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Our Feats Beat Eight-year Record, Fubara Boasts

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has asserted that the success of service and project delivery achieved within his first one year in office is better than the eight years spent by some other administrations.
Governor Fubara made the assertion at Ngo Town during the official inauguration of the Andoni section of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road project, in Andoni Local Government Area on Saturday.
The Governor explained his assertion, saying that the accomplishments were secured within three months that his administration had actually settled down to work, given the festering political crisis.
Revealing what will be done soon in the health sector, Governor Fubara said it was appalling that recent statistics had classified Rivers State as below the set benchmark in terms of enrollments and health facilities availability.
Governor Fubara, who explained that the statistics, not specific to any particular administration’s lifespan, covered over a period of time, which indicates unacceptable level of neglect to the sector.
He, however, assured that in the next six months, Rivers people should expect to see evidence of significant investment that his administration has made to change the narrative.
He said, “I was in Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting on Wednesday, and we were given an update from the chart on medical position of all the states. It was in zones.
“You won’t believe that in that chart, everything that has to do with enrollment, even the level of facilities that is on ground in that assessment, Rivers State was classified as below benchmark. It is a pity.
“It is not something that just happened in a day. It is not something that just happened within my time in government. No, no. It is a statistics collated over a period of time. So, it means when we tell you that our target is education, healthcare and agriculture, we didn’t make any mistake.
“We might have done other things, but those key areas have not been adequately attended to. And we promise our people this afternoon that by the special grace of God, in the next six months, there will be a total change in the health sector of Rivers State.”
Commenting on the project, Governor Fubara said the project has been delivered successfully, and applauded the initiator of the project, former governor, Dr Peter Odili and successive administrations that contributed their quota in realizing the Unity Road, for the people.
Governor Fubara stated that his driving principle remains putting the people first, which is why he will not renege on the promise of internal roads that he made to Andoni people during electioneering campaigns.
The governor, therefore, directed the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, to liaise with Monier Construction Company (MCC) to do scoping for commencement of reconstruction of Ngo internal roads and new contract for extension of the road to Oyorokoto Town.
He said, “But, I just want to say this: what is important today is the section of the Unity Road that connects Andoni to Ogoni and Opobo/Nkoro has come to reality. That is the important thing.
“We have to thank first, the initiator, Dr Peter Odili. We have to thank other successive governments which also contributed before we finally made this day to be.
“It is important we set this record straight. The Permanent Secretary has mentioned the cost of the job and the review cost. The beauty of it is that we are not owing any dime on this particular project,” he added.
Governor Fubara said: “We are happy that it is happening in our own time. Our motto remains: ‘The People First’, and anything that has to do with the people, we must take it very seriously.
“I know that if it is this road, we are already done with the road. The politicking of the road is already done. I don’t want to politick on this road anymore.
“I want to say here that we need to develop our own, and if we have to do it, we have to do it ourselves. So, I promise my people that we are going to do more jobs, more connecting roads for the Andonis by the special grace of God.”
Governor Fubara further said: “I remember when we came for campaign, we did promise our people that when you support us, we are going to give you the internal roads. And by the special grace of God, the Andonis gave us their support, and the election was won.
“So, let me use this opportunity to thank you, first for that support. Thank you, that even after the election, you have continued to support the government, not minding the situation that we find ourselves.
“A lot of people were thinking that this place will be empty today. Some people had other plans. But to the glory of God, we are getting natural support, people that we didn’t pay money are here to say that they are identifying with this government, we appreciate what this government is doing.
“For that alone, I want to direct the Permanent Secretary to immediately liaise with the contractor to ensure first, that the internal roads in Ngo, and connecting this road to Oyorokoto is immediately awarded.”
Governor Fubara urged the people to have good faith in the administration of President Bola Tinubu, and appealed for their total support to the Federal Government so that it can continue to undertake life-changing programmes that will trickle down to the State and Local Government Areas.
He said, “I am also aware that we have issues in the other communities in Andoni. Some of them are flooding issues, which is even the more critical issue.
“I know of a place called Oronija. They are having very serious erosion and flood issues, and other places. We are going to do something about it. It is my promise to my dear people today.
“I also want to say in this gathering, please, support the government at the centre. I am happy when our leader was mentioning the activities of the oil companies here, and said that there is no interruption. I was impressed by that.
“It shows that we are contributing positively, and we understand the meaning and importance of peace. So, let me enjoin you: continue to show this good faith, and be a good host.
“In the governance of this country, the success of the centre is the success of the sub-national. And when the sub-national succeeds, which is the state, the local governments will succeed. And when the local governments succeed, it means, more projects, more life-changing activities will be seen in your domain.”
Governor Fubara said further: “I also remember that another vital area that we need to touch in our governance was mentioned: the issue of hospitals. We are coming here, and we will make sure that we attend to that need.”
In his welcome address, the member representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon Awaji-Inombek Abiante, said the road is less than 30Km long but regrettably took three different contractors: Rivigo Construction Company; RAFFOUL Nigeria Limited; and eventually Monier Construction Company (MCC); to deliver it after 24 years.
Abiante explained that this was the first time, since the dawn of the current democratic dispensation, that the Andoni people will gather for an inauguration of a development project within Ogbolo land.
He, therefore, expressed gratitude to Governor Fubara for making it happen, and remarked that more critical infrastructure projects were needed in the area to place the people in good position to be part of activities in the blue economy sector, whose potentials abound in the area.
Abiante, who expressed gratitude to Governor Fubara for accomplishing the feat and making it possible for them to drive on land from the city to their various communities, assured that the people will work to ensure the success of his administration.
Also speaking, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, said it was important to explain that the Unity Road, initiated by Dr Peter Odili, had its inaugural foundation stone laid on the 3rd January, 2005, and not in 2004.
Prince Secondus thanked Governor Fubara for completing the project, which now serves as a miracle, enabling the people to drive on land to Andoni from the city.
Providing the description of the project, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Engr Atemea Briggs, said the Andoni section of the Ogoni-Andoni/Opobo Unity Road project is 27.5Km long, 7.3 meters width size, and has side drains of 2.5Km in length.
Engr Briggs emphasised that the project, which was re-awarded on July 13, 2023, by Governor Fubara to MCC, had the contract sum reviewed from N9.984billion to N11.1billion because of escalation of prices of materials and petroleum products.
“Many of us know the story of this road, but it took the bold step of His Excellency to finally deliver the road that the Andoni people have long yearned for.
“The road project was initially handled by RAFFOUL Nigeria Limited until July 13, 2023. At that time, the project was re-awarded to Monnier Construction Company, MCC by His Excellency to ensure its speedy completion.
“The original contract sum of the project was N9.984billion, but was later reviewed upward to N11.1billion due to fluctuation and escalation of the prices of working materials and petroleum products. This contract has been fully paid and completed for commissioning today.
“This road is 27.5kilometers long, and it has the width of 7.3 meters. The asphalt thickness, you can see, is 100 millimeters; that is made up of 60 millimeters of binder course, and 40 millimeters of asphaltic wearing course.
“It has side drainages within the community, totaling 2.5kilometers long. It has side case totaling 12.6 kilometers, and a bridge of 3 spans of 20, 20, 20 meters long being a total of 60 meters.
“Today marks a special occasion as this road stands as a significant gift to the Andoni people. It fulfills His Excellency’s promise and commitment to deliver it within his first year in office. Now, that promise has become a reality, delivered within a record time of 5 months”, he added.
While presenting the traditional kola nuts, the chiefs of Andoni, led by the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru, conferred on Governor Fubara, the Njenyisi 1 of Ogbolo Land (meaning the champion of development of the people).

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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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