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Delta Govt Yet To Access N150bn Bridging Finance-Okowa

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Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa , yesterday said the state government has not accessed its N150 billion bridging finance.
The governor disclosed this while speaking to newsmen shortly after inspecting ongoing works at the Koka flyover bridge and interchange in Asaba.
He said that the funds had not reached the state government because the Federal Government has not commenced remittances to the state, contrary to the agreement.
Okowa said that the Koka flyover bridge is among the projects that the bridging finance was meant to cover.
He said, “when the money is available, we will be able to use it to upscale these projects.
“The bridging finance is actually a finance that we already have a source of repayment.
“Rather than allow the depreciation of the Naira or the extension of time at work create a cost escalation for us, our intention is to take a bridging finance and then pay back from the monies that the Federal Government owes us.
“But as at today, we have not even accessed the bridging finance because the repayment plan from the Federal Government, which is supposed to have started by January has not commenced; they have not made any remittances to the state.
“Some states have taken a part of their own bridging finance because we are not the only state involved. But for us, we intend to wait until the refund process starts before accessing the bridging finance.
“So, we have not yet accessed that bridging finance at the moment but we have got the approval of the House of Assembly.
“I hear that some of our brothers who don’t even understand governance, have tried to critique the situation but unfortunately, when some people don’t understand what is in government and how you can save funds for the people, they could talk politics and criticise.
“But I am very confident that whatever we are about to do, we are doing it in the best interest of the state; we are trying to save money for the state, we are trying to save situations where you have cost overrun and cost escalations.
“We do hope that as soon as the first set of refunds come from  the Federal Government, we would be able to access the bridging finance to be able to scale up the speed of the major projects that we have as listed before the House of Assembly and utilise the money for some other sources.
“But as at today, we are still coping and we hope that very soon the Federal Government will start the process of refund and we will be in a position to ensure that we speed up all the projects we have”.
The governor explained that a slowdown and depreciation of the naira could be a major disaster because the bridging finance was meant to be a cost saving measure for the state.
On the Koka flyover project, he expressed optimism that the project would be completed in December, 2022.
“I can actually see that work is on schedule and they have gone very far from the briefing that I received from the Commissioner for Works.
“You know that when we came in last, they told me that they would try and finish it in February, next year, but I put a lot of pressure and insisted that we wanted it completed this year.
“The information I received is that they are still working very hard to ensure that they finish the project by the middle of December.
“From what we can see, the super structure of the bridge is already on and a lot of work is being done and by October, it is expected that this would have finished completely.
“And, the work to provide the full interchange with the road network under would also be started in due course. They have promised that they are right on time and that they would be finishing before that end of the year.
“I am quite excited at this because it’s quite important to us. More so, when we are anticipating that the sector C2 of the Ughelli-Asaba road would be completed about the same time.
“If there is free flow of traffic coming from Ogwashi-ukwu end to this place on a dual carriage way, it is important that we also have this completed about the same time.
“We don’t want a clogging of traffic and it appears everything is going on as planned so I am quite happy with the pace of work,” Okowa said.

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Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.

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RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku

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The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.

John Bibor

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Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading

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The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”

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