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Fake Phone Dealers Target Rural Communities

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As the Standards
Organisation of Nigeria, (SON) intensifies its efforts against the circulation of sub-standard and fake phones in the country, investigations by our correspondent indicate that the trade has shifted to the rural areas.
Our correspondent who visited Garrison, a popular phone market along Port Harcourt-Aba expressway reports that most of the show cases used for displaying phones in the area were on the decline.
At the phone village, near MTN main office also along the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway, phone sellers no longer exhibit their usual hustle and bustle approach for fear of the unknown.
However, at the rural level, fake phone dealers pretend to sell under promo to unsuspecting public who were made to believe in the jingles that rent the air on daily basis.
For example, in Ahoada Main town, young men and women who describe themselves as sales persons parade the community with various brands of phones ranging from Samsung Galaxy, Tecno P5, H3 among other brands.
According to them, Samsung Galaxy goes for a paltry N5,000 while Tecno P5 and others go for N4,000 and below.
In Abua Central, the story is the same as our correspondent gathered that the fake phone sellers invade the community on every market day.
According to Roy Abije, a Radio Rivers Correspondent from Amalem, Abua, the public has come to the realisation that these so called phone promoters sell fake and sub-standard products.
Igolirrus Sampson, who was once a victim said he has gotten wiser, adding that the message of fake phones has been circulated throughout Abua.
Speaking to our correspondent, Mr. Johnbull Isikima, a retired teacher called on SON to extend their operations to the rural areas.
He said it was not enough for SON to concentrate their operations in Abuja and Lagos or the major cities of the country.
It could be recalled that SON in a bid to rid mobile phone markets in the country especially the Lagos Computer village of fake and substandard phones has planned to review its relationship with market associations.
Addressing journalists recently in Lagos, Head of Inspectorate and Compliance Department of SON,  Mr. Bede Obayi accused the Computer Village Traders Association of Conspiring with miscreants to prevent SON from carrying out enforcement to sanitise the phone market.
He also accused the phone and Allied Products Dealers. Association of discouraging the raid, adding that during the enforcement, exercise, SON targeted Trinity technologies and Communications Limited which were known to be the brains behind such trade.
The Tide further gathered that the firm brings in unbranded phones and brand them with major brands thereby making unsuspecting Nigerians patronize them.
He described the action as unpatriotic as it fools Nigerians and short change the original owners of dividends in their investments.
“We carried out a surprise raid at the warehouse where these accessories were stockpiled. The owner/importer is a Chinese national, one of those who specialise in brining fake phones and accessories into Nigeria”, he said.

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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