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Over 100m Nigerians Are Poor -Oby Ezekwesili …As Nation Earns $1trn From Oil

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Former Minister of Education and Vice President, African Region for the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili says over 100 million Nigerians are living in abject poverty despite the country’s huge oil resource.
She gave the figure, while delivering a keynote speech at the sixth Port Harcourt Book Festival tagged “Literature and the Creative Economy” in Port Harcourt yesterday.
According to her, about 69 per cent of Nigerians were living under poverty from statistics made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), adding that even with an annual GDP growth of nine percent, not much had affected the populace.
Ezekwesili insisted that manufacturing had continued to dwindle at a paltry 15 per cent of the economy and argued that it was impossible for the country to make any headway economically in such conditions.
She said few countries had achieved high income status without industrialisation, and declared that the country’s huge and budding creative sector could provide the needed impetus to move the Nigerian economy out of the woods.
Ezekwesili explained that skills and talents were income generating assets that could foster human development and drive other sub sectors.
Explaining that the world was moving away from dependence on natural to human resource driven economies, the former Minister noted that “what is inside of your citizens is much more valuable than what resides in the ground”.
She observed that it was not too late for Nigeria to tap from its abundant human resources, saying the emergent creative industry needed to grow independently from political influence and government interference.
Dr. Ezekwesili also advocated for a “Cluster Approach” of developing the creative economy, where people of like minds can stay together and engage themselves in creating things for the society.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has earned more than one trillion dollars from oil since its discovery in 1958 according to former Vice President of World Bank, African Region, Dr. (Mrs) Oby Ezekwesili.
In a keynote address at the Sixth Port Harcourt Book Festival in Port Harcourt, Ezekwesili also advocated for a revival of the culture and creative economy sector of the country.
Ezekwesili however said that the discovery of oil had become a source of sorrow for millions of Nigerians as the huge earnings had not transformed the lives of the people and blamed the situation on corruption and bad governance.
While putting the poverty ratio in the country at 69 per cent, she said that Nigeria must look for ways of changing the structure of her economy.
Speaking on the theme of the festival which is “Literature and the Creative Economy”, Ezekwesili said the sooner Nigeria realised the importance of her creative industry, the better it would be for the country.
The former Minister of Education said that, the era when Nigeria and other African countries depended on minerals was gone, pointing out that most advanced economies in the world were now fueled by ideas and innovation.
She however said that the nation seemed to have woken to the realities of the creative industries, a situation that is being reflected in the Nollywood Film and music industry.
Ezekwesili also called for networking between the literary community and the rest of the creative industry, and emphasised that education must be the key point in the development of the creative industry.
Also speaking, the Festival Director, Mrs Koko Kalango said that, the first five years of the festival were used to build a solid foundation which had made the Port Harcourt Book Festival, the foremost in the African continent.
Kalango who is also the Director of the Port Harcourt Book Club, said that this year’s edition was significant as it was a prelude to the Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014.

 

John Bibor

L-R: Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Founder, Rainbow Book Club,   Mrs Koko Kalango, during the sixth Port Harcourt Book Festival  in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

L-R: Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Founder, Rainbow Book Club, Mrs Koko Kalango, during the sixth Port Harcourt Book Festival in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

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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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