WORD BYTE LOVE AND APATHY By: Terry Modica

Joy and satisfaction come from actively loving everyone: God, others, and ourselves. Galatians 1:6-12, Psalm 111:(5)1b-2,7-10c, Luke 10:25-37

It is interesting that in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus did not tell us the identity or nationality or social status of the man who needed help. We don’t know if the traveler from Samaria helped the enemy or a fellow
Samaritan. It doesn’t matter. The sin of the priest and the Levite is that they didn’t care enough to even find out if this man was alive or dead, or what kind of help he needed. Trapped in their self centered world, they choose to completely ignore him. The opposite of love is not hate. It’s apathy: ignoring a need, not caring, doing nothing when there is something we can do to relieve suffering.
Apathy is not natural. We were born to love. Apathy begins when there are voids in our lives that cause a feeling of continual dissatisfaction: the empty, aching, lonely, scary voids that indicate something is missing.
What’s missing is love. The people who should care about us sometimes fail to give us all the love that we need. Even those who love us most cannot give us all that we need. And there are those who totally reject their calling to care about us; they treat us with apathy. No one can love us completely the way we need their love. So, we either
numb ourselves and become apathetic toward others, or we decide to rely more fully on God, who is love and who is never apathetic toward us. The achy voids we feel are clues that we haven’t yet given God our full attention.
When God’s love isn’t filling us, we automatically try to fill the voids with anger, cynicism, busyness, codependent relationships, over-eating, over-shopping, anesthetizing drinks or drugs, or self-esteem boosting accolades.
Aha, there really is no such thing as a void, is there! A vacuum sucks in whatever is near the hole. We fill our empty areas with things and people and activities that are not of God. This causes apathy, because it prevents the outward flow of love, and at the same time it makes us miserable, because it never sufficiently brings us love.
Jesus says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and that every person we encounter is a neighbor. Why? Because caring for others moves us from self centeredness to “God filledness.” By giving love away, God rushes in and fills up the emptied places with his own presence. We were not designed to be selfish. Made in the image of God, we feel happiest when we unite ourselves to his love. Joy and satisfaction come from actively loving everyone: God, others, and ourselves.

Corporal Works of Mercy

1. Feed the hungry: Provide food and lobby for policies that will help needy individuals and nations solve their food problems.
2. Give drink to the thirsty: Fight against water pollution; lead the spiritually thirsty to Christ; help the needy pay water bills.
3. Clothe the naked: The naked are all those who are poor. Work to change your culture’s mentality about living above income by spending on credit; help end drug and alcohol dependency, gambling and other addictions or behavior that takes money from the poor; teach financial management; help people find jobs.
4. Shelter the homeless: Rather than blaming the victim, get involved in building or restoring houses; work in half-way houses for the mentally ill; pay security deposits on apartments; help with utility bills.
5. Visit the sick: The terminally ill would be less likely to desire euthanasia if we offer them the hope and love of Christ; the suffering need emotional support and faith in God; families under huge medical bills need help raising funds.
6. Ransom the captive: Who is held prisoner by addiction, abuse, a dysfunctional family background, the occult,
joblessness, a poor education, prejudice, poverty, hopelessness, sin, ignorance or misconceptions about God? Help them find a way out. Visit prison inmates.
7. Bury the dead: Provide comfort for the bereaving; help the widow(er) with meals or activities; stay involved long after the funeral; be sensitive to the pain of loss.

Spiritual Works of Mercy

1. Instruct the ignorant: Teach the meaning of the Gospel and the spiritual implications of it for our lives; lift people from spiritual poverty; be an example of true Christian living.
2. Counsel the doubtful: Society teaches doubt of God, skepticism, loss of confidence; live your faith in a way that witnesses to the reality of God.
3. Admonish the sinner: Our world tries to remove “sin” from our vocabulary; in whatever you do, firmly but
compassionately object to social and personal sin; take a stand against injustices.
4. Bear wrongs patiently: Jesus is our example; bear wrongs with dignity, patience, and conviction that God stands by us, as a witness that suffering can lead to spiritual growth.
5. Forgive offenses: Peace and justice don’t work if they’re only attempted through legislation. Promote inner conversion and outward forgiveness, first in your own life and then help others discover the same.
6. Comfort the afflicted: Walk with people through their pain. We give them relief by our presence, our prayers, and our loving deeds.
7. Intercede for the needs of others: Pray for loved ones, relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, the
souls in Purgatory, leaders, the nation, our world, etc. This motivates us in other ways of ministering.

 

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CROSS RIVER INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

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KT OFFSHORES LIMITED

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SENEGAL 2020 AFRICAN JUDO OPEN Cross Riverian Returns With Gold

Nigeria’s Enku Ekuta from Cross River State has won a gold medal at the fourth African Judo Open, which took place
in Dakar, Senegal. She defeated the 2019 African Games champion, Helene Dombeu of Cameroun in the final of the 63kg women category.
Ekuta sponsored by Accugas, a Savannah Energy Company, qualified for the final after beating Carolina Delgado of Cape Verde and Anastasiya Alexander Nenova of South Africa in the preliminary pool.
This victory is the Boki-born judoka’s first continental open gold medal and the second time she will beat the 33-year-old Dombeu at a continental open. The Nigerian Champion won with an ippon after over three minutes of the keenly contested bout, which saw both fighters accumulating two penalties each. The victory has now added 100 IJF world-ranking points to Ekuta’s profile, as she continues to garner Points to secure qualification for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games, which holds in Tokyo, Japan. Speaking on her victory, Ekuta said, “I feel excited winning my first continental gold. I want to thank God for this victory. I also thank my sponsor, Accugas, for
ensuring that I had all the support I needed to participate in the competition. The Nigeria Judo Federation has also been supportive. My performance in Dakar will motivate me to work harder in upcoming competitions”.
The Head of Stakeholder Relations and Communication, Savannah Energy, Nkoyo Etuk , congratulated Ekuta for the victory in Senergal. “We congratulate Enku Ekuta on the remarkable victory in Dakar. She was the only judoka from Nigeria who participated at the fourth African Judo Open. “Enku’s performance has justified the confidence we
have in her talent, which inspired the deal to sponsor her training and competition to ensure she qualifies for and participates at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. We are optimistic that she will win more continental open to secure enough points to qualify for the Olympics”.

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ROVERS FC WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO DIE – COMMISSIONER

Poised to reposition Rovers Football Club, Calabar, back to her glory days as one of the best in the Nigerian Premiere League, the Commissioner for Sports and Cinematography, Chief Offu Aya inaugurated a five man committee, with a
charge to review the technical crew of the Club as well as recruit professional, passionate and goal oriented Coaches to revive and return the Club to her prestigious position in the premiership.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Committee, Commissioner Offu Aya recalled that Rovers FC, founded in 1976, has nurtured and produced several indigenous football stars who have played in National and International
competitions, adding that such feats need to be instituted back into the club, hence the inauguration of the committee. He added that due consultations were made before picking members of the Committee who had played and even coached the Club at various stages of their career, stating that he believes strongly that they will do all it takes to ensure that Rovers FC becomes the best again. According to Chief Offu Aya, the act is a rescue mission by indigenous explayers of the club, informing that before the advent of Carnival Calabar, Rovers and Pelican Stars
Football Clubs were the major projectors of the State. He stated that there is every reason to jealously ensure that these Clubs do not die prematurely, revealing that the Committee members are part of the history of Rovers FC and their responsibility will also include the recruitment of players and he is confident that they will be free, fair and avoid all forms of sentiments in the selection process.

“…the Commissioner for Sports and Cinematography, Chief Offu Aya inaugurated a five-man committee, with a charge to review the technical crew of the club as well as recruit professional, passionate and goal oriented coaches to revive and return the club to her
prestigious position…”

Members of the Committee as inaugurated by the Commissioner are : Mr. Ekanem Ekpenyong Chairman; Mr. Ede m
Ephraim; Mr. Etta Egbe; Mr. Egan Adat; and Mr. Tom Aniah – Secretary. Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Rev. Ayo Egba lauded the initiative and called on the members of the inaugurated Committee to work assiduously to select nothing short of the best Coach for Rovers FC without fear or favour, stating that prayers should
also be said for the disbandment on the Club to be lifted.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Rovers FC, Mr. Ejen Ebam, thanked the Ministry for the initiative which he said has not happened in the Club for a long time, adding that if the Committee accepts the charge and responsibility of
recruiting Coaches for the Club, then it behooves on them to select the best man for the job.
In his acceptance speech, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Ekanem Ekpenyong thanked the Ministry for finding them worthy and for the opportunity to serve, promising that the Committee will do its best in selecting the best Coach for the job and report submitted in a week’s time.
By Esther Okoi CRS-MOI

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CRS FORESTRY COMMISSION MOVES TO RESOLVE COMMUNAL DISPUTE OVER OWNERSHIP OF LAFARGE LEASE AREA

In support of the State Governor’s moves to secure peace in Cross River, Chairman, Forestry Commission, Chief Tony Undiandeye is leading the Commission to wade into the lingering contentions emanating from some communities in Akamkpa, over the Corporate Social Responsibility of the LAFARGE Africa PLC, a multi-national consortium operating in Cross River State.
In a peace meeting with people from the affected communities, the Chairman, while assuring them of the
Commission’s readiness to ensure that accurate geolocation be carried out based on existing coordinates to ascertain the host communities and possibly, determine the equity contribution of each of the landlord communities within the LAFARGE operational area, admonished them to continue to live in peace and harmony, particularly, that they have lived as brothers over a life time and shared everything in common.
He maintained that the contention can only be resolved in the field, where the boundaries can be clearly defined, and as such, urged all the parties concern to remain peaceful in cooperation and understanding with genuine intentions. In his remarks, Permanent Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Timothy O. Akwaji, said that the boundary tracing would be carried out by a government agency that has the interest of the communities concern at heart and not one that will cause further friction amongst brothers who have co-existed for centuries. He thanked the community
people concerned and other stakeholders, for the resolve that they have taken so far to ensure that the issue is tackled amicably and in oneness.
Responding, two prominent sons of the communities, Prince Celestine Anor from Ekong Anaku and Sir Don Etta of Mbobui, expressed their gratitude and confidence in the leadership Of the Commission for the genuine efforts that they have made so far, in ensuring that all parties concern are given sense of belonging, while hoping that general consensus would be reached at the end of the Commission’s intervention.
It could be recalled that the communities which are within the Ekinta Forest Reserve and Oban Group of Forest Reserve, being the location lease area of LAFARGE Africa, manufacturers of UNICEM cement, have been embroiled in a longstanding controversy with each of the communities claiming rightful landlord status, with deserving benefits. As a Commission supretending over the two Reserve areas, Cross River Forestry Commission is wadding into the problems to help find lasting solution to the immediate and remote cause, using the stakeholders’ meeting
approach, as a precursor to further intimate communities concerned, of government’s plan towards peaceful resolution of such contentions.
The communities include, Abiati, Mfamosing, Ikot Inameti, Ikot Oyomene and Akwa Ikot Efangha and Camp 2,
While the geo-location is at the instance of LAFARGE Africa Plc, the multinational cement consortium, operating in Cross River State.

TIMBER DEALERS CAUTIONED AGAINST ILLEGAL LOGGING IN C’RIVER

Timber dealers in the State have been warned against illegal logging which has caused serious deforestation despite ban on such activities in the State. Cross River State Forestry Commission Chairman, Chief Tony Undiandeye, who gave the warning during a working visit to timber markets within Calabar Municipality, also sensitized them on the
dangers of indiscriminate forest exploitation, noting that it destroys trees that act as carbon sinks and climate
regulators which play significant role in Climate change mitigation. The Chairman further stated that the practice also accounts for the reduction of forest cover area, leading to high temperature and extreme weather conditions
which affect all and sundry. Chief Undiandeye tasked the heads of the various markets to welcome and support government’s forest regeneration drive in order to regain the lost forests in the State.
Reacting to their concerns, the Chairman assured that the Commission is working assiduously to ensure that their livelihood is sustained and their businesses regularized to also enable them contribute to the economic development of the State. The Commission Boss called on the timber dealers as critical partners in the sector to act responsibly by
obeying government policy, stop patronizing enemies of the State who are bent on destroying our rich forest resources.
Pledging the association’s continuous support, the Presidents, Akim, Ikot Uduak, and Ikot Omin Timber Markets, Asuquo Ita, Ebane Ewot and Edet Bassey respectively, expressed appreciation to the Chairman for his leadership style, noting that his visit to their markets would not be taken for granted. The Market heads separately dissociated the associations from being part of the illegal forest activities in the State, hinting that their businesses have been
hijacked by heavily sponsored field marshals and some government officials who are abusing power and taking advantage of the ban on logging to enrich their pockets at the expense of the Cross River Government.
They also argued that timber dealers are not major drivers of deforestation but farmers who carry out unsustainable agricultural practices of cutting and burning down of the forest for cultivation. Some members of the association lamented the loss of their livelihood and cried out to government to ameliorate their sufferings by lifting the ban in order for them to carry out their legitimate businesses.

 

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350 COMMUNITIES BENEFIT FROM MICRO PROJECTS

The year, 2020 may have come with its ugliest sides but one of the good sides that remain memorable to the people of the State, is the great feat that was recorded as 350 communities across the 18 local government areas of the state benefited from laudable projects delivered by the Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA). Added to, over 900 community projects that had been executed before the new addition, Commissioner for International development Corporation, Dr. Inyang Asibong, confirmed that the Agency has been consistent with empowering communities and more citizens at the local government levels, through improved service delivery, accountability, transparency and effective communication, in the last five years of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade’s administration.
She disclosed further that this has been made possible through the support-system of the State and the World Bank Assisted Projects, explaining, “The Cross River State, World Bank Assisted Project is a Community-Driven Development (CDD) intervention mechanism designed for improving empowerment, service delivery and local governance, through empowerment of people in local communities”.
Dr. Asibong who spoke at a “Post-Completion and Project Sustainability” workshop, advised beneficiaries to ensure the sustenance of the assets that are in their respective localities, warning that government will not provide would not provide any further support to any community that fails to maintain and sustain the already existing projects in
its domain. The Agency’s Board Chairman, Sir Toni Ikpeme, commended the communities’ people for taking positive steps that have resulted into the successful completion and implementation of projects in their communities, and
according to standards and specifications.
While encouraging them to further apply more community-level strategies to maintain and sustain their assets, Sir Ikpeme used the occasion to applaud Governor Ayade for making life easier for the generality of Cross Riverians.
Also commenting, Acting General Manager, Mr. Fidel Undie, commended the Governor for ensuring that the Agency is properly funded and continuously, to be able to provide adequate support to communities, even at the height of
unprecedented challenges.

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CHRISTMAS REMAINED FUN WITH OR WITHOUT CALABAR CARNIVAL By: AngelFlora Michaels

Oops! The year 2020 had its worst side. No Calabar Carnival? Oops! No thanks to ugly challenges that made it impossible for the eventful African’s longest Street Party to take its annual turn. The-Corona Virus pandemic and #EndSARS# many “wahala” protests. But interestingly, that couldn’t stop fun seekers, tourists and visitors alike, who trooped into the Canaan City from having their swell times as they answered the Yuletide call for- “Come And Live And Be At Rest”-the warmest acronym ever heard anywhere in the world.
It would be recalled that, due to the destruction and looting of infrastructure in the State following the protest and COVID-19 pandemic, the Cross River House of Assembly adopted a resolution that was responsible for the State
Government’s cancellation of all activities for the year’s Calabar carnival celebrations.
The House opined that government should rather address the pressing problems of rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and security. The House adopted the resolution following a motion moved by the Leader of House, Hon. Peter Odey, representing Ogoja State Constituency. Odey decried the wanton destruction of infrastructure across the State, particularly where the Calabar Carnival events normally held. Reasoning that Calabar Carnival is an international event that attracts people from across the globe, with attendants immense economic benefits, the possibility of having a successful event organization, was not realistic because the most important arena that would have been used had been totally vandalized, citing TINAPA Lake Resort, Calabar International Conference Centre (CICC) and many others, as example of massively looted locations.
Also that the COVID-19 pandemic was not over, hence, would mean putting the teeming crowd usually associated with the celebration, in serious health danger.
Supporting, Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey noted that the pandemic has recorded high rates of death the world-over and reiterate that some countries were already observing a second lockdown, hence, organizing the carnival would be unwise. While other members of the House stood with same voice, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams ruling, observed also that many events had equally been suspended because of the Corona virus pandemic, noting that the safety of the people is paramount.
However, even with or without the Carnival celebration, the Calabar vibes, thrills and frills still made the Christmas great, and most memorable. This is because the people always have their own ways of creating and enjoying fun.
Always ready to provide the best hospitality that visitors with the most cherished wish to return to “Come And live And Be At Rest” at the land flowing with ‘milk and honey’. The local delicacies that abound in the State fills the gaps that would otherwise, have been created by the absence of the carnival eventful times. So, while in Calabar, do know
that you have nothing to miss, no matter, what.
Our popular and sumptuous Meals that come in form of “Afang” (Efik) or “Erurru” (Boki) soup swallowed in lumps from pounded yam, cassava fufu, garri, semovina or semolina flour mixed paste, and ene plantain flour, remains a
memorable delight. So where can you possibly find and enjoy these mouthwatering meals? They can be found in every home, everywhere and around town because it is the best way we go eating healthy here. But for the Christmas
special yummies, the |Calabar Native Delicacies and Mustard Seed points, where some of the prominent places that
visitors, families and friends had their fill. Like all good joints, restaurants and bars in town, these unique places
offered guests quality service and gave them worth for their money.
One cannot talk about the hospitality of the Cross River people, without mention of the impact of Cross River  indigenous Arts and Crafts Cultural Village that is also usually mounted in Calabar yearly, in December.
Since its introduction a couple of years back and subsequent re-organization by Governor Ben Ayade to add to the tourism experience, the teeming population of tourists visiting the state during the yuletide has increased, courtesy of the able coordination of the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Development, Hon. Eric Anderson.
The Calabar Art Craft Cultural Village is designed to project the Cross River hospitality industry, fosters unity in diversity, while propagating cultural tolerance, national integration and showcasing the vast cultural heritage of
the tourism clusters of the State, including the carnival potentials.
The annual event is set up such that each of the 18 local government areas of the State, together with some foreign nationalities and the academia, have stands, where they showcase their diverse socio cultural heritages at a point of
exchange without visitors having to travel to those areas in search of their natural products and cuisines as the case may be. The village also offers academic institutions and Other sub-nationalities of African extraction, a plethora of choices to exhibit their artifacts through culture, agriculture and products made of local craft from the villages and
memorable artworks and other carnival regalia.
For instance, the Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH owned a stand displaying a collection of Visual Arts and artifacts where exhibition works produced by students of the Institution were put up for sale. Anderson, explained that the site was consciously made to serve as a point of exchange that is meant to take advantage of the rich sociocultural heritage of the State, amongst ethnic nationalities and also to encourage education tourism in the
State, information passage to the younger generation and also serve as a platform where people can get to try out options from other tribes and ethnic backgrounds. The Commissioner, veteran movie maker with a good technical background in tourism development, said the idea, is to reposition the State on the world’s map by showcasing its numerous cultural products which span across tourist sites, local cuisines, traditional regalia, arts and crafts, monolithic stories, natural scenery, special festivities, and content-development from major experiences. Noting
that that is especially as Cross River has the most languages and culture in the South-South and even old Eastern region of Nigeria in addition to promotional marketing of untapped resources and re-building a lasting peace amongst ethnic minorities and people of the young age bracket. Cross River serves as a historical warehouse of some of the best cultural heritages, such as having the longest serving Monarch coming from the State, the Leboku Cultural Festival, the Northfest, the regality associated with the Stool of the Obong of Calabar, the Calabar Carnival with the longest route in the world spanning 12 Kilometers, and using the film industry to promote culture as a tool for a continued peaceful coexistence of the people”, he disclosed.
He revealed further that, to ensure progressive sustainability by successive administrations, the State Governor has granted the approval of the area as a permanent site for an art and craft exhibition village, which according to the Commissioner, would serve as an-all-year-round Exhibition centre.
In keeping hopes alive however, Governor Ayade is driving the State, in his known proactive nature, to prepare early for 2021 Calabar Carnival in order to make up for the loss of last year.
Lamenting that the Carnival did not take place owing to the resurgence of the Covid19 pandemic, the Governor said that to kick-start 2021 preparations, a Content Development Team would be inaugurated in February, 2021.
The Team will have the core responsibility of working out modalities that will incorporate every aspect of entertainment into the Carnival with the aim of having a well organized Carnival that would be richer in content in all its ramifications. A statement from Mr. Christian Ita, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, stated that the same Team, the Governor disclosed, would also be responsible for organizing this year’s St.
Valentine’s Day Celebration.

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HOW CROSS RIVER STATE PREPARED FOR POST COVID-19 ON SCHOOL RESUMPTION By: Rose Osang Achu

Before schools in Cross River State resumed classes, the State government and owners of private schools put in place measures to ensure safety and prevention of pupils and students from contacting the dreaded Corona-virus in schools, and its reduction of the impacts of the spread as well as support control measures.
The protection of children and educational facilities is of particular importance as we know that, precautions are necessary to prevent the potential spread of Covid19 in school setting.
Nevertheless, the expectation of parents or citizens from both Government and school authorities are to learn useful lessons from various countries which had experienced an upsurge in cases of Covid1-19 infections after reopening
of schools by noting a decline in the number of infected persons, to ensure that all Covid-19 protocols are put in place and strictly observed in schools by the authorities.
While it is necessary for taxi drivers who convey commuters, especially school children to be cautious on the number of persons they carry as congestion can pose a threat to people’s lives by making sure that all passengers wear face mask to avoid the spread of the virus, parents on their part, should always ensure that their children carry their
face mask with them as they leave the house to school as well as making use of hand sanitizers regularly.
Speaking on the preventive measures put in place by her school, the Head Teacher of Solomon Foundation, Daycare,
Nursery and Primary School, Mrs. Nkereuwen Ekpe, revealed that the school had gone through several processes to ensure that the pupils were safe and prevented from the dreaded Corona-virus.
She said that some of the measures taken included, cleaning and fumigation of the school environment and classrooms, provision of an authentic thermometer for temperature checking, buckets, water and detergents with hand sanitizers, as well as observing of the two meters social distancing. According to her, the school is also
spacious enough to avoid congestion, and therefore, advised parents to do their part in ensuring that they wear their nose masks and face shields and to observe personal hygiene at all times.
She frowned at parents who drop their children in school without wearing face shield or nose mask. While adding that the school has observed all Covid -19 laid down protocols and control measures geared towards the safety and prevention of pupils in the school. Also, the Director Calabar Scholastic Leadership Academy, at Akai Effa, Calabar, Mr. Nyong David, on his part, narrated the processes the school underwent before resumption of schools to ensure safety of pupils, students and staff against the spread and effect of Corona virus. He mentioned them to include, clearing and fumigation of the school environment, Adequate use of thermometer, nose mask and face shield, hand
washing and hand sanitizers as well as observing the social distancing of two meters space.
He disclosed further that, the school has, according to laid down criteria by the Ministry of Education
“Must Provide a Sick Bay and qualified medical personnels for emergency health situation. However, he lamented that the school has faced the challenge bad road network, though he said that, the the school authority on their own
fixed the road for the people, and safety of the school children.
“Due to the topography and terrain of the land, the road needs government intervention for it to be accessible and passable”, he therefore noted, while calling on the State government to assist further in fixing the road so as to alleviate the sufferings of citizens around the area. While felicitating the Digital Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, his beloved wife Dr. Linda Ayade and the Deputy Governor, Prof Ivara Esu and his dear wife the on the 60 Independent Anniversary of our great Country Nigeria. David prayed God to bless all Cross Riverians, especially, the School Proprietor, Prof. Bassey Christy Nyong and all the staff of Calabar Scholastic Leadership Academy. Earlier, Prof Bassey Christy Nyong, called on the youths to be more proactive in their dealings and imbibe good behaviours in order to achieve greatness, stating that she like to see young ones grow up with bright and better future. Speaking on behalf of the school teachers, Mr. Victor Ekpenyong, disclosed that even during lock down, the school authority made sure that the environment was kept cleaned and fumigated in anticipation that schools might resume any moment, for safety of everyone that enters the school premises.

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IF YOU ARE NOT INFECTED YOU ARE AFFECTED By: Cecilia Ofum

In early 2020, the Covid19 pandemic ravaged us globally pushing aside issues of HIV/AIDS not only in CRS Nigeria but the world at large felt same. The story of HIV/AIDS is still the same before the Covid-19 pandemic if not worse.
In Cross River State with our Digital Governor Prof. Ben Ayade’s passion and efforts of committed and passionate Exco members and with the support of implementing partners in the state, the prevalence rate from the 2018 NAIIS (National Aids Indicator and Impact Survey) puts our state at 2.0%. but this is above the National average of 1.4% and it is the 3rd highest in the South-South after Akwa Ibom State (5.5%) and River state (3.8%). There is still danger since we are in between Akwa Ibom state (5.5%) and Benue state (4.9%) and also playing host to refugee from Cameroun, a country with a high incidence of HIV. And these refugees are actively engaged in social-economic activities with the host communities With the situation on ground so far, we have about 47,936 persons who are HIV positive placed AntiRetroviral therapy (ART) receiving treatment across the state, in tertiary institutions like UTCH, and NNR Hospital. 25 Secondary facilities and 125 Primary Health Facilities. The State Ministry of Health through the State AIDS and STI programme Control (SASCP), are doing their best in the Health Sector HIV Response while the State Agency for Control of AIDs SACA and tackling the Non-Health Sector HIV Response.
The Primary Health Care Development Authority with PHCs spread in the communities make it easy for people who are living with the HIV/AIDS to access their treatments in the Health facilities closest to them. So far with the 47,936
persons on treatment only about 3964 persons are members of support groups of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the state presently, CRINEPWHAN (CRS Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS n Nigeria) haven 80 support
groups spread across the 18 Local Government Areas. The support groups meet monthly and beneficial for HIV positive persons, men women and children in helping them learn how to live positively, share experiences with each other and helping to overcome stigma and discrimination. It has been observed that those who attend support groups have also learned how to adhere to their medications and are virally suppressed.
When one is virally suppressed, you live a healthy life and carry on well with your day to day activities and cannot easily infect others. Thanks to the PMTCT aspect of treatment even couples who are both HIV positive can have negative children.
Unlike other states where most HIV positive persons could not have access to treatment due to the Covid19 lock down, the story of CRS was different since people were accessing their treatment in health facilities in their communities and did not need to travel far. There is still need for activating old support groups that are not functioning again and formation of new support group where the need is greater, in areas like the IDP camps. People who are living with HIV have a responsibility of not willingly infecting others by living positively and avoiding risking
behaviour.

“Unlike other states where most HIV positive persons could not have access to treatment due to the Covid-19 lock down, the story of CRS was different since people were accessing their treatment in health facilities in their communities and did not need to travel far”.

When it comes to HIV/AIDS we are involved because if you are not infected with the virus (PLHIV), you are affected
with the virus (PAPA). This is so because we have all been affected in one way or another. It you have not lost a close relation to AIDS, at least you know somebody who have died from AIDS.
The Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has its national Headquarters in Abuja with a National Coordinator/Excos. So also, in 36 states of Nigeria plus FCT, we have NEPWHAN offices and state Coordinators. Let us join hands and see that our state prevalence is reduced to 0% rather than increase more than the 2.0% we have now.

Cecilia Ofum

State Coordinator (NEPWHAN)

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