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NDDC Inaugurates 9-Kilometre Obehie-Okeikpe Road in Abia State

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has inaugurated a 9-kilometre Obehie-Okeikpe Road in the oil-rich Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State. The Commission also commenced the second phase of the project, extending from Akwete in Ukwa East to neighboring Akwa Ibom State.

The commissioning ceremony was met with jubilation from the local community, who had been waiting since 2022 for the road’s completion. This road is a crucial link connecting Akwa Ibom State and Rivers State.

During his speech at the commissioning, Samuel Ogbuku, Managing Director/CEO of NDDC, highlighted the road’s significance in boosting economic and agricultural activities in Abia and Akwa Ibom States. He emphasized that the project also plays a critical role in improving security in the area. Ogbuku reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to completing viable projects across the nine mandate states of the Niger Delta region.

Ogbuku noted that the current administration under President Tinubu is dedicated to addressing the needs of the Niger Delta people, focusing on sustainable development, enhancing youth skills, delivering projects efficiently, and collaborating with security agencies to ensure peace in the region.

He expressed concern over the vandalism of NDDC properties, specifically condemning the damage to a local transmission station which has left the community without power. Ogbuku urged the residents to protect NDDC properties, warning that failure to do so would primarily harm the community itself.

“The Commission will commission a similar station in Ondo State next week. It is regrettable that we have been unable to rehabilitate the one in Abia due to extensive vandalism,” Ogbuku stated.

He commended Governor Alex Otti for ensuring security during the road construction and praised the project contractor for their excellent work. Ogbuku mentioned that the NDDC is transitioning from a phase of transition to one of transformation, aiming to make a significant impact on the lives of Niger Delta residents and Nigerians at large.

Governor Otti, represented by his Deputy, Ikechukwu Emetu, praised the NDDC for reconstructing the road, which he said would significantly boost the socio-economic growth of Ukwa West Local Government Area. He highlighted his administration’s commitment to the Federal Government’s renewed hope agenda, noting that they have reconstructed 79 roads and built 10 new ones, handled by reputable local and international contractors.

Otti recalled the challenges faced during their last campaign due to the poor state of the road and thanked the NDDC for their intervention. He warned youths against vandalizing public properties and engaging in activities that threaten security, stressing that violators would face strict legal consequences.

Victor Antai, NDDC Executive Director of Projects, stated that the road, valued at N3 billion, is a major interstate link between Abia and Akwa Ibom. Eruba Dimgba, Abia’s representative on the NDDC Board, thanked the NDDC for the project, noting that it would significantly improve the quality of life for local residents by reducing crime and facilitating the transport of farm produce.

Godwin Adiele, member representing Ukwa West in the Abia State House of Assembly, remarked that the road’s commissioning marks a new beginning for the people of Ukwa and Akwa Ibom States. He expressed gratitude to President Tinubu and the NDDC for their commitment to road construction and praised the quality of the work done.

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Crime

Akwa Ibom NMA Chairman and Vice Chairman Impeached Amid Allegations of Misconduct

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In a dramatic turn of events, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Akwa Ibom State chapter has impeached its Chairman, Prof. Emem Abraham, and Vice Chairman, Dr. Aniekan Utuk, following allegations of gross misconduct, high-handedness, and misappropriation of funds.

The impeachment took place during an Ordinary General Congress held on Wednesday at the NMA Secretariat, Kilometer 8, Nwaniba Road, Uyo.

The impeachment motion, supported by 71 members present at the Congress, marks the end of Prof. Abraham’s administration, which began on July 16, 2022, and was due to conclude on July 17, 2024. Following the impeachment, Dr. Usenobong Morgan Akpan, the Association’s Secretary, was elected as the Acting Chairman, with a vote of 61 in favor and 13 against.

During a press briefing at the Doctor’s Mess, Udo Udoma Avenue, Dr. Akpan outlined the reasons for the impeachment, citing financial mismanagement and procedural breaches. “The embattled Chairman and her vice were impeached for running the NMA Akwa Ibom State for five months without a budget while expending millions of naira, and presenting to the State Executive Council a financial statement for a free medical outreach accounting for only N6 million out of N34 million questioned,” Akpan explained.

Additional grounds for impeachment included breaches of the NMA National Constitution and Akwa Ibom State Bye-laws, unauthorized ejection of members from the association’s WhatsApp group, and high-handedness. Dr. Akpan called for the immediate withdrawal of privileges and recognitions previously accorded to the impeached officials.

“As the Secretary of the NMA, I was made the Acting Chairman by virtue of hierarchy; with the Chairman and Vice Chairman being impeached, I am next in line. We request that all forms of recognition and privileges accrued to the suspended persons be withdrawn,” Akpan stated.

In a counter-statement, Prof. Emem Abraham declared the impeachment null and void, insisting she remains the Chairman of the NMA Akwa Ibom State chapter. She accused Dr. Akpan of acting unilaterally and stated that the association’s ordinary general meeting (OGM) on June 2, 2024, was disrupted and recessed for security reasons, with no impeachment process initiated.

Prof. Abraham emphasized, “There was no impeachment process against me or any officer of the Association. The NMA AKS is intact, and I remain in charge as the Chairman.”

The Public Relations Officer of NMA, Dr. Unyime Ndoh, echoed this sentiment, urging members to disregard the impeachment claims and stating that the OGM would reconvene soon.

Further investigations revealed that the crisis in the NMA Akwa Ibom chapter intensified after the kidnapping of Dr. John Robbin Esu in Oron local government area on April 30, 2024. Following a 15-day ordeal, Prof. Abraham called for a strike to expedite Dr. Esu’s release, which led to internal conflict and the eventual impeachment.

The unfolding situation highlights deep divisions within the NMA Akwa Ibom chapter and raises questions about leadership and governance within the association.

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Workers Protest at Federal Polytechnic Ukana Over Salary, Welfare Issues

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Workers at the Federal Polytechnic Ukana have launched a protest following a brief congress meeting at the institution’s TETFund auditorium.

The protesters voiced their dissatisfaction with the management’s handling of their demands, which include the non-payment of the 38% balance of salary shortfall, non-payment of promotion arrears, and the forceful conversion of staff.

Emerging from the congress, the protesters marched to the Rector’s office, holding placards and chanting solidarity songs while demanding the full implementation of their demands. Placards bore inscriptions such as, “SSANIP says no to unnecessary transfer of members,” “No to forceful conversion of staffs,” “Pay us our 38% balance salary shortfall (2016–2018),” and “Pay us our correct salary placement arrears (2015-2018).”

Mr. Tamunosiki Daka, chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) at the Federal Polytechnic Ukana, addressed the protesters, emphasizing that their actions were not confrontational but a plea for their welfare.

“We are not here to fight anyone; we are here to demand our rightful dues,” Daka stated. He expressed disappointment over the management’s indifference to their issues, including salary shortfalls dating back to 2015, despite numerous reminders.

Daka elaborated, “Over the years, from 2015 to date, we have been crying for salary shortfalls. When the visitation panel came, they promised to address it, but nothing has happened. We have met the management, but they did not provide any substantial reason for us not to go on strike. We wrote to the acting Rector, but she did not attend to us. The current Rector, Dr. Uduak Ndaeyo, attended to us, but still, no concrete answer was given.”

Highlighting the union’s procedural adherence, Daka noted, “We issued the necessary ultimatums—21 days, 14 days, and 7 days—before embarking on industrial action. Despite our pleas for the past six months, no action has been taken.”

Daka also criticized the appointment of a teaching staff member to the position of ICT, questioning its appropriateness. He announced that the workers would shut down all offices, including the Rector’s, if their demands were not met by Monday.

In a broader appeal, Daka called on President Bola Tinubu to investigate the personnel salaries of the institution from 2015 to the present, questioning the claims of full payment under the IPPIS platform.

“We urge the President to investigate all personnel salaries from 2015 to date. They claim they paid all shortfalls, but we have seen nothing,” Daka added.

The protest highlights ongoing frustrations and calls for accountability and prompt action to address the workers’ grievances.

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Ibom Air Celebrates 5th Anniversary, Announces Ambitious Future Plans

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Ibom Air, the Akwa Ibom State-owned airline, marked its 5th anniversary on May 7, 2024, celebrating a significant milestone in its mission to provide reliable and exceptional air travel services across Africa.

Since commencing commercial operations on June 7, 2019, Ibom Air has demonstrated a strong commitment to world-class operational standards, gaining the confidence and loyalty of passengers throughout the region. The airline’s remarkable growth includes expanding its fleet, increasing its route network, and enhancing the overall customer experience. Notably, Ibom Air has maintained industry-leading on-time performance, a hallmark of its operations.

Reflecting on the airline’s achievements, Chief Executive Officer Mfon Udom expressed pride in their journey. “We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished over the past five years. Our success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team and the unwavering patronage of our passengers,” Udom stated. He also extended congratulations to the shareholders, the government, and the people of Akwa Ibom State for their committed ownership and strong support from the start, which have been instrumental in the airline’s focus on excellence in connecting people and places.

In celebration of its anniversary, Ibom Air unveiled ambitious plans for the future, including positioning itself as an ESG-responsible company with a clear sustainability vision. The airline plans rapid fleet and route expansion to tackle connectivity issues within the African region, alongside a focus on leveraging advanced technology.

Chief Operating Officer George Uriesi highlighted recent technological advancements aimed at improving customer experience. “We have recently unveiled cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to improve our booking, check-in, and in-flight services while enhancing our self-service portal on the website to make it more user-friendly. Similar attention will be paid to one of our most critical touchpoints: our call centre. We plan to make it a 24-hour service very shortly,” Uriesi commented.

In the area of sustainability, Ibom Air is committed to reducing its environmental impact through sustainable practices. The airline introduced the fuel-efficient Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with an expected fleet of 11 aircraft to ensure its carbon footprint aligns with global best practices. Additionally, the airline’s corporate social responsibility program will focus on giving back to the less privileged and vulnerable, positively impacting its communities.

To further commemorate this milestone, Ibom Air will recognize staff who have been with the airline since its inception, celebrating their dedication and contribution to the airline’s success.

“At Ibom Air, today and every day, we appreciate our customers who have stayed with us and have been unwavering in their commitment to building this brand. As a result, we pledge to continue to uphold the highest standards of safety, comfort, and convenience for our passengers,” affirmed Uriesi.

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