The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, has hailed the former governor of Rivers State and present Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the occasion of his 53rd birthday anniversary today.
The party announced this through a press statement signed and released this morning (Sunday) by the newly-elected State Chairman of the APC, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
In the statement, the APC applauded Amaechi for providing focused and unwavering leadership for the party and its members in the State.
“It is a thing of joy that our leader, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has provided the needed focused and purposeful leadership for our party and members in Rivers State. We couldn’t have gotten it better.”
The party thanked God for the gift of wisdom; good health and staying power which has seen the Minister traverse the delicate political terrain of our state and nation despite several natural and man-made obstacles.
“As you turn 53 today, we can only thank God Almighty for bestowing on you the needed wisdom, good health and resilience to confront the vicissitudes of life especially in the political arena in Rivers State and Nigeria. We have no doubt that the good Lord will continue to remain your bedrock of strength in the years ahead.”
China to Lagos, the frightening timeline of a deadly virus
By Olusegun Fafore
Fatality rate across the globe since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Chinese town of Wuhan on December 31, 2019 has signalled that this is not the best of times for humanity. With about 8, 988 deaths and 220,877 people infected in 176 countries since the first death was recorded in China on January 11, 2020, the pandemic has boisterously announced its immensity.
Frighteningly, the virus claims human lives daily while science is still struggles with an absolute response to the scourge. More than before, humanity has become vulnerable, and at the mercy of government policies. From one end of the world to the other, governments and political leaders are facing a whirlwind that is testing their leadership. Leaders are subjected to unusual trials and are desperate for solution(s).
In search of safety from the grip of the easily transmittable coronamicrobe, man is turning to the State for actions that will stem the tide, and provide succour at this difficult period. Sadly, no nation is capable of shielding the other. The ravaging disease does not regard the medically and scientifically advanced nations in its manifestation, so it is every nation to herself first, hence the increasing instances of border closure and entry restrictions.
To humble humanity and heighten our fears, the epidemic started its cudgelling from the most advanced to the not-so-advanced countries of the world. Nations like China, Italy, USA, Spain, Iran, Germany and France are the worst hit, while African countries like Nigeria, Togo, Somalia and Congo have had minimal impact. Only 12 deaths out of the 590 reported cases have been reported so far in Africa.
It may be safe to argue that the worst-hit countries, with records of deaths in thousands since the outbreak of the deadly disease, are ‘host country’ and ‘high-traffic areas’, but a different perspective will be that China is where the virus originated from, other countries classified as high-traffic areas, are inheritors like Nigeria and other sub-Saharan Africa countries, and should have had lesser impacts as well.
The truth is that danger is looming and humanity is under attack. While the response strategies by Nigeria and some other countries may have contained the spread of the deadly disease, especially in Africa; this terrifying development has justified the need for increased collaboration and support amongst the nations of the world. Humans have to come together to protect their turf.
The hurried spread of Coronavirus across the globe has shown that we are closer than the flight time from one region to the other suggests. People from one continent are just one person away from contingents from other continents. Asians are not far from Africans, so are Australians close to Americans, because there is no distance in human linkage(s).
We now know that the world is one small circle that can be covered in just few days. There is no better authentication of this statement than the number of human victims succumbing to the lethal calls of microbes globally. The fact that a disease starts in a remote part of the world and travels across the hemisphere to other parts in hours proves that we are not as isolated as we had always thought.
Outbreaks of pandemics like HIV/AIDS, Ebola and Coronavirus are compelling enough for us to rethink our humanity. More than wars, epidemics are greater threats to humankind. It is therefore important that global leaders, multilateral agencies and international organisations align on investment in critical health infrastructure and scientific breakthroughs to sustain our reign on planet earth.
Microbes and diseases are interested in our world. These horrible impostors are keen on displacing us in our hundreds, thousands and millions, if we continue to live the way we have always lived and refused to exploit our mutual strengths. For pandemics, the fate of Africa is always a concern to the global health community. This is because of the continent’s history of poor investment in health care and hindered scientific advancement.
The African continent was not known to stand-up to its health challenges, or any global health problems. Until the containment of Ebola outbreak in 2014 when Nigeria offered the best of Africa to the world, no one ever thought that there could be a coordinated response to a pandemic by Africans.
As one of the immediate destinations of the hemorrhagic fever (Ebola) which originated from Liberia when thousands were sick and dying in the West African regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (28, 616 cases and 11, 310 deaths), Lagos was gripped by fear and thrown into panic because of the devastating statistics.
The epidemic claimed the life of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos, who remains the heroine of the battle against the Ebola pandemic in Nigeria, but the capacity of the State to speedily deploy resources to contain the spread of the deadly disease and limit casualties to 8 deaths out of the 20 cases was globally commended by the time we defeated the outbreak in September 2014.
Lagos State Government showed the world what Africans could do in times of crisis to forestall a continent-wide spread of dreaded diseases. The promptness and efficiency of the State response system protected Nigeria’s over 22 million population, occupying a landmass of approximately 3345km2 , from the highly infectious disease.
The averted calamity, considering that Lagos population density was 20, 000 per persons per square kilometre in built up areas, would have been colossal. Poor management of the situation would have spelt a total disaster for the country, and perhaps Africa’s over 1.2bn people.
That was a global tragedy contained. Really, such an incident should attract and induce multilateral support, in form of capacity building and investment in health infrastructure in certain areas of the world. Weaknesses or lack of capacity in certain locations in the face of pandemic outbreaks endanger the whole world, no matter how distant anyone may be from the originating country. Before Coronavirus, China was very far, right?
Locations like Lagos are central to global wellbeing and progression of human health agenda for a number reasons. Notable amongst these is that the world cannot afford a weak link in the aggressive campaign for health security and wellbeing.
For a destination with two domestic airports, an international airport and two seaports, which are adjudged to be the largest and busiest on the African continent, a national or subnational government can only do little in combating security, socio-economic and health challenges or threats, when they emerge from the interconnectedness of our world.
Lagos is only exemplary in fighting the scourge of COVID-19 because of deliberate government policy and leadership commitment to quality public health. The Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, before the outbreak had taken a strong position that made the State response to the menace adequate.
As Incident Commander, his outlook inspired great confidence in the Lagos State Incident Command Team battling the menace of the deadly disease in Lagos, but would this have been the story if Africa was the origin of this deadly virus?
What would the pressure on Lagos facility and the outcomes of the unanticipated stretch of the State health facility and preparedness for incidents, which have drawn commendations from far and near, especially by the World Health Organisation (WHO) been?
Yes, since the detection of the first case of Coronavirus on February 27, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Sanwo-Olu has remained resolute in curbing the spread of the virus and preventing human casualty. But in reality, megacities like Lagos and other densely populated regions in the world require increased global support and collaboration towards improving healthcare and proving world-class facility. This will not only strengthen the State’s capacity to combat situations such as this, but also bolster its ability to provide support for other destination in the region during emergencies.
So far, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s decisions and actions have significantly moderated the possible spread of the microbe and doused fears that Coronavirus could sweep the entire country in matter of days. To manage the situation, Lagos State activated its emergency health management and response framework, embarked on a mass enlightenment campaign about the importance of personal hygiene, closed schools and prohibited public engagements with more than 50 participants at a single location in the State.
Some of these decisions are tough because of the socio-economic texture of Lagos. But indeed, times are hard, and only tough decision could help humans chase microbes off our streets. As social animals, the chances that these aliens will creep into our system are very high, and definite, if we fail to demonstrate a certain level of watchfulness over ourselves. We need to help the response system work by following simple guidelines. When government demonstrates political will, citizens should reciprocate with commitment.
But more importantly, it has become better known that our spaces in the world are shared facilities. Therefore, we need to increase our humanity. Leading nations, global leaders, civil society activists, well-meaning individuals, international organisations and multilateral agencies, need to rethink what our investment priorities should be. The focus of innovation and scientific advancement need to shift to healthcare infrastructure and systems in high population density regions of the world.
Fafore is the Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to the Governor of Lagos State.
Ibeto: An Enthralling Story of an Achiever
By Ingram Osigwe
If you are 13 years old and in your mind’s eye, you were already seeing yourself among vivacious crowd of age mates resplendent in their forget-me-not secondary school uniforms, chattering away heartily in a classroom, and just when that dream was about to berth on the shores of reality, your own biological father rudely abort it, what will you do? Crestfallen and disappointed, will you turn your back on life and bemoan your fate for ever?
Some people with fickle spirit will. But the likes of Dr.Cletus Madubugwu who are made with sterner stuff and blessed with a can do spirit that does not yield to despair will soldier on with life, turn the disappointment into a blessing in disguise and later in life have an inspiring story to tell.
And that was the exactness of what the then young Ibeto did when his dream for secondary education crashed on January 22, 1966.
On that day, the young lad was in high mood. He looked forward to a new and exhilarating life as a fresh student of Crusader Secondary School, Isingwu Amachala, Umuahia.
Gaily dressed in his school uniform and armed with his school box, Ibeto was set to depart for Umuahia to begin a life as secondary school student and then suddenly his father made a shattering proclamation that would leave hot tears cascading the young man’s cheeks, crestfallen, disappointed and embittered: He was to make a detour to trading rather than education.
There and then, Ibeto was parceled, willy nilly, to Onitsha to begin apprenticeship in auto spare part szas a trader under the tutelage of one Akamelu.
And so began his journey through life’s pumpy road which would dramatically signpost his subsequent rise to the top.It will be safe to say that Ibeato’s eventual road to prominence was watered by grit- determination to succeed and excell after a devastating and unsettling dream crash.
Fifty- four years down the lane, Ibeto has not only shrugged off that initial life hiccup but he has also left bold imprints on the sands of time.
His zero to hero story typifies the rise of the proverbial Phoenix.From grand zero, Ibeto has built a multi- billion dollars business conglomerate, the Ibeto Group, spanning real estate, Petro-chemical, cement, Auto parts, hospitality, oil, commodity trading among others.
Naturally blessed with business acumen and fecundity of ideas, Ibeto’s apprenticeship on auto- spare part was abbreviated by the civil war. He was himself a combatant in the war having joined the Biafran Army at the outbreak of hostilities.
Surviving the war by the whiskers, he launched himself back into the world of trading at the end of hostilities. Thus, at the end of the civil war in 1970 Ibeto was already an enterprising young businessman. Ingenious and enterprising, Cletus Ibeto had started his business career in 1970 stepping into what has now become a massive business dream with the establishment of Ibeto Brothers Trading Company as its sole proprietor.
However, his major business break came during the administration of president Shehu Shagari, profiting massively from a policy change during that era. There was a policy that goods could be imported without import licence but as Nigerian’s external reserves began to dry up, the Shagari government had to introduce import licence.
The uncertainty forced many importers to suspend importation in order to monitor the new policy.
But braving the uncertain situation, Ibeto moved quickly to secure the N3 million import licence at a time a dollar sold for 68 kobo. With the licence, he imported 65 containers of vital motor parts. By the time other importers could wake up to get the license, the government had tightened the screws and made it almost impossible for anyone to obtain the license. Almost at the same time, the Shagari’s government was toppled which made matters worse as it resulted in borders being closed.
The Nnewi born business mogul then virtually became a monopolist for motor spare parts. He confessed that the moment was a turning point for his life and business. He was selling at almost 500% mark up and people were buying!
His words: “That was the turning point for me.Come and see the line-up of people who wanted the spare parts. I was packing money with cartons. There was no armed robbery then, no kidnapping. It was a seller’s market. And the mark up was almost 500% but people were buying! In fact, within two days of the arrival of the containers, I made four million pounds”
Diversification was flowery and seamless for Ibeto, swiftly moving from an importer of auto spare parts to automotive lead-acid batteries and plastic accessories merchant. Then in 1988, he delved into manufacturing when he completed his factory in Nnewi and stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories. By 1995, the company had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfit in Nigeria.
A year later, Ibeto would further expand his business operations by diversifying into other sectors thus establishing Ibeto Petrochemicals Industries Limited. His petrochemicals industry owns one of the largest liquid facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria.
Subsidiaries under the Ibeto group are legion and they include Union Autoparts manufacturing Co. Ltd which was incorporated on 2nd June 1987.The company is a major player in automotive lead-acid battery manufacturing in Nigeria. The interesting thing is that the company produces locally, from its lead and aluminum smelting plant, all the lead and aluminum required for its operations.
It has the capacity to produce, annually; 300,000units of lead/acid batteries, 120,000 units of sealed maintenance-free batteries, 5,500tonnes of lead, 500 tonnes of accessories and 1,500 tonnes of friction parts.
There is also the Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd. It was established in October 1996 with a blending plant in Nnewi, Anambra State. The company blends oil lubricants and produces various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The Petro-Chemical company also owns one of the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tones located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos.
Ibeto Cement Company Ltd produces bagged cements at its bagging terminal at Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Ibeto Cement commenced operation in 1997 with the importation of bagged cement from Portland before establishing Ibeto Cement in 2001.
In 2018, Ibeto Cement Company Limited announced a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a United States (U.S.) publicly-traded petroleum exploration and production company. This was aimed at taking the global markets by storm and bypass the complex process of listing. The company was to acquire a 70% controlling stake of Century Petroleum and thus Cletus Ibeto was subsequently made the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Ibeto’s foray into cement business saw him establishing Eastern Bulkcem Company Ltd
The company is also engaged in the importation of bulk cement and bagging of same in its factory premises in Rumuolumeni waterfront, Rivers State.
Eastern Bulkcem equally owns 60% of Nigeria Cement Company Plc (NIGERCEM), Nkalagu, Ebonyi State.
NIGERCEM was very important for Ibeto; if he was to remain an importer of cement, he needed to own a cement manufacturing plant as it was the requirement. Owning NIGERCEM did not come easy as the then Ebonyi state governor, Martin Elechi was against the acquisition. Ibeto fought him head-on like a wounded lion until he had NIGERCEM secured. NIGERCEM gave him the initial stability he needed to continue in the cement business.
King’s Palace Hotels Ltd was established in March 1985 and has become synonymous with hospitality. Kings’ Palace is located at the heart of Nnewi and has played a significant role in the economic and tourism development in Anambra State.
Ibeto Energy Development Ltd is Ibeto’s response to the energy need of the country. The company was established in April 2008 in line with federal government’s aspiration to exploit the available natural gas in the Niger Delta Region for economic development.
Palmex Agencies Limited was incorporated in September 1998 and engaged in general merchandising. The company imports and distributes commodity items like rice, sugar and fertilizer.
Ibeto Industries Ltd is the flagship. It was incorporated in 1984 to serve the Nigerian public in their quest for colour print and photographic processing. Ibeto industries have modern printing machines that meet the need of customers and they have branches across Nigeria.
Odoh Holdings Ltd made a debut in March 1985.It is the real estate arm of the Ibeto. The company owns properties in prime areas of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha and Nnewi.
Ibeto Hotel Abuja is a 100-room four-star property which was commissioned early in 2013 and the company has interest in replicating Ibeto Hotel Abuja in other major cities in Nigeria.
Ibeto believes in ethics in business even if its application or observances will cause him money and business opportunities.A veteran journalist, Mike Awoyinfa tells an enchanting story of how Ibeto elected to lose millions of dollars during the gulf war than compromise on business ethics: “Ibeto said that during the Gulf War II, his company received a lot of pressure from Saddam Hussien’s officials who badly wanted Union Recycling Plant to export the lead products refined by his company at very lucrative terms, but the company turned down the tempting offer because Ibeto believed that such leads would go into production of dangerous weapons of war by Saddam. This was far more ethical than a business decision, but Ibeto argued to his astonished management that even though the group desperately needed the fund to inject into the the construction of the cement terminals at Bundu Ama Creek.
Born on November 6, 1952 in his home town, Obiofia Umuenem, Otolo Nnewi in Anambra State, Ibeto is humble, unassuming and focused.Through his philanthropic gestures Ibeto has lifted thousands of people out of poverty. He has also helped other top business persons from Nnewi.
A large hearted and ever kindly disposed community developer and human capacity builder, Cletus Ibeto has to his credit the following notable philanthropic milestones, amongst several others:
The award of over 200 secondary and university scholarships to deserving, indigent Nigerian youths.
Instituted and maintains in perpetuity a prize award foundation for the best graduating student in pediatrics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, College Of Medicine, Nnewi, Anambra State.
Instituted and maintains in perpetuity a prize award foundation for the best graduating student in the department of Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
Extensive Community Support Services in: Rural Electrification projects with donation and installation of transformers, borehole water projects to communities and institutions of learning.
Constructed and maintains a 20km road and a multipurpose hall for Nnewi community.
Constructed the biggest but yet-to-be commissioned N650 Million-worth Medical Diagnostic Center at the University of Nigeria (UNN), Enugu Campus (renowned to be the largest in the West African sub region).
Constructed and donated Departmental buildings to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi.
On the construction of the most modern and contemporary Catholic Youth Village located in Amansea (near Awka) in Anambra State, Dr Ibeto was acknowledged as the single largest donor and developed 250 number self-contained rooms of hostel accommodations within the Village designed to mitigate the accommodation challenges of students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
Constructed and donated a world class church building, chancery and Conference Centre to St. Cletus Catholic Church, Otolo Nnewi, Anambra State.
Sponsors annual comprehensive medical/surgical outreaches to communities that have restored health to thousands of sick and helpless Nigerians and prevented death for many.
Extensive development programme for host communities to his numerous businesses.
Though denied access to formal by his father at 13, that burning desire to see the four walls of a classroom remained aflame. Ibeto for he would later sat for his WASSCE at the age of 48 and got a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from University of Nigeria, Nsukka at the age o f 54. He was subsequently honoured with a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the same University.
Over the years, he has had numerous trainings at seminars and conferences within the country, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Japan.
Ibeto had earlier attended St. James Primary school, Owerrinta in the present day Imo state.
Come March 2020, another enchanting feather will be added to Dr.Cletus Madubugwu Ibeto’s crowded crown and another honour done him yet as the Ebonyi state University confers on him Honorary Doctorate Degree on Business Administration.
Before the EBSU honour, Ibeto’s gallery of Honours brimmed with assortment of awards and recognitions, including:
Gold Service Award from the Rotary Club of Enugu, Rotary International District 9140.
Three-Ruby Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Foundation International.
Certificate of Merit from the Government of Anambra State of Nigeria.
Award of Excellence by the Pilgrims Africa Health Foundation.
National Honour, Officer of Order of the Niger, OON.
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Honoris Causa, University of Nigeria.
National Honour, Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
And friends and business associates who have followed Ibeto’s life trajectory testify that the Honorary award is a fitting, proper, deserving and eloquent recognition and testimony of of his years of entrepreneurship, hard work, tenacity of purpose and service to humanity.
Ingram Osigwe is the MD/CEO of Full page international communications Ltd writes from Lagos.
DAPO ABIODUN AND TASCE IMBROGLIO
By: Ade Balogun
In the twilight of the Amosun-led administration in Ogun State, the media was awash with the heartrending stories of the sufferings of the staff of Tai Solarin College of Education, Ogun State.
We were made to understand, through incontestable facts and figures, that the Ogun State Government owed TASCE staff about 64 months’ salaries. This revelation, coupled with some other excesses of former Governor Amosun, was a major factor in the defeat of his anointed governorship candidate, Adekunle AbdulKadir Akinlade of the APM, at the polls.
Despite gross intimidation, people voted for the incumbent Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun with the belief that he would undo all the evils of Amosun, especially with his electioneering promise of giving the much needed succour to the staff of TASCE.
Shortly after the inauguration of Governor Abiodun, I was amazed to find the staff of the College still protesting the non-payment of salaries! My amazement turned into pure horror when I later learnt that five of the staff at the forefront of the protests were arrested and incarcerated!
My bewilderment grew in leaps and bounds when the Governor, in a media chat, actually acknowledged that he ordered the arrest of the five staff of the College to instill discipline and respect for constituted authorities, like former Oyo state Governor, Isiaka Ajumobi did to the students and staff of Ladoke Akintola University if Technology (LAUTECH), in the staff of the college. I was greatly disturbed by the Governor’s statements and position on the TASCE issue.
While I will not support anarchy in a system, it is simple logic that a man or woman that is being owed 64 months salaries cannot be expected to be rational. The fact is that the government actually created the state of anarchy through the non-payment of their salary arrears.
In the same vein, the best way to instill respect for constituted authorities is not through draconian actions but through consultations. Respect is different from fear. A government that toes the Machiavellian usage of fear, instead of love, to put the citizenry in a state of bondage will reap a harvest of pure and undiluted hatred.
With the aforesaid, I was greatly elated when I stumbled on an article in the Nigerian Tribune of 23rd October, 2019 titled ‘Dapo Abiodun: Silent restorer of education lost glory in Ogun’. TASCE featured prominently in the said article and the writer made us understand that the Governor had done the needful to return normalcy and sustainable peace to the college.
Given the fact that the staff of the college had stopped their protests, I had no cause to disbelieve the information. I immediately called one of my friends in the College to rejoice with him but to my utmost dismay, I was informed that the Governor has not paid a dime out of the accrued salary arrears and that since his inauguration on May 29, 2019, he has only paid half salaries for the months of June and July, 2019 despite the fact that the 1st semester examination has been held and that the 2nd semester is also about ending.
It was also learnt the Provost of the college, in person of Dr. Lukman Adeola Kiadese had been earmarked 50 million naira for the upcoming convocation of the college, which to be held on December 18, but amount to wastefulness and misplacement of priority, why don’t him expended the aforesaid money to pay the part of the money owing his staff of the college? the Provost also need to be cautioned in the way and manner handling the crisis of the college if he want normalcy to return to the institution and the government should also implement the report of the visitation panel, headed by Prof. Kamaldeen Balogun, by paying the Lecturers six months recommended in the report and call them to a round table and discuss modalities on how to pay the outstanding salaries’ arrears of the staff.
There is also heavy police presence in the college and anyone who dares to protest the inhumane situation in the college is either molested or queried. Why all these? At least, we are no more in military junta which also communicate through armed policemen or soldiers. But, I went back to check the name of the author of the article and I immediately understood my folly in taking the information contained therein on face value. He is no other person than Olamide Lawal, the political jobber who was fingered in the arrest of the five TASCE Lecturers.
If indeed the power strategy is the government’s plan to ensure peace in TASCE, then God should have mercy on all of us in Ogun State.
Balogun, wrote in from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
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