The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N510billion to the Rivers State House of Assembly for consideration and subsequent approval.
Christened the “Budget of Consolidation, Advancement and Empowerment”, Wike said the budget will consolidate and advance the state’s investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and security, as well as in growing the economy to create jobs and empower the people.
Presenting the budget proposal to the House, yesterday, the governor said the proposed 2018 Rivers State Budget has N379, 997, 687, 404.00 as capital expenditure, while N132 billion will be used for recurrent expenditure.
He said: “This gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 75 to 25 per cent respectively. The substantial increase in capital over recurrent expenditure, once again, underscores our commitment to direct substantial resources to the critical growth sectors of our economy.”
Wike said the 2018 budget will be funded from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) N40billion; 13 per cent oil minerals fund of N120billion; Value Added Tax inflow of N6billion; Internally Generated Revenue of N132billion; reimbursements amounting to N70billion; Domestic/International Credits of N70billion; and Capital receipts N20billion.
The governor stated that a total portfolio of N90billion and N35billion have been allocated to the Ministry of Works and the Special Projects Bureau, respectively, to fund the delivery of capital projects in the 2018 budget.
He said that the administration was committed to the completion of key projects in different parts of the state.
The projects include: Dualisation of Saapkenwa–Bori road; Dualisation of Slaughter–Trans Amadi–Garrison road; Dualisation of Elelenwo–Akpajo road; Dualisation of Oil Mill–Woji–Elelenwo–Akpajo road; Dualisation of Prof Tam David-West (Obiri Ikwerre–Airport) road; the Andoni–Opobo section of the Unity road.
Others include internal road networks in Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area; Amadi-Ama in Port Harcourt Local Government Area; Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area; Elele and Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area; among others.
Other key projects also earmarked for delivery in 2018 include Bonny–Bille Waterside Jetty; Mile One Market, Phase 2; reclamation works in Abalama in Asari-Toru Local Government Area; Ogu town in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area; Bakana in Degema Local Government Area; and Ogbunabali in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.
The rest include constituency projects such as Real Madrid Football Academy; luxury living quarters for judicial officers from the state, among other projects; and the cinema and restaurant project in the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.
The governor added: “We shall also start some new projects, including the Women Development Centre, the new world-class international conference centre, and roads.”
On education, Wike said: “We are devoting N50billion to fund the education sector for the 2018 fiscal year. This sum is N20billion more than that of 2017.
“In addition, we have proposed a capital grant of N500million to each of our tertiary institutions to bolster infrastructural development and improve quality.
“Apart from proposing the sum of N2billion for the provision of scholarships for critical areas of the state’s manpower needs, we have also proposed to set aside another N2billion to partner, encourage and support the development of private universities and improve access to tertiary education for Rivers indigenes in the state,” the governor added.
Wike stated that his administration was “Providing the sum of N30billion in 2018 to enhance all aspects of the healthcare delivery system in the state, including the provision of health infrastructure for health institutions, recruitment and training of medical doctors and other healthcare personnel, refurbishing and equipping our primary healthcare centres, providing vaccines for routine immunization against child-killer diseases, as well as in carrying out education and sensitization programmes on reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child healthcare”.
On security, Wike said that the state government will continue to invest heavily in the security of lives and property through the funding of security agencies and provision of logistics for them to effectively secure the state.
He said: “We have also approved the establishment of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (RSNSC) to further enhance the security in the state. When fully established and operational, the corps will have the responsibility to collaborate with the security agencies to combat crime and cultism in our communities and neighbourhoods.
“The State Executive Council has already approved the bill to give effect to this initiative, which we shall soon transmit for the consideration of the House of Assembly and passing into law. The N22billion we have proposed in the 2018 budget for security operations will also take care of the setting-up and operationalisation of this agency,” Wike added.
In order to tackle high level of youth unemployment and poverty, the governor said that empowerment has been prioritised in 2018.
Wike proposed N6billion for employment generation, N7billion for women development and N2 billion to support youth development.
He added that the state government will inject N1billion into the state’s Microfinance Agency (RIMA) to provide loans and support the development of small-scale enterprises in the state.
The governor said that sports development will be funded by the state government in 2018, noting that the Real Madrid Football Academy will come on stream.
He said: “We will also continue to fund the state’s football teams and support them to win laurels at national and continental levels for the state. For these and other activities for a comprehensive development of sports in the state, we propose to spend N2.5billion for fiscal year 2018.”
The governor said that investments in the administration of justice and the justice sector will be sustained.
He said that N4.350billion has been allocated to the law and justice sector.
The state chief executive said the administration decided to renew and strengthen her partnership with the church of God in the state by proposing to establish a Trust Fund for the church to administer to its needs.
“The sum of N1billion has been proposed under this budget for this purpose,” he noted.
Wike said that in the past two and a half years, the administration has demonstrated that it is committed to solving the problems it inherited and advance the overall wellbeing of the people.
He said: “For us, our state deserves meaningful development and we must, as a government, continue to do our best to deliver to our people. That is why we are offering a realistic budget for 2018, which takes a balanced and pragmatic approach towards solving the developmental challenges of our state and take it to the next level of transformation.”
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike proposed a Budget of N470billion for 2017.
The 2017 budget recorded about 74 per cent performance, which was a significant improvement over that of 2016.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani assured the people of Rivers State that the state Assembly will continue to support the Executive to deliver the development of the state.
Ibani said an analysis of the 2018 Budget shows that the Rivers State governor will consolidate on development in different sectors of the state’s economy.
He said that the state House of Assembly will treat the budget expeditiously, but stated that due process will be followed.
According to the speaker, “Only a pathological fault finder will not see the good works of the Rivers State governor. The governor has performed creditably well”.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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