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Editorial

That Wike’s Bold Move Against Soot

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Following the painfully obvious failure of the Federal Government and its security agencies to rein in those behind illegal oil bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners in Rivers State, the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, lately declared war against operators of the crude oil refineries in the state.
The audacious action of the governor specifically aims at tackling the environmental threat induced by soot, emanating from the illegal refining of crude oil in parts of the state. Consequently, Wike directed the chairmen of councils to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites and shut them with immediate effect. The state Chief Executive made this declaration in his 2022 New Year address to the state.
Measures were outlined and effected to tackle the soot, which have been successful so far. The Rivers State Task Force on Illegal Street Trading has been executing hit-and-run raids on some illegal crude oil refining sites in Port Harcourt and arresting several persons. Again, many identified illegal crude oil refining spots and activities in the state have either been shut down or virtually destroyed.
Governor Wike had recently declared 19 persons wanted for operating illegal crude oil refining locations, directly responsible for soots prevalent in the state. Barely 24 hours after the declaration, the Rivers State Police Command officially announced that its operatives arrested and paraded 18 persons implicated in illegal oil refining activities in various parts of the state.
Recall that a report by a technical committee set up by the state government to investigate causes of soot in the state a few years ago disclosed that the soot was engendered by subversive activities of illegal refiners and the alleged complicity of security agents, among others. A reviewed report of Prof. Roseline Konya’s findings indicated that about 22,077 persons had suffered needlessly from respiratory-related ailments in the last five years.
Medical experts have associated the persistent soot in the state with rising cases of cancer and infertility. Their assertions were corroborated by a recent study published in the Journal of Health and Pollution titled: “Exposure to Heavy Metals in Soot Samples and Cancer Risk Assessment in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.” According to the researchers, the study was carried out to determine the presence and levels of heavy metals in soot along with a cancer risk assessment of heavy metals exposure in Port Harcourt.
A specialist and consultant surgeon at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Port Harcourt, Dr. Ibifuro Green, said about six million residents of Rivers State faced the risk of developing cancer of the lung and other respiratory problems, following the never-ending raining of cancerous hydrocarbon elements, commonly referred to as “black soot” on their environment. This startling revelation should be of genuine concern to all.
Meanwhile, the gloomy predictions by many health professionals are that if nothing is done urgently to halt the soot, many residents might experience chronic respiratory diseases, heart problems and an increase in mortality rate. This is becoming real as some persons, who have found it very difficult breathing while in Port Harcourt, have relocated to other places.
We commend the governor for listening to the cry of Rivers people by resolving to take on all crude oil thieves and refiners precipitately. While successes recorded in the war against oil thieves are acknowledged, we urge security agents to collaborate closely with council chairmen and traditional rulers to complement the governor’s efforts towards ending the public nuisance in their locations.
Rivers people cannot be their own implacable enemies. We must collectively fight this peril. The hazard we are faced with is becoming worrisome. Everyone who lives and does business in Rivers State should be solicitous about the soot and its effects. Time has come to end the impending catastrophe. It is necessary to know that the combined effect of soot and COVID-19 poses an existential threat to all residents of the state.
Those aiding and abetting illegal bunkering activities in different parts of the state who have been identified should be named, shamed and prosecuted, regardless of their political affiliations and status. Wike has shown that he is decisive and firm in prosecuting the fight, as a success in the war cannot afford favouritism. Residents must report shrewd operators of illegal crude oil refineries and other damnable activities to task forces set up at the state and local government levels for immediate action.
Furthermore, a strong institutional capacity for the judiciary is imperative. The Rivers State Assembly should exercise effective oversight, insist on the swift prosecution of offenders, and demand accountability from all recognised groups and institutions involved in the anti-soot crusade. Civil society organisations in the state should not give up but join the fray through unrelenting public engagements. There should be no cover-ups and sacred cows.
There is a need for the Federal Government to vigorously collaborate and assist the Rivers State Government in finding a lasting solution to this crisis. It is quite amazing why the federal authorities, whose security agencies have further complicated the soot situation by their collusion, have failed to take interest in ending this challenge. This is mainly the Federal Government’s business that requires a collective and inclusive solution as quickly as possible.

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Editorial

Democracy, Losing Its Relevance 

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Twenty five years of democracy in our country have unfortunately brought about a culture of insecurity due to various factors such as ethno-religious bigotry, power imbalances, institutional collapse, corruption, and economic decline. Despite the historic June 12, 1993 presidential election being hailed as the freest and fairest, the promises of hope and progress have not been fully realised. This raises the question of the necessity for Democracy Day and democracy in general.
Given the current challenging circumstances, Nigeria needs to build on its past successes and strive towards becoming a leading democratic nation. There is no time to waste, as the Human Development Index shows real room for improvement. The state of petroleum refining, which serves as the country’s main economic foundation, has declined rapidly and requires immediate action. Additionally, the unprecedented depreciation of the national currency must be addressed.
The escalation of corruption within the nation is a pressing issue that continues to worsen, especially with the blatant looting of state funds by politicians. The actions of various administrations have shown autocratic and draconian tendencies, often displaying a lack of accountability and respect for the rule of law. The authorities must address this growing problem and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
Nepotism and cronyism have become widespread, with individuals using their influence to secure competitive political positions for their family members. This practice goes against democratic principles and undermines the merit-based system. Additionally, there has been a rise in industrial actions, such as strikes initiated by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which further disrupt the democratic process.
It is time for Nigerians to shift their focus from lamenting to taking action towards progress. Nigeria is a country rich in potential and resources, and it is unacceptable for us to continue to be held back by the current state of affairs. Rather than dwelling on past mistakes, we must come together to reflect on our challenges and take decisive steps towards rebuilding a better future.
Furthermore, it is essential to understand the importance of June 12 in relation to leadership and utilise these lessons to accomplish our goals. One key takeaway is the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring fair and unbiased elections. INEC must view this responsibility as both a duty to the nation and a moral imperative.
Another valuable takeaway is that politicians must view their political positions as a service to the nation rather than a means for their advancement. It is critical for political participation to be approached with ethical and moral principles at the forefront, as it holds essential societal value.
June 12 serves as a reminder of the vital role leadership plays in making tough decisions that may not always align with personal beliefs. It highlights the need for courage and the ability to prioritise the greater good over personal interests. This lesson is particularly relevant for Nigeria’s current government and its officials, who must engage with the public and make decisions that benefit the country.
The lessons of June 12 are a reminder for all Nigerians, especially lawmakers, who have the duty to protect democracy. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from the core principles of democracy in Nigeria, with disrespect for the rule of law and judicial processes, blatant impunity, and a disregard for human rights and dignity. We must reflect on these lessons and work towards upholding democracy and the values it stands for.
Political leaders and public service managers have to provide the necessary tools for our lawmakers to rejuvenate democratic practices. Legislators need to be intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically prepared to succeed. They should demonstrate a strong understanding of democratic principles and values, a willingness to engage with constituents, and an openness to different perspectives to advance democracy.
We cannot overstate the importance of June 12, as it reveals the link between Nigeria’s present social, economic, and political challenges and the corrupt ruling class, as well as the indifferent middle class. As we commemorate Democracy Day today, we must empower ourselves to not only recognise but also utilise our power to decide and mold our future.
Nigerians should ensure that political aspirants go through genuine democratic processes to exercise their freedom. Citizens must be educated on their civic responsibility and mentor youths towards social engagement. The people should also hold local government administrators accountable for the purpose of implementing result-driven policies.
All must adopt an active role in government at all levels. Community leaders and young people can collaborate to organise peaceful protests, petitions, and marches when infrastructure is not up to par. Obtaining a voter card and participating in elections is required to prevent corrupt political figures from forcing unqualified candidates into office.
Civil society played a vital role in the struggle for rights during the military dictatorship, and their achievements should inspire us today. It is essential for the current generation to take up the mantle and strive for justice and equality. The media must act as a watchdog against tyranny and protect the public interest.
Youth are often the most let down group in society, and it is time to act. The #EndSARS protests demonstrated the determination, articulateness, and composure of young activists. Quitting is not an alternative – they must step up and take charge. They should draw inspiration from the courageous youth in South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, who continued their fight despite facing harsh repression from their governments.
There is a need for Nigerians to assert their rights and sovereignty through all legal means possible. Neglecting to do so will lead to a deterioration of the current situation and the eventual downfall of the state. We must uphold the ideals of June 12 as a representation of our democratic hopes and utilise it as a unifying factor for genuine national unity.

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Editorial

Fubara’s Scorecard: So Far, So Good 

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One of the primary issues that the federal and state governments have been facing recently is the increasing cost of living, mainly caused by the depreciation of the naira. This has resulted in financial difficulties for many Nigerians, leading to demands for the leaders to seek out new sources of revenue apart from oil. They need to be creative and adopt tactics that can enhance their revenue sources and ease the financial strain on their people.
However, the past year in Rivers State had been a whirlwind of events, with the government working diligently to bring happiness to the people. Governor Siminalayi Joseph Fubara has addressed numerous challenges despite the ongoing political crisis that presents a huge obstacle for the administration. This situation is worrisome and has the potential to shift any leader’s focus away from their goal of serving the people, no matter how well-intentioned.
Fubara believes that development is not just a matter of chance, but a conscious effort to address the needs of the people. Over the past year, he has initiated numerous development projects with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for residents. Since taking office on May 29, 2023, he has been proactive in realising his vision for the state. He is ensuring that his plans are carried out efficiently by appointing capable individuals to key positions.
His determination to bring his vision to life was clear when he presented a bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly for approval of his legacy project – the Port Harcourt Ring Road. The 50.15 km dual carriageway project, estimated to cost N200 billion, aims to connect six local government areas in the state. It will feature six flyovers, a river crossing bridge, and 19 rotary intersections and roundabouts, with the goal of fostering the development of new cities and easing traffic congestion in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
To celebrate his first year in office, the Rivers State Government set aside 20 days for a series of activities. The Governor inaugurated and launched 10 projects in various local government areas as part of the festivities. The event kicked off on May 14th with the inauguration of the Ebubu-Eteo (old Bori) Road, providing an alternative route to the Eleme axis of the East-West Road.
Several projects have been officially launched in Rivers State, including the Elele–Omoku Road, Emohua–Kalabari (Tema Junction) Road, Okania–Ogbogoro Road, and Trans-Kalabari Road Phase II. Projects that have been commissioned include the Ogoni–Andoni–Opobo Unity Road (Andoni Section), Egbeda internal roads, Phase I of the Port Harcourt Electrical Village and the flag-off of its Phase II, as well as the dualised Omoku–Egbema Road. These projects are focused on enhancing infrastructure and connectivity in the state, offering improved transportation options for residents and driving economic development.
An economic summit was organised in the state to boost internal revenue, attract investors, and create employment opportunities for the youth. Beyond improving infrastructure, there is a focus on revitalising the civil service, and hiring 10,000 new employees. The government has allocated N4 billion to support businesses in the nano sector and small and medium enterprises, providing funding ranging from N400,000 to N10 million each. This initiative is being carried out through the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency and Nigeria’s Bank of Industry for technical support.
Another vital achievement that sets His Excellency Fubara apart is the astronomical increase in the monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state since May 29, 2023. The administration has successfully raised the IGR from N12 billion to N27 billion monthly, representing an increase of over 100 per cent. This impressive growth trajectory suggests that the annual IGR is on track to reach N324 billion.
Before His Excellency, Sir Fubara, assumed office as governor in May 2023, the annual IGR of Rivers State in 2022 was N172.8 billion, with an average monthly IGR of N14.4 billion, as reported by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In 2021, the state’s annual IGR was N123.3 billion, averaging N10.3 billion per month. The IGR was N117.2 billion in 2020 and N169.6 billion in 2019.
Notwithstanding the numerous challenges, the Governor has made considerable progress in education by implementing innovative measures in schools and providing a new convocation arena for the University of Port Harcourt. He has also shown commitment to the welfare of the people by providing free buses to offset the effects of fuel subsidy removal.
Local government employees have received their promotions, minimum wage, and wage bonuses. Fubara’s timely visit to the state secretariat complex underscores his dedication to public service as a crucial element in government operations. The complex, currently undergoing renovations, now boasts functional elevators, lighting, and water supply. Despite the huge debts left by the last administration, the Governor has assured that he would complete all projects that benefit the people, which were initiated by previous administrations.
The accomplishments achieved by the present government in just one year of rule are unparalleled. The rapid progress in infrastructure development within such a short period is a clear indication of his capability, despite various attempts to derail his efforts. Fubara recently informed Rivers people that true governance only commenced three months ago, when he decided to confront his predecessor’s challenges head-on.
Undoubtedly, the Governor’s leadership embodies qualities such as patience, wisdom and a commitment to peace, essential for conflict resolution and unity in Rivers. Under his guidance, there is hope for a future, marked by progress and prosperity, devoid of discord and division. As we mark this critical milestone, we implore all to prioritise peace, forgiveness and inclusiveness.

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Editorial

Fubara’s Scorecard: So Far, So Good 

Published

on

One of the primary issues that the federal and state governments have been facing recently is the increasing cost of living, mainly caused by the depreciation of the naira. This has resulted in financial difficulties for many Nigerians, leading to demands for the leaders to seek out new sources of revenue apart from oil. They need to be creative and adopt tactics that can enhance their revenue sources and ease the financial strain on their people.
However, the past year in Rivers State had been a whirlwind of events, with the government working diligently to bring happiness to the people. Governor Siminalayi Joseph Fubara has addressed numerous challenges despite the ongoing political crisis that presents a huge obstacle for the administration. This situation is worrisome and has the potential to shift any leader’s focus away from their goal of serving the people, no matter how well-intentioned.
Fubara believes that development is not just a matter of chance, but a conscious effort to address the needs of the people. Over the past year, he has initiated numerous development projects with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for residents. Since taking office on May 29, 2023, he has been proactive in realising his vision for the state. He is ensuring that his plans are carried out efficiently by appointing capable individuals to key positions.
His determination to bring his vision to life was clear when he presented a bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly for approval of his legacy project – the Port Harcourt Ring Road. The 50.15 km dual carriageway project, estimated to cost N200 billion, aims to connect six local government areas in the state. It will feature six flyovers, a river crossing bridge, and 19 rotary intersections and roundabouts, with the goal of fostering the development of new cities and easing traffic congestion in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
To celebrate his first year in office, the Rivers State Government set aside 20 days for a series of activities. The Governor inaugurated and launched 10 projects in various local government areas as part of the festivities. The event kicked off on May 14th with the inauguration of the Ebubu-Eteo (old Bori) Road, providing an alternative route to the Eleme axis of the East-West Road.
Several projects have been officially launched in Rivers State, including the Elele–Omoku Road, Emohua–Kalabari (Tema Junction) Road, Okania–Ogbogoro Road, and Trans-Kalabari Road Phase II. Projects that have been commissioned include the Ogoni–Andoni–Opobo Unity Road (Andoni Section), Egbeda internal roads, Phase I of the Port Harcourt Electrical Village and the flag-off of its Phase II, as well as the dualised Omoku–Egbema Road. These projects are focused on enhancing infrastructure and connectivity in the state, offering improved transportation options for residents and driving economic development.
An economic summit was organised in the state to boost internal revenue, attract investors, and create employment opportunities for the youth. Beyond improving infrastructure, there is a focus on revitalising the civil service, and hiring 10,000 new employees. The government has allocated N4 billion to support businesses in the nano sector and small and medium enterprises, providing funding ranging from N400,000 to N10 million each. This initiative is being carried out through the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency and Nigeria’s Bank of Industry for technical support.
Another vital achievement that sets His Excellency Fubara apart is the astronomical increase in the monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state since May 29, 2023. The administration has successfully raised the IGR from N12 billion to N27 billion monthly, representing an increase of over 100 per cent. This impressive growth trajectory suggests that the annual IGR is on track to reach N324 billion.
Before His Excellency, Sir Fubara, assumed office as governor in May 2023, the annual IGR of Rivers State in 2022 was N172.8 billion, with an average monthly IGR of N14.4 billion, as reported by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In 2021, the state’s annual IGR was N123.3 billion, averaging N10.3 billion per month. The IGR was N117.2 billion in 2020 and N169.6 billion in 2019.
Notwithstanding the numerous challenges, the Governor has made considerable progress in education by implementing innovative measures in schools and providing a new convocation arena for the University of Port Harcourt. He has also shown commitment to the welfare of the people by providing free buses to offset the effects of fuel subsidy removal.
Local government employees have received their promotions, minimum wage, and wage bonuses. Fubara’s timely visit to the state secretariat complex underscores his dedication to public service as a crucial element in government operations. The complex, currently undergoing renovations, now boasts functional elevators, lighting, and water supply. Despite the huge debts left by the last administration, the Governor has assured that he would complete all projects that benefit the people, which were initiated by previous administrations.
The accomplishments achieved by the present government in just one year of rule are unparalleled. The rapid progress in infrastructure development within such a short period is a clear indication of his capability, despite various attempts to derail his efforts. Fubara recently informed Rivers people that true governance only commenced three months ago, when he decided to confront his predecessor’s challenges head-on.
Undoubtedly, the Governor’s leadership embodies qualities such as patience, wisdom and a commitment to peace, essential for conflict resolution and unity in Rivers. Under his guidance, there is hope for a future, marked by progress and prosperity, devoid of discord and division. As we mark this critical milestone, we implore all to prioritise peace, forgiveness and inclusiveness.

Continue Reading

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