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Expect completion of more abandoned projects in Niger Delta – Akwa

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From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Interim Administrator, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Akwa, has asked youths and other stakeholders to expect the completion of more abandoned projects within the region in the New Year.

Akwa in a zoom meeting that had hundreds of stakeholders from the nine states of the Niger Delta and the Diaspora in attendance, said the NDDC under the supervision of the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, would complete and inaugurate abandoned power projects, hostels among others.

Akwa, who was represented at the meeting by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Udengs Eradiri, particularly harped on the completion of the transmission substation in the Okitipupa area of Ondo State.

He said when completed, the transmission station would provide power to over 2000 communities across six local government areas of Ondo State.

Akwa at the virtual meeting, which was described by participants as commendable, said efforts would be made to finish another power transmission line in the Ikot Abasi area of Akwa Ibom State.

He said more hostels would be completed in line with the mandate given to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari to finish abandoned people-oriented projects and put them to use.

The NDDC boss also said the commission would make efforts to complete the abandoned hostels at the Niger Delta University (NDU), Bayelsa State.

He said the NDDC would build a replica of Lagos State’s boat terminals in the Niger Delta to facilitate maritime transport and urged the youths to get ready for sports festivals and talent hunts in the New Year.

He heaped encomiums on Buhari and Akpabio for their leadership style saying 2021 was the first time the NDDC completed and inaugurated three massive projects in a single year.

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He named the completed projects as the corporate headquarters of the commission in Port Harcourt abandoned for over 20 years; office and residential complex for the police Special Protection Unit (SPU) in Omagwa, Rivers and the over 1050-bed hostel in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Among other activities, Akwa said the commission last year engaged governors of the region; distributed yellow fever vaccines, waste disposal trucks to states; trained over 1000 in ICT; distributed science equipment, e-learning tablets and desks to secondary schools and ensured prompt payment of staff salaries.

‘This year more hostels will be completed because we are looking at projects that directly impact the lives of the people of the region. We are going to be building boat terminals in the region,’ he said.

‘It is difficult for people to go to the waterfront and have somewhere they can go and relax, buy tickets and board their boats in the Niger Delta. But if you go to Lagos, you will see boat terminals in most areas in Lagos. That kind of terminal is what we will be bringing in.

‘Soon, we should be inaugurating the power project in Ondo State that is meant to power six local government areas. There is another power project in Eket and it will be concluded.

‘During the forensic audit, it was discovered that the NDDC had a lot of equipment abandoned in the ports for years. And we have put machinery in place to get the equipment and ensure the other power projects are completed.’

Akwa called for the support of the youths and other stakeholders to enable NDDC to deliver on the mandate of President Buhari.

Most of the youths, who spoke during the meeting, commended Akwa for continually engaging them, saying the meeting was the third in a series since he took over the commission.

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Kalu meets Abdulsalami Abubakar

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Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, on Saturday night paid a private visit to former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

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Kalu who made the announcement through his verified Facebook page, revealed that his discussion with the former president centered on national issues and peaceful coexistence of Nigeria.
He wrote: “ Tonight, I paid a visit to the former President of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, to greet him for the new year. We also discussed major national affairs and peaceful coexistence of our nation.”

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Lagos police arrest NURTW members amid calls for ban

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By Moses Omorogieva/Lagos

The Police Command in Lagos State on Saturday said that its men arrested some members of the National Union of Transport Workers ( NURTW) who clashed on Lagos Island on Friday.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) , CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday.

Ajisebutu did not mention how many people were arrested and where they were being detained.

He added that normalcy had returned to the Island as more operatives had been deployed there.
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“The police have quelled the crisis. Sufficient facilities were deployed in the area immediately we received a distress call and normalcy was restored.

”Investigation into the crisis is ongoing,” he said.

Two factions of the NURTW clashed over the control of some motor parks on the Island on Friday.

The videos of the clash went viral showing the hoodlums using dangerous weapons against each other

The arrests come amid call by Accord Party for a ban on the notorious union in Lagos.

Lagos State chapter of the Accord Party called on Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to proscribe the union following repeated violence by its members.

The Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Dele Oladeji, in a statement on Saturday called on Sanwo-Olu to tame the members of the NURTW by proscribing the union with immediate effect.

“Again, the members of the NURTW were enmeshed in a deadly fight on Lagos Island which was reported to have resulted in the untimely death of some four youths.

“This deadly clash created a security scare, in which innocent and hardworking residents of Lagos had to scamper into shops, crevices, under table and inside gutters for dear lives.

“Many rushed into shops and were locked in with the shop owners, just to stay away from stray bullets or being caught up in the fracas.

“Traders were forced to shutdown their businesses, which led to the loss of transactions running into billions of naira.

“We advise the Lagos State governor to, with immediate effect, proscribe the NURTW for a peaceful and safe Lagos city.”

The spokesman said that the recent violence was one too many among the members of the NURTW in Lagos State.

Oladeji said that though members of the union were always in the habit of killing themselves during such fracas, their action had always defied the security set up in Lagos State and had always created a state of insecurity among residents.

“Ask an average resident of Lagos, and they will tell you they live and commute in utter fright of these ‘union boys’ daily on the streets and roads.

“Gov. Sanwo-Olu should rise up in service to residents of the state and proscribed these lawless group for a safer Lagos State,” he added.

He said that NURTW factions were known to frequently engage in free-for-all over power tussles at different locations and parks.

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Pakistan proud of pig-to-human heart transplant pioneer

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Friends and former classmates of the Pakistan-born surgeon behind the world’s first pig-to-human heart transplant say they earmarked him for greatness from his medical school days.

Karachi-born Muhammad Mansoor Mohiuddin made headlines last week as the co-founder of the US university programme that successfully transplanted the heart of a genetically modified pig into a gravely ill American man.

While hailed as a medical breakthrough, the procedure also raised ethical questions — particularly among some Jews and Muslims, who consider pigs to be unclean and avoid pork products.

None of that worried Mohiuddin’s friends and former colleagues in Pakistan, who remember him as an ace student with a passion for medicine.

“He would be so interested, always there, always available and always ready to get involved in surgery,” said Muneer Amanullah, a specialist who attended Karachi’s Dow Medical College with Mohiuddin in the 1980s.

College vice-chancellor Muhammad Saeed Qureshi said pride in Mohiuddin’s achievement had flooded the campus.

“There was exhilaration that this has been done by a graduate from this college,” he told AFP.

Mohiuddin was quick to share the limelight with a team of 50 from the University of Maryland Medical School.

“They were all experts of their respective fields,” he told AFP by phone.

“They are the best surgeons, the best physicians, the best anaesthetists, and so on.”

While the prognosis for the recipient of the pig’s heart is far from certain, the surgery represents a major milestone for animal-to-human transplants.

About 110,000 Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant, and more than 6,000 patients die each year before getting one, according to official figures.

To meet demand, doctors have long been interested in so-called xenotransplantation, or cross-species organ donation.

“We were working on this model for 18 years,” Mohiuddin said.

“Those 18 years were dotted with different phases of frustration — as well as breakthroughs — but finally we have done it.”

The surgery is not without controversy, however, especially given Mohiuddin’s Islamic faith.

Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims and Jews — and even some Christians who follow the Bible’s Old Testament literally.

“In my view, this is not permissible for a Muslim,” said Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, a prominent Islamic scholar, in a video blog where he discussed the procedure.

But another Islamic scholar in Pakistan gave the procedure a clean bill of health.

“There is no prohibition in sharia,” Allama Hasan Zafar Naqvi told AFP, calling it a “medical miracle”.

“In religion, no deed is as supreme as saving a human life,” added Mohiuddin.

In Karachi, the surgeon’s fellow alumni feel their former colleague may now be destined for even greater glory — medicine’s top prize.

“I think… the whole team is in for it, in for the Nobel Prize,” said vice-chancellor Qureshi.

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