The ominous signs of a very tiresome jet-lag were painted all over her usually adorable personality. Just back from an official trip outside the shores of Nigeria, moving force of the Greater Port Harcourt development Project, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam should naturally have driven straight home into the warm embrace of loved ones and family.
Instead her first stop in the city became the Atlantic Hall of Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, venue of The Tide’s 40th Anniversary Gala/Awards Nite, convinced that it was the right thing to do. Her encouraging remarks thereafter, her retrospection into what informed the establishment of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, publishers of the then Nigerian Tide (The Tide) by the Diete-Spiff administration 40 years ago and her clarion call to the people and government of the state never to let the newspaper die, as did all others born at the same time like it, betrayed a rare display of patriotism and true love for everything Rivers.
Like Cookey-Gam, the House of Representatives member for Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency, Prince Ogbonna Nwuke, drove to the programme straight from the Port Harcourt International Airport, after unavoidable flight delays from the capital city. Nwuke arrived in time to assume his role as chairman of the occasion.
The duo made a strong statement with their exceptional sacrifice: That true charity begins at home not abroad, and that rather than scamper for patronage of many other media of communication, Rivers people must reason that no one else can love them or champion their cause better than themselves, which to them, The Tide has represented in 40 years and still does today.
Theirs was an emotion soaket reappraisal of the thrills and travails of the state’s newspaper and to highlight the need for all to stand by The Tide if it must make the much desired difference.
Rivers State’s Information and Communications Commissioner, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, who stood in for Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi brought warm felicitations from her boss, whom, she explained would have loved to be physically present but could not due to pressing national engagements.
But the one man who actually raised the ante in the crusade to inspire Rivers people to learn to love and protect their own treasures, was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Frankln Ilerum who virtually held back tears while on memory lane. He recalled the past Civil War scenario which presented the need for an identity, a voice for the government of the people of Rivers State and indeed a viable channel to educate, inform and socially engineer the people towards properly appreciating government’s plans, projects and actions, saying, the same challenges that informed the establishment of The Tide 40 years ago, still persist to this day.
Those years still exist and so he said, it will be unwise to think that anyone could let The Tide die,” Ilerum said in a brief remark at the occasion.
The trio of Cookey-Gam, Nwuke and Ilerum thus, became the metaphor of the manner of guests list that honoured The Tide with their distinguished presence. On the faces of virtually every well-meaning Rivers indigene of note in attendance would be pictured some passion, love and patriotism of state’s creation grounded in the need to help The Tide live and not die like several others like it.
In his lecture earlier in the day, seasoned journalist and former Editor-In-Chief of the Newswatch Magazine, Mr Ray Ekpu, had traced the evolution of the press from Iwe-Irohim, the first newspaper ever to be published in Nigeria to date and said that The Tide is still on the news stand is a great achievement which deserves celebration and total support from the government and people of the state.
Titled, “The Print Media: The Way Forward”, Ekpu recalled, “At independence, the three regional governments North, East and West felt the need to set-up newspapers of their own. In 1960, the Eastern Nigerian Government upgraded its Eastern Nigeria Outlook into a daily and renamed it the Nigerian Outlook. In 1961, the Federal Government set-up its own paper, the Morning Post. Three years later, the Western Nigerian Government, established The Daily Sketch and just before the January 15, 1966 Coup, the Northern Nigerian Government set-up the New Nigeria.
“As states were created, he further said, more state owned newspapers sprang up.” Ekpo listed the Nigerian Observer in Bendel State, Triumph in Kano, Renaissance in East Central State, Nigerian Standard in Benue Plateau, Chronicle in South Eastern State,” and then The Pointer in Delta, Eko Today in Lagos, Statesman in Imo, The Nigerian Tide in Rivers, the Ambassador in Abia, The Pointer in Akwa Ibom, Hope in Ondo, Bench Mark in Ekiti, The Voice in Benue, Herald in Kwara, Legacy in Zamfara, Trumpeter in Bauchi, Newsline in Niger, The Path in Sokoto, National Light in Anambra and Daily Star in Enugu.
Today, The Tide remains the only vibrant state-owned newspaper on the news stands and being published in colour and in fact now read on the world wide web up till today.
State owned publications, several other private newspapers went the way of their public kind.
“Today,’ Ekpu said, ‘you cannot find at the newsstand such private newspapers as Prime People, Vintage People, Crown Prince, Mr Quality, Akpa’s “Choice, Classique, Thisweek, Viva, President, Newbreed, Finanial Post, Nigerian Economist, Democrat, Today, The Third Eye, The Post Express, Daily Sketch, TNT, Hotline, Citizen, TSM, Sentinel, The Reporter, National Concorde, African Concorde, African Guardian, The Satelite, The Trumpet, Searchlight, The Eagle, The Horn, Daily News, The Outlook, The Sunray, National Post, Guardian Express, etc.
“The universal truth is that for any newspaper, private or public, to survive it must be well capitalized and must be run along professional, commercial lines, and with a keen eye on the bottomline.”
Amidst what former Lagos State Governor, Lateef Jakande, once identified as reasons for newspaper deaths, non-capitalisation by owners, undue interference and poor advert support, Ekpu congratulated The Tide newspaper “for remaining a solitary beacon among state-owned newspapers. “It came, saw and slaughtered the ghost of infant mortality,” Ekpu enthused and cautioned, that next few years will be no less challenging but everyone expects you to rise majestically to that challenge as you have done these past 40 years.
Simply, Ekpu said The Tide requires all the support it can get to tarry on, exactly the same sentiment the trio of Cookey-Gam, Nwuke and Ilerum highlighted, in their separate speeches rather than scamper for and waste huge resources to build other media through lavish advert placements and expect the state’s own media to continue to source water from the rock.
Some Rivers people also believe that it amounts to a status symbol to appear on pages of newspapers published outside the state, while viewing the state’s paper as local, a tacit confession by that minority that charity begins or ought to begin abroad, not at home.
First launched in Lagos December 1, 1971 and established by the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation Edict No 11 of 1971, The Tide has been on circulation since then in spite of daunting challenges of terminal kind, the same that accounted for the death of countless other public and private newspapers in the land.
That The Tide still flows is a testament of the resilience, hardwork, focus, never-say-die spirit and industry of the staff and management on one hand and the support of successive governments on the other, as surmised by the General Manager, Celestine Ogolo, on his welcome address to the lecture session on the weeklong anniversary, which started with a workers’ parliament last Wednesday, November 30, 2011 and peaked with the thanksgiving at the Christ Church Interdenominational, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
My Agony is that many are either consciously or unconsciously encouraging bad press, by demonstrating that a medium is indeed alive only when it thrives in blackmails and criticizes it as total write-off, if for the sole purpose of protecting the government and people of Rivers State it adopts developmental journalism as distinct from its yellow opposite.
Another is the rule, ‘Charity Begins Abroad’, nay home. But my joy is that such minds are a very small minority.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
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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