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Delta Debt Profile Hits N272bn -Commissioner

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Delta State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, has disclosed that the state’s total debt profile currently stands at N272 billion.
Tilije, who disclosed this at a news conference in Asaba, said the N240 billion refunds from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) was not a loan but the state’s share of 13 per cent crude oil derivation arrears from 2004 till date.
The Commissioner, in company of Mr Olisa Ifeajika, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, noted that the State Government could offset its current debt if it discounted 100 per cent of its share of N240 billion refund approved by the Federal Government.
“The total debt profile of Delta State as we speak is N272 billion. Out of this, N84 billion is due to contractors and pension arrears is about N27 billion.
“The rest are the debt profile, most of that were actually inherited by the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration.
“And in this past months, we have a total expected refund of N240 billion with respect to the 13 per cent oil derivation refunds to nine states that is ongoing.
“We had initially wanted to phase out many legacy projects that we wanted to complete. We approached the State House of Assembly and got approval to discount N150 billion, which we pruned to N100 billion as bridging finance facility from the N240 billion.
“I did say recently that out of this N240 billion that is expected from FAAC receipts, Delta (State) has received N14.7 billion in three quarterly instalments.
“And out of this N100 billion bridging finance, we have accessed N30 billion from the commercial market,” Tilije said.
He said with the totality of the refunds expected from FAAC, the state could clean up the outstanding debt profile if it fully discounted the N240 billion.
The Commissioner explained that the Governor, being a prudent manager of human and resources, felt that it would be necessary not to allow a repeat of the experience he had as new government in 2015.
“At inception in 2015, Governor Okowa’s administration saw hell managing the lean resources available to the state as a new government.
“This informed why all the State Governments had to take a bailout fund from the Federal Government in 2015.
“The truth is that if the State Government had totally taken or fully discounted the N240 billion FAAC refund, the next successive government will fall back to the experience Governor Okowa had in 2015.
“So, unlike the other oil producing states, who fully discounted their refunds, Okowa decided to be his brother’s keeper, take a percentage of the N240 billion and leave the rest for the incoming government to access over a period of four years.
“Besides, if we had gone ahead to discount the N240 billion in full, we would have been able to clean up all our outstanding debt,” the Commissioner said.
Tiliji noted that every government financed its budgets from FAAC receipts Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), borrowings and sundry facilities and tasked the social media to always report facts.
Noting that the government was transparent and had nothing to hide, Ifeajika said the State Government is conscious of the rule of law, which informed why it approached the State House of Assembly for approval to access the bridging finance facility from the commercial market.
“In Delta, we are transparent, we have nothing to hide. The Governor has assured that all the legacy projects will be completed before the end of his administration.”

 

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Commissioner Inspects Road Projects Ahead Oborevwori’s First Anniversary

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Delta State Commissioner for Works, Rural and Riverine Roads, Mr Charles Aniagwu, on Saturday inspected some completed and ongoing road projects ahead of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s one year in office.
The Tide’s source reports that the projects inspected were in Okpe and Ughelli North Local Government Areas of the state.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the inspection, the Commissioner said the government was desirous of delivering quality projects to the people of the state in line with the “MORE Agenda”.
“We have today inspected four different roads; the first one being the Adagbrasa Road that starts from Warri-Sapele Expressway and terminates at the Effurun Eku Road.
“The second one is about 13.07km; the other one is Esezi Road in Orerokpe, which is a dual carriageway, and it is 1.2km.
“It is a road that cuts across a very major part of Orerokpe, the headquarters of Okpe Local Government Area of the state.
“We also inspected the Okan junction to Agbarho and from there, we are now inspecting this one which is about 3.47km”, he said.
The Commissioner said the inspection was directed by the Governor to ensure three important things: speed in line with the schedule of work, value for money, and quality.
Aniagwu said the government was looking at the number of roads that would be completed ahead of the anniversary.
He identified the Adagbrasa Road, which he said had been completed, as one of the roads to be commissioned.
“We have been assured by the contractor that these other three roads may likely fall in within that threshold.
“What is most important is that the contractor is not only onsite, but he is actually moving with speed”, he said.
According to him, the days contractors secure jobs only to go to sleep is over.
“At our own end, by the grace of God, we will continue to see what we can do to meet up with the financial requirements of the jobs that we have awarded to contractors”, he assured.
Aniagwu further said the government was taking cognisance of compensation, adding that the aspect was being handled by the government valuers.
He appreciated those living along the construction corridors for their cooperation and understanding.
“And because of that, you can see that the contractors are working more or less seamlessly.
“We have not heard reports of anybody disturbing them and we must thank them for appreciating that the government is desirous of bringing development to them”, he said.
He assured the people that the government was equally interested in the development of other sectors such as housing and education.
“This is so that at the end of the day, you will have holistic development across the length and breadth of the 25 Local Government Areas of the state”, he said.

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Group Celebrates Ikwerre Cultural Day In PH

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The Ikwerre Day celebration organised by Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organisation Worldwide last Saturday, at Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, Port Harcourt, was successfully held and was declared open with a short prayer by Bishop Boms Chuks, the President of Ikwerre Gospel Ministers Fellowship.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Eze Mike Elechi, the Chief Executive Officer of Vintage Farms and Products Limited, the President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture and the Head of Organised Private Sector in Rivers State, ably represented by Prince Charles Beke, appreciated members of Ogbakor Ikwerre for continuing the dreams of their fore-fathers in keeping their heritage intact.
He thanked everybody for maintaining the identity which speaks about the character of Ikwerre people, and urged the body to focus more on the economic visibility of the people and encourage entrepreneurship development by turning it into an economic hub where people can be trained to be economically viable. Eze Elechi advised Ogbakor Ikwerre to continue to be neutral in politics and that they will assist the leadership of Ogbakor Ikwerre to build another befitting Obiri Ikwerre.
The President General of Ogbakor Ikwerre, Eze Godspower Onuekwa, in his welcome address, described Ikwerre Day as “a bi-annual institutionalised cultural fiesta” and “a period of home-coming, cultural reflection and renewal among others, essentially designed to sustain and showcase our rich cultural heritage, identity and core values.” He also said that “it is intended to tell the world who we are, what we do, where we are, etc to ensure that we are relevant in the comity of ethnic nationalities.” He welcomed everyone to the epoch-making occasion, especially the “Ochi Ohnas” and other prominent sons of Ikwerre present.
In recognition of his contributions in Ikwerre land, Eze Onuekwa adopted one of the awardees, Prof. Allswell Osini Muzan, as an Ikwerre son.
The immediate past President General of Ogbakor Ikwerre, Prof. Emenike Wami was honoured with the position of Ochi Ohna Ikwerre XIV. In his acceptance speech, he promised to be a good ambassador of Iwhuruohna people and urged everybody to work harmoniously and support the current PG, Eze Godspower Onuekwa.
Among those honoured with awards were Rt Rev Blessing Enyindah; Barrister Emmanuel Mark; Miss Mary Kekwaru; Queen Immaculate Chimzi Osai; Amb. Goodnews Igali; and Prof Allswell Osini Muzan.
There was march past by the branches of Ogbakor Ikwerre and their cultural groups, except Esila branch that was very few in number and they did not come with any cultural group.
The occasion was also garnished with a wrestling competition. Idris Assor Kelachi, Ndubuisi Ogbonda and Godpower Dimkpa took the first, second and third positions respectively during the wrestling competition among the four branches of Ogbakor Ikwerre.
The Guest of Honour, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who was represented by Engr. Emeka Woke, thanked Ikwerre people for their support when he was the Governor of Rivers State. He also appreciated them for their support during the 2023 general elections and promised to have a heart-to-heart discussion with members of Ogbakor Ikwerre very soon.
The President and members of Tiv community in Rivers State also sent their warmest greeting to Iwhuruohna people, expressing gratitude for the relationship between Tiv people of Benue State and the Ikwerre people of Rivers State which started many years ago. They maintained that they will continue to be peace-loving people and also sustain the relationship between them and Ikwerre people. As their name implies (the food basket of the nation), they donated 100 big yams to the occasion and thanked God for the success of the occasion.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were Senator Andrew Uchendu, the Chairman of the Governing Council, University of Port Harcourt; Prof. Aaron Ojule, former Chief Medical Director of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH); Prof. Chinedu Mmom, Commissioner of Education; CP Peter Wagbara (rtd), Nye Nwe Ali Elele-Alimini; Eze Chike Worlu Wodo, Eze Ohna Apara IV; the Chairman, Supreme Council of Government recognised Ikwerre Traditional Rulers; Emeritus Prof. Otonti Nduka, Ochi Ohna Ikwerre XI; Prof. Augustine Onyeozu, Ochi Ohna Ikwerre XIII, and others.
In his closing remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Prince Charles Beke condemned the absence of prominent Ikwerre sons and daughters at the Ikwerre Day celebration. He advised Iwhuruohna people not to put all their eggs in one basket and that they should not bring their brothers down in the name of politics.
The memorable event ended with several cultural displays from different groups.

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Diri’s Ex-Aide Wants Marine Reserves Establishment In Bayelsa

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Former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Tourism and Chairman, Board of Trustees of BRACED Tourism Promotion and Development Initiative (BTPDI), Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo, has stressed the need for the government to designate areas with high marine species richness as “Marine Protected Areas” in Bayelsa State.
This, he said, was in line with the Governor’s desire to create a Ministry of Blue Economy in his second tenure.
Kiyaramo, who spoke with newsmen at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Yenagoa, recently hinted that studies have indicated that three-quarter of coastal countries don’t have even one marine reserve, and that less than three percent of the global ocean is under some form of protection.
He reiterated that unsustainable practices and over exploitation of marine resources could lead to environmental degradation and negatively impact the long-term sustainability of the Blue Economy.
“The marine protected areas have been used as part of conservation measures for decades in advanced countries.
“The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines a protected area as a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
“Reserves protect the whole ecosystems, allowing them to return toward a more natural and balanced state.
“Monitoring studies from marine reserves have also shown that biomass, the size and density of organisms, and the richness or diversity of species all increase within marine reserves.
“Therefore, reserves can be an effective way to preserve biodiversity by protecting communities and providing refuge for rare organisms”, he said.
He noted that the blue economy is all about sustainable use of marine resources and the opportunities around oceans for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and job creation, while also making concerted efforts towards preserving marine health and coastal ecosystems.
“Blue Economy encompasses various economic sectors, including fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, marine, renewable energy, maritime transportation, security, and coastal infrastructure development, among others.
“According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the ocean economy contributed $1.5tn to the global economy in 2010 and is projected to double by 2030.
“Blue economy recognises the importance of oceans and their resources to the global economy and society”, he added.
The governor’s former aide lamented that while countries such as Norway, United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, Seychelles, Morocco, and Mauritania are maximising the use of their marine environment and blue economy, most African countries were not.
Kiyaramo urged the Bayelsa State Governor to take the lead in exploring the potential of the Blue Economy in the state, reiterating that an additional advantage of developing the Blue Economy is that it would always recognise the importance of addressing climate change, reducing marine pollution, and enhancing ocean resilience to protect marine ecosystems and ensure their sustainability through sustainable use of the ocean and the coastal waters.
“Several organisations and initiatives promote global blue economy, including the World Ocean Council, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is “life below water”, and the European Union’s Blue Growth Strategy.
“These initiatives aim to promote the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, while protecting the environment and ensuring social equity. The European Commission defines Blue Economy as “all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts”, he stated

Ariwera Ibibo-Howells,
Yenagoa

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