The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has within the last six years in office demonstrated clearly that he is a man with vision, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has said.
Nsirim said this while speaking, last Tuesday, on a live radio programme about the upcoming commissioning of 16 legacy projects and the flay-off of 23 others to mark the two years’ second term in office of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The commissioner reiterated that before Wike assumed office as governor, he envisioned what is called the NEW Rivers Vision.
He, therefore, called on Rivers people and professional bodies to support the state government in its efforts to fully implement the vision’s blueprint for the benefit of all Rivers people.
“And that NEW Rivers Vision blueprint encompasses what he wanted Rivers State to look like in terms of healthcare delivery, education, agriculture, women empowerment, sports, security, etc.
“If you look at these major sectors of Rivers State economy, you will find that Nyesom Wike’s touch has redefined governance in such a way that even those who are in position gladly accept that he has made a mark.
“Let’s take, for instance, healthcare delivery: if you recall, before this time, all the health facilities in the state were moribund. For now, as we speak, all the health centres, general hospitals in all the local government areas have been rehabilitated and equipped”.
According to Nsirim, the state now has five zonal hospitals; the former Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital has also been converted and equipped to a teaching hospital for the Rivers State University by the Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration.
“If you come to education, we had a situation where facilities were broken down, and you begin now to see the Nyesom Wike’s touch making the difference.
“I give you a few examples: if you go to Government Secondary School, Rumuokwuta; Birabi Grammar School, Bori; Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema; Kalabari Girls’ High School, Buguma; Government Craft Development Centre; left to die, have been rehabilitated and are now looking like polytechnics people have in some other parts of the country.
“Also, primary schools have been rehabilitated and equipped. So, you have the education sector in Rivers State bubbling with the state government bearing the cost of SSCE and JAMB fees for Rivers State students. It has never happened before in this state. This is because the man Wike has come to ensure that education is brought closer to the people.
“If you come to agriculture, we have what we call agricultural revolution, which will kick-off with the inauguration of the State Cassava Processing Company at Oyigbo on Thursday.
“That plant is a demonstration of the kind of agricultural revolution we are talking about because the company has facilities to get to the farmers, get the cassava and transport it to the plant. Already, we have 3,000 uptakers for that project. It is something novel.”
Speaking on road infrastructure development, Nsirim said Rivers State has witnessed what could be called an infrastructural revolution.
“Those who know Port Harcourt, the city centre right now, will miss their way when they come into Port Harcourt because of what Governor Nyesom Wike is doing.
“When he said he was building the first three flyovers, a lot of people thought it was a mere political rhetoric. How can you build three flyovers at the same time? But, of course, you can see that all those flyovers have been completed, and six more are being built across the city centre, and when people see the flyovers, they say: why is this man doing this? But I call Governor Wike a man who is building infrastructure for tomorrow.
“Rivers State remains the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry in Nigeria. Just a few days ago, NLNG commissioned its corporate headquarters here. Train 7 of NLNG will soon take off. Now, if you see the influx of people who come into Port Harcourt because of the economic viability of this state, you will understand that building that kind of road infrastructure here is something that we all will cherish in years to come.
“People forget things in a hurry. Before Nyesom Wike came in, a road like Elelenwo/Akpajo Road now Justice Iche Ndu Road was impassable. Garrison/Trans-Amadi Road was impassable. There was no connection between Peter Odili Road and Woji. But now, travelling on those roads no longer takes hours because Wike has come to create a new network of roads.
“Today, we have for the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality, the Saakpenwa-Bori Road, which became something that politicians used over the years to lure them for support. Today, Wike has broken the jinx by building a dual carriageway with streetlights.
“For the people of Abonnema, I am sure that they never envisioned that they will have a Ring Road. You need to visit Abonnema now, a city that used to have one narrow road within.
“Are we talking about roads for the people of Sira and Kira? Are we talking about road for the people of Ibaa and Obele, Isiokpo people, Emohua people or the 21-kilometre road that will be commissioned for the people of Odufor/Omuoyo in Etche, who had never had a motorable road? Or is it the road to be commissioned for the people of Umueze/Umogberi/Eberi in Omuma, and the riverine people of Opobo during this anniversary celebration?
“So, we have a governor, who is investing in infrastructure development because, if you have the right infrastructure in place, then, you can be sure that economic activities will thrive. Without the right infrastructure, economic activities will not thrive.
“If you come to sports development, Real Madrid Academy has become a major talking point in Nigeria. When the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, came to commission the Real Madrid Academy, he said clearly that Nyesom Wike is a man who is thinking ahead, that in fact, the Federal Government will copy from what he is doing here. We are believing that in the next few years, children from the academy will not only play football abroad but will also be equipped academically.”
He described Wike as a master strategist who is fully prepared to change the narrative with a developmental agenda to set new records.
He advised the opposition to stop demarketing the state with claims of non-existing level of insecurity when the Federal Government has failed to deliver on its promises.
“We must stop painting the state black simply because we want to score cheap political point. When we do that, we drive away investors unnecessarily,” he said.
He dismissed claims by detractors, adding that “Rivers State is safe. There is no part of the world where you will not find security challenges and the pockets of criminal incidents being used to paint Rivers State as insecure. The commissioning of the NLNG headquarters alone proves that, indeed, Rivers State is safe.
“As a commissioner for information and communications, I am proud to be associated with Wike’s government because I have seen that he is committed to leave Rivers State better than he met it,” he said.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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