Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has again expressed his commitment to making a fresh start, anchored on development and enforcement of law and order in Rivers State. Amaechi spoke in far away Washington DC, United States of America during a marathon Town hall meeting with Rivers State indigenes residing in North America at the weekend. Amaechi met for over seven hours with the Rivers State community in North America on Saturday, and on Sunday held a breakfast meeting with leaders of the various Rivers State ethnic associations in America.
Amaechi told his audience that when he took over as governor that the rot in the State was enormous and the developmental foundation laid by the first Governor of the old Rivers State, Alfred Diete Spiff had been dangerously weakened because past governments paid little or no attention to building on the developmental base laid by Spiff.
“When we came in, the State was in chaos. If you can still recall, people were then walking the streets of Port Harcourt with their hands raised. There was a dusk to dawn curfew. Businesses were fleeing the State. Social and night life was completely dead. Hotels were battling to stay afloat because there was no business. Our health, education and infrastructures had nothing, they were all gone. We had to start from the scratch”, Amaechi said.
“We had to start by re-laying and building a new foundation for the State. For instance, I had to declare a state of emergency on the education sector after a thorough and comprehensive look at what we had then. We have to start all over again by building new schools, 750 new primary schools in all, 25 new secondary schools, moving the old university to a new site…Shouldn’t we be renovating or adding new ones? But because there was nothing to build on in the first place, we had to start all over.”
“It means we are laying a fresh foundation for our people and the State because the foundation laid by Diete Spiff is weak and gone, nobody built on it, and if you don’t build on it, to consolidate and protect it, what will happen? It will collapse.”
“So we are rebuilding a new foundation for our people… Same thing in the Health sector and other sectors, a new foundation… Spiff had a wonderful policy but others came and were doing whatever they like with our collective wealth, feeling funky being governor and emperor, and people were clapping…”
Governor Amaechi who went to the meetings with his senior adviser on Media and Publicity, David Iyofor, for several hours took questions and told his audience what he is doing to reverse the rot he met and set Rivers State on the path of growth and development. He told his Rivers people that his key areas of focus are education, health, infrastructures and the enforcement of law and order.
“we are building new schools from primary to tertiary level. We will equip these schools to make sure that they are of international competitive standard and will train and continue to retrain our teachers. You are free to come home any time to see the ones that are completed. We are building and fully equipping 150 new health centres all over the State, two new hospitals are ready and a third one inside the state university is nearing completion. We are building a Specialist Hospital in the new city… We are building new roads, expanding old roads and connecting communities separated by rivers. For instance, we are doing a unity road that will connect Opobo, Andoni and Ogoni communities. This is the first time Opobo will be connected by road to the rest of the word.”
Governor Amaechi urged Rivers people in North America to partner with his administration and come together for the collective good of Rivers people and the State. He admonished them as brothers in diaspora to always look out for each other and be their brothers’ keepers.
Speaking on behalf of Rivers people in North America, the chairman of the occasion, Dr, Rueben Jaja, hailed the tremendous efforts of Governor Amaechi geared towards rebuilding Rivers State. He agreed with Amaechi that the foundation that was laid by Diete Spiff was so weakened before Amaechi came in as governor. He thanked him for inviting some members of the Rivers community in America to join in the task of rebuilding the State and laying a fresh foundation. These persons who were present at the meetings and serve in various capacities in the Amaechi administration include Joe Poroma, Tex Wariboko, Ogu Emejuru, Goodlive Nmekini, Robert Ella, Nyema Weli and Chamberline Peterside. Dr. Jaja pledged the continued support of Rivers people in North America in the daunting task of rebuilding the State.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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