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RSG Approves N200m Support Fund For EU Water, Sanitation Projects …Begins Enforcement Of Dev Control Law

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In line with the State Government’s plan to improve the living conditions of Rivers people and enhance access to safe, adequate and sustainable water supply and sanitation, the Rivers State Government has promised to pay its 30 per cent counter-part fund contribution for the European Union Niger Delta Support Programme (EU-NDSP)- sponsored component 3 for Water and Sanitation Project.
This assurance was given by the Rivers State Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Chief Ibibia O.Walter at a workshop on information sharing for Rivers State beneficiaries on the project status held in Port Harcourt.
Walter assured the Eu-NDSP Technical Assistant Team Leader, Mr. Albert Achten and the benefitting Communities in Akuku—Toru and Opobo/Nkoro Local |Government Areas that the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was committed to the provision of potable and clean water for every Community in the state.
The Commissioner stated that the states counterpart contribution of N200 million, which is a prerequisite for the European Union’s 70 per cent contribution of N500 million, would be released in the shortest possible time to enable the project commence.
The Water Resources and Rural Development Commissioner, however, commended the benefitting communities for their resilience in contributing their 5 per cent maintenance contributions, which was an indication that they were more than willing to take ownership of the projects, once completed.
Earlier at the workshop, the Team Leader of the Technical Assistant Team of the EU-NDSP project, Mr. Albert Achten, had said that the project must comply with EU standards on project funding.
Representatives of the benefitting communities’ Water Consumer Associations (WCAs) spoke on the level of the communities’ preparedness for the project.
The benefiting communities include Abissa, Abonnema, Kula in Akuku-Toru LGA and Kalaibiama, Opobo and Nkoro in Opobo/Nkoro LGA.
In his remarks, representative of the Secretary to the state Government and Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, commended the Ministry and EU-NDSP for the initiative, which is geared towards the provision of adequate water for Rivers people while reiterating the state government’s readiness to fulfill it’s campaign promises.
Dignitaries at the workshop were representatives of the Commissioners for Youth, Women Affairs and Budget and Economic Planning.
Others are the benefitting Communities and other  dignitaries amongst who was the Amanyanabo of Opobo and Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja.
It would be recalled that the European Union signed a five-year contribution agreement worth #20.6 million to boost rural water and sanitation projects in the Niger Delta region.
Meanwhile, barring any last minute changes, the Rivers State Government will today commence the enforcement and implementation of development control law in the state after a weeklong state wide orientation and enlightenment campaign by the state Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning.
The Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Hon Chinyere Igwe, who stated this last week while sensitizing the public on reasons why they should build according to plans, warned that traders who sell their wares along the streets and operators of illegal motor parks would be arrested and prosecuted according to the law.
Igwe reiterated the  Nyesom  Wike-led government’s commitment to restoring the status of the state capital as the Garden City, stating that the ministry will  enforce the urban development control law to the letter.
He also warned those involved in mounting illegal billboards to desist from the act, stating that if arrested, the government would look at the laws and deal with them, accordingly.
He regretted that traders abandoned markets and moved to the road side to sell their wares, thereby obstructing traffic and risking their lives and that of other road users.
According to him, “Most of the markets are abandoned by traders only to move to the roads to operate. During our enlightenment campaign last week, we found out that the Rumuokoro market was deserted. The market was empty, all the traders relocated to the road side. We also experienced the same thing in all the motor parks visited in the state capital, where all the vehicles operate from the road, and allow traders to take over the parks.
‘’We are not saying they should not sell or operate, but they should move back to the markets and parks built for that purpose instead of operating illegally and defacing the city. The state government encourages small and medium scale businesses but they should operate within the confines of the law’’, he said.
He also appealed to the public to always seek approval for their building plans before building, warning that any structure that does not get approval from the ministry would be demolished.
Igwe warned the contractors in charge of the construction of Air Force stores by Market Junction in Port Harcourt to contact the ministry immediately, stressing that some of the billboards mounted, fall short of the law.
The commissioner assured that his ministry will maintain the development plans of the city, as he urged developers to cooperate with the government in realizing its aim and mission to restore the state capital as the Garden City.

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Dislodge Illegal Oil Refinery Operators, Wike Tasks Monarchs

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has urged traditional rulers in the state not to allow illegal crude oil refining (Kpo-fire) activities to take place in their domains anymore.
Wike gave the charge at a meeting he held with traditional rulers in the state at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
The meeting was also attended by heads of security agencies and chairmen of the 23local government areas of the state.
Wike told the traditional rulers that those involved in illegal oil refining activities were sabotaging the economy.
He regretted that the Federal Government, which controls the oil industry and the security agencies, has been indifferent to the soot pandemic and the damage it was inflicting on the health of the residents of Rivers State.
“I should think that the way Federal Government intends to fight insurgency is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage! It affects our own revenue.
“If we are supposed to produce two million barrels, for example, we are now producing 1.2million. And that 1.2million barrels, it affects Rivers State because we are not producing up to the volume we are supposed to produce, and then, we cannot get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”
The governor also said that illegal oil refining activities constitute environmental hazard capable of causing cancer-related illnesses in the state.
According to him, his primary concern was to ensure that the health of residents of the state was not jeopardised.
“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to see how this thing can be stopped. As I speak to you, nobody has called me from the Federal Government to say how they can support us. But that is not my business. My business is the health of my people. I will not because the Federal Government is not interested to stop it, therefore, my people should die. If everybody dies, who are you going to govern?”
The governor, therefore, urged the traditional rulers not to be less concerned about the activities of illegal oil refinery operators, but to frantically mobilise members of their Community Development Committees (CDCs) and the leadership of their youth groups to work in synergy to dislodge them from their domains.
Wike berated the Nigerian Police for being complicit in the criminal act of illegal oil bunkering, which is why they were not committed to the fight to stop the illicit business.
He also described as embarrassing how officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have continued to be complicit in the act and shamelessly involved in sabotaging the national economy.
“I don’t know how I can be a security officer sent to a place to protect people, to protect whatsoever belongs to the Federal Government, at the same time, I’m involved in sabotaging the national economy. I don’t understand how I can wear uniform and be involved in that. If they do not want to support us, we have no choice but to expose all the atrocities that are going on in this state.”
Wike said he recently received intelligence that an Army Major was providing exit services to illegally refined petroleum products, and had to send security personnel to thwart it.
“In fact, I had to send my special security to go and intercept a major who was trying to escort some of these illegal products.”
The governor declared that his administration would not hesitate to expose any security personnel involved in such illegal oil refining activities.
Wike frowned at the inability of the Nigeria Police to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha; Fubara Ohaka; and other members of the illegal bunkering cartel operating at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
He said the names of all indicted persons would be published soon and they would be declared wanted.

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Rivers Rating In Ease Of Doing Business Rises -Banigo

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo has said that the sub-National Ease of Doing Business Baseline Survey indicates that Rivers State was doing great in the Ease of Doing Business Index in the country.
Banigo stated this at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, last Thursday, shortly after her arrival from Abuja, where she represented the State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the National Economic Council meeting.
Banigo disclosed that the factors, which determine this survey, include infrastructure, security and healthcare.
“With the 10 flyovers the governor was constructing in Rivers State, and of course, with all the other infrastructure in health, education; and the monumental improvement in security as well as the clearing of the hideouts of criminals, obviously gave us a head way in doing very well in this baseline survey”, the deputy governor further stressed.
According to the public health physician, the response of the state to the COVID-19 pandemic, under the watch of the governor as the incident manager, has been tremendous in terms of healthcare delivery.
“I want to encourage the citizens of the state to maintain the non-pharmaceutical measures like the correct wearing of face masks, regular washing of hands with soap and running water for, at least, 20 seconds, social distancing, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow as well as the improvement of personal and environmental hygiene. I also want to encourage Rivers people that vaccination actually reduces the mortality and morbidity that arises from COVID-19″, Banigo said.

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Ex-Agitators Beg Firms To Return To N’Delta

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Ex-agitators have pleaded with companies especially oil companies that relocated from the Niger Delta region following spate of insecurity triggered by militancy to return to the region promising uninterrupted peace.
The former warlords also called on interventionist agencies to work together to sustain the peace and ensure development of the region.
They spoke in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a regional peace summit to sensitize people on the need to advance the peace currently enjoyed in the region.
The ex-agitators also condemned proliferation of illegal refineries and lamented its adverse effects on development.
One of the participants at the summit and ex-freedom fighter, Pastor Nature Dumale Kieghe said as ex-agitators, who keyed into the vision of the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), they have resolved to work for a new and better Niger Delta.
“It is important to sensitize our people towards a peaceful Niger Delta and create a friendly environment that will attract development, Multinational companies and other foreign investors to the region.
“We, who once carried guns, are now here to preach the message of peace to our people in the region. Peace is the only way we can have the developed environment that we dream of. Peace is the only way to attract the multinationals, investors and also be gainfully employed,” he said.
According to Nature, peace remained a vital tool to attract investors to the region which would in turn create business and job opportunities for the people.
“Companies that have left the Niger Delta because of insecurity need to return, this is the purpose for sensitization. We are blessed with an environment that is supposed to prosper us, we can only enjoy our natural resources if there is a peaceful environment, “ he added.
Nature pointed out that a major setback to the development of the Niger Delta was the absence of proper coordination among key stakeholders.
He said with the right synergy, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Presidential Amnesty office, could hasten the needed development of the region.
On illegal oil refinery, Nature explained that beyond hampering the development of the region, illegal refining of petroleum products was life threatening and dangerous to the ecosystem.
The sensitization programme commenced in Bayelsa state with 150 Niger Delta youths in attendance and would be held across the nine states of the region to create adequate awareness.

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