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Declare Emergency On Roads, Senate Tells FG

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The Senate, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on federal roads across the country.
The lawmakers made the request during yesterday’s plenary at the National Assembly in Abuja.
The Senator representing Cross River South Senatorial District in the Senate, Gershom Bassey, raised a motion on the deplorable state of federal roads in Nigeria.
Bassey also informed the Senate that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has failed to remit the five per cent user charge of fuel pump price to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), as stipulated in the Act for the rehabilitation of federal roads.
The Senate ordered its committees on Petroleum and FERMA to investigate the alleged non-remittance of funds by PPPRA for the rehabilitation of roads in the country.
The Senate’s plea comes eight months after Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari signed an Executive Order allowing the private sector to build Federal Government roads in the country.
The Executive Order 007 2019, signed by Buhari, is on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
The order was to allow private companies to construct major roads across the country and be paid in the form of tax credit.
However, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Mr. Tunde Lemo, yesterday said that Nigeria loses about N1trillion annually due to loss in man-hour as a result of bad roads and traffic delay.
Lemo disclosed this at an end of the year stakeholders’ meeting at the International Conference Centre in Abuja with the theme “Road Maintenance and Reforms: Legal and Institutional Framework”.
He said the numbers are staggering and called for emergency action in the road sector.
According to him, if the budget cannot achieve this because of other conflicting needs, it is imperative that the development and management of the road sector must be funded from alternative sources.
He said, “It is becoming clearer that legislation of a more enabling environment is required for an effective and productive management of the road for meaningful national socio-economic growth.
“It is a well-known fact that 80 per cent of travels in Nigeria are carried out on the roads including heavy duty. You then understand why the roads go bad now and again. In other climes the rail shoulders the bulk of it. 90 per cent of these are done on federal roads, thus the federal roads constitute the spine of the Nigerian road network to effectively evaluate the productive management of the Nigerian road therefore, one needs to evaluate the effective management of the federal roads. With only about 10, 000 km of federal roads in good state, and about 13, 300 and 11, 600 in fair and bad states, respectively.
“In any square kilometre area in Nigeria only 210 metres of roads are available for travel, irrespective of the conditions of the road. For smooth comfortable and timely travels, however, the density falls to 0.01km per square kilometre meaning only 10 meters of travel in every one-kilometre area.
“Clearly, this is unacceptable and needs to change. Funding for Nigerian roads is less than one per cent of the GDP, against three per cent GDP minimum spending threshold. The World Bank recommends minimum threshold of three per cent. In Nigeria we barely achieve a third of that,” he said.
He said effective roads can be guaranteed through a careful blend of many factors which include requisite capacity, capabilities, governance, accountability and controlled political influences as well as sound fiscal and funding policies.
These factors are critical to the optimal management of national road network for most effective impact on social economic growth, he said.
“It is the responsibility of road agencies to develop operational procedures of monitoring national road networks for needful interventions as at when due. Such road agencies retain the mandate to create and manage requisite administrative, operational and financial structures of the effective discharge of these activities.
“An effective road management practice is that which executes most productively, these activities within the constraints of the society of which it operates. Whereas the more advanced economies have developed reliable methodologies for constructing, monitoring and intervening on their road networks for optimal serviceability, the developing economies of the world, on the other hand, struggle to achieve these for a number of reasons. It is in this context that this stakeholders’ forum is convened in a bid to collectively reflect on Nigeria’s position vis-à-vis FERMA’s productivity, possibilities and promises,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi has said shortage of funds forced the federal government to stop states from rehabilitating Federal roads.
Fayemi gave the clarification in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, at a colloquium tagged: ‘Building a Sustainable Economy Through Values Orientation and Innovative Thinking’, marking the first year of his second term in office.
The governor said he would have loved to fix some of the federal roads in the state but for the stringent warning from the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, that there won’t be refund on such interventions.
Speaking particularly about the collapsed Ureje bridge along Afe Babalola University during a flooding a couple of weeks ago, Fayemi said: “I would have loved to do some of these roads but the Federal Government said leave our roads alone.
“They made it clear that if any state rehabilitates any road, there won’t be refunds and this is because there is no money.
“This year, Federal Government budgeted around N250billion for roads. If the government is to complete Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano expressways, it will cost a sum of N500billion out of about 36,000 kilometres of roads waiting for rehabilitation”, he said.
However, Senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial District, Olubunmi Adetumbi and former minister of sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, have advised the country to redistribute its wealth and foster entrepreneurial education, to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor citizens.
They said, though very large numbers of the youths are educated, but disclosed that the education curriculum must be critically rejigged to ensure that the right education are given to graduates.
Adetumbi, who was one of the discussants, said there must be need for the states of federation to be innovative and think of how to increase the internally generated revenues through public-private partnership to build and sustain the economy under a corrupt free atmosphere.
“In order to build a sustainable economy, there must be a partnership between the government and the people. The major problem of our economy is poor environment and growing businesses, which Ekiti didn’t have in good numbers and once business environment is bad, then the economy will continue to be repressed.
“Ekiti has a poverty rate of 57 percent .This should be a concern to us all. Our unemployment rate is 14 percent, second highest in the South-West. Ekiti has no reason to be poor or has high unemployment rate, because of good atmospheric and soil conditions it has.
“Governor Kayode Fayemi has started with youth entrepreneurship and we have to build on that to turn around the economy of this state and it has to be accompanied with value reorientation among our youths.
“Value reorientation is very important. But the greatest influencers now are politicians and that is why we as leaders must be careful and be good leaders. We must be careful with the ways we live our lives, because we are the greatest influencers in the society”.
Adetumbi advised Ekiti to key into the concept of digitised land registry, describing the initiative as best way to generate revenues for any state.
The former minister of sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, regretted that the wealth of Nigerians are concentrated in the hands of few people, which he said signposted the level of inequality in the system.
“Even President Muhammadu Buhari while declaring open the Nigeria’s Economic Council in Abuja recently emerged the first President in the country to bring the issue of inequality to the front burner of national discourse.
“The president said the wealth of the nation is concentrated in the hands of a few from five states of the federation. In inequality, Nigeria was ranked 157, making it the most unequalled country and the poverty capital of the world. The GDP does not show the reality of our state of economy.
“The issue now is, when the rich people are flying around in private jets, which isn’t wrong; let us help the poor to be able to travel to their villages on good roads.
“We are talking of education and our youths are going to schools, we must also ruminate on the kind of education that will make our youths relevant, which I believe is by embracing entrepreneurship”, he said.

 

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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COVID-19: Wike Committed To Saving Lives Of Rivers People – Nsirim …As 2nd Phase Of Street To Street Enlightenment Campaign Begins

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The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirm said Governor Nyesom Wike is committed to saving the lives of people living and doing business in the State, following the various measures put in place to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus disease.

Nsirim who stated this while inaugurating a team of Volunteers on COVID-19 Mobile Enlightenment at the State Secretariat in Port Harcourt, said the Wike led administration will continue to intensify efforts aimed at containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in preventing community transmission in the State.

Nsirim who is also the Chairman of the Rivers State Inter-Ministerial Committee for Enlightenment on Covid-19 said since the outbreak of the disease, Governor Wike has demonstrated remarkable capacity to check the spread of the virus in the State, noting that their inauguration is a boost to the street to street enlighten campaign that Covid-19 is real.

Members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by Pastor Nsirim include the State Commissioners for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Olisaelloka Tasie-Amadi, Commissioner for Youths, Prince Ohia Obi and their counterpart in the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Tamuno Igbiks.

According to Nsirim, “Our Governor has shown the right leadership. In fact, there’s no State in this country where a Governor has spearheaded the fight against coronavirus like our Governor has done. He was the first to close boarders, close markets, close schools. He was the first to sign executive orders. He was the first to chair and supervise an implementation committee that was going around this State to ensure that people adhere to the protocol.

 

“He has committed his time, his energy and resources to ensure that this State is safe. Continually he has been saying this. His primary goal this season is to save lives, Nsirim stated,

He further said street to street prevention campaign was critical in containing the virus and urged residents of the State to adhere to all the rules and directives including social distancing and compulsory wearing of facemask to avoid further spread of the pandemic in the State.

The Commissioner urged the volunteers to see their responsibility in the same spirit as the State Governor, which, Pastor Nsirim said is to save lives, urging them to discharge their duties with utmost dedication, adding that “All of you have been carefully chosen to carry out enlightenment and sensitization for our State.”

Continuing, he said, “The task before you is enormous. As you can see every day our State is recording new cases of Coronavirus. What do we do to ensure that we contain the spread? The only alternative left for us now is to move from street to street to pass the message of prevention to our people for them to obey the relevant protocol that have been established during this period.”

Nsirim emphasized that just as the Governor’s primary goal this season is to save lives, they should see their task of awareness creation on coronavirus as their own contribution to save lives in the State. “You need to let the people know that the virus is with us and that they must practice social distancing, wearing of face mask and maintenance of personal hygiene,” the commissioner stated.

 

Nsirim advised that people who have the symptoms of the virus which include dry cough, high temperature, loss of taste, body weakness and difficulty in breathing should seek medical attention, saying people should not be afraid of the symptoms of the disease because it is not a death sentence.

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Governor Wike Appoints New Executive Director For State BPPP

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has approved the appointment of Barrister Ibrahim Eddy Mark as the new Executive Director of the Bureau for Public/Private Partnership.
A statement signed by the Rivers State  Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim on Friday, said the appointment takes immediate effect.
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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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