The All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers State chapter, has expressed shock and disbelief over the alleged zero allocation to Rivers State in the 2014 budget of the Federal Ministry of Works.
In a statement yesterday, signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs to the Interim State Chairman of APC, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said that “what this means is that Rivers State will not receive allocation for any Federal Government project this year”.
According to Eze, “if the claim of the Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen, while defending the ministry’s budget on Tuesday before the House of Representatives Committee on Works, that neither the Federal Government nor his ministry was at war with Rivers State is true, what could have warranted the omission of Rivers State from the list of states that will enjoy Federal Government presence in terms of capital projects execution this year?”
The statement noted that the Federal Government’s action was very sad and condemnable, especially when it is realised that the bulk of revenue accruing to the Federation Account comes from Rivers State.
“It is simply unbelievable that President Goodluck Jonathan could stoop so low to direct the Ministry of Works to ignore Rivers State in allocation of funds for development projects just because he has some differences with the state Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi”.
The party commended Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, for proving to be a worthy representative of the people of Rivers State by staging a walk-out in protest over the zero allocation to the state during the Works Ministry’s budget defence.
The statement quoted Peterside, who represents Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State in the House of Representatives as saying that, “I decided to leave the budget session on discovering from the ministry’s details of on-going projects and 2014 budget proposal that there was no single allocation for projects in Rivers State. The few projects listed in Rivers State got zero allocation. For such criminal neglect, there is definitely more to this omission than meets the eye”.
A breakdown of details of on-going highway and bridge projects in Rivers State shows that no single allocation was given to such projects as the construction of Eleme Junction Flyover and dualization of the access road to Onne Port in Rivers State; access road to Eleme Refinery; construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with a bridge across the Opobo Channel and the rehabilitation of the Abalamabie (Allison Hart) bridge, the party emphasised.
The APC recalled that the Rivers State Government awarded contract for the Eleme Junction Flyover in 2008, and the project was completed in 2009.
The statement regretted that “under the watch of President Jonathan, Rivers State has lost much revenue as our oil wells were transferred to neighbouring states. They have taken away the oil wells in Soku and given them to Bayelsa. They have taken the ones between Oyigbo and Etche and given them to Abia. So, our resources continue to dwindle.
“Another area that the administration of President Jonathan has haunted Rivers people include the blatant refusal of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to sign the necessary documents that would have assisted the state to obtain an African Development Bank (ADB) loan to provide pipe-borne water for the state and save people from dying from water-borne diseases.
“The Federal Government has also refused to authorize the release of the two surveillance helicopters procured by the Rivers State Government at N30billion, thereby forcing the state to pay unnecessary demurrage in hard currency annually. These helicopters would have assisted the Federal Government to fight oil theft in the Niger Delta region and check the dwindling revenue accruable to the Federation Account”.
The party further regretted that refusal by the Jonathan administration to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report that would have assisted in the cleanup of the ecological devastation of Ogoniland.
The APC expressed deep sadness over the bizarre turn of events as orchestrated by the Presidency.
“As a federating state of this nation, paying our taxes and contributing much to the revenue of this country, Rivers State deserves no less than an equitable share of revenues accruing from its resources and due it constitutionally,” the APC said.
It, therefore, demanded an end to this senseless war against the good people of Rivers State, who are the new face of change in the country so desperately needs.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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