Security Forces Should Never Be Dragged Into Politics – Marilyn Ogar

Marilyn OgarThe Deputy Director, Public Relations, Department of State Service (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, says the job of the DSS is to detect and prevent any threat to the internal security of Nigeria and should not be dragged into the intrigues of rivalry by politicians.

She made this statement while appearing on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, to discuss the series of controversies that have trailed the governorship election in Osun State.

There had been allegations that the DSS operatives on duty during the Osun election showed some excesses in the discharge of their duties, an allegation she was bent on debunking. According to her, while she could understand a political party being bad losers, the Osun matter only meant that bad winners also existed.

She stated that the DSS had not done anything unusual in Osun State, explaining that as a fall-out of the Ekiti election, security reports had revealed that political parties, particularly the PDP and the APC had vowed to outdo each other in the Osun State election and based on security reports, the security agencies “had to deploy adequately to be able to forestall any threat or anything that will pose contrary to free and fair election in Osun State.”

She recalled that the DSS had provided similar security in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, and Ekiti states, but there were only issues in states where the APC lost – Anambra, Ondo and Ekiti states. She, however, wondered why there were still issues in Osun State despite the APC having won the election.

Reacting to a Channels Television interview with the APC Spokesman, Lai Mohammed, which threw up a number of issues, including allegations that the DSS was working against the APC, Ms Ogar presented and read a letter supposedly written by the Governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, addressed to the Director-General of the Department of State Service, requesting for security in the state ahead of the election.

Ms Ogar said, “With or without this letter, it is our statutory responsibility to participate or provide security for all elections in Nigeria.” She added that apart from their own security reports which necessitated the deployment of men, they were backed by their primary responsibility.

Lai Mohammed had also alleged that the men of the SSS drove into Osogbo, the state capital, in 50 trucks conveying masked personnel, who were shooting into the air to scare citizens of the state.

She explained that the so-called masks were the regular hoods worn by the SSS operatives who go on special operation. Likening them to the SWAT of the American FBI, she said that the DSS also has the STAT and wearing of the hood was supposed to prevent eye contact and recognition that could cause compromise in the discharge of their duties, noting that these were men who also carry out other regular assignments.

Ms Ogar explained further that the trucks mentioned by Mr Lai Mohammed had four men each and with a target of deploying two trucks to each of the 30 Local Government Areas in Osun State, it was rational to have such number of men if the state was to be adequately covered.

She also alleged that there had been security reports that the APC had vowed to ensure that the PDP did not win the election in Osun State. The DSS, according to her, had profiled all the thugs in the state and they were arrested with short guns, charms and other weapons, indicating that there were indeed plans to hijack the process, adding that this was not from just one particular party.

On the allegations that the DSS men shot into the air while driving into the state capital, Ms Ogar said that the allegation might not be true as it could be an attempt by the APC Spokesman to drive home a point.

Asked if the DSS partakes in Show of Force, she affirmed that indeed, the era of insurgency in the country and the Service’s fight against terrorism had necessitated the show of force by the DSS when required.

Alleged 14million Naira Offer

It has been reported that the DSS Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, had alleged that a political party offered the Security Service a bribe, leading to the Osun election, and she was asked to name the persons involved, so that they could be prosecuted.

She said that prior to the election, an APC member had invited the DSS Director, who was coordinating the election “to come collect 4million Naira for self and another 10million for the same masked people.

It was an offer and she said no that she didn’t think it was necessary because when it has to do with logistics, as far as the Service is concerned, they would definitely have en-placed everything that would make for a successful operation.

The rejection of that money on Tuesday brought on a lot of things that ordinarily we had not seen before anywhere.”

On the demand for the identity and prosecution of the persons involved, she said, “The duty of the SSS is to detect, prevent and deter” and using the President’s carrot and stick analogy, “It is not every time that you go out arresting people.”

She said further, “If this same process has been turned down when it had to do with other political parties, and they never took offense, why is it that the APC is taking offense? For me, its like pre-empting and presuming that ‘maybe this people are going to go to town with this stuff so we must be able to cow them to a point where they would be unable to expose what we were trying to do’.

The person that made the offer knows himself and he knows that we know him.” She insisted that security agencies should not be dragged into politics.

She also clarified the issue surrounding the 14million Naira offer and being referred to as “bribe”.

I’m sure the people that were doing the offering didn’t see it as a bribe, and I had never mentioned the word bribe. The media has used the word bribe in order to make it sensational.

I could make you an offer and say this would assist you in what you are doing. Its either you take it or you refuse.

I did say here that they offered us money to assist us and we said no.”

She added that if indeed the DSS was not accommodating to all parties involved in the election, “the Executive Governor of Osun State wouldn’t have written inviting us to come.”

Ebola Virus: Expert Says Healthy Lifestyle Can Build Immunity

Ebola_virus_Medical_expertA Medical Virologist, Dr. Deborah Ehichioya, has provided more insight into the Ebola virus and advised Nigerians on embracing the healthy lifestyle as a way to combat the virus and reduce its devastating effect.

The doctor, who was part of the team that worked on the specimen of the Liberian, Mr Sawyer, who died of the Ebola virus in Nigeria in July, was on the Thursday edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily to speak about ways of preventing and managing the disease.

Having explained the processes involved in discovering the virus from the suspected specimen of the late Liberian, she reiterated that once the infection sets in and is replicated on the rest of the body system, then definitely one can contract it if in contact with body fluids.

She, however, noted that the incubation period of 2 to 21 days depends on the individual carrier’s level of immunity as it is possible to get symptoms as early as the first two days of infection if the immunity of the carrier is already compromised. The implication of this is that the disease can be spread through such persons much faster.

Dr. Ehichioya stated that the most important thing would be to start surveillance immediately anyone comes in contact with a confirmed victim of the virus, adding also that the process of isolation requires that the patients are constantly tested.

On what to do when one is aware that he may have been in contact with the virus, Dr. Ehichioya advised that one checks into an hospital voluntarily and reveal the type of contact, how long ago the contact was made and be ready to be quarantined, as such person, ideally, should not be allowed to go out again.

She added that a strong immune system has been proven to be a good way for the human body to combat any virus and Nigerians should embrace the healthy lifestyle to boost their immunity. She recommended healthy diet, exercise, staying away from alcohol and tobacco, as ways to boost one’s immunity as this would stretch the incubation period for the virus and give the infected person the grace of more time to be treated before falling ill .

On the chances of having more survivors, she explained that Intensive Supportive Care is a process of treating, individually, the different symptoms like vomiting, fever and diarrhea, that show up on the patients as a result of the Ebola infection and this has been the only process that has led to the survival of some lucky patients.

Referring to the Ebola virus as a Level 4 pathogen, which some Nigerian medical facilities have the capacity to detect, based on the experiences of handling the similar Lassa virus, she said that Nigeria only needs to upgrade some of its medical facilities to be able to deal with the Ebola virus.

She, however, did not rule out the possibility of the unapproved ZMapp being the solution to the virus, but also reiterated the need for the country to beef up the capacity of its special disease control centres to be able to handle situations like the Ebola.

She asked for the help of all Nigerians to combat the virus as medical practitioners cannot do it without the support of the citizens through better communication, prompt reporting of contacts and suspected cases, adherence to safety precautions, and avoidance of alarming or hyped messages capable of causing panic.

She also urged Nigerians to pray as Ebola is “a plague that God can take out” of the land.

Dr. Deborah Ehichioya is the Head of Virology Unit of the World Bank funded African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemers’ University.

INEC Holds Enlarged Election Stakeholders Forum In Delta

INEC bannerIn preparation for the conduct of a hitch free and credible general elections in 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has convened an Enlarged Election Stakeholders Forum in Asaba, Delta state.

Speaking at the meeting, which was attended by all political parties, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the state, the Delta Resident Electoral Commissioner, Gesila Khan, said that INEC has put every machinery in place ahead of the 2015 elections.

The REC emphasized that the Commission has embarked on a tour of all political party offices to sensitize them on the pending electoral activities, which include the distribution of Permanent Voters’ card, continous voters’ registration exercise and election procedures.

The Enlarged Election Stakeholders Forum, which witnessed a large turn out, gave room for cross fertilization of ideas between INEC and majority of the stakeholders.

The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Gesila Khan, said that the meeting was a deliberate policy of the Commission to keep its strategic election stakeholders abreast of its plans so that they could buy into the various programmes and help drive them deep down the grassroots.

The various stakeholders, who spoke at the Enlarged Election Stakeholders Forum, observed that although the meeting was a welcome development, the time frame issued by INEC for the voters’ registration exercise was too short.

They, therefore, appealed for an extension of time to enable the electorates participate fully in the election, to allow political parties prepare extensively for the forthcoming elections.

While giving assurance that INEC would do everything possible to make the exercise smooth and hitch free, the Commission has taken delivery of the the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) meant for the registered voter in Delta State.

Judiciary Workers Resume Work

courtJudiciary staff workers resumed at their duty posts on Monday after an industrial action which lasted 21 days.

The workers had downed tools following a directive from their union leaders in protest against the refusal of state governments to obey a court order that would guarantee the financial independence of the judiciary.

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on January 13, had directed that all allocations meant for the state judiciary should be paid directly to the heads of state courts.

Channels Television visited some courts across the country and though the turn out in most of the courts was still very low owing also to the fact that most workers had proceeded on their annual vacation, those who resumed said that they were happy to be back at work.

A visit to the state judiciary headquarters located at the Isabo area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, showed that some workers were back at their duty posts. The Chief Registrar of the state judiciary, Mr Olusola Oloyede said that the workers were happy about the suspension of the strike.

The Deputy National President of the Judiciary Staff Union, Mr Samuel Adesanya, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Ogun State chapter of the union was however, quick to point out that the suspension was only temporary and the workers were ready to take further steps if Government defaults on the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the workers, agreeing to meet their demands within 45 working days.

The courts in Lagos, which have the busiest workloads also opened for business and in Abia State, a few workers turned up at the High Court complex located along Ikot-Ekpene Road, in Umuahia.

At the moment, those who have resumed would attend to urgent cases and assign hearing dates for other cases. The courts are expected to fully come alive by September, when a new legal year would commence and those away would return from the annual vacation.

No Action From Shell On Ogoniland Pollution

ShellShell have done almost nothing to ease oil pollution in the Ogoniland area of the Niger Delta, three years after a landmark UN report called for a $1 billion dollar clean-up.

This is part of the report released by Amnesty International on Monday.

A United Nations report in 2011 had accused the Government and oil major, Shell of profiting from decades of crude production which have left the people with nothing but land too polluted for farming or fishing.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report had recommended a major clean up of the area and called on the oil industry and Nigerian Government to contribute $1 billion.

According to Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International, Shell has so far escaped the necessity to clean up the damage it has caused.

Amnesty International says although Shell staff returned to Ogoniland in April of 2013, for the first time in two decades to study how best to decommission their decaying assets in the region, a move the company described as a key step in complying with the UNEP report, there was no evidence that the company was serious about actually cleaning up the area.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, pumping out roughly two million barrels per day.

TB Joshua Denies Ebola Victims’ Visit To His Church

T.B JoshuaA team led by the Lagos State Commissioner For Health, Dr. Jide Idris, met on Sunday with the General Overseer of the Synagogue Church For All Nation, Pastor T.B Joshua.

The meeting became expedient following rumours of possible carriers of the Ebola Virus visiting the church which is fared for healing and miracles and attracts visitors from within and outside the country.

Pastor T.B Joshua denied such allegation, saying that there was no such in his church.

Meanwhile, the state’s Health Commissioner has advised that the disease was deadly and the cooperation of all was needed to assist Government curb the spread of the virus.

He noted that as the Lagos State Government continues to take measures to curtail any possible spread of Ebola disease in the state, religious leaders have an important role to play based on their influence on their congregations.

NMA Fails To Reach A Decision Over Strike

NMA-logoThe Nigerian Medical Association is yet to reach a decision over whether or not to call off the ongoing strike by doctors working for the Federal Government.

The leadership of the association sat in a meeting lasting several hours at their headquarters in Abuja on Sunday but could not agree on the update to give to journalist who waited for a briefing.

The representative for the NMA told journalists that the association was yet to fine-tune several issues that would determine what their next line of action would be.

He said that an update would be given to the media in 48 hours at which time all disparity would have been settled.

Medical services in public hospitals across Nigeria have been shut down by medical doctors since July 1, leaving many patients who turn up for appointments hopeless.

The Nigerian Medical Association, among other things, demanded the immediate passage of the National Health Bill, appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation, the payment of 100,000 Naira hazard allowance for medical doctors and the skipping of level twelve by medical and dental practitioners.

Fashola Mourns Passage Of Ayangburen Of Ikorodu

Gov Fashola22The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Saturday, described as shocking, the passage of the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Salaudeen Oyefusi, at the weekend.

Reacting to the sad occurrence, Governor Fashola described the late Oba, who was Vice Chairman of the Lagos State Council of Obas and Chiefs, as an epitome of discipline and integrity, who loved his people and the state.

He said that the state would sorely miss the royal father and national merit award winner, who had contributed immensely to the development of the country, the state and the Ikorodu community.

Governor Fashola noted that the death of the paramount ruler, coming at this time, would surely rob the state of the great contributions and wisdom of the very humane monarch, who carried the interest of the state above all other considerations till he breathed his last.

He prayed for the peaceful repose of the soul of the paramount ruler and for the Almighty God to grant the family he left behind, as well as his subjects and indeed the entire Ikorodu Community, the fortitude to bear the loss

Aregbesola Is The Best Thing To Happen To Osun – Adeyeye

Sola AdeyeyeThe Director-General of the Osun APC Campaign Organisation, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, has said that the Governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, has shown, with his performances, that he is the best thing ever to happen to the state.

He was on Politics Today on Channels Television, where he enumerated several developments in the state as it prepares for its governorship election slated for August 9, 2014.

He said that the evidence of a serious governor had become noticeable right from the boundary of Osun with Oyo State, as the quality of life has generally improved for the citizens of the state.

With emphasis on the youths of the state, he noted that as regards employment, the Governor has been able to create a scheme that is better than the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by engaging the youths in jobs that are beneficial to the environment and by paying attention to training and development.

‘State of Osun’

In response to critics, Prof. Adeyeye also defended the Governor’s decision to change the nomenclature of the state from the regular Osun State to ‘The State of Osun’, claiming that the decision to stand out was the beauty of federalism.

There had been the impression that the citizens of the state were not consulted in the decision to rearrange the name the state, but he debunked the claim, insisting that the people of Osun were overwhelmingly in support of their Governor. He added that those criticizing the re-branding move were only chasing shadows.

Having recalled that the launch of the Osun flag was also criticized for having a cowrie, he said that any criticism of the ideas of the Governor, or a demand for change would only be valid if it came from the citizens and not from mischief makers, who while covering their own acts of idolatry, have decided to “demonise” the Governor, who is a devoted Muslim promoting the state’s culture.

Adeyeye believes that based on his performance in the State of Osun, Governor Aregbesola deserves to be scored 95% . “You judge a man for what he has done by the magnitude of his resources”, he said, explaining that without being an oil producing state, the development in the state has been unprecedented.

He also took a swipe at President Jonathan for promising during campaigns to help states when they vote for his party. He condemned the statement which he said implied that he (President) would only develop states governed by the PDP.

Education Policy

On education, he noted that prior to the governorship of Aregbesola, Osun State had been in the last position in the country based on the performances of its students in NECO exams, but by 2012, one year into his leadership, Osun placed 18th, and in addition to this, he has also achieved a 62% increase in primary school enrolment in the state.

The Professor of Biology also provided explanations for the state’s widely criticized inability to pay its workers’ salaries at some point. He gave an insight into the financial challenges of the state and how the Governor was able to resolve the challenges.

Opon Imo, which is the state’s attempt to use Information and Communication Technology to enhance the learning process in its schools, has been alleged to be a scam for having an 80% error rate, leading to its withdrawal, and Prof Adeyeye said that this was a lie.

He revealed that the tablet, which was given the indigenous name, Opon Imo, was a digital device that contained a compilation of educational books by Evans Publishers and if there were errors in the printed version of those books they would be carried into the digital form and this should not be blamed on the State Government’s idea.

He went ahead to explain the rationale behind the Governor’s efforts in the education sector, especially the restructuring of schools in the state, which included the nonavailability of enough teachers for important subjects and this necessitated some mergers.

He also debunked allegations that the contract for the Osun schools uniforms was executed by the wife of the Governor. He explained that a Lagos based company, Sam and Sarah, handled the contract because they provided the best bid and showed the capacity to do a good job.

He revealed that the company also got some funding from the Bank of Industry to execute the project and this led to a branch of the company being built in Osun State based on the Governor’s insistence that the project must benefit the state by way of creating jobs for the citizens. He added that the company remained 100% owned by its original owners and has nothing to do with the wife of the Governor.

He maintained that the allegations against the Governor were baseless as all he had done was in the interest of the people.

On Governor Aregbesola’s manifesto for his re-election bid, Professor Adeyeye stated that the Governor’s vision for the second term was a complete transformation of the education sector, the development of a new Ile-Ife town and more infrastructural development for the people.

He promised that by the time the Aregbesola leadership rounds off its second term, the state would have experienced a total transformation.

Nominees Of Future Awards And Summit Share Experience

Safe SchoolThe United States Consulate recently hosted the nominees of The Future Africa Awards & Summit 2014 to an exclusive reception in Lagos, Nigeria and two of the nominees were on the Sunday August 3 edition of Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television.

Founder, Stay In School Initiative, Tricia Ikponmwonba, and Founder, Access Drive Nigeria, Adeniyi Olokun, were in the studio to discuss their programmes and efforts at offering support.

Tricia Ikponmwonba noted that her initiative which is financed from individual funds, is focused on education intervention project, were they try to create education opportunities for disadvantaged children within rural communities in urban centres.

Explaining the rationale behind her initiative, she said, “we are in communities people do not focus on, and there are many children who are out of school within (ages) 5 and 14 in these communities”. One of the activities include a public fund raising which is a charity celebrity football match where individuals pay to watch.

The program, which has been running for 1 year and 7 months, has been able to send about 200 children to school.

Mr Adeniyi Olokun’s initiative ensures the facilitation of ICT laboratories in schools and the training of the students to be proper computer literates.Future Awards

Adeniyi believes that ICT is a platform that can help in the development of individuals and is important in the development of every child.

In collaboration with Leapfrog Institute, he is working with the Office of the Special Adviser to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology to ensure that they put ICT laboratories in schools across the 6 geopolitical zones.

This is in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal and the project would be piloted with the centre in Oyo State.

On his greatest challenges, Niyi says blockage created by schools were there is need to get approval from the government before one could proceed had been frustrating.

Tricia, however, says her major challenge has been the parents who bank on their children for financial support.

Both guests also shared their special drive. Tricia spoke about her experience during the last Children’s Day celebration held in Abuja, were a widowed woman, who valued what they had done for two of four children, wept and prayed for the organisation.

For Adeniyi, the recent Post UTME exam, which was a computerized exam, recalled massive failure as a result of the students’ low level of familiarity with the system. He has promised to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

Jonathan Arrives In Washington, Gets Rousing Reception

Jonathan_Washington1President Goodluck Jonathan has arrived in Washington DC to participate in a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit, with a rousing reception from some Nigerians in the US.

He was received by a group of Nigerians in Washington before checking in in his hotel.

The presidential jet touched the grounds at about 8.o’clock in the morning in Washington. There was no airport ceremony but at the President’s hotel, a group of Nigerians were already waiting to give him a rousing reception.

The President promised the Nigerians, who were singing and chanting the National Anthem to welcome him, that he would do his best to take the nation to the next level.

He told them that he was doing everything possible to make Nigeria a comfortable place to live in.

Speaking to Channels Television on the President’s itinerary, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, dispelled the rumours making the rounds that the President has been indisposed.

Jonathan_Washington

He said that the trip to Washington would further deepen the relationship with the United States.

He also debunked reports that Nigerians on the trip would be tested for Ebola virus, describing it as untrue.

President Jonathan is joined by about 50 other participating African leaders for discussions that are expected to lead to greater progress in key areas such as expanding trade and investment ties,  promoting inclusive sustainable development and expanding cooperation on peace and security.