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RSG Debunks Receipt Of N78bn Refund From FG …Dissolves Taskforce On Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks …Pulls Out Of FG’s Public Works Programme

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Rivers State Government has debunked the misconception that it has received N78 billion refund from the Federal Government.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, made the clarification yesterday in a Radio Programme.
Pastor Nsirim explained that there is a huge difference between approval and release of funds.
“As at today, the Rivers State Government is yet to receive the N78 billion. There is so much misconception out there. There is a difference between approval and release of funds.
“When the money is released it cannot be a secret because in government circles such an information cannot be hidden.
“Let me state categorically that if the money is received today, it will be made public. So, this idea of peddling propaganda that the money has been received by mischief makers is quite unfortunate,” he stated.
He also used the opportunity to clear the air on the questions being asked in several quarters over what the State Government needs more loans for when it has N78 billion, saying, “you cannot plan with what you do not have.”
The Commissioner also assured Rivers people that when the refund is finally received, the State Government would use it judiciously for the benefit of the people.
“If the refund is received they can always count on Governor Nyesom Wike to use it judiciously to increase the infrastructural development of the State.
In another development, the State Government has approved the dissolution of the State Taskforce on Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim said “consequently, the Special Assistant to the Governor in charge of the Task Force, Mr. Bright Amaewhule has been relieved of his appointment”.
The statement continued that “members of the Taskforce are hereby directed to return the operational vehicles and Identity Cards of the body to the Office of the Secretary to State Government not later than 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
“They will be paid their salaries as they return the vehicles and Identity Cards. Government will reconstitute the Taskforce after proper orientation and training”.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has pulled out of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government where 774,000 unskilled Nigerians were supposed to be employed.
Nominee of the Rivers State government in the committee, Erastus Awortu, made the decision of the state known in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Awortu, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on NDDC, alleged that the implantation of the programme, which was designed to employ 1,000 persons per local government area, has been hijacked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The Rivers State nominee described the Special Public Works Programme as a scam.
Awortu said in the letter, “At the beginning, some guidelines were set on how the slots should be shared among the various interest groups. The various interest groups are 35 and have representatives in the committee but unfortunately, that is not being done by the committee. The guidelines are not being followed.
“The committee has been asking people to process their applications but we found out that they also gave out forms to APC members in the state. Which means they already know those they will shortlist for the programme and they are only stressing other people to apply. They are doing that to justify that due process is being followed but that is not the case.
“I find it very misleading and as the representative of the governor, I will not be part of that kind of process where the populace will be made to apply for what is not available. It is an absolute scam.
“Accordingly, I want to say that since the slots are not defined as per the guidelines that the state is willing to allow the programme be run fully as an APC empowerment programme for their members and cease to be part of it forthwith,” Awortu said.
The Chairman of the Special Public Works Programme in River State, Dr Innocent Barikor, had on a radio programme over the weekend in Port Harcourt, said the committee had no plans to undermine the state government in the implementation of the programme.
According to the letter made available to The Tide, Awortu copied the Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike and the Chairman of the Public Works Programme, Dr Innocent Barikor, in the withdrawal letter.

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Wike Hands Over More Residential Quarters To Federal Agencies …Begins Ogu/Wakama Road Project Construction, Soon

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has handed over residential quarters and office spaces to Federal Government agencies in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area.
The accommodation facility is made up of 48 units of one bedroom flats, 24 units of two bedroom flats and two multi-purpose halls.
The facility, which was constructed by the Wike-led administration to solve housing needs in the area, was handed over to the Chairman of the council, Navy Captain Victor Erasmus (rtd).
Wike, who visited the area, yesterday, directed the council chairman to commence the allocation of the accommodation to the various federal agencies in the area.
He said workers in those federal agencies provide services to the state and the accommodation support would enhance their performances.
“We do not like to discriminate. Workers of federal agencies serve the interest of the state. If they do not have accommodation, it will affect their performances.
“We built some of these residential houses because we found out that most of the staff of these federal agencies still come to work here from Port Harcourt.
“Today, we are formally handing over the houses to the council chairman, and I have directed him to allocate them to the benefitting agencies, National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), Nigeria Immigration Services, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), State Security Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp, National Population Commission, National Identity Management Commission and the National Orientation Agency,” he said.
The governor also inspected the extent of work done at the Government Secondary School, Ogu, and expressed delight at what has been accomplished at the Girls’ Section of the school.
“I have come to inspect the Secondary School here. We have seen the Girls’ Section, and you can see that the contractor has done well.
“We shall release more funds to them so that they can complete the project before December, 2020.
“Schools will reopen on the 5th of October, 2020. We want the Girls’ Section to be ready for them. After that, we shall focus on completing the boarding facility for the school,” he stated.
The governor also assured that funds would soon be released to mobilise the contractor for the construction of Ogu-Wakama Road project.

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Nigeria @60: Wike Calls For National Unity

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As Nigeria marks her Diamond Jubilee Independence Anniversary, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to continue to work towards the unity, progress and development of the nation.
The governor made the call during the Inter-denominational Church/Thanksgiving Service held in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee Independence celebrations at the St Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, noted that it was the responsibility of all citizens to make the country great as all persons must work and keep the hope of achieving a great nation alive.
He eulogized the sacrifices made by our founding fathers, and regretted that their dreams of a prosperous nation was bedevilled with the challenges of insurgency, poverty, unemployment and fragmented democracy.
“As we go through the passage of nationhood today, we need to pay respect and begin to think about the sacrifices that were made by our founding fathers who sacrificed everything important, who were so heroic and so patriotic in their course to make sure we can be called a nation”, the governor stressed.
The governor was optimistic that Nigeria would be a great nation, and urged all to pray for the peace and unity of the country.
“It is by his infinite mercy that we have remained as a nation. I urge us to continue to pray for the unity, progress and development of Nigeria. There is so much more God wants to do for us as a nation”, he added.
Wike said, “We need to pray because we know God has been answering our prayers and that is why, today, we are able to celebrate, even in the midst of the global pandemic, our nation is still one”.
Earlier in his sermon, His Lord Bishop, Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Budu Ihunwo, charged all to rededicate themselves to God and to remain patriotic to national growth.
The Bishop, who represented by Ven Kingsley Ogbonda, suggested that government should explore other areas in agriculture, security, hospitality, education and transportation to diversify the economy.
He said, “Nigerians have allowed ethnicity and religion to eat deep into our system”, noting that the solution is to humble ourselves in brokenness before God, strengthening the hands of those who mean well for the nation and the need to lay fresh firm foundation for the nation to move forward.
Special prayers were made for the nation and her leaders, Rivers State, the State Executive Council, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
Prayers were also made for the governor and his family and for the church and her leaders.
The service was also attended by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani; the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adama Iyaye-Lamikanra; the service chiefs, the state Chairman of PDP, State Executive Council members, former deputy governors, chiefs, elder statesmen and other top government functionaries.

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RSG Reopens Schools Next Monday Stakeholders Work Out Modalities This Week

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Following the directive by the Rivers State Government for all secondary schools, universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions in the state to reopen next Monday, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, has said that various stakeholders in the education sector in the state would meet within the week to work out modalities towards the full reopening of schools except the primary schools.
Although Ebeku did not give the exact date for the meeting, he, however, said that the meeting would deliberate on critical issues to determine the next class students that would resume and the number of students to be taken into each classroom to ensure social distancing, acceptable school hours as well fees to be paid by students, among others.
The commissioner stated this via text message while responding to questions by The Tide on the way forward on the reopening of schools by the state government.
It would be recalled that the state government had, last Friday, announced that the State Executive Council had approved the full resumption of schools in the state with effect from Monday October 5, 2020.
The council took the decision at an emergency session presided over by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, last Friday, at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Ebeku, who announced this while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, explained that all secondary schools, vocational centres, universities and other tertiary institutions in the state, were affected by the directive.
He, however, stated that the council did not approve the reopening of primary schools based on expert medical advice.
Ebeku added that the council also approved the setting up of a Seven-man Task Force to Monitor and Enforce the Compliance of Covid-19 Protocols in the various schools.
The task force, he said, has the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Amb Desmond Akawor as chairman while the Head of the State Civil Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins; Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike; Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa; and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim are to serve as members.
According to the council’s resolutions, the Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku is to serve as secretary.
However, some parents and students in the state have commended the state government for the reopening of schools about six months after the education institutions were closed to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
One of the parents, who spoke with The Tide, Mr Chinwendu Nwubi, said parents have long anticipated the gesture, adding that the news was, indeed, received with admiration.
According to him, students in the state have suffered untold educational backwardness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged the state government to ensure that they monitor compliance by the schools in the state.
Also speaking, a student of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, Port Harcourt, Miss Ifenyinwa Amaliri, lauded the state government for reopening of schools.
According to her, students have suffered much during the pandemic, noting that many students have been involved in various anti-social activities during the period the schools were closed.
Speaking earlier after the SEC meeting, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, also announced the reopening of public places such as parks, cinemas and restaurants that would operate within the hours of 6am to 9pm daily.
Nsirim stated that night clubs and bars as well as Oil Mill Market and Slaughter Market, Oginigba, remain closed.
He said that all the reopened public places must adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols or face severe sanctions.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma, said that the government reviewed the compliance of citizens as it relates to Executive Order 16 on the conduct of marriages in the state.
Aguma stated that henceforth, applications for marriages must be accompanied with an affidavit stating that there would be no reception.
According to her, a fine of N100million awaits defaulters of the extant regulations.
She added that local government chairmen were to be held responsible, if they fail to monitor compliance in their various areas.
Speaking further, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, said that the council also reviewed issues regarding public burials during the Covid-19 period.
According to him, all public burials in the state are to be conducted in line with the Official Gazette of the state which stipulates that not more 50 persons are allowed at such ceremonies.
Chike stated that henceforth, families applying for burials must provide death certificates and an affidavit that they must adhere strictly with all Covid-19 protocols.
He said that defaulters would be liable to a fine of N100million while local government chairmen are to ensure that the directives are complied with in their various areas.

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