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Govt Compulsory Savings Hit N34bn

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Rivers State Government, says it has saved about N34 billion for the state’s monthly N1 billion compulsory saving scheme started about three years ago.

The Commissioner for Finance, Dr Chamberlain Peterside disclosed this on Monday during an interaction with newsmen in Port Harcourt.

Dr Peterside explained that the state government spends about N8 billion monthly on salaries, pensions and overheads, stressing that with the dwindling allocation from the Federal Government, there was need to scale up efforts at Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

He hinted that Rivers State had the potentials to generate about 50 per cent internally like Lagos State that generates about 70 per cent internally to augment its federal allocation.

The Finance Commissioner said the state internal revenue sources generate about 10 per cent and attributed the lapses to leakages in the system, noting that strategic plans had been put in place to halt the trend.

According to him, the Ministry of Finance had undergone transformation in line with the vision of the governor to be transparent and accountable, emphasising that the accounting system had been modernised to meet global best practices.

Dr Peterside hinted that the ministry had taken over the pay rolling of workers’ salary since June 2012, and commenced the issuance of pay slips to workers, adding that the computerised system of record keeping would help in detecting errors in the process.

On government borrowing, the commissioner debunked insinuations that Rivers State Government was broke, pointing out that the borrowing was to finance specific projects to completion level and not to pay workers salaries.

He said the state government operates a centralised fund system for all arms of government which helps in proper categorisation of liabilities, noting that fund releases start with budgetary provision and due process before payments are made.

“In course of harmonisation in the system, we discover that some people in say level 8 or 9 take the salary of grade level 13 or above, but all that has been corrected and we shall no more have such kind of fraud, we are trying but give us more time,” the finance boss said.

Also speaking, the Executive Chairman, Board of International Revenue, Mrs Onone Osila Obelle-Oshoko said the board was trying to rebuild the confidence of residents of the state to pay their taxes.

She noted that the old tax system in Rivers State allows 5 per cent of workers basic, that is not found in any law but the current tax regime is based on the Gross Income as contained in the amended Tax Law.

The chairman harped on the need to enlighten the public by giving the right information, emphasising that the state was endowed with potentials to increase internally generated revenue.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has signed an agreement with a United States firm, International Trauma and Critical Care Centre Limited (ITCC) to recruit staff and manage two world class hospitals, Professor Kelson Harrison’s Hospital and Maxilo-Facia Hospital in Port Harcourt.

The Commissioner of Health, Dr Sampson Parker, who signed the agreement on behalf of the government with the group at the Ministry of Health in Port Harcourt, said the agreement was to hand over the operation and management of the two hospitals for effective management and maintaining international standards.

“Our vision to allow an experienced international firm to run the hospitals was not to have gain, but to have quality and standard healthcare that would discourage people from going overseas in search of standard treatment.

We carefully selected ITCC group, an international medical group from among the bidders internationally, as the best experience in hospital operation and management to run the hospitals to international standards, where people all over the world would be coming for medical care, this is exactly the vision of this government under Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi”, Dr Parker explained.

The commissioner urged the firm led by the Country Representative, Dr Sydney Ibeanusi to ensure that the vision of the state governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to have quality health care was achieved.

He said, though the hospital would be completely run by the firm, which also has the power to recruit, sack, maintain and manage the hospital, the state ministry of health through the Hospital Management Board, would be playing the supervisory role on the hospitals like any other hospitals in the state.

According to the Health Commissioner, the two hospitals built and equipped a year ago would be commissioned before January, 2013.

He said the Prof Kelson Hospital is situated at the former Niger Hospital, at Emenike Street, Mile II, Diobu, Port Harcourt while Dental Maxilo-Facia Hospital is at Aba-Road, Opposite Garrison in Port Harcourt.

Dr Parker further disclosed that the hospital would also accommodate free medical, as money would be paid by the state government to the management of the hospitals for any free medical treatment referred to them.

Signing the agreement with the state government, the representative of International Trauma and Critical Care Centre Limited (ITCC) and National Project Co-ordinator, Dr Sydney Ibeanusi commended the state government for its commitment to give the people of the state and the country an international quality healthcare facility.

According to him, ITCC firm was an articulate concept to partner with professionals around the world to see how it could give out an international quality healthcare to the developing countries around the globe as it was the practice in developed countries like Israel, Russia, Europe, America, among others.

Dr Ibeanusi who noted that Rivers State Government was the first to embrace the group in Nigeria, promised to ensure an available, accessible and sustainable international quality healthcare that would meet the vision of the state governor.

He said with the signing of the agreement, the two hospitals would be put into effective operation before January 2013.

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Rivers’ll Ensure Safe, Secure Environment For Economic Growth -Wike .

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that his administration would continue to support security agencies in the state to ensure a safe and secure environment for the economic prosperity of citizens.
He said the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Operation Sting and the revitalised C4i security outfits were set up to help provide security to stimulate growth and prosperity of all in Rivers State.
The governor spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, at the 2021 Conference/Annual General meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Rivers State chapter, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
“This administration has embarked on aggressive infrastructural development and a very deliberate urban renewal efforts around the capital to attract local and foreign investors to stimulate our economy.
“We have also opened up local governments through quality road networks. Upgrade of various social and recreational facilities in various local government areas,” he said.
He commended the state chapter of the NIPR for the choice of the theme of the conference: “Nigeria’s Security Situation: A Factor in Reputation and National Development”, adding that stakeholders must begin to act in a very different, drastic and positive strategy to remedy the already battered reputation of Nigeria.
He urged the NIPR to use its expertise and experience to thrive to galvanise and stimulate the populace and government at various levels for the resuscitation of citizens sense of pride and responsibility of whatever was left of the nation’s image and reputation.
“All hands must be on deck, especially reputation managers to call on government at all levels to begin to act in ways and manner that will help to revive the battered image of this country,” he added.
Welcoming guests and participants to the conference, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who is also the state chairman of NIPR, commended the cordial relationship existing between the institute and the state government under the leadership of Governor Wike who is a honorary fellow of the institute.
“Governor Wike has been very supportive of all the activities of the Institute. That is what you also get from a visionary leader who has changed the landscape of Rivers State with infrastructure, with various developmental projects that touch the lives of the ordinary man,” he said.
Nsirim said the state chapter of NIPR was proud to associate with Governor Wike for the giant strides he has recorded and would continue to record until the end of his tenure in 2023.
“As a chapter that is responsive to the development of Nigeria, we have chosen the theme for this year’s conference as our own way of contributing to the national discourse,” he said.
He said the conference would produce a blueprint that would guide national discourse and urged participants to contribute robustly to the conversation.
“It is expected that the fallout of the conference will re-engineer national security and national development with the aim to put our country on the path of rapid growth,” he said.
In his speech, the President and Chairman of Governing Council of NIPR, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, emphasised on the need for all Nigerians to collaborate to fight insecurity currently confronting the country’s economic and political stability.
He welcomed the theme of the conference, saying that it was coming at the time the institute had gotten sufficient worry about national security, peace and economic development.
In his keynote address, Dr. Ike Neliaku, chronicled the increasing violent crimes that had claimed thousands of lives in the various parts of Nigeria, and submitted that the rising insecurity situation in the country had impacted and would continue to impact negatively on corporate and national reputation.
He said the worrisome development would have concomitant consequence on individual and national development.
Chairman of the conference, Chief Felix Otuwarikpo, said the conference was put together to dissect the current carnage affecting the Nigerian nation.
“As an institute, we will leverage on the conference to proffer solutions to the security challenges affecting the nation,” he said.
The conference also featured the presentation of awards for good public relations and community development to some distinguished members and organisations.

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Church Of Nigeria Honours Wike, Sanwo-Olu, Akeredolu, Others

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The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has bestowed awards for exemplary leadership qualities in a challenging economy and dedication in the service of God and humanity on the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and Ogun State Governor, Adedapo Abiodun.
Also honoured is the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Emmanuel Abayomi, with an award for quality and equitable healthcare delivery.
The awardees were honoured at the standing committee meeting of the Church of Nigeria, at the Diocese of Lagos, Archbishop Adebola and Oluranti Ademowo Resource Centre, Faith Plaza, Bariga, Lagos State.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, who conferred the awards on the recipients, said the political leaders were considered for the award for their outstanding role, courageous leadership, and standing firm in defense of Nigerians against insecurity, provision of basic infrastructure to the citizenry and the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing the congregation on the state of the nation and the role of the church, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, admonished the leadership of the church to encourage its members to be part of the governance process in the country.
The governor noted that a situation whereby Christians leave governance for politicians alone is no longer obtainable.
According to Wike, the effect of bad leadership will also affect the church if they remain passive to the issue of governance.
“You must be part of choosing leadership. Don’t say you have no role, you have a role. When you don’t participate, bad leaders will emerge and when bad leadership emerges, you are part of it.
“You must encourage your people to be part of leadership. I didn’t go to any school to study leadership.
“So, nobody should say that as a Christian you cannot be a governor, no. The head of SUBEB in my state is a priest and you can see the leadership he has given to that agency today. You will feel proud about it. That used to be the most corrupt agency, but today it is headed by a priest and you can see the difference.”
Wike decried the inherent injustice that has characterised the Nigerian State, and urged the church to speak against socio-political issues adversely affecting the progress of the country.
“We say we are all one Nigeria. We went to World Bank to borrow money to do specific projects. One of the states that make up Nigeria I hear is Rivers State. And I also know in paying this money back to World Bank, money that comes from the resources of my state will be used in paying back this money. But my state was denied to have projects from that loan.”
The Rivers State governor said a situation where states depend on the Federal Government to survive can no longer be tenable, and insisted that states must be allowed to collect revenues such as Value Added Tax (VAT) to enable them improve the welfare of their people.
“You have gone to take loan and I am one of those states that will pay back those loan and you deny me to benefit from the projects that that money will be used for. I have no problem with that.
“Allow me the one (VAT) the Constitution says I am entitled to, let me collect that one and develop my state.”
He regretted that some governors in Nigeria have refused to think out of the box on how to boost economic activities in their states.
“There is flood in my state, it requires N200millon, I will go to Abuja to beg. Even as a governor, I will knee down before a DG of an agency of government. You will knee down for a director just because of N300million. That is the status of some of the governors of some states.”
In his remarks, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended the church for its support, and announced the waiver of N2billion for land acquired by the Church of Nigeria in Lagos State.
The governor stated that Nigeria and the rest of the world are going through difficult times amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and used the occasion to canvass for mass vaccination of the citizens.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, while speaking on the theme of the conference: “Abiding in Christ: God’s Panacea in an Unstable World”, lamented that Nigeria was fast becoming a land flowing with tears and blood because of the impact of terror, banditry, herdsman attacks on communities and kidnapping.
He said a situation in which communities that are predominantly Christians are targeted one after another in some parts of Kaduna State and North-Central of Nigeria was unacceptable.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to brand the bandits and herders attackers as terrorists and let them be treated as such.”
The Primate urged Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity 2023 general election offer to exercise their right to choose new leaders.
He appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the free fall in the value of the country’s currency because of the attendant impact on the store of value and confidence of investors.

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Rivers Begins Process To Check Flooding

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The Rivers State Government has said that it was working with relevant agencies to roll out the process that would check perennial flooding in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, disclosed this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
Nsirim, therefore, called on those living and doing business in the state to play their part in line with the programme that would be executed by government to address the problem of flooding.
He frowned at the situation where residents of Port Harcourt had turned the drainage systems into refuse bins, and warned that “that is not what it should be.
“The present administration under Governor Nyesom Wike is desirous to make Rivers State a destination of choice and that is why the government has embarked on massive infrastructural development in line with its urban renewal programme.
“So, what is expected of those living and doing business in Rivers State now, is to co-operate with government to ensure that the urban renewal programme and the plan by government to make this state a destination of choice is realised,” he said.
He noted that the state government could not do it alone as it required the support of corporate organisations, civil society groups, religious organisations and the media to enlighten their publics on the need to behave as responsible citizens.
He called on the media to embark on massive enlightenment programmes along the line of the roles of citizens in checking flooding in the state.
“We believe that if the citizens cooperate with government, as government is out to ensure that everyone living and doing business in the state does so in a healthy environment, we believe that in the next few days or weeks we will find a solution to this (flooding),” he said.
Nsirim also announced the names of entrants selected for the essay competition on the title, “Our State Our Responsibility” introduced under the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign of the ministry launched at the beginning of this month.
He said those shortlisted were expected to be at the conference room of the ministry by 11am on Monday, September 27, 2021, for a physical test to ascertain their original ownership.
Those shortlisted are: Jessica Hart, Samuel William, Amarachi Chimezie, Jasper Dorcas, Jaja Tamunoimiegba Christian, Sophia Oyibo, Blessing Pepple, Anyiam kelechukwu, Deborah Adegbami, Gift Samuel, Okiche Golden, Okiche Miracle, Orovwigwo Deborah, Otuka Goodluck and Ziga Paago.

By: Beemene Taneh

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