The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has within the last six years in office demonstrated clearly that he is a man with vision, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has said.
Nsirim said this while speaking, last Tuesday, on a live radio programme about the upcoming commissioning of 16 legacy projects and the flay-off of 23 others to mark the two years’ second term in office of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The commissioner reiterated that before Wike assumed office as governor, he envisioned what is called the NEW Rivers Vision.
He, therefore, called on Rivers people and professional bodies to support the state government in its efforts to fully implement the vision’s blueprint for the benefit of all Rivers people.
“And that NEW Rivers Vision blueprint encompasses what he wanted Rivers State to look like in terms of healthcare delivery, education, agriculture, women empowerment, sports, security, etc.
“If you look at these major sectors of Rivers State economy, you will find that Nyesom Wike’s touch has redefined governance in such a way that even those who are in position gladly accept that he has made a mark.
“Let’s take, for instance, healthcare delivery: if you recall, before this time, all the health facilities in the state were moribund. For now, as we speak, all the health centres, general hospitals in all the local government areas have been rehabilitated and equipped”.
According to Nsirim, the state now has five zonal hospitals; the former Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital has also been converted and equipped to a teaching hospital for the Rivers State University by the Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration.
“If you come to education, we had a situation where facilities were broken down, and you begin now to see the Nyesom Wike’s touch making the difference.
“I give you a few examples: if you go to Government Secondary School, Rumuokwuta; Birabi Grammar School, Bori; Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema; Kalabari Girls’ High School, Buguma; Government Craft Development Centre; left to die, have been rehabilitated and are now looking like polytechnics people have in some other parts of the country.
“Also, primary schools have been rehabilitated and equipped. So, you have the education sector in Rivers State bubbling with the state government bearing the cost of SSCE and JAMB fees for Rivers State students. It has never happened before in this state. This is because the man Wike has come to ensure that education is brought closer to the people.
“If you come to agriculture, we have what we call agricultural revolution, which will kick-off with the inauguration of the State Cassava Processing Company at Oyigbo on Thursday.
“That plant is a demonstration of the kind of agricultural revolution we are talking about because the company has facilities to get to the farmers, get the cassava and transport it to the plant. Already, we have 3,000 uptakers for that project. It is something novel.”
Speaking on road infrastructure development, Nsirim said Rivers State has witnessed what could be called an infrastructural revolution.
“Those who know Port Harcourt, the city centre right now, will miss their way when they come into Port Harcourt because of what Governor Nyesom Wike is doing.
“When he said he was building the first three flyovers, a lot of people thought it was a mere political rhetoric. How can you build three flyovers at the same time? But, of course, you can see that all those flyovers have been completed, and six more are being built across the city centre, and when people see the flyovers, they say: why is this man doing this? But I call Governor Wike a man who is building infrastructure for tomorrow.
“Rivers State remains the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry in Nigeria. Just a few days ago, NLNG commissioned its corporate headquarters here. Train 7 of NLNG will soon take off. Now, if you see the influx of people who come into Port Harcourt because of the economic viability of this state, you will understand that building that kind of road infrastructure here is something that we all will cherish in years to come.
“People forget things in a hurry. Before Nyesom Wike came in, a road like Elelenwo/Akpajo Road now Justice Iche Ndu Road was impassable. Garrison/Trans-Amadi Road was impassable. There was no connection between Peter Odili Road and Woji. But now, travelling on those roads no longer takes hours because Wike has come to create a new network of roads.
“Today, we have for the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality, the Saakpenwa-Bori Road, which became something that politicians used over the years to lure them for support. Today, Wike has broken the jinx by building a dual carriageway with streetlights.
“For the people of Abonnema, I am sure that they never envisioned that they will have a Ring Road. You need to visit Abonnema now, a city that used to have one narrow road within.
“Are we talking about roads for the people of Sira and Kira? Are we talking about road for the people of Ibaa and Obele, Isiokpo people, Emohua people or the 21-kilometre road that will be commissioned for the people of Odufor/Omuoyo in Etche, who had never had a motorable road? Or is it the road to be commissioned for the people of Umueze/Umogberi/Eberi in Omuma, and the riverine people of Opobo during this anniversary celebration?
“So, we have a governor, who is investing in infrastructure development because, if you have the right infrastructure in place, then, you can be sure that economic activities will thrive. Without the right infrastructure, economic activities will not thrive.
“If you come to sports development, Real Madrid Academy has become a major talking point in Nigeria. When the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, came to commission the Real Madrid Academy, he said clearly that Nyesom Wike is a man who is thinking ahead, that in fact, the Federal Government will copy from what he is doing here. We are believing that in the next few years, children from the academy will not only play football abroad but will also be equipped academically.”
He described Wike as a master strategist who is fully prepared to change the narrative with a developmental agenda to set new records.
He advised the opposition to stop demarketing the state with claims of non-existing level of insecurity when the Federal Government has failed to deliver on its promises.
“We must stop painting the state black simply because we want to score cheap political point. When we do that, we drive away investors unnecessarily,” he said.
He dismissed claims by detractors, adding that “Rivers State is safe. There is no part of the world where you will not find security challenges and the pockets of criminal incidents being used to paint Rivers State as insecure. The commissioning of the NLNG headquarters alone proves that, indeed, Rivers State is safe.
“As a commissioner for information and communications, I am proud to be associated with Wike’s government because I have seen that he is committed to leave Rivers State better than he met it,” he said.
2023: Opobo/Nkoro Agog As Thousands Join PDP
It was celebration galore in Opobo Town, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State as thousands of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and National Conscience Party (NCP), among others, joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking while receiving the decampee, yesterday, in Opobo Town, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb Desmond Akawor, described their action as wise decision, assuring them of their safety and support.
Akawor, who was represented at the colourful event by his Deputy, Chukwuemeka Aaron, urged the defectors to remain calm as the PDP, the only development-oriented political party, believes in equity, unity, fair play and justice in Nigeria, saying that the party was poised to build better transformational governance that would be a beneficial to all Rivers people.
He said that it was shameful for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subject Nigerians to poverty, bad governance, sufferings and hardship, and described the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as a ruined government with clear negative agenda that lacked quality governance for the well-being of the people.
On the 2023 general election, Akawor enjoined the defectors to join forces with the PDP to chase out APC for good by remaining loyal and supportive towards PDP victory at the polls both in the state and at the federal level.
Akawor warned that any attempt to rig the votes in the 2023 elections would create more hunger, stagnation, poverty and death in the land.
Responding, a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and decampee in the area, Dr. Promise Diri pledged to ensure the victory of Amaopusenibo Siminialayi Fubara as successor to Governor Nyesom Wike and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as president in 2023, among other PDP Candidates, describing the emergence of the duo of Fubara and Atiku as God’s divine order for Rivers State and Nigeria.
Others who spoke to The Tide, described PDP as the largest development-minded political party in Nigeria, and thanked Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike, and the entire PDP family for giving the governorship ticket to Opobo son.
They assured of 100 percent victory of Fubara and other candidates of the party come 2023 polls both in Rivers State.
Also speaking, Chief Ibiwari Jeremiah, said he was happy for the party whose transform agenda for the past seven years has remained remarkable, and pledged to woo more supporters for the PDP in next year’s election.
In her remarks, one of the decampee, Madam Matilda Jaja, commended Governor Nyesom Wike’s leadership qualities and charisma ,which she said, helped produce quality services in all the hooks and crannies of the state, and stressed that she would use her capacity to mobilise for votes in 2023 for PDP, adding that victory was sure in 2023 for the party’s candidates in the elections.
By: Bethel Toby
Reps Probe 12-Year Remittances, Withdrawals From Ecological Fund
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate remittances to the Ecological Fund and withdrawals from the account between 2010 and 2022, alleging mismanagement of funds by the beneficiaries.
Particularly, the House mandated its Committee on Ecological Fund to “investigate the total consolidated mandatory accruals into the Ecological Fund from 2010 to March, 2022,” adding that the committee should equally “evaluate the disbursement of the Ecological Fund in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution from 2010 to March, 2022.”
The committee is also to “investigate the utilisation of the Ecological Fund by benefiting government’s departments and agencies (MDAs) from 2010 to March, 2022 and establish infractions (if any).”
To establish these facts, the House asked the committee to conduct public hearings with all the major stakeholders on the effective and efficient utilisation of the Ecological Fund and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by a member of the House, Femi Bamisile, titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Total Consolidation Accrual and Utilisation of Ecological Fund.’
Bamisile, while in the motion, noted the existence of the Ecological Fund as an intervention fund set up by the Federal Government to address multifarious ecological challenges across the country.
He also noted that the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation, the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) receive funds through the Federal Allocation Committee as shares from the Ecological Fund.
The lawmaker stressed that apart from the annual statutory appropriations, four agencies of the Federal Government draw funds from the one per cent share of the Federal Government allocated to Ecology and Derivation Fund, according to their respective enabling laws.
Bamisile stated that the National Emergency Management Agency, by virtue of Section 13(2) (b) of its Act, draws 20per cent; National Agency for the Great Green Wall, by virtue of Section 12 (2) (b) of its Act, draws 15per cent; the North East Development Commission, by virtue of Section 14(12) (b) of its Act, draws 10 per cent; and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, by virtue of Section 18 (2) (a) of its Act, draws 10per cent.
He said, “The House is worried that efforts at making beneficiaries of the Ecological Fund accountable for their accrued shared funds in the last few years have been ignored. Sections 88 and 89 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigation and power as to matters of evidence.”
Organ Harvesting Charges UK Court Denies Ekweremadu, Wife Bail
A magistrate’s court in London has denied bail to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, over charges that they trafficked a 15-year-old Lagos boy with the intention to harvest his organ.
The arrest was announced by the London Metropolitan Police, yesterday, with officials saying that the couple would be charged promptly before a court in Uxbridge.
Ekweremadu appeared before a magistrate, yesterday afternoon, and was denied bail.
The case was subsequently adjourned until July 7, after the child involved was identified as a homeless 15-year-old from Lagos.
However, details of the alleged offence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, were unveiled, yesterday, as they were accused of plotting to traffic a homeless child from Lagos into the UK to harvest his organs.
The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 on him at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.
Ekweremadu, and accountant wife, Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court, yesterday.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: “It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old.
“They (the couple), were interviewed at the police station. Both of the defendants have provided a prepared statement.
“Mr Ekweremadu, in his prepared statement, denied allegations of human trafficking.
“He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with intention to exploit them.”
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Counsel to Ekweremadu, Gavin Irwin, said: “There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
“He has previously held an even more senior role as deputy president of the Senate.
“He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is a principal in a law firm that bears his name.
“Those issues taken together go way beyond him being a person of good character…rather that he has led a blameless life as a public servant.”
Irwin added that the allegations were “nothing short of preposterous”.
Also speaking, Counsel for Mrs Ekweremadu, Antonia Gray, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person.
“She is a financial accountant with an unblemished record.”
The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.
The prosecutor made an application to adjourn the matters for 14 days.
Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences, Attorney General’s consent is required and the Crown requires 14 days for that to be obtained.”
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until July 7, back here at Uxbridge.”
Ms Sheard remanded both defendants into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court”.
The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.
Mr Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in Abuja since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor, and also a major public figure in Nigeria.
They are believed to have four adult children.
The Metropolitan Police has said that the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot, is in care.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for, at least, the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around 10 days ago.
He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured gift – a copy of the Magna Carter. It was created in 1215, about 807 years ago”.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022, the force said.
Spokesman for Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, confirmed that his principal had been held in the UK.
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