigeria,” Mr Symington stated.
A nine man Special Commission on Human Rights Violation Committee set up by the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, was in Anambra state on a fact finding mission, to ascertain the roles played by the Military during protests by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in 2016.
Governor Willie Obiano received them at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, and listened to the leader of the team, Retired Major General Tijani Ahmed, briefing him on their mission.
Mr Ahmed explained that based on the accusations leveled against the Nigerian Army by the Amnesty International of violating human rights and committing war crimes in their dealing with insurgents in the northeast, Militants in the Niger Delta and IPOB in the southeast, the Chief of Army Staff had set up the committee to find out the truth or otherwise of the allegations.
He said, “The allegations made round the media, in the papers and specifically, the one that was made prominent was the one by the Amnesty International where allegations of extrajudicial killing, forced disappearance, torture and all manner of allegations were made against the soldiers.
“That’s why the Chief of Army Staff set up this committee to investigate and find out exactly what happened”.
For Governor Willie Obiano, there would not have been issues with the peaceful protests of the activist but for the hijacking of the exercise by hoodlums that wreaked havoc.
He suggested to the committees to reach out to the then Commissioner of Police who is now the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone Nine, Mr Hassan Karma and Colonel Isah Abdullahi, who was the then Commandant of 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, for the full details of all that happened in which officially, no death was communicated to him.
According to Obiano, “When you start some exercise, if you are not careful, it will be hijacked and when it is hijacked, it will change complexion from what was originally planned.
“So both IPOB and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), in my view, they comported themselves very well, but the challenge is that we have these hoodlums, we are talking about that joined the match and tried to use the opportunity to loot and do other things.
“I’m sure in the course of your investigation you will get all the details”.
In recognition of agents of critical change in peoples’ history and socio-economic progress, the Anambra state government has revived 10 pop music groups that were famous in the 1970s for a musical concert set to hold during the 2017 Easter celebration.
Flagging off the publicity for the upcoming event at the governor’s lodge, Amawbia, Governor Willie Obiano said the pop and funk group contributed immensely in invigorating the Igbo spirit downcast by the ravages of war through a profoundly creative music.
He believes that reviving the music and the artists over 40 years after, would help connect the past to the present as well as inspire the new generation that hard work never dies and will be rewarded no matter how long it takes.
He said the groups have almost faded out of public consciousness but their music still holds a strong appeal.
It is for this reason that he decided that for those artists still alive, it was time to bring about a sentimental return of them to the present generation and reward their youthful hard work in their old age.
He expressed excitement over the upcoming event and assured them of his presence during the live concert.
“I’m very happy to receive these great musicians of old. Most of them were playing when I was in the secondary school and some may be in my primary school even.”
Addressing journalists, the Senior Special Assistant on Creative Media, Bob Manuel Udokwu and the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr Willie Nwokoye, said the concert, themed: ‘The Resurrection Show’, would be an awakening of the past.
The artistes on the other hand, were filled with gratitude ahead of the April 16 event.
The highlight of the occasion was the unveiling of the ten pop star groups among with were: One World, Sweet Breeze, Apostles, Wings, Funkees, Aktion, Foundars 15, Semi-colon, Wrinkas Experience and Soky Ohale, in addition to that, was the handover of 50 per cent of the contract fees.
Ahead of the November 18 Gubernatorial election in Anambra state, the apex socio-political organisation of the people of Anambra north senatorial zone, Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA), has taken a unanimous decision not to go to the polls with multiple candidates, but to stick with the present administration of Governor Willie Obiano for continuity.
In a massively attended meeting at Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state, the entire assembly from the seven Local Government Areas of Anambra north, led by Emmanuel Achike and assisted by the former Minster of Health, Dr. Tim Menakaya, endorsed and declared the governor as their choice and sole candidate for the election and urged other senatorial zones to support them in their own interest.
In the history of governance in Anambra state, the Central senatorial zone has had the opportunity of occupying the seat of Anambra state government for 11 years, the south senatorial zone for six years and six months and the North senatorial zone for the very first time.
ANPA, irrespective of political leaning, had gathered and taken a unanimous decision to allow the present administration to continue based on a wide consultation made in the seven Local Government Areas that make up Anambra North Senatorial Zone.
Speeches by the Chairman, Elder Emmanuel Achike and his assistant, Dr. Tim Menakaya set the meeting on course in which the conviction of continuity became high for the present administration of Governor Willie Obiano.
Member representing Ogbaru (II) constituency, Mr Somtochukwu Udeze, read out the report of the fact finding committee which was adopted by the whole House as a working document for the upcoming election.
“It is a general consensus that Anambra North should retain power for another four years so as to complete the maximum of eight years in office which will see that the circle of equity be completed as other senatorial zones have enjoyed the same in the past. It was a general conviction that Anambra North has to win the forthcoming 2017 gubernatorial election.”
Member representing Oyi/Ayamelum, Gabriel Onyenwife and a former Senatorial candidate for Anambra North Senatorial Zone, Dr. Mike Areh took the bull by the horn to appeal to the conscience of the people on continuity and urged them to consider the monumental achievements of the governor and stick to him for the coming polls.
The motion for endorsement of Governor Willie Obiano as the sole candidate of Anambra North people was moved as the people affirmed that Obiano was found as the best option and worthy to pilot the affairs of the state for another four years on completion of the present tenure.
A former senator representing Anambra East and West, Mr Emma Anosike among other persons who reacted to the endorsement noted that until Governor Obiano says he would not run, that would be the only time the zone would search another.
The meeting then came to an end with an appeal from members of ANPA, calling on other senatorial zones to support the idea for equity and fairness.
It is cheery news for Governor Willie Obiano as the Senate assures him of its commitment to ensuring that he is refunded the 43 billion naira spent by Anambra State government on rehabilitation and reconstruction of federal roads in the state.
The Senate Committee on Works, led by Senator Kabiru Gaya also vowed to ensure that other state governors who have done same get their repayment, saying the funds were captured in the 2016 budget which is being executed.
The 8-man committee made the pledge on Tuesday during an inspection visit to the site of some federal infrastructure in the state in southeast Nigeria.
Senator Gaya doused Governor Obiano’s concerns on the Second Niger Bridge Project in which the chairman blamed the delay in execution on the contractors.
He also commended the Governor for the good condition of roads and the beautification of the state, giving assurance of hope for the Enugu-Onitsha expressway rehabilitation.
Gaya noted that the major priority of the present administration was to ensure good network of roads among states and zones for effective movement and socio-economic development.
In his response, Obiano commended the lawmakers for the visit, especially for raising hopes on the refund of the money owed the state.
He appealed to the committee and the Federal Government for consideration of more federal roads like the Umueze Anam- Kogi road and Nnewi-Okigwe road among others, to boost economic and social development in the state.
Over 10,000 clergymen, men, women, youths and children of the Anglican Communion family, have gathered to seek God’s intervention in the face of the numerous challenges facing the country.
The 2016 Anglican Prayer Rally held at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, pulled people from the nine dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger.
The prayer led by the Archbishop of the Province of the Niger and Bishop of Aguata Diocese Anambra, Most Reverend Christian Efobi, also sought God’s wisdom and direction, on behalf of the leaders of the country.
Prayers were equally said for the church to continue to wax stronger in the face of tribulation and temptations.
Delivering a sermon on the topic, “Prayer for Boldness,” the Bishop of Mbamili Diocese, Right Reverend Henry Okeke, taking a biblical perspective, urged the church to embrace prayers in the face of challenges.
He said, “all we need is boldness to speak, because it is in the hands of God to take care of the enemies.
“When He directs us on how to pray, He is the bulldozer. The early Christians understood this and that was why they never joked with prayers.”
The State Head of Service, Mr. Harry Udu, who represented Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, noted that, “Nigeria presently needs prayers to survive its challenges.”
Mr Udu said that Nigerians were facing a lot of difficulties presently and speaking of Anambra state, he said “we realized that there is a connection between prayer and good governance and that is why we support everything the church is doing, because without God all is in vain.”
He stated that the present economic recession in the country had resurrected a lot of crimes which according to him, Governor Obiano however circumvented in Anambra by introducing an economic stimulus package to cushion the effect of recession on the people and also ensured that workers’ salaries were paid promptly.
Speaking on the importance of the programme, which was instituted three years ago, the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Right Reverend Alex Ibezim said that it was aimed at seeking God’s intervention during difficult times such as the current economic recession.
Bishop Ibezim noted that, “not only that prayer is important, prayer energizes us in order to fall into the perfect will of God.”
He decried the increased suffering in the country, the high level poverty and untold hardship that had held the poor masses down, “look at the rate of poverty, things are very hard.
“A bag of rice is twenty five thousand Naira, will mothers be able to feed their children?.”
Furthermore, the bishop called on the leaders of the nation to ensure that the infrastructural developments they embark on were the ones that would benefit the poor masses.
“I use this time also to call upon leadership to think about the things that will touch the poor people because the poor people in this country are suffering.
“Let them forget about maybe building of airports, they should construct the roads. 90% of the people move on the roads,” the bishop said
He concluded that it was a miracle that most Nigerians were still alive in the face of acute hunger, inflation and scarcity of money and food.
Similarly, Reverend Okeke, pointed out the fact that the present challenge in the country is beyond the leaders because “they are also human beings”.
With the next prayer rally being fixed for November 4, 2017, he as well as the people expressed hopes that the country would overcome the hard times as soon as possible and would return with thanksgiving.
The leadership of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has debunked the claims of its Southeast Zone Vice Chairman, Ozo Okafor, that he presided over a meeting of the National Working Committee to ratify the purported suspension of the National Chairman, Victor Oye.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Ifeatu Obi-Okoye, made the clarification while addressing the press on the matter in Awka, Anambra state capital.
He explained that Mr Okafor as a zonal vice chairman of the party does not have the constitutional powers to either convene or preside over the meeting of the National Working Committee of APGA.
He maintained that members of the NWC remained committed to the resolutions reached at the peace meeting convened by the National Leader and Chairman of Board of Trustees, Governor Willie Obiano, on October 13, 2016.
According to him, during that meeting, members of the NWC collectively committed themselves to the continued growth and development of the party under the leadership of Mr Victor Oye as the National Chairman.
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has assured the people of Akpo community in Aguata Local Government Area of his commitment to tackling some of the critical infrastructural projects in the community.
He believes such projects will make life more meaningful for them, but said it would begin as soon as the Federal Government released the 4.5 billion Naira it owed the state.
The Governor spoke on Saturday during the grand reception organised for him by the Akpo people where they also give an overwhelming endorsement to his leadership style and pledged their support for the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
They said his political party was the vehicle for onward transformation of Anambra state beyond the governor’s first term in office.
It was like a homecoming for Governor Obiano, when he arrived in Akpo community.
Exchange of pleasantries with the chieftains of the APGA was a spectacle to behold, as happiness and laughter flowed freely.
The excited traditional ruler, red cap chiefs and the members of the community, who trooped out in their hundreds to welcome the Governor in his maiden visit to their community also enjoyed a fair share of handshakes of love from him.
Traditional dancers and Akpo Choir with a special anthem also joined in welcoming the Governor.
In an address of welcome, the President General of the town, Mr Godwin Ezeno, congratulated the Governor for the mile stones he had achieved in his quest to transform Anambra State within two years as well the vigour with which he had pursued his four administrative blueprint of Agriculture, trade and commerce, oil and gas and industrialisation.
For this, they endorsed him as the best and pledge loyalty and support for him and APGA, as the 2017 governorship election in the state approaches.
The people appealed to the Governor for intervention in road construction, renovation of the community’s secondary school, rural electrification, as well as government appointments.
They showered the Governor with gifts and for a practical show and proof of support to the Governor by Akpo people, a certificate of endorsement was also presented to the Governor.
The highly elated Governor assured Akpo community of his commitment to ensuring that immediate intervention came in road infrastructure and the renovation of their school as soon as the Federal Government released monies it owed the state.
Governor Obiano commended the residents of the community for choosing agriculture and for the 20 million Naira project the state government would undertake in each of the 177 communities of Anambra state.
In his reaction to the development, the former National Chairman of APGA, Victor Umeh, expressed joy at the turn of event in Anambra State and said it was a clear indication that APGA government was working to bring the dividends of democracy to the people which is commendable.
The Akpo community declaration of support for Governor Willie Obiano and APGA is coming on the heels of several other communities’ declarations which have positive implication on the fortunes of the present administration as the 2017 governorship election beckons in Anambra state.
The Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers say they are determined to contribute their quota in efforts to break the bounds of mono-economy and shift focus to a broadly creative, self-generating and diversified economy in the state.
The monarchs are optimistic that the step taken by the Council would enable them meet the varied needs of their various communities and that of the entire state population.
It was a decision made at their fifth annual seminar held at their Secretariat Complex within the Government House in Awka, the Anambra State capital in southeast Nigeria.
The theme of the discourse was “Diversification of the Nigerian Economy; a Sine Qua Non for Sustainable Socio-Economic Stability and Growth”.
Mechanised And Commercial Agriculture
Addressing the assembly, Governor Willie Obiano, represented by his deputy, Nkem Okeke, proposed industrialisation and agriculture, as the solution to the challenges of depreciating currency, dwindling national Gross Domestic Product and the sharp rise in the suffering of Nigerians.
Mr Okeke, who commended the organisers for their choice of the theme, highlighted the efforts of the government in agriculture.
He reiterated the commitment of the government to pursuing mechanised and commercial agriculture, saying that huge investment has been made in establishing industrial farms in over five communities in the state.
In their various remarks, the former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; as well as the Chairman of the Council and Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, urged the people of the state to develop interest in agriculture and investment.
The Obi of Onitsha further called for conscious effort to be made by all traditional rulers of the 179 communities, to ensure that their subjects key into the vision of the state government in the area of agriculture and industrialisation.