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2020: Major Events In Govt House (I)

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As the year 2020 winds off, it is pertinent to have a look at some major events that took place in the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt otherwise known as the Brick House.
The Next Governor of the State
As political pundits concern themselves with the all-important question of who becomes the next Governor of the state, the sitting Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike on various occasions has given indication that neither himself nor anybody else knows on whose head the cap would be.
While receiving the People of Kalabari and Oyigbo Ethnic nationalities who had paid him solidarity visits in various occasions, Gov. Wike explained that he has never promised any ethnic group in the state the position of Governor of the state.
He said: “ Only God has the capacity to make the next Governor, not me or any man”.
He advised ethnic groups interested in the seat to liaise with other ethnic nationalities as no single ethnic group could single-handedly produce a governor without the assistance of others.
Burial of Late High Chief O. B. Lulu- Briggs
Governor Wike has expressed worry over the continued delay of the burial of a foremost philanthropist and oil mogul, Late Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs as a result of family feud.
He made his feelings public when the leaders and people of Kalabari Ethnic Nationality paid him a solidarity visit in Government House, this year.
The Governor promised that the state Government would honour the late philanthropist with a befitting state burial and appealed to the leaders of the area as well as the family of the deceased to set aside their differences and bury the high chief.
“ I have intervened more than three to four times, having meetings, but was disappointed by the wife. I have to say clearly to all of you, I have never received insult like that in my life”, Gov. Wike said.
RSG’ s Court Victory Over Soku Oil Well
Another major event in 2020 was the eventual victory of Rivers State on the controversial Soku Oil Wells in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
An Abuja High Court had declared Rivers the rightful owner of the oil wells.
Gov. Wike, who spoke during the state celebration of the victory expressed satisfaction that at last justice was done. According to him, the state does not believe in fighting but in due process.
“ Thank God the Federal High Court has affirmed and they should pay us our money which they have collected. The revenue derivation should continue to be paid into Rivers State coffers,” he said.
The Governor reiterated the determination of his administration to continue to fight towards ensuring the protection of whatever belonged to the state.
Traditional Rulers, political leaders, youth leaders, women groups and the business class in the state celebrated the victory and commended Gov. Wike for leading the state to victory.
Victory Over OML 11 & Kidney Island
In a similar vein, Rivers State Government also won her suit against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) on the ownership of the OML 11 & Kidney Island acquired by the State Government.
Ogoni- Clean Up Programme
Rivers State Government had expressed dismay that since the flag of the exercise by Federal Government, no tangible milestone had been achieved.
Gov. Wike who disclosed this when the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar paid him a courtesy visit in February, said rather than tell the world the level of success attained, Federal Government had continued to deceive the people by circulating same story of handing over remediation sites to contractors as if handing over remediation sites to contractors was an attestation that the contractors had done the jobs.
He also accused the Federal Government of alienating the state government from the programme and maintained that until Federal Government stopped politicising the project, it would not achieve the desired results.
RSG, Labour Crisis Resolved
The protest by organised labour in the state scheduled to hold in September was averted at the eleventh hour following an agreement reached between Rivers State Government and the leadership of the unions in Government House, Port Harcourt.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Waba who read the agreement before newsmen said both parties agreed to sign the agreement on implementation of the New Minimum Wage .He also said that the parties agreed to set up a tripartite committee to resolve the adjustment of Pension in line with the Constitution and payment of Pension and Gratiuty, among other contending issues.
COVID-19 Pandemic
As COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world Rivers State Government was the first state in the country to declare a lockdown and also took pragmatic strategies towards controlling the spread of the virus.
The State Executive Council had in March, set up a five man committee mandated to embark on aggressive public enlightenment and awareness measures to check the dreaded Corona-Virus.
The committee which was headed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications Paulinus Nsirim, had as members the Commissioner for Health, Prof Chike Princewill, Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuno, Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs, Barr Eloka Tasie-Amadi, and Commissioner for Youth Development, Mr Ohia Prince.
He also initiated a Two Billion Naira (N2 billion) Food Bank. Palliatives were distributed from Ward to Ward.
Wike Unveils More Legacy Projects
Gov. Wike whose first tenure was marked by a harvest of people-oriented projects across the twenty-three local government areas of the state, continued with more key projects in 2020.
Within the year, such uncommon projects as Real Madrid Academy, Ultramodern Mother and Child Hospital among numerous others were commissioned.
He also embarked on seven flyover projects and even delivered some before the scheduled period using the world class Julius Berger to execute the projects.
The flyover projects include: Rebisi flyover which was inaugurated before the scheduled time, Okoro-nu-Odo flyover, Rumuogba flyover, Rumuola flyover, GRA flyover, the Kaduna Street flyover and the Ikokwu flyover. Most of these projects are the completion stages.
Apart from the flyovers which cost the state multi billions of Naira, there were also numerous road projects both in the new and old GRAs in Port Harcourt.
Local Government Election:
The elections of Councillors and Council Chairmen in the 23 local government areas of the state are already by the corner as the State Governor has recently reconstituted the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC).
According to the time table published by RSIEC December 21, 2010, elections campaign begins on Friday, 12th March 2021 and ends on Thursday, 15th April 15th 2021 while Ward elections hold Saturday22nd May, 2021 and Chairmanship election hold  Saturday, 17th April, 2021.
Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) has announced that there would no automatic ticket for sitting council Chairmen for second time.
Gov. Wike who is the leader of the party is the state who made the pronouncement in several public fora said performance and people’s acceptance would remain the variables that would determine the faith of any chairman aspiring for second term.
RSG Promises 5000 Employment Opportunities:
Another remarkable feat of the present administration in the year under review was the decision to employ 5000 persons into the state civil service.
So far, the vacancies have been advertised and interested applicants across the 23 local government areas have also applied for the jobs. The employment scheme which has been extended to non-indigens has been lauded by the people of the state.
The step, according to many, would equally go a long way in addressing youth related crimes in the state.

 

By: Chris Oluoh

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Delta Poll: PDP Sweeps All 25 LGs

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The Peoples Democratic Party has won all seats in Saturday’s Local Government election conducted across 500 wards in the 25 Local Government Areas of Delta State.
The election was contested by ten political parties, who fielded candidates for chairmanship and councillorship positions.
Declaring the results, the Chief Electoral Officer and Chairman of Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr Raphael Agbaike, said the PDP contested and won in 24 LGs in the July 13 2024 election.
‘’However, the chairmanship candidate of the PDP in Udu Local Government Area was returned unopposed.
“The PDP candidates for councillorship positions contested and won 499 electoral wards while the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) won one electoral ward in Oshimili North Local Government Area” he declared.
Certificates of return were presented to 25 council chairmen.
Meanwhile, TAF Africa has commended the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission for their exceptional efforts in ensuring a more inclusive and secure election environment, particularly for those with disabilities.
The Founder of TAF Africa, Mr Jake Epelle, made the commendation on Sunday while giving the foundation report in Asaba after the 2024 Local Government election.
“Our observations from the field highlight both the positive strides made and the areas needing improvement to promote a truly inclusive democratic process,” he said.
Epelle listed some key observations including adequate security and peaceful conduct, low voter turnout due to apathy, disfranchisement due to new polling units, inclusive voting practices, and non-conduct of elections in specific areas.
He highlighted the need for SIEC to consider relocating these voters to polling units closer to their homes for better convenience and mobility.
On his part, the Programme Officer of TAF Africa, Mr. Adeolu Kilanko explained that voter apathy posed a significant threat to the democratic system, adding that the impact was more pronounced in people with disabilities.
“Voter apathy can lead to their voices being further marginalized. It is essential to ensure that the electoral process is not only inclusive but also perceived as trustworthy and transparent.
“We can encourage greater participation from all segments of society including persons with disabilities, by rebuilding confidence in our elections”, Kilanko stressed.
Also speaking, TAF Senior Communication Manager, Lynn Agwuocha called on all electoral management bodies to prioritize rebuilding public confidence and to make necessary adjustments to facilitate easier access to voting for all citizens particularly those with disabilities.

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Nigeria Lacks People Who Speak Truth To Power – Obi

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The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has regretted the dearth of courageous people who can speak truth to power.
Obi who spoke last Saturday, during the 10th anniversary of Alaigbo Development Foundation in Umuahia, Abia State, regretted that the country had abundance of praise singers who tell leaders what they what to hear.
The former Anambra State Governor who recalled how he judiciously managed public funds while in office, also charged public leaders to use public funds for the people.
He further charged them to make people-centred policies, and pursue programmes that promote public peace.
Mr Obi blamed the woes of Nigeria on avarice and insatiable quest for wealth among public office holders.
He, therefore, challenged Nigerians to speak truth to power and stop hero worshipping.
Mr Obi said: “What we lack in Nigeria is people who can tell you you are wrong when you are. Leaders are bound to listen to the people because the people put them in the office.
“ Leaders must use public money for public purpose”.
Continuing, he said: “When I was in public office, I used public money for public purpose. I made sure I used the peoples money for them.
“ I did not spend any Kobo for personal gain. I didn’t take it owing pensions, gratuities. I did not owe any contractor. Now in private life I can do whatever I like with my money.”
The former Anambra State Governor who said he left office without owing workers including pensioners and contractors, disclosed that he also left behind $150m for the state.
Mr Obi solicited continued prayers for leaders so they would serve the people with the fear of God.
The former Anambra Governor who advocated role for traditional institution, advised Government to partner socio-cultural organisations for the development of society.
He further encouraged ADF to continue its advocacy and sensitisation of Ndigbo for advancing the cause of the Igbo nation.
Obi also preached unity among Ndigbo.
In his remark, the pioneer President of ADF, Professor Uzodinma Nwala, said the objective of ADF had been to galvanise Igbo stakeholders for the development of Alaigbo.
The new national President of ADF, Nze Coleman Emeka Chukudelunzu, called for unity among Ndigbo to rebuild Igbo land.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the event, Maj General Chris Eze (retd.), commended the doggedness of Ndigbo to overcome the challenges of the civil war.

 

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S’Court Verdict On LG Autonomy, Sheer Judicial Conspiracy – Afenifere

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The Pan Yoruba Socio-Political Group, Afenifere, has faulted the Supreme Court verdict that granted fiscal autonomy to local government areas.
It lamented that the apex court’s verdict has “done incalculable injury” to the Nigerian state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the leader of the group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Justice Faloye, and made available to newsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Entitled “Tinubu and the Grand Conspiracy Against Democracy and True Federalism in Nigeria”, the statement declared that “Afenifere views the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case filed by the Federal Government on the so-called Local Government autonomy as sheer judicial conspiracy in cahoots with the Tinubu administration against the Nigerian state and its foundational principles of federalism.
“Rather than interpret the constitution to uphold its elementary but overriding federal principle which recognises only a two-tier federal structure of the central government and federating states, the Supreme Court played to the gallery and wittingly allowed itself a most retrogressive declaration that the power of the government is portioned into three arms of government, the federal, the state and the local government.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, Afenifere makes bold to say that in line with its negotiated basis of existence, Nigeria is a ‘Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory’ as affirmed by Section 2 (2) of the 1999 constitution.
“While Afenifere frowns at corruption and misuse of public funds at levels of government, it condemns in most unmistaken terms  the subjugation of the states and its constitutional roles including the Local Government system to the whims and caprices of the federal government by any means including obvious manipulation of the federation account as in the present case.
“The 1999 constitution, which in spite of its flaws, gives life and power to the Supreme Court provides in Section 162 and particularly subsection (6) that “each state shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state”.
“Against this unambiguous provision the Supreme Court held that “demands of justice requires a progressive interpretation of the law.
“ It is the position of this court that the federation can pay Local Government allocations to the Local Government directly or pay them through the states.
“ In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that Local Government allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the Local Governments .
“Contrary to this invented alternative routes, Section 162 of the Constitution is not ambivalent about the process and route through which “all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state” shall become payable to the Councils.
“In other words, the interpretation does not require a voyage into jurisprudential  sophistry leading to the absurdity of deliberate judicial amendment of the grundnorm.
“By wittingly or inadvertently equating the Nigerian Federation with the Federal Government in the erroneous belief that both expressions are used interchangeably, such that the President may withhold funds to the credit of the Local Governments from the Federation Account, under the guise of having no democratically elected officials, which is obviously subject to the interpretation by the Federal Government.
“ The apex court has not only done incalculable injury to the Nigerian state, it has  lent itself to setting aside its precedent in the  hallowed judgment against the President Obasanjo administration withholding funds to the credit of Local Governments in Lagos State even when the Supreme Court agreed that the Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA) created by then Governor Tinubu were inchoate and fell short of constitutional requirements.
“ It is becoming stridently eloquent that with just over a year of its inauguration, the Tinubu government,  more than even the military administrations, is uncannily determined to unitarise the Nigerian Federation.
‘Part of the unitary package is the creation of the Ministry of Livestock Development which is the audacious euphemism for the re-introduction of Cattle Colony, RUGA and those other policies by which the Buhari administration sought to appropriate lands in the states contrary to the provisions of the Land Use Act and the Constitution which vest land in the state in the Governor in trust for the people.
“Afenifere insists that the way forward for Nigeria is not the confusing rudderless tinkering but holistic restructuring of the polity to re-enact the fundamental principles of true federalism as agreed by the founding fathers.
‘ This includes the fact that the Local Government system is an exclusive preserve of the states, either by direct constitutional provisions or residual powers in a federation.”

 

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