Today actually begins a countdown to the Golden Jubilee of the creation of Rivers State which comes up on May 27, 2017, precisely five years away. But we cannot fail to note the grace of God on our state and the new realities that have become unmistakable and durable landmarks.
At times like this, we must reconnect to the vision of the founding fathers of the state. It was a vision of freedom from political domination, a vision of an egalitarian and prosperous society and a vision of a progressive people and an enviable homeland.
Every year, our leaders are challenged not to let the dream die, but to see themselves as the new pencils in the hand of the creator needed to rewrite the story of our progress. One year into Gov. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s second term, we can confirm that our present leaders are rising to the occasion and beginning to push the state to a new pedestal of sophisticated social and economic tapestry.
From a wider cultural base and land mass, Rivers State gave birth to a beautiful state –Bayelsa State. Ever since, a lot of progress has been made, even by becoming the Headquarters of the petroleum industry and the South-South geo-political zone of the country.
Even as we celebrate the creation of our state, 45 years after, we should not forget where we have come from, so that we do not make the mistake of going back there. We came out from some kind of regional oppression and minority complex that should remain only in our history.
We are happy that unlike the past, The Tide can truly associate itself with the activities of the Governor and government of Rivers State. Not only has the approach to governance changed for the better, the conscious effort to restart genuine progress through infrastructural development, award of scholarship and security cannot be missed.
Even as we note the uncommon achievements in road construction, the hope of a speedy completion of the Unity Road, the Trans-Kalabari Road, the Port Harcourt Ring Road and some critical bridges, these landmark projects when completed, will take Rivers State to a whole new destination. Already, the Songhai initiative, the Monorail project, the Rivers Cloud and the many redemptive programmes have separated Rivers State from a decadent past.
The urban renewal effort of the present administration, and the design and gradual implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt City Project speak volumes on what the city of Port Harcourt and indeed Rivers State as a whole will look like in the next five years.
We are looking forward to a Mega Garden City with well laid out streets, free from blocked drainages and flooding and adorned with ornamental trees and street lights. The parks and gardens are being restored and a new wind of fresh air is blowing away the suffocating atmosphere of the past.
Unarguably health, roads, education and power infrastructure have witnessed a quantum leap. Moving from a pitiable past characterised by recession and dilapidation, the state has jumped to a height of glitter, quality and faith with possibilities.
Today, there are primary Health Centres fully equipped and functional with resident health personnel in more communities than ever, while the secondary health institutions, particularly the General Hospitals, have been given a facelift.
In the same vein, special hospitals such as the Maxilo-facial dental hospital at Garrison junction and the Tuberculosis Hospital, a special centre for the treatment of Tuberculosis, have been upgraded. In addition to this, free medical treatment for children and the elderly is obtainable in all government hospitals across the state.
The education sector is also being revolutionised with the construction of 350 Model Primary Schools across the state, 10 Model Secondary Schools, the upgrading of the Rivers State College of Education to University status, while a new campus is being built for the University of Science and Technology.
But mention must also be made of the new power generating turbines added to existing ones, giving the state hope for a regular power supply in no distant future. Of particular interest is the rapid spread of world class road infrastructure to access even communities in the deltaic parts of the state that were hitherto unreachable by road.
The construction of Elele, Ahoada, Bonny and Bori internal roads have led to increased economic activities in those areas and pointed a clear direction to the development of new cities around them to break the jinx of one city status for which Rivers State was known.
Perhaps, the most critical area where the people of Rivers State have heaved a sigh of relief is in the area of security. There is no doubt that night life and social activities have returned to Port Harcourt. This is consequent upon the reduction in kidnapping and militancy activities that stifled both economic and social activities in the state prior to 2007.
A day like this therefore offers the opportunity to congratulate our leaders for rising to the occasion. But it also compels us to challenge them and point them to the secret yearnings of the ordinary Rivers person.
A few years from now, the expectation of Rivers people would be the attainment of a golden State that will be golden in all ramifications. A State where the dreams of the founding fathers and the hopes of the children today will be realisable.
The key to arriving at a glorious jubilee is part in the special attention that can reactivate moribund State industries that are capable of creating more jobs for Rivers people. Also important is the enforcement of good values specific to the people.
Taking a cue from the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement that has revamped the Pabod Breweries and is getting RISONPALM back on track, the moribund West African Glass Industry, RivBiscuits, Metaloplastica among others can be put back on track to create more employment opportunities.
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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