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Rivers Defers Jonathan’s Visit …Amaechi, Mitee, Others Mourn Yar’Adua

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Acting President Goodluck Jonathan (right), taking his oath of office as the President of Nigeria before Chief Justice of the Federation,Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu in Abuja, on Thursday.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan (right), taking his oath of office as the President of Nigeria before Chief Justice of the Federation,Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu in Abuja, on Thursday.

Sequel to the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the planned three-day official visit by the then Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to Rivers State  scheduled for yesterday has been postponed indefinitely.

A statement by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Hon Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, regretted any inconveniences the postponement  may have caused the people of the state.

The statement thanked all those who had worked towards the planned visit of Dr Goodluck Jonathan to the state and sympathized with the family of president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua over his demise.

Meanwhile, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State has described Yar’Adua as a friend of the Niger Delta people, saying his death is a huge loss to the nation and Africa at large.

“In a statement in Port Harcourt, Amaechi said Yar’Adua was a friend of the Niger Delta, especially Rivers, who made deliberate choices to change the situation in the region against all odds,’’ He said Yar’Adua’s commitment to the amnesty programme was a signal of his love and concern for the region.

Similarly, some prominent stakeholders from Rivers State have eulogized late president Yar’Adua who passed on Wednesday night in Abuja after a protracted illness.

In a telephone interview with The Tide on Thursday, they described the late Nigerian president as a man of peace and integrity.

Fromer chairman of the Rivers State council of Traditionasl Rulers and the Oba of Ogbaland, Sir Chukwemela Nnam Obi II said Yar’Adua exemplified humility and showed sincerity of purpose on assumption of office in May 2007 in the words of the traditional ruler,” he was the first president who accepted that fact that the elections that brought him to power was not flawless. And right from the time he assumed power he demonstrated a spirit of sincerity”.

The Oba of Ogbaland also said the former Nigerian leader would be remembered for displaying transparency as he reversed the controversial sale of government owned companies under  former President Olusegun Obasanjo immediately he assumed office.

Expressing shock over Yar’Adua ‘s death, President of the Movement for the Survival Of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Barrister Ledum Mitee observed that the late president showed commitment to end the crisis in the Niger Delta.

Mitee added, ‘ Yar’Adua was the first Nigerian president to publicly declare his assets and he showed tremendous humility, but the manner in which his health challenges were politicized might diminish some of his legacies”.

In similar vein, former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the state owned University of science and Technology (RSUST), Prof Bedford Fubara, however noted that with Yar’Adua’s death, the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan would not have succession problem.

Prof Fubara stressed that the constitution was clear hence Dr Jonathan would fill in the shoes of late Yar’Adua in order not to create an impasse.

For Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Social Science in Port Harcourt, Dr Sofiri Peterside, the Niger Delta would gain from the recent development.

Though Dr Peterside described the late head of state as a lover of rule of law and peace, he believed the political equation would change to right the wrongs perpetrated on the people of Niger Delta in the past 50 years.

Leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Asari Dokubo said Yar’Adua’s death was painful considering the pains he had gone through during his ailment.

However, he submitted that the plight of the Niger Delta people are yet to be fully addressed, “ the demand of the people goes beyond the presidency and the individual, it’s about sovereignty, it’s about self determination”.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers from the state have expressed shock over the death of President Yar’Adua.

Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Dumnamene Deekor said Yar’Adua’s death was a big blow to the nation.

The RSHA deputy speaker lauded late Yar’Adua for maintaining peace and security across the nation during his regime.

Also speaking, the House Acting Committee Chairman on Information, Hon Onari Brown stated that Late Yar’Adua pursued good programmes and polices during his tenure.

Consequently, the Action Congress in Rivers State through its leader, Prince Tonye Princewill expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the late Nigerian leader.

He noted that late Yar’Adua would be remembered for establishing the Ministry of Niger Delta and amnesty programme even though they had lapses.

In his tribute, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Mexico described death of president Yar’Adua as a tragic loss not only to Nigerian, but to Africa.

Nwuruku, currently in Nigeria on vacation said in a telephone interview that Yar’Adua promoted peace and development in various African countries through support to Nigeria’s peace keeping missions.

Victor Tew with additional report from Kevin Nengia, Akujobi Amadi, John Bibor, Ike Wigodo

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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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.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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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.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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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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