Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has described the prevailing peace in the state as what sustains the Rivers economy.
Governor Amaechi recalled that when he became governor, the state economy was at its lowest as companies and expatriates relocated to other parts of the country on account of insecurity in the state. But he said with steady efforts to tackle insecurity, his administration was able to restore peace to the state as the economy also bounced back. He assured that he would continue to maintain the peace in the state.
Governor Amaechi spoke during a town hall meeting with the people of Okrika at Okrika Local Government council headquarters last Thursday.
The governor said, “I will discuss security in line with what I consider my contribution to the growth of the state. When I became governor of Rivers State, you all know how Rivers State was. You know that it was bad. I hardly had time to sleep because if one group is not attacking here, another group is attacking there. They were all everywhere and it was like a war zone. And it occurred to me that as a young man if you don’t confront these young boys or young men, we would not have a state called Rivers State. Our economy was crashing, people had left the city, companies had folded up, whitemen had gone, we had no business again. When I took over, they used to pay them to come and bury somebody in either Okrika or Buguma or Abonnema. You must pay money. They will give you one or two hours to come and bury and go. So the micro-economy was going, that economy had crashed in the riverine areas. We sat back, we discussed with the military, we discussed with the police, we argued and argued and at the end of the day we took one decision – we will not pay anybody anymore. From today henceforth no more payment, because before I became governor, government was paying kidnappers N250million, N500million, so people were even arranging kidnapping”.
“I am a Christian, so I sat back and I prayed to God that this war is not mine, it is yours and you must fight to redeem your people and the people are Rivers people and that includes Okrika people and the first place we attacked was Okochiri(in Okrika). We needed to do that to be able to let everybody know that there is a government. So I felt that there was the need to come out and address that issue if the economy of Rivers State must kick-start again. So we started the battle to make everybody accountable for their actions. People were being killed every day. Young boys at 15, 18 were parading the streets with guns, people were scared. We were told that some people were buried alive here in Okochiri. We moved in. Today, what do we have? We have peace. We must thank God that we have peace. Now our parents can go about their business. Our mothers can go about their business. Our young girls who had run away before, now they are coming back home, nobody is being molested anymore. We will not allow this peace we are enjoying now to escape from us again, never again. We must hold it tenaciously”, he said.
Amaechi said his administration had constructed 10 model primary schools in Okrika Local Government Area with six others to be completed soon. He named the completed ones to include State School, Ibuluya, Government State School, Okrika, Town School, Ogoloma, Town School, Isiaka, Government State School, Abam-Ama, State School, Kalio-Ama. Others include State School, Ndubuisi-Ama, B.S.S. Okrika, State School, Oba-Ama, State Primary School, Azubie and Ibaka Town School, Ibaka.
For the model primary healthcare centres, Amaechi named the completed ones already in use to include the one at ATC Ibaka, Anyungu Biri, Okochiri, Ogoloma and Ogan-Ama, disclosing that his administration has also constructed the Okrika ring road named after a former governor in the state, Rufus Ada-George. The governor disclosed that there is also ongoing land reclamation project at Oba-Ama community.
Amaechi promised to establish a fish farm in Okuma-Ama, Okrika which will also create employment for the people. The State government, according to him, will put in place a temporary water scheme in Okrika to provide potable water for the people, while waiting for the federal government that has promised to do a comprehensive scheme in Okrika. He also said his administration has offered scholarship to students from Okrika to study in universities abroad.
The governor equally said the state has disbursed N2billion to the Rivers State Microfinance Agency (RIMA) to boost microeconomic activities in the state by giving Rivers people business loans.
Earlier, the Chairman of Okrika Local Government Area, Barr Tamuno Williams in his address of welcome, commended Governor Amaechi for keeping his promises to Rivers people.
“Your visit is auspicious, your visit is an impeccable demonstration of a government that is alive to its duties and responsibilities. You are a faithful leader, a leader who keeps his promises, who is steadfast, who tenaciously holds unto ideals”, the Okrika chairman said.
Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town
The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration.
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.
Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun
No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday.
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.
Travellers To Access $4,000 As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies
Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.
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