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2023: Wike Presents N550.6bn Budget To Assembly … Capital Expenditure To Gulp N350, 977,495,537.00 … To Spend N73.460bn On MDAs’ Salaries N7.758bn On New Recruits … N33.6bn On Monthly Pensions N12bn On Gratuities, Death Benefits

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has presented the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly for consideration.
The governor, who christened the 2023 appropriation bill, ‘Budget of Consolidation and Continuity’, said it comprises capital and recurrent expenditure of N550, 666,987,238.00 for the fiscal year 2023.
Presenting the budget before the state lawmakers, yesterday in Port Harcourt, Wike explained that his administration has projected the sum of  350,977,495,537.00 as Capital Expenditure for the fiscal year 2023.
“This amount represents about 63.2percent of the total budget and conforms to our practice of prioritising capital expenditures over recurrent.”
Under capital expenditure, Wike said the state would spend N114,264,480,208 on infrastructure, N36,999,486,717 specifically on education and N31,500,002,023 on health.
“Accordingly, the sum of N114,264,480,208 is provided in the 2023 capital budget estimate to fund the completion of all ongoing roads and other physical infrastructural projects awarded by our administration.”
In the 2023 budget proposal, Wike said his administration has also proposed a Recurrent Expenditure of N175,249,692,497à, representing about 31pecent of the total budget for the 2023 fiscal year.
The governor explained that in 2023, the state would expend N73,460,278,307 on salaries (Ministries/Departments/Parastatals), N7,758,772,851 on new recruitment, N33.6billion on monthly pensions as well as N12billion on gratuities/death benefits.
Wike said the fiscal year 2023 budget is targeted at delivering economic growth, additional infrastructure and prosperity for citizens.
He stated that while no new projects may be awarded, except where such is considered very significant, the administration shall galvanise efforts and resources to complete all ongoing projects so that the new government can start on a clean slate, unencumbered.
The governor said in 2021 and 2022, the state government introduced several fiscal measures, including a moratorium on external borrowing to achieve economic growth, fiscal discipline and financial consolidation.
These measures, according to him, have significantly blocked revenue leakages, improved the state capacity for internal revenue generation and prevented unsustainable deficit financing.
“We have, therefore, resolved to continue with the existing fiscal measures for the year 2023. This means that there would be no increase in tax rates. No new taxes will also be introduced.
“However, we will continue to intensify our drive to significantly improve IGR by expanding opportunities for more investments, industrialization and efficient tax collection.”
The governor disclosed that the state remains determined to reduce its dependence on statutory federal allocations to finance its budget and development.
To this end, he urged other sister states to join Rivers in the struggle to secure the right to impose and collect VAT at the sub-national level.
Reviewing the 2022 budget performance, Wike explained that the approved total budget of the state was N420, 485,053,736.00 only.
He disclosed that by the end of October, 2022, total revenue receipts of the state stood at N321, 250,781,228.91, only about 70percent performance, while, the total receipts from internally generated revenue (IGR) was N112.099billion.
This, according to him, represents 25percent performance above the figure of 2021 for the same period but over 50percent less than the projected sum for 2022.
“The shortfall in IGR is attributed to our inability to collect the projected proceeds from value-added tax following the stay of execution ordered by the Court of Appeal, which we have appealed to the Supreme Court.
“Furthermore, augmentation from the Federal Government accounts for the nominal increase recorded in the allocations from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). In other words, the 2022 budget performance did not also meet projected receipts from FAAC.
“Nevertheless, the aggregate performance of the budget on the revenue side stood at over 90percent at the end of October 2022.”
Wike revealed that the sum of N5billion has been proposed under Special Projects to introduce and fund a free feeding programme for pupils in state primary schools to increase and sustain enrolments and reduce poverty.
He said the state has further provided N4billion under Special Projects to fund free medical care for nursing mothers and children for the fiscal year 2023.
The Rivers State governor said although this is the last lap of his tenure, the administration was resolved to continue to advance Rivers development and secure its future.
“We are, therefore, poised to use the 2023 budget to deliver more transformative infrastructure and other strategic projects and services and move our dear state closer to the point of self-sustainability.”
The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, noted that the governor has through prudent allocation of resources put in place a roadmap for the development of the state.
Ibani, who commended the governor for his achievements in the past seven years, noted that his numerous infrastructural projects would positively impact on the development of the state in future.

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Rivers’ll Be Known For Peace, Not Crisis -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that peace has prevailed because he draws strength from God to resist insults and tantrums thrown at him while frustrating attempts by some disgruntled persons who wanted to plunge the State into unending crisis.
The Governor also said that because he has anchored his Government on promoting peace, the enabling atmosphere has been provided for investments and sustainable development to flourish.
Governor Fubara made the assertion when he received a delegation of members of the Bishops and Gospel Ministers’ Association International Incorporated, Rivers State Chapter, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by the Head of Rivers State Civil Service, Dr George Nwaeke, Governor Fubara said while most people took his meekness for weakness, his stance on peace has unarguably enhanced harmonious atmosphere of concord as residents sleep with their two eyes closed, and investors and shareholders are happy with the returns on investment.
He said, “Before, what they hear of Rivers State is that they are fighting, and some genuine investors will not come. Some people even ask you: How are you coping in Rivers State?
“But now”, he asserted: “The Governor has brought about a lot of changes in the State. One of the most important things is that he has changed the negative narrative. It is no longer Rivers of blood. It is now Rivers of peace.
“We are enjoying our lives here. Why? Because there is a change in the narrative. We have peace. The Governor is, as much as possible, absorbing any level of insult at him only for one purpose: that Rivers State may have peace; that we may grow; that this state will experience genuine development.”
Governor Fubara urged them, as members of the Christian family in the State, to continue to pray for the State and the Government so that the enemies of the State will be put to greater shame.
“This peace is what I want you to embrace. Go and continue to pray, because when the sower of the seed went and sowed, the enemy went in the night and sowed tares inside there. But the Governor is sowing peace.
“When I listened to the leader of the team, His Grace Eddy Ogbonda, he said you came all the way from Eleme Junction, and stopped at major junctions, and you uttered prayers for the peace of Rivers State.”
He also said: “I, hereby want to thank you for identifying with the Governor at a time like this. At a time when it looks as if someone wants the Governor’s peace posture misunderstood as weakness.
“When someone has the strength to fight back, but refuses to fight back. That is a bigger strength; that power of restrain does not just come, it can only come from God.
“You cannot give peace, if you do not have peace within you. The Governor is not interested in any form of trouble or violence. What he is interested in is known, and it is: let there be peace in Rivers State,” he said.
In his address, leader of the group, Archbishop Eddy Ogbonda, said they had observed a week-long intensive prayers that culminated into a peace rally, which brought them to Government House, and assured the Governor that God will continue to give him victory over his adversaries while preserving Rivers State.
“It is Rivers State Prophetic Prayer Convocation and Rally 2024 with the theme: ‘Peace be still’. Of a truth, everyone of us understands that we live in a time when we need peace much more than any other thing.
“Rivers State needs peace. Everyone as individuals need peace. The country needs peace, and the world at large needs peace. So, we are here to do a peace march. We pray that God will command His peace to reign in Rivers State,” he said.

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Hoteliers, School Owners Charging In Dollars Risk Arrest -EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stated that hotels, schools, and other establishments that accept payments in dollars from their customers are at risk of facing arrest.
The Chairman of EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, said this in the agency’s publication called EFCC Alert on Monday, adding that action would be taken against individuals involved in the dollarisation of the economy.
According to him, the exception is if foreigners come in to transact business and the only means of transacting is their credit card and dollar but to charge local customers in dollars or other foreign currencies would no longer be allowed.
He said charging local activities and customers in dollars is against Nigeria’s constitution.
The EFCC chairman said, “Schools that charge Nigerians in dollar, supermarkets that trade in dollar, estate developers that sell their property in dollar, hotels that are invoicing in dollar, we are coming after you and we have made arrests in that area.
“Yes, if foreigners are coming in and the only means of transacting is their credit card, and dollar, why not? You will get that.
“But document it properly as against selling things within the system, local economy and you will be using dollar as the medium of exchange, it is illegal.
“Our law does not allow for that. And we have also affected some arrests.”

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Eid-El-Fitr: Fubara Felicitates Muslims, Calls For Unity, Tolerance

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has enjoined Muslim faithful to remain steadfast to the lessons learnt during the holy month of Ramadan.
Governor Fubara stated this in his message of felicitations to Muslims as they celebrate the 2024 Eid-el-Fitr Sallah, which marks the end of the one-month Ramadan fasting.
The Governor emphasised the importance for Muslims to also uphold the tenets of Islam by exhibiting the fear of God and showing piety in their daily work.
Governor Fubara said, “We must all continue in the good attributes imbibed during the holy month of Ramadan as directed by God through His Prophet, so as to ensure peace, unity and harmony in the society for a better future.”
While praying that the essence of the festival offers them happiness, peace and prosperity in all aspects of life, Governor Fubara said he recognises and appreciates the critical role that the Muslim community continues to play in the development of Rivers State, and indeed, Nigeria at large.
Governor Fubara charged them to remain unwavering and steadfast in their commitment and positive contributions to advance the development of the State and the country.
“I enjoin you all in the State to remain calm, be patient and continue to do what is right,” the Governor added.
He wished the Muslim faithful in the State and across the country a happy Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

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