…Anambra reduces 2020 budget size by N24.3bn
…Uneasy calm as man tests positive at NAUTH, Nnewi
By Vincent Ujumadu, Peter Okutu, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Ikechukwu Odu & Nwabueze Okonkwo
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, weekend, said that the state had between May 20 and 24, recorded additional 20 new cases of the dreaded coronavirus disease.
Umahi who stated this during a press conference at Exco Chambers of the old Government House, Abakaliki explained that out of the 33 total cases in the state, six persons had so far been treated and discharged.
The governor noted that there was no case recorded in any community yet as all the cases being handled were those intercepted at various borders across the state.
He reiterated that between April 26 to May 20, 2020, the state recorded 13 cases, but on May 22, 9 new cases were recorded, 6 from Ishielu local government, two from Ivo and one from Izzi LGA.
Continuing, the governor added that on May 23rd, additional 9 cases were recorded in Afikpo North alone, while 2 cases were recorded on May 24, from Ohaukwu local government area of the state.
“This is very disturbing because if the various inter-state lockdown are observed in other states, then we will not have problem of these cases”, he maintained.
The governor further lamented that the test kits being used by the medical team in the state were insufficient from NCDC, as some of those at the holding centers were being held for 14days without being tested because of lack of test kits.
“We are suspecting that some of these people got infected at the holding centers. But if we have test kits, as they come, we test them after 14days and if they are negative, they go, but when you keep them for 21days and the thing develops and you don’t know who has it, then it’s a major problem.
“So, the federal government has to do something about this. If you ask us to hold these people and isolate them from the society, we can’t even ask them to go back to their places and isolate. Some people are living five in one room in the rural areas. So, the best practice is what we are doing by collecting them at the borders as they sneak in and manipulate themselves into the state; hold them together according to NCDC policy and then have them tested.”
Anambra reduces 2020 budget size by N24.3bn
Meantime, Anambra State government has reduced the size if its 2020 budget from N137.2 billion to N112.8 billion due to the adverse effect on the economy by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
Already, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Mark Okoye has held an intense interactive session with stakeholders on the matter during which he explained that it had become necessary for the federal and state governments to review their budgets to reflect the current economic realities.
The virtual budget review session hosted by the Commissioner had in attendance, officials of the state budget team and representatives from the civil society organizations, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the State Traders Association, among others.
Okoye said: “The state budget for 2020, other things being equal, will be revised to N112.8 billion from the earlier approved budget of N137.1 billion. The reduction in the budget size is N24.3 billion representing an 18 percent decrease.”
Further breakdown shows that the recurrent expenditure would decline by 18.9 percent from the initial N58.8 billion to N47.7 billion, while total capital expenditure would reduce by 16.9 percent from N78.4 billion to N65.1 billion.
The Commissioner, however, said that the budgets of critical sectors like health, water and sanitation were left untouched to ensure that there was a buffer to contain Covid –19 outbreaks and associated social and economic fall-out.
Man tests positive at NAUTH, Nnewi
Similarly, there was tension and palpable fear in Nnewi, the industrial city of Anambra State, following the news of an Onitsha-based business man brought to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital NAUTH, Nnewi who tested positive for coronavirus.
The first case of COVID-19 in Nnewi sparked off tension among traders in the industrial city who are said to be making it a topic of discussion in the markets.
Vanguard learnt that most of the traders who have not been observing the safety directives of both Anambea State Government and World Health Organization, WHO, respectively have started wearing face masks and maintaining physical and social distancing to avoid contacting the virus.
However, the Chief Medical Director of NAUTH, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe who confirmed the virus case in NAUTH Nnewi yesterday, said the patient was brought to the hospital last Wednesday and on suspicion, his specimen was taken for test which turned out to be positive as declared by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC.
Prof Igwegbe said the man was immediately taken to the treatment center in Onitsha for appropriate care.
The CMD also disclosed that the patient has no relationship with last week’s dead female patient that sparked off the rumour of the hospital having coronavirus case or the rumour of doctors, nurses and other health workers allegedly being quarantined.
According to Prof. Igwegbe, “NAUTH recorded its first positive confirmed Covid-19 pandemic case on Saturday, May 23, 2020 following the release of the result by NCDC.
“The patient was quickly moved from our Isolation ward to the Anambra State treatment centre last night for care and treatment.
“The patient, male, a trader resident in Onitsha was admitted into the isolation ward following proper presentation of specimen on May 20 for test.
“All the necessary precautions were taken as all who attended to him used Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). There is no cause for alarm because the situation was handled professionally which makes it unnecessary to send our health workers to self isolation.”
UNN Dean of Student Affairs lauds Council boss
The Dean of Student Affairs, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Prof. Edwin Omeje yesterday, lauded the chairman of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of Enugu State, Peter Andy Omeje, for reaching out to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, UNN, branch in this difficult period of COVID-19 lockdown and non-payment of salaries.
The Dean who spoke at UNN where the items were being shared, explained that the palliatives could not have come at a better time than now when the ASUU members of the institution have not received their salaries since February this year due to the non enrollment in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS imposed by the Federal Government on the union.
The Dean while describing the gesture as exemplary, said such action could only come from a leader with human feelings and fear of God, adding that the chairman gave 200 bags of 25KG rice and cartons of vegetable oil to the members of the union.
When Vanguard reached the local government boss for his comment, he said, “UNN is my alma mater and I could not abandon the staff who taught me and contributed to who I am today in this difficult period.
“They have not been receiving salaries since February this year, coupled with the economic hardship occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody finds life easy now. This is just my widow’s mite to them to cushion the effects of the harsh economic realities they are facing now,” he said.
Some ASUU members who spoke about the chairman’s magnanimity on them, said his leadership is visionary and people-oriented.
New Umuaka Project Initiatives provide palliatives to indigent families in Akah land
To cushion the economic effects of the government lock down policy, arising from the rapid spread of coronavirus, the New Umuaka Project Initiative (NUP-i) has concluded plans to provide palliatives to 10 autonomous communities of Umuaka, in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State.
In a statement released to the Media in Abuja, the group, made up of distinguished sons and daughters of Umuaka from across the globe said they are providing food stuffs, face-masks, hands gloves, hand sanitizers, buckets with taps, liquid detergents, etc to over 70,000 people in 10 communities of the area.
Towards this humanitarian engagement, the leadership of NUP-I has launched an awareness and sensitization exercise in the 10 communities to ensure that the villagers maintain social distancing and follow all preventive tips.
According to the statement signed by the Global Administrator, Dr. Austin Agbahiwe, the interest of the NUP-I is to contain the spread of the disease in Umuaka town as well as provide succour to so many of its families whose economic means of livelihood has been ravaged by the protracted lockdown.
Catholic Archdiocese, Hungarian collaborators splash palliatives on vulnerable
Also recently, the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha literally wiped off the strains of hunger and bitterness on the faces of thousands of less privileged persons with the splashing of bags of 25 kg rice on them to cushion the harmful effects of the pandemic .
The palliatives which was its third phase, was procured by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke and his Hungarian collaborators, Afreka Humanitarian Foundation led by Dr. Reka Fodor.
No fewer than 3,000 indigent ones benefitted from the distribution exercise which took place at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Square, Archdiocesan Secretariat, Onitsha.
In his opening remarks to kick-start the exercise, the Archbishop, flanked by Catholic Priests, disclosed that the palliatives were being distributed to the vulnerable ones without discrimination, irrespective of religious denominations, tribe or ethnicity.
According to him, since the wave of COVID-19 did not discriminate against any continent, country or tribe, the church is under obligation to take care of the less privileged ones in the society during a societal pandemic of this nature.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ mandated us in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 10 verse 10 and in Matthew 14, verses 13-21 to feed the hungry as he fed 5,000 followers, stressing that without the people, there would be no church, hence the need to seek the welfare of the fateful and the people “.
Giving words of hope and consolation to the cheering crowd, Archbishop Okeke assured them that before they exhaust their lot, God, in His infinite mercy, would provide more to replenish their stock.
“ I am going to pray for you to have your stock replaced because God has no reason to allow you go hungry at any point in time”.
He expressed gratitude to the leader of Afreka Humanitarian Foundation, Dr. Reka Fodor and her team for collaborating with the Archdiocese and their love for humanity, even as he also commended the management of Orange Drugs for partnering with the Archdiocese.