Last week, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, inaugurated the State Government Taskforce on Street Trading, Illegal Market and Motor Parks, with the charge to the members to sanitise streets in Port Harcourt
The Governor, while inaugurating the Taskforce last Wednesday in the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Port Harcourt, said the ultimate aim is to return Port Harcourt city to its glorious Garden City status.
Wike lamented the negative impact of street trading, in spite of public markets built by the government within Port Harcourt city and its environs.
“When we build roads, before you know what is happening, the roads are taken over by street traders and illegal motor parks.
“The taskforce has the responsibility of cleaning up the streets and ensure that nobody trades on roads “, he stated.
The Governor said that the taskforce members were screened by the Department of State Services and the Police to ensure that cultists were not recruited.
He warned them against extorting offenders but to make arrest and charge them to mobile courts in each zones for prosecution.
According to the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, 20 taskforce members were recruited from each of the 23 local government areas summing up to 460. However some failed the security screening and would be replaced.
The Governor appointed Mr Bright Amaewhule as Special Assistant to the Governor and Coordinator, of the Taskforce.
Also last week, Governor Wike inaugurated a 25-man committee to organise the First 100 Days in office for hiovernments second term. It is headed by the Secretary to Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo.
He charged the committee to work hard within the short period and organise a befitting event that the people of the state would be proud of.
The Governor further urged the committee to look at the numerous projects by his administration and select completed ones for commissioning and to also consider personalities across the country and select those to commission the projects.
Chairman of the committee and Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, thanked the Governor for reposing confidence in members and assured him that the committee would do its best to organise a befitting event.
Also last Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, visited Governor Wike.
The Ambassador said the United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scorge of HIV/AIDS amongst her people.
Symington explained that the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the US Centre to Disease Control, US Dept of Defense and US Agency for International Development (USAID) is implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment surge programme in Rivers State to identify and provide treatment to approximately 180,000 Persons Living With HIV who have not previously received such.
He noted that US government $75 million budget increase for HIV control measures in Nigeria with about $25million allocated for ART would make people with the virus leave healthy and productive lives till the cure for the virus would be found. He commended Wike for his administration’s plan to eliminate User-fee for PLWH.
Wike commended US Government for partnering with Rivers State Government to fight HIV/AIDS and assured that his administration would continue to fund programmes aimed at reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Wike noted that education and health are key interest of his administration.
Cult clashes that resulted in loss of lives and wanton destruction of property in some Ogoni communities attracted the attention of the state governor.
Wike led the State Security Services Commanders to some of the troubled communities to restore peace.
Igbo Youths Task PDP, APC On Presidency
The umbrella group of youth leaders in the South East geopolitical zone, under the umbrella of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has said that it is either the presidency for the Zone in 2023 or nothing.
The group emphatically demanded that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should cede the presidency to the South East zone in 2023 at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The youth coalition warned that refusal of any big political party to zone the presidency to the South East in 2023 simply means swimming against the tide of the curriculum of democracy in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement issued by the President-General of the group, Chief Goodluck Ibem, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Saturday.
The Coalition warned that those clamouring for the North to take the presidency after eight years of Buhari’s presidency, are not patriotic, but place their personal gain and aggrandisement above the survival, progress and success of the country.
The youth leaders maintained that the zoning arrangement was borne out of doctrine of necessity designed as democracy bond with the sole objective of creating a sense of belonging, harmony, happiness, peace and unity for our dear country Nigeria.
The statement added, “Zoning of the presidency has its moral weight. Zoning of the office of the president to the South East in 2023 is very important to preserve the corporate entity of Nigeria and also calm down political tension.
“Elder statesmen and Nigerian patriots knew that the best thing to do in order to keep the peace and unity of this country was to create the zoning arrangement by proclaiming that the highest office, which is office of the president, should rotate between the South and the North.
“It started with the South West in 1999; in 2007 Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua took the mantle. After the unfortunate exit of President Yar’Adua, President Goodluck Jonathan from the South South took the mantle and handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari from the North whose tenure will end in 2023.
“Now the rightful zone that deserves the seat is the South East geo-political zone after the tenure of President Buhari in 2023. The zone has not occupied the elevated office and 2023 is the ample time to right the wrong.
“A Nigerian President of Igbo Extraction will take Nigeria to greater heights because the Igbo man will bring his entrepreneur spirit to bear and he sees every where he finds himself as his constituency. He is not tribalistic. He believes in ideals of a United Nigeria.
“Zoning when it was introduced in 1999 did the magic of strengthening the bonds of amity and peaceful political transitions, why should it be thrown away now that it is the turn of the South East zone?
“The 20 years of Uninterrupted democracy in this country Nigeria is as a result of zoning arrangement. Despite our different languages, religion and tribes, we are able to remain one simply because of the zoning of the office of the president. Different geopolitical zones feel secured, recognized, respected and an integral part of the country. It gave self esteem to different geopolitical zones in the country.
“Those who think zoning is not important or no more needed are deceiving themselves . We cannot jettison a political arrangement that is working because of the personal interest of very few individuals.
“We,therefore,call on other geepolitical zone to support the aspiration of brothers in the South East in order to move the country forward.”
Abaribe, Other Senators In Crossfire Over 2020 Budget
As Senators began the N10.33 trillion budget debate on Wednesday, there were different opinions on the viability of the budget by lawmakers who tried to tag the Appropriation based on their own different perspectives.
Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe while ‘firing’ the budget said that so many things which could not be obviously achieved were put together in the budget.
“Very many things were put and jumbled together: budget of fiscal consolidation, investing in critical infrastructure and so forth.”
“In other words, putting everything together like that reminds us of what Shakespeare said: a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
This, however, did not go down well with the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan who insisted that he should have concentrated on the contents of the budget rather than taking the chambers through a literature class.
“Minority leader, this is not a literature class and I want to appeal that you talk on what was read in the budget speech.”
Senate later raised concerns about securing loans and other issues, which paved way for the Minority leader to speak on.
Abaribe continued, saying the budget was that of taxation rather than consolidation.
“I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this speech for Mr. President, that this is nothing but a budget of taxation. It is a budget that is based on taxation. It’s based on 7.5 per cent increase in VAT, based on several other increases.
“Senate President, Senate leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi has helped us in his lead debate on how the Federal Government intended to secure loans in order to shore up the budget deficit while faulting the development.
“I want to mention that the biggest loan we have is the fact that, how would you talk about job creation when you do not invest in what will create jobs?
“Debt servicing as a component is higher than capital expenditure. 2trn for capital expenditure, 2.4trn for debt servicing.
The projected growth that they put in the budget was 1.9 per cent, less than the population growth of 2.6 per cent. So, if we look at it globally, we are still struggling.
“We may have to take over and direct the economic policy of this government. having seen that they have not done anything and they have failed.
“Two assumptions are critical for this government. First, the assumption on oil prices. I know that our people were happy when there seem to be a little problem in the middle east with Iran which will lead to a spike in the oil price but that seems to have gone down which means that our projection for the cost of oil may also be off the mark.”
“Second one is our projection for the production levels daily. Last year, the average production level was 1.8m BPD. Why don’t we just keep it there? Why must we go up to 2.1 only to be disappointed at the end of the day?
“I know that you have promised the executive that we are going to work very well with the executive to produce the budget, but I plead with my colleagues to look at the facts. You can’t run away from facts.
“The facts here is that this is not a sustainable budget. If we need to change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments as due.”
Senate President insisted that the Minority leader was inaccurate in his statistical presentations.
Similarly, some lawmakers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, maintained that the figure was bogusly put together by the executive without taking the nation’s dwindling revenue into consideration.
Speaking at a press conference after plenary, Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye said the nation has the best budget put together for 2020.
He said what transpired on the floor was in line with different perspectives of seeing things by people while describing the budget as “budget of consolidation.”
Lawmaker Advises AAC Candidate Against Appealing Tribunal Judgement
A lawmaker, Hon. Kelechi Nwogu said it would be a waste of time for the Governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, to appeal the Tribunal ruling which upheld the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Recall that Engr Awara has said he will appeal the judgment after the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal ruled in favour of Wike.
Nwogu who represents Omuma Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly said Governor Wike’s victory at the tribunal did not come to him as a surprise; saying there was no way Engr. Awara would have won the election when he barely campaigned.
“Some things are not right. Somebody purportedly think he is interested to contest election on Thursday, only for him to come out on Friday and make announcement that he was going to contest election, and on Saturday you want the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare you winner.
“You didn’t campaign for the election. You had no manifesto and you just want to be declared winner. The candidate we know in that election is Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike,” Nwogu stated.
He further said, “What did Awara tell Rivers people he was going to do for them to vote for him? Going to Appeal or the Supreme Court is a mere waste of time.
“If the sun in the morning and the sun in afternoon could not dry your clothes, the one in the evening will also not dry your clothes,” Hon. Nwogu said.
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