A visit to a horse racing track is exhilarating, fun and also feels like an adventure. It is a great way to spend a day with your family. Horse racing is an ancient form of spectator sports. There are a lot of countries that have a tradition of horse racing, and there are many legendary horse racing tracks that are part of national lore. Some tracks are so beautiful that they almost attain mythic qualities. In this article, you will be learning about some of the world’s most beautiful racing tracks.
- Santa Anita: Santa Anita is located in Arcadia in the United States of America. It was opened in 1934. Some of the most famous races that took place in this race track are the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. This racing track is also called the most sublime track in the universe. The reason for this is that the Santa Anita race track has the San Gabriel Mountains of California in the background. The scenery around the ground is wonderful.
The seating capacity is twenty-six thousand strong, and the track infield also contains beautifully manicured trees and spots for a picnic and a mile-long dirt track. This track has held the Breeders’ Cup for nine times which is also a kind of a record. This park is quite significant also because it was here that the first use of electrical gadgets like finishing line cameras and also electronic timers got used for the first time.
- Aintree Race Park:Aintree Race Park is located in Liverpool in the United Kingdom. It was opened back in 1829. Some of the most famous races to have taken place at this venue include the Grand National Race. The steeplechase obstacles at this venue are also quite renowned like the Canal Turn, the Becher’s Brooks, and the Chair. This venue hosts the most challenging form of steeplechases called the Grand National.
This race course has almost two hundred years of history and has held a number of legendary races like the Grand National of 1928 where more than forty horses had initially participated, but only three could cross the finish line. The fences which bar the jumps over the water pits have a covering of over a hundred tons of wild spruce here.
- Flemington Race Track: The Flemington Race Track is located at Melbourne in Australia. It was opened way back in 1840. Some of the most famous races that were held at this venue include the Victoria Derby and the Melbourne Cup. The River Maribyrnong situates this race track. It is shaped like a pear and is a huge race track. IT has a two-mile race track for handicapped races and hosts the Melbourne Cup race.You can visit RillitoPark to see amazing horse races and have a good time with your family.
Horse race tracks are beautiful venues and the ones mentioned in this article are some of the gorgeous places in the entire world.
‘Big Tech Firms Are Threat To Journalism In Nigeria’
Being a paper titled, ‘Nigerian Media Sustainability and Existential Threat by Big
Tech’, presented by Azubuike Ishiekwene at the 19th All Nigeria Editors Conference
holding at Ibom Icon Hotels & Resorts, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from November 14 -18, 2023.
“Every morning a lion wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death…It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, you better be running”
Quote first attributed to Dan Montano in The Economist, but was popularised by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat.
If you asked me if big technology (or big tech) companies were a threat to journalism, say, 20 years ago, my answer would have been an emphatic yes. After all, these companies do our job without our job description. They also disrupt the media space while taking little responsibility for content.
Before I go too far, perhaps I should explain that there is a slight difference in form, but not always in substance, between big tech and big search engines.
While big tech could sometimes be a dominant player in information technology hardware, like Samsung, or in e-commerce, like Amazon, search engines are software monsters although both core hardware and software providers in this field have the capacity as we have seen, for forward or backward linkages. In this paper, I will focus more on search engines, at least a few in the big league that have significantly disrupted our work, for good or ill.
I am sure you know them – Google, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Yahoo, YouTube, Baidu and so on. Please, do not add MySpace to this list; it died before they could write our obituary.
By the topic assigned to me, it appears that I am obliged to follow the lead that big tech – that is, one or a combination of the companies I mentioned – could eventually send traditional media into its final resting place.
However, the caveat in this topic, “sustainability” suggests that the Guild still hopes that conventional journalism would survive. But what is sustainability? One of the most practical definitions I have seen is, “sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations.”
As to whether big tech poses an existential threat to the survival of the Nigerian media and the way out, if indeed such a threat exists, we shall see soon enough.
How media earns
Traditional media’s two basic sources of revenue are advertising and circulation or subscription sales. On the face of it, the fear of a journalistic doomsday appears justified in light of catastrophic declines in revenues from these two major sources of media income.
The relationship between big tech and traditional news media is already complex enough. But I can assure you that the impact of big tech on the media as we know it is just beginning. The Reuters Institute has already predicted this year to be the breakthrough year for artificial intelligence and its application for journalism.
The institute rightly said the arrival of ChatGPT has transformed the debate over whether AI is here to stay or not. In its journal, Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2023, the Institute said about ChatGPT, “Its speed and capabilities are awe-inspiring and frightening at the same time. While the underlying models have been around for some time, ChatGPT has turned these into an accessible prototype that gives a real sense of where AI may be heading. It can tell jokes (but has been trained not to tell racist or sexist ones), come up with plots for a film or book, write computer code.”
In case you missed it, AI even mocked our industry in the report by summarising the challenges facing local news media in 50 words!
The above was published in the report.
More news outlets, including News24 of South Africa, are training their systems with the voices of their popular anchors with astonishing accuracy.
Big Tech: Archenemies, Frenemies, or Friends?
Big tech may be playing more actively in our industry than us, taking an increasing share of our money and maybe our jobs without being responsible – both in proprietorship and accountability – for the information it disseminates. It has exploited its unmatched reach, ability to use algorithms to tailor content to suit consumers, and real-time engagement advantage to retain consumers. But as they say, there are two sides to a coin.
1. Increased Exposure:
• Big tech platforms provide news media companies with a vast audience. Articles and videos can be shared and spread rapidly on these platforms, leading to increased visibility and traffic for news outlets.
2. New Revenue Streams:
• Some tech platforms have revenue-sharing agreements with news media companies. For example, YouTube shares ad revenue with news organisations that post videos on its platform, once you reach a certain threshold.
3. Better Analytics:
• Tech platforms provide news media companies with sophisticated analytic tools that allow them to better understand their audiences and tailor content to user preferences.
4. Engagement Opportunities:
• Social media platforms allow news outlets to interact with their audience in a way that was not possible before. They can receive immediate feedback, address concerns, and build communities around their content.
1. Ad Revenue Competition:
• Big tech companies have diverted advertising revenues away from traditional media outlets. They offer targeted advertising based on vast amounts of data, which is often more appealing to advertisers. I was scandalised during the recent general elections in Nigeria that folks who had built their careers in the mainstream and whom we were banking on left us high and dry, with the excuse that their principals wanted minimum use of legacy media platforms! But I understood, even if I did so with a heavy heart! Why? A BBC online report www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zd9bd6f/revision/7 said, “Politicians are investing heavily in the use of websites, blogs, podcasts and social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter as a way of reaching voters.”
“During the 2019 election campaign,” the BBC report continued, “the Conservatives spent one million pounds on Facebook alone, at a point, running 2,500 adverts.”
Let’s look at some more numbers: Google earned about $3billion from sales to China-based advertisers in 2018; Google UK earned £3.34billion in 18 months ending December 2021 as total revenue in the UK market; in 2022 Google’s share of UK digital advert market was 38 percent of all adverts valued at £5.72billion.
If the UK media is complaining, I will advise they should not do so as loudly as us. Why? I’m sure most of you already know that on revenue from traffic, for example, while you can get as much as $2 in CPM from traffic from the UK or the US, the best you can hope to get from local traffic, that is, traffic from Nigeria regardless of the size, is probably 80cents per 1000! Sure, this example is related to revenue from traffic; but the ratio, even for advertising is not significantly different.
2. Spread of Misinformation:
• The ease of sharing on social media platforms can contribute to the spread of misinformation. This not only misleads the public but also undermines trust in news media.
3. Algorithmic Control:
• The algorithms used by tech platforms control what content is seen and what is buried. This can lead to a loss of control for news media over how and to whom their content is distributed. In an article by Kanchan Srivastava, published on February 27, 2023, entitled, “Surviving the algorithm: News publishers walk the tightrope as Google ‘updates’ hit hard,” the author quoted a respondent as saying, “Google has released major algo updates in 2022, which impacted search traffic across publishers.” Publishers did not find two major updates last year by the big tech funny at all.
• News media companies may become dependent on these platforms for traffic and revenue, which can be risky given the changing algorithms and policies.
5. Potential for Censorship:
• Big tech companies have the power to censor or prioritise certain types of news content based on their own policies or external pressures, which can impact the democratic discourse.
6. Data Privacy Concerns:
• There are concerns about how big tech companies handle user data, and these concerns extend to the partnerships between tech platforms and news media companies.
7. Dilution of Brand Identity:
• Being lumped together with a multitude of other content producers on a single platform can dilute a news outlet’s brand identity.
8. Room for redress
• Complaints about discriminatory business or editorial practices from Nigeria and a number of other developing countries are hardly treated with seriousness
All About Algorithm, the Devil?
Not all the challenges summarised by our AI friend in 50 words were brought upon the traditional media by big tech. Nor are we here solely because of Google’s malicious fiddling with its algo. We in the traditional media space share in the blame for what took our industry from distress to life support.
I will tweak HBS Professor Clayton Christensen a bit by saying for a long time, we were innovating our products in response to technological shifts, with very little attention to our business models, or if you will pardon my drift, what E. Jerome McCarthy described in his book, Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach, as the 7Ps of marketing – Product, Promotion, Price, Place, People, Process and Physical Evidence.
Nothing depicts this more tellingly than media organisations’ need to reconsider obsolete editorial culture and imbibe new ones, especially in the areas of collaboration, audience-centered production, and creating an audience community.
To be able to compete favourably, media houses may have to take another look at the redundancy levels in-house. Reuters Institute predicted that more newspapers would stop daily print production due to rising print costs and the weakening of distribution networks. It also predicted a further spate of venerable titles switching to an online-only model. They are happening before our own eyes.
Let me be local. In LEADERSHIP the average production costs of our major consumables – newsprint, plates, ink, energy – have risen, with the most significant rise being in energy cost, which increased by 40 percent in one year, while our advert rates have remained largely constant.
Survival in the media industry used to depend on rivalry in the media; now it depends on collaboration. Recent collaborative works on the Pandora Papers, BureauLocal, and the #CoronaVirusFacts have shown that media organisations can work with colleagues across boundaries to share resources for the common good.
In 2020, Aliaa El-Shabassy, a teaching assistant at Cairo University, listed six reader needs outlined by the BBC for media organisations that want to stay ahead and compete with tech platforms. Why should other media companies listen to the BBC’s advice? Well, its global reach in 2020 was 468.2m people a week!
El-Shabassy wrote, “During Corona’s peak when audiences needed a trustworthy source to rely on, BBC News scored the highest reach among other international media organisations. Moreover, according to the annual Global Audience Measure, a total of 151 million users per week are accessing BBC’s news and entertainment content digitally.”
Six reader needs that any Media Practitioner must be aware of, according to the BBC are:
Update me – which means in the era of information overload, your audience should know in a new light what they already know about.
Give me perspective – it is a newsroom’s own goal to believe that perspective can only be shaped by the newsroom. Your audience can provide perspective.
Educate me – everyone wants to learn about an exciting new thing. Once you provide diverse content with curiosity value, your audience will be eager to find more from you.
Ishiekwene is Senior Vice Chairman/Editor-In-Chief, LEADERSHIP Media Group.
Keep me on trend – audiences want to be kept trending. Perhaps that was why the BBC reached a record number of people during COVID-19.
Amuse me – one of the reasons tech platforms prioritise user-generated content (remember Facebook’s pivot to video) over professionally produced content is that they have better entertainment value to attract adverts. The simple truth is that if you make your audience smile, they will most likely come back. It doesn’t always have to be serious! The more entertaining yet informative your content is, the more your institution is likely to grow.
Inspire me – inspiring stories attract younger audiences more than others and younger audiences source content through tech platforms more. Do the math!
Big Stick for Big Tech
Yet, big tech can’t get off lightly. In 2021, and despite heavy criticism, the Australian government pioneered a new media bargaining code that compels tech platforms to negotiate payment to local news media outlets for using their content.
Initially criticised as a form of subsidy from big tech to big media, significantly because of the role played by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the law has been hugely successful. Both big and small media outlets have benefitted from the law while the country’s journalism practice has also been revitalised, leading to the creation of new journalism jobs.
In an article published in 2022 by Brookings, Dr Courtney Radsch, Fellow, Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, UCLA, wrote that Australia’s big tech regulatory efforts were developed around three thrusts: taxation, competition/antitrust, and intellectual property.
The bargaining code therefore allows publishers to collectively bargain without violating antitrust laws; requires tech platforms to negotiate with publishers for the use of news snippets; also requires them to pay licensing fees to publishers; and taxes digital advertising and uses the revenue to subsidise news outlets.
The EU, US and India have since adopted their own media bargaining code and the idea of compelling big tech to pay for news they don’t produce but use and sell is gaining momentum, has been gaining global support since Australia took the bull by the horns.
I’m aware that the newspaper the publishers’ association in Nigeria set up a committee in July to examine the possibility of collective bargaining with big tech.
Staying in business
Understanding that consumers hold all – or most – of the aces, is the first step towards sustainability. For perspective, a paper entitled, “The Newspaper: Emerging Trends, Opportunities, and Strategies for Survival and Sustainability,” by Frank Aigbogun presented at a retreat for NPAN on July 18, 2023, said between 2010 and 2015, audience time spent spend on online media consumption soared to 150%. In that time, audience time spent on television decreased to -8%; radio, -15%; magazine, -23%; and newspaper, -31%.
The reality of digital media is that evolution has brought about new competition and fresh opportunities. Solutions journalism, citizens journalism, and a deeper interface between journalism and technology are the order of the day. There was a time when we consumed music via turntables, stereos with records, and then cassettes and then compact discs. Album sales are no longer used to measure the success of a body of work.
Now it is streaming, the playground of big tech companies such as Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, TIDAL, Pandora, etc. If technology did not pose an existential threat to the music industry, I do not think big tech would end journalism.
Reuters Institute said, “Better data connections have opened up possibilities beyond just text and pictures and smartphone adoption has accelerated the use of visual journalism, vertical video, and podcasts.”
Good content should not be free. What technology is doing, therefore, is to offer traditional media the opportunity to reach more people and make a profit.
Through the use of content and tech-led innovation, a growing list of brands are expanding into broadcast and streaming TV to grow and engage their audiences, and bring in new revenue streams. This involves the use of new formats, new technology, and new products to broaden and retain the audience base.
In addition, feedback tools, such as engagement matrices, are being used to “galvanise the industry on loyalty” (according to FT, which now uses the RFV – Recency, Frequency, and Volume of reading its digital content).
Traditional media organisations in Nigeria also need to rethink their business models, from content to distribution and personnel costs. One of the ways some media organisations are going about change in business model is by targeting niche markets, while others invest in research, education and learning.
Other ideas you may find useful in turning an existential threat to an opportunity for sustainable growth, are:
Diversify: Think about Julius Berger now into massive production and export of cashew nuts! Think about games, films, books, special events & publications, etc
Preserve your candle: Don’t give content free and still not collect and deploy customer data. Know your audiences and cultivate them
Review your systems and processes regularly and take tough decisions
Invest in talent
Let me return to the first sentence of this presentation. Yes, big tech poses a threat because of the opaque relationship it has with traditional media. However, is this threat going to pull the plug on journalism? I’ll say no. I’ll be the first to admit that the prevailing mood in the media industry is one of uncertainty.
To be certain, nothing will bring back the days when advertisement and circulation were enough to successfully run a media organisation. Also, because the media is a kind of cultural sector that does not necessarily respond to the principles of demand and supply, media organisations that fail to swim with the tide will continue to struggle or pack up altogether. If we invest in what feels relevant and useful to consumers, then we have nothing to worry about because technology will help us know exactly how to adapt and reach our target audience.
What we should worry about instead is how to retain the ethics of our practice in the face of robotic and artificial media which might just overpower the audiences we share.
17 Oil Wells: We Hope Uzodinma’ll Accept S’Court Judgment In Good Faith -Wike
Being a text of a state broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on Friday, May 6, 2022 following the Supreme Court judgment on the disputed 17 oil wells between Rivers State and Imo State. Excerpts.
My dear people of Rivers State, today, 6th May 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has delivered its judgment on the subsisting boundary dispute between Imo State and Rivers State over the ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oil fields.
Let us recall that following the disputed claims to the location and ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oilfields between Imo and Rivers States in 1999, the Governors, Their Excellencies, Achike Udenwa and Dr. Peter Odili respectively, worked out a political settlement and mutually settled for a 50:50 percent beneficial sharing of the derivation proceeds accruing from these wells pending the proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two States by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
While the dispute lingered, nothing was done by the NBC to demarcate the boundaries of the two States and establish the proper location and title to the disputed oil wells.
However, instead of instigating the NBC to do the right thing, Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, shortly after assuming office, repudiated the subsisting 50:50 percent sharing formula and made provocative claims to the exclusive ownership of the entire Akiri and Mbede oil wells.
In order to actualise this spurious claims, he stealthily wrote a letter dated 9th August, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested for the refund of the sum of N15, 000,000.00 (fifteen billion naira) from Rivers State to Imo State as backlog of accrued proceeds from the 13% derivation revenue of the said oil wells.
Acting on Governor Ihedioha’s letter, Mr. President warranted a letter to be written to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) through his late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo in favour of Imo State without reference to the subsisting dispute and agreement between the two States.
Surprised by the surreptitious plots and collusive actions of the Government of Imo State and the NBC to overreach the legal interest of Rivers State in the disputed oil wells, the Rivers State Government opted to approach the Court for a just and lasting resolution.
Accordingly, we first applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja and among other reliefs, successfully challenged the powers and authority of Mr. President to give directives to the RMFAC and or interfere in any manner whatsoever with the distribution of public revenues from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.
Not satisfied with the positive ruling of the Federal High Court, the Imo State Government appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost. We then proceeded against the Government of Imo State at the Supreme Court in a fresh suit for a final and conclusive determination of the boundary dispute between our two States.
In approaching the Supreme Court in this matter, we believed that the dispute between the two States and the contentious issues are such that the Court can judicially, justly and expeditiously determine with the available facts and supporting evidence, including valid administrative maps, subsisting judgments, and other relevant documents.
And so, the Supreme Court has finally and conclusively resolved the dispute and granted full and exclusive ownership of all the disputed oil wells in Akiri and Mbede oilfields, to Rivers State much to everyone’s relief.
Although Governor Hope Uzodinma was not the mastermind of the impulsive trajectory that compelled us to seek the intervention and protection of the Courts, he nevertheless participated fully in the litigation process to the end without engaging the Rivers State Government for a possible political solution.
However, his reactions to the judgments of the lower courts on this matter were clearly uncalled for.
Indeed, itwas rather unfortunate that for someone who became Governor through the instrumentality of the judiciary could turnaround to castigate the very institution that made him ruler over the good, peaceful and progressive people of Imo State.
Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we hope Governor Hope Uzodinma will accept the outcome in good faith, refrain from his usual diatribes against the judiciary and explore possible pathways to accommodation and compromise from the Rivers State Government.
This, we may readily oblige, despite the betrayals and back-stabbing by Emeka Ihedioha, who in spite of the extensive support and goodwill he received from the Government and people of Rivers State to become Governor, led the onslaught and created a wedge between two brotherly States that have been living at peace and in friendship with each other.
We also deplore the collusive actions of the NBC, which unfortunately, has become notorious as one of the most corrupt national agency, which has functioned more in causing confusion than resolving boundary disputes.
It bears repeating that the quest to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not intended to claim victory over Imo or any other State.
We are therefore open to further discussions with the Government of Imo State on the best way forward without prejudice to the outcome of today’s judgment.
We appreciate the lawyers that prosecuted and secured this landmark success for Rivers State, and for their efforts, it is my pleasure to announce the conferment of State Honours on every one of them as the Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS).
Finally, I wish to reiterate our resolve to continue to fight for, advance and protect the best interest of Rivers State at all times and under any circumstances up to the end of our Government, and we hope our successor would likewise continue in this courageous spirit and determination to make the desired positive difference for our State and our people.
Thank you and may God bless you all!
‘We Are Working To Leave Rivers Better Than We Met It’
Being a text of a statewide broadcast by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on January 1, 2022 to mark the New Year.
My dear people of Rivers State
As the clock ticks down and as we look forward to
ushering-in the New Year 2022, this is the time to give thanks to the Almighty God for his blessings and the opportunity to look into the future with greater hope and optimism.
On behalf of my wife and the government, let me thank all Rivers State citizens in particular, and Nigerians in general, for your continued love and support to our administration throughout the year 2021.
Indeed, we cannot thank you enough for the trust, the solidarity, the cooperation and above all, your prayers for the success of our government and the peace and progress of our state.
We also thank the police, the Department of State Security, the armed forces and the para military services for working round the clock to make and keep our dear state peaceful, safe and secure, not only in this festive season but throughout the outgoing year.
Indeed, there is no denying the fact that crime and criminality have been at very low rates in Rivers State and citizens felt safer and more secure in 2021 than the previous years.
With the cooperation of the security agencies, we identified and destroyed most of the shanties that hitherto served as safe havens and hideouts for criminals, who have now been dislodged and dislocated from the state having lost the space and capacity from which they could operate with ease.
To consolidate on the gains of the dislodgement and dislocation exercises, and make the state even safer and more secure, we have decided to demolish all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt Township and the Illaobuchi areas of Diobu from the second week of January, 2022.
Those rebuilding the shanties we had demolished at Eleme or attempting to resume illegal trading activities at the closed Oginigba slaughter have one week to vacate or be arrested and charged to court.
Additionally, we have discovered that most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) and some other parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas have been hijacked and are now inhabited by criminal elements who are daily constituting menace to public safety.
We have therefore decided to end this danger by taking over all such abandoned plots and uncompleted buildings and re-allocate them to citizens who are ready to develop and put them into effective occupancy.
In a similar vein, we have revoked the certificates of occupancy of several undeveloped plots of land in old GRA, Port Harcourt, for breaching the covenants attached thereto, which we would also re-allocate to interested members of the public for immediate development as part of the ongoing efforts to restore the entire old GRA to its pristine state of development, beauty and serenity.
We will also not spare those contributing to the perennial flooding challenge in parts of Port Harcourt city and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area by blocking natural water and drainage channels with illegal landfilling, reclamation of wetlands or the construction of concrete structures.
Consequently, we shall recover and restore all landfilled or reclaimed wetlands and demolish all structures erected on natural water channels spanning from the Eastern Bypass area up to Abana and Eleme streets in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. Only those with genuine government permits and allocation papers will be duly compensated.
Again, it is important to appreciate what we have done to successfully transform our capital city, Port Harcourt, to one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria with well-paved streets, pedestrian walkways, dual carriage roads and flyovers.
However, the beauty of the city is being defaced by illegal and indiscriminate trading on our streets, under flyovers and other unauthorised open spaces as well as the challenges with the current largely inefficient refuse disposal system.
I wish to, therefore, remind citizens that the ban on street trading and commuting on motor cycles in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas is still in force.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Task Force on Illegal Street Trading to arrest and prosecute all those: (i) shuttling with their motorcycles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA Junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street; and (ii) trading on, under and around the Rumuola Junction and flyover; Rumuogba Junction and flyover; as well as Rumuokoro Junction and flyover.
Security personnel abetting illegal street trading by collecting bribes and offering protection to street vendors are advised to desist forthwith or they would equally be made to face the wrath of the law.
Furthermore, we have decided to end the menace of cart-pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging and littering of wastes on street corners and the medians of major roads and highways across the state.
These cart pushers and their unknown collaborators are also responsible for the recurring stealing of manhole covers, an act which endangers peoples’ lives and public safety on our roads.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on the activities of cart pushers and directs law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
In addition, a task force would be put in place to enforce this ban while we plead with the courts, in the interest of public safety and security, to impose the severest of punishment under the law on any convicted manhole vandal.
The indiscriminate and prolonged parking of trailers and other articulated vehicles along our streets is another environmental menace we must tackle to bring sanity to our cities and living environment.
Consequently, I hereby direct the chairmen of Port Harcourt City, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, and Oyigbo local government councils to within three weeks from today impound and or remove any trailer, trucks or articulated vehicle packed on the streets beyond 48 hours in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
As we all know, achieving effective environmental sanitation in cities and urban centres is a global challenge, and ours is not an exception.
However, we are determined to improve on our refuse disposal system by reviewing, overhauling and strengthening the legal, institutional and economic framework for a more effective delivery of sanitation services to residents.
I urge that you bear with us for a while and things will certainly change for the better in our refuse disposal system.
As an initial step towards achieving this objective, we have placed an immediate ban on the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
Every household in both old and new GRAs must therefore procure and keep approved refuse disposal bins in the front of their houses to facilitate the door-to-door collection of the wastes they generate by designated contractors.
We will not hesitate to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any house in these areas without a refuse disposal bin or whose occupants are caught disposing refuse on the streets or open spaces.
We have also banned the posting of advert materials of any kind, including posters, fliers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under our flyovers, bridges, concrete walls and the safety barricades along the roads.
We will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with our sanitation laws, including this ban, by arresting and prosecuting both the person who places the advert and the person and institution on whose behalf it is placed.
Fellow citizens, we also have reason to be concerned about the operations and socially harmful activities of nightclubs within residential areas of our state.
Apart from the noise and traffic nuisances suffered by innocent residents, no responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas abutting some of these nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some, as young as under 14 years.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along SaniAbacha Road and surrounding streets to stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of our children and society at large.
Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelope Port Harcourt and upsetting residents for quite some time.
As a state government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on our economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.
However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the state, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
Consequently, I have directed the chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek Road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
Furthermore, all local government chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.
Once again, we express our sympathies to the victims of the recent fire incidences in the state, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
As a government we will continue to do our best to strengthen the State Fire Service to effectively intervene to mitigate the damage during fire incidents.
However, members of the public also have the responsibility to do the right thing to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening and those who deliberately bury fuel and gas tanks in residential areas are certainly not doing the right thing, and should therefore relocate their precarious businesses to more convenient and less risky places.
We wish to also express our concern over the poor compliance with the existing COVID-19 protocols by citizens and the effect on the transmission of the disease in the state.
Believe it or not, COVID-19 is a reality that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted economic activities across the world.
Here in Rivers State the transmission of the virus continues to surge daily and we all need to act together to stop the diseases from further ravaging our state.
We, therefore, appeal to all residents to make themselves available for testing and vaccination whether it is for your first, second or booster jab in addition to observing the existing preventive protocols, including social distancing and wearing of face masks to reduce the level of transmission.
Let me also remind all government recognized traditional rulers that they are, at all times, subject to the authority and directives of the state government and not to other allegiances, culture or otherwise.
Therefore, the consistent absence of some first class traditional rulers, especially the Amanyanabo of Okrika, the Amanyanabo of Ogu, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and the GbenemeneNyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
Should they, therefore, continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement.
Finally, as the New Year 2022 inevitably beckons, we wish to assure you that we will continue to do our best to meet the aspirations of our citizens for a more peaceful, safe and secure society throughout the Year 2022.
We will continue to pursue our objectives for a stronger and more sustainable economy centred on fiscal discipline, revenue growth, job creation, and improved standard of living for all residents.
We will continue to accelerate our development with the sustainable delivery of quality roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other socio-economic infrastructure and complete all ongoing development projects across the state.
I wish to, once again, thank our leaders, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, party chieftains, our women, our youths and the press for the warmth and support we have received throughout 2021.
We wish to specially thank our religious leaders for their prayers for peace and progress as well as for their continuous support to our government in the primary task of building the Rivers State of our collective dream.
We remain grateful to God for the unprecedented peace, security and transformational strides the state is enjoying under our administration.
But we must also be vigilant because our enemies, especially, members of the opposition, are not happy with the prevailing peace, security and the unprecedented achievements we have recorded; and are therefore determined to cause crisis and disturb our peace and joy if they have the opportunity.
Let us therefore prayerfully continue to place our dear state and everyone in the safe and protective hands of God Almighty through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wish each and every one a happy and prosperous New Year!
May God continue to bless our dear Rivers State.
News5 days ago
Nigerians Spent N61.08trn On Food, Others In Six Months -NBC
Business5 days ago
FG, UN Target $5bn Annually For Poverty Alleviation
Sports2 days ago
MOC Makes Appeal Over Age Cheats
News2 days ago
CLE Bans Abuja Varsity From Admitting Law Students For Five Years
Metro5 days ago
Residents, Motorists Decry Failing Eleme Axis Of East-West Road
Sports5 days ago
Wan-Bissaka Set To Switch To DR Congo Ahead Of AFCON
Featured2 days ago
Fubara, Obi Cubana Visit, Condole Oborevwori On Mother-In-Law’s Demise …Congratulate Delta Gov On Appeal Court Victory
Maritime2 days ago
NPA Warns Against Illegal Containers Stripping On Port Access Roads