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States Get N649.4bn Final Paris Club Refund, Soon

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The state governments in Nigeria would soon smile to the banks as the Federal Government has concluded plans to commence the final phase of the Paris Club debt refunds.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, yesterday, on the state of the economy, Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed, disclosed: “The total sum of N649.434billion was verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded to the state governments.”
She also revealed that the payments made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as at March, 2019 stands at N691.560billion.
“The increase in CBN payments partly arose from exchange rate differential at the point of payment,” she said.
Ahmed, while not divulging the status of the states with regards to the Paris Club disbursements, noted that, “some states still have outstanding balances, which will be refunded, in due course.”
The minister also stated that a total sum of N4.8trillion was distributed to the three-tiers of government between September, 2018, and April, 2019, from the Federation Account, noting that, “the sum of N784.7billion realized from Value Added Tax (VAT) for the same period was also shared.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s growing debt profile, the minister stated, “the debt increase from N12.2trillion to N23trillion is by design.”
The Federal Government, she said “designed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to reflate the economy to take us out of recession when we came on board, and we made an assessment, it was clear that our country was going into recession.
“When we did a research on the best way to reverse the recession and to reflate the economy and that means putting resources in the economy so that consumption will increase.”
Based on government’s findings, she said they “designed the ERGP to borrow in the first, second and third years, and in the fourth year, the borrowing was supposed to start reducing. That is exactly what we have done.”
Defending the borrowing, Ahmed said, government “made sure that we borrowed to finance capital projects.
“At the same time we went into recession there were other countries similar to Nigeria that went into recession. Some of them are still not out of recession but because of the method we adopted.
“But the consequence, of course, is the increase in debt and that is why the Ministry of Finance and all its agencies are working to make sure that we increase revenues.”
She reiterated, “at 19.09 per cent Debt-to-GDP ratio, we still are the lowest comparative to countries like Brazil, South Africa that all have an average of 56 per cent Debt-to-GDP ratio.
“If you look at our budget, the debt-service-to-GDP ratio is 30 per cent but because revenues underperformed, it went as high as 50 per cent to 55 per cent, and in some months, up to 60 per cent. So, if our revenues perform optimally, we are in a good place as far as revenues are concerned.”
The minister said the country’s External Reserves grew from $28.3billion in 2015 to $44.69billion as at May 13, 2019.
“This represents a significant improvement that has helped to stabilize the economy, including stabilizing our exchange rates,” she stated.
Also, the Foreign Exchange (FX) market, she said, “remains relatively stable because from 2017 to now there is a significant convergence of the NIFEX and NAFEX windows and they have in fact merged by the end of November, 2018.”

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RSG Warns Owner Of Proudest Hotel To Stop Blackmailing NCDC

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Our attention has been drawn to a recent misleading petition, signed by one Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari, Owner, Prodest Hotel and dated 24th May 2020,
to the effect that the convicted Manager of Prodest Hotel, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, who recently tested positive for Covid-19 disease amongst 27 others, in a result released by the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, may have allegedly been infected on the instructions of the Rivers State Government.

Much as we had restrained ourselves from responding to previous similar publications by this same person, since the subject matter was still before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are now compelled to reply this obviously  spurious, deliberately misleading and intentionally provocative petition with a proper response, to set the records straight and caution the sponsors of this action from further pedlling such falsehoods in the public space.

For the avoidance of doubt and for the information of the general public, let us state categorically here that the FACTS of this matter are very clear, viz:

 

1. A Port Harcourt Senior Magistrates’ Court on May 18th, 2020  CONVICTED Mr. Bariledum Azoro, Manager of Prodest Hotel, Eleme and sentenced him to a fine of N50,000 for contravening paragraphs  3 and 4 of Executive Order RVSG 07 2020 on closure of hotels, guest houses and related outfits  and provision of manifests in the state.

2. The Senior Magistrates’ Court also ordered that th convict,Mr. Azoroh should be quarantined at the Isolation Centre in Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia for 14 days to ascertain his coronavirus status.

3. That while in the Court Ordered Quarantine, competent health officials  carried out mandatory tests on all suspected Coronavirus individuals at the centre, including  Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, to ascertain their Covid-19 status.
It is important to state here that COVID-19 tests undergo World Health Organization, (WHO) and NCDC guidelines and are conducted under strict established medical protocols.

 

4. That prior to the publication of the test results, the owner of PRODEST Hotel Eleme, Mr. Gogorobari Needam had published one of his misleading petitions in an attempt to preempt the outcome of the test and the question we want to ask is: ‘Why did the hotel owner try to preempt the outcome of the test. Was he trying to cover up something?

5.  That on Sunday, 24th May, 2020, the NCDC announced that Rivers State had 27 recorded positive cases including  Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, from tests carried out in the state.

6. That following the official announcement of the result and confirmation of his Manager’s Covid-19 positive status, the PRODEST Hotel owner has once again released another statement and this time is now calling for a state of emergency in Rivers State because his manager tested positive for Covid-19.

 

7. Rivers people will recall that on May 19, 2020, we raised an alarm intimating the world of a clandestine plot by some Abuja politicians hiding under the cover of Covid-19 to instigate a State of Emergency in the state. Today, a hotel owner in Eleme, who lives in Lagos is also now calling for a State of Emergency. Is there any wonder therefore as to who is beating the drum for him?

8. Indeed there seems to be more to this than meets the ordinary eye and we are calling on all well-meaning people to see the need to interrogate this man and know that he is acting out a script. Infact, the entire petition sounds and reads like something lifted directly from the copy book of those who have been desperately trying to run down the Rivers State Government. This is desperation taken too far.

9. We even recall vividly that Mr.  Needam Promise Gogorobari had, in an interview published in the Punch Newspaper of May 15, 2020 titled: “No ill feeling towards Wike for demolishing my hotel – Gogorobari”, actually stated categorically that he holds no grudge against Governor Wike for demolishing the hotel. His words:  “Who am I not to forgive him? I don’t hold any grudge against him. I just feel that God wanted it to happen that way”. So what happened to make him change his mind? Is it not obvious that the agents of evil and those who do not mean well for Rivers State have reached him and are now beating this drum of dissent for him?

10. Again, We want to state categorically here that Government doesn’t conduct Covid-19 tests. Trained Health professionals follow the relevant medical protocols set down by WHO, the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, to conduct these tests.

11. The claim therefore that the PRODEST Hotel manager, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, was infected while in detention is not only laughable and preposterous, but sadly and dangerously exposes the amazing ignorance and naivety of Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari and those sponsoring him about the deadly nature of the Covid-19 disease. How does one even carry such a deadly virus around and infect people with it?

12. Rather than commend the Rivers State Government for stemming the tide of infection that would have arisen if the Hotel used for clandestine parties was not demolished and the Manager arrested, the owner is crying wolf where there is none.

13. We also want to caution Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari to be very mindful of his claims that his hotel Manager “has been framed up by an unorthodox hired medical officers recruited by Governor Wike with a report that he has tested positive to COVID-19 whilst in detention with the Rivers State Government”.
This is a clear accusation and indictment of the reputation and authority of the NCDC.

14 We also want to call the attention of Mr. Needam Gogorobari that we take exception to his description of the Isolation Centre in Port Harcourt, as an “illegal detention facility in Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt” and to inform him and his sponsors that the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and a team from the World Health Organization, were in Rivers State on a working visit in April this year and not only praised Governor Nyesom Wike for his leadership and handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. but also applauded his medical health team and all the facilities put in place in response to the Coronavirus.

 

We will therefore be keen to know how the NCDC will react, when they read your description of a facility they approved, as ‘a detention centre’.

15. Finally, we want to assure the good people of the state that the Rivers State Government remains resolute in its fight to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state and we will not be deterred by cheap blackmail and misleading propaganda.

16 Governor Wike is determined to employ and deploy appropriate strategies to keep Rivers State safe.

17. We call on all residents to work together with the Governor to defeat Covid-19 in Rivers State and by the Grace of God we will be victorious.

Paulinus Nsirim
Commissioner for Information and Communications
May 26, 2020

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Banigo Felicitates With Justice Wike On Her Birthday

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has felicitated with the wife of the State Chief Executive Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom Wike as she celebrates her birthday on Saturday, 23rd May, 2020.

 

In a statement from the Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday, 23rd May 2020, Dr. Banigo described Hon. Justice Wike as a humane and God fearing woman who is a great pillar of strength to our amiable Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.

 

While wishing her many happy returns the Deputy Governor prayed the Almighty God to continue to protect and bless Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom Wike.

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Former Nigeria President Jonathan Loses Foster Dad.

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The family of former Nigerian President,Goodluck Jonathan and the Otuoke community of Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state has been thrown into mourning as the News of the sudden demise of Chief Nitabai Inegite,the former president’s foster father reached them.

Though no official reports have reached us as to the cause of his death,The Tide learnt that the septuagenerian has been briefly ill shortly before his demise.
The former President, who visited the residence of his late foster father the early hours of Wednesday has not made any official statement regarding funeral arrangement.
Chief Inegite,popularly called ‘holy’ by his admirers and friends was initially reported to have been responding to treatment in an undisclosed health facility where his health later deteriorated before finally giving up  the ghost  at about 11:00 pm,Tuesday 19th day of May,2020.
You would recall that the late Chief Nitabai Inegite was twice reported to have been kidnapped some time between 2014 and 2016 respectively.
The late former president’s foster father was survived by his wife,biological children,grand children and numerous relatives.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
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