Traffic gridlock yesterday paralysed both commercial and social activities in Port Harcourt and its environs as some residents scrambled to the countryside for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Our correspondent, who drove through some of the routes within and those leading out of the city of Port Harcourt, had a difficult time escaping from the terrible traffic gridlock on most of the routes.
For instance, the popular Port Harcourt-Aba Road, Ikwerre Road, East-West Road, Peter Odili-Slaughter-Woji-Elelenwo Road, Garrison-Trans Amadi-Slaughter Road, Stadium-G.U.Ake-Airport Road, Rumuola-Rumuokwuta-Choba Road, Rumuokoro-Rukpokwu-Airport Road, Artillery-Old Aba Road, and Rumuomasi-Elekahia Road, among others, were jammed, with commercial motorists spending several hours to make a return trip.
In some instances, journeys of less than 10-20minutes took more than 2 hours 30minutes, while journeys that hitherto took 30-40minutes, got passengers groaning for between 3 and 4hours or more.
Most of the residents, who were travelling outside the state capital, also spent hours in the unprecedented gridlock that permeated almost all the roads.
At most of the motor parks, thousands of travelers were seen boarding vehicles to their various destinations while a large number could not secure available vehicles to make their trips, and therefore, were stranded at the parks.
From the popular Abali Park, Mile 3 Park, Agofure, God Is Good, Cross Country, Rivers Transport Company (RTC), Imo Transport Company (|ITC), Bob Izua Motors, as well as the many luxury bus terminals, passengers were seen hustling to procure their tickets to enable them travel for the Christmas and New Year festivities.
Our correspondent discovered that apart from operators of commercial vehicles on intra-city transport services, others on inter-state transport system also increased their fares astronomically by over 100 per cent.
The Tide further learnt that the hike in fares affected some travelers, who lamented their inability to address all the challenges they had budgeted to settle before the end of the year owing to the unexpected increase in transport fares.
The filling stations were also seen dispensing petroleum products, with few queues noticed at very popular filling stations, especially those along the very busy roads leading out of the city of Port Harcourt.
But even so, the filling stations still sold products at official pump price, with only those buying products with jerry cans paying a little above approved rates.
Apart from the swift increase in transport fares, business activities also witnessed a significant boost in most areas, especially those selling foodstuff and other consumables, as well as gift items.
In some of the markets in Port Harcourt, especially Mile 1 and Mile 3, Creek Road, Town, and the various supermarkets such as Park ‘N’ Shop, Charai’s, Everyday Group, De Giant, Cash ‘N’ Carry, residents were busy shopping to make their Christmas merry.
Following the last minutes rush, prices of goods and services, foodstuff and live birds, including chicken and turkey, gift items, and other consumables have skyrocketed to the rooftops, with the buoyant and wealthy easily procuring the things they need while the average Nigerian is finding it difficult to afford few things for the family.
The financial institutions such as banks also witnessed last minutes rush, with some running out of cash even before midday yesterday.
A cross section of residents, who spoke with The Tide on the situation, described the traffic gridlock as horrible, suffocating and excruciating.
They complained that the poor traffic situation has made it difficult for people to get out of the city to the countryside for the Christmas festival.
Some, who were stranded in the banks, also complained of poor network to enable them utilize the services of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which were either not dispensing cash or were completely not functioning.
Some of the customers further complained that their inability to get cash for their Christmas celebrations was as a result of banks’ restriction of cash withdrawals, even as their ATMs were not working.
The Tide correspondent who visited some branches of the banks, including Fidelity Bank, UBA Plc, First Bank, Union Bank, GTBank, Access Bank, IBTC-Chartered Bank, SpringBank, SkyeBank, among others, saw large number of their customers complaining of their inability to withdraw cash for the Christmas, as according to them, the banks declined to honour their requests for money on the excuse that they had no money to meet customers’ demands.
Chinedu Okoye told The Tide at the Olu Obasanjo branch of Diamond Bank that the heavy traffic was caused by people not willing to travel out of the city early enough for the festivities.
According to him, “if people had travelled out before today (Tuesday), the situation would have been less chaotic”.
Also speaking, Ekanem Udoh, condemned the attitude of banks for restricting withdrawals from ATMs, noting that this situation would affect those wishing to travel out.
A security operative in one of the banks at Olu Obasanjo Road, however, urged the people to blame the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for limiting the amount of money a customer can withdraw at a time.
2019 Rivers Guber Poll Tribunal: PDP Tenders Polling Units’ Results To Affirm Wike’s Victory …Election Held In Substantial Compliance With Electoral Act -Counsel …Conduct Of Poll Peaceful, Lawful, Akawor Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday, tendered strategic polling units’ results from different local government areas to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to justify the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The polling units’ results were tendered in respect of the petition filed against the election of Wike by the Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Tendering the polling units’ results from the Bar, counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) said the polling results were from 356 polling units.
Obla told the tribunal that the result sheets were from some of the polling units in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada East, Opobo/Nkoro and others.
He informed the tribunal that the PDP resolved to tender results to prove that elections held across the state at the polling units and declarations made under very peaceful atmosphere.
The counsel added that since INEC and Wike have called witnesses to prove that the Governorship Election was conducted in line with the Electoral Act, the PDP chose to prove the conduct of the elections through documentary evidence.
Addressing journalists after closing the PDP defence, Godwin Obla said that from documentary evidence and oral testimonies of witnesses, it was clear that the 2019 Governorship Election in Rivers State was held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and that Wike emerged victorious.
He said: “This morning on behalf of the 3rd respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we tendered a total of 356 exhibits in support of our case. We feel satisfied that the requirements of the law required of us, have been fully met and that is why we decided to close our case today.
“Don’t forget that the 1st respondent, INEC, called witnesses, the 2nd respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the candidate of the 3rd respondent, PDP, also called witnesses and tendered a lot of documents that relate to this same subject matter. The interests of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are actually the same”.
Also speaking, counsel to ADP, Mr Dolapo-Telle Attoni, said “The PDP presented from the Bar a bundle of electoral documents they claimed INEC used in conducting the governorship election. They tendered about 356 alleged polling units’ results. We had asked for few minutes to study these same documents, and also obtain Certified True Copy of the said documents which was not complied with by INEC”.
Following the PDP closing its case, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the adoption of addresses by parties in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi.
Earlier, the Director-General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, had said that the 2019 Governorship Election held throughout the state with Governor Nyesom Wike emerging victorious.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, last Wednesday, as the last witness for Wike in a petition filed by the candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, Akawor said that the governor won the election by the lawful votes cast on March 9, 2019.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea told the tribunal that he received his party’s duplicate certified copies of election result sheets for all the units, wards and the 23 local government areas.
Responding to a question by counsel to the ADP governorship candidate on why the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 Elections, Akawor said that the commission of inquiry was established to find out what happened at the collation centres, because voting took place peacefully at all polling units.
However, after closing his case on cross-examination of DW31 (Akawor), the ADP counsel sought to tender an application which is a certified copy of The Tide Newspaper of April 29 in respect of the commission of inquiry.
But Counsel to the governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that the petitioner voluntarily closed his matter on July 16 with 23 witnesses.
Ukala noted that in accordance with the rules of the tribunal, each witness was cross-examined within the time given; adding that conduct of proceedings was guided by truth and not by sympathy.
Ruling on the application after hearing arguments from the counsels, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Orjiako, stated that “this application in our view cannot be allowed, the implication being that it should have been tendered within the time allocated to him, therefore, the application is overruled and refused”.
Justice Orjiako had adjourned the matter till yesterday for further cross examination.
In an interview, counsel for Governor Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, explained that the ADP application was refused as a result of improper filing.
He said, “The 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) called all together 20 witnesses, and we closed our case. So, it is left to the PDP, if they wish to call any other witness. They may call, and thereafter, we will all address the court”.
Stop Deducting Money From Rivers Statutory Allocation, Court Orders FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in respect of OML112 offshore and stop the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 or any sum whatsoever, forming the proprietary rights of the Rivers State Government.
The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, also ordered the defendants to make full refund of the accruable 13 per cent derivation illegally denied the plaintiff from crude oil and gas production within OML 112 and sale from September, 2018 till the determination of the suit; and thereafter.
The judge equally ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the RMAFC to pay monthly interests at the various commercial rates at no less than 15 per cent per annum on the illegally deducted 13 per cent derivation due to the plaintiff from OML 112 until the liquidation of all outstanding and accruing debt.
Justice Taiwo further restrained the defendants, their agents, assigns, representatives, privies or howsoever called from disregarding the finality of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on March 18, 2011 in Suit No: SC/27/2010, between: Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State & Anor as it relates to the proprietary rights of the plaintiff in respect of OML 112.
The suit was instituted by the Attorney General of Rivers State to challenge the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 accruing from OML 112 from the statutory allocation of the state by the defendants.
Biafra: Fresh Questions Over Future Of Campaign
Just as the recent physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in faraway Germany is trending globally for the bizarre affront it represents, so many questions are raging over the integrity and future of the campaign for the actualisation of the Biafra secessionist agenda. It is no more news that Ekweremadu was ambushed and attacked during his visit to Germany to participate as a guest speaker at a traditional Igbo ‘New Yam’ festival. The trailing reactions not only captured the wide divide between the proponents and the opponents of the ‘Biafra’ agenda across the world. It also betrayed and reinforced a more profound aspect being the unmasked, hysteric xenophobic mindset to which the most ardent proponents of the Biafra agenda subscribe to. Primary among these is the endorsement of the outrage of the assailants by Nnamdi Kanu, the now exiled leader of the IPOB, which is just one of the active groups canvassing for the actualisation of the Biafra dream.
From the now trending video clips of the incident,the aggrieved assailants could be heard lamenting about the killing of their kit and kin in the ‘Operation Python Dance’ military assaults on Iboland, at the peak of the IPOB domestic activism phase. Until that point, the German assault on Ekweremadu could easily have passed as a result of the bereaved lamenting and perhaps, over-reacting over the death of their loved ones at home. However, the intervention of IPOB especially with the claim that responsibility for the attack fell on its members changed the entire narrative. First of all, information in the public domain did not specifically mention that the occasion was organised by IPOB. Hence, the intervention of the organisation by persons later identified as IPOB operatives captures the event as having been hijacked by the IPOB for reasons strange to the organisers. Now, the blame or whatever ascription from the event goes to all Ibos, just as the proverb that when a finger picks up oil, it soon spreads it to all the other fingers.
And this is where the various stakeholders of the Biafra agenda, comprising the Igbo represented by the OhanaezeNdigbo, the Eastern minorities and even the entire country need to take the Ekweremadu attack with appropriate discretion. Whatever circumstances that will instigate members of a political pressure group to leave the shores of its home country and brazenly attack a home government official in public glare and in a foreign country, deserves more than a slap on the wrist. The situation calls for renewed discretion especially by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo which can be credited with the misfortune of living in a hut on which roof a snake has climbed. That is putting it in classical Igbo metaphor.
For anybody especially the leadership of the Ibos to see the situation otherwise, is to indulge in a mis-read of the festering situation, and expose Ndigbo to a future of miasma in the politics of Iboland as well as that between Ndigbo and the rest of the country. IPOB may remain a most divisive factor in the political calculus of the Ndigbo both at home and abroad as has been dramatically demonstrated in the German attack on Ike Ekweremadu, both for now and in the unknown future. And against the backdrop that not all Ibos and even Ohanaeze are members of IPOB, the need for the group to tread with care becomes most acute. Most Ibos simply want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate businesses in which they are already excelling, and do not want to be bothered by a pie in the sky called Biafra. After all, was it not the great novelist, Chinua Achebe who cited the Ibo proverb that all lizards lie on the ground making it difficult to know which one has stomach pain.
As for the Eastern minorities whose youth especially are being enamoured with flashes of paradise in the Biafra dream, all that needs to be said is that they should go and study the history of the previous Biafra, which occurred before they were even born. They will find out not only why it failed, but also why the mainstream of Ibo intelligentsia is not supporting the campaign – at least spiritedly. Fortunately for them, there are still some survivors of that failed exercise who can provide them valuable insights, to lead them aright. On a cautionary basis, let it be stated here that a child found toying with the very strain of mushrooms that killed his or her parents, is asking for nothing better than the very fate that befell the parents.
As structured today, the Nigerian federation cannot be restructured along secessionist lines without elaborate dialogue and negotiations, in place of a full scale war, no matter the grievances of its component ethnic parts. Meanwhile, IPOB has not demonstrated willingness or capacity for negotiations and the rest of the country is not ready for war. Until further notice therefore, Biafra and all it represents remain hanging in the balance.
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