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2023 Budget: State House Gets Nearly 50% Cut

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The State House 2023 budget proposal of N21.1billion is comparatively lower than the 2022 appropriation of N40.1billion by 47.2per cent, the Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar, explained yesterday, in Abuja.
The permanent secretary led other top management staff of the State House to defend the 2023 budget proposals before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs.
In his submission, which also included details of the 2022 budget performance, Umar noted that there was a marginal decrease in the personnel cost due to the anticipated retirement of 40 staff in 2023.
He added that the recurrent expenditure levels in the various cost centres have been maintained except for marginal increases in the Office of the President, Vice President and the Chief of Staff to the President.
On capital expenditure for 2023, the permanent secretary explained that the major areas of expenditure in the State House under capital appropriation include the annual routine maintenance of the facilities in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and the State House Complex, Lagos; the purchase of operating motor vehicles, State House Clinic and the proposed National Centre for Coordination for Early Warning and Response Mechanism (NCCRM) in the office of the Vice President for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience (OSPRE).
The facilities in Abuja and Lagos include but are not limited to buildings and infrastructure in the President’s and Vice President’s residences, Offices, State House Auditorium, State House Gymnasium, Presidential Banquet Hall, Council Chamber, State House Conference Centre, Presidential and Ministerial Airport Chalets and Airport Lounge in Abuja as well as State House, Dodan Barracks Complex in Lagos.
Noting that commitment to these facilities takes 65per cent of the total appropriation, Umar noted that in order to keep them in optimal working condition, the sum of N7.20billion has been proposed for the year 2023 as against N7.76billion in 2022.
“Closely following this, is the dire and urgent need for the complete replacement and upgrading of the communication/telephony system and electronic visitors record management in the Presidential Villa”, he said, adding that N150million has been proposed for the completion of the telecommunications infrastructure in 2023.
On the facilities and buildings in the Lagos Liaison Office Complex and Guest Houses, the permanent secretary told the committee that “they are old and require not only maintenance but renovation and renewal.”
He, therefore, expressed concern that the provision of N59million for maintenance of the State House Lagos Complex and Guest Houses was inadequate, saying that an estimated sum of N644million would be required to upgrade the facilities.
On the purchase of operating motor vehicles and following discussions with the Budget Office of the Federation, the permanent secretary said N1.96billion has been proposed under the phased replacement of vehicles in the Presidential Ground Fleet and those in the Conference Coordination Unit (CCU).
“It is noteworthy that most of the vehicles being proposed for replacement were procured more than 10 years ago and have since exceeded their useful economic lives.
“This has resulted in frequent breakdowns and an unsustainable expenditure on repairs/replacements of parts”, he said, adding that the released amount of N800million was inadequate to procure the required numbers that need to be replaced partly because some of the vehicles are treated and very expensive.
On the State House Clinic, Umar thanked the committee members for their support in getting the Presidential/VIP Wing of the State House Clinic off the ground, expressing delight that the project which was flagged off on November 1, 2021 is at an advanced stage of completion.
“This level of progress was attained given the full support of Mr President and the assistance of key stakeholders especially this distinguished committee which has appropriated funds needed with the backing of and support of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning”.
He said the project, which is 80per cent completed, would be delivered by the end of December 2022 or latest during the 1st quarter of 2023.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, the Chairman, Senator Abba Moro, before adjourning the meeting sine die, said:”I am not unmindful that the State House is the hub of the government and everything radiates from there. We would do the needful and if there is a need for us to see you again, we will invite you. But so far with what has been discussed and presented to us, we will be able to do the needful to the satisfaction of all.”

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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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