The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Dr Austin Tam-George, has challenged the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) to be holistic and extend its efforts in redressing injustices in the country to the structural denial of the Niger Delta region from controlling its naturally-endowed resources by the Federal Government.
The commissioner gave the charge yesterday when the PCC’s Federal Commissioner in the State, Dr Alpheaus Paul-Worika visited him in his office in Port Harcourt.
Tam-George, who lauded the campaign for justice by the commission, and also the anti-corruption crusade of the present Federal Government, said it was not enough to neglect in the campaign, the structural corruption against the people of the region.
He described as unfair and unacceptable to the Niger Delta people a situation where 75% of the federation account comes from oil money from the area alone, whereas the people have to run to Abuja to obtain oil mining licences.
The commissioner decried the Land Use Act which he noted, guarantees this theft, and called for the practice of true federalism where states or regions would be allowed to control their resources just as it is obtainable all over the world.
He equally noted that the past administration in the state led by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was fraught with colossal corruption, remarking that the former governor received over N3 trillion within the eight years he was in office but refused to render any account to Rivers people by giving a hand over note to his successor.
‘I worry that an institution as this exists, yet, such impunity took place. Courts were closed and 3,000 lawyers couldn’t operate. I had to wonder if PCC took this into account”, he said
He also listed the closure of the State House of Assembly, hiring of over 13,000 teachers and owing them twelve months salaries, wastage of N60billion on Monorail project, passage of 2013 state budget in less than 30 minutes, owing of three months salaries to civil servants, amongst others as acts of impunity committed by the past governor, which the Public Complaints Commission ought to investigate to give justice to the people who own the money.
Tam-George described Paul –Worika as a person passionate about justice, and promised that his ministry would collaborate with PCC in redressing the injustices in the state.
Earlier, the PCC boss, Dr Alpheaus Paul-Worika, congratulated the commissioner on his appointment and the vigour with which he was discharging his duty.
He said PCC is a philosophy of due process which seeks that things be done according to the law and orderly, but that since its 40 years of establishment, people of the state were yet to key into it in resolving their cases of injustices.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Dr Austin Tam-George, has taken a swipe against the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) over his comment on the Supreme Court’s judgement that upheld the election of Chief Nyesom Wike as the duly elected Governor of Rivers State.
Oyegun was reported in the media to have expressed shock over the Supreme Court’s ruling, stating that, ‘we have lost very important resource-rich states to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), no matter how curde oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country, there is something obviously, fundamentally wrong in Rivers State which needs to be investigated”.
Speaking with newsmen in an interview in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, described Oyegun’s comment as an insult to Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta region, and pointed out that the APC’s tendency to criminalise the Supreme Court was disregard for the rule of law and the principle of justice.
“What we are seeing is the spread of political fundamentalism, the APC wants to seize more territories, any state not controlled by the APC is a target to be exploited by deceptive measures”, he stated.
Tam-George said the APC leadership should stop imposing its tyranny of mere will on the people of Rivers State, and called on Rivers people to remain calm and be vigilant against the extremist tendencies of the APC.
He said the APC leadership was bereft of any genuine policy to fix the development challenges of the country, but was only concerned about unfeltered access to the natural resources of the Niger Delta region.
Meanwhile, Tam-George has also called for regional integration among the Niger Delta states to ensure sustainable spread of development across the region.
According to the commissioner, such integration will unite the people of the region and check the tendency of polarisation advanced by the APC in the region.
He called on the governors of Niger Delta States to shun impunity and deliver quality service to the people.
Tam-George, commended Governor Wike for his commitment toward delivery of quality projects in Rivers State, and urged other Niger Delta governors to borrow a cue from Wike.
Chris Oluoh & Taneh Beemene
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
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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