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RVHA Rejects LG Autonomy …Votes For LG, Judiciary, Financial Autonomy

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Rivers State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Chuma C. Chinye (right) in handshake with  Administrative Director, MCC, Mr Nelson Jaja (left) at the public presentation of the Yellow Pages Directory organised by Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Portr Harcourt. Photo: Egberi .A. Sampson

Rivers State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Chuma C. Chinye (right) in handshake with Administrative Director, MCC, Mr Nelson Jaja (left) at the public presentation of the Yellow Pages Directory organised by Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Portr Harcourt. Photo: Egberi .A. Sampson

The Rivers State House of Assembly has rejected local government autonomy even as the National Union Local Government Employees (NULGE) protested and called for Local government autonomy.
The State Assembly yesterday voted on the alteration to the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it also rejected independent candidate in seeking for any elective office in the country.
The House which was presided by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Otelemaba Dan-Amachree also accorded and approved financial autonomy for state House of Assembly and judiciary across the country. It also approved pension for officers working in the state assembly.
It also voted in favour of section 45A, “Every citizen of the federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to free education and right to health.”
Meanwhile, as the House was deliberating on the alteration of the constitution, NULGE, Rivers State chapter, carried out a peaceful protest to the state Assembly, appealing to the legislature to approve Local Government Council autonomy.
The State Deputy President of NULGE, Comrade Madighi Dickson who led the 23 local government councils to the temporary site of the assembly, said they came to request that the local government autonomy bill should be passed according to the wishes of the people.
According to him, “we came because we know that throughout the country, the States Assembly would make an alteration on the constitution today, (Tuesday) and they are requesting that autonomy should be granted to the local governments.
“We represent the 23 local government areas of Rivers State and we are here on a peaceful request, it’s not a demonstration or protest, we are aware that all over the states of Nigeria, they are passing the local government autonomy law today, we are here to request because we voted you to power, so we are requesting that the law be passed according to the wishes of Rivers people’’, he said.
Addressing the protesters, the Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assemble, Hon Leyii Kwanee said there was nothing wrong with what they were doing.
Kwanee said the legislature was in the middle of passing the fourth alteration of the bill and amendment of various sections of the constitution.
He reminded them that lawmakers were in the assembly on the mandate of the people and would be accountable to the people, assuring that he will convey their message to the house.
According to him, “I want to be part of the history making occasion. To be a party to those who amended the 1999 constitution’. For some of us who may not be returning to the house, we want to make the ultimate use of it. I assure that I will convey your positions to the house’’.
While deliberating on the matter in the House, Leader of the State house of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lloyd had argued that local government autonomy will lead to instability of governance at the grassroots.
The House had voted against independence of local council based on an argument put forward by Hon. Lloyd that there will be arbitrary impeachments of council Chairmen by councilors, thereby leading to unstable governance.
According to Hon. Lloyd the framers of the Nigerian Constitution gave the State Assemblies power to monitor activities of local councils, and that such powers should be maintained to ensure stability.
Also, workers under the aegis of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Ondo State yesterday walked out of the Ondo State House of Assembly following failure of the Members of the House of Assembly to pass the autonomy for Local Government.
The autonomy of the council workers is in clause 4th Alteration Bill to amend the 1999 Constitution. A protest was thereafter staged at the premises of the assembly complex. The workers sang solidarity songs and demanding that they be given autonomy. They also threatened to vote against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the next election coming up in February 2015.
The Chairman of the ad hoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution, Hon. Afolabi Akinsiku, laid his report on the table and members did not debated or commented on it.
The Speaker Hon. Jumoke Akindele speaking on the matter said, “As a coronary to the motion that I should use my good offices to adopt the resolution of the members at the parliamentary session, we hereby adopt the decisions reached at the parliamentary meeting.”
After the speaker submission the House simply moved on to another business of the day but this irked the Local government workers who walked out. Efforts to speak with the Speaker after the plenary proved abortive as she was said to be attending another meeting.
But reacting to the development, the President of the Ondo Chapter of NULGE, Dr. Eni Ayewu, said there was no reason for the rejection of the autonomy clause by the house.
Ayewu said “Out of the 17 papers presented at the public hearing, only three were against autonomy for local governments, the others supported. So what is the basis for reaching that decision. This is not fair. They did not take the opinion of the people of the state into account. We shall meet in February.”

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FG Hails Rivers Top Spot In Literacy Education Dev

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The Federal Government has commended the Rivers State Government over its concerted efforts in the development of basic education that has guaranteed the state the highest ranking in literacy education in the country.
The state scored 70per cent ahead other states of the federation in a recent national ranking.
The Coordinator in charge of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), Federal Ministry of Education, MrsAminaHaruna made the commendation, while speaking at a one-day state Technical Workshop on improving BESDA implementation at Bougainvillea Hotels in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Haruna said it was of good note that Rivers State has shifted to where it was before and attained a commendable height in the development of literacy education, adding that such feat was worth celebrating.
The BESDA coordinator, disclosed that Rivers State has also taken the lead to replicate the just concluded performance review meeting held in Abuja, recently, adding that the technical meeting was essentially designed to bring all stakeholders in the BESDA together to brainstorm on way forward.
She said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that the menace of out-of-school children in the country was resolved, adding that it was what informed the Federal Government decision to borrow $11million to tackle the menace headlong.
She called on parents to ensure that they give their children the right to education, adding that the importance of education in the society cannot be over-emphasised.
“Rivers State has done well in literacy education, and they are ahead of other states. So, whoever that has done well; praise him or her”, she stated.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku said one of the cardinal policy trusts of the present administration led by Governor Nyesom Wike was to provide access to quality and qualitative education for children in the state, saying that BESDA programme was one of the links to actualise it.
Ebeku thanked the Federal Government and the World Bank for initiating the BESDA programme, adding that it has given hope to many out-of-school children to have access to education literacy, saying that the cult clashes that ravaged some communities was responsible for the over-crowded nature of schools in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state.
He expressed satisfaction with the performance of both teachers and pupils in the BESDA schools in the state, adding that children in the conventional schools were not doing better than the ones in the BESDA schools.
He, therefore, solicited for cooperation among all stakeholders in driving the programme, and assured that the state Ministry of Education would drive the supervision and monitoring to ensure it achieves set objectives.
In his speech, the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Ven. Fyneface Akah said the workshop was organised to replicate the Federal Government’s model on peer review performance by getting all stakeholders involved in achieving gaining more grounds in the BESDA programme in the state.
Akah said the board under his leadership was determined to ensure both children of fishermen and those who are out-of-school have access to quality education, which he said, was essential.
“It is not about the reward but the effort and impact. We are organising literacy content to ensure that those children in the programme read, write and understand numerical skills, and whoever that acquires literary skills has acquired the knowledge for further education”, he stated.
In her remarks, the RSUBEB Director in charge of Physical Planning, Mrs Joy Ojirika, who doubles as the state BESDA focal person, gave a scorecard on the progress of the programme in the state.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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Wike, Okonjo-Iweala, Others For 4th DAAR Awards, Dec 6

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; are among those to be honoured at the fourth edition of the DAAR Awards.
The DAAR Awards, scheduled to take place on December 6, 2021 in Lagos, is organised by DAAR Communication Plc, which owns RayPower broadcasting station and African Independent Television.
At the ceremony, Wike would be honoured with the DAAR’s Man of the Year Award, while Okonjo-Iweala would be honoured with DAAR’s Woman of the Year Award, just as Okowa would receive award for outstanding leadership in public service.
In a letter to the recipients by the Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications Plc, Tony Akiotu, said the awardees were selected for their exemplary qualities and immeasurable contributions to the sustainable development and progress of humanity in various sectors.
On the criteria for selecting Rivers State governor,Akiotu said, “The Editorial Board and DAAR Communications panel of assessors for the 4th DAAR Awards had unanimously voted to confer the award of Man of the Year 2021 on Wike for his giant strides in infrastructural development of Rivers State and deepening of Nigeria’s democracy”.
Akiotu said that Deputy Senate President, OvieOmo-Agege would also receive award for Outstanding Leadership in Public Service along with Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Oyo State Governor, Engr. OluseyiMakinde; and Osun State Governor, Prof. Adegboyega Oyetola.
Also to be honoured are the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who would receive award for Outstanding Performance in the Academia, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who would receive Outstanding Performance on COVID-19 Pandemicaward.
According to DAAR CommunicationsPlc, it would honour Ogundipe for extensive work on molecular systematics, plant anatomy, food security, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.

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Senate Blasts Saipem Over Breach Of Local Content Act On NLNG Train-7

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The Senate Committee on Local Content has expressed displeasure at Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, a company handling the Train-7 gas project, for what it termed “deliberate breach” of Nigeria’s Local Content Act.
The company’s management has been evading appearances before the committee until last Wednesday after the panel threatened to compel their appearance with sanction.
However, the panel, chaired by Senator Teslim Folarin, after inference from evidence made available to the panel, demanded an explanation from Saipem Contracting Company why the gas project company awards contracts to foreign companies for supply of steel, rods, among other materials for execution of the project contrary to local firms in clear breach of LCA.
According to the committee, they have been flooded with petitions from the public over the sharp practices of the company in connivance with some Nigerians.
The committee said it was based on that the Train -7 gas project was invited while pointing out the breach of the local content act on the award of contract for the purchase of items for the gas project.
The committee, however, regretted the non-appearance of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Saipem and Daewoo, which they said their appearances would have deepened investigation on why foreign firms habitually shortchange the nation.
It rescheduled the meeting and asked the committee clerk to issue fresh letter of invitation to the absentee organisations.
Senators Folarin and Sabi Abdullahi in reference to a petition pointed out that Saipem management is aware of contracts to foreign firms than Nigerian companies for supply of materials running into millions of euros in breach of the provision of the local content act.
Teslim said: “Can you explain, how you came about awarding the contract for the supply of steel for €4million, to TK Corporation, a Korean company, and €4.27million, contract to another Korean company for pipes, €3.86million to an Italian company and another €5.5million.
“All these are not Nigerian companies.”
He said the local content act provided for 50percent Nigerian content in the execution of the project.
In his response, the Managing Director of Saipem, Mr Walter Peviani said execution of the project by the company was based on a contractual agreement, and documents presented to the company by the NLNG and the NCDMB.
“Within the contractual documents, which we received, entailed, a project Nigerian content plan and entry procedures for Nigerian companies compliance certificate,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Executive Secretary of the National Content Development Management Board was absent despite invitations, a development, the committee said was deliberate and suspicious.

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