Worried over the sudden rise in transport fares and prices of food stuffs following the removal of fuel subsidy earlier this month, the Rivers State Government has unveiled measures to cushion the effects of the hike in transport fares as it has liaised with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to slash transport fares by 50 percent.
The plans were made public by Governor Chibuike Amaechi in a state wide broadcast on Tuesday following a meeting with Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and NURTW chiefs in the state.
With the recent development, bus fares in the state would be N50 in all the routes within the city except those of Park to Rumuola, Rumuola to Oil Mill, Mile 3 to Rumuokuta all going for N70, while that between Rumuokoro to Choba goes for N100 per drop.
The Governor also said the government had worked out measures to further cut the pump price of fuel below the official price of N141 to N137 per litre, adding, “we owe an obligation to guarantee the security of your resources under every circumstance. This is why as a government, we cannot standby and watch while a tiny cabal appropriate your resources to feather their already cushioned nests”.
To guarantee this, Amaechi explained that the government in line with its meeting with Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN) in the state would pay for all petroleum products allocated to the State.
He further explained, “Government will also guarantee escort of these tankers to the stations and monitor them to ensure that there is no diversion of products outside the state”.
Amaechi therefore enjoined all IPMAN members in the state to register with the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC), as he directed all local representatives to monitor the implementation of the decision.
Speaking with Government House Reporters after meeting with the Governor, Chairman of IPMAN, Chief Samuel Osaroejoor assured that the body was poised to partner with government to ensure that the effects of the strike and subsidy removal were not heavily felt in the state, ” we are prepared and committed to work with government to ensure that there is enough petrol distribution in Rivers State.”
On why he took the decision Amaechi remarked, “the decision to suspend the 11 chairmen was taken with a lot of challenge in my mind , but it has become necessary because the Chairmen have become distant from the people they are leading”.
The Rivers State Governor held that at a time like this the Council Executives were expected to be alert and alive to their duties,” they were carried away by the trapping of their office” he noted,” what we have now is emergency and therefore calls for vigilance and requires presence of mind from the leaders.”
Rivers State Governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has appealed to labour unions in Rivers State to collaborate and work with government to transform the economy.
He made the appeal yesterday, when members of the Rivers State branch of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led a protest march to Government House, Port Harcourt over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
Governor Amaechi who is also Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said the President’s decision on removal of subsidy is to rescue the economy of the country.
“The President is on a rescue mission. We know that there are challenges in the society, but Nigeria cannot continue to go the way Nigeria is going now”.
I will plead with Labour to please bear with the President. We don’t have two countries, we have just one country. The challenge of this country today is the sectarian killings in the country and Labour should not be part of it by doing what they are doing now because we will confuse the sectarian killings to be oil subsidy crisis and we will run into trouble”, he said.
Governor Amaechi said in a meeting with National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Rivers State Chapter and with Petroleum Marketers in the state, government had worked out measures to cut the pump price of fuel from the current benchmark of N141 to N137 per litre.
“As a State Government we will not be willing to go above N137 for fuel pump price. We owe an obligation to guarantee the security of your resources under every circumstance. This is why as a government we cannot stand by and watch while a tiny cabal appropriate your resources to feather their already cushioned nests”.
“I have agreed with them (NURTW) that no transport fare should be above N70 apart from fares for Choba and Rumuokoro. We have agreed that the fare from Mile three to Education bus stop should be N50; from Education Bus Stop to Rumuola N50, from Garrison to Park, N50”, he said.
Also as a palliative measure, Governor Amaechi said his government would provide mass transit buses which would be managed by the NURTW.
Also, as part of his efforts to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal on Rivers people, Governor Amaechi continued his series of meetings with stakeholders in the oil sector and related sectors with a parley with major petroleum products marketers and petroleum tank farm owners in Government House yesterday. The meeting was to ensure that the N137 pump price for a litre of petrol in Rivers State is implemented by all the petroleum marketers in the state.
As part of measures to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal and the attendant inflation, the Rivers State Government has commenced plans to establish seven special markets tagged, “discount markets,” to provide cheaper and accessible goods to the citizenry.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi disclosed the plans Tuesday in a special broadcast he made to the people of the state.
According to Rt Hon Amaechi, each of the three senatorial districts would have two of the markets with one located in Port Harcourt, totalling seven.
He also said that, “these discount markets will guarantee direct purchase from manufacturers. The State Government will guarantee that the products are transported at minimal costs to the markets to ensure greater and cheaper access to our people.”
The scheme is to be run by the State Ministry of Commerce and is expected to commence immediately,” Amaechi maintained.
Adding he said, “we are certain that these measures will truly assist in guaranteeing our people lower costs even as we maintain our welfarist disposition to managing our economy.”
The Governor while urging labour unions and civil society groups to review their labour action opined that the economy will be seriously affected, “this would only cause untold hardship to the poorest of our people”, he lamented.
He assured of government’s readiness to continue dialogue with labour, hence, the need for the labour body to put the interest of the nation ahead.
Consequently, the Rivers State Government said the new mass transit buses to be purchased by the federal government would not be managed by the State Government but by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Governor Amaechi made the disclosure while addressing a labour protest at Government House yesterday.
He said, “so we are talking with NURTW and we will ask them to manage but at our own price.”
Ameachi who addressed the huge protesters that march round the city, assured of taking their message to the Presidency but stressed the need for all Nigerians to be patient with the Federal Government over the subsidy removal, “I plead with you give us the benefit of the doubt. As I speak with you, before the end of this year, things will begin to change”.
He maintained that the policy was aimed at strenghtening the economy and at the same time checking corruption in the system, as he pleaded for patience and understanding from the populace.
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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