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A’Ibom, Not Broke -Commissioner

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The Akwa Ibom
State Government yesterday denied being broke as recently reported in the media, saying such insinuations were baseless and outrageous.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon, who refuted the claim in Uyo during a chat with journalists said the government  expressed serious concern about such misinformation.
He said the report was capable of undermining the efforts of the present administration which had demonstrated transparency, accountability and due process in the management of the state’s resources to actualise its uncommon transformation initiative.
Okon said it was wrong to peddle such news as the state government had not failed to  live up to its financial responsibilities  to the people like, paying salaries and other entitlements to  its workers promptly, and also settling  its contractual liabilities.
On the purported N135 billion from federal allocation between January to June, the commissioner explained that it was a far cry from the over N400billion that was appropriated in the 2014 budget.
The 2014 budget, he said, was for the actualisation of key projects dotting the landscape of the state which were capital intensive and gulping billions of naira.
He said government’s desire was to do much more than it had done for the people, but regretted that the consistent shortfall in its expected revenue had made it expedient for it to realign its priorities by deploying available funds into specific competing areas of needs to add value to the life of the people.
He also disclosed that in view of the need to look inward, government had put in place a framework to improve its internal revenue generation capacity to cushion the effect of the drop in its statutory allocation from federation account.
According to him, the state Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, is a man that believes so much in his people, and has done his best to reposition the state in the last seven years by ensuring that certain parameters in development are met.
He added that the governor deserves commendation, calling on the media to be objective in their reportage so as to avoid heating the polity.

Gbenemene of Tai Kingdom, President Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Chairman Rivers State Council of Traditional Ruters, King Godwin N.K. Gininwa (left), with his Chief of Staff and Gbenemene Mene, Samuel Nnee (right) during the thanksgiving service to  mark the 75 years Birthday of King Giniwa in Port Harcourt, recently.

Gbenemene of Tai Kingdom, President Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Chairman Rivers State Council of Traditional Ruters, King Godwin N.K. Gininwa (left), with his Chief of Staff and Gbenemene Mene, Samuel Nnee (right) during the thanksgiving service to mark the 75 years Birthday of King Giniwa in Port Harcourt, recently.

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa Community Lampoons NDDC, Govt Over Incomplete, Abandoned Projects

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Otuoke Community of Ogbia council area of Bayelsa State, has berated the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for alleged abandonment of infrastructural projects awarded in the community.
Speaking with The Tide during an assessment tour of projects awarded and executed by the commission in the community, the CDC Chairman, Pastor Emmanuel Egede said the agency has left incomplete a number of internal roads and the construction of a bridge at the Ewokiri axis of the community awarded not less than a decade ago.
The Tide gathered that Otuoke, host community of the Federal university in Bayelsa State is located in the Ogbia central geographical area of Ogbia Kingdom and borders no fewer than eight other sister autonomous communities.
Egede hinted that the commission has also abandoned a water project earlier awarded to the community sometime between 2012 and 2014, respectively.
The CDC boss who reiterated the need for timely completion of these projects, called on the commission to take a cursory look into its records of contracts awarded to the community with a view to completing them.
He also bared his mind on sister projects awarded by government in the community, stating that following the fast rising cosmopolitan nomenclature of the community, resulting from the existence of the Federal University in the area, the state government should also put into consideration the takeover, functionality and maintenance of the urban water project executed by the Federal Government in the area for the provision of potable water for students and others living in the community and its adjoining areas.
“This community has done well for Nigeria, but we wonder why the NDDC would abandon projects in this community”, he said.
“We’ve a bridge awarded over a decade ago by the NDDC that has been abandoned in this community. It’s in a part of the community called Ewokiri.And there are also internal road projects abandoned here”, he added.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa Wants FG’s Intervention On Nembe-Brass Road

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the state needs the assistance of the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders to construct the Bayelsa East Senatorial road from Nembe to Brass given the huge cost involved.
Speaking during the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, Senator Diri said as part of efforts to make the road a reality, he has met senior Federal Government officials in Abuja, whom he said responded positively to the state’s requests.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that the importance of the Bayelsa East senatorial road cannot be over-emphasised given the socio-economic relevance of the area to people of the state and the country.
He said all hands needed to be on deck to make the project a reality.
Diri remarked that relying on the Presidential Executive Order 7, the Federal Government embarked on construction of certain road projects with private organisations in parts of the country and appealed that same gesture be extended to Bayelsa State.
He said written presentations have been made to the Federal Government and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to ensure that the taxes that would have been paid by Agip and others to the state are used for construction of the Nembe-Brass road.
He assured that the state government was ready to play its part to ensure that the road was constructed and called on Bayelsa legislators at the federal level to support the move in the interest of the state and country.
“The Federal Government out of Presidential Executive Order 7 is constructing a road alongside some private companies in the case of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas project in Rivers State. The Federal Government is also doing same in the western axis in Lagos and other areas. So we are appealing to the Federal Government to extend same gesture to us”, he said.
“As a government, we are prepared to also bring in whatever is our deal into the project. So, on your behalf, I went to Abuja to meet with very senior officials of the Federal Government and I can report to you that they received us very well. If all our requests are granted, from next year, we can kickstart the Brass road project”, he added.
“I want to use the opportunity to call on all well-meaning Bayelsans from all walks of life to support this noble idea by this government, particularly those who are representing us at the federal level. Please speak on behalf of the people of your state”, Diri noted.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

Rep Woos Stakeholders Over FMC Bill

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A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ben Ibakpa (PDP-Delta), has appealed to stakeholders to support the bill for an Act to establish a Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Oghara, Delta State.
Ibakpa made the plea at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions yesterday to get the views of the general public and critical stakeholders.
Ibakpa, who is the sponsor of the bill, said that Delta State is a microcosm of Nigeria and it is difficult to develop as a result of the spread of its cities.
He said that the only opposing voice against the establishment of the FMC in Oghara is the policy which says a FMC already exists in Asaba, the state capital.
The Rep explained that Asaba is at the edge of the state (Delta North) which is five hours drive from Oghara, saying that many patients had died trying to reach the FMC in Asaba.
Ibakpa said that Oghara is in Delta Central and has boundaries with eight Local Government Areas, saying that the existing FMC in Asaba would not help the people of Oghara and its environs.
According to him, if the FMC is established, it will serve more than 20 local government areas in Delta and Edo.
“Oghara hosts a Federal Polytechnic, the Western Delta University, over 12 operational tank farms, School of Health Technology, Institute of Continuous Education, over 200 secondary schools and over 400 primary schools.
“It has the Mopol 51 base, Naval Logistic Command, so many government institutions in that local government.
“We are here to represent our people and in representing them, we should be able to bring the dividends of democracy, the universal health coverage, closer to our people.
“That is what has informed the need to ask that a FMC to be established in Oghara.
“The population explosion over the years warrants the special consideration and the plea that Oghara being the centre should be given this FMC,’’ he said.
Ibakpa said that the Teaching Hospital in the area which is basically for training and treating higher ailment, 80 per cent of its departments had been out-sourced, making it too expensive for the ordinary man.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the ministry was in agreement with the sponsor with regard to access to healthcare for the growing population of the people.
Represented by the Principal Medical Officer, Dr Shetak Gilbert, Ehanire said that the Federal Ministry of Health was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure universal health coverage.
“For us to achieve this, we need to bring healthcare services closer to the people for them to have access.
“The ministry, in the spirit of achieving universal health coverage will continue to work with this committee, the House of Representatives and the National Assembly in general to achieve this request,’’ he said.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Pascal Obi (APC-Imo), said that there was an existing policy of the Federal Government that allowed only one FMC per state.

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