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“Waterfronts Are Hideouts Of Criminals”

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This is part III of The Tide Roundtable encounter with Hon Osima Ginah, Commissioner for Urban Development, Rivers State, first published last Monday. Read on, very refreshing. One of the main problems we have in the physical development of Port Harcourt emanates from the attitude of staff of your ministry. Since you came on board, what have you done about your in-house cleansing? The first thing when I came up, you know I run a law chamber and to run a chamber is very tasking. As the pioneer commissioner, I don’t run alone. I work with the management team. Every week, we have a management meeting. So one of the things I’m happy about is that we run with a governor that is transparent and preaches transparency, we inject the spirit of transparency. But I came to realise that it is not the fault of the civil servants that work in the ministry but the politicians. Like I said, the civil servants now know what to do. This building, you cannot build there because you are not supposed to build there. But influences come from government House, don’t you know that I’m involved? Oh! ‘Oga’, I’m sorry. Let me give you approval. Building approved. That is the way the woman who build in No. 177 Niger Street got her own approval. And so, it was the inability of the politicians to enforce the law. You know it is the executive that enforces the law. Now those who drive the executive are those in the executive council. Now the commissioners are the heads of the ministries. The permanent secretaries as civil servants are the accounting officers. They take care of how much is being paid, how much was approved to be paid. But those who drive the policy are the commissioners because they sit with the governor and the governor sees the vision to his ministry and now moves ahead to say this is what you are supposed to do. In management meeting, they put heads together, this department, move ahead and implement this. Now as you move ahead, implementing it somebody now calls the commissioner: ‘Don’t you know that; that is the property of my in-law. Now if you have a commissioner who probably does not worth his salt and wants to play politics with the job, he says, yes sir, what do you want me to do? And he says it is approval and he says yes sir, it’s done. But now we have a governor who says we must not look at who is our friend or who is not our friend but that we must look at our state as our paramount concern. Our concern now is the state. Because we are part and parcel of the state. So in that way, the mistakes of our civil servants at that time were the faults of the politicians and the commissioners. They are the driving force of the policies in the cabinet. Now those who were directing the civil servants are the ones that toyed with the entire thing. That’s why we have approval flying from here and there. Now when the director finds that the civil servants are being forced to do what ordinarily they are not supposed to do and they don’t want to lose their job, they too will have to take advantage. Now if you see any ministry or any department that there is fraud, you know that the head is corrupt. Once the head is rotten, it moves down to everybody. Look at Rivers State, in my own assessment, corruption is to the barest minimum because the governor is transparent and he preaches this down to the directors to the civil servants below him So in the Ministry of Urban Development, what we do is that let us do what the law says should be done. I monitor them. I go to the field to monitor them. I go to my directors, their offices and monitor what they are doing. Where there are mistakes, I discuss with them and say no, you don’t need to do this because that amounts to a mistake. This area, you were doing this before but you don’t need to do that. Then two, we infuse confidence in them. Please go out and do your work. I’m solidly behind you. The governor is solidly behind me. And the governor says we should do the right thing. We should be fair to all concerned and that we should follow the law. And that’s why you see me I am also in the field. I’m not an armchair commissioner. I move to the field so that I will be able to observe and monitor what they are doing. When the directors know that the commissioner is also in the field, obviously, they will do the right thing. And when they know that they are doing the right thing and the commissioner will not call him and say, “this is my brother’s own, this is my sister’s own; they have that confidence to do the right thing. And when the commissioner also knows that the governor will not call him to say, leave that property, that is my brother’s own. Leave that property, that is my sister’s own. Let me also tell you, even our Development Control exercise, we demolished the governor’s wife’s shop. Now, before now, you cannot touch that. When we started we demolished all the illegal structures in the PDP secretariat. We got to the gate of South-South office of the party, we demolished it. Before this time, such a thing cannot happen. In fact, in the PDP secretariat, the bill board that carries the governor and party chairman’s portraits were not supposed to be there. But we marked it and did all necessary things and I as the person driving the ministry monitored the demolition. Now we thought heavens will fall, then I was prepared. If the power that be says no you can’t do this, we may leave it but the governor said no do the right thing so that people will learn from what we are doing. Don’t forget that we are instilling discipline in our system. Driving the state, in our Urban Renewal and Development Strategy. What we are trying to do is for people to see reason why we should do the right thing. Also for people to see that if they are doing something wrong, no one in government can help them. And that is why in GRA Phase 1 and 11 the owners of the property are demolishing their fences by themselves. The Commissioner of Police who ordinarily for one reason or the other should say, Oh! Commissioner, if you don’t allow my own, I will withdraw your security! But you see, the Commissioner of Police was the first person who complied because it is a government that will not look at faces because we are not interested. We are only interested in doing the right thing so Rivers people will know that this is the right time for us to do the right thing ourselves. But did you pay compensation to the Governor’s wife after demolishing her property? No, we did not pay compensation to the Governor’s wife because the shop she developed where we demolished it was an illegal structure. We marked it and later demolished it. We didn’t pay her anything. In the case of interacting with the staff, you must have discovered cases of indiscipline or may be sharp practices. So far, how many people have you fired? I must tell you that in the Ministry of Urban Development, I took about three months to monitor operations, tell them the new policies of the government. They are very responsible people, they keyed into that policy. They know that I am a man who is determined, they have a governor who is determined and all of them made a U-turn. When you repent, your sins will be forgiven. Once you repent, old things are passed away and you become a new person. In Ministry of Urban Development, as soon as I came in, all of them repented. And no single man has ever been caught of any sharp practices. No back slidding. Take for instance, one of my directors who just retired, when I came, there were a lot of rumours of ah! This man spoilt everything anywhere he is going. But I tell you that the man saw the Commissioner who is determined and he is the greatest asset in Ministry of Urban Development. While he was retiring after he served for thirty-five years and following his contributions to the state, I believe that the man is retiring but is not tired and it didn’t take me much time to recommend him to Greater Port Harcourt for him to be absorbed to do his work because for those who have great experience, we don’t need to throw them out. He was taken to Greater Port Harcourt to also continue and serve his fatherland. In the demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt, there is this feeling that the owners of these structures were not properly consulted before the demolition exercise. How do you react to that? First of all, I will approach your question in two ways. You see that in the issue of waterfront, even the issue of Development Control of Port Harcourt, the Governor called stakeholders meeting. Rivers State is not Amaechi. Amaechi is the governor of Rivers State and the people of Rivers State gave him the mandate to be there. So he always consults and I also always consult. This is what I want to do and this is how I want to do it. Governor will say okay let us call a stakeholders meeting. Now before we started the demolition, we called a stakeholders meeting and the stakeholders agreed with the idea. Now the issue of waterfront, we consulted. Let me first of all say when the Governor saw the vision, I was with him. Like I said, the governor is the visioner and the members of the Executive Council are the people who help the governor to implement the vision. We key into this vision when he saw the vision, he called me and said he has seen a vision and I asked, His Excellency what is the vision? He said my vision is that we can develop the waterfront to a modern city. He give me the responsibility and I asked, where do we start? And we agreed to start from Njemanze. And I called the people of Njamanze, the landlords, infact it is an organised community and so they came with their leader and we started in August 2008. We finished in August 2009, one year. If we were not consulting, he gave me the assignment in August, I should have finished because I have the security with me. We moved in there and we demolished every where. But we didn’t do that. So we consulted. We called them and they gave the mandate on their own that they need compensation and the stakeholders of Rivers State said yes. Then I advised His Excellency, we will pay them but we are not going to pay them what the law says should be paid but let us purchase the property. We shall pay them what is called Replacement Value instead of Depreciated Value. We have what is called the Replacement Value and we have what is called Depreciated Value. If Government said the depreciated value, we would have recovered over N200 million. But we paid replacement value which is an additional sum to enable the people do other things. But even then we didn’t stop there. The governor called stakeholders meeting. This is what we want to do. If you don’t want us to do it say no but if you want us to do it, say yes. And stakeholders of Rivers State said yes to it. Apart from the stakeholders, when we came on board, we were contending with the issue of militancy and insecurity in Rivers State particularly Port Harcourt which is the one city state that we have. What do we do? We cannot move freely. Six O’clock we have all gone into our houses. In fact some of us were already sleeping under the bed because if we sleep on top of the bed, the flying bullets will come and kill us. Insecurity was there. We then had to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by retired Justice Kayode Eso. Now the Justice moved into action and the result of it was that apart from other recommendations that they have made, if we want to reduce crime and insecurity in the state, then you must demolish the waterfront and develop it. The reason is that the waterfront has been hideout for criminals. Because of the nature of it, it is not easy for security to move in to control and reinforce law and order in that area. They have their own government. Infact if I’m living in the water front and I commit any crime, maybe I take your daughter or wife, you can’t come and report me to the police but it is the government of the militants and the criminals that will settle the matter with guns pointing at you. Now if you dare go and report me to the security, then, you can’t come inside. For instance in Njemanze where the militants have their camp, you are a witness of the frequent shootout. From the security report and from what all of us see, the waterfronts are the hideout of these criminals and when they kidnap people they move them into these waterfronts. And once they enter the water fronts, you cannot reach out to them. Now some few months before we paid compensation and demolished Njemanze, one medical doctor was kidnapped in Mile I Diobu and was taken to Njemanze waterfront. And it took the security about three good hours shootout with the criminals before they released the man. But thank God today no one can take anybody there because there is no hiding place. It is just an open space. So if a militant is coming, from far, you will see him. So, first it has solved the issue of insecurity. But it is also said to have ethnic colouration? No. Definitely it is also good for the system because in a democracy, we have what is called freedom of expression. So people should be allowed to say what they feel is their right. Now it is left for us to tell you, no that is not what should be done. In law we say “obujus, ibu remeduim”. It means that you who have a cause has a remedy. When we first started it and we said we want to demolish the water front, the Okrika people came up and said “no, you can’t. You want to destroy our ancestral home”? And you and I know what an ancestral home is. An ancestral home is where, like I said I am a commissioner, I come from Angulama community and Angulama is my ancestral home. At my backyard you have my mother’s grave, you have my father’s grave. You have my elder sister’s grave and you have my aunt’s grave. Because we have nowhere to go, we bury our people there, we live there. That’s my home. Now, I’m here in Port Harcourt. Port Harcourt is a commercial place any day any time I go home. Now they said it is their ancestral place. They met with me. We met several times and they demanded to meet with His Excellency and so His Excellency gave them opportunity and they met. And in their presentation, they came up with a 1913 agreement and said in 1913, the Ikwerre people and the Okrika people ceded parts of this land to government, the Crown Council which means that all the land becomes that of the government. That was before the 1978 Land Use Decree. Already, the land as you have it in Port Harcourt becomes Crown land. Now, you and I also know that when you build your house, in your backyard is the waterfront which is supposed to be a serene place for you. But over time, because of government’s inability to control development, illegal structures started coming up. At that time, they called it Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL). The civil servants, at the period they worked, if the head is corrupt, the tail will also be corrupt and so, they also found a way of giving out Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL). Now if TOL is given to you, you know that in a period of 21 days, the owner can come to say your stay at that place is expired. When they give it to you, you are not expected to build any permanent structure. What is permanent structure? A block structure. What they were building is half block and they now use batcher to finish up. A lot of people were living in batchers. Over time, people in government take it as an avenue for them to grab land and so they started giving TOL to themselves, their brothers and sisters and they started building up these places. That’s how these places were built up. We have said that where the people can claim as their own; that it is their ancestral home, the government will relocate them. But we never found it. Take for instance, Njemanze water front, who owns it? Now one of those who claimed he had no place to go, said afterall he is from the same place with the commissioner. It means that he has a home. Then the other man said he came from Calabar. Calabar is Cross River State, then he has a home. So, you see that we never found one person that is an aborigine in that place. Where we find an aborigine, then we find an alternative place for the person, but for now we have not found an aborigine. And we also give opportunity to the people. Do you want to be resettled? The answer is no even from the places we have not reached. Take for instance Abonnema Wharf they come to us to say please leave, we need payment of compensation, don’t resettle us. They say they need money, they can resettle themselves after all we have homes. Some of us come from Ikwerre, some of us come from Buguma and some of us come from Angulama. My brother there, one Digibo built about seven houses. That’s a lot of money. He has gone to build house. What about Ogbunabali you have not gone there? I promise that in this October I will be in Ogbunabali. I have already started doing studies on Ogbunabali. We will move into Ogbunabali. The Abuloma people, even though we have not reached there, the Council of Chiefs has written to the ministry to say “please come to Abuloma. We need urban renewal in that place. Come and demolish illegal structures.” The people are calling us because they have seen that what the government is doing is the right thing to do. I hope they are not targeting the demolition team? No they are not targeting, they said come to Abuloma, use your law and demolish illegal structure. Now Bundu people have called us to say please come to our place. The Rumuolumeni called us to say please leave Abonnema Wharf people and Njemanzes, if they don’t want, come to our place. While we were waiting, the Elechi people called us and said “no, you can even demolish before you pay us” because we are tired of criminal activities in that area.” And I tell you, even before I started the demolition in Njemanze, it was not without challenges. Because like I said, they are about three camps. Very heavy camps and they are the ones that are ready to fight. Over time they say from this axis, shootout but now you can go because we have moved them. When we first started, we had some challenges and we planned again and moved in and you know what we did? The boys seeing that they cannot fight us joined to work for us and we paid. Those who don’t have guns said no ‘oga’ we don’t want to fight we are hungry. So can we work and we said you can work if you want to. They worked with us and instead of taking us two weeks, we demolished Njemanze for five days. For all the structures we demolished there, we paid everybody. To be contd.

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Special Interview

Honesty, Diligence, Performance’ll Take Any Individual, Entity Far – Isokariari

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Today, Chief Okoma Kio Isokariari clocks 87 years on Earth. The czar of civil engineering and construction, and foremost indigenous contractor, though looking frail with age, had worked tirelessly to the zenith of the industry, with particularly iconic buildings dotted across Kalabari Kingdom, Rivers State, and Nigerian’s indelible legacies of his professionalism, competence and commitment to excellence.
Before he retired from active site works and supervision, O. K. Isokariari was a colossus of brick and tar. He could work and move from one project site to the other without resting. He traversed the length and breadth of the country snapping jobs and executing them with zest, finesse and dexterity. His footprints stand out like a diamond in the sky across many communities, and today, represents part of the positive contributions of Rivers State to the realisation of the Nigerian Project.
Ahead of his birthday, today, barely 123 days after celebrating 50 years of the existence of O.K. Isokariari Nigeria Limited(formerly O. K. Isokariari & Sons) as a corporate entity, on July 4, 2022, the legendary indigenous contractor sat down with The Tide Editorial team led by the Acting Chairman, Editorial Board and Supervising Editor, Nelson Chukwudi; Health & Metro Reporter, Kevin Nengia; and Photographer, Ken Nu-ue, to reminisce on the past and charta course for the younger generation who would want to leave a mark, as he has done.
Below are excerpts of the 35-minute chat with the Rivers State icon in the built industry.
Sir, can you tell us who is Chief O. K. Isokariari?
Oh yes, Chief Okoma Kio Isokariari is from Buguma, headquarters of today’s Asari-Toru Local Government Area. I was born in Buguma on the 4th of November, 1935, and was baptised at St Michael’s Anglican Church, Buguma. I attended St Michael’s School and graduated with distinction. After that, I proceeded to Kalabari National College where I was House Prefect. I graduated five years later with an Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (GCE).
Not long after, I went to Zaria in 1957, and got job with the Nigerian Railway Corporation as Station Staff-In-Training. In July, 1957, I was selected among about 30 others and sent to Nigerian Railway Traffic Training School at Ebute-Metta, Lagos, where we were trained for six months. During the training, I was made Class Prefect, flying the flag of the region. I came out of the training with sharpened skills and expertise in traffic and logistics management.
After the training, I went back to Zaria, and was deployed to Kuchi station between Kaduna and Minna as station staff, a serious position in the corporation. I moved to Kano, a major railway hub, in November, 1959. With comfortable earning and savings as a responsible Kalabari son, I began making moves to marry in 1964, and eventually got married to Grace, the daughter of Amanyanabo of Kalabari, King Abiye Suku Amachree in Buguma.
Following the social upheavals in the North as a result of the 1966 coup, I returned to Buguma in June, 1966. I went back to Kano in August, 1966 after normalcy had been restored. But tension soon rose again in September, 1966. This time, the national crisis was more serious and disrupted my career. God saved me during the crisis as a lot of us from the South were killed in Kaduna in the reprisal mayhem. I went into hiding for many weeks in Kano to avoid being killed. However, I escaped by divine grace by flying to Lagos on October 17, 1966. It was a very difficult journey of life and death. In fact, I walked in the valley of death. That escape has been my happiest moment in life and the driving force of my success. It was a turning point. From Lagos, I returned home to the warm embrace of my mother in Buguma by boat on October 19.When the crisis died down, I went back to Zaria and continued with my job.
Not too long after, the civil war started. During the civil war, I shuttled between Buguma and Port Harcourt, striving to eke out a living amid the unspeakable humanitarian tragedy, and ruins of war. I first worked as supervisor at the Rivers State Ministry of Rehabilitation. I served in the state rehabilitation committee. Before then, I had attended St John’s Ambulance Course, similar to the Red Cross training. With my experience in providing emergency services, I was busy serving war victims. After the war, I actively participated in the resettlement, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts of displaced people in Port Harcourt.
Not letting go of my business instinct, I registered my first company – ISOYE Enterprises to explore opportunities in stockfish distribution business. But seeing the urgency in addressing the housing and rehabilitation needs of Port Harcourt residents, I ventured into engineering and construction with the setting up of O. K. Isokariari & Sons in 1970, and incorporated it on July 4, 1972.
After the war, I returned to Zaria to continue with my work at the Nigerian Railways. My exceptional performance on the job earned me several awards for my dedication and commitment to duty. But with the lessons of history hovering over me, I voluntarily resigned in 1969 after 12 years of meritorious service to Nigeria, and the management of Nigerian Railways paid me all my entitlements.
So, how did you start your construction business considering the fact that you retired as a civil servant?
After my resignation from the Nigerian Railways, I returned to Port Harcourt to join the concerted efforts at rebuilding the war-ravaged city. Having settled down in my state, I added the little savings I had made to my pay-off, and used it to start my business. But let me say this, the war provided me the opportunity to delve into the construction sector because many opportunities existed then.
After the war, I started business with my experience in the Railways by engaging in house painting, renovations and supply of workshop tools to Rivers State Ministry of Works. Many houses were in ruins and people were starting life afresh. With the conditions of the city, it was not difficult for hardworking Rivers sons and daughters to find good paying jobs to feed themselves and their families. So, with the good foundation I had, with high level of discipline, frugality, honesty and integrity, I started getting clients. Not long after, bigger contracts started coming in, including contracts from the Rivers State Government under its First Military Administrator, Commander Alfred Diette-Spiff, and the Federal Government under General Yakubu Gowon.
My first big contract was the Braithwaite Nursing Home (Memorial Hospital) Building renovation and reconstruction in Old GRA, Port Harcourt in 1970. I was one of those who submitted tender for the project and as God would have it, I was awarded the contract in the sum of £14, 700 at the time. We completed the job in 1971. My company also built the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation in 1972. Of course, that became the launch pad for O. K. Isokariari and Sons.
Impressed with what we did at BMH, the military administration at the time led by Commander Diete-Spiff selected me among other contractors to build general hospitals across the 21 divisions in the state. I was fortunate to be one of those awarded the contract to build the 30-bed Buguma General Hospital at the cost of £130,000 in 1972. Each of the general hospitals were awarded at Ahoada, Isiokpo, Bori, Abua, Bodo, Sagbama, Nembe, Yenagoa, and Brass, among others, at the same value. Of all the contactors, we were the first to complete and deliver good quality project at Buguma in March, 1975.That project later became a reference point for other hospitals. I earned a recommendation in March, 1975, for our quality job at Buguma during the commissioning.
Afterwards, we handled the PAN African Bank headquarters building at Azikiwe Road, awarded at N9million. We also got the NNPC zonal headquarters building at Moscow Road – a nine-storey building – and later, the NAFCON Village and staff quarters at Onne. We got that at N26million. The NAFCON building was worth $28million because at that time, the Dollar was little lower than the Naira in 1982.We delivered the project in 1985. We also built the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) staff quarters on Okporo Road at Mgbuesilaru in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; NNPC awarded us contract to build the Japanese Construction Company’s staff quarters for the construction of Port Harcourt Refinery at Eleme. We built the Abonnema Ring Road and bridges; built the University of Port Harcourt’s arts theatre – The Crab – at Choba; DSS senior staff quarters in Port Harcourt; Nigerian Defence Academy senior officers’ quarters in Kaduna; Nigerian Army Command and Staff College school building in Jaji; NNPC’s 40 houses for new Finima Town; the Port Harcourt Cenotaph at Isaac Boro Park; NCDMB’s NOGAPS capacity training centre and Industrial Park’s internal roads in Bayelsa; Port Harcourt New Layout Market; Okochiri internal roads phase 1; among many others. In fact, I have seen the delivery of over 400 housing projects, school and hospital projects, and 150km asphalted roads that have continued to stand the test of time, in addition to many reclamation, sand-filling, canalisation and water projects, awarded by government at all levels, oil and gas companies, and others.
So, after all these iconic projects and achievements, how has life been?
I have retired long ago, and my children have taken over the business. Life has been good, though today, I am getting frail and weak. However, as a man with passion for adding value to society and impacting lives positively, I still make inputs to push the envelope further in the portfolio of my business.
Looking back at how things used to be, what would be your advice for young contractors of today?
I would advise them to be honest, steadfast, diligent and committed to delivering quality jobs to their clients. They need to have the stamina to overcome challenges as they come. Such problems include delay in payment for contract fees; navigating the financial system and economic policies, including the commercial and lending banks; even in the face of economic downturns. They also need to be patient and trying to meet clients’ demands without compromising job specifications, standards and best practices. That, to me, is very essential in sustaining contracts and winning the confidence of key stakeholders.
They should also remember that devotion is very important. I mean devotion, diligence and commitment. In our days, it was much more difficult to get contracts than what obtains today. Our work spoke for us at that time. Our legacies still speak for us today because our values, business principles and character remain the same. Anyone who has seen what we did before and what we are doing now, knows that our watchword is quality.
Like The Tide building on No 4, Ikwerre Road, which still stands strong even after a devastating fire outbreak in 2012?
Yes! And others like it. We built them with unmistakable commitment to quality, and desire to bequeath to our state enduring landmarks for posterity.
And these landmarks are major signature achievements that leave O. K. Isokariari in the history book of the state?
Our work spoke for us! They are known for their strength and unique structure. Anyone who sees our job could easily identify us. To some extent, we were far better than some foreign contractors. That is why I always emphasise on quality. That is what I am known for!
What is your take on the recurrent issue of collapsed buildings, most of them giving way while still under construction?
It is unfortunate. Most of the people involved in many of those cases are quacks and desperate individuals struggling to cut corners in order to enrich themselves at the detriment of the people. Such people should not get any construction contract, whether from government or any other entity.
So, what would be your advice to governments?
For me, prudence is the word. That might mean accountability, but the key thing is for government officials and decision-makers to be conscientious and determined to use only those contractors who can deliver quality jobs, knowing that they hold their offices in trust for the people, and also that the money expended on those projects belong to the people.
Unfortunately, most of the contractors today fall short of the standard. Most of them are portfolio contactors who are looking for government money to siphon. Yet, they are getting jobs! How can you award a contract to a company that has no wheelbarrow? No paid, competent staff? No reputation and track record of performance? So, government must be careful, meticulous and ensure due diligence so that monies are spent on quality, and for the best.
So, on your 87th Birthday, what do you like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as that Rivers man from Buguma who touched and transformed many lives; whose legacies would remain a source of inspiration and motivation to generations yet unborn. I want my footprints in Buguma, Kalabari Kingdom, Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria and the whole world, to inspire greater desire for service to humanity. I want to be remembered as that good father who gave equal opportunities to his children to be what they dare to be. I want to be a reference point for many young entrepreneurs, especially in the state, who want to add value to the overall development of the state. I want the projects I have executed to continue to speak for O. K. Isokariari Nigeria Limited, my children and grandchildren.
Madam, it has not been easy taking care of your husband and children all these while. What is that unique thing that has sustained your marriage? And to the young girls out there, what advice do you have to help them manage their marriages to be as successful as yours?
Well, the most important thing is contentment and love. You have to be satisfied with what you have, and love your husband and children equally. Patience is key to building a peaceful family. So, I will advice young couples to be contented at any level they are. If they are contented and work hard, God will help them grow to be successful.
I am happy that my son who took over from his father is doing well. He is trying his best. Humility pays! Often times, he seeks and gets advice from the Dad, who is the Founder of the company. And that is very important for the growth of the company.

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Special Interview

‘Our One Year In Obio/Akpor Council Has Been Fulfilling’ 

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This is the concluding part of the interview carried last Friday, July 22, 2022.

Mr. Chairman, there was recently an incident in Rumuogba where miscrants accosted workers at a property site claiming to be working for the council whereas their claim was not true. How do you handle the issue of touting in revenue generation in your local government?
Let me tell you the candid truth: my problem is not with the people that go about asking for such money. No! My problem is with those people like the property owner you just talked about. We have gone on air, we have announced severally on radio and TV: anything you want to pay that concerns the council; our offices are open from 8am to 5pm, which is when they close that gate, come to the council here, and make your payments and obtain original receipts from the council. Get your approvals and papers from us here. We do not exist in heaven, we are here at Rumuodomaya. Come and pay your tenement rate fees, operational permits and other taxes here.
The truth is that people deliberately fail to do the right things, believing that when those boys come knocking, they will just pay a little token, and they will give them adulterated documents claiming to be issued by us. And by paying them that money, you are encouraging them to do same to another person or come back tomorrow. We are aware of all these. They patronise the touts at the detriment of the council. That is what they do!
For instance, if you want to develop your property, you come to the council to pay the land rate and fencing permit levy. Outside of that, before you start your building, you bring your drawing here for approval. And most of our people do not do that. They don’t! Like I said, my problem is not with the boys who tout around, but the people that are giving them the leverage to continue to exist. Because if you come to the council, and you get the right papers, as a right-thinking Nigerian, you cannot get your papers and somebody will come and tell you to pay again for the same papers. You will not accept it because you know that you made your payment at the right source and place. All you need to do is to come back to the council, and complain, and your grievances will be resolved. If it is not what you are supposed to pay, when you go back, and the people come again, you arrest them with the police. Inform us, and we will come there and tell the police that we did not send these persons. And they will be prosecuted.
But what do we find here, we find people who will stay back, they won’t pay what they are supposed to pay, and then, when the boys come, if they fail to settle as per price, maybe, they will tell you the boys are coming to harass them. But in your conscience, you know you have not paid what you were lawfully meant to pay. That is what we see. And that is the problem we have! The council gates are open to all who have any legitimate business to transact with us. If we said this is the levy you are supposed to pay, first and foremost, if you get the remand notice, and you are too sure, get across to us at the council for clarification. We have designated bank accounts, go and pay what you are due, and come and obtain original receipts and your papers from us. Do they do that? The answer is no! Then, at the end of the day, when they are not able to pay the touts whatever they are asking for, it becomes an issue of complaint: they are coming to harass us. That is the problem we are facing.
Nobody wants to do the right thing, but they sit back and then, they make so much noise only in the guise of wanting to tarnish the image of the local government. That is what they do. Most of them don’t pay. It is only when the boys go to their sites, and seize their material, that is when you see them bring their drawings here for approval. That is when they come here to pay if they are not able to pay those people there. And for the ones that think they are smart, that is when they will give those boys money there, and they go. Then, when we set up our own monitoring teams to go and verify, they now say… they gave this much; meanwhile they did not come to the council to pay and obtain their original receipts and papers. You gave the money to who? When we ask them, they look for one story to tell. So, that is the problem we are having! If the people, out of their own volition know that this is their civic responsibility, and do those things expected of them to do, you can now come back and tell us that we are the richest local government, and we will tell you, yes, we are because we are seeing the money. But we are not!
Don’t you think that is one of the reasons why you are not because a large chunk of what is supposed to be coming to the local government council is not coming?
That is what we are saying. We are saying the same thing. You can’t just assume it to be so. Alright! It is like the misconception about budgeting. You hear that they have budgeted N50trillion. Is the money there? The money is not there! It is a mere projection. Most times, they will not even get up to half of that amount. Most times, they will spend above that amount. It happens because we are all human beings. That is how it is with what you are trying to assess now. So, that is what we are passing through. And the best way to it is to still appeal to those who are doing business in our local government to do the right thing.
Because the only option left for us now is to set up a task force team to go and verify whether you have paid or not, and get our money for us, if you have not paid. And you see those people who patronise the touts are the same people that shout the most. Before you know it, they have gone to social media; they have gone to conventional media, claiming that Obio/Akpor officials are harassing them and breaking into their shops or business premises. But we have given you enough time; we have announced in the media the timeline and deadline for you to pay. Early January to mid-February, we are on air all-through making announcements for people to come to the council and make their payments for the year. What else do you expect us to do? The moment we set up task forces now, they will start shouting to high heavens, they have come again; they are harassing us; they don’t want us to do our business. But you that was supposed to pay your obligations to the council; you have failed to do that, and you are blaming us for taking steps to recover our money. Because if you have come here to pay, we do not have any reason to set up any task forces that sometimes, are confrontational, to recover our money. And then, it becomes the issue of complaint. That is the problem we have!         And when you say, let me avoid these complaints, and not set up any task force, they still won’t come on their own to make the payment so that we can have money to work for our people. Or is it my personal money that I am going to use to work for the people? Is it my own money that I am going to use to pay for the Postgraduate grants? Or pay for the skills acquisition training for beneficiaries? Or for the projects we are doing? It is this money from levies, taxes, etc, that we are using to do them! And they make it look like if it comes, you put it in your pockets: it is not for personal aggrandisement! It is for the delivery of democracy dividends to the people. It is only those who do not have initiative that will not utilise the council’s money prudently to deliver quality services to the people. We are focused and resilient, and we know what to do to make our people, who elected us to serve them, happy.
But we are still reaching out to them. We will continue to appeal to business operators to come and do the needful for the good of all in the local government, because without that money, we cannot work. Let them stop patronising touts. They are the ones encouraging them. So, these are part of the major problems we experience in trying to harness our revenue for you to have the foundation to tell us we are the richest or we are the largest. There is no statistics to back that up! That is what it is.
Chairman Sir, you have said a lot concerning your achievements in the past one year. I know it requires a lot of money for you to carry out these development projects in the local government. So, what are you doing to shore up the revenue base of the council by way of diversification of the economy of the local government?
Well, how do we diversify? Unless you are talking of it from the point of view of investments! But like I said, as it stands now, our core investment is in the area of human capacity development. The law allows us to provide support for health; education; build markets; parks; property approval and building permits; and collection of tenement rates and derivable levies. That is all the diversification you can talk about. Except you are talking of venturing into agriculture! We don’t have that capacity.
What we do is to see to what extent we can add value to improve the lives of our people directly. That is what we see as our own diversification or what we can call investment; because we believe that by tomorrow, it will yield positive dividends. The multiplier effects arising therefrom can also count for us.
But out of that, we have the intention of building one or two new markets, or renovate one or two. We also plan to develop one or two more parks, because even if you do so, we have parks and markets already existing. You see those ones in those communities, even if you build more, they won’t allow you to come and collect the rent. By the time you want to press it, they will say you are confrontational. It is something when you come to experience it that you know better. If not, these are the little openings the law allows us to get involved in, in order to raise revenue for the council. Because we cannot on our own get involved in things the law does not permit us to do. What the law provides for us is: you establish markets; you establish parks; you collect daily tolls; and all of that. The diversification you are talking about now can only be in the area of investment. I think we are doing all we can outside our monthly allocation to boost our revenue and add to accelerate quality service delivery. It is what we have in our place here, that God has blessed us with, but the problem is how to harness it to enhance our revenue base because of the bottlenecks I have explained to you. That is what we are exploring.
We have our agents, and we are doing everything possible to tap all available options to increase our revenue base. I must also acknowledge that they are some companies and business operators in the local government that within the period given to them, the moment they receive our demand notice, they come to pay their due. But we still have some big companies that connive with these touts to evade payment of what is due the council.
Are you planning to digitise revenue collection in the council to check corruption and other sundry sharp practices?
Cuts in!
We are working towards that. But one thing you must understand is, even at that, like I know how many filling stations that are operating in Obio/Akpor. I know how many hotels. In fact, we have a record of how many companies that are operating in our area. But no matter how you look at it, it takes a willing mind to pay what he or she is statutorily obligated to pay to the government. Anyone not interested in paying will not want to pay voluntarily. Majority of the people always wants to be forced to do the right thing. We do not have difficulty collecting the money. The issue is: are they willing to pay? Because it is a willing mind that will do what you are saying, whether automated or not. I hope you understand me? Those that are paying will be the same ones that will pay whether you automate the process or not, because it is a voluntary thing. What they hear is that one that officials will come and lock up their shops or business premises or carry their goods or wares. That is the problem: lack of people’s willingness to discharge their obligations voluntarily. Even when you spread the annual payment over a period of time within the year, those not ready and willing to pay, won’t pay.
Interjection! Chairman, let me step in here. Let us leave that issue, enough has already been said about it.
Chairman, I know that this is not your problem, but a lot of motorists have been complaining about the bad gullies and craters near the entrance to your council’s gate on the Port Harcourt-Owerri Road. Why don’t you try to do something to rehabilitate those bad spots to ease free flow of traffic around this axis?
Oh! The one in front of the council secretariat? Somebody told me they talked about it on radio the other day. Well, two weeks after I assumed office, we tried to do something around that. But I have listened to some of the commentaries on radio. Some people actually feign ignorance on who has the responsibility to address that challenge.
You know that we have three tiers of government: The federal, state and local government. That responsibility falls squarely under the purview of the Federal Government, because it is a federal road. It is not even the duty of the state government to intervene, except it secures the go-ahead of the Federal Government.
If you are saying it as a suggestion, fine. We can consider it based on available resources to us. But it is not my responsibility as a council. It is not! We have a lot of competing needs that we are obligated to address as leaders at the local government level. Our people elected us to serve them, and we have to judiciously spend the scarce resources available to deliver for our people. It is not just something you wake up one day and throw yourself into. Do we have the money to do it? The answer is no!
And more so, they have given the contract to LCC, a construction company to handle. They are in the process of providing drainages on the road. It is a gradual process. They are doing the work! It is not as if vehicles are not passing the road. It is just that some people are just idle, and do not know what to say or do with their precious time. Some journalists just want people to listen to their stations, so they look for just anything to say to engage idle minds.
Chairman, every job has its own risks and exposures. This job, for the past one year, has also exposed you to certain risks that you may not have anticipated. A case in point was early this year when your task force team on illegal crude oil refineries was accosted at a point around Rumuolumeni, and there was a near combat situation between some armed personnel of a Federal Government security agency and your team. My instinct tells me that you were physically present while the fight was raging. How did you feel about your safety during that confrontation?
Well, let me start it this way. You know that one of the questions you asked was that my local government is the richest. That is part of the risk. You won’t understand.
Well, that is what leadership is about. You can’t come here and just think it is a bed of roses. There are attendant risks associated with the job. That situation on that fateful day is one of such risks. Even in the job you do as a journalist, there are risks you face on a daily basis. It is what comes with the job, and you should be ready to face it. We are here to solve problems; we are here to face challenges first and foremost. This place is not a party hall; it is not a place for luxury. You that made up your mind to become council chairman must have also made up your mind to frontally tackle whatever challenges may arise during the course of your tenure.
So, it is not the team I sent. I was physically present there, and I was the one they were attacking for leading a team to disrupt and dismantle their illegal business activities in my council area. It was the confrontation I had with men of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Rumuolumeni. I was the one with the guy that had a gun; I was the person in the video that went viral on social media. It is what it is: it is governance! It is leadership! You must confront issues as there arise. Because: what is democracy? It is all about the people! What is governance? It is all about the people! The centrepiece of it is the people.
So, whatever it is that is affecting your people that you have sworn to govern, should be your personal challenge. We knew the effect of the soot pandemic everywhere in the state until the governor intervened and took the proactive step, and ordered the chairmen of the 23 local government councils to ensure that the operators and sponsors of illegal oil bunkering activities in the communities are identified and reported to appropriate authorities for investigation and prosecution while their sites should be closed permanently. He ordered the chairmen to join the fight because there is no way he can do it alone. After all, we relate more closely with the people at the grassroots. It borders on our people. The soot was affecting the health of our people.
So, for you to be a leader, no matter the level, you should be resilient; your mind should be made up to confront most of these challenges head-on. Some people have lost their lives in the course of defending their people. That is leadership! And if you are not ready to sacrifice for your people, then, you do not deserve to be a leader. So, that is the motivating factor that we have to keep pushing because it is in the interest of our people.
Chairman, you talked about what you were doing at Rumuekini: the Fish Farm. I will like to know: what is the state of that farm, today? Is it producing? Are we earning money from the farm already? Secondly, Obio/Akpor has a serious challenge of refuse disposal. We understand the challenges, especially when the issue of refuse disposal was handed over to you by the governor when Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) had problems. What is the situation now? And how are you coping with that to ensure that the local government is free of filth?
Well, we thank God that as it stands now, a task force has been set up by the governor to take over that responsibility. But while it lasted, it was a daunting experience. A big one at that! It was an intervention that we got involved directly. But experience has shownthat refuse collection and disposal is a serious business. Very serious business managed by very serious-minded people!
Of course, refuse is produced in seconds. And you know that it is human beings that produce waste. So, it follows that where you have high concentration of the population, the tendency is that you have more refuse produced by the seconds within that area. Like Obio/Akpor, if you talk about population concentration, it doubles that of Port Harcourt City. That is why we seem to have more waste than any other local government in the state.
It has always been the responsibility of RIWAMA. But through the directive of the governor, we intervened and did what we were able to do to help. The job has reverted to RIWAMA, and the task force is incharge now. We even attended a meeting at the invitation of the task force, yesterday, to ask us on what experience we have garnered and what suggestions we could make to help them do even better. We had very candid conversations around the issues, and we also made suggestions for seamless refuse collection and disposal in the capital city through a strategic synergy that works for the good of all in the communities.
Of course, the local government council must be involved; just as the communities must also be involved, because they are the ones generating the refuse. So, they should also be involved in all-round monitoring and supervision of evacuation at the receptacles and compaction at the dumpsites, because we have the manpower at this level. We know that most of the refuse contractors, if you don’t supervise and monitor them very closely, they won’t do their jobs diligently. So, we need to work with RIWAMA for them to succeed. All the same, we thank God that we were able to do that job, but it was very overwhelming, I must admit.
Now, back to the issue of the Rumuekini fish farm. Yes, as it is today, it is not functioning optimally. We are trying to work out modalities for its efficient and effective operation. But we said, if we finish securing the place first, to be sure, then, we can begin the next process. We want to set up an agro-based business there outside of the fish farm in partnership with interested investors. We are talking with some people already, and we believe that by the time we are done, we would have bequeathed a thriving agro-based business portfolio that will not only employ a lot of our people but also generate income for many families and the council as well.
If we are to continue with the facility, we may have to totally renovate and expand it. Our intention initially was to, because it is in units, just to add extra units, make them modern, and then, in each unit, raise like two or three women, give them money to run it as a business. They will manage it, sell and make returns to the council, no matter how little. We are working that out. Now that we have been able to secure the place, it will now give us that platform to work out something. My supervisor for agriculture is working out the modalities. We are talking with a team from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and two or three other organisations to see how the place can be optimised for the good of the people of Obio/Akpor.
Going forward, what are we expecting from you in Obio/Akpor?
Yes, we have hit the ground running. Like I said, in the area of human capital development, we will continue with our post-graduate grants. We will also continue with our vocational skills acquisition programme. We will do another two sets. The PG programmes, we will do another two sets of 50 for PhD and 50 for Masters. So, at the end of our three-year tenure, we would have produced 150 PhD and 150 Masters degree holders.
We have other very important projects we want to embark upon. First among them is the Secondary School Block we promised to build for Woji community. We are thinking about one or two important link roads in the two constituencies of Obio and Akpor that make up the local government. If it is not something that can go round all the 17 wards, we do it constituency-by-constituency. If it can go beyond the constituency but not up to the ward level, we do it by clans, like what we did with the Charkin Academy admission. We could not carry the burden at the ward level by choosing 17 persons, as to one from each ward. So, what we did was use the nine clans as a basis for the selection of beneficiaries. In Evo, we have three clans – Oro-Evo, Oro-Esara, and Oro-Opotoma, that is in constituency one; in constituency two, we have three clans – Akpor, Apara, and Rumueme; then, the remaining, we gave to non-indigenes of Obio/Akpor. That was how we distributed the slots for the Charkin admission. So, we had a balance in the selection process.
All we can say is that Obio/Akpor people should expect more from us. And above all of these is the programme we want to start for our women petty traders. You know that we do not have farm lands anymore. Our women used to be very industrious and hardworking farmers, but with the lands gone to urbanisation, the only available space they have now, they display pepper, tomatoes, vegetables, and all those foodstuffs. So, we think we can encourage them by giving seed money to improve their trades; maybe, N10,000 to N20,000 revolving facility, so that we can reach as many women as possible in the communities. That way, we will help them boost their small businesses to support their families, and also help the council grow economically. So, that will be our focus too in no distant time.
The moment we are sure that it is workable, and will impact positively on the people, we will kick-start it, maybe, towards the end of the year, and nosedive into next year. We have already told them that it is not going to be business as usual. They have to be judicious and frugal in the management of whatever they are given, because it is not for free; they have to pay back the money. The structures have to be in place to make the scheme sustainable.
We also have a scheme for the youths. We will identify the ones that are ready to be engaged, and want to eke out a living for themselves, if they get any support. Then, with the scheme, we will support them to be useful to themselves and the society. That way, we would have strengthened the economies of our communities; and built a more resilient and peaceful society.
We are going to do all these because we have the interest of our people at heart. We promised to address their challenges when we come on board, and we have to keep our promise. We will not disappoint them.

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Special Interview

‘I Want To Be Remembered For Laying RSUTH Foundation’

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The Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), one of the newest in Nigeria, has come a long way since it came into being four years ago. The change from a comparatively obscure Braithwaithe Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) in the country to its present status as a Teaching Hospital has not yet ceased to baffle close watchers. How did this happen? Who made it happen? What is it that has so turned things around in it that has made it the bride of genuine good health seekers within and outside the State? To respond to these and other nagging questions, The Tide’s Business Editor, Soibi Max-Alalibo, and Deputy News Editor, Sogbeba Dokubo, sought the answers from the Chief Medical Director, RSUTH, Dr. Friday E. Aaron, on whose shoulders the responsibility was placed. The interview turned out to be revealing as it was assuring.

Since 2018, when the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital was birthed from the then Braithwaithe Memorial Specialist Hospital, Rivers people, residents of the State, and those from other neighbouring states have never had it so good in terms of accessing medical care for which they hitherto had to travel very far.

Beyond easily accessing the right medical care, patients can now walk in, get necessary medical attention, and walk out with little or no stress as it was in the days of BMSH.

Staff, from the bottom to top, are more dedicated to their responsibilities due to high motivational standards, better equipment to work with, and incentives, which have given them more reason to put in their best in their jobs.

The result is that from being an institution that rendered only health care services, it now renders the same services at a more higher level, trains health care practitioners, and also carries out researches.

Photo Caption: 64 slice CT Scan, used for Radio-diagnostic imaging.

The person at the centre of this phenomenal change is the State Governor, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who, as part of his NEW Vision, extended his midas touch to the hospital by appointing a technocrat in the fold of Dr Friday Aaron as the pioneer Chief Medical Director (CMD), who has turned out to be the engine room or the development of one of the foremost Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria.

As the CMD puts it: “I have not just been in charge, I’m the pioneer CMD of the hospital. So, that places on me a huge assignment of laying the foundation, and then building on it”.

This eventually became his driving force, which is “to be remembered as one that came, laid a foundation that people should build on, sustainably”.

In order to attain this quest, Dr. Aaron acknowledged what he called the “incontestable magnanimity” of the State Governor in according him the privilege of not just appointing him as the pioneer CMD, but also providing the wherewithal in terms of provision of manpower, equipment, and key Infrastructures required to turn the tide of the hospital around to what it is today, preparatory to what it will be years to come.

“One thing that’s outstanding is the overall change in the hospital, the overall repositioning of the hospital that was just mainly rendering health care services, to a Teaching Hospital with capacity to manage very complex cases.

“And that change is obvious for us to see in terms of infrastructure, change in mindset of staff, quality of services, in terms of overall patient experience “, he said.

On assumption of duty in 2018, the first thing he did to set things in motion was to develop a Mission, Vision, and Core Values for the hospital, and also ensure that staff adhere strictly to achieving them as spelt out in their various responsibilities.

“In all our meetings we remind ourselves of these core values and take one of them and remind ourselves of how to go about it”, he explained.

To encourage staff in being at their best in their jobs, various awards have been instituted for outstanding staff in various departments, “and this has changed their mindset for better and quality service delivery”.

The result is that four years down the lane, RSUTH has not only recorded tremendous achievements in areas that fall within its mandate, but has also kept on improving in all key three areas that comprise the mandate: rendering medical services; training of medical personnel; and carrying out researches. These three are what the CMD called the “Trypod Mandate” of a Teaching Hospital.

In service delivery, RSUTH now renders services beyond Rivers State up to the South-South and South East States.

“After we became a Teaching Hospital, we now render services up to the South-South and South East because of the level of equipment we have “, he stated.

Dr Aaron, an orthopedic surgeon, said the result of the upgrade to a Teaching Hospital, among others, is that the environment has turned into a beehive of activities: from the gate through all the various departments, every staff is usually on their toes, and does so with a mindset of responsibility to serve, and in all happiness to do so.

“When you talk about services, you see that anytime you walk into the hospital, you see how busy it is, because of the level of services we render”, he said.

Beyond attending efficiently to all who come to the hospital to seek treatment or service, by ensuring that they get to the right place to get the required attention, the hospital has also improved in clinical care services, where diagnostics stands out tops.

As the CMD captures it, “we have the best radio diagnostic equipment East of the Niger “.

Such diagnostic equipment include: Magnetic Resonance Imagine (MRI) 1.5 Tesla Machine, for general body imaging; Computer Tomography (CT); Mammography Machine, used for breast imaging; Fluoroscopy Machine, for dynamic imaging studies; and Plain Radiography Machine, which is used for static imaging.

These and other essential machines for a Teaching Hospital that are not commonly available in most tertiary health care institutions in the country has turned RSUTH into a Mecca of sort, attracting people from outside the State, most especially from the South-South and South East.

Such States include Enugu, Umuahia, Owerri, and Bayelsa. People Troup into the hospital for one form of diagnostic investigation or the other on a daily basis.

Following the upgrade also, there have been non-stop and all round power supply from 2018 up to March 2022, when it had to be rationed to departments that necessarily require it all through the day, such as the radiology department where equipment has to be on 24/7.

RSUTH also has Dialysis Machine, which has the capacity for Renal Transplant, popularly known as kidney transplant.

Currently, personnels have been trained, and more are still undergoing trainings on how to operate and use the machine.

What this means is that in no time, kidney transplant and other related diseases, for which patients are flown abroad, can be done and treated in RSUTH. Ultimately, this will attract more patronage from far and near.

In training, RSUTH, by its status as a Teaching Hospital, is a training ground for both the Rivers State University, and private owned Pamo Universiy of Medical Sciences.

“It is because we have a functioning Teaching Hospital that the regulatory body approved RSUTH as a training ground.

“The Collage of Medical Sciences accredited RSUTH to train doctors. They come from time-to-time, for every level to check what is on ground. For training, we have supported at the undergraduate level, student nurses from RSU are also being trained here”, he stated.

RSUTH, Dr Aaron continued, “serves Rivers people primarily, and also Pamo Universiy of Medical Sciences who are one year ahead in terms of students. They come for their orientation, medical experience, and have also received accreditation because of their relationship with us.

The implication of this is that RSUTH has not only been carrying out clinical trainings, but also provide manpower for both the public and private sectors, and most of these students are of Rivers origin.

The hospital trains doctors, nurses, cardiographers, medical laboratory scientists, etc. from the public and private sectors.

In order to fulfill its mandate on research, RSUTH is registered with relevant national bodies and is licensed on health ethics and bio-ethics.

“This has helped us because more of our lecturers and staff write to the ethics committee, receive approval and do researches”.

This, the CMD said, has given RSUTH global visibility.

“Now, you can just Google researches and publications done here. You’ll see quite a lot of our publications. We have data, unexplored data, because we have been working for sometime.

“That’s why we started by upgrading our records because it was an issue in the past. Now that we have electronic records, it is easy to get data”.

Though these and many other successes have been recorded in the first four years of RSUTH, Dr. Aaron said the feat was achieved amidst challenges.

He, therefore, called for partnership with well-meaning individuals and organisations to partner the hospital in order to serve the public more, saying hat Government alone “cannot do it all”.

So far, the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) seem to have taken the lead in this wise by building the Infectious & Disease Unit of the hospital, which is under construction.

“The Governor has done a lot. The story of this hospital has changed for good. Patients should utilize the hospital and also be friendly, show loyalty, commitment in the hospital, by using the facility in such a way that they see it as belonging to them, which is taking ownership, in order to sustain it”, he said.

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