Bayelsa State joins the world to mark AIDS Day


By Our correspondent

Every 1st of December is set aside to mark the World AIDS Day. It is a day to remember those who died from AIDS related illnesses and to offer support to those living with HIV.


Here in Bayelsa state, several activities were put together by the Bayelsa State Agency for the Control of AIDS, BYSACA to celebrate the event and create more awareness.


Speaking during the event, Special Adviser to the Governor, Hon Ayakeme Tonkiri urged all Bayelsans to know their status adding that HIV is not a death sentence.


Hon Ayakeme emphasized that the government would continue to support the agency to achieve its mission of reducing HIV in the state.


Also speaking, Technical Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Bishop Dotimi Egbegi noted that the prosperity administration believes in the health of the people hence would ensure that issues of HIV are given adequate attention.


Bishop Egbegi called on all stakeholders to work together to attain the reality of ending AIDS in 2030.


While speaking on the role of the church, the clergyman called on pastors and other church leaders to add their voices in creating more awareness of HIV/AIDS in their churches.


In her speech, Permanent Secretary, BYSACA, Dr Oluwatoyin Azebi said proactive steps such as integrating HIV treatment into the health insurance scheme both at the national and state levels, involving donors should be taken to build a robust health system.


Dr Azebi called on the government to take ownership of HIV response through the implementation of a sustainable plan.


On his part, Vice President, World Assembly of Youth, Comrade Preye Ketebu-Brown urged the state government to set up the BYSACA board in order to mobilize funds for sustainable financing of HIV.


In a goodwill message, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS, CISHAN State Secretary, Mr Maxwell Ati called on the government to ensure prompt release of funds after approval for HIV services.


He equally called on all Community based organizations, Civil Society groups as well as the media to continue to sensitize the general public on HIV and encourage people to go for HIV testing and counseling.


The Network of Persons living with HIV, NEPHWAN emphasized the need for the government to re-strategize to address HIV/AIDS by providing the needed funding for providing HIV services as well as to end stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV, PLHIV.


Various goodwill messages by representatives of implementing partners such as FHI360, EPIC, and others emphasized the need for collaborative efforts in the fight against HIV.

The national theme for 2021 World AIDS Day” End Inequalities, End AIDS through sustainable financing serves as a call on all to continue to work to achieve an end to AIDS.

Oil producing Communities lament years of neglect due to exploration

By Our Correspondent

Some oil producing communities in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa state have staged a protest over the hardship being experienced by the people due to many years of oil exploration activities.

Residents of the Olugbobiri Kingdom and ten other Communities are expressing anger against the government and the multinational oil companies operating in their environment, accusing them of 48years of neglect and gross darkness in their environment.

While speaking to newsmen, a fourteen year old, Divine Tariemi noted that the locals are suffering due to lack of social amenities such as good road network, pipe borne water, dilapidated educational system and electricity.

She also expressed displeasure over the lack of equipment in their schools and the diversion of scholarship opportunities meant for indigenous students.

The people in these communities are calling on the federal and state government to come to their aid and prevail on the oil company to carry out their corporate social responsibility to the community.

They equally called on Agip Oil Company to provide all the needed social amenities to the communities for peaceful coexistence.

Also speaking, the youth leader of the community Comrade Raphael Christopher noted that the community is in urgent need of sandfilling many waterlogged areas to cushion the effect of recurrent erosion.

The youths, leaders and people of these communities are giving an ultimatum of 31st December to the government to come out with concrete measures to tackle their needs.

They warned that if the government fails to meet their demands, they would take drastic actions to stop the operations of multinationals in the area and refine the crude by themselves are they are capable of doing so. “Do not push us to the wall and blame us for it” he added.

Hon Seriake Dickson Unveils Ofurumapepe Cup

By Our Correspondent

In the spirit of continuity, Senator Representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Hon Henry Seriake Dickson has officially unveiled the Henry Seriake Dickson Football Tournament, Ofurumapepe Cup revelling that the tournament is aimed at youth empowerment and grassroot development.

Addressing Journalist in Abuja at the unveiling on Friday, Hon Dickson insisted that this was a fulfilment of the promises he made to the people while in government as the governor of Bayelsa state to prioritise sports development in the state.

According to Hon Dickson, through the Henry Seriake Dickson foundation, the lives of youths in the state will be transformed through Sports which will bring youth restiveness, cult activities and other vices to it’s barest minimum.

He explained that the records will show that sports were one of the projects he took seriously as the governor adding that the tournament will amongst others encourage the development of grassroot sports and apart from football, traditional wrestling swimming will also be introduced considering the terrain of the state.

‘‘As a governor we promoted sports development, we took wrestling to the national award stage and I am happy to mention that most of our athletes are doing well and they benefited from that program. So, the ofurumapepe football competition is hereby unveiled.

‘‘With the ofurumapepe cup, our dream of promoting grassroot sports development did not end with my tenure as a governor, as I promised through the Henry Seriake Dickson foundation we will continue with this laudable objective.

‘‘By next week our local organising team will be meeting with all the community youths in the Bayelsa west senatorial district and all necessary arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the best results are achieved as expected’’ he stated.

With the theme ‘‘Youth empowerment for Peace and Development’’ the sports loving senator explained that football and traditional wrestling has been expressively harnessed by his administration adding that the cup instituted was in honour of his late father who was a maiden wrestling champion.
He however called on youths in the region to actively identify with the ofurumapepe football tournament and channel their very productive energy towards initiatives that will develop their minds and body.

‘‘I also want to use this opportunity to call for peace in all our communities as the youths come out in mass to participate. I call for the spirit of sportsmanship there will be no losers at the end of the events. I also want to call on all our security agencies to support this initiative’’ he said.

Speaking earlier, Technical Consultant of the Henry Seriake Dickson Football Tournament and Ofurumapepe Cup , Mr Ono Akpe, while enumerating the various prizes that are up for grabs stated that all is set for the kick off as Hon Henry Dickson has provided all the jerseys, sports kits, football, trophies among others for the 76 participating communities.

‘‘On Wednesday 17 November, Jerseys and sports kits will be presented to the 76 communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor local government area which makes up the Bayelsa west constituency while the finals will be held on Wednesday,22 December at Toro-oruwa Sagbama.

‘‘The first price is 1.5 million naira, 2ndPrice is 1 million naira, 3rdPrice is N500,000, 4thPrice is N250,000.

‘‘There is going to be 6 constituency champions from the 2 constituency, 3 from Sagbama and 3 from Ekeremor each will get N250,000 and the runners up at the constituency level will get N100,000 each.

‘‘For the next two months from November to December, youths of Bayelsa West Senatorial district will be actively engaged.

The Ofurumapepe football tournament, according to the organisers, is scheduled to kickoff on Sunday 21 November.

BYSACA Gets NACA Outstanding Award

The Bayelsa State Agency for the Control of AIDS, BYSACA has received an award in recognition of its outstanding performance to institutional systems strengthening and growth of the Bayelsa State HIV response.


Permanent Secretary, BYSACA, Dr Oluwatoyin Azebi who received the award during the NACA South-South Zonal Office ceremony held in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital expressed appreciation to the NACA South-South Zone.


Dr Azebi noted that the award which serves as a recognition of the achievement of BYSACA would be a motivation for the management and staff of the agency to put in more effort to sustain the coordination of HIV services in the state.


She commended NACA South-South Zone for providing assistance to BYSACA in the strategic coordination of policies and programs for HIV activities in the South-South.


In her response, South-South Zonal Coordinator, Dr Uduak Daniel said BYSACA under the leadership of Dr. Azebi has recorded huge success in the fight against HIV/AIDS hence the award is well deserving of the agency.


Also speaking, Chairperson of the Bayelsa HIV Media Advocacy Group, Mrs Ebizimo Oroyi commended all staff of BYSACA for their hardwork, dedication and commitment in ensuring that the agency carry out it’s duties effectively.


The event was well attended by top government functionaries in Rivers State, the media and all management staff from the State Agencies for the Control of AIDS, SACAs in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Edo, Delta and Rivers States.

Bayelsa Govt pledges to upgrade health facilities, others

The Bayelsa state government on Wednesday restated its commitment towards upgrading facilities at the Diete-Koki Memorial Hospital, Opolo and other health institutions to improve healthcare delivery in the state.

The state Deputy Governor, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the promise during his visit to hospitals, prisons and charitable organisations to celebrate his birthday with less privileged ones.

Some of the facilities visited include the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gloryland Motherless Children’s Home, Opolo and the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Okaka in Yenagoa.

Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, underscored the role quality healthcare would play in the prosperity agenda of the administration.

He noted that the former Governor, Chief Seriake Dickson did a lot in terms of building various health facilities, adding that the current administration would spare no effort in developing the health sector.

Ewhrudjakpo whose birthday was on Sept. 5, described his visit to the less privileged in society as a tradition he has kept over the years to mark his birthday.

He stressed on the need for better-placed members of society to always give a helping hand to the needy.

The deputy governor said he could not afford to throw flamboyant birthday celebrations in the midst of poverty and underdevelopment in the state.

Ewhrudjakpo was conducted round the various wards at the Diete Koki Hospital by the Head of Administration, Mr Felix Olomu.

He later gave cash gifts to in-patients for their treatment, and also promised to pay the bills for outpatients that visited the hospital on Wednesday.

“Every Christmas and on my birthday, I visit the hospitals and the children’s home to share what God has given us.

“Saturday was my birthday but due to my busy schedule, I could not make it till today, which is also significant because it is the birthday of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ.

“Today is a very symbolic day for me and I chose it for this visit, which is a tradition for me. I usually do it quietly but because my office has been elevated, so this visit has also been elevated.

“There is nothing to celebrate, when there is so much insecurity, poverty and underdevelopment.

“Until Nigeria overcomes these challenges to an appreciable level, which I believe should be the status of Nigeria, I don’t think I’ll celebrate. And I pray this happens sooner than later.

“As a government, we will make our efforts to improve these situations because that is the mandate given to us by the people.

“We will do the little we can to change things. We have started that good journey in Bayelsa State, through the Prosperity Government of Gov. Douye Diri. I believe we will get to the promised land,” he said.

At the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Okaka, the deputy governor was welcomed by the Controller of Correctional Services, Bayelsa Command, Mr Edhokotum Seth.

He urged the inmates not to despair, but aspire to be better citizens by working toward becoming more productive members of society after regaining their freedom.

At the Gloryland Children’s Home, Opolo where the deputy governor was received by the Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Mrs Faith Opene, he assured the children of a great and better future.

Ewhrudjakpo also visited the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa where he was conducted round the Special Babycare Unit and Surgical wards by the Chief Medical Director, Dr Dennis Alagoa, and other management staff.

High points of the visit was the cutting of the birthday cake at the Children’s Home as well as presentation of cash gifts to the various institutions. (NAN)