The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari, to heed the clamour for fiscal federalism and restructuring, to douse brewing tension in the country.
Wike, said stakeholders in the South-South and other geopolitical zones that met with the delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, have expressed their grievances, which must be genuinely addressed.
The Rivers State governor, stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday.
The governor noted that stakeholders in the South-South, last Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, ventilated their expectations, and what was now required was political leadership and will by the President to implement the demands.
“President Buhari, has an opportunity today, that Nigerians are saying these are the things we want; these are the things we think can move Nigeria forward. And you have to show leadership by saying, ‘I have listened to you and these are things we can implement’. You may not necessarily implement everything that the people are talking about or people may want. But let people say that under President Buhari, has been able to implement one, two, three and four demands by the people.
“But if he does not take this opportunity now, and does not implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigeria and for his legacy. I don’t think that will mean well.”
The governor stated that despite reservations in some quarters about the readiness of the Federal Government to address issues raised, Buhari must avail himself the rare opportunity to address nagging issues militating against the stability of the country.
“If the president does not do this, given the opportunity he has now, then, he will put Nigeria on fire.”
Wike acknowledged that some of the salient demands of the South-South zone will require constitutional amendments to actualise, but implored the President to ensure that whenever the National Assembly passes constitutional amendment as it concerns restructuring, true federalism and resource control, he does not refuse to assent to it.
“But, again, if constitutional amendment is being made and the President vetoes or says no, he will not sign it like he did against the Electoral Act, then, it will become a problem for Nigerians.”
He dismissed insinuations by the Deputy Senate President, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, that National Assembly members and ministers from the zone were not consulted before Tuesday’s meeting with the presidential delegation.
“We are playing politics with issues that concern Nigerians; issues that concern the region. I don’t need to be told, assuming I am a legislator, and something like this happens, I will rush back to the state to meet the governor; to meet the stakeholders, and say: what do we do? You don’t need to wait for the governor to call you! It is your own responsibility as representative of the people. You heard that your state has been burnt down, for example, you don’t expect somebody who is bereaved to begin to call, to say I am bereaved.”
He described as regrettable the absence of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, who arrived the Government House, Port Harcourt, with the Chief of Staff for the crucial stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, but failed to participate in the event for inexplicable reasons.
“When I asked the Chief of Staff: where is my own minister? he was also shocked, because he knew that the minister was at the airport with them.”
Wike noted that President Buhari has done the needful by appointing people to manage the affairs of NDDC for the interest of the region, but, regrettably, that those appointed were politicians who have refused to work with PDP governors in the region.
He accused the NDDC of pervasive corruption to the extent of claiming projects done by the Rivers State Government, as its own.
“Rivers State Government went to court and challenged NDDC that, you cannot do what you are doing without consultation, without approval of the state government. And the court agreed with the Rivers State Government. NDDC, you cannot do what you are doing. You are distorting the physical development of the stat”, Wike stressed.
The governor, lamented the continuous politicisation of security in the country to the extent that it has prevented the take-off of operations of the State Neighbourhood Safety Corps.
He accused the Nigerian Army, which ironically, has given tactical support to similar outfits in APC-controlled states like Lagos and Kogi, of preventing the State Safety Corps from operating, despite legislative backing.
He also wondered why the state Police Command would be contemplating community policing without the involvement of state governors.
“You are talking about community policing, and then, state governments are not involved. Who pays these officers or the men who are involved in community policing? You stay in Abuja, you take a decision, you recruit, then, you come and tell the state governments to come and pay, it does not work that way.
“And what do you mean by community policing? You are talking about how to provide security in various communities. Who is in-charge of these communities? And that is the problem we have in our own federal structure. You cannot say you operate a true federal system when you have only one police command”, Wike argued.
The governor dismissed claims that the state government owed personnel of the Rivers State Transport Company, and explained that state does not have such employees on its database.
He explained that before the advent of his administration, the state transport company had been operating as a franchise, without remitting proceeds to the state government.
Wike Uncovers Rivers’ Aircraft Secretly Abandoned In Germany
The Rivers State Government has discovered one of the state-owned Legacy 600 aircraft, that was flown to and abandoned in Germany since 2012 by the former Governor, HonChibuikeAmaechi-led administration.
The state Governor, Chief NyesomWike, who disclosed this, said the government discovered the aircraft through credible intelligence.
The governor said it was unconscionable for the immediate past administration to have surreptitiously taken a state-owned asset to Germany and abandoned same there, without any documentation.
Wike, who led a delegation of Rivers leaders to General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany, where the aircraft had been abandoned for 10 years, said efforts to repair and retrieve the aircraft have cost the state government over €3million.
Speaking during a meeting with the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, the governor explained that his administration, in a bid to recover state assets, had through intelligence, discovered that the Legacy 600 jet purchased by the Dr Peter Odili-led administration was in Germany.
“When we came into office in 2015, we never had an idea that our plane was in your facility. It was a matter of asking questions before we got the information that Legacy 600 belonging to our state is in RUAG, before General Atomics. We tried to make contact with you, which you obliged. So, we want to sincerely thank you for not hiding anything from us, because it is the property of the Rivers State Government.
“This plane was bought in 2003 by the government of Dr Peter Odili, and by 2007, he had handed over to the next government, which was my predecessor’s, now, Minister of Transportation, RotimiAmaechi. While he was in office, by 2012, this plane was brought here. Reasons we do not know.”
Wike said there was no document indicating that the state-owned aircraft was flown to Germany and abandoned for any reason.
“The issue is: why was there no documentation to let the incoming government know that we have this facility, and we sent it to RUAG for inspection. Again, I do know from experience that inspection of such facility does not take more than six months. So, if it was brought in 2012, expectantly, at least, by early 2013, the plane ought to have come back to us for use.”
Wike said he had to travel to Munich, Germany with a state delegation to prove that the Legacy 600 aircraft has been discovered and about to be returned to the state government.
Those on the governor’s entourage included the Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-OwajiIbani; Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ehie Edison; Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. ZacchaeusAdangor; member of House of Representatives, Hon. Ken Chikere; Rivers State Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Amb Desmond Akawor; Chairman, Ikwerre LGA, Engr Samuel Nwanosike, among others.
Responding, the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, said the aircraft was brought to Germany by the immediate past administration and abandoned since 2012.
He expressed delight that Wike took the initiative to repair and return the aircraft to Nigeria for use by the state government.
According to him, his company would be done with general maintenance work and deliver the aircraft to the state government by March.
In his remarks, the Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-OwajiIbani, said he was elated that the aircraft has been recovered by the state government.
According to him, state lawmakers would continue to support every effort to recover all government assets and property.
Similarly, the Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ehie Edison described the abandonment of the aircraft in Germany as administrative recklessness.
“We are surprised that this is more than 10 years that the aircraft has been here. Their intention we cannot say for such, but it shows administrative recklessness, and worst of all, there is no proper documentation to show that Rivers State Government as at then, meant well for Rivers people.”
Also speaking, Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Engr Samuel Nwanosikealleged that considering the brazen manner at which the immediate past administration sold state-owned valuable assets to their cronies, it was obvious that the Legacy 600 was surreptitiously flown to Germany to be converted to personal use.
Tobin Swoops On Illegal Bunkering Sites In Okrika
The Chairman, Okrika Local Government Area, Hon Akuro Tobin has destroyed a huge illegal refinery site in Isaka Town, in compliance with the directive of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as a measure to check the ravaging soot pandemic in the state.
Tobin was companied on the visit to the site by operatives of the LG Task Force, the police and other security agencies in the area.
Speaking at the site, the chairman reiterated that his administration would not condone the nefarious activities, warning that perpetrators would not go unpunished as he would make Okrika LGA and its environs uncomfortable for their illicit business.
Tobin also said that after due consultations with traditional rulers, chiefs and the CDC members,last Saturday, it was unanimously agreed that both the perpetrators and their collaborators would nolongerbe allowed free access in Okrika, as their activities have damaged the ecosystem and caused environmental degradation, making fishing activities difficult for fishermen.
The chairman thanked the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his proactive posture in the fight against illegal bunkering in the state, and warned that he would not relent until the dastardly act has been eliminated in Okrika LGA.
Also speaking, the Task Force Chairman, Mr Ayo Tamunotonye, said, his team moved swiftly when it received credible information on the nefarious activities of illegal bunkerers at Isaka Town, adding that the perpetrators took to flight on sighting their presence.
He said his team would take the fight to every nook and cranny of the LG to make sure that the perpetrators donot put people’s health in jeopardy, and keep damaging the ecosystem of the area.
He promised the council boss that they would not relent in their onslaught in unleashing the fight against illegal bunkering.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Use 5G Network To Fight Insecurity, Buhari Tasks Agencies
President MuhammaduBuhari has launched the National Policy on 5G for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, directing all the security institutions to immediately leverage the technology to enhance security in the country.
The 5G technology was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on September 8, 2021, following a robust debate.
Inaugurating the technology, the president said the Federal Government would take full advantage of the opportunities that 5G provides for the economy, security and well-being of the nation.
He also allayed fears over the health safety of 5G, affirming that such issues had been “effectively addressed” in developing a policy that suits the country.
On the benefits of 5G technologies, the president noted it could support virtually every sector of the economy, including enhanced connectivity, improved healthcare, support for education while fostering smart cities, and boosting agriculture, among other advantages.
“It will also support security institutions with real-time communication.
“5G technology is significantly faster than earlier digital technologies and it provides near real-time communication. This can play a key role in boosting our efforts towards enhancing security across the nation.
“It will enable our security institutions to effectively deploy robotics, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality to address any security challenges that we face,” he said
He said the National 5G Policy included a deployment plan to ensure that major cities across the country benefit from the technologies.
According to him, the policy is in line with the commitment of this administration to supporting the digital economy as an enabler for the diversification of the national economy.
“It also seeks to make 5G a major driver of the economy, a catalyst for smart cities in the country and a platform for the creation of jobs that support the digital economy.’’
Thereafter, he assured investors that the Federal Government would continue to provide an enabling environment for their businesses to be very successful as Nigeria begins the roll-out of the technology.
Buhari directed the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, to supervise the implementation of the policy, being done by the Nigerian Communications Commission with the support of other government institutions.
The president also used the occasion to provide a rundown of how his administration had created an enabling environment for investments to thrive in Nigeria’s digital economy.
Meanwhile, he recounted that the journey to the launch of the 5G National policy started with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy in November, 2019 as well as the launch of several policies to strengthen the digital economy.
He said these included the Nigerian National Broadband Plan and the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
The president noted that under his watch the agreement of the National Economic Council to peg the cost of the Right of Way at N145 per linear metre which was made in 2013, was only implemented in late 2019, after the intervention of the Federal Government.
He observed that the Information and Communications Technology sector played a prime role in enabling Nigeria’s economy to swiftly exit the recession that was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The GDP Report of the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the ICT sector was the fastest growing sector in the fourth quarter of 2020 and entire year 2020, recording double-digit growth rates of 14.70per cent and 12.90per cent, respectively.
“The sector also recorded a 17.92per cent contribution to our GDP in the second quarter of last year- this was its highest ever contribution. All these impressive and significant achievements have justified our efforts to support the growth of our digital economy. “
While describing the process of developing the National 5G Policy as “painstaking, inclusive and focused”, Buhari recalled that 5G trials commenced in some selected locations in November, 2019.
“Multi-sectoral stakeholders then deliberated on the report of the trials to ensure that health, security and other concerns were effectively addressed in developing a policy that suits our country.
“The National 5G Policy will position Nigeria to harness the potentials of 5G technologies to further develop the economy and improve the indices of well-being in the nation,” he said.
Pantami affirmed the sector had recorded unprecedented achievements with increased remittances to the Federation Account, resolution of lingering issues in the industry and successful auctioning of the 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum for the deployment of 5G technology.
He thanked the president for the consistent support to the sector, announcing that within two years the Federal Government completed 1,667 ICT related projects.
“As of August, 2021, the sector remitted over N1trillion to the Federation Account and this is unprecedented because the usual remittances are around 200billion annually and this has been increased substantially,” he said.
On the spectrum auction for the 5G, Pantami explained that from the reserve price of N75billion per spectrum, each spectrum was assigned to the winners at the price of over N250billion per spectrum.
The minister expressed confidence that given the experiences from other countries and available research, Nigeria would derive maximum benefits from the deployment of 5G technology.
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