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For The Record

Jonathan’s Budget Of Fiscal Consolidation

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Being a text of the 2012 Budget Proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, December 13, 2011.

PROTOCOL

I am delighted to present the 2012 Federal Budget Proposal before this esteemed Joint Session of the National Assembly. This Proposal comes at the end of a long consultative process with key stakeholders and it translates the development plans of government unveiled in the Transformation Agenda into concrete actions.

2. This budget is a stepping-stone to the transformation of our economy and country in our walk to economic freedom. This esteemed Assembly would agree that this path would neither be easy nor uncontested; but with a sharp focus, hard work, determination and making careful choices we will overcome.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

3. In the past year, the global economic recovery slowed down significantly and downside risks are on the increase as many countries, particularly in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), have faced serious challenges leading to fiscal retrenchment and austerity measures in the face of high and rising levels of sovereign debt.

4. The Euro Zone crisis in particular has time and again thrown financial markets into turmoil as several countries in this economic and monetary union continue to face difficulty in servicing their debts. On the other hand, although many emerging and developing countries, like India and China are experiencing relatively robust growth, downside risks remain as well. In fact, global growth projection has continuously been revised downward and is now 4% for 2012-2013.

5. These developments have implications for our economy as, aside from the impact on the inflow of Foreign Direct Investments, they could also lead to lower demand for our primary export commodity. We are living witnesses to the extent of volatility that can afflict the international oil market with prices plummeting from US$147/barrel in July 2008 to about US$38/barrel four months later. Thus, although the oil price is currently over US$100/barrel, there is no guarantee what it would be in the future.

6.  We cannot subject the well-being of Nigerians to such large fluctuations and must therefore protect ourselves by managing our finances prudently including by adopting a conservative benchmark oil price for our budgets.

7. There are also uncertainties in the area of international food prices which make it imperative that we take steps to safeguard our position through policies that would promote food security. So far, the Nigerian economy has weathered these storms well but efforts need to be reinforced to ensure macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth.

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT

8. This year marked another milestone in our democratic experience, with the successful elections and peaceful transition. We now need to build on the mandate that Nigerians have entrusted to us to deliver the dividends of democracy through stronger economic reforms to deliver growth and create jobs. I have created an Economic Management Team (EMT) that I chair, and an Economic Management Implementation Team (EMIT) chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, to help us deliver on this economic agenda.

9. The robust growth recorded in the first half of 2011 underscores the resilience of the Nigerian economy and the prudence of our economic policies. Our growth in the 2010-2011 period has been broad-based.

10. The economy recorded impressive growth of 7.85 percent in 2010 and 7.72 percent as of the second quarter of 2011 compared to 5.2% forecast for sub-Sahara Africa. Medium-term prospects are also bright, with real GDP growth projected to remain strong over the period. Furthermore, we intend to pursue a programme of greater fiscal discipline complemented with appropriate monetary policy in order to help stabilize our declining foreign reserve.

11. The non-oil sector continues to be the main driver of growth with increased crop production, growth in wholesale and retail trade and increased financial sector activities backed by the banking sector reforms. Contributions by the oil sector continue to improve as average daily oil production rose to 2.45 million barrels per day in the second quarter of 2011 compared to 2.35 million barrels per day in the corresponding period in 2010.

12. At the same time, food inflation has been on a downward trend from 14.1% in October 2010 to 9.7% in October 2011, but it is still a matter of concern as our objective is to move to low or mid-single digit inflation.

REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2011 BUDGET SO FAR

13. We are approaching the end of a peculiar fiscal year for our nation. The 2011 Elections, the subsequent inauguration of a new Administration last May and the passage of the 2011 Amendment Budget in May 2011 all affected the implementation of the budget in 2011. Provisional data on the implementation of the 2011 Budget as at October 2011 indicate that revenue performance improved during the year over the situation in 2010.

14. Oil revenue receipts achieved the targeted levels as a result of relatively higher oil prices and production levels than benchmarked while non-oil receipts, though short of the projection for the period, are tending towards the set targets for 2011. As of mid-November, about 67% of the released funds had been utilized and we expect it to reach 70% by the end of December which is fairly good considering the circumstances. You will agree with me that 2010 and 2011 Budgets were relatively expansionary, and we must now inject a dose of caution.

15. With the support of the National Assembly, the Government is determined to pursue a programme of far-reaching fiscal consolidation so as to reduce our deficit and domestic borrowing to more manageable levels.

16. We have introduced measures to actualize this programme in the 2012 fiscal year both in the areas of improved revenue collection, recurrent expenditure reduction and increasing the share of capital expenditure in aggregate spending, in contrast with the trend of recent years.

PRIORITIES OF THE 2012 BUDGET

17. At a time when rating agencies are downgrading countries globally, the Outlook on Nigeria was recently upgraded from negative to stable by Fitch Ratings; this was largely a reflection of two things: a) the new economic programme, including the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework that government has put in place with important reforms and a clear programme of fiscal consolidation; b) the successful political transition following the 2011 elections.

18. In furtherance of its efforts, the government has significantly scaled up the flow of resources to key areas of priority including Security, Infrastructure renewal and development (including power and roads), human capital development and food security to give a more inclusive growth and attention to job creation. Yet, there is much that still needs to be done. The Transformation Agenda spells out the strategic direction of my Administration.

19.       In this respect, being the first budget under this Agenda, the 2012 Budget has been designed with the theme: fiscal consolidation, inclusive growth and job creation.

20.       To achieve the above objectives, we have established four main pillars, namely,

(a) Macroeconomic stability;

(b) Structural reforms;

(c) Governance and institutions; and

(d) Investing in priority sectors.

Macroeconomic Stability

21.       Government is determined to pursue policies that will ensure a stable macroeconomic environment through a strong and prudent fiscal policy, manageable deficits, sustainable debt-GDP ratio of no more than 30%, and single digit inflation, thereby promoting real growth. We believe that these measures would engender a stable and competitive exchange rate and help to reverse the declining trend of our international reserves.

22.       Our domestic debt profile has risen sharply in recent years, currently standing at about 16.4% of GDP. This cannot be allowed to continue and become a new burden on our children. So in addition to looking at the expenditure side of our national balance sheet, we are also paying strong attention to the revenue side.

23.       In this regard, we have initiated steps to increase revenues by blocking leakages from various sources, improve corporate tax collection, and boost internally generated revenue. We also believe that we should be able to earn a lot more revenue from the maritime sector. As part of the on-going port reforms, government will work vigorously to increase our revenue from maritime and related activities.

24.       Starting in 2012 for the medium term, we shall focus on cutting recurrent expenditure to sustainable levels through reducing waste, inefficiency, corruption and duplication in government. Recent reviews of public expenditures provide a basis for taking such measures. In order to make capital spending more effective, government is introducing a new template for analyzing the financial and other factors including the economic rates of return, job creation, and environmental sustainability.

 

25.       Similarly, Government will continue to prioritize its expenditures while focus will be on the completion of viable on-going capital projects. It is our intention to fund and bring the large portfolio of on-going projects to completion in the next few years while also taking on flagship projects already identified in the Transformation Agenda.

26.       From 2012, there will also be a robust programme to strengthen our oil reserves base, and increase oil exploration activities in identified inland sedimentary basins, outside the Niger Delta, with the requisite potential for the production of oil and gas, particularly the Chad Basin.

Structural Reforms

27.       My Administration is pressing forward with key structural reforms. We are implementing the privatization of the power sector based on the Power Roadmap which I unveiled last year. We believe that the power sector can benefit from liberalization and privatization by attracting investors in the same manner as the telecommunications sector has done. In the same vein, government will come up with policies to encourage investment in the downstream sector through liberalization so as to create jobs for our people.

28. We have also embarked on reforming our ports and customs and we intend to continue vigorously on this path so as to reduce the cost of doing business for our private sector actors. No longer are we going to be contented for clearance of goods in our ports to take 3-4 weeks with attendant demurrage and costs while it takes 48 hours elsewhere.

29.  In this regard, I have set up a Committee chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance with a mandate to remove the bottlenecks at our ports and another Committee made up of private sector users of the ports to monitor implementation. We also intend to work hard to improve the infrastructure at the ports. Other impediments such as those arising from bureaucratic and costly paperwork will also be removed.

30. With regard to the petroleum sector, the Federal Government is conscious of the need to bring the Petroleum Industry Bill debate to conclusion so as to give investors the comfort and policy certainty that they require. My Administration is determined to bring this matter to closure by engaging with all stakeholders and I therefore call on the National Assembly to work with us in this regard.

Governance and Building Institutions

31. Our reforms can only endure if they are founded on strong systems and institutions that promote transparency and we are taking steps to strengthen ours. As you are aware, we have already resumed the publication of revenues allocated to the three tiers of Government as this will promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.

32. Similarly, the recent passage of the Freedom of Information Act has further strengthened the hands of citizens in monitoring the activities of government and I acknowledge the role of the National Assembly and civil society, in making this a reality. The fight against corruption is a collective responsibility and my Administration will strengthen our anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC to enable them discharge their mandate. Finally, we recognize that we can only succeed in our effort to transform the economy if we have a vibrant civil service and we fully intend to embark on reforming the public service for optimal service delivery.

Investing in priority sectors: Creating Jobs

33. Against the background of the above reforms, this Administration will promote job creation and inclusive growth by investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and security including more support for the police, defence and counter-terrorism operations. We shall also give priority attention to Information and Communications Technology, Solid Minerals development, Manufacturing, Aviation and Creative industries in order to further develop these sectors that are known to be sources of growth and job creation.

34. Let me now comment on a few sectors. The Agricultural sector is being totally transformed to enable us move from traditional farming to modern agriculture as a business both for our small and large-scale farmers. Our objective is to ensure food security whilst also promoting exports in agriculture value chains where we have a comparative advantage. We intend to process and add value to different crops such as rice, cassava, sorghum, oil palm, cocoa, cotton etc.

35. This approach is central to our transformation strategy. Accordingly, this Administration has adopted enabling measures to support the development of private sector-driven marketing institutions, and push for policies that would promote our agriculture to create jobs.

36. To unleash the potential of this sector, the Federal Ministry of Finance has put in place a mechanism to share risks with the banking sector by guaranteeing 70% of the principal of all loans made for supply of seeds and fertilizer by the private sector this season. In addition, to get the inputs to farmers at an affordable cost, we are subsidizing the interest rate on these loans to bring it down from 15% to 7% per annum. The Minister of Agriculture and the Central Bank are collaborating to extend these services for credit availability for the medium term.

37. We are introducing further fiscal policy measures to support the development of the agricultural sector. In this respect, the duty on machinery and certain specified equipment for the sector will, effective January 31st 2012, attract zero duty. We will further look at supportive fiscal policies for the rice and wheat sectors to stimulate domestic production.

38. Government is also introducing policies to encourage the substitution of high quality cassava flour for wheat flour in bread-baking. Bakeries will have 18 months in which to make the transition, and will enjoy a corporate tax incentive of 12% rebate if they attain 40% blending. With effect from March 31st 2012, importation of cassava flour will be prohibited so as to further support this programme.

39. All equipment for processing of high quality cassava flour and composite flour blending will enjoy a duty free regime as incentive to bakers for composite flour utilization. Consultations with the sector to ensure a smooth transition are on-going.

40. It is common wisdom that the best way we can grow our economy and create jobs for our people is for us to patronize Nigerian-made goods. This is why we are introducing enabling policies to drive this process. In this regard, we are introducing fiscal policy measures that will encourage the purchase and utilization of locally produced commodities.

41. From July 1st 2012, wheat flour will attract a levy of 65% to bring the effective duty to 100%, while wheat grain will attract a 15% levy which will bring the effective duty to 20%.

42. Similarly, there will be a levy of 25% on brown rice to bring it to 30%. In addition, to encourage domestic rice production, a levy of 40% will be placed on imported polished rice leading to an effective duty rate of 50%. Effective December 31st 2012, all rice millers should move towards domestic production and milling of rice, as the levy of 50% will be further raised to 100%. Let me add here that no waivers or concessions will be entertained for rice and wheat importation.

43. We have also commenced implementation of the Power Roadmap which aims to create a robust power sector through the privatization of the generation and distribution of power as well as create an enabling environment for investment. Institutional arrangements have been made for a Bulk Trader company to intermediate between power producers and distributors in a market setting, thereby giving Independent Power Producers (IPPs) the confidence to invest in generation capacity.

44. Government, in collaboration with our development partners has created a credit risk management initiative to provide Partial Risk Guarantees (PRG) to give comfort to gas producers in respect of payment. Similarly, effective January 31st 2012, equipment and machinery in the power sector will attract zero duty.

45. The Government recognizes the provision of affordable housing as a social need and, also, a veritable source of socio-economic development and job creation. Owning one’s own home is a basic aspiration of every human being, and our people are no different.

46.       To this end, based on a new housing policy, Government is working with our development partners to create an effective mortgage finance system in the country and to develop value chains in the building materials segment. This will give the necessary stimulant to the sector to accelerate its development and also help to reduce the cost of construction, thereby energizing the construction industry.

47. It is a well-known fact that government alone cannot solve the infrastructure problem, which is why we have invited the private sector and international investors to partner with us through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.

48. As estimated in the First National Implementation Plan of the Nigeria Vision 20:2020, we need N32 trillion for the execution of capital projects over a four year-period, of which the private sector is to contribute N13 trillion. In this respect, we are creating the enabling environment to attract private investments by having a clear regulatory framework.

49. Government will, in addition to ongoing critical infrastructure projects, execute new flagship projects with positive multiplier effects across the country through PPP arrangements in the next three years.

50. In our continuing effort to improve on our human development index, we are conscious of the need to avoid the trap of focusing on economic growth as an end in itself, but rather, a means to improved human development through ensuring better health care, education and wealth creation.

51. To this end, my Administration will continue to invest in these sectors to improve on the quality of education for our children especially young graduates from our educational institutions, support Public-Private Partnership arrangements for skills development and improve the quality of our health service delivery.

52. Fellow Compatriots, we recognize that we can only achieve the developmental goals in a secure and peaceful environment. Accordingly, safeguarding the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country is at the heart of ongoing reforms in the security sector. As you are aware, we have since commenced strategic programmes to upgrade the skills of officers in the security agencies while modernizing security infrastructure across the country.

THE 2012 BUDGET

53. The 2012 budget is based on a set of assumptions reflecting Government’s determination to maintain prudence in the face of continued uncertainties in the external environment. Accordingly, the budget is based on the following:

Oil production of 2.48 million barrels per day (mbpd) up from 2.3mbpd for 2011;

·Benchmark oil price of US$70/barrel, a cautious revision from the US$75/barrel approved in the 2011 Amended Budget;

· Exchange rate of NGN155/US$;

· Projected GDP growth rate of 7.2%; and

· Projected inflation rate of 9.5%.

2012 Revenue and Expenditure Profile

54. Based on the above assumptions, the Gross federally collectible revenue is projected at N9.406trillion, of which the total revenue available for the Federal Government’s Budget is forecast at N3.644 trillion, representing an increase of 9% over the estimate for 2011. Non-oil revenue is projected to grow significantly in 2012 as recent efforts to reform revenue collecting agencies and the implementation of initiatives to further develop non-oil sectors are expected to yield results.

55. The aggregate expenditure proposed for the 2012 fiscal year is N4.749 trillion, which is a modest increase of 6% over the N4.484 trillion appropriated for 2011. I am pleased to note, however, that the declining share of capital is being reversed so it will account for about 28% of total expenditure in 2012 compared to 26% in 2011. We intend to continue on this path so that by 2015, it will have risen to almost 33%.

56. This underscores the need to intensify our efforts to curtail recurrent expenditure, which we have already embarked upon under the policy of fiscal consolidation as evident from the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework. The share of recurrent expenditure in the 2012 Budget proposal is 72%, down from 74.4% in 2011, and we intend to continue on this downward trend up to 2015.

57. The aggregate expenditure comprises N398 billion for Statutory Transfers, N560 billion for Debt Service underscoring the real need to address the rising domestic debt profile, and N2.472 trillion for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure. We are conscious of the need to control the cost of governance. Government will streamline agencies with overlapping mandates as a way to realign public expenditure.

58. In this respect, I have received the preliminary Report of the task force which I set up for this purpose and we shall implement relevant recommendations. We are also pursuing the biometric verification of workers and pensioners as part of our effort to control cost.

59. Capital expenditure has an allocation of N1.32 trillion representing a 15% increase over the amount approved in the 2011 Budget. The emphasis is on the completion of critical infrastructure projects.

60. Based on the above, the fiscal deficit is projected at about 2.77% of GDP in the 2012 Budget compared to 2.96% in 2011. This is within the threshold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and clearly highlights our commitment to fiscal prudence as a way to create more space for the private sector.

61. This will also have a salutary effect on our domestic debt profile, which has risen significantly in recent years. We are determined to rein in domestic borrowing, and through this, ensure that our debt is at a sustainable level.

62. As I mentioned earlier, government has made significant progress in putting the finances of the nation on a sound footing and laying the foundation for rapid and sustainable economic growth.

63. Allocations to some critical sectors of the economy are as follows: Security – N921.91 billion; Power [including Bulk Trader, Nelmco, and Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO)] -N161.42 billion; Works – N180.8 billion; Education [excluding Universal Basic Education Commission, Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF)  & Education Trust Fund] – N400.15 billion; Health – N282.77 billion; and Agriculture & Rural Development – N78.98 billion. Others are: Water Resources – N39 billion; Petroleum Resources – N59.66 billion; Aviation – N49.23 billion; Transport – N54.83 billion; Lands & Housing – N26.49 billion; Science & Technology – N30.84 billion; Niger Delta – N59.72 billion; Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) – N45.57 billion and Communications Technology  – N18.31 billion.

Fiscal Policy

64. Fellow compatriots, you will agree that the budget is not an end in itself but rather, an instrument for the promotion of economic growth, wealth creation, poverty reduction and service delivery to the citizenry. Government desires that we should begin to experience a commensurate increase in gainful employment and social well-being of Nigerians with the rate of economic growth.

65. This Budget seeks to act, not only to create jobs, but to also lay a solid foundation for sustainable economic growth which would deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. In this respect as you may recall, I hosted a retreat in October this year with the organized private Sector (OPS) at which a number of issues including fiscal policy were extensively discussed.

66. I wish to reiterate here that the principal objective of my Administration’s fiscal policy in the area of tariffs and trade is to promote industrialization and the growth of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the economy and above all to generate employment for Nigerians.

67. As part of the process to realize this objective, we have commenced the review of the 2008-2012 Customs and Excise Tariffs to correct identified anomalies and introduce policies that will help in the promotion of industrialization in the country when the review is concluded. In addition, to ensure a level-playing field for businesses, this Administration, beginning from the 2012 fiscal year, will where necessary, only grant concessions or waivers on a sectoral basis. The focus of any concessions will be on expanding domestic production for local consumption and boosting exports, development of value chains, and boosting employment.

68. The Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme has, over the years, contributed significantly in the diversification of the economy through the promotion of non-oil exports. Efforts have therefore reached an advanced stage to review and streamline the Scheme to make it more effective as an instrument for the promotion of non-oil exports. We shall also aggressively pursue economic diplomacy within the framework of ECOWAS to ensure that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) achieves its objective of promoting intra- ECOWAS trade and that it is not used as a vehicle for dumping goods in the region. In particular, we shall review the application of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) to the oil palm and other sectors.

69. For some time now, especially with the advent of the consolidated salary structure, there has been agitation over the lopsided nature of the Personal Income Tax Act and the fact that the tax free allowances were inadequate. I am pleased to announce that I have signed the Personal Income Tax Amendment Act 2011 into law which amongst others has the benefit of reducing, on the average, taxes paid by low income earners and providing a more equitable tax structure for individuals. This law also provides for Tax Appeal Tribunals to listen to, and address concerns of individual taxpayers as a cost-effective administrative intervention prior to recourse to the courts.

70. Other fiscal changes to be gazetted shortly, include tax waivers on all bonds and related instruments issued by corporate and other tiers of Government, tax rebates as incentive to companies that create jobs, regulations to support taxpayers’ self- assessment, and regulations to support the growing quest of those involved in social and community development to get tax incentives for those donating to their causes.

71. As you may recall, Government initiated a new multifaceted National Job Creation Scheme with the provision of seed funding of N50 billion in the 2011 Budget. Implementation of this programme has commenced in earnest.

72. This Administration believes that it is time to give Nigerian youths an opportunity to enjoy the dignity of a job, the support for innovation, the confidence to be an entrepreneur and, the sheer optimism to be an employer of labour along with the security of an income that can contribute to our economic development. We are conscious of the fact that we have the task of transforming the huge potential of our youths into real, tangible outcomes which all of our people can experience and call their own.

73. In this respect, Government is focused on stimulating entrepreneurial activity and setting a framework for young people with creative tendencies to showcase their business acumen, build capacity and create jobs. In this spirit, and to move beyond the conventional paradigm of job creation, the Government, partnering with the organized private sector and our development partners, took bold steps to initiate the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme which I launched in Abuja in October and has since been launched also across the six geopolitical zones.

74. This programme is targeted to, not only create a new generation of innovative real sector entrepreneurs in Nigeria, but, in the medium term, also generate jobs for youths across the country.

75.       I believe that this move will drive the future technological and socio-economic development of our country. YouWin will lead to the creation of about 100,000 jobs through support to our young entrepreneurs.

CONCLUSION

76. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members of this esteemed Assembly, the Proposal I lay before you this day seeks to sustain sound macroeconomic growth that will translate to achieving socio-economic transformation, and gainful employment for our people. But, we can only progress in this course and turn our possibilities into reality when we diligently adhere to the implementation of well thought-out and articulated developmental policies.

77. The 2012 Budget, as our collaborative effort, has taken the welfare of Nigerians as top priority. In an environment of global uncertainties and domestic challenges, the strong support of the National Assembly is invaluable for us to achieve our set developmental goals.

78. As we collectively resolve to create a brighter and enduring future for all Nigerians – a future of hope and prosperity not lack, fear or hatred, we must prepare to overcome any adversity that may arise. Accordingly, we must all be determined and committed to follow through with the difficult but balanced choices that we make in piloting the affairs of this great nation.

79. Finally, I wish to appreciate the enduring partnership between the Executive and the Legislature in discharging our shared responsibility for nation-building and I note, with thanks, the patriotism, commitment and support that Distinguished and Honourable Members of this esteemed Assembly have consistently demonstrated.

80. Once again, I encourage us to dialogue openly, frankly and in good faith over the challenges that face us as a nation. It is my hope that the National Assembly will consider and pass the 2012 Budget Proposal expeditiously; and I foresee even more productive collaboration to the benefit of all our people.

81. I am indeed grateful for your kind attention.

82. May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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For The Record

‘We Are Working To Leave Rivers Better Than We Met It’

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Being a text of a statewide broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on January 1, 2022 to mark the New Year.
Excerpts.
My dear people of Rivers State
As the clock ticks down and as we look forward to
ushering-in the New Year 2022, this is the time to give thanks to the Almighty God for his blessings and the opportunity to look into the future with greater hope and optimism.
On behalf of my wife and the government, let me thank all Rivers State citizens in particular, and Nigerians in general, for your continued love and support to our administration throughout the year 2021.
Indeed, we cannot thank you enough for the trust, the solidarity, the cooperation and above all, your prayers for the success of our government and the peace and progress of our state.
We also thank the police, the Department of State Security, the armed forces and the para military services for working round the clock to make and keep our dear state peaceful, safe and secure, not only in this festive season but throughout the outgoing year.
Indeed, there is no denying the fact that crime and criminality have been at very low rates in Rivers State and citizens felt safer and more secure in 2021 than the previous years.
With the cooperation of the security agencies, we identified and destroyed most of the shanties that hitherto served as safe havens and hideouts for criminals, who have now been dislodged and dislocated from the state having lost the space and capacity from which they could operate with ease.
To consolidate on the gains of the dislodgement and dislocation exercises, and make the state even safer and more secure, we have decided to demolish all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt Township and the Illaobuchi areas of Diobu from the second week of January, 2022.
Those rebuilding the shanties we had demolished at Eleme or attempting to resume illegal trading activities at the closed Oginigba slaughter have one week to vacate or be arrested and charged to court.
Additionally, we have discovered that most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) and some other parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas have been hijacked and are now inhabited by criminal elements who are daily constituting menace to public safety.
We have therefore decided to end this danger by taking over all such abandoned plots and uncompleted buildings and re-allocate them to citizens who are ready to develop and put them into effective occupancy.
In a similar vein, we have revoked the certificates of occupancy of several undeveloped plots of land in old GRA, Port Harcourt, for breaching the covenants attached thereto, which we would also re-allocate to interested members of the public for immediate development as part of the ongoing efforts to restore the entire old GRA to its pristine state of development, beauty and serenity.
We will also not spare those contributing to the perennial flooding challenge in parts of Port Harcourt city and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area by blocking natural water and drainage channels with illegal landfilling, reclamation of wetlands or the construction of concrete structures.
Consequently, we shall recover and restore all landfilled or reclaimed wetlands and demolish all structures erected on natural water channels spanning from the Eastern Bypass area up to Abana and Eleme streets in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. Only those with genuine government permits and allocation papers will be duly compensated.
Again, it is important to appreciate what we have done to successfully transform our capital city, Port Harcourt, to one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria with well-paved streets, pedestrian walkways, dual carriage roads and flyovers.
However, the beauty of the city is being defaced by illegal and indiscriminate trading on our streets, under flyovers and other unauthorised open spaces as well as the challenges with the current largely inefficient refuse disposal system.
I wish to, therefore, remind citizens that the ban on street trading and commuting on motor cycles in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas is still in force.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Task Force on Illegal Street Trading to arrest and prosecute all those: (i) shuttling with their motorcycles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA Junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street; and (ii) trading on, under and around the Rumuola Junction and flyover; Rumuogba Junction and flyover; as well as Rumuokoro Junction and flyover.
Security personnel abetting illegal street trading by collecting bribes and offering protection to street vendors are advised to desist forthwith or they would equally be made to face the wrath of the law.
Furthermore, we have decided to end the menace of cart-pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging and littering of wastes on street corners and the medians of major roads and highways across the state.
These cart pushers and their unknown collaborators are also responsible for the recurring stealing of manhole covers, an act which endangers peoples’ lives and public safety on our roads.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on the activities of cart pushers and directs law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
In addition, a task force would be put in place to enforce this ban while we plead with the courts, in the interest of public safety and security, to impose the severest of punishment under the law on any convicted manhole vandal.
The indiscriminate and prolonged parking of trailers and other articulated vehicles along our streets is another environmental menace we must tackle to bring sanity to our cities and living environment.
Consequently, I hereby direct the chairmen of Port Harcourt City, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, and Oyigbo local government councils to within three weeks from today impound and or remove any trailer, trucks or articulated vehicle packed on the streets beyond 48 hours in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
As we all know, achieving effective environmental sanitation in cities and urban centres is a global challenge, and ours is not an exception.
However, we are determined to improve on our refuse disposal system by reviewing, overhauling and strengthening the legal, institutional and economic framework for a more effective delivery of sanitation services to residents.
I urge that you bear with us for a while and things will certainly change for the better in our refuse disposal system.
As an initial step towards achieving this objective, we have placed an immediate ban on the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
Every household in both old and new GRAs must therefore procure and keep approved refuse disposal bins in the front of their houses to facilitate the door-to-door collection of the wastes they generate by designated contractors.
We will not hesitate to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any house in these areas without a refuse disposal bin or whose occupants are caught disposing refuse on the streets or open spaces.
We have also banned the posting of advert materials of any kind, including posters, fliers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under our flyovers, bridges, concrete walls and the safety barricades along the roads.
We will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with our sanitation laws, including this ban, by arresting and prosecuting both the person who places the advert and the person and institution on whose behalf it is placed.
Fellow citizens, we also have reason to be concerned about the operations and socially harmful activities of nightclubs within residential areas of our state.
Apart from the noise and traffic nuisances suffered by innocent residents, no responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas abutting some of these nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some, as young as under 14 years.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along SaniAbacha Road and surrounding streets to stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of our children and society at large.
Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelope Port Harcourt and upsetting residents for quite some time.
As a state government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on our economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.
However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the state, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
Consequently, I have directed the chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek Road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
Furthermore, all local government chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.
Once again, we express our sympathies to the victims of the recent fire incidences in the state, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
As a government we will continue to do our best to strengthen the State Fire Service to effectively intervene to mitigate the damage during fire incidents.
However, members of the public also have the responsibility to do the right thing to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening and those who deliberately bury fuel and gas tanks in residential areas are certainly not doing the right thing, and should therefore relocate their precarious businesses to more convenient and less risky places.
We wish to also express our concern over the poor compliance with the existing COVID-19 protocols by citizens and the effect on the transmission of the disease in the state.
Believe it or not, COVID-19 is a reality that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted economic activities across the world.
Here in Rivers State the transmission of the virus continues to surge daily and we all need to act together to stop the diseases from further ravaging our state.
We, therefore, appeal to all residents to make themselves available for testing and vaccination whether it is for your first, second or booster jab in addition to observing the existing preventive protocols, including social distancing and wearing of face masks to reduce the level of transmission.
Let me also remind all government recognized traditional rulers that they are, at all times, subject to the authority and directives of the state government and not to other allegiances, culture or otherwise.
Therefore, the consistent absence of some first class traditional rulers, especially the Amanyanabo of Okrika, the Amanyanabo of Ogu, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and the GbenemeneNyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
Should they, therefore, continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement.
Finally, as the New Year 2022 inevitably beckons, we wish to assure you that we will continue to do our best to meet the aspirations of our citizens for a more peaceful, safe and secure society throughout the Year 2022.
We will continue to pursue our objectives for a stronger and more sustainable economy centred on fiscal discipline, revenue growth, job creation, and improved standard of living for all residents.
We will continue to accelerate our development with the sustainable delivery of quality roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other socio-economic infrastructure and complete all ongoing development projects across the state.
I wish to, once again, thank our leaders, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, party chieftains, our women, our youths and the press for the warmth and support we have received throughout 2021.
We wish to specially thank our religious leaders for their prayers for peace and progress as well as for their continuous support to our government in the primary task of building the Rivers State of our collective dream.
We remain grateful to God for the unprecedented peace, security and transformational strides the state is enjoying under our administration.
But we must also be vigilant because our enemies, especially, members of the opposition, are not happy with the prevailing peace, security and the unprecedented achievements we have recorded; and are therefore determined to cause crisis and disturb our peace and joy if they have the opportunity.
Let us therefore prayerfully continue to place our dear state and everyone in the safe and protective hands of God Almighty through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wish each and every one a happy and prosperous New Year!
May God continue to bless our dear Rivers State.

 

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For The Record

2022: FG’ll Leverage ICT Platforms To Create Jobs-Buhari

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Being a text of President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast to the nation on January 1, 2022 to mark the New Year.
Excerpts.
We remain grateful to the Almighty God for yet an
other year attained as a country, united by a common destiny and resolute in our determination to overcome the several challenges along the path to build the great and prosperous nation of our dream.
I salute the courage and resilience of all Nigerians, which was evident in 2021 as this nation, like other countries of the world, faced significant challenges that occurred as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to restore the global economy and social order.
The persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country may have threatened to unravel the incremental gains achieved in the real sectors of the economy and in the administration’s overall objective to position the nation on the irreversible trajectory of sustainable growth and progress, but I assure you that we will remain resolute in our commitments and shall continue to press ahead with our programmes and plans.
The path to nationhood is often fraught with unpredictable difficulties and challenges, and most tried and tested nations have often prevailed through dogged determination, resilience, concerted commitment to unity, and the conviction that the whole of the nation, standing together against all odds, is by far greater and would ultimately be more prosperous and viable than the sum of its distinguishable parts.
There is no doubt that the issue of Security remains at the front burner of priority areas that this administration has given utmost attention to. As a follow up to our promise to re-energize and reorganize the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police, it is on record that this Administration has invested heavily in re-equipping our military in line with upgrading the platforms and firepower required to tackle the current challenges being faced in the country.
The net results of these efforts have been the number of insurgents and bandits who have willingly surrendered to our Security Forces and continue to do so through various channels and the Safe Corridor created for that purpose.
Government, however, realises that victory on the battlefield is just one aspect of sustainable victory. We know that to fully win this war, we must also win the peace and real security lies in winning the hearts and minds of the affected citizens. To this end, working with our international partners and neighbouring countries, we would be deploying multi-faceted solutions that will be targeted at addressing human security at the grassroots, before it leads to insecurity.
Once again I would like to take a moment to remember and honour the gallant military, police officers, and other security agents who have lost their lives in the cause of protecting the territorial integrity of this nation against both internal and external aggressors, assuring their families that their sacrifices would not be in vain.
We equally remember and commiserate with Nigerians who have lost loved ones as a result of insecurity in different parts of the country. Every life matters and every single death caused by any form of insecurity is a matter of personal concern to me both as a citizen and as the President of this great country.
We remain fully committed to upholding the constitutional provisions that protect all Nigerians from any form of internal and external aggression.
On the economy, we have shown a high level of resilience to record some significant achievements despite the turbulence that has characterised our economy and indeed the global economy. The lessons we have learned and keep learning from COVID-19 have encouraged us to intensify efforts to mitigate its socio-economic effects on our nation.
The major wins we have recorded can be clearly seen in Nigeria’s most recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The 4.03% growth recorded in the third quarter of 2021 is indicative of the recovery being recorded in our economy and the confidence that is being shown through the policies that our administration has put in place after the outbreak of the pandemic.
We may also recall that this recent growth is closely followed by the 5.1% (year-on-year) growth in real terms recorded by Nigeria in Quarter 2 of 2021. This growth was one of the best recorded by any nation across Sub-Saharan Africa. The 5.1% growth at that time was and remains the highest growth recorded by the Nigerian economy since 2014.
Despite the challenges we have faced as a nation, the good news is that we have so far recorded four consecutive quarters of growth after the negative growth rates recorded in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 of 2020 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 16, 2021, I signed the landmark Petroleum Industry Act into law. The signing of this legacy legislation is a watershed moment in the history of our nation, considering the massive positive impact the new Act would have on the economy. I would like to sincerely commend the 9th Assembly for the grit they demonstrated, succeeding where others have failed, and the cooperation that led to the completion of this process after almost two decades.
Just like I stated during the investment trips and fora that I have attended recently, the legislation is expected to serve as a liberalising force in the energy industry, and we are optimistic that this law will provide the much-needed legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the development of the energy sector, the host communities, and Nigeria as a Nation. Our objective to increase liquefied natural gas exports and expand our domestic market is still very much at the forefront of some of the policies we would be pushing in the New Year.
In year 2022 and going forward, our administration would intentionally leverage ICT platforms to create jobs, while ensuring that the diversification of our economy creates more support to other emerging sectors. I am proud to announce that several foreign investors are taking advantage of our ranking as one of the leading start-up ecosystems in Africa to invest in our digital economy.
We have given the utmost priority to fighting corruption and other related offenses which have been a bane to the growth and prosperity of our dear nation. We have made major strides and breakthroughs through the innovative use of technology and forensics in the investigative and prosecutorial procedures with commendable results to show that the anti-corruption drive of our administration is succeeding.
In the meantime, the accomplishments that have been recorded so far can be traced to the dedication of the nation’s anti-corruption agencies who have received the necessary support needed to effectively prosecute their duties.
Despite our challenges in 2021, it was also a year in which the administration executed successfully, key projects, programmes, and initiatives to fulfil the promises made under the Security, Economy Anti-corruption (SEA) agenda.
As we welcome 2022, let us, with hope; envision a year of continued progress against our combined challenges arising from security and socio-economic issues.
As it is said, the past is but a story told, the future will still be written in gold. Let us be united in our fight to keep our Nation united against all odds and with gratitude, celebrate life in this new epoch.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

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For The Record

King Ambrose Ezeolisa Alagoa: A Trans-Generational Colossus

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History beckons in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, come Saturday, December 4, 2021, as the Nembe Se Lawyers Forum, the Umbrella body of all lawyers of Nembe-Ibe extraction in Nigeria and in the Diaspora would be rolling out the drums amidst pomp and fanfare, to bestow posthumous honour on the Late Amanyanabo of Nembe, His Lordship, Justice Ambrose Ezolisa Alagoa, Mingi the eleventh.
The grandiose event, billed to hold at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet hall is the first Inaugural Lecture in honour of the monarch under the Chairmanship of Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ebiowei Tobi.
It is expected to attract the crème de la mare of society as well as political titans and legal heavy weights and juggernauts drawn from far and near including of course, Chief Kanu Godwin Agabi, SAN, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as Guest lecturer while His Royal Majesty, King Edmund Daukoru, Amanyanabo of Nembe will grace the occasion as the Royal Father of the Day.
This is hardly surprising as His Royal Majesty, King Ambrose Alagoa was a man of many firsts and occupies a strategic place in the juridical annals of Bayelsa State being the first lawyer of Nembe Se descent and first indigenous Chief Judge in the Old Rivers State thus making him the forens et origo, that is the source and origin of the Nembe Se Lawyers Forum.
Unarguably, the deceased monarch as an unapologetic, pathological crusader for natural justice, equity and good conscience and was known for his unabashed belief in the rule of law as the pillar of democracy.
Instructively, this coincides with the theme of the Inaugural Lecture which is woven around the role of the judiciary in a democratic dispensation, the rule of law undeniably being the nexus and plexus of a true democracy which guarantees the total and unfettered independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
To be sure, the late monarch epitomises the bastion and beacon of hope for the Nigeian Bar and Bench to uphold the cannon of natural justice to wit, nemo judex in causa sua and audi alteram partem on which hang all the law and jurisprudence the world over.
King Ambrose Alagoa, jurist, philanthropist and social crusader was born into the royal family of His Royal Majesty, Francis Ossomade Joseph Alagoa, Mingi X, Amanyanabo of Nembe by one of his wives, Madam Nwaokiri Rose Onyeka.on August 24, 1914
Ambrose Alagoa was the second son of his father. His father, Francis Ossomade Joseph Allagoa was the son of a rich influential merchant, Queen – Okwei of Osomari Kingdom in present-day Delta state) and merchant father, Chief Joseph Alagoa, grandson of KingBoy Amain, Mingi V, then Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom.
He was raised under the highly puritanical and much disciplined watch of his parents who were both devout Catholics, adhering to the sanctimonious doctrines of the Christian faith. Additionally, his father was a foremost nationalist and held the position of Chairman of the RCPC.
All these and more largely helped to shape and mould the world view of the young Ambrose in his growing up years. His propensity and penchant to right the many wrongs of society through lawful means and to salvage the oppressed, weak and vulnerable was the outward expression of a divine nudge to enroll in the most noble profession of all times, the legal profession later in life
Early Life and Education:
As a Prince, he was privileged to receive top notch, top rate, and cutting edge formal and informal education from his parents. He started his primary education in 1927 at the Government School, Owerri but later moved to St Mary’s School, Port Harcourt that same year to complete his primary education in 1932. Thereafter, he returned to Onitsha where he attended the prestigious Christ the King College, Onitsha from 1932 to 1936 as a pioneer student of the college.
It is on record that he was the youngest graduate to have obtained the senior Cambridge certificate at the enviable age of 22 in 1936 and was noted for exceptional academic performance.
Consequently, a few years later, in a bid to actualise his dream of joining the league of lawyers, he proceeded to the famous Cambridge University, London in 1946 to study Law and by April 1949, he bagged the prestigious LLB (Hons) Degree, qualifying as a lawyer with the Council of Legal Studies, London and was subsequently called to the English Bar on January 26, 1950 and admitted as a member of the Lincoln Inn, London, thus, setting the stage for his private legal practice which started immediately in the city of Port Harcourt between 1950 and 1962.
Political Career
Leveraging on his legal expertise and prowess, Justice Ambrose Alagoa served as Deputy Mayor of Port Harcourt Municipal Council between 1951 and 1959, and thereafter elected as the 2nd substantive Mayor of Port Harcourt Municipal Council. He took over from Mayor Richard Okwosha Nzimiro in 1959 and served in this capacity for three years. By and large, he was instrumental in transforming the City of Port Harcourt into the much hyped name Garden City and it is on record that he was the first Mayor of Port Harcourt to have successfully brought the Prime Minister of Nigeria Sir Tafawa Balewa and the then Premier of the Eastern Region, Chief Michael Okpara on a visit to the Garden City.
Legal Career and Impact on the Bar and Bench
He successfully sat for and made distinctions in his senior Cambridge Certificate exam after his education at Christ the King College. This enabled him to secure gainful employment in the Federal Civil Service and worked as a clerk in the judicial arm of government.
As a civil servant, he was posted to Lagos, Enugu and Port Harcourt before proceeding for further studies in London, qualifying as an Attorney at Law.
Upon his return, King Ambrose Alagoa had a successful career as a member of the Bar, winning several of his cases and laurels, and this won him the respect and admiration of many lawyers.
As a lawyer, he had an excellent legal practice in Port Harcourt with his law firm, Allagoa & Allagoa Legal Practitioners, (Our Lady of Fatima Chambers). He had a brilliant and successful career, representing clients such as J. T. Chanrai.
In 1962, the Eastern Regional Government impressed with his diligence and dignified service at the Bar, elevated him to the Bench as a High Court Judge. He presided in various judicial divisions as Abakaliki, Nsukka, Ikot Ekpene, Umuahia, and Port Harcourt .
However, sequel to the creation of Rivers State by the then administration of General Yakubu Gowon, His Highness was transferred to the newly created state where he was a judge from 1970 to 1975.
In 1976, he made history following his appointment as the first indigenous Chief Judge of Old Rivers State. He retired three years later on the 24 September, 1979, having attained the mandatory retirement age of 65 years.
His Lordship (late) H.R.M. Justice Ambrose Ezeolisa Alagoa is mostly remembered for his doggedness in standing on the side of truth and justice in the celebrated case of famous Amakiri v. Iwowari where, as the presiding judge, he exhibited rare courage in the award of damages in favour of the injured journalist, Amakiri even amidst threats to his life and family. This earned him both local and international accolades and encomiums. Consequently, the City of Oklahoma, USA, awarded him “Life Mayor, Oklahoma City, USA”
Religion
His Lordship late King Ambrose Alagoa was a deeply religious and devoted Christian of the Roman Catholic stock. He believed very strongly in service to God and humanity and, therefore, devoted the larger part of his litigation and adjudicating years advocating for the poor, hopeless, weak and vulnerable. This attribute was not uncommon in the family and found expression in his maternal great grandfather (King Atamanya- Nzedegwu of Ossomari) who invited Roman Catholic priests into his Ossomari Kingdom during his reign. He was a highly distinguished and respected Knight.
It would be recalled that during the 1959 elections, he checked the bid by Protestants to marginalise the Catholics in the defunct Eastern Nigeria. This show of derring-do and bravado culminated in the appointment of six Catholics as ministers in the Michael Okpara led cabinet.
He is fondly remembered for being the foremost founder of the Order of the Knight of St. Mulumba of Nigeria KSM in Rivers State in 1985, and subsequent inauguration on 26th September 1987 of the Port Harcourt Sub Council of the Order of the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) Port Harcourt.
He was the first Grand Knight of the Knight of the Order of Saint, Mulumba, Port Harcourt Sub Council.
Against this backdrop, an oration presented by the Order Of the Knights of Saint Mulumba, KSM, Port Harcourt in honour of His Majesty the King succinctly captures his religious predilections in these words:
“We recall the crucial role he played as a Catholic in post-war Rivers State. At the end of the Civil War, Catholics generally were haunted in Rivers State. In spite of this unwholesome phenomenon, he not only stood firm in the Catholic Church, but also participated and supported the persecuted clergy. He assisted the Catholic Church immensely in identifying and recovering some of her properties at the end of the war in Rivers State. His full participation during Corpus Christi procession, in spite of acute challenges of age, epitomised his commitment to the Catholic faith.”
Reign on the Throne
His Majesty the late King Ambrose Ezeolisa Allagoa was crowned King and Amanyanabo of Nembe on the 12th of April, 1980, succeeding his father. As Mingi XI, he reigned for 23 years and served with the fear of God.
He passed away peacefully on February 17, 2003 at the age of 89. He was survived by five sons and three daughters amongst a host of other notable siblings.
Following the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, he worked assiduously to ensure the smooth take-off of the state as a whole and the judicial arm of government in particular.
He served as the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council both in Rivers State and subsequently in Bayelsa State during which time he worked tirelessly to promote peace and stability in his domain..
In retrospect, there is no gainsaying that his peaceful disposition earned him respect from his subjects as well as other monarchs from within and outside the state such as Ogbia, Kalabari Kingdom, Abua, Benin Kingdom, to mention a few.
Interestingly, during his reign, the then Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa was said to have made a historic visit to Nembe.
Equally noteworthy is his role in the in mounting pressure on Shell Petroleum Development Company as well as the federal and state governments to collaborate to build the long proposed road to Nembe; an effort that paid off handsomely as Nembe is now accessible by road.
Recreation, Hobbies and Philanthropy
His Majesty was a lover of sports, and like the present Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Twon Brass , King Papapriye Diete Spiff, His Majesty, Justice Ambrose Alagoa loved the game of golf with passion and he showed this by supporting the Golf Section of the Port Harcourt Club as far back as 1928.
He was also a member of Rotary International and known for travelling to various conferences in company of his wife.
It is gratifying to note that King Ambrose Alagoa was among the founders of Leonard Cheshire International Home in Port Harcourt; a welfare organization committed to providing succour for the less privileged and physically challenged in society.
Honours
In 1978, following his brilliant career at the Bar and Bench, the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1978 conferred him with the enviable honours of the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
He also held the prestigious title of the Grand Knight of the Order of Saint Sylvester conferred on him by Pope Paul VI in 1977 as well as the Grand Knight of the Order of St. Gregory conferred on him by Pope John XXIII in 1978. His Lordship King Ambrose Alagoa was until his death a Honorary Citizen of Maryland, USA conferred on him by Governor Preston Smith in 1972.
In 1976, he was appointed Chairman of the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry into the Rivers State Tourists and Hotels Corporation and Chairman Commission of Inquiry into the Organisation and Management and Running of the Rivers State College of Education.
Also, he was Pro-Chancellor, University of Ilorin 1978 and later Pro-Chancellor, University of Sokoto 1982-83. In 1985, he was appointed Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, a position he held until 2000. He was Life Patron, Nigerian Red Cross and Trustee, Port Harcourt Club.
In November 1988, following his rich and robust legal career, the University of Ilorin conferred on him an Honorary Doctor of Laws (Hon. LLD
Conclusion
There is no doubt that His Royal Mmajesty lived as fulfilled life and bequeathed a worthy legacy. Life is lived to the fullest when the person in question discovers purpose, walks in it and uses it to impact and transform lives cutting across generations.
This is the challenge thrown up by the life and times of this legend, colossus, cornucopia, renowned jurist and monarch extra ordinaire.
In the words of John Donne, the celebrated British Poet, “Every man’s death dehumanises me because I am involved in mankind and, therefore, never seems to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
Indeed, the task before the judiciary, officers of court and ministers in the temple of justice is therefore both daunting, herculean and onerous especially in a quasi democracy such as ours which appears to put democracy on the reverse and attempts to stand the rule of law on its head.
Even so, with the matchless legacy bequeathed by the late monarch in Nigeria’s jurisprudence, hope beckons for the judiciary and, indeed, the legal profession, to continue against all odds, to prove its mettle as the impartial arbiter of justice and what is more, live up to its billings as the much vaunted last hope of the common man now and in the generations ahead.
But the greater challenge lies before the Government and people of Bayelsa State as a wakeup call to immortalise a man who gave his all to the legal profession and leveraged it to drive the hallowed principles of peace, justice, equity, fairplay even in the most tempestuous of times, for as Williams Shakespeare puts it, “When beggars die, there are no comets seen. But the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of Princes.”
His Lordship, Late King Ambrose Ezolisa Alagoa was not just a prince. He was the Mingi XI, Amanyanabo of Nembe. He deserves to be immortalised and celebrated by his people.
It is against this background that the move by the Nembe Se Forum to initiate an Inaugural Lecture series to be held annually in his honour becomes not only heartwarming and commendable but above all historic. On its part, the Government, and in particular the Government and people of Bayelsa State must pick up the gauntlet and take it even several notches higher by giving honour to whom honour is due.

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