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We Won’t Abandon Monorail Project – Amaechi

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Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi, has assured the citizenry that his administration will ensure that the monorail project will be completed before his exit in office.

Speaking through the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Georege Feyii, at a public forum organised by the state Ministry of Transport tagged, “ The Rivers Monorail Project And the Future of Public Transportation in Rivers State,’’ on Wednesday in Port Harcourt , Amaechi said the project was aimed for the future.

“ What the administration is doing is for the future and not for today’’, Amaechi remarked.

He argued that despite criticism from some sections of the citizenry, the project was aimed at proactively addressing the swelling traffic problems encountered in the city of Port Harcourt.   “The Monorail delivers on a whole lots of advantages. The problem we have today can be solved with the project, because the city will be unlocked and the state will move forward.’’

The governor believed that despite the current challenges in delivering the project, when once it was completed, it would fast-track economic activities and reduce difficulties in transporting people, goods and services.

Earlier in his speech, Commissioner for Transport, Hon. George Tolofari described the monorail project as a landmark for the transport  sector in the state.

Tolofari said, “ If the state is going to play its proper role and become the economic hub of the South-South, then, the monorail is an important project’’.

The Commissioner submitted that the project provides a platform for raising the transportation sector in the state to global levels, and therefore urged stakeholders to support it.

Chairman of the occasion and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, Onueze Okocha stated that the monorail project was well intended by government.

The Senior Adovate of Nigeria(SAN) believed that when completed, it would make the lives of the citizens better, while noting that major cities in the world today had monorails to fasten their transportation.

He added,” we need to keep our eyes on the board so that together we will be able to chat a way forward”, as he called on the populace to support government in its bid to build the such monumental project.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, represented by a director in the Ministry has commended the state government for embarking on the project.

He explained that the project was timely and in tandem with the Federal Government’s  blueprint to transform the transport sector.

Senator Umar, therefore, sought effective collaboration between all stakeholders in the sector as the government was poised to eliminate all obstacles by engaging the private sector in driving the system.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), in Rivers State, says its attention has been drawn to the latest but no doubt, futile attempt by the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), to embarrass the government and good people of the state.

The PDP, according to a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary, Mr. George Ukwuoma-Nwogba, said it was miffed at the latest ranting of the ACN, describing the “invitation” to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the Rivers Stat Government’s monorail project as representative of the satanic intentions those who run the party have towards the state. PDP queried how a progressive mind could fault the monorail project which in itself is a high-calibre technical project undertaken by the administration of Governor Chibuike Amaechi to ease the traffic gridlock often experienced on Port Harcourt roads.

Ukwuoma-Nwogba stated that not only was the ACN’s position “ridiculous, puerile, uninformed and tantamount to crying wolf where there was none, but indicative of the malaise plaguing the one-man party. “No doubt, ACN deserves all our pity and prayer as it suffers from incurable psychological disorder,” he said.

“Mr. Jerry Needam must have spoken from the point of view of a corrupt mind. We are all aware and have the record of his activities as the secretary of the Social Rehabilitation Committee under the Celestine Omehia regime.

“The Commissioner for Transport, George Tolofari, had only yesterday, taken news men round the project, disclosing that all materials for the first phase of the project were at the Onne Wharf awaiting installation. The Commissioner had told Rivers people that as highly technical as the project is, the contracting firm is taking its time to adhere to strict engineering regulations, which of course, the Rivers State Government had insisted on. Soon, a stakeholders’ meeting will take place to which the ACN is invited.

“ACN has revealed its ignorance of projects’ quantities and implementation, thinking a project as complex as a monorail could be hurried to satisfy selfish minds but to later jeopardise the lives of Rivers residents and would-be users of the monorail”.

The PDP statement added that the party fully supports both the project and the carefulness adopted by the contracting firm to stick to the best engineering practice in related projects and commends Governor Chibuike Amaechi for embarking on the project.

Ukwuoma-Nwogba accused the ACN of mocking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the invitation to investigate an ongoing project.

“To educate the ACN on elementary rule of law and justice, a statutory investigative body can only investigate an abandoned project and not one which contractor is on site, funds appropriately marked for and in judicious use. The ACN which stock in trade is to pour mud should discontinue its fruitless project to distract the Chibuike Amaechi administration. No doubt, this ACN blackmail will collapse.”

Amanayanabo of Grand Bonny, HRM King Edward Asimiri Pepple (left) with Rivers State Commissioner for Transport, Hon George Tolofari, during the Ministry of Transport public forum orgainsed by the ministry of Transport in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

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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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