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We’ve Redefined Governance, Wike Affirms …Again, Dares Those Threatening To Expel Him From PDP …Accuses Atiku Of Meeting APC Govs, Denies Granting BBC Interview

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has challenged those threatening to expel him from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to go ahead and try it, if they can.
Wike gave the challenge at the Eneka Road Roundabout, venue of the flag-off ceremony for the construction of Eneka-Igbo-Etche Road dualisation project.
The governor, who insisted that he was unperturbed about the threat of expulsion, however, wondered why those desiring to expel him were displaying anxiety instead of acting out their threat, and see if they will survive it.
According to him, “When the time comes, we will know who has capacity, and who does not have capacity.”
The Rivers State governor also reiterated the minimum demand of the members of the G5 group, which was the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman of PDP to allow for a southerner to occupy the office.
“We have made our demand and our demand is: the national chairman must come to the South. It’s non-negotiable. If you say you don’t care, no problem. Let’s go to the field. No need to begin to threaten people: you will do this, you will do that.”
In retrospect, Wike recalled how between 2002 and 2003, former President,Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, knelt down to beg his then vice, now PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to support his second term bid, and the conditions the latter gave to him.
“You (HO1) say we are giving condition, but you forget history. In 2002-2003, when President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to run for second tenure, he knelt down before his vice president, and said, my vice, please allow me to run. You know one of the conditions he gave him: Tony Anenih must be sacked as the minister of works; and Tony Anenih must not be in the presidential campaign council. Obasanjo obliged, and sacked Tony Anenih as minister of works, and removed him from the presidential campaign council.”
He expressed surprise over the undying interest by those who said they have moved ahead and do not need the G5 to win the 2023 election.
He wondered why those antagonistic to the G5 were always sniffing around to uncover any latest move made by the group.
Wike queried why they were bothering themselves about where the G5 goes, what it says, and which person they chose to speak with.
The governor noted that even as G5 travelled recently to Europe, some people, including the Arise TV and other media outfits speculated and insinuated so many unfounded things without a proof of any picture or audio, to affirm their claims that the G5 met with a presidential candidate in Europe.
“They said I had conversation with BBC, where is the picture, where is the video? You know these days, we don’t have journalists again, and we have press men. You can see people not being able to give out correct information. You see newspaper houses that are now running election. You see television houses standing for election.
“Wike had interview with BBC. Wike said we had a deal with so, so and so. Meanwhile, no video, no audio! And some of you waste your time to listen to such things. Don’t you know that when I want to do something, I’ll do it? Don’t you know? Do you need to speculate? You don’t need to speculate! They say there is trouble, there is no trouble. What we have is introduction to trouble that will come.”
In any case, Wike wondered why the worry, that he had to, if true, meet with any person, including the APC presidential candidate, whereas the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who had been meeting with APC governors was not questioned.
“What is your problem assuming that there was a meeting? Has Atiku not been holding meetings with governors of APC? Ask him. As he is in Dubai, don’t we know what is going on? So, why do you bother about us, G-5 that you say you can win without us. Leave us alone.”
The Rivers State governor took on the former national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who claimed that he was his benefactor, and said it was a lie.
He stated that at no point in his political career did Prince Uche Secondus sponsor him to any political office, except for the fact that he accompanied him on some lobbying trips.
Wike insisted that he was rather the benefactor to Prince Uche Secondus because against fierce opposition and rejection from the likes of Sule Lamido, Hon Austin Opara, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Sir Celestine Omehia, and Senator Lee Maeba, he sponsored him to become the national chairman of PDP, and removed him later when he wanted to make his nephew governor of Rivers State.
“You wanted to be national chairman: first to impose your nephew or your cousin as you may call him to become governorship candidate of PDP in Rivers State. I said not here, it won’t work. We had to kick him out first, and we did, and you are out.”
He listed the Nsirim, Senator John Mbata, and Dr. Peter Odili’s families as sponsors at various times of his political dreams that had made him what he has become.
The governor emphasised that Prince Uche Secondus was awarded several contracts worth about N50billion in Rivers State, and had been paid a total sum of N43.9billion, but he has never completed any of the projects, and can also not account for money received.
Providing a description of the project, the state Commissioner for Works, Dr. Dakorinima Alabo George-Kelly, said the Eneka-Igbo-Etche Road was going to be dualised, and would be 5-kilometre long.
He explained that already, the contractor, Monier Construction Company (MCC) had been mobilised to site, adding that the project was expected to be completed in five months’ period.
George-Kelly said the project could be completed in two months’ time because of the incredible pace of work brought to bear by the contractor handling the construction works.
“This road is approximately 5kilometres long, the wearing course width will be 8.3metres while the binder course width will be 11.3metres.
“We are going to have drains on both sides of the road, the total length of the drains is going to be 9.24kilometres. The size of the drains will be 900millimetres by 900millimetres, 150millimetres wall and 150millimetres base concrete thickness.
“The completion time for this project is five months but with the speed the contractor is going, I am optimistic that in another two months, this project will be ready for commissioning,” he said.
The project, which is being constructed by Wike’s administration, was previously awarded by the immediate past administration but it was not executed.
This led the present administration to re-award the project to alleviate the sufferings of the people living in that area.

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Eid-El-Kabir: Sultan felicitates Nigerians, urges greater commitment to farming

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Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), has extended his felicitations to Nigerian Muslims on the occasion of Eid-el Kabir.

In his Sallah message on Sunday, Abubakar urged Nigerians to commit more to farming as a means to alleviate societal economic hardship and address the high cost of living in the country.

“We are fully aware that the leaders in the country are doing their best to ease the hardship, but more needs to be done.

“Our people, particularly in the North, are in a very difficult situation. Therefore, leaders need to do more in tackling the current challenges,” he said.

The Sultan further urged farmers to make the most of the rainy season to ensure sufficient food production to meet societal demand.

“We should all go back to farming and produce food because doing so will ease our condition and boost the country’s economy,” he advised.

Abubakar also called on Muslims to continue praying for the leaders, emphasising that only prayers could support the desired needs of any society.

He appreciated the security agencies in the country for their sustained dedication to ensuring the safety of all citizens.

The Sultan applauded Gov. Ahmed Aliyu of Sokoto State for his commitment to supporting the less-privileged in the state and urged the people to continue living peacefully with one another.

He thanked the Muslim community for the continued dedication to propagating the true essence of Islam, and urged them to have full faith that the country’s challenges would soon be over.

He also prayed for the safe return of the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, urging them to pray for Nigeria and its leaders.

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Presidency clears misconceptions on New York Times report on Nigeria

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Mr Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, yesterday, reacted to a recent report published in New York Times on Nigeria’s economy.

He said Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal’s feature story titled, ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation,’ published on June 11, appeared typically predetermined and followed the usually denigrating way foreign media establishments reported African countries for several decades.

He said that because of the misleading slant of the report, there was need to clear up some misconceptions conveyed by the reporters as regards the economic policies of the Tinubu administration that came into power at the end of May 2023.

“Most significant about the report was that it painted the dire experiences of some Nigerians amid the inflationary spiral of last year, and blamed it all on the policies of the new administration.

“The report, based on several interviews, was all gloom and doom, as it never mentioned the positive aspects in the same economy as well as the ameliorative policies being implemented by the central and state governments,” said Onanuga.

According to him, President Tinubu did not create the economic problems Nigeria faces today.

“He inherited them. As a respected economist in our country once put it, Tinubu inherited a dead economy.

“The economy was bleeding and needed quick surgery to avoid being plunged into the abyss, as happened in Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

“This was the background to the policy direction taken by the government in May/June 2023, with the abrogation of the fuel subsidy regime and the unification of the multiple exchange rates standing out.”

The Special Adviser said that for decades, Nigeria had maintained a fuel subsidy regime that gulped 84.39 billion dollars between 2005 and 2022 from the public treasury in a country with huge infrastructural deficits and in high need of better social services.

He said the state oil firm, NNPC Ltd, the sole importer, had amassed trillions of naira in debts for absorbing the unsustainable subsidy payments in its books.

“By the time Tinubu took over the leadership of the country, there was no provision made for fuel subsidy payments in the national budget beyond June 2023.

“The budget itself had a striking feature: it planned to spend 97 per cent of revenue servicing debt, with little left for recurrent or capital expenditure. The previous government had resorted to massive borrowing to cover such costs.

“Like oil, the exchange rate was also being subsidised by the government, with an estimated 1.5 billion dollars spent monthly by the CBN to ‘defend’ the currency against the unquenchable demand for the dollar by the country’s import-dependent economy,” explained Onanuga.

He stated that by keeping the rate low, arbitrage grew as a gulf existed between the official rate and the rate used by over 5,000 Bureau de Change (BDCs) that were previously licensed by the Central Bank.

“What was more, the country was failing to fulfil its remittance obligations to airlines and other foreign businesses, such that FDIs and investment in the oil sector dried up, and notably Emirate Airlines cut off the Nigerian route.

“President Tinubu had to deal with the cancer of public finance on the first day by rolling back the subsidy regime and the generosity that spread to neighbouring countries. Then, his administration floated the naira,” said Onanuga.

He said that after some months of the storm, with the naira sliding as low as N1,900 to the US dollar, some stability was restored, though there remained some challenges.

“The exchange rate is now below N1,500 to the dollar, and there are prospects that the naira could regain its muscle and appreciate to between N1,000 and N1,200 before the end of the year.

“The economy recorded a trade surplus of N6.52 trillion in Q1, as against a deficit of N1.4 trillion in Q4 of 2023. Portfolio investors have streamed in as long-term investors.

“When Diageo wanted to sell its stake in Guinness Nigeria, it had the Singaporean conglomerate, Tolaram, ready for the uptake,” he said.

He was emphatic that with the World Bank extending a 2.25 billion dollar loan and other loans by the AfDB and Afreximbank coming in, Nigeria had become bankable again.

He explained that such was all because the reforms being implemented had restored some confidence.

“The inflationary rate is slowing down as shown in the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics for April. Food inflation remains the biggest challenge, and the government is working very hard to rein it in with increased agricultural production.

“The Tinubu administration and the 36 states are working assiduously to produce food in abundance to reduce the cost. Some state governments, such as Lagos and Akwa Ibom, have set up retail shops to sell raw food items to residents at a lower price than the market price.

“The Tinubu government, in November last year, in consonance with its food emergency declaration, invested heavily in dry-season farming, giving farmers incentives to produce wheat, maize, and rice,” he said.

According to Onanuga, the CBN has donated N100 billion worth of fertiliser to farmers, and numerous incentives are being implemented, adding that in the western part of Nigeria, six governors had announced plans to invest massively in agriculture.

“With all the plans being executed, inflation, especially food inflation, will soon be tamed.

“Nigeria is not the only country in the world facing a rising cost of living crisis. The USA, too, is contending with a similar crisis, with families finding it hard to make ends meet. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised this concern recently.

“Europe is similarly in the throes of a cost-of-living crisis. As those countries are trying to confront the problem, the Tinubu administration is also working hard to overturn the economic problems in Nigeria.

“Our country faced economic difficulties in the past, an experience that has been captured in folk songs. Just like we overcame then, we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon,” said Onanuga.

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Rivers Tourism Agency, Mayor of Housing Seal Deal After Economic Summit

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…..Set to Restore Rivers Leadership Status In Tourism, Entertainment

The Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA) has sealed partnership deal with the Mayor of Housing to boost tourism and entertainment.

This is aimed at rebooting the economy of the state  as the state government seeks to boost ease of doing business (EoDB).

The partnership was sealed after the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit which ended on May 23, 2024.

The partnership was unveiled at an event at the GRA where the Director-General (DG) of the RSTDA, Mr Yibo Koko, gave details of what he called the low hanging fruits initiative to tap into obvious advantages.

He presented the Mayor of Housing, My-Ace China, the CEO of the Housing and Construction Limited, who has demonstrated capacity and willingness to join in the task.

It was gathered that some banks have also indicated interest in partnering with the Agency to achieve the objective of Sir Sim Fubara’s administration in the Tourism sub-sector.

It was gathered that tourism alone can restart the economy, based on what worked for the state in years past when the city led other states and cities in entertainment and tourism.

The new role of the RSTDA seemed to have been rediscovered at the economic summit and fresh mandates with marching orders may have been issued.

The DG of the Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA) spoke glowingly about the gains of the Rivers State Economic Summit and the Creative Art, saying the Mayor of Housing was part of the panel on creative economy and his participation led to the decision to go back and start from the ‘Low Hanging Fruits Initiative’.

He said Gov Fubara’s body language suggests positivity and this has led to trickling effects on creative economy and the young people.

He gave insight into how reputations are ruined online, saying Algorithm or Artificial Intelligence (AI) picks what comes online most frequently and uses it to characterize a person or place for profiling.

“So, when people click on your name, what comes up is the thing AI says you are. For Rivers State, it’s the steady bad news in the media that AI picks to brand the state.

“The RSTDA wants to reverse that and we want the many good things happening in the state to be brought up deliberately.

“The state government wants entrepreneurs and investors to be the ones driving wealth creation and the growth of the economy. We want to bring back the vibrancy of the Garden City and we know the role tourism and entertainment can play.”

He took time to articulate what constitutes the low hanging fruits and how the RSTDA planned to harvest them with support from partners, especially the Mayor of Housing.

Speaking, the Mayor of Housing (My-ACE China) expressed delight working with the RSTDA.

He said: “I started estate business in Abuja. In 2021, we wanted to extend to Port Harcourt, but the first thing the CEO of our company then told me was all about insecurity in the Garden City and all the associated hypes.

“He asked me how I would need over five Mopol (Military Police Operatives) to move about in Port Harcourt. The narrative then was that Port Harcourt was unstable and unsafe. We argued and agreed I would be the one to go, and if I was killed, he would stay away.

“Coming into Port Harcourt at last, I was shocked at the peace and stability, at the hospitality, at the liveliness, cuisine, housing potentials, etc.

“In housing, we were more than 100 brands in Abuja hustling for space, but I came into Port Harcourt and saw only two active brands. It was like I could beat them ad be the topmost.

“I called my people and said, this is a deep market. I staged the biggest event in Port Harcourt. It was shocking. People came out because of the shouting I did.

“This was the same Port Harcourt they said would swallow me.

|When I went into the nitty-gritty of doing business in Port Harcourt, I found why the narrative was looking gloomy.”

He said there was a political dilution of people’s goodwill  and  most persons in the state were victims, including top people doing so well.

“I discovered that there are very many unsung people here that felt they would not make it unless they went to Lagos.

“So, I chose the comedy industry to start the push to sell Port Harcourt with positive narrative and restart of the story of the city.I began to sponsor them with whatever little I had.

“I am the first corporate body to scale Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) because others start CSR when they make it, but I started from the start or even before the start of my project.

According to him, as at this year, we have won ‘brand of the year’ for three years running just by doing little by little.”

“So, part of the fundamental things why we are here today is to tell everybody that the awareness and deliberate narrative change can start now and here; and we can begin to talk about the positives of Rivers State, we can skew the algorithm back in our favour.

“If Lagos State has 15 million people and they have less people talking about their potential, that would reduce visibility to the work of about three million people. Rivers with six million people need to work harder. If 50 per cent or more of our people talk about the positives of this state, it will beat that pattern or algorithm.

So, the idea is, who else will tell them. The good book said how will they hear, if somebody doesn’t preach to them. We thus put this meeting together so you can all preach the message of the positives of Rivers State.

“When this competition as outlined by the DG (of the RSTDA) begins, it would launch Rivers State back as the tourism capital of the world. By the story told by the DG, if the tourism promoters of Dubai could come to Port Harcourt to promote a show and only seven persons showed up, the small number was not because there was scarcity of talent or lack of interest from the youths of Rivers State, it was because of lack of narrative-pushing to tell the youths that there was opportunity somewhere.

“When I started my project in Alesa Eleme, I was told don’t go, they do worry. But today, I have not even started the project proper and I have got an award from the same Alesa Elele youths as ‘Hero of Development’ all because of little corporate social responsibility (CSR) things I did for them.

“It broke my heart when they came to me and said they could secure our facility. They said all we needed to give them were equipment and gears not costing up to N5m. We did that donation in December 2023 but I was weak when they said for 20 years, no company had donated those things.

“It is about the narrative being peddled around the state and around the communities. The story is not being told. If you don’t load the search engine with good stories, you won’t move up on the scale of attractive cities and investments.

“Let’s get to the level of knowing what to tell and what not to”, he said .

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