The Rivers State Government has assured that the new Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Water Supply project would provide over two million people with safe and quality water supply and standard sanitation even as the state government, African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank voted the sum of $328million (approximately N65, 229,379,188.087), to boost investment in infrastructure to raise the quality and quantity of water supply as well as increase sanitation standard in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas, over the next two years.
A breakdown of the fund indicates that the Rivers State Government is contributing a counterpart funding of $48million, African Development Bank $200million, and World Bank $80million.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who disclosed this at the official launch last Friday of the Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Urban Water Sector Reform and Port Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation project at Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt, said that the project is aimed at creating women entrepreneurs and youth empowerment as well as provide safe drinking water for the inhabitants of the state.
Represented by the Rivers State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Onimim Jack, the governor said that the project is key to the development of the state as it aims at improving access to safe water supply and public sanitation in the two local governments hosting the state capital, and also establish sound performance and long term viability of the Port Harcourt Water Corporation to ensure sustainability of service delivery.
He said: “that within the first 100 days of his administration, the potable water scheme was launched at Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, and this project is in line with our promise to the people of the state as clearly spelt put in our blue print that we shall provide safe drinking water for the inhabitants of the state.”
The governor stated that the project would be managed by Messrs Rambol Denmark AS/Hospitalia Consulataire Limited JV with seasoned professionals in all relevant fields across the globe, adding that “there is provision for our own engineers to be trained and takeover the management of the project in the next two years”.
While promising that his administration would always collaborate with the Federal Government in areas that would benefit the people of Rivers State, Wike thanked the Federal Government for choosing Rivers State as one of its pilot states for water and sanitation schemes, noting that the state government must ensure the payment of its counterpart fund.
Representative of the World Bank, Mr Michel Duret, said the bank has been supporting water and sanitation projects in many states in Nigeria, emphasizing that Rivers State was chosen for the project because of its strategic position in the country as a major cross-cultural population hub.
Duret said that the fund for the project was ready, and advised the government to fast-track all the formalities involved properly for the collection of the money.
In his remarks, African Development Bank (AFDB) Country Director, Dr Ousmane Dore, said the bank has the capacity to provide the needed support in collaboration with the World Bank to boost water supply and sanitation in the state, adding that the project has high five goals, which include: “To light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialise Africa, integrate Africa and improve the living condition of the people of Africa”.
The country director noted that the water sector was a critical area in infrastructure development, adding that the project would improve water supply, sanitation and overall living standard of residents of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt local government areas.
Dore further said that the project would create jobs, and help enhance economic development of the state.
Also speaking, representative of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Bode Fashoye said, Rivers State was the first among the participating states to meet the stringent conditions of the project set by the international funding partners, and commended the state government for the feat.
The state Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Chief Ibibia Walter who assured people of the state of quality water supply and standard sanitation emphasized that the choice for the two local government areas was due largely to their position as the hub of the hydrocarbon industry, and notable commercial nerve-centre in the whole of West African sub-region.
Walter stated that the Rivers State Government was highly committed to ensuring the provision of clean urban water supply despite the financial crisis by interfacing with relevant stakeholders and partners across the spectrum to ensure availability of utility water from the two local governments, and added that little token of payment would be expected from the beneficiaries of the service.
The commissioner noted that the project, part of a wider institutional reform embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led government and coordinated by the National Urban Water Sector Reform office of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, has a social connect to ensure that the project is beneficial to all potential consumer groups, particularly the low income earners and those who cannot afford water rates.
Earlier, Managing Director, Port Harcourt Water Corporation, Mr Kenneth Anga, lamented that the high population in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor has overstretched the obsolete infrastructure for water supply put in place since 1970s, adding that the new initiative will enable the state meet the growing demand for water supply service by vulnerable residents of the state capital.
“This water project aimed at re-establishing water supply services in the capital would as well improve access and sustainability of public water supply and sanitation services to about 1.5million people living in the project area, thus alleviating the long sufferings of the people, who currently depend on private boreholes and water vendors, often paying huge prices for water whose quality is not guaranteed,” Anga said.
Also speaking, the Director General, Rivers State Water Services Regulatory Commission (RSWSRC), Mr Christopher Obasiolu said, the commission, which has been actively involved in talks, workshops, seminars, meetings and other arrangements leading to the project launch, was prepared now more than ever before to provide the regulatory framework for quality water supply to residents of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor in line with international best practices.
Obasiolu said that “the Port Harcourt Water Corporation is one of the Water Services Providers created under the Rivers State Water Sector Development Law, 2012, and is, therefore, subject to the regulatory authority of the commission by virtue of the same law”, adding that for “this reason, the commission has since issued the corporation with the necessary licenses and approvals needed to embark on water and sanitation projects in its areas of operation”.
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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