The outgoing governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has conferred the highest Rivers State honours, the Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS), on eight personalities in the country.
The recipients include governors of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Rivers’ governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
Others were the governors of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa); former governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; John Olukayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and Senator Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari (Zamfara).
Governor Wike, while delivering his valedictory speech at a State and honours award night in Port Harcourt on Saturday night, said the second, third, and fourth- categories of honourees cut across a broader spectrum of society.
The governor said the seven governors and former governors honoured by the State belong to the country’s highly intelligent, committed, and hardworking servant-leaders who have distinguished themselves in public service with phenomenal performance records.
“Most of all, they are prominent power brokers among the Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who signed, undertook, and worked day and night to deliver our collective aspirations for a southern president in the 2023 general elections at significant risks to their political lives.
“Their lives, reputation, exploits, and achievements are like open books, so we all know who and what they are, what they stand for, and which interests they represent and project. They have proven to be leaders made for the times rather than the ones the times and circumstances accidentally produced.
“We honour and celebrate these fellow compatriots’ inspirational achievements, exemplary leadership, profound service, love for the motherland, and contributions to national cohesion, democracy, equity, and justice”, Wike said.
The governor noted that the inception of his administration was rough and turbulent, because the then outgoing governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was very hostile and rancorous.
According to him, he also met an empty State treasury, huge public debts, a hostile political environment, and a hostile Federal Government that turned against his government, courtesy of the former governor.
“He initially struggled to prevent us from being sworn in by going to three different courts for restraining orders. When this failed, he challenged our electoral victory and had it nullified at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
“Our mandate was restored by the Supreme Court after nearly one year of legal battles. But, all three senatorial seats, a sizeable number of the House of Representatives, and over half of the State House of Assembly seats were nullified, leaving the State without representation at the National Assembly and a functional State House of Assembly. Our candidates for these offices were later subjected to a series of tempestuous re-runs before some managed to reclaim their mandates”, he recalled.
Wike accused Amaechi of laying social and economic landmines such as the shut down the State House of Assembly complex and courts with the sole intent to cripple his administration.
He alleged that having decimated the State’s governance institutions, Amaechi shifted his targets to the State’s treasury, including the statutory reserved funds, and emptied it with impunity.
According to him, “He (Amaechi) sold our valued assets, realized over $415,000,000.00 (four and fifteen million United States Dollars), and siphoned it entirely out of the State’s treasury in under two weeks. He embarked on some bogus projects he never intended to execute but to serve as conduit pipes to fritter State resources for himself, political cronies, and business partners.
“The less than one-kilometre monorail project, the multi-story Karibi-Whyte Hospital, the new Rivers State University, the Greater Port Harcourt City, and the M10 road projects are some of the elephant projects he purportedly initiated but failed at foundation levels after expending billions of public funds. He piled up debts by stopping to pay contractors and salaries to civil servants and other categories of workers, including pensioners and sportsmen and women.”
Despite initial challenges that beset his administration, the governor said he was able to overcome them to reposition the judiciary, delivered unprecedented 12 flyovers and constructed over 900 kilometres of Trunk-A roads and over 200 kilometres of internal roads across the State.
The governor boasted that Rivers State would remain a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State for the foreseeable future, saying however, that the interest of Rivers State transcends political party confines and affiliations.
He maintained that it is the right of the people of Rivers State to participate in decision-making at the highest level as well as follow the political path that guarantees a better deal for the State and people.
“Accordingly, we made the right choice when we opted for unity, equity, fairness, and justice in our consideration for a Southern Presidency during the 2023 general elections. I assure you that we are in the right direction. Rivers State is politically connected to the Centre and will be better for it more than ever this time. There is nothing to regret.”
Fubara Set To Create New Cities In Rivers
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has disclosed that arrangements are at advanced stages to achieve the development of new cities in the state that would help to decongest Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Fubara said that the new cities would end the one city status of Rivers State and attract more investors into the state.
The governor stated this when he inspected the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority’s (GPHCDA) office and project sites in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Fubara said: “I can assure you that in our time, we might not achieve the dream of that big city in four years, but we will add a few things that would also help us in getting at that target.
“This is because, we are thinking of decongesting the present one city state that we have, which is Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. We are thinking of developing other parts of the state and our coming here is to see what the agency has been doing, what you have done already and what we can also do to make us achieve more new cities in our state.”
Fubara noted that despite the challenges the agency has been facing, there would be remarkable difference in what it would achieve within his tenure if the agency’s development ideals are aligned with those of the state government.
He, however, charged the agency to be self-sustaining by attracting investors as outlined by its establishment law.
Also speaking, the Sole Administrator of GPHCDA, Amb Desmond Akawor, said that since its establishment in 2009 by the Greater Port Harcourt Law, the agency has been slowed down in creating more cities because of its operational structure and the nature of the Public-Private Partnership it adopted.
Akawor, who is the Rivers State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explained that a new legal framework has been fine-tuned by the last GPHDA board, which the current management would present to the governor.
He said: “I am sure that with your directives, we will be able to reschedule some of the projects so that we can move forward with all of our partners, especially in the area of reforming or strengthening the public private partnership arrangements.”
Majority Leader Seeks Immortalisation Of Slain DPO
The Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, has appealed to the Police High Command to consider the immortalisation of the murdered Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Ahoada East Divisional Headquarters, SP Bako Angbashim, and commiserated with the State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi; officers and men of the Police Force; and the family of the deceased over the brutal murder of the DPO.
Ehie, who made the appeal in a statement said the slain DPO deserves to be immortalised as he was a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, adding that the calamitous killing and decapitation of the DPO by Mr Gift David Okpara Okpolowu, alias 2 Baba and his criminal gang is “an unprecedented low which shocked me beyond words and threw my constituents into an endless mourning circle”.
As the Honourable member representing Constituency 2 at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the incumbent Leader of the House, Ehie said he is using this medium to unreservedly condemn the senseless killing and decapitation of the DPO, and also to reiterate the call for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of his killers and everyone associated with the condemnable act.
Describing SP Angbashim as a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, the lawmaker said the slain DPO was the one who single-handedly restored peace and order in Ogoniland.
“Even within the few months he spent in Ahoada East Local Government Area, the results of his gallantry were visible for all to see and appreciate.This is why his killing is not only calamitous and lamentable, but an affront to the government of the day in the State”, he said, adding that no government worths its salt will fold it’s arms and allow criminals and bandits to freely prey on its citizenry in order to make the State ungovernable.
On this score, therefore, Ehie thanked the Governor of the State, Sir SiminalayiFubara for prompt response to the situation which he said has already started yielding wonderful fruits, with some of the criminals associated with the killing of the DPO now under police detention and interrogation.
He also thanked and commend the officers and men of the Police Force as well as operatives of other sister security agencies in the State for their uniquely stellar efforts in fishing out the killers of the DPO.
The Majority Leader, however, called on all Ekpeye people, traditional rulers, chiefs, political elites and the general public to gratuitously assist and work with the police and other security agencies in ensuring that the killers of SP Angbashim are fished out, apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law, saying, “May our State never again witness this type of murderous orgy and life wastage”.
Ehie also appealed to the Police High Command in the State to consider the immortalisation of the slain DPO, while also appealing for meaningful and deserving support to his family and dependants.
While conveying his heart-felt condolences to the Nigerian Police, especially the officers and men of the Rivers State Police Command, the lawmaker prayed the Almighty God to grant them the fortitude to bear the monumental loss. He equally extended his deepest condolences to the family of the DPO, and prayed God to console them and heal their wounds.
Ehie further noted that “the biggest debt we collectively owe SP Bako Angbashim is to redress his killing by arresting his killers and subjecting them to justice.”
Appeal Court Upholds Banigo’s Senatorial Election Victory
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, upheld the judgment of the Rivers State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that declared Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the Rivers West Senatorial District Election held on February 25, 2023.
The Appellant Court, in her judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate, Hon. Asita O. Asita as “lacking in merit”.
In her reaction shortly after the verdict at the court premises, the Banigo hailed the judgment, describing it as an “incontrovertible victory of irreversible Senate seat”.
She expressed gratitude to the Almighty God, the leaders/stakeholders of the PDP and the entire members of the Rivers West Senatorial District for their unflinching support.
Banigo assured them of her loyalty and total commitment towards realising the tenets of her Kingdom Mandate.
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