Rivers State Government says it has stopped the financing of medical treatment abroad for indigenes of the state.
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who disclosed this Sunday night during an informal evening sit-out with media executives at Government House, Port Harcourt, said the decision takes effect from January this year.
Governor Amaechi explained that foreign medical trips cost the state government huge sums of money, noting that such funds would rather be channeled toward equipping its own hospitals to take care of the health needs of greater number of people.
The governor explained that analysis of beneficiaries of the medical treatment abroad shows that only the rich and influential people in society were gaining from such government gesture, as the common people hardly had access to government functionaries to push their cases.
He noted that the state government was aware of the enormous pressure on the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, which is the only functional secondary health institution in Port Harcourt, and assured that the new Kelsey Harrison Niger Hospital completed recently, would be equipped this year.
The State Chief Executive also hinted that twenty-three General Hospitals in the local government areas would be renovated to complement the newly built primary health centres across the state and advised residents with minor ailments to patronise the health centres, to reduce the pressure on the hospitals.
The governor said the completed health centres are fully equipped with at least a medical doctor, trained midwives and nurses to take care of the health needs of the people.
According to him, the current situation where all patients rush to BMH for medical attention has resulted in the over-crowding in the hospital, and cited a situation where a doctor attends to about 100 patients in a day, adding that such arrangement would lead to diminishing returns on the part of the medical officer.
The evening sit-out was attended by media executives based in Port Harcourt, and was the first by any Governor in the state.
Meanwhile, the State Chief Executive approved the naming of the new Stadium to be built at the Greater Port Harcourt City after one-time Green Eagles player, Adokiye Amiesimeka, in-view of his enormous contributions to the growth of football in the state and Nigeria at large.
Governor Amaechi said the building of the 85,000-seater capacity stadium, would be done alongside the hostels in the games village in preparation for the hosting of the forthcoming National Sports Festival slated for Port Harcourt before the end of this year.
Explaining that the contractors have given assurances that the projects would be completed in October, ahead of the Sports Festival, the governor lamented the poor quality of jobs carried out by some indigenous contractors in the state who are handling some of the numerous state projects across the state.
The governor specifically condemned the poor quality of job done by the contractor handling the UPE model primary school, Borokiri, Port Harcourt, the Churchill Road Primary School, and the Eleme Town road projects, warning that the names of those contractors would be made public if no significant changes were noted.
He, however, thanked some local contractors for carrying out their projects diligently, while bemoaning those that tend to see their jobs as political patronage, assuring that government would extract every kobo given to them to carry out the projects.
The State Chief Executive said the security situation in the state has improved tremendously and lauded the contributions of the various security agencies towards the achievement of peace in the state.
He remarked that the New Year would witness the consolidation of ongoing projects to ensure their completion under the 2010 budget, noting that several road and educational projects are at various stages of completion as some contractors were working day and night.
Governor Amaechi also hinted that the state government was in court with neighbouring Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States over the-actions of the National Boundary Commission that ceded oil wells in Soku and Andoni axis of the state to them, and hoped that the issues would be resolved soon.
The governor thanked the State House of Assembly, the Judiciary and Service Commanders for their level of support, as well as cooperation and loyalty of the people of Rivers State despite some hard decisions taken by the state government in the past one year.
Earlier, in his welcome speech, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Magnus Abe, said the year 2010 would be a unique one for the state because last year witnessed a lot of achievements by the present administration.
Mr Abe opined that the level of Peace achieved has began to attract investors back to the state, noting that the government would consolidate on it to make Port Harcourt the safest city in the country as only policies and programmes that hasve positive impact on the lives of the people would be pursued.
The well attended State Annual Banquet also saw presentation of gifts and souvenirs to all the guests in attendance by the state government.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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