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Editorial

Consolidating On Public Safety Measures

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Rivers State and the Federal Government have in recent years taken steps that have improved public safety in parts of the country in ways that should be sustained to consolidate on the gains being made and to avoid hasty withdrawals.

It is true that the Niger Delta crisis is now in check and the Boko Haram insurgency is most probably in its last days, but these are not the only safety concerns that Nigerians are confronted with, therefore the authorities should not take things for granted.

Only recently, some individuals raised concerns over allegations that the military plans to withdraw its operatives from some Rivers communities. Such steps, they fear may be hasty because some of the realities of the time demand that issues of security be dealt with in ways that leave no opening.

While we are mindful of the consequences of the presence of the military in our communities at peace time, we cannot support any action that is likely to make light of the safety challenges of the time and the need to consolidate on the gains made thus far.

This is more so because apart from incidences like the killing of the Aluu four in broad day light, the apparent bitterness in some communities like Umuelem, a village in Odufor Etche, where houses were recently razed, the village deserted, people injured and a young man beheaded, security can never cease to be a steady challenge.

To think that a Rivers community could in a festive season like Christmas destroy itself over land leaves much to be desired. At a time when mankind all over the world were celebrating Yuletide and New Year, it is indeed unfortunate that some people would target their kith and kins over lands.

But this goes to suggest that all may not be well yet with public safety. Apart from the possibility that the residues of the militancy era may still be of some concern, the lack of confidence on the normal path of conflict resolution still looms high among the people.

Until the offensive raised by the military under the operation “Pulo shield” some people were concerned that not only were some militants regrouping, that they were indeed using the illegal petroleum business to re-build their empires and are likely to pose unprecedented security challenge.

We are happy to note that in many parts of Rivers State peace may have returned, especially with the return of beach parties during the end of year festivities, the need to sustain the peace process for another while should not be over looked.

As we enter the year 2013, the promise for progress in Nigeria is so real that anything that is capable of truncating it should be nipped-in-the bud. Even more so is the Niger Delta environment that should not be allowed to relapse security-wise because of the far-reaching consequences it could have on the country.

Although only very few Nigerians have seen the reason to commend the Nigerian military and the security community as a whole, the level of stability they have brought about cannot be quantified. We think the Joint Task Force (JTF) has done well, but there is need for improvement in some ways.

We expect that the military on local assignments will not forget that they are serving their own people. They must not forget that they are under peace-time operations that demand respect for civil rights and national objectives. The military must not forget that they too need the support and cooperation of the people.

Even so, we expect that the political authorities would re-appraise the safety situation in the Niger Delta and take only decisions that would make strong the security situation first and foremost.

We are indeed inclined to thinking that it may be hasty to withdraw the military in some of the communities, even in Rivers State. We expect that the last obstacles to insecurity be eliminated at any cost, especially with a view to restoring confidence in the ordinary man that has continued to receive the brunt of lawlessness in some areas.

On the whole we are proud that the present governments are not taking the security challenges lightly. We hope that they would continue in this direction until the ordinary Nigerian can be assured of safety both at home and in public.

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Editorial

Fubara’s Scorecard: So Far, So Good 

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One of the primary issues that the federal and state governments have been facing recently is the increasing cost of living, mainly caused by the depreciation of the naira. This has resulted in financial difficulties for many Nigerians, leading to demands for the leaders to seek out new sources of revenue apart from oil. They need to be creative and adopt tactics that can enhance their revenue sources and ease the financial strain on their people.
However, the past year in Rivers State had been a whirlwind of events, with the government working diligently to bring happiness to the people. Governor Siminalayi Joseph Fubara has addressed numerous challenges despite the ongoing political crisis that presents a huge obstacle for the administration. This situation is worrisome and has the potential to shift any leader’s focus away from their goal of serving the people, no matter how well-intentioned.
Fubara believes that development is not just a matter of chance, but a conscious effort to address the needs of the people. Over the past year, he has initiated numerous development projects with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for residents. Since taking office on May 29, 2023, he has been proactive in realising his vision for the state. He is ensuring that his plans are carried out efficiently by appointing capable individuals to key positions.
His determination to bring his vision to life was clear when he presented a bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly for approval of his legacy project – the Port Harcourt Ring Road. The 50.15 km dual carriageway project, estimated to cost N200 billion, aims to connect six local government areas in the state. It will feature six flyovers, a river crossing bridge, and 19 rotary intersections and roundabouts, with the goal of fostering the development of new cities and easing traffic congestion in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
To celebrate his first year in office, the Rivers State Government set aside 20 days for a series of activities. The Governor inaugurated and launched 10 projects in various local government areas as part of the festivities. The event kicked off on May 14th with the inauguration of the Ebubu-Eteo (old Bori) Road, providing an alternative route to the Eleme axis of the East-West Road.
Several projects have been officially launched in Rivers State, including the Elele–Omoku Road, Emohua–Kalabari (Tema Junction) Road, Okania–Ogbogoro Road, and Trans-Kalabari Road Phase II. Projects that have been commissioned include the Ogoni–Andoni–Opobo Unity Road (Andoni Section), Egbeda internal roads, Phase I of the Port Harcourt Electrical Village and the flag-off of its Phase II, as well as the dualised Omoku–Egbema Road. These projects are focused on enhancing infrastructure and connectivity in the state, offering improved transportation options for residents and driving economic development.
An economic summit was organised in the state to boost internal revenue, attract investors, and create employment opportunities for the youth. Beyond improving infrastructure, there is a focus on revitalising the civil service, and hiring 10,000 new employees. The government has allocated N4 billion to support businesses in the nano sector and small and medium enterprises, providing funding ranging from N400,000 to N10 million each. This initiative is being carried out through the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency and Nigeria’s Bank of Industry for technical support.
Another vital achievement that sets His Excellency Fubara apart is the astronomical increase in the monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state since May 29, 2023. The administration has successfully raised the IGR from N12 billion to N27 billion monthly, representing an increase of over 100 per cent. This impressive growth trajectory suggests that the annual IGR is on track to reach N324 billion.
Before His Excellency, Sir Fubara, assumed office as governor in May 2023, the annual IGR of Rivers State in 2022 was N172.8 billion, with an average monthly IGR of N14.4 billion, as reported by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In 2021, the state’s annual IGR was N123.3 billion, averaging N10.3 billion per month. The IGR was N117.2 billion in 2020 and N169.6 billion in 2019.
Notwithstanding the numerous challenges, the Governor has made considerable progress in education by implementing innovative measures in schools and providing a new convocation arena for the University of Port Harcourt. He has also shown commitment to the welfare of the people by providing free buses to offset the effects of fuel subsidy removal.
Local government employees have received their promotions, minimum wage, and wage bonuses. Fubara’s timely visit to the state secretariat complex underscores his dedication to public service as a crucial element in government operations. The complex, currently undergoing renovations, now boasts functional elevators, lighting, and water supply. Despite the huge debts left by the last administration, the Governor has assured that he would complete all projects that benefit the people, which were initiated by previous administrations.
The accomplishments achieved by the present government in just one year of rule are unparalleled. The rapid progress in infrastructure development within such a short period is a clear indication of his capability, despite various attempts to derail his efforts. Fubara recently informed Rivers people that true governance only commenced three months ago, when he decided to confront his predecessor’s challenges head-on.
Undoubtedly, the Governor’s leadership embodies qualities such as patience, wisdom and a commitment to peace, essential for conflict resolution and unity in Rivers. Under his guidance, there is hope for a future, marked by progress and prosperity, devoid of discord and division. As we mark this critical milestone, we implore all to prioritise peace, forgiveness and inclusiveness.

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Editorial

Hurray, Rivers Is 57!

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Continued from Page 1

The 12 States were North-Western State, North-Eastern State, Kano State, North-Central State, Benue-Plateau State, Kwara State, Western State, Lagos State, Mid-Western State, Rivers State, South-Eastern State, and East-Central State. However, these twelve states have since metamorphosed into thirty-six federated units, giving new and more fundamental relevance to Gowon’s definitive action.
Gowon’s desire to strengthen national unity and prevent more instability led him to seek support for the states’ creation exercise from an extensive cross-section of regional leaders before declaring the enacted order. In the Eastern Region, the whimper for the creation of the Calabar – Ogoja – Rivers (COR) State had risen increasingly vocal. In the North, the Middle Belt movement became a major source of dissatisfaction in the region.
The battle, agitations, and creation of Old Rivers State, now Bayelsa and Rivers, commenced in 1939 and climaxed in 1967. The state as constituted then was under the Eastern group of provinces in 1939 with administrative headquarters in Enugu. The group of provinces later became the Eastern Region of Nigeria, made up of Igbos, as the dominant ethnic nationality with other minorities comprising the region. The minorities included the Ijaw, Ibibio, Efik, Anang, Ogoja, Ikwerre, Ibani, Ekpeye, Engenni, Ogba, Kalabari, Nembe, and Ogoni, among others.
Rivers State in the Niger Delta region is unique. Popularly known as the Treasure Base of the Nation, the State’s uniqueness is not random. The abundance of human and natural resources coupled with its people’s hospitality, makes the State stand shoulder-high among its contemporaries. Gowon’s proclamation of a distinct state was, indeed, a realisation of the vision of the founding fathers. These fathers over several decades, bemoaned the marginalisation by prominent ethnic groups in the Nigerian project. This was particularly the Igbos, who cohabited the then Eastern Region with its capital in Enugu.
Starting with its first Military Governor, Navy Commander Alfred Papapriye Diete-Spiff in 1967 to the present administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, successive administrations, both military and civilian alike, have made significant contributions to making the state the enviable one it is today. From the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996 to the exponential growth in the education sector, human capital development, infrastructural revolution, health sector development, national political relevance, active participation in the global economic renaissance and bold presence on the world entertainment stage, Rivers State can indeed be said to have come of age.
Perhaps except for the epoch of the pioneer administration, at no other time in history has the state experienced such a level of transformation of its landscape as is being realised under the present administration. From an extensive urban regeneration effort that has seen the rebuilding of state-owned assets and city roads to meet present-day needs and the building of vast road infrastructure in all parts of the state, the current administration is truly working hard to realise the objectives of the state’s founding fathers.
By the efforts of the state government, Andoni and some adjoining communities have been made accessible to the state capital by road. The same fortune is soon to be enjoyed by erstwhile disconnected people of the Kalabari Kingdom through the commencement of the second phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road. By the same token, a courageous move has been initiated to create more urban centres in the state. This is done through the siting of essential projects.
The political class in the state, in particular, must utilise this event of the 57th Anniversary of the state’s creation to evaluate and determine to eschew bitterness, rancour and acrimony  and work with the Fubara-led administration. The struggle for Rivers State achieved the desired results because the political elite, traditional rulers and the youth of the time shared a rare and uncommon sense of oneness, purpose, selflessness and indeed drive for service to the fatherland.
That widely acclaimed Rivers’ spirit of love and commitment to selfless service have waned greatly, leaving in their stead, a threat to public peace activated by political greed, selfishness and an unguided quest for personal aggrandisement far and above love for the state. The clarion call is, therefore, for leaders at all strata to introspect and purge themselves of all tendencies that are inimical to the overall development and prosperity of the state.
We must remind ourselves, especially the political class, that it took selfless sacrifices, personal denials and unrelenting activism from foundational leaders. This was achieved for us in the state we now call home. All must embrace peace, tolerance, and true brotherliness and seek civil and lawful means to address all grievances and disagreements. This is because strife, violent confrontations and aggressive engagements will only destroy the time-enduring bonds of togetherness that have bound our people for years.
The founding fathers’ relentless struggle to question the imbalance and injustice of the Nigerian Federation remains the philosophy behind the state’s creation. Their mission and vision was to ensure Rivers State’s pride of place in Nigeria. The question remains, however, whether that vision has been achieved or not. More than any other time in our history, the need to re-enact and revive the values, sentiments, philosophies, and spirit that formed the driving force of the founding fathers to victory is now.
The Tide extends its heartfelt congratulations to the esteemed government and people of Rivers State on the auspicious occasion of the 57th Anniversary of the state’s creation. All stakeholders must rally together to pursue the common goal of ensuring that the state remains a safe haven, where security, peace, prosperity, and unimpeded opportunities for happiness reign supreme for all its inhabitants and the business community.
Today also holds a special importance not only as the day we celebrate the birth of our dear state, but also the day we honour our precious children, known as Children’s Day. This occasion is dedicated to celebrating the innocence, joy, and dreams of our little ones. It is a time to reflect on the necessity of nurturing, protecting, and investing in their future well-being.
Children are the future of our society, and on this special day, we acknowledge their unique contributions and remind ourselves of their inherent rights and needs. It is an opportunity to recommit to creating a world where every child has access to quality education, healthcare, and a safe and loving environment. By celebrating Children’s Day, we not only honour our children but also invest in the future of our nation and the world.
The event serves as a reminder that children are not just miniature adults but individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and perspectives. It is essential to listen to their voices, respect their opinions, and provide them with the support and guidance they need to thrive. When we empower our children, we equip the future generation to become responsible, compassionate, and active citizens who will shape the country for the better.

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Editorial

Towards Minimum Wage Implementation 

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It is not surprising that organised labour is pushing for a wage review, as President Bola Tinubu’s economic re-
form has negatively impacted Nigerian workers. Since taking office last May, the economy has been in turmoil, leading to hardships for many employees. The need for a wage increase is vital as workers continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.
The implementation of minimum wages in Nigeria has historically faced several obstacles. Despite the government’s mandate to set and enforce a minimum wage for all workers, many employers, particularly state governors and in the informal sector, fail to comply. This widespread non-compliance undermines the objective of protecting workers from exploitation and ensuring a basic standard of living.
Numerous factors contribute to the challenge of implementing minimum wages in Nigeria. One major issue is the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms. The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage, but its powers are often limited. Employers who violate the law often go unpunished due to weak enforcement and the high cost of legal proceedings for workers.
In the negotiations between the federal and state governments, a critical factor that must be considered is finding the right balance amidst the challenges posed by the country’s double-digit inflation rate, the growing national debt profile, and the pressing issue of ensuring timely payments from both state and federal authorities. Both levels of government must collaborate to address these economic concerns and come to a mutually beneficial agreement that prioritises the financial stability of the nation.
Things are not looking good. The organised labour, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, has proposed an astronomical jump from the current N30,000 per month to N650,000. While it is undeniable that the current rate of N30,000 is insufficient, the drastic increase to N650,000 is simply not realistic and may not be feasible for the government to implement. Both parties should find a middle ground that is fair and sustainable for all stakeholders involved.
The challenge before the minimum wage committee, which Tinubu inaugurated recently, is to find a realistic rate for all the parties concerned, including the private sector. This task is not an easy one, as there are various factors to consider when determining a fair minimum wage that benefits both workers and employers. The committee will need to take into account the cost of living, the current economic situation, as well as the financial capabilities of businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
Incidentally, the Nigerian economy is facing multiple challenges at the moment. With inflation at a staggering 29.90 per cent, a debt stock of N87.9 trillion, a high lending rate of 18.75 per cent, and a grossly devalued naira at N1,300 per $1, the cost-of-living crisis has worsened. The recent surge in food inflation, jumping to 35.41 per cent in January from 23.75 per cent the previous month has added to the economic woes. Moreover, the rapid price increases in petrol and diesel, essential for the economy, have further burdened the already distressed population.
Hence, the demand by labour for an upward wage review is justified given the rising cost of living and inflation. However, the government faces a dilemma in determining the appropriate rate of increment. Nigeria’s economic situation is dire, with debt servicing consuming a staggering 99 per cent of its revenue in the first quarter of 2023. Balancing the need to improve workers’ welfare with the constraints of the economy is a delicate task. The government must engage in constructive dialogue with labour to find a compromise that addresses their legitimate demands while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the economy.
Incidentally, the meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour was deadlocked on Wednesday, as the government was reported to have offered a paltry N48,000 as the new minimum wage, which is a far cry from the N615,000 being demanded by labour.
Apparently irked by the Federal Government’s offer, representatives of labour were said to have stormed out of the meeting in protest. However, both parties still need to find a common ground to resolve this knotty issue. Constructive dialogue is key.
If the government succumbs to labour’s demands and borrows more to fund the wage increase, its financial stability will be further compromised. This could lead to a debt crisis, with severe consequences for the economy. The governing authorities must explore alternative revenue sources and implement prudent fiscal measures to address labour’s concerns without jeopardising the nation’s financial health.
Retrospectively, an excessively high minimum wage can pose challenges for States. When the wage was raised to N18,000 during the Goodluck Jonathan era, many States struggled to meet their salary obligations. As of October 2023, BudgIT reported that 15 states were still failing to pay the N30,000 minimum wage set by the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2019. This situation has dire consequences for workers, who rely on their wages for sustenance.
The inability of States to pay the minimum wage is often attributed to their limited economic viability. Data from Economic Confidential indicates that only seven States are economically viable without federal allocations. This means that the majority of States rely heavily on federal support to meet their financial obligations. When the minimum wage is raised too high, States with weak economies may find it difficult to balance their budgets and fulfill their responsibilities to both workers and other sectors.
Any minimum wage that will be agreed upon should be sufficient to meet the needs of Nigerians. Unfortunately, many state governors have failed to implement the wage award approved by the Federal Government for civil servants, despite the high cost of living. This lack of action is unacceptable and shows a lack of appreciation for the struggles that public sector workers face. State governors should prioritise the well-being of their employees and ensure that they are able to make ends meet with the wages they receive.
We firmly advocate for the autonomy of state governments to streamline their workforce by retaining only those workers who demonstrate productivity. An example of this would be questioning the necessity of hiring typists in the era of advanced technology. Additionally, the rationale behind employing 20 drivers within a government agency deprived of operational vehicles may also be subject to scrutiny.
Many governors overlook the importance of paying their workers properly, which can have a positive impact on the overall productivity and economic growth of their States. States should have thriving industries that can create employment opportunities. Governors need to understand that low consumer demand can hinder the growth of businesses in their domains. They have to consider implementing efficient wage systems to ensure fair compensation for workers and foster economic development.

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