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9th NASS Leadership: PDP Makes Choice, Today …Arewa Youths Warn Against Lawan’s Emergence …NASS Management Adopts Secret Ballot …As Nigerians Move Against NASS N4.68bn Welcome Package

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The leadership of the PDP will today decide on who to endorse among those aspiring to be Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, has said.
In an interview with newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, Odeyemi stated that the party leadership wanted to make the endorsement a last-minute affair.
He said, “They want to take the decision today. They want (to make) it a last-minute affair but the horse trading and underground work are ongoing.”
Odeyemi, however, added that the possibility of the PDP presenting candidates for offices of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives should not be ruled out.
He said, “On whether we are likely to present a candidate, it depends on the situation of things generally. Anything can happen, anything can crop up. You do not rule out anything.
“In politics, 24 hours is still a long time. When Bukola Saraki became the Senate President, was Nigeria expecting it that he would win the election or that he would become the Senate President? No! Anything can happen, it depends on the strategy. We are keeping our strategy close to our chest. So we cannot say yes or no that the PDP will be presenting candidates.”
He also denied any division among the PDP senators, adding that the party had not decided who to endorse.
Meanwhile, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) yesterday warned Nigerians against allowing Senator Ahmed Lawan, to become the President of the ninth Senate.
The AYCF linked the support Lawan is currently getting from some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as related to the secret pursuit of personal ambitions ahead of 2023 general elections.
In a statement to newsmen yesterday by Yerima Abbas Shettima, the President of AYCF, the forum fingered Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, and Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, as being behind Lawan’s ambition in a desperate move ahead of 2023 polls.
The statement added, “We advise the Tinubus and Elrufais of this world to shove aside any desperate move on 2023 and allow a level-playing field for all political offices.
“No one should hide behind any political party to turn Nigerians into mere manipulable pawn. That will be undemocratic imposition and totally unacceptable,” Shettima said.
The group recalled how it predicted that Senator Danjuma Goje would step down when he is pressured into submission using his pending case at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“We also declared that he could alternatively be forced to step down from the race in exchange for his freedom from EFCC’s hot chase,” it stated.
“We are happy to inform all Nigerian progressives that we have been vindicated in all the public declarations we made recently on the contentious seat of the Senate presidency.
“It is obvious that the desperation to make the road to Senate presidency smooth for Tinubu’s acolyte (Sen Lawan), Buhari’s foot-soldiers, especially Governor Nasir El-Rufaiare coming up with a new narrative to pull a blind wool over our eyes.
“The Kaduna governor is trying to sell a dummy to Nigerians that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has done the needful regarding Goje’s case with the EFCC.
“And we ask: Which attorney-general, when all ministers have since resigned?
“What is the meaning of taking a case that was under investigation by an independent body, to an attorney-general who is not the judge in the court handling the Senator Goje case?
“These are questions begging for answers and we are tempted to assume that the EFCC is about to be hindered from continuing with the case because Chief Tinubu, who has been pushing Buhari harder, has vested interest to do with his 2023 presidential ambition,” AYCF claimed.
There were clear indications on Saturday that the election of the presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly will be conducted by secret ballot method tomorrow.
A senior member of the management team of the federal parliament told newsmen on condition of anonymity on Saturday that the elected lawmakers had already been given House Rules stipulating the voting method.
He said, “There were attempts to amend the rules of both chambers to give room for a secret ballot but the idea was frustrated by the outgoing leadership.
“I’m aware that advocates of the secret ballot method mounted pressure on the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and stressed the need to amend the rules in line with the global practices.
“There is no way management will come up with a voting method different from what is contained in the rule book distributed to elected members since April.”
Investigation revealed that the members of the Ahmad Lawan Campaign Organisation had soft-pedalled on their agitation for an open poll.
A member of the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, on Saturday, said, “We are winning almost unopposed; so, there is no basis for argument over voting method again.”
Attempts to speak with the Director of Information, Rawlings Agada, on the issue, failed on Saturday as calls made to his mobile did not connect.
He had also not responded to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report on Saturday.
But speaking with newsmen on the telephone last month, the Director of Public Affairs, National Assembly, MrYahaya Dan-Zaria, said the Standing Rules of the chambers prescribed an open-secret system, which would be adopted for the next poll.
“Of course, an open-secret ballot; that is what their rule says. It is not from us; it is their rule,” Dan-Zaria had stated.
However, one of the aspirants to the position of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, told journalists on Saturday that he would resist attempts to adopt secret ballot method.
Omo Agege stated, “In 2015, to the extent that the 2011 rules were not amended that ought to be the operative rule for use in the 8th Senate because it is the valid and subsisting rule. I can tell you there was never a time when this 8th Senate amended the 2011 rules.
“So what that means is that the 2015 amended rule is a Saraki rule. It is Saraki Standing Order; it is not the 8th Senate Standing Order and I can assure you it would not be used on Tuesday because it is not valid.”
When journalists reminded him that the same Standing Order was used throughout the life of the 8th Senate, he said, “Well, anybody can distribute anything. Its use will be determined on Tuesday.
“I have support from the APC caucus; I have the support of the leadership and the caucus of the party. I also have the support of the executive arm. As we go into this contest, I am very confident that come Tuesday, I will emerge as the next Deputy Senate President.”
Meanwhile, the preferred candidate of the APC for the position of Senate President in the 9th National Assembly, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said he had the endorsement of 99 senators-elect who would vote for him tomorrow.
Lawan stated this on Saturday in Abuja where the names of the APC senators, who had endorsed him, were read out.
The implication of Lawan’s claims is that only seven senators-elect across the parties that have representatives in the 9th National Assembly might not vote for him.
The endorsement list contained the names of 60 APC senators-elect and one member of the Young Progressives Party, Ifeanyi Ubah.
Lawan explained, after the list was read by the secretary of his campaign organisation, Senator Barau Jibrin, that only two out of the 62 APC senators-elect had yet to endorse him.
He also said about 38 out of the PDP senators-elect had promised to vote for him on June 11.
Lawan said he would not make public the list of PDP Senators-elect who had signed up the endorsement list with him for obvious reasons.
He said, “For my colleagues in the APC, this is the first time that members of the National Assembly, whether in the House of Representatives or in the Senate of a particular party, would come together in this unanimous way to endorse a candidate for the office of a Presiding Officer.
“The APC, as of today, stands at 62 senators-elect and the PDP 44 members.
“We have two cases undetermined in Imo State. But one was almost determined yesterday (Friday); that of senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha, when the court said INEC should give him his return certificate.
“That will take the number of APC senators-elect to 63; and of course, YPP, one.
“Out of the 62 with returned certificates in APC, 60 have signed here. But you know, we will love to have the 62 signed.
“We are not prepared to fight each other. We will do everything possible to bring everybody on board because we don’t want distraction.”
He maintained that he was not imposed on the parliament.
Lawan said, “The trouble we have gone through tells a story. We are not an imposition because everybody here wrote their name and signed.”
But an aspirant to the position of the Senate President, Senator Ali Ndume, has said he does not believe in endorsement.
Ndume, who was reacting to the claims by his co-contestant, Lawan, that 99 senators-elect had endorsed him, told journalists on Saturday that his colleagues would vote according to their conscience on Tuesday.
He said, “Well, I have said before that I am not looking for endorsement but looking for votes on election day.
“You know clearly that there is a difference between endorsement and election.
“Recall too that in 2015 that the story of endorsement was canvassed.
“He (Lawan) had the endorsement but what happened on the floor of the Senate was different.
“I believe that my colleagues shall vote according to their conscience and they shall vote for a candidate that is more suitable for the position of the Senate President.
“I am not bothered about endorsement; rather am more worried about the election.”
Meanwhile, as part of his strategy to clinch the Speaker’s seat, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has offered 60 PDP’s members-elect positions of chairmen and deputy chairmen of committees to vote for tomorrow.
The Director-General of the Femi Gbajabiamila/Ahmed Wase Campaign Organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.
Jibrin said the 60 PDP members had accepted the offer and had started working with their colleagues in the ruling All Progressives Congress to ensure that Gbajabiamila, who is the preferred candidate of the APC, emerges victorious.
He said, “Before Femi’s endorsement by the party, the President, the governors, the majority of us the lawmakers had agreed that he is the Speaker that we want. It was after that decision that other endorsements came.
“As it is today, he has a massive support across party lines. In 2015, the APC was just only guarding its votes because we believed then that we had the number to win the election.
“But this time round, the APC is more comfortable because we have more numbers with our 223. In spite of that, our campaign is more aggressive towards poaching the PDP members than the aggression of the PDP members trying to poach our members.
“But as a safety net, we already have over 60 members of the PDP working with us. There is nothing you can do to change the minds of these PDP members because their support is based on their conviction that Gbajabiamila and Wase are the best to occupy those position at this time.
“On the aspect of responsibility in the parliament, we are always reluctant mentioning this but it is the reality, sharing of committees and the rest. We have offered 60 positions.
“If not that the party has been broken into two factions, it is what we would have offered to all of them, but since we have concluded with one faction, we have given them that offer and they have accepted it.”
Jibrin also boasted that the camp was not bothered about the voting method to be adopted for the election, whether open or secret ballot.
In the meantime, the South-South zone of the APC, on Saturday, said it had resolved to support the aspiration of Omo-Agege as the Deputy Senate President in the 9th Assembly.
The party’s Zonal Working Committee in a statement by its National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Chief Hilliard Eta, and Zonal Secretary, Mr David Okumagba, said they took the decision after deliberating on the senators-elect from the zone that had shown an interest in vying for the position.
The statement noted that after the deliberating on the candidacy of Senator Francis Alimikhena from Edo State and Omo-Agege from Delta State, it settled for the latter because the National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, was from Edo State.
It read in part, “However, considering the current zoning of political offices in our zone, whereby Edo State produced the current National Chairman of our party, Adams Oshiomhole, and other considerations, it became imperative that our zone supports the candidature of Senator OvieOmo-Agege for the office of the deputy senate president.”
In a related development, more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) have filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court to restrain, prevent and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from paying the incoming members of the 9th National Assembly individually and/or collectively over N4.68 billion as ‘welcome package’.
SERAP, BudgIT and EiE, suing for themselves and on behalf of 1,522 concerned Nigerians, stated that: “The Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has failed to do any downward review of salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly since 2007 in spite of the economic downturn in Nigeria. Yet, the commission is statutorily required to review the pay of the lawmakers, in conformity with the country’s economic realities and to achieve fiscal efficiency.”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/943/2019 filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the plaintiffs argued: “Given many years of extreme poverty in the country, and the inability of several state governments to pay salaries of workers and pensions, the refusal or failure of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review and cut the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is a gross violation of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and the commission’s own Act.”
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Assembly Service Commission and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The plaintiffs also argued that: “The duty of the RMAFC to review the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is mandatory and the Commission cannot choose not to comply. Therefore, the failure or refusal by the Commission to comply with its own Act amounts to arbitrariness.
The suit reads in part: “Unless the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are granted, the defendants and members of the National Assembly will continue to benefit from these outrageous salaries and allowances, in breach of the law and at the expense of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
“The amounts budgeted as payment for furniture and accommodation allowance to members of the 9th National Assembly negates the oath of office under the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution by members to perform their functions in the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria.
“The National Assembly comprises of 469 members – with 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives. These public officers form a very tiny percentage of about 200 million Nigerians. Members are still eligible to collect huge sums of money as monthly allowances and severance pay at the end of their respective terms.
“The RMAFC is required to advise the Federal, State and Local Governments on fiscal efficiency and methods by which their revenue is to be increased. Prescribing N9,926,062.5 and N10,132,000:00 to members of the House of Representatives and Senate respectively, as furniture and accommodation allowance, is not in tandem with the Commission’s statutory mandate and advisory roles on fiscal efficiency.
“The action of members of the National Assembly in ‘rubber-stamping’ the passage of the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances] [Amendments] Act 2008 is also in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, particularly paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which provides that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities’.
“It can be inferred that in passing the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances] [Amendments] Act 2008, members of the National Assembly more or less appropriated these payments as allowance to themselves, thereby bringing about conflict of their personal interests with national interest of fiscal efficiency, a conflict eventually resolved in favour of personal interest.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit

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RSG Debunks Rumours That Late LG Chairman’s Body Has Been Exhumed

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The Rivers State Government  has debunked tthe rumour making the rounds that the body of the late Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, Odiari Princewill has been exhumed from the Port Harcourt cemetery.
Describing the rumour as baseless and untrue, the Rivers State Commissioner for information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim said, in a government special announcement on Saturday, that the grave where the deceased was interred is still intact as no one has tampered with it.
“Government hereby warns families, friends and relations who may want to desecrate the grave of the deceased that the full weight of the law will be visited on them.
“Security agencies have therefore been placed on red alert to ensure that only authorized persons come near  the cemetery.
“Any unauthorized person found around the cemetery will be arrested and prosecuted,” the statement said.
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One Year Anniversary: Governor Wike Sues For Unity

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.

In a state-wide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office today, Governor Wike noted that the state can overcome the present global economic situation if citizens come together in unity of thought and purpose.

“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.

“This is a time for governance, not politics,  and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.

 

“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he stated.

The Governor pointed out that within the last one year, his administration had embarked on urban renewal programme in the State capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.

He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 percent completion.

The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road  to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.

 

Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.

In addition, the governor said, work has commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

According to him, the long abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.

On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.

 

The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

Governor Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.

The State Chief Executive pointed out that funds had been released for comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and  Kalabari National College, Buguma.

 

Others include,  Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area.

On Real Madrid Academy, Governor Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels is progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.

He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunities for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.

The governor regretted that despite the advisories and regulations on social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks, most residents are flouting the directives to the collective peril of all.

 

“These are all irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.

“We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.

“Government may be forced to reinstate lockdown if members of the public continue to flout and disregard the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks,” he said.

Governor Wike however, commiserated with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the pandemic and prayed for the peaceful repose of their innocent souls.

 

He said that while we pray for the quick success, for the global search, for vaccines, the responsibility still rests on everyone to strictly comply with the established mitigating measures.

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A Statewide Broadcast By His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS, To Mark The First Year Of His Second Term In Office …My Dear Good People of Rivers State

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Today marks the 1st year anniversary of our 2nd term in office. Normally, we should be celebrating this important milestone with the commissioning of completed projects and correlated social activities.
2. But these are abnormal times and moments like this call for subdued feelings and thankful prayers to God for His abundant grace and mercy upon our State and on our lives.
3. As at today, we’ve painfully lost twelve persons, and probably more, to the death pangs of the coronavirus. For us, every life matters; and every life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families, but also, to all of humanity.
4. While we therefore pray for the peaceful repose of these innocent souls whose lives and dreams were cut short by this vicious enemy, our hearts and sympathies go to their families, dependants, friends and colleagues for the irreparable loss.
5. In the last six months, the coronavirus has wrought nothing but pain, sorrow and destruction on humankind.  And it is most unfortunate that the speed and vigour of our emergency response measures have not succeeded in stopping this virus from spreading in our State.
6. The reality therefore, is that we must all accept to live with this virus and its consequences until an effective vaccine is discovered.
7. We pray for the quick success for the global search for vaccines and therapeutics, but until then, the responsibility is still on every one of us to strictly and effectively comply with the established mitigating measures.
8. Regrettably, we have observed that the advisories, directives and regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks are being ignored at alarming proportions in the State, much to our collective discomfort and peril.
9. So many people are moving about on our streets and into other public places without face masks. We have sighted businesses, including banks and shopping centres attending to customers without face masks or maintaining physical distancing.
10. We have also seen people on our streets buying and selling without face masks or observing social distancing in clear disregard of the ban on clustered trading activities and unauthorized social gatherings.
11. These are all very irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
12. Those who continue to exhibit or encourage such callous behaviour or trivialize the fatal power of this virus or still live in denial of its existence are either insane or the worst enemies of mankind.
13. Believe it or not, the transmission of this pandemic depends on our own individual behaviour, actions or inactions.
14. We must therefore all strive to help ourselves, our families, our communities and our State by complying religiously with the laid down regulations and advisories on social distancing and wearing of face masks.
15. Let me therefore, warn us again, that enough is enough. We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status or station who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of covid-19 in our State with contempt.
16. While we have reserved the recourse to total lockdown for obvious reasons, it appears we may be forced to reinstate this drastic measure, sooner than later, if members of the public continue to flout, disregard and or abuse the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks in the State.
17. Fellow Rivers people,
18. Let us continue to renew our faith in God’s abundant grace and collectively adjust to the new reality with abiding hope in the brightness of our future despite what has befallen us at the moment.
19. Exactly one year ago, we signed the peoples’ social contract, released our development blue-print for our second term in office, and reiterated our commitment and determination to work and serve our people as if we were on our first term.
20. One year into our second term, we are happy and proud to say that God has helped us to fulfil most of the promises that we made in our inaugural address.
21. The urban renewal programme in the capital city is progressing as the restoration works, including underground drains, sidewalks, green areas and street lights on most of the roads in both the old and new Government Reservation Areas are at very advanced stages of completion.
22. The construction of the multi-billion-naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-odo and Rumuogba is progressing simultaneously and expected to be delivered within schedule by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited.
23. Work on the construction of the 4th flyover bridge across GRA junction and accompanying dualization of Ezimgbu (Mummy B) road are also underway.
24. The dualization of Tombia Extension, GRA to link Ikwerre road is progressing satisfactorily and will be delivered on schedule.
25. The dualization of Kira – Sapkenwa – Bori – Kono, straddling three Local Government Areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 per cent completion.
26. Construction of Oyigbo (Mbano camp) to Iriebe, linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the State, has been completed.
27. Also completed virtually, are Alesa- Agbonchia – Oyigbo road linking Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State; and the Rumuakunde and Isioudu communities’ roads in Emohua Local Government Areas of the State.
28. Similarly, the 2nd phase of Isiokpo community internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Areas has been completed.
29. Construction works on the 16.85 kilometers Rumuji – Ibaa – Isiokpo road in Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas have reached 90 percent completion level, while the dualization of the 23 kilometers Omoku – Egbema road in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area has progressed beyond 50 per cent.
30. Also, the 21.3 kilometers Odufor/Akpoku/Umuoye road in Etche Local Government Area has crossed 70 percent construction level, while the Aker-base road in Obio/Akpor Local Government, the Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke road, the Odiokwu internal road network in Ahoada West Area as well as the Abonnema ring road in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, and the Umuma road in Omuma Local Government Area, and the Sime – Eteo – Nonwa road connecting Tai and Eleme Local Government Areas, have all progressed to between 80 and 85 percent completion.
31. By God’s special grace we have almost delivered on our promise to complete the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas of the State with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo (Unity) road.
32. Indeed I feel highly elated and fulfilled to have led the Government that have actualized the age-long yearnings of the indigenes and residents of these local government areas to connect and access the rest of the State by tarred road.
33. Apart from roads, we also made significant progress in the last one year on the progressive delivery of healthcare and education infrastructure and services.
34. The mother and child hospital is virtually completed, fully furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testings and preparations for commissioning. Also completed is the comprehensive health centre at Odiokwu in Ahoada West Local Government Area.
35. We fully built, completely equipped and converted the former Braithwaite Memorial Hospital to the Rivers State university Teaching Hospital, which is reckoned as one the best in the country, leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
 36. Furthermore, the regional referral hospitals in Degema and Bori in Degema and Khana Local Government Areas respectively are presently being furnished and equipped, while structural work is continuing on the ones located in Omoku and Okehi in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Etche Local Government areas.
37. All across the State, our strategic intervention in the restoration, upgrade and expansion of secondary schools across the State continues to deliver remarkable results and improvements in the quality of public education system.
38. We have released funds for the comprehensive restoration and upgrade of scores of dilapidated secondary schools across the State, including: Enitonna High School and Government Comprehensive High School, Borikiri in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Obama High School, Degema and Model Secondary School, Tombia, all in Degema Local Government Area, as well as Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Kalabari National College, Buguma in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government Area, and Community Secondary Schoo, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area, which is 85 per cent completed
39. The construction of students’ hostels for the Real Madrid Football Academy is progressing very well and the academy will soon open its doors for simultaneous academic and football and related training and mentoring programmes.
40. And in line with our promise to refocus on agricultural development, we are at the verge of completing the Datco cassava processing plant, with guaranteed off-taker opportunities for over 3000 local cassava farmers, and inspiring capacity to stimulate the cassava revolution in the State and related industries and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for our people.
 41. In the last one year of our second tenure, we have kept our promise, worked hard and achieved more with less resources, provided first-class socio-economic infrastructure and kept our State and businesses safe, secure.
42. As we continue on this progressive trajectory into the second year, we can only promise to recommit ourselves to work harder and deliver greater development to our people.
43. We know it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spinoff effects on ours.
44. But, tough times like this call for unity of thought, unity of purpose and unity of actions; believing in ourselves and in our ability to overcome all the challenges that confront us as a State and as a people.
45. Yes, we can, if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people.
46. As a government, we welcome constructive and frank criticisms devoid of politics and mischievousness, because they serve to make us better performers.
47. At any rate, this is a time for governance, not for politics, and we welcome everyone onboard to enable us to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments and good jobs; to build a State of shared prosperity; a place of boundless opportunity for all residents; and a State we can truly call our native home, our pride, our heritage, while looking into the future with optimism.
48. For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness.
49. And so, as we look forward to the next twelve months, all I can say is that we are inspired by your continuous support and prayers to believe that our best days are ahead of us, and working together, we will surely do more to move Rivers State forward.
50. Finally, let us not forget that coronavirus is real. Let us all be responsible, stay safe and be alive to fulfil the promise of God in our lives.
51. Thank you and may God continue to bless us all and bless our dear Rivers State.
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