After 150 years of its existence, the ancient Opobo Kingdom, an island in Rivers State, can now be accessed by road, following the inauguration of a section of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The mood in the ancient and historic Kingdom of King Jaja of Opobo, last Saturday, was euphoric, as ecstatic crowd thronged the road and cheered the governor for connecting the island by road to the mainland of the state.
Wike, while addressing the electric crowd of Opobo, Nkoro, Ogoni, and Andoni indigenes at Opobo New Layout, said the completion of the road and its inauguration, was a dream come true for the people of the area and his administration.
Wike said he feels happy to have fulfilled his 2014 campaign promise to Opobo people.
He expressed appreciation to the administration of Dr. Peter Odili for conceiving the Unity Road project.
According to Wike, without the foresight of Odili, it would have been difficult for his administration to complete the Opobo axis of the Ogoni-Opobo-Andoni Unity Road.
The governor directed his special adviser on special projects to liaise with the King and leaders of Opobo on where they desire a new land to be sand-filled and reclaimed for them by the state government.
Wike also urged the surveyor general of the state to commence the process of land mapping and survey of the already sand-filled land in the area to enable Opobo people to begin allocation of spaces among themselves.
Speaking about the erosion menace in Queen’s Town, Wike reminded Opobo people of the N3. 1billion contract that was awarded when one of their sons was the commissioner for works to solve that problem.
The governor said, unfortunately, the company that was awarded the contract disappeared after it got N2billion mobilisation fee paid to it.
Wike said it was baffling that their son could frustrate such development project attracted to the area, which would have solved the erosion menace, and end the threat of Queen’s Town being washed away.
“Sometimes, you wrote to me about the erosion in Queen’s Town. I told the Amayanabo the other day that the job was awarded when your son was commissioner for works.
“It was awarded to the tune of N3.1bilion. The company collected N2billion, and it ran away from site. Amayanabo of Opobo, go and ask your son: who is that company that collected the money and refused to do the Queen’s Town shore protection?”
He said every Nigerian needs to come to terms with the reality that they were better off living together in a united Nigeria than otherwise.
The governor, who reflected on the rich diversity, resources and the reason why God has put every part of the country together in a geographic space called Nigeria, said Nigerians must learn to live in unity.
Performing the inauguration, the former Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources as well as Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, expressed gratitude to Wike for solving critical needs of the Opobo people.
He observed how excited the people were to have a road to drive on to connect the island to the rest of the state, adding that Wike has brought humanity to governance.
The former minister stressed that it was pertinent for Nigeria to remain united so that the Opobo Road would continue to be in the country.
Waziri also declared that Wike was an uncommon governor who was providing Nigeria an indispensable ingredient of democracy that would promote nation-building.
“Yobe has remained in opposition since 1999. All attempts to silence us have failed. In Nigeria also, all attempts to silence opposition will fail under the banner of Governor Wike.
“There are certain dividends (respects) that ordinarily have come to Governor Wike because he has earned them. But Governor Wike is not a governor for Rivers alone. He is an uncommon governor in PDP.
“He is giving the Nigeria polity the indispensable ingredient of democracy. And that is, for democracy to thrive, to be useful, for it to flourish, democracy must promote nation-building.
In his remarks, the Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas-Jaja, said the people of his kingdom would remain eternally grateful to the governor for the humanity he has brought to governance.
He passionately appealed to the governor to initiate another land reclamation project in Opobo.
Also speaking, the Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the road was entirely built through mangroves and swamps.
“It is 11.15km long, 7.3m wide with a 1.5m wide shoulder on either side. From the start point at Nkoro/Opobo junction to this point where we are now gathered, you will cross 18 culverts of varying dimensions, and 5 bridges of varying lengths, the shortest being 34m.
“Due to terrain peculiarities, we have an average fill height of 4m, the least fill height being 2m, a height that qualifies me as a short man, and some fill heights as much as 8m high, taller than a storey building. It has two layers of Asphalt, a binder course of 6cm and a wearing course of 4cm. All together 10cm.”
The works commissioner further said that “with the commissioning of the 11.15km-Opobo Road on the Opobo axis of the 43km Ogoni, Andoni, Opobo Unity Road, the Kingdom of Opobo has lost its island status”.
PH Law School Campus Ready For Commissioning …As Wike Hands Over C Of O To Ngige …Says Institution’ll Be Self-Sustaining
To achieve that mandate, Wike, last Monday, handed over the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of adjoining property to the campus acquired by the Rivers State Government to the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN.
The presentation was made when Wike conducted the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, together with the Director General of Nigeria Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN, and other dignitaries round structures within the law campus that were completed and ready for formal handover.
Wike said the acquisition of the adjoining property to the campus would enable the operators of the campus to use them for sundry commercial and revenue generating activities in order to meet the financial needs of the law school in Port Harcourt.
“We are using this opportunity to present the Certificate of Occupancy of the property we have acquired and paid for by the Rivers State Government for the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas, Port Harcourt Campus to you (chairman).
“We are giving the property to you for the purpose of making some revenue to run this campus. Whatever revenue derived is to be utilised for this campus alone.
“Very soon, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Director General will meet to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It will ensure that you won’t take revenue from here to subsidise for other campuses. Any money you make here; put it here in this campus.”
Wike also told them that with the construction work on all the structures in the campus now completed, the state government awaits the Council of Legal Education to choose a date when they desire the campus to be formally handed over to them.
In his response, Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, noted that they were on inspection of the facility, and were amazed at what they have seen.
“17th July, 2021 was when we came for the foundation laying ceremony, and the governor promised that this project will be delivered in one-year. Behold, today is June 27th, not up to July yet, and he had delivered.
“Recall that when we were doing the ground breaking ceremony, the governor promised that every month, he will give this campus N10million for four years, and will be given in advance, that is about N480million to run this institution.
“When I learnt that he had acquired adjoining property: houses, shopping malls and other business facilities for the law school to rent out to raise revenue to run this institution, I can tell you, it is unparalleled,” Ngige said.
On his part, the Director General of Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, described the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt as the best and mother of all law campuses in Nigeria.
“On behalf of the council, we are very grateful for a promise made and promise kept. This is the turning point in the history of legal education in Nigeria”, Chiroma said.
During the inspection of the lecturers’ quarters in New Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onueze C. J. Okocha, SAN, said Wike was a performer, who keeps promises and has delivered the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Port Harcourt Campus that was tastefully constructed and furnished before the record time he set for himself.
Also speaking, another former President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN, noted that Wike had done this to show that he was a lover of democracy and for promotion of the judicial system in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, described the project as historic and iconic because there was nothing like it across the country.
He said Wike has provided it as a commitment to advancing legal education in the country.
Again, INEC Extends CVR For Nigerians …Warns Against Political Campaigns
This is even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaigns.
The commission made this position known in a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement read: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, (Thursday, 30th June, 2022) and deliberated on a number of issues, including the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents and the commencement of the Uploading of the List and Personal Particulars of Governorship and State Assembly Candidates.
“The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will continue nationwide, and all the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers have been directed to continue with the exercise pending further directives from the commission.
“The commission has consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services commission has yet again deployed additional machines to areas of pressure and will continue to serve the people of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the case at the Federal High Court relating to the terminal date of the CVR came up yesterday Wednesday, 29th June, 2022, and based on the request of the Commission, the Court granted an accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter to Monday 4th July 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week.
“The Commission has been inundated with applications for CTCs of various documents. So far, 186 requests for CTCs, some running into hundreds of pages, have been processed. The Commission is working round the clock, including weekends, to attend to all such requests. We wish to assure political parties, aspirants, candidates, and all applicants for CTCs of documents that their applications will be treated expeditiously and will be issued in earnest.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission, Political Parties that conducted valid Governorship and State Assembly primaries shall upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates between 1st and 15th July, 2022.
“We urge political parties to scrutinise the list and personal particulars of the candidates they propose to sponsor at the election to avoid any mix-up and duplication of names. Political parties are advised not to wait until the last day before uploading the list and personal particulars of their candidates.
“The Candidates Nomination Portal will shut down at 6pm on 15th July, 2022. Political parties that have challenges with uploading documents should contact the commission’s Help – Desk, through the dedicated telephone lines or contact the candidate nomination centre at the commission’s headquarters”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaign.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kano State INEC, Risqua Shehu, issued the warning at a press conference in his office in Kano, yesterday, saying that that any political party that was found wanting in this regard would face the law.
Risqua, a professor, reminded the political parties that doing such was against the dictates of the Electoral Act, which has since set forth a time frame for campaigns for the governorship and presidential elections.
“The commission monitors and would need to establish full proof cases and then allow prosecution to take place. We do not prosecute, but we gather evidences against any defaulting political party and I assure you that that would be done”, he stated.
While applauding the upsurge in the number of registrants in the state, he, however, lamented the huge cases of illegal and double registrations, saying that over 40percent of registrants in Kano State were found to have registered before.
Risqua explained that INEC has been making concerted efforts to educate the people that the PVCs issued by the commission do not expire; hence there was no need for anybody to register twice.
He cautioned that, “When one is found guilty, he is liable to a fine or an imprisonment or both. There is a provision for a fine of N100, 000 or one year imprisonment or both.
“But at the moment, I am not in the position to establish what the commission would do to those with double registration, considering the huge number of offenders across the country”, he said.
“The beautiful thing is this. We have made adequate arrangements in our robust system to be able to identify and eliminate all those who have registered twice and cancel their new registration and retain only the old information that is there. That is what the commission is doing now”.
While appreciating all stakeholders that have been sensitising and supporting eligible Nigerians on the registration exercise, he stressed that under no condition should any individual, cyber -café, civil society or group extort or collect money from any registrant for that exercise.
Reps Plan Separate Contributory Pension Scheme For NASS
The House is to create a separate body to administer matters relating to pensions for workers in the federal parliament.
At the plenary, yesterday, the House passed for second reading, the legislation titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board.’
Chairman of the House Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Hon Olododo Cook, who sponsored the bill, said the proposal was to exempt the personnel of the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme and to establish a National Assembly Service Pensions Board “to be charged with the responsibility of administering the pension scheme for personnel of the service.”
Cook stated, “This bill is in consequence of the exit of the service from the application of the contributory pension scheme under the Pensions Reform Act, 2014.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 5(1)(a) of the Act by inserting the words ‘the National Assembly service’ to read thus: “The categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension are (a) the categories of persons mentioned in Section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), members of the intelligence community and the National Assembly service personnel.”
Clause 2(1) of the bill also proposes that, “There is established a pension board which shall be charged with the responsibility of managing payment of pensions and gratuities to all personnel of the service.
“Application of the bill to personnel who retired before the commencement of this bill: (2) This bill shall apply to all personnel of the service, including those who had retired before the commencement of this bill. (3) The retirement benefits of personnel referred to in Subsection (2) above shall be adjusted to be commensurate with the provisions of this bill.”
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