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Rivers At 45! … Any Reason To Celebrate?

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To properly evaluate how well or how poorly Rivers State has faired in the past 45 years such analysis, must, of necessity, underscore the hopes, dreams and ideals that informed the clamour and rigorous agitation for state creation by the founding fathers. It must also ascertain, how well, such dreams have been met.

But more than that, knowing that society is dynamic with change as the only rigid constant, it would be naïve on the part of the writer to limit such literature to dreams about half-a-decade ago, when, the Nigerian nation depended mainly on agriculture and other mineral resources for her economic mainstay, when crude oil only just found was gradually emerging as a major revenue base and out of touch from the areas of production.

Therefore, the evaluation must cover not just the dreams of the founding fathers and the foundation already laid, but more importantly, the conscious efforts made or being made by successive governments, since Alfred Diete-Spiff to Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. What infrastructures are being put in place, in anticipation of future growth and development? What efforts are in place to open-up, not just Port Harcourt, the state capital but other rural areas by way of roads, electricity supply, potable drinking water, primary schools, health services, transportation, human capacity development and indeed job creation.

Since no meaningful development can take place in an insecure clime, what is the security situation like? What efforts to prevent intra and inter-communal strife, youth unrest and guarantee social integration of all, if for nothing else to erect an all-inclusive polity where, every stake-holder not only believes in, but also demonstrates a sense of participation in the Rivers project.

Interestingly, Rivers State is no longer what the founders perceived it must be. Not only has the population increased beyond understanding, Port Harcourt, the state capital is today, home to the largest expatriate community in Nigeria, political capital of the oil producing Niger Delta region and indeed the fastest growing commercial city in Nigeria.

Created from the then Eastern Region of Nigeria by Decree No. 19 of 1967, the territory was initially referred to as Oil Rivers Protectorate, due to its vintage role in the palm oil trades of the last two centuries.

From palm oil it is crude oil today and easily goes as the hub of the hydro-carbon industry, accounting for a huge part of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, by being responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the total off-shore oil production activities in Nigeria and 100 per cent of the Liquefied Natural Gas which Nigeria exports.

What is government doing to address the real and apparent dangers of population explosion? What legacies, does the Rotimi Amaechi administration hope to bequeath for posterity after two terms of eight-years in the saddle?

The Tide Deputy Business Editor, Ibelema Jumbo takes a hard look at the Greater Port Harcourt City Development, the prejudices against the implementation of the development plan, the challenges and the modest success thus far recorded while the Group News Editor, Nelson Chukudi and his team of reporters and correspondents assess various on-going and completed projects under the Amaechi era.

Since, as the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-73) said in a piece on Liberty 1859… “The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it,” what has government done to build capacity and empower the people, through job creation and other basic initiatives? Apart from dependence on monthly federal allocations, what is the state doing to generate revenue and investment to provide employment for its teeming unemployed youth and ensure food. sufficiency?

Our special correspondent, Felix Okogbule takes a look at Agriculture, the prospects of the state’s Songhai Farm initiative, the automatic employment of graduates of the state’s School of Nursing, on-going recruitment of 10,000 teachers and the engagement of medical doctors to man the various health institutions as avenues of job creation. Another is the award of contracts to indigenous contractors for the construction and equipment of health centres and model primary and secondary schools, not to mention countless other road projects.

Feature Writer Arnold Alalibo takes a cursory look at power-generation and the frustrations of the state in distributing  the amount of power generated, while our Health Correspondent Tonye Nria-Dappa lists the achievements and challenges of the health sector.

This year’s anniversary, serves as a turning-point, away from the familiar self-praise, as The Tide’s Special Edition also identifies Weak-Links in government, raises questions about the fate of the Mono-rail and presents views of Rivers people assembled through random interviews. Its “a Vox Pop worth the while”, was how the Group Features Editor, Thomas Abbey described the work, upon submission.

Amaechi’s Birthday

Another significance was injected into the state’s annual observance of May 27, since 2008. It doubles as the birthday of the serving governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The import of this is that the administration is now judged not annually, but bi-annually; the date Amaechi took office and his own birthday, which coincides with the creation of the state and indeed children’s day.

Apart from serving as a constant reminder of his childhood, and the need to save other children from same, the occasions provide at such times, stake-holders a second privilege of appraising the governor’s activities, his works, words and plans for the future. And far beyond the usual, the people use such moments to challenge their governor to do more, knowing that each moment must present something new, whether a garden patch, a new road, another health centre delivered or a secondary school commissioned.

For this, the governor must as a necessity be on his toes, pursueing set targets and meeting same, ensuring proper supervision of members of his team and working to make certain that weaklinks are strengthened, for the overall success of his administration.

This year The Tide popped the question: Should Amaechi leave office today, what would he be remembered by. Again, the Group Features Editor, Thomas Abbey sent out his foot-soldiers and the outcome, as usual, was worth the while.

Toast To

… The Birthday Girl

Charity begins at home not abroad, so while, The Tide family wishes Governor Ameachi Happy Birthday, it was considered also very paramount that another birthday girl deserves a toast. Our own commissioner, Mrs Ibim Semenitari shares same birthday as Amaechi and Rivers State, so we asked the Woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, to source materials to propose a birthday toast only as a mother would. Its presented by the Editor.

Our Soccer Teams All that should not have been enough without the one thing that today unites the youth of the world, as it does Nigerians – soccer.

This year’s take on sports, especially soccer, is indeed a lamentation over the fluctuating fortunes of the state’s soccer teams Sharks and Dolphins, all of Port Harcourt. Are they part of the Weaklinks of the Ameachi administration? Our Sports Editor, Gabriel Nwanetanya fell-short of saying so.

All these and more are served hot in this special edition commemorating Children’s Day and the creation of Rivers State. Taste it.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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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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