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His Excellency Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike COVID-19 Press Briefing On Friday May 1, 2020

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Protocols,
Thank you and good morning.
Today I’d like to provide our people with an update on the ongoing efforts to contain the transmission of COVID-19 in Rivers State.2. We are in a battle with a dreaded and invisible disease, and as a State Government, we are doing everything within our powers, sparing no efforts to contain this enemy and save the lives of our people.
3. It is therefore important for me to start by expressing our gratitude for everyone that we have engaged in this battle, and most especially, our healthcare workers, who are on the frontlines, working night and day, every day of the week to prevent the mass transmission of this virus in our State. You are all our heroes for your personal and collective sacrifice when it mattered most in the lives of our people.
4. Let me also appreciate the various support groups, including the State Inter-ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19, the State Task-force on the distribution of Palliatives, its counterpart on Food Procurement, as well as our public-spirited donors and the media practitioners for your invaluable efforts and contributions to this decisive fight against COVID-19.
5. Since the manifest importation of COVID-19 virus into our country by the index case, we have taken several measures, including legal, policy and material, to enable us combat, contain and limit the transmission of COVID-19 in Rivers State.
6. Our strategy, from the very beginning, was to contain, prevent or minimize the spread of the disease and save the lives of our people. And so far, we are achieving these objectives significantly.
7. On the 19th of March, 2020, we issued the Declaration, which classified COVID-19 as a dangerous infectious disease, as well as the Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Other Infectious Disease Regulations 2020, and Executive Order No. RVSG-01, 2020 to provide the legal framework for any and all actions required of the State Government under the Quarantine Act to combat the spread of the disease in the State.
8. On the 22nd of March 2020, the State Executive Council mandated the COVID-19 Committee to create mass awareness about the disease and issue necessary advisories to avoid infections and transmission among our people. This Committee immediately swung into action and has since done a lot to sensitization make everyone to be aware of this disease and the measures to prevent infection and spread.
9. With the legal framework established, we immediately proceeded to initiate proactive measures targeted at preventing and or protecting the State and residents from contacting or spreading of COVID-19.
10. On Tuesday 23rd of March 2020, we placed a ban all forms of open religious worship, crusades, vigils, public burials and weddings and closed all public parks, night clubs, cinemas and related outfits.
11. On Friday 26th March 2020, we stepped up our preventive measures by closing all schools and institutions of learning, the State’s land and sea borders as well as all flights out of or into Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and the Airforce Base, Port Harcourt. We also set up surveillance posts at all land and sea entry routes into the State.
12. On 20th April 2020, we executed two additional legal instruments, namely: (i) the Quarantine (Coronavirus) {COVID-19} and Other Infectious Diseases) Regulations (No.2) 2020 and (ii) the Executive order RVSG-03 2020 to strengthen the legal framework for the battle against the spread of COVID-19 in the State with the provision of non-custodial penalties for the violation of extant regulations and the Coronavirus Prevention Border Task Force to enforce the ban on the exit and entry of persons from our borders.
13. Following the failure to comply with our preventive directives and advisories on large gathering and social distancing, we were constrained to place some parts of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, including Obiri-Ikwerre junction, (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba, and from Education Bus stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre road, under total lockdown.
14. Presently, Elekahia, including the entire stretch of Rumukalagbor – Elekahia link road, Rumuomasi, including stadium road, and Rumuobiokani are under 24 hours lockdown until further notice.
15. In terms of material and other resources, the State Government have:
• trained over 200 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel;
• established holding and treatment Centres at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospitals as well as the General Hospital Nchia, Eleme;
• trained health workers both in the private and public sectors on infection control measures and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
• provided PPE’s for all our health workers directly involved in the fight against COVID-19 and sanitizers and infrared thermometers for us at all public offices;
• established the Rivers State Task Force on Border Closure;
• received 250-bed isolation and treatment tent located at the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium donated by the private-sector led initiative on COVID-19;
• received one GeneXpert RT-PCR testing machine from TOTAL E & P, which is ready to be used and will be deployed any moment we get the necessary reagents;
• procured some ventilators as well as received some others from some private sector donors;
• successfully prosecuted several violators of our orders and secured 188 convictions so far; and
• arrested 45 persons illegally operating night markets in Rumuokoro, Elimgbu and Rumuokurushi communities.
The state of COVID-19 transmission in Rivers State
15. As at today 1st May 2020, Rivers State has recorded 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, 4 females and 9 males.  Out of this number, 2 have recovered and discharged, 9 are active and receiving medical attention in our treatment centre, while unfortunately, 2 lost their lives because of COVID-19.
16. Recall that we had the first and second cases of coronavirus infections in the State in late March 2020. But it is significant to note that the third case was recorded after a lull of about one-month interval.
17. Furthermore, apart from the sixth case who has no travel history, the rest were returnees to the State from Italy, United Kingdom, and Lagos or persons who had close contacts with already affected persons.
18. Indeed, five of the most recent cases are all children and a relative of the second death case.
19. The logical conclusion therefore, is that the pattern of transmission of COVID-19 in the State is evidentially predicated on importation from outside, just as the rate of infection and progression is also relatively low and arithmetical, when considered from the date of the index case.
20. Generally, we believe that unless there is a sudden and vertical slide into community transmission, we expect our COVID-19 infection and prevalent rate to continue along this low trajectory.
21. This gives us the assurance that our hard work is paying off and Rivers State is certainly not in any dangerous position when compared to the situation in most other States, and we will never be by God’s special grace.
22. This is not to say that we are at the peak of this crisis and that everything about the containment and transmission of COVID-19 is under control. No; we are not, because of the challenges occasioned primarily by the negative elements that continue to deliberately undermine and sabotage our efforts to protect our people from this disease.
23. For instance, the 7th infected case was an offshore oil and gas worker who went and passed a night in a Lagos hotel before returning to Port Harcourt on the 9th of April 2020 with the aid of the security personnel manning our borders. When his symptoms started, he was admitted to a private hospital, (St. Martin’s Hospital) on the 20th and discharged on the 21st of April 2020 before testing positive to the virus after almost over two weeks of close contacts with other people.
24. Had the security agencies not compromised their responsibility at the borders, this man would have been prevented from coming into Port Harcourt and threaten the lives of other people with this virus.
25. Again, on the 29th of April 2020, our surveillance team picked up two men from Niger Republic, who came into the State from Lagos with the help of security personnel despite the closure of the entry routes into the State.
26. And so, so long as security personnel continue to allow people with this virus into the State through the closed borders without first ensuring that they are quarantined and their infection status determined, so long shall our State and our people will be exposed to the threat of contracting COVID-19.
27. In addition, we are virtually fighting this battle without any tangible material support from the Federal Government. We are wondering as most of you may also be, that up till now the NCDC has not established any testing center in the State in spite of our position, huge socio-economic and demographic mix and high transmission threat hanging over us as a result.  Was this deliberate? If not so, why and what was the justification for this dangerous neglect, which is obviously limiting our capacity to expand testing for this virus in the State.
28. But, for us as a Government, every single new infection of COVID-19 in our State is one too many. We shall therefore continue to take every necessary measure to control and possibly end the transmission of this disease in Rivers State in spite of the enormous challenges and lack of concrete support from the Federal Government.
29. It is for the very reason that we have taken our fate in our own hands with the establishment of the Border security task force, which has been mandated to provide and ensure a water-tight situation in all our entry and exit points and prevent any unauthorized entry and or exit of persons and vehicles into the State during the period of the closure.
30. These are all Rivers sons and we expect them to protect the interest of the State at all cost, and not compromise and risk the health and survival of our people in exchange for some filthy naira notes.
31. We also expect and request the security agencies to cooperate with the taskforce and fully enforce not only our order on the closure of our borders, but also Mr. President’s directive on the ban on inter-state travels from next Monday, 4th May 2020.
Procurement/distribution of food items to vulnerable households
32. On the 26 of April 2020, I announced the provision of 2 billion naira by the State Government for the procurement of food items from local farmers for distribution to vulnerable households across the State.
33. We also established a credible Committee, headed by Ambassador Desmond Akawor to undertake the thankless job of distributing the procured food stuffs and ensure they get to the targeted groups.
34. Reports reaching us from independent monitors indicate that, so far, both Committees are creditably executing their respective mandate in spite of the difficult logistical challenge that is involved.
35. As a matter of fact, the Procurement Committee has so far purchased and delivered to our ware houses local food items, including garri, yam, beans, fish, palm oil, plantain, tomatoes and onions worth over 590 million naira.
36.  Similarly, the Food Distribution Committee has successfully distributed food packages to vulnerable households in 16 Local Government Areas, namely: Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt, Ikwerre, Eleme, Omuma, Bonny, Opobo/Nkoro, Tai, Okrika, Etche, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Oyigbo, Gokana, Khana, and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni.
37. The Committee will ensure that vulnerable households in the remaining seven Local Government Areas also receive their food packages before the end of next week.
38. The Committee has also received donation of food items from a number of individuals and corporate bodies, which it is distributing to the needy among us.
39. Details of the list of food donors and what was donated shall be published in the national dailies in due course as a measure of public appreciation for their kind gestures. This applies also to those who have made cash donations to the State Government’s effort at combatting the coronavirus.
40 Let me assure our people that the delivery of palliatives and other relief measures to vulnerable households is a continuous exercise and the State Government will continue to provide funding for this purpose.
Conclusion
41. While we are not under any illusion about the presence of the risk of this virus in our midst, we are making tremendous progress that clearly underscores our belief that our aggressive strategy and targeted measures have been effective in curbing the spread seeing COVID-19 in our State.
42. Accordingly, the directives and restrictions we have put in place to maintain social distancing must continue and all residents are advised to strictly follow and comply in the interest of the health and lives of everybody.
43. In addition, the wearing of face mask in all public places is now compulsory throughout the State.
44. We understand the pain on our people but this is inevitable under the present situation in order for us to make the gain of freeing our State and our people from the ravaging pandemic.
45. The State’s Security Council will meet in the next 48 hours to consider and approve necessary mitigating measures for commuters, including the deployment of Government buses to shuttle designated public routes free of charge during the period of the ban on commercial transport operations.
46. Finally, community leaders and residents in Rumuokoro, Elimgbu and Rumuokurushi are hereby warned for the last time to either comply with our directives on social distancing and desist all business activities, including night markets or risk a total lockdown in these areas and the permanent closure of the Rumuokoro (Oil mill) market
47. While we agree with Mr. President’s decision to gradually re-open the country for business, we shall be guided by the peculiarities of our State on when to relax the measures we have put in place and gradually restore business activities to the State.
48.  Until then, I wish to restate that we love all residents of Rivers State. Please maintain social distancing, stay at home, wear face mask in public places and stay safe.
49. Thank you and may God bless us all.

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Fubara Vows To End Era Of Fiscal Recklessness In Rivers

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has vowed to ensure prudent management of the state’s resources during his administration.
Fubara made the pledge yesterday while declaring the commencement of construction of N80.3 billion 33.5-kilometre Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road dual carriageway and bridge project in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers.
He assured the people that his government was dedicated to serving their interests and emphasised that no distraction would deter it from serving that objective.
“So I assure you that every Kobo will be accounted for in Rivers State.
“We are people that are transparent; that are ready to serve in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda,” he said.
Fubara expressed displeasure at recent attacks on his supporters by hoodlums allegedly backed by outgoing Local Government Council chairmen in the State.
He warned that those who attack innocent citizens in the name of politics would not be forgiven and would pay for their crimes.
“It is unfortunate that after we inaugurated the Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road project on Tuesday and left, some people went there and attacked our people.
“There is no need for that. Nobody has a monopoly of violence.
“I should even be the one to come out and shout that I will do this and that, but I have not done so because both sides (people) belong to me.
“So, I am advising those people who call themselves local government chairmen and that have few days in office, to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner,” Fubara said.
The governor also highlighted the transient nature of political power and urged politicians to act with caution.
“Politics will come and go, but we will still live our lives. If you deliberately hurt anybody because of expressing your useless support, nobody will forgive you.
“I have been the target of abuse as the Governor who doesn’t know what to do with power, but have I said anything?
“So, I am begging everyone to conduct themselves properly because I do not want anything that will bring problem in this state,” he said.
Regarding the project, Fubara explained that the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road and bridge project would be financed from the state’s Internal Generated Revenue (IGR).
He said that 50 per cent of the project cost has already been paid and assured that it would be completed within 24 months.
The governor said the contractor, Craneburg Construction Company, had affirmed to completing the project within the specified timeframe outlined in the contract agreement.
“We are constructing this road out of our genuine commitment to serve the people, not because we have any economic interest here,” he said.
A former member, House of Representatives, Sen. John Mbata, who flagged off the road, praised the potential economic impact of the road when completed.
He applauded Fubara’s peaceful approach and leadership style of inclusiveness and consultation with all stakeholders in the state.
“We have moved away from the time when the governor of the state is seen as a god and demanded worship.
“We are now having a governor that has become a symbol and a rallying point for the people,” he said.

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We Inherited Huge Debt -Fubara …As Gov Otti Inaugurates Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road Project

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has revealed that a huge debt burden was left behind for his administration to settle with several contractors who handled different projects for the immediate past administration.
Governor Fubara made the revelation at Ebubu community, venue of the inauguration of the reconstructed 10.89KM Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road in Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State yesterday.
The Governor emphasised how baffling the debt owed the contractors amounted to, given the public impression created of a clean balance sheet maintained with contractors.
He said, “This is to let the world know that if there is one problem this administration has, it is the huge debt burden. Most of the projects that are being commissioned, the contractors are coming for their balance-payment and it is running into billions.
”I have said that I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk because I was part of that system. But, when you keep pushing me to talk, I will say it so that the people will know the true situation of things and be properly informed.”
Governor Fubara expressed delight over the commencement of the celebration of his One Year in Office Anniversary with the inauguration of a road project in Eleme where he lived when he started off with his working life.
The Governor stated that the road was awarded on August 14, 2023, to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) at the cost of N6.7billion.
He said that completed project now serves as a proof that his administration is still focused on delivering development to the people despite the many troubles thrown at it.
”I am happy to be here and to join the good people of Rivers State to start this wonderful celebration of our first anniversary in the face of all the troubles. It shows that we are still focused, not minding the level of distractions.
”This road was awarded to CCECC as a contractor. It was awarded on the 14th of August, 2023. I believe that 14th of August was within my tenure. I am not saying ‘I’, but it was this administration that awarded it.
”This project was awarded at the cost of N6.7billion, and I can say boldly that no kobo is remaining. We’ve paid the contractor its complete sum. Our gathering here is to tell our people that their problem is our problem.”
Emphasising the significance of the road, Governor Fubara said it is a bypass to be used by motorists to avoid the deplorable sections of the East-West Road now under reconstruction, and by extension, a support to the Federal Government’s efforts to give hope to Nigerians and make life better for the people.
Governor Fubara said: “What we are doing today, is it not help to the Federal Government? Is it not a show that this Government has the interest of the people at heart and it is supporting and doing everything to make the Federal Government succeed?
”So, when people come out and say some funny things, I laugh. Why are we doing this? When this administration came on board, Mr President christened his mantra ‘Renewed Hope’ to give Nigerians hope.
”What we are doing today in this State is giving our people that hope to complement what Mr President is doing at the national level.
”It is not about social media. We are talking about action. Genuine actions that make positive impact in the lives of our people,” he said.
Governor Fubara explained the rationale behind the invitation extended to Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, to inaugurate the project, saying he is not an artificial integrity man but a pragmatic man.
Sir Fubara stated: “I invited him because he is not an artificial integrity man. He is an action integrity man. He is not like the one who would gather to talk because they just want to talk.
”He is a man who came into office, in the face of difficulties and challenges, just like we are here, but he is making impact in the lives of Abians.
”So, I will continue to identify with good governance. I will continue to identify with people who want to make impact in the lives of the people. Our Government, as we promised you on day one: the people first.”
Governor Fubara alluded to an unnamed person who insinuated that on assumption of office, he started a fight against the Federal Government, and wondered the veracity of such allegation.
”We are talking about Federal Government that is giving us support, and we appreciate their support. But there is a rat in the house that is eating the bags of garri. So, you can imagine such situation.”
Explaining further, the Governor noted that somebody in the house was stoking crisis to distract both the State and Federal Government from delivering their promises to give the people hope and leave lasting legacies impactful policies and programmes for posterity, and promised the people that the black legs in the family will soon be exposed for what they are.
Governor Fubara thanked the good people of Eleme for their support during the period of the execution of the project, as according to him, the contractor never complained of any challenges from the communities, adding that rather the people gave all the cooperation required.
The Governor noted that with what has been experienced, his administration is now encouraged to come back and undertake more projects as he believed that they will be protected.
Performing the inauguration of the project, the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, congratulated Governor Fubara for what he has done in remembering to execute a road project in Eleme community where he had once lived.
Governor Otti said, “I have always said it that leadership is about service. Anytime leadership departs from service, then, you are getting it wrong. Service should be service to the people, not service to self or very few interests. Anytime you are serving few people rather than the majority, you need to go and look at yourself again.
”So, for me, it’s all about good governance. Clearly, Governor Fubara came prepared, and I don’t believe that any distraction is enough to take his focus away from improving the welfare and interest of the people.
”So, I can assure you, Rivers people, that the dividends of democracy that you are seeing now is still a dress rehearsal. It is early in the morning, and I am sure that in no distance future, you will be seeing more.”
Governor Otti charged Eleme and the good people of Rivers State to continue to support the Governor of the State to do even more to make life easy for the majority.
He embossed that no matter how the dice is flipped: “Power belongs to God, no human can arrogate to himself the capacity to give power, except you have the capacity to give life. Of course, you can take life, but you cannot give it.”
In his project description, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Engr. Atemia Briggs, said the project was awarded on 14th August, 2023 to CCECC.
Engr Briggs explained that the road is 10.89 KM long, has a width of 10.5 meters, with a drain length of 10.1 KM, adding that it will, in the overall, serve human and economic needs of the people.
In his remark, the Executive Director, South-South Region of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Engr. Eric Shen, expressed gratitude for the confidence reposed in the company to handle the project, which has been completed with support from the Government, and cooperation from the host communities.
He said they were committed to delivering quality road that will serve the people for a long time, which was why they contended with the challenges of heavy vehicular traffic, daily business activities by traders on the road, and the rains to ensure timely delivery of the project within eight months.
In his welcome remark, the former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Hon Orji Ngofa, acknowledged that the project, popularly known as the Old Bori Road, had collapsed as a result of the heavy vehicular traffic taken off the East-West Road that became deplorable, and is now being reconstructed.
Ngofa thanked Governor Fubara for reconstructing the entire stretch of the road, which now better improves the wellbeing of the people while also serving the transportation and economic needs of all users of the road.
While presenting the traditional kolanuts to the visitors, the Oneh-Eh Eleme, Chief Philip Osaro Obele, had conferred on Governor Fubara, the traditional title of Emere Ajuri Oneh of Eleme (meaning King of Peace of Eleme Kingdom).

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2026 World Cup, My Immediate Task -Finidi

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Head coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George, has said that his immediate task and priority is to qualify the nation for the 2026 World Cup slated for Canada, Mexico and U.S.
The Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on April 19, appointed George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.
George stated this at his unveiling as the new head coach of the Super Eagles by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), at the Moshood Abiola National stadium on Monday in Abuja.
The former Ajax Amsterdam winger, who was assistant to former Super Eagles gaffer, Jose Peseiro, was jointly unveiled by the NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau and Sports Minister, Sen. John Owan Enoh.
“For me, my first target is to make sure we are in line to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, the AFCON qualifiers will also be coming up soon.
“But the major target for me is the two games we have, we will do everything to win against South Africa and Benin Republic.
“Once we do that we will have set the tone and we will take it from there,” he said.
The coach warned that going forward; players will be invited to the Super Eagles based on regular playing time in their clubs and commitment to the national team.
He dismissed insinuations about having rift with some players in the Super Eagles, stressing that his relationship with the players was ‘perfect’ and professional.
“My relationship with the players is very perfect. I will try to improve on my relationship as this will be different. You will not hear any controversy on my relationship,” he said.
Earlier, NFF President Ibrahim Gusau said the coach will be given all the support he needs to succeed in the task ahead.
“We have given our coach the opportunity to choose his assistants. We will not impose anybody on him.
“We are going to engage the assistants on game basis but will pay the head coach monthly salary. We want to avoid salary issues,” he said .
The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan Enoh stressed the importance of having and supporting indigenous coaches to succeed.
“We have an opportunity to have a local coach to lead the Super Eagles. Back then in my University days, I would go to UJ Eseune stadium to watch Calabar Rovers and see Finidi George play.
“I am honoured to be here to witness his unveiling, if you love Nigerian football, you must love and support Finidi George. His success will bring joy to Nigerians.
“Any country I find an indigenous coach sitting on the bench, I always feel very proud and I am glad that we have an opportunity that has a Nigerian coach, Finidi George, as football men national team coach, “ he said.
The details of the contract was not revealed.
The coach has picked ex-international, Daniel Amokachi as assistant coach, Olatunji Baruwa as goalkeeper trainer, Mehmet Ozturk, match analyst, Benjamin James and Chima Onyeike, fitness trainers.
The immediate task of the coach is to get the Super Eagles back on track in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers where Nigeria currently sit third in Group C, with two points from two matches.
Nigeria drew with Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the first two matches in the qualifying series in November.
The Super Eagles will face South Africa and Benin Republic in June, in what has been described as a make or mar clash.

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