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Ahead Rivers East Senatorial Re-Run: INEC Promises Hitch-Free Polls

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The Rivers Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, has charged stakeholders to ensure a free, fair and violence-free Rivers-East senatorial re-run election scheduled for January, 5.

Ikoiwak made the remarks yesterday in Port Harcourt at a stakeholders interactive forum organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state.

Our correspondent reports that the re-run is between Mr George Sekibo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 11 candidates from other political parties.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt had in November last year nullified the election of Sekibo (PDP) on the grounds that the candidate of the Action Alliance party, Mr Leslie Michael’s name was omitted on the ballot papers.

Ikoiwak said that the essence of the forum was to harness ways of improvement in the upcoming re-run election and curtail violence.

“I want to assure all of us gathered here and  many of the electorate out there that our task as a commission is to improve from what we did the other time and that the platform that we are going to use to experiment that improvement would come from us.

“I want to also appeal that all of us should work to make sure that we improve in our own little contribution to make the electoral process in Nigeria hitch-free, free, fair and brilliant.”

The electoral commissioner, however, advised all the players in the election to play the game according to the rule.

Ikoiwak said that already, the insensitive materials had been dispatched to the local governments while the sensitive ones were being expected.

In his remarks, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, represented by Mr Mohammed Zaki, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said that at least three policemen would man a polling unit.

Zaki said that the police were fully prepared for the bye-election and that 12,000 police personnel would be deployed for the election.

The state Director, National Orientation Agency, Dr Andy Nweye, urged political parties to be more organised during the polls to ensure a peaceful election.

Nweye urged the parties to ensure that their agents had correct tags and mobilise the electorate to come out en masse to vote.

He, however, advised the voters to be orderly by queuing up and waiting patiently for their turn to vote, saying that jumping queue would bring about rowdiness and chaos.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would continue to use every opportunity of election to improve on electoral processes in the country.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak who stated this at a stakeholders meeting ahead of Thursday’s Rivers East senatorial re run election, assured that it would surpass the April 2011 general elections in the state.

“This is to say, the election on Thursday will be an improvement of the April 2011 election in Rivers State.

The commissioner said INEC might not have attained perfect elections, but noted that the commission was working and committed to doing it right at every opportunity.

According to him, we must move from one point to somewhere and in a positive direction.

IKoiwak assured the electorate that INEC’s task was to improve on its last performance.

The REC, however, informed the stakeholders that already, some non-sensitive materials had arrived the state and distributed to INEC local government headquarters ahead of the election, while sensitive materials were due to arrive later through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Suluiman Abba, at the meeting said the police had been retrained for the exercise.

Abba said three police men would man one polling unit to ensure adequate security both for personnel and electoral materials.

The police boss, however, re assured that adequate security had been put together to ensure a free, fair and credible election that would be accepted by all.

Others who were in attendance at the meeting include the state Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), NYSC, Prisons, Civil Defence and stakeholders from eight local government areas.

L-R: Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Rev. Fr. Francis Kali of St. Luke Catholic Church, Kubwa, Parish Priest of St Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Most Rev. Isaac Achi and Senate President David Mark, during their visit to Madalla, Niger State, on New Year Day.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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