The Rivers State Government has reacted to reports and insinuations in some quarters that the state is not disposed to the Federal Government’s amnesty to repentant militants.
In a statement, Acting Press Secretary to the state Governor, Blessing Wikina, said the State Government’s Peace Plans was initiated many months ago with the establishment of a fully-funded Rivers State Social Rehabilitation Centre (SRC), located at Okehi in Etche Local Government Area of the state, for the training and rehabilitation of genuinely repentant militants.
The centre, the first of its type, by any state, in the entire Niger Delta Area, commenced before the formal proclamation of Amnesty by Mr President, the statement said, adding that the Social Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) is headed by a former national security boss in the country, Chief A. K. Horsefall, and to date over 300 ex-cultists have been trained, rehabilitated and empowered to further their new life within the communities, the statement said.
The statement noted that Governor Chibuike Amaechi had stressed it in several public fora a that he was not against the Federal Government’s Amnesty and would do his best to make it succeed.”
It is the fervent belief of the state government that those who find joy in heating up the system by making unfounded allegations are only demonstrating how frustrated and inordinate ambition could drive their excesses, the statement said.
“The Rivers State Government is definitely grateful to President Shehu Musa Yar’Auda and the Federal Government for their commitment towards the resolution of the Niger Delta crises” the statement added.
While the state government wishes to reinstate its position to further assist all processes that would lead to the peaceful co-existence of the people of Niger Delta, it calls on Rivers people to remain focused and supportive of Government as it is determined to develop the state’s human capital and infrastructure irrespective of pressures from detractors.
Rivers People Celebrate Wike On Birthday
As Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike marks his birthday today, both Rivers indigenes and people resident in the State have expressed myriad of opinions in celebrating the special day with the Governor.
There is no doubt that, so far, the greatest encomiums showered on the Governor have derived from his obsessive knack for massive infrastructural development across the state.
What baffles many observers is that the execution of such projects comes with the speed of a sprinter, regardless of the season. Their commissioning is always a marathon performed by notable politicians from across party lines. And, above all, these projects have proved to be of top-class quality.
In fact, it was during the commissioning of one of such people-oriented edifices that Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, of a rival political party and an unlikely source for such tangible praise, gave him the most fitting appellation of ‘Mr. Projects’.
Obviously borrowing from this, one of our respondents, Mr. Edward Amatigha, said “Governor Wike is a good man. Look at the three flyovers he is constructing at a go; whereas his counterparts elsewhere are busy emptying their state treasuries into their personal bank accounts. The man is Mr. Projects, no doubt.
“As for his birthday on Friday, I join other well-meaning Rivers men and Nigerians in wishing him a happy celebration and God’s continued guidance”.
Amatigha, a bank clerk, wished the same level of infrastructural transformation could be achieved in his native Bayelsa State.
Chikwendu Nwokorogwu, a civil servant in Port Harcourt, sees Governor Wike as a blessing to the people of Rivers State and one of the best governors the state has had since its creation.
Nwokorogwu was particularly grateful to the Governor for his contributions to the health sector. She called on all Rivers people to celebrate their son who has done them well in all aspects of governance.
A trader, Mrs Ifeoma Chukwuemeka, referred to the Governor as a man of “timber and caliber”; a man of good taste and immense strength. She praised Wike for ensuring that traders enjoyed comfort while doing their business by building ultra-modern markets for them.
The food vendor wished him well on his new age while urging him to maintain his service delivery stance with the Rivers electorate as more goodies were being expected from the government.
Also speaking, Gabriel Ejiofor noted that “Governor Wike, beyond all reasonable doubt, is doing well, but I just pray that he becomes friendlier with the youths, because we have a lot to explore in our own state. God bless Wike! God bless Muhammadu Buhari! And God bless Nigeria!”
Muhammad Kadiri, who is of the Muslim community in Rivers State could not express his excitement and gratitude enough to Governor Wike. He saw the governor as a man of the people whose peaceful mien is very palpable across the state.
Kadiri said that Muslims in the state, who are mostly non-indigenes, still partake of the governor’s generosity, even as non- Rivers people. According to him, they can access the health and educational facilities in the state and also do business without any fear of intimidation or molestation; all because the governor is very accommodating.
Mallam Muhammad appreciated Allah for Governor Wike’s life and wished him well on the occasion of his birthday today.
On his part, a motorist, Anthony Chibor, paid special tribute to Governor Wike for inaugurating the task force on illegal parks and street trading in Port Harcourt. According to him, there is better traffic flow and an improved ease of doing business in the city.
He wished the Governor many years of success and advised him to remain focused while avoiding any temptation to be distracted by unnecessary political rantings and hate speeches from enemies of the state.
Also responding, Miss Goodness Idong, a student of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt, opined that it is actually a double celebration for the state’s chief excutive as his birthday anniversary falls in the same month as Jesus Christ’s.
She assured that the governor’s vision and support towards improving the standard of education in the state would not be in vain as it will surely serve to produce students who would become very sound future leaders.
Another trader, Mr. Cletus Nwankwo, said that Wike’s good legacy at ensuring a better Rivers State is unrivaled. He described the state’s helmsman as the “Governor of all governors”, saying that his birthday would bring him good fortunes as the Heavens would surely shower him with multiple blessings.
For Elder John Chimezie, it was a very simple and apparently honest confession: “I like the governor’s work. The truth is that I have never seen a governor like him. I wish him goodluck, long life, prosperity and a graceful birthday”.
A civil servant who craved to be known simply as Mrs. D said she was always proud of Governor Wike’s accomplishments as a politician.
“Politicians hardly keep their election promises. But in Governor Wike, Rivers people and, indeed, Nigerians have found a politician whose word has always been his bond; a man who has consistently matched words with prompt action. In fact, an Ekwueme (talk-and-do) governor,” she eulogized.
By: Ibelema Jumbo, Ngozi Dennar, Chioma Peters & Odinakachi Oko
Strategise For Governorship, Wike Charges Ethnic Nationalities
Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has called on ethnic nationalities seeking for the Governorship of the State to liaise with others, rather than take actions that will engender disunity in the state.
He urged the Kalabari Ethnic Nationality and their leaders to be strategic in their quest for Governorship, saying that the resort to needless propaganda will not work in their favour.
Speaking during a solidarity visit on Wednesday by the leaders and people of Kalabari Ethnic Nationality at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Wike charged them to “have a strategy to get the Governorship Position. Quietly sit down with other ethnic nationalities and work towards the seat.
“The Governorship seat cannot be gotten through the radio. It cannot be gotten through falsehood. There must be a strategy in place. Nobody gives you the Governorship Seat as a gift”, he said.
Noting that if the Governorship seat is gotten as a gift, the people will not appreciate it, the Governor said the Governorship position in Rivers State is difficult to access because Abuja and other key leaders are interested in planting people.
“Abuja is interested; other states are also interested in who becomes the Rivers State Governor. They want to plant a Governor of Rivers State. God will not allow it”, he said.
Governor Wike used the occasion to reiterate that no single ethnic nationality in Rivers State can make a Governor, noting that it takes the cooperation of all ethnic nationalities for a Governor to emerge.
The Governor warned ethnic nationalities against allowing criminals to act as their spokesmen, saying that when criminals assume the position of spokespersons, they only generate crises and threaten violence.
Commenting on Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25, Governor Wike said that the owners of Belema Oil embarked on deliberate falsehood to mislead Kalabari people on the role played by the Rivers State Government to resolve the impasse.
He said that the Chairman of Belema Oil met him and said that the Federal Government has agreed to extend the operating license of OML 25 to him, and that after the license was awarded to Shell, he urged Shell and the host communities to resolve their differences.
Governor Wike urged the Chairman of Belema Oil to work for his people instead of generating tension, saying that the State Government displayed good faith when it handed him Certificate of Occupancy for 15 hectares of land earlier revoked by the immediate past APC Administration in the State.
He urged Belema Oil to use her resources to develop riverine communities where they operate, instead of investing billions of naira in the north.
On OML 11, Governor Wike said the Rivers State Government is working for the interest of Rivers people, saying that the aim is to ensure that the host communities are joint owners of the oil facility.
Governor Wike said contrary to the negative falsehood by some politicians, his administration has executed key projects in Kalabari land, spreading across the three Local Government Areas of Kalabari Ethnic Nationality.
In the same vein, the Governor announced that his administration will commence the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road, and also promised the release of financial support for the families of those killed by the Nigerian Army during the Presidential election in Abonnema.
Earlier in an address, the Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba commended the Rivers State Governor for his commitment to state-wide development.
While noting that Rivers people rewarded Governor Wike with a second term because of his outstanding performance during his first term, Alabraba said the visit of the Kalabari leaders was to uphold the Governor’s doggedness towards the good of the State.
“We are here to celebrate your gallantry to uphold the common good of Rivers State. Nobody would have been able to stand the way you did, during the elections”, he said.
He urged the Governor to compensate those negatively affected by the military invasion of Abonnema during the Presidential election.
Chief Alabraba said the performance of Governor Wike led to several awards with the climax last Saturday when the Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality honoured him as the “Dike Oha Ikwerre”.
He commended the Governor for working for the peace of Kalabari Ethnic Nationality through his intervention during the crisis of OML 25 and the conflict between Eroton and host communities.
Also speaking, Bishop Ombo Isokariari said Kalabari people voted Governor Wike enmasse because of his commitment to good governance and projects delivery.
He lauded Governor Wike for standing with the Kalabari Ethnic Nationality at all times.
On his part, the Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bob-Manuel, recalled the visit of Governor Wike to Abonnema a day after the military invaded the area during the Presidential Election, saying that the people appreciate the governor for his show of love and concern.
Speaking further, Governor Wike used the opportunity to call on Kalabari Leaders to prevail on the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, King Theophilus J.T. Princewill, not to allow himself to be used by external forces to create disunity in the State.
The Governor expressed regret that the Amanyanabo of Kalabari deliberately allowed the outgoing Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, to use him to promote divisiveness.
He said: “I want to publicly lay a complain on the action of Amanyanabo of Kalabari. The next time it happens, I will act as a Governor.
“The Amanyanabo of Abonnema didn’t do it; he called me on phone when the Governor of Bayelsa, Dickson tried to create problems in Rivers State.”
Governor Wike said the outgoing Bayelsa State Governor visited the state, without getting in touch with the relevant authorities, under the guise of coming to see Ijaw people.
“He said he was coming to see Ijaw people in Rivers State and he would be hosted by the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and Amanyanabo of Abonnema.
“The Amayanabo of Abonnema called me and said how can that be? The Rivers State Governor did not call me. The Amanyanabo of Kalabari did not call me. What he did was to roll out drums to receive the Bayelsa State Governor “, Governor Wike said.
The Rivers State Governor informed the Kalabari Delegation, that should the Amanyanabo of Kalabari take such illegal action in future, he will face sanctions.
“That day I would have removed him, but I held myself. What they would do is to go to Radio and abuse me. But I am used to insults. I am trying to complain to you people.
“You can see how people are trying to divide a State. A fellow Governor would come from somewhere to create Division.”
He said the outgoing Bayelsa State Governor professes love for Ijaw people in Rivers State, but is busy working to take the State’s oil resources in Soku and Kula.
“Already, we have gone back to Court in relation to Soku oil wells. This is the man who is claiming Kula oil wells and Soku.
“I have gone back to court and we will reclaim the Soku Oil Wells for Rivers State. This is the same man you claim loves you and you roll out drums against Protocol”, he said.
He reiterated that the Amanyanabo of Kalabari will face sanctions if he continues acts of Division.
“If any of such things happen again, I will take the necessary action. I will not listen to any further excuse. That is why I am saying this publicly. Tell him to respect constituted authority.
“It is not good for anyone to come and divide Rivers State, because the state is one. It is unfortunate what my colleague did. I handed him over to God and prayed for God to do his will”, he said.
The Governor commended the peace initiative of the Amanyanabo of Abonnema and urged other Traditional Rulers to emulate him.
He said: “I thank the Amanyanabo of Abonnema for his peace initiative. I urge other Traditional Rulers to emulate him. Work towards peace amongst your people. You cannot live where there is no peace.
“It is impossible to have governance without peace. So you need peace in your domain.”
The Governor, on behalf of the State Government, also offered to bury the late
prominent Kalabari son and philanthropist, High Chief O.B. Lulu Briggs, whose burial has been prolonged for close to a year over family feud.
Stating that the Rivers State Government is interested in according the late Philanthropist the respect he deserves, the Governor said, “I even told them (family) to let the Rivers State Government be responsible for the burial.
“Let the State Government take the corpse. Government will hold the corpse and give him a befitting burial. All I want is peace.
“How can a prominent son of Kalabari Land stay in the mortuary for one year and we are all here. Nobody can speak the truth.
Governor Wike called on the Kalabari leaders to set aside their differences and intervene to ensure that Chief O. B. Lulu Briggs is buried.
“They have divided themselves. You collect money here, you collect money there and you cannot speak the truth.
“I have intervened more than three to four times. Having meetings, but was disappointed by the wife. I have to say clearly to all of you. I have never received insult like that in my life”, he said.
He stated that he told Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs and the widow of the late philanthropist to allow the love they have for Chief O.B Lulu Briggs influence them into allowing him to be buried, and they can continue the struggle for his property.
Governor Wike appealed to the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bob-Manuel, and other leaders of the area to directly intervene to resolve the matter.
Minimum Wage: NLC Gives Govs Dec 31 Deadline
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony, if state governors refuse to conclude negotiations and payment of the National Minimum Wage by December 31.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting with state council chairmen on the implementation of the National Minimum Wage, the union said there were currently three implementation categories in which all states fell into.
The communiqué was jointly signed by the NLC President Dr Ayuba Wabba; NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja; and Abdulrafiu Adeniji, National Chairperson, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (Trade Union Side).
The communiqué noted that Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos and Adamawa have commenced the implementation and payment of the new minimum wage, while Jigawa had concluded negotiations but yet to make its first payment to workers.
Meanwhile, President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, yesterday called on state governors to respect the law regarding implementation of the new minimum wage of N30,000.
Wabba spoke in Abuja at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the minimum wage at the state level.
Present at the meeting were the NLC chairmen at the state councils across Nigeria, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who was represented by a top official at the ministry, Franca Adigwe.
Wabba said the meeting was called to review situations in each state and take a decision towards ensuring implementation by all state governors. According to him, since the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), signed the New Minimum Wage Act to law, every state governor was bound to respect the new wage structure and negotiate with labour to decide what the consequential increase would be.
Wabba said the NLC was aware that some states had held negotiations while some had not begun talking with labour representatives in their states.
He said, “You are all aware that the process has been completed at the national level, including the issues of consequential adjustment and what is remaining is for the states and local governments to implement it.
“We have called a meeting of all the state council chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress as well as the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council and also the heads of service of selected states of the federation. So it’s actually a social dialogue process to take stock of where we are in every state and we will also be able to take some decisions so that the implementation can be done seamlessly because we don’t want any worker to be left behind.
“All of us are aware that from the day the President signed the minimum wage Act into law, it became enforceable. There is no excuse for any state to say that they are not going to respect a law that is actually based on the constitution.
“The national minimum wage is actually a constitutional issue; so clearly, it is about respecting our laws and also respecting international convention and procedures.”
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