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Press Centre: Eye-sore, Of Port Harcourt?

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We have travelled round the country and there is nowhere you can see this kind of thing as press centre.

It is a sight that would have filled the late journalist and lawmaker, Ernest Ikoli with revulsion and perhaps drawn base reactions from him. And to think that the dilapidated centre was actually named to immortalise him is a disservice to the memory of a great statesman.

It is hard to imagine if his weather beaten statue that reinforces the claim that the centre is named after him would not have walked away in disgust and leave curses in its trail, if it could just look back at the neglect accentuated after the rainstorm of April 6, 2010.

But alas, only visitors to this centre of Port Harcourt, where all the arms of government are in touching distance, look in shock and disbelief and sometimes voice out their consternation at the desolate state of the NUJ Secretariat/Press Centre.

One visitor was over heard wondering how the skyline could be allowed to be so defaced by such a structure that should otherwise have been prided as a bastion of democracy rightly positioned adjacent to the magisterial Rivers State House of Assembly complex and by the imposing Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC zonal secretariat.

Or indeed, some metres away from the judiciary complex where magnificent structures seem to sprout.

There is no gain saying the grandeur of the Rivers State Government House. The axis boasts a sky line that only reminds or alarms any perfunctory observer about the neglect of the Fourth Estate of the Realm,. The torch bearer of democracy that we all benefit from.

It would be seen that the government even with members that had worked in that secretariat and the elite of the state, especially the loud public analysts on radio have not only turned a blind eye to the centre that now looks like an old war relic.

Perhaps, it was what pushed the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr Opaka Dokubo, to take his case to the popular “Nigerian pidgin language radio station Wazobia FM, to further drive his appeal for assistance.

However, Mr Dokubo averred that the union had actually made a request to the governor, through the Commissioner for Information, Mrs Ibim Seminatari, a journalists and was still in the process of securing the desired assistance.

The state secretary of the union, Mr Stanley Job told The Tide on Sunday that it was the wish of the body to have a completely new structure that would complement the architectural pieces in that axis, match the expectations of people on what a state press centre should look like and add glory to Rivers State, but for now it has decided to scale down its ambition. The long and short of the representation to the government is that there has been no word other than a non – definitive date in July to discuss the issue.

It is short of expectations of a union with a sizeable number of their members in government.

Though Mr Dokubo admitted that there were professional colleagues in government, he said, members of the union in the state were aware and all had a responsibility to the development of the union and its infrastructure whether they have been formally solicited or not. The fact is that the union had since held meetings on the issue and former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and former commissioner for Information, Mr Ogbonna Nwuke had attended the meetings and made useful contribution. Mr Dokubo disclosed that the only other entity that it visited so far, the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency  (RSSDA) had responded with reasonable donation that was still not enough.

He explained that the body had decided to do a simple renovation but the estimates were beyond what the union, even with the RSSDA support, could deploy to meet the cost for now.

The thinking of some members has been that though there may be no formal budgetary ties, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the government could help. “We have travelled round the country and there is nowhere you can see this kind of thing as press centre,” said one journalist. And that was even before the constant seeping of water from the de-roofed floor started leaving watermarks in the offices below  and causing other damages.

In the views of the state council chairman, any government or entity that treasures democracy, good governance and the relevance of the fourth estate to its success had a responsibility to contribute to its growth.

“Anywhere in the world, government should have a hand in building a vibrant press,” the chairman said.

He explained that what the state council needs to fix the roof is N3,2 million, even if their ambition is a structure that will help raise funds and assist the union fulfill other obligations. What the executive of the union seems to have  is a healthy dose of optimism. However, unless something is done fast, the structure will continue to send wrong signals about the attitude to the press in Port Harcourt and remain a drawback on general efforts to restore the Garden City.

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Metro

Rivers, A Global Investment Hub

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Nothing could be more elusive and desirous as the special skills and talent of a wand and a midas touch. Dr Freeman O’ Freeman is one the few possessive of this rare gift. He has a penchant for the reorganization of ailing industries, organizations and institutions. The foremost technocrat and consultant was recently spotted by the Port Harcourt Metro at a public function in the Garden city. When his attention was sought for an interview he willingly obliged an the session was a deep insight into his experience especially his years of consultancy services with the Rivers state Government in the  early 1990s. During these period he recalled that 14 parastalals and government agencies including the three state owned media Houses were under his consultancy services for full reorganisation process. “We made the State Electricity Board to be the highest revenue earner after the Ministry of finance, we also made the staffs of Water Board, Super Board, and Rivers Marine to earn their salary after the reorganization processes, some of the moribond companies can still be revived.”  He said Rivers state was deeply blessed with potentials to host the business world through flourishing business activities, nothing that most black Americans business moguls were looking for opportunities of investing their wealth and knowledge. Dr Freeman who is also and author and religious counsellor emphasized the need for proper restructuring of the Nigerian state to address the needs and imperatives of justice in the country. He canvassed for the creation of a state owned insurance company to secure the wealth and investments of  Rivers state. “ Rivers state is global investment hub, their is need to decongest Lagos by tapping into the enormous investment potentials in Rivers state, it’s quite unfortunate that investments of Rivers state government are easing out without full privileges to the state government, despite hosting two federal terminals economic activities in the state is still low. I want the Rivers state government to reap the benefit of insurance before Governor Wike leaves office, it will count for him as one his greatest legacies for Rivers people. Commenting on the prevalence of ethno religious crisis in the country, he pointed out the very custodians of religious faith were the propellers of the evolving Crisis. “it’s very unfortunate that people don’t practice what they preach, the much resources in the hands of the ministers should be redirected for the interest of the followers, the early missionaries gave education virtually free. Ministers should allow their members to have leveraging access to their schools, this will reduced the loads of poor parents and help in producing an informed and better society”. With a deep sense of concern, he urged the federal government to address the growing spate of insecurity in country, particularly the “ incautious activities of herders.

 

By: Taneh Beemene

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Metro

Wife Battery: Man Forced To Undertaken By In-laws

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In a bid to restore the marriage of a certain couple in Port Harcourt, ( names withheld) the family members and parents of the wife has forced the husband to an undertaken that he will no longer used their daughter as a punch bag. The Port Harcourt Metro gathered the parents of the wife are relatively well to do very supportive to the upkeep of their daughters family. Their intervention came as a result of repeated cases of physical and psychological abuses of their daughter by her husband. It was also gathered that the parents of the wife had made moves to terminate the relationship to secure the life of their daughter but she bluffed their moves and stuck to the marriage based on her professed love for the husband. The husband was said to have been invited to an intense family session during which he was asked to sign an undertaken to be of good conduct and act as a responsible man or gets his wife forfeited. The session became dramatic when the repentant husband and in-law was said to have broken down in tears , with confessions that he was always propelled by some incontrollable forces to act the way he did.

 

By: Taneh Beemene

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Metro

Group Plans Grassroots Medical Campaign

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As part of measures of promoting effective medical care at the grassroots, a body under the auspices of Medical  Xray and Imaging Technicians Association of Nigeria says plans has been put in place for mass sensitisation on the need for greater access to medical services at the rural areas. National President of the body, Rev Akiene Nunyor who disclosed this during a chat with newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the sensitisation was targeted at rousing the sensitivities of critical stakeholders towards improving health care at the rural areas as well as creating awareness among the rural dwellers. He pointed out that the absence of ultra sound facilities at rural communities was responsible for high mortality among pregnant women in rural communities, as they lacked access to the facilities. Its difficult for women to go for scan exercises for proper medical check at the rural areas. In times of emergencies before they get to the urban areas that have the facilities it becomes late. He called for a synergy between the private sector and government especially in the area of research, training and manpower development in the health sector,  He assured that the body was ready to provide the professional regulatory services for middle manpower development and standards in medical practice. While commending the Rivers state Government for its efforts in promoting care in the state he called for a “ Public/ Private sector  driven “approach in promoting effective health sector delivery.

 

By: Taneh Beemene

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