Concluding Part Of The Tide Roundtable Encounter With Barr. Onueze C. J. Okocha (SAN). It is often said that within the term of a serving governor, there usually no vacancy for any one aspiring to unseat him. What is your take on this?
There is always Vacancy. Because in any democratic system, elections are the way to renew the process. You follow George Bush senior was already in office for one term before people in the Republican Party came too to contest with him. He ended up within the primary but Bill Clinton and Algor from the Democratic Party also contested and the people throughout had had enough Republican and wanted the Democratic and Clinton and Algor got elected.
So that is how you renew government because the policies of one government may not end up being as suitable as you thought it would be and it also checks excesses of those who have been elected.
The people who voted me here, if I disappoint them, if I don’t perform to their expectation in four years, three years, if it is local government, they will vote for another person. So politician who says there is no vacancies is deceiving himself. There is always a vacancy and because of the system, they come they hijack the machinery of election.
Obasanjo when he came on board in 1999, people were saying yes, is a bridge between the old and the young. The military and the civilian the father of the Nation, because, he has served creditably and voluntarily vacated office, as a military Head of State.
We thought we are having another replication of Mandela, the father of the nation especially when the country was at the verge of breakup. No sooner had he got into office, he started to put institutions that will secure him not only a second but a third and a life term, and that is how we ended up.
Today, we have a president who everybody says was hand picked by the party. Whether it is true or false nobody knows. But all of you are living witnesses of two years of Yar’Adua’s Administration. You wonder is this what Obasanjo wanted for this country. So we have difficulty with our electoral system and I doubt that any serious credible Nigerians would like to come foreword and have his head cut off in this our jungle politics.
How do you access the performance of Yar’Adua and Amaechi administration?
Oh! Separately you know I like to take people on their word. He started by telling us about Seven Point Agenda which is still the present talk of the day. Not one of the Seven Point Agenda has been introduced. Not one. And I shall urge anybody who has a contrary argument to make it. Power, he said, he would deliver an emergency. Law and order and the rule of law. Niger Delta problems, it was only last year they established a Niger Delta Ministry, if that is the answer to the Niger Delta problem, which if not so I think that we still have to ask ourselves question. Are we really benefiting from the presidency?
Look at the state of infrastructure. It was on Owerri road that I was attacked by armed robbers. So, I’m sorry to say with all due respect to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not one point of the Seven Point Agenda has been actualized, for more than two years.
Rivers State: I would want to say, contrary to what is happening at the Federal level, we are seeing the governor in action here. Establishing infrastructure for the greater glory of Rivers State. Everywhere you see a project going on. Buildings for school, building for primary schools, building for secondary schools. Health centre, I have seen one at Churchill. I went to Baptist High School have seen some at that Churchill.
Everybody as I passed, I see the new structures, they have established for the Dental Hospital, I have gone to Emenike Street, and what used to be Niger Hospital has been replaced by massive building of course.
I haven’t seen that they have started operation, but heard the one in Churchill Street is operating. I have seen the new school building coming up. I have seen massive reconstruction work going on for roads.
You saw the flyover at my own village there I heard it was awarded by Omehia’s administration but work is going on. Eleme junction Flyover, those were not even awarded by Amaechi.
Yes some have suffered including me on the policies of restoring the glory of the city. I have tried to swallow my pain. So we must go through some hard time to realize what the governor has in mind.
But you know I also shared the sentiment of some people why shouldn’t it be a phase progression. I have this feeling, that it is anxiety to reclaim lost times, and you know, the nature of Nigeria political system. The other day, we heard that they have taken about eighty something of our oil wells and allocated them to Akwa-Ibom State and these are matters that have been resolved in court. The Supreme Court. What would be the boundaries between littoral states and the Federal government? What is really boundaries between the states themselves.
Why should suddenly oil wells that were in Rivers State be in Akwa-Ibom. Why suddenly in taking it beyond our shores. Cross River State that was an oil producing state is no longer an oil producing state.
These are matters of law matters of facts. It should not be in disputes what the boundary of any state is, from the other you have the National Boundaries Commission and if there is a line drawn, they shall know where oil wells are located. So because of all these problems of not following what tomorrow will be, I would honestly advise a phase programme for this development. I would also try to say he should have a proper project monitoring team.
If the governor himself has to drive to inspect a project, he would have little time for governance. So I would say, they should think about constituting a high powered technical experts to act as a project team for Rivers State.
Now that he has established a Due Process commission, so Due Process will look at the process, the value of contract awarded.
Because the ministries that are in charge of some projects, I don’t think, have the personnel to monitor these projects and Projects monitoring is a very serious aspects you don’t award contract to somebody and leave it like that. Somebody must be there to make sure that the proper materials are used and in sufficient quantity.
So I give him kudos and compliment him on his bold step.
Professionals in corruption?
I quite disagree with you. I challenge you to name any professionals like lawyers or doctors who have been involved in corruption. We Nigerian Bar Association has really decided to support the War Against Corruption.
Long ago, Nigerian Bar Association as a body decided that they will support the War Against Corruption, because of the bad effect that corruption has had on our national image.
So, I don’t know any particular lawyer or lawyers that you have said had been involved in corruption. Let me say this, the fact that lawyers defend people who are accused of corruption should not be seen to mean that lawyers are supporting corruption. A lawyer’s job is to defend even the most heinous crime. An offender charged with murder is entitled to legal representation because the law is that a man is presumed innocence until he has been proved guilty.
So the fact that you say ‘A’ corruptly enriched himself, enriched his brother or sister by how much billions just an allegation, but then that is a lawyer acting in consonance defending his client.
Even if the client is eventually found guilty of corruption, it does not mean that the lawyer supported his client to commit the corrupt offence.
I also don’t know if any doctor, because you mentioned two professions. Medical profession and the legal profession that has committed corruption and has condoned corruption.
We Have Funded, Completed 21 Road Projects-Fubara
Being a full text of the first 100 days in office broadcast of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State on Wednesday, September 6, 2023.
My fellow people of Rivers State.
It is my pleasure to formally mark the first 100 days of our government in office, a compelling milestone for us to reflect on the activities and achievements of the Government so far since we took the oath of office on the 29th of May 2023.
In my inaugural speech, we promised to consolidate and continue the new Rivers Vision by committing to sustaining the momentum of development set by our immediate past Governor, and now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, *His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike*.
We also called on our people to work with me to implement our blueprint on security, infrastructure, education, healthcare, economic growth, job creation, and many more, and take our lovely State to greater heights of sustainable progress and human security.
Now, after 100 days, I am proud and humbled to report that we have not wavered from this course. Taking one step at a time, we have kept our eyes focused on this goal, made steady gains, and delivered on every one of the bold promises we made on the campaign trail despite the economic challenges of the times.
As a government, our priority is to secure the lives and property of our people and we have kept faith in this responsibility by working with the security agencies to keep Rivers State relatively peaceful, safe, and secure for lives, businesses, and property.
We are up to date in the payment of salaries and pensions to civil servants. We have also continued to gradually clear the backlogs of gratuities to beneficiaries and restore water in the State Secretariat complex.
On 17 July 2023, we flagged off the construction of the single largest infrastructure project by a State Government in this country – the Port Harcourt Ring Road project as part of our comprehensive infrastructure development master plan for the State.
The 50.15 km dual carriage ring road, when completed in a record three years, will connect and strengthen economic progress and integration in not less than six local government areas and open a vast gateway for new local and foreign direct investments in real estate, agriculture, hospitality, and industrial ventures into the State, transform the communities on and around its alignments, into thriving cities and create jobs and economic opportunities for so many of our citizens.
Since we took over, the wheels of progress have never stopped turning in our State. After 100 days, we have funded, completed, and delivered 21 road projects the many we inherited from the previous administration, and added approximately 68 kilometres to the State’s Road network.
Consequently, the following completed road projects across eight Local Government Areas of the State will be commissioned from tomorrow 7th September 2023 as part of activities to mark our 100 days in office:
• Oyigbo – Okoloama Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area;
• Alode – Onne Road in Eleme Local Government Area;
• Botem-Gbene – nu-Horo road in Tai Local Government Area;
• Mgbuodohia internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Ogbo – Ihugbogo in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Odiemudie Road in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Omoku – Aligwu – Kreigani Road in Ogba/Egbma/Ndoni Local Government Area;
• Eneka internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Ogbakiri internal Roads in Emohua Local Government Area; and
• Omagwa internal Roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Furthermore, having prioritized road construction as part of our strategy to accelerate socio-economic growth and development, we have awarded contracts and concluded plans to flag-off the construction of the following roads spread across five local government areas of the State as part of our 100 days in office activities:
• Omuakali – Eberi Road in Omuma Local Government Area;
• Aleto-Ebubu-Eteo road in Eleme Local Government Area
• Igbu-Ehuda internal Roads in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Elelenwo internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Bori City internal Roads in Khana Local Government Area; and
• Emohua – Ogbakiri Road in Emohua Local Government Area.
To improve the quality of basic education we have in the last 100 days completed the acquisition of over a million copies of relevant educational resource materials, including basic textbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, to be distributed to all primary and secondary schools across the State to enrich their libraries and improve the standards of teaching and learning experience in our school system.
Also, besides paying WAEC and NECO fees for students in all public schools, we have within this timeline, completed the reconstruction and furnishing of six secondary schools with 124 classrooms, modern furniture, science laboratories, ICT, library, administrative block, assembly halls, dormitories and staff quarters spread across six local government areas of the State: These are:
• Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Eneka, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Emohua, Emohua Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Okehi, Etche Local Government Area;
• Comprehensive Secondary School, Alesa-Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area; and
• Government Secondary School, Ataba, Andoni Local Government Area.
As promised, we have started implementing our agenda to improve access to quality healthcare delivery in the State. In the last 100 days, we have given a marching order to the Primary Healthcare Management Board to step up efforts to revamp and ensure effective access to primary healthcare services in all our communities.
In response, the Board has renovated not less than ten primary healthcare centres across the three senatorial districts of the State located at Elekahia, Rumuodomaya, Okehi, Oyigbo, Gokana, Opobo, Ahoada, Mina-ama, Okwuzi, and Okochiri communities.
On our part, we have completed the reconstruction, upgrading, and equipping of two secondary healthcare hospitals: the Kelsey Harrison Memorial Hospital and the Dental, Maxillofacial, ENT, and Ophthalmology Hospital, to further strengthen the State’s capacity for the provision of affordable and quality healthcare services to all residents.
These important hospitals with a combined 150-bed spaces and state-of-the-art equipment are due to reopen their doors to provide quality healthcare services to the public soon after they are inaugurated in a few days.
Additionally, the Dental, Maxillofacial, ENT, and Ophthalmology hospital has been designated as an annex of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital and used for medical research and the training of medical students at Rivers State University.
Under the Ministry of Special Projects, we have delivered the 10,000-seating capacity convocation arena for the University of Port Harcourt.
This is one-of-a-kind physical edifice that will provide academic and social services to the University community and the public, which aligns with our commitment to support all federal institutions in the State as much as we can to enable them to deliver effective and efficient services to our people, who are the primary beneficiaries of their services.
It is for this reason that we recently acquired and donated a firefighting truck for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to enhance and restore to operations of international flights at the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Over these first 100 days, we have taken quality steps to advance the well-being of our people in the face of the economic hardship caused the sudden withdrawal of fuel subsidies, unemployment, and rising inflation.
We are happy to note the palliatory effect of the free bus transport scheme we have put in place since July to cushion the high cost of living for ordinary citizens. I assure you of our intention to sustain these and other mitigating measures, including the distribution of food to the vulnerable population, for a considerable time.
I also wish to inform residents that we have since set up an intergovernmental flood management committee with the responsibility to respond proactively to the looming flooding that may affect the inhabitants of the lowlands and flood plains of our State as predicted by the National Emergency Management Agency.
With the launching of the flood mitigation road map, I can assure all residents that we are on red alert to respond to any imminent flood challenge in the State and provide safety and relief to those who will be affected.
I, therefore, appeal to corporate bodies, well-meaning individuals, and non-governmental organizations to be ready to materially support the Committee to succeed in this critical assignment to rescue our vulnerable people.
To stimulate economic growth, enhance job creation, and reduce poverty we have concluded plans to create a four billion (¦ 4,000,000,000.00) naira Enterprise Fund in partnership with the Bank of Industry to facilitate the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the State.
With this Fund, owners and intending MSME entrepreneurs will have ready access to credit to fund or start their enterprises at single-digit interest rates with a maximum of a five-year repayment period.
In addition, we are also making efforts to establish the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund to help create an enterprise culture and stimulate sustainable interest in entrepreneurial activities among our youths to advance self-employment and job creation.
We have concluded plans to establish the State’s Investment Promotion Agency to advance local and foreign investments and the industrialization of the State.
For us, as we move to the next 100 days and beyond, there is nothing more compelling to our government than to continue to focus on protecting our people, growing our economy to provide a high standard of living, investing in human capital development to uplift the youths, and building our infrastructure to attract investments and create jobs.
As we can see, we have already accomplished a lot in our first 100 days and we are determined to achieve much more in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
I thank every citizen, including our traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, men, women and youths the business community, civil society organizations, professional groups, and the religious community for your support, cooperation, and prayers, which have sustained us through the last 100 days of our administration.
I thank the security agencies for their commitment and sacrifice to protecting lives and keeping Rivers State safe and secure for everyone. I assure you we will not relent in our commitment to support you in discharging your security responsibilities to our State and the nation.
I also thank the State House of Assembly for their cooperation and support in passing the supplementary appropriation law, which enabled us to secure the funds for the Port Harcourt Ring Road project.
Finally, we recommit to working with all stakeholders to transform our State and advance the well-being of our people with good governance and responsive leadership.
Thank you and may God bless our dear State.
Fubara’s First 100 Days: quando principium est bonum
Fifth Columnists And Battle For The Soul Of NDDC
Desperation drives irrational thoughts and actions, even as some analysts see it as the raw material of drastic change. One thing is certain though, never underestimate the desperation of people bound by a common ulterior motive as they will stop at nothing to achieve their aim.
It is sad and heart rending to observe the desperation being exhibited by some acclaimed elders from the Niger Delta region, apparently in a morbid quest to destroy the hard-earned reputation and character of a shining light in a most wicked attempt to take control of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
In a stretch of a miserable link associating the futile plot for the balkanisation of the Commission to the highest political leadership of the South-South region, it becomes gloomy for the region to be subjected to the whims and caprices of one man who has arrogated supreme powers to himself just because providence has placed him in a position of leadership in the South-South region.
In the last two weeks, the news media has been awash with reports of a purported petition to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by a self-styled group under the aegis of the Niger Delta Elders for Good Governance (NDEGG), calling for the removal of Chief Samuel Ogbuku ( PhD) current Managing Director of the NDDC.
The presumed leader of the pseudo group which has no known address, His Royal Highness, Chief Donald Ewere, in the said petition spewed inanities and absolute falsehood against Dr Ogbuku, thinking in their deceitful minds that the Presidency will be swayed by their untruth.
In a failed effort to dent the image of Dr Ogbuku, the group went as far as trampling on his goodwill and reputation to prove that he is a corrupt and bad person. The petitioner threw caution to the wind in a bid to so deceive and outlandishly alleged that Dr Ogbuku has mismanaged the sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Billion (N350billion) Naira.
Chief Ogbuku only assumed duties as the Managing Director of the NDDC, on January 5th, 2023, he has barely been in office for about seven months. The records at the commission shows that the Commission has not received such amount as claimed by the group.
By speculating that there is a rift between the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume and the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamala, over the position of the Managing Director of the commission, the group is only attempting to sow a seed of discord between the government functionaries.
Over the years, Senator Akpabio has been embroiled in the affairs of the NDDC in a negative way. Senator George Akume may be taking the wrong step if he aligns with Senator Akpabio to fight against the reappointment of Dr Ogbuku into the incoming Board of the NDDC. The ground swell of opinion holds that the current MD is doing extremely well and should be allowed to continue as the Managing Director of the commission.
To every discerning mind, it is trite law that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, reserved the right to appoint persons that will work with him, there is a clear divide between the functions of the Executive and Legislative arms.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu can never abdicate his responsibility by according the Senate President the right to absolutely decide who gets appointments in the South-South region as canvassed by the group being the number three citizen and leader of the Niger Delta region even as the Constitution is very clear on the powers of the President of the country.
It is a height of disrespect to the office of the Present of the Federation for the leadership of the group to assume the function of Mr. President and presume an anger and frustration against President Tinubu for ignoring their call for the removal of Dr Samuel Ogbuku and institute an interim government which the people of the region has consistently rejected.
By: Nsoyoh Okokon
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