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Our Govt Is Guided By Rule Of Law -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that there is a greater and assuring resolve of his administration to follow his course lawfully to the end concerning the festering political crisis in the State.
The Governor, therefore, urged supporters and all Rivers people to eschew violence and conduct themselves in compliance with the rule of law, as he is already on top of the situation.
Governor Fubara spoke at Tema Junction, venue of the ceremony for the official inauguration of Emohua-Kalabari (Tema Junction) Road project in Asari-Toru Local Government Area on Friday.
The project inauguration was performed by the senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson.
Governor Fubara assured that he will continue to lead the State with the fear of God and guided by the laws of the land, adding that he would never let Rivers people down, including all those who believe in his leadership.
He said, “I want to thank everyone of you for your support. I want to thank you specially for your support during the time of the election; before, during and the wonderful support we are getting now after the election. And the support is what is shocking the whole world.
“We don’t have any Assembly member, like they said. We don’t have any local government chairman, like they said. But we have the people. Having the people is the most important thing. I assure the people that we will not disappoint them.”
Governor Fubara emphasised: “We will lead as a Government that has the fear of God, purposeful for the people. I assure you that we will not let you down. We will not bring any form of disgrace.
“But I am not asking you to be violent. No need for it. The most important thing is our course: we will follow it lawfully to the end. And by the special grace of God, we are on top of the situation.”
Governor Fubara encouraged the people to continue to support the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government, and ensure that they are protecting important Government installations in Kalabari land.
The Governor observed the troubling issues of unabated illegal bunkering activities and vandalism of critical infrastructure of State, which has caused a depletion of inflow of revenue to the federation accounts.
Governor Fubara, who particularly said that recurring reports of the Nigerian Navy emphasised the preponderance of such activities in the area, tasked youths to stop engaging in such economic sabotage.
“When you watch or read most of the reports on the activities by the Nigerian Navy, you will see that greater part of these bunkering activities are done, more especially in this area.
“I want to appeal to you, there are other justifiable and clean means of livelihood. We must not subject ourselves to economic sabotage. Please, I am appealing to you, it is better we desist from it.
“I am going to constitute a very high-powered delegation that will visit these areas, and talk to the leadership: the chiefs and the community heads and leaders, so that we can improve on our present state.
“When we have (exploited) more crude oil resources from this area, it brings in more resources (finances) to the state, it brings more resources (finances) to the country. Mr President can do more projects and the State can also do more projects. Afterall, you will want me to do more projects. So, support me in this fight to end illegal bunkering and oil pipeline vandalization.”
Commenting on the Emohua-Kalabari Road project, Governor Fubara said it was awarded on the 18th February, 2023, by the immediate past administration at the cost of N21.2billion but only paid N6billion.
Governor Fubara stated that his administration paid the remainder of N15.2billion, and completed 70 percent of the job to confidently claim it as part of his projects delivered for the good of the people in Kalabari land.
He said, “Although the Permanent Secretary did mention a few things, and I know that when we leave here, some agents will want to say one thing or the other. So, I came prepared.
“Let me also say it here, maybe, Julius Berger Nigeria PLC was being economical with their presentation. On my table as I am talking to you, there is a request for variation of the cost of this project.
“This is because, as at the time this project was awarded, and while the project was on-going, there was serious exchange rate differences. But I told them not to worry that they should go ahead and complete this project, and I assured them that we will sort them out and they accepted.
“For the records, this project was awarded on the 18th of February, 2023, by the immediate past administration. In the month of March, the first payment for the project was done, and the next one was in April, and the third one was in May.
“The total value of this project is N21.2billlion, and out of that, only N6billion was what the previous administration committed.
“When we came on board, we said to the contactor, go ahead, assuring that we are not cutting it short because we know that the project is for the benefit of our people. I can boldly say here that the balance of N15.2billion has been paid completely.
“So, for those of you that are mathematicians and even those of you who understand elementary statistics, you will understand that 70 percent of this project was done by this administration. Therefore, we can boldly say that this project was delivered by this administration.
“That is not even an issue but the reason why we have to go on this line is just to explain to our people, so that you will understand where we were and exactly where we are now.
“Originally, our mantra was supposed to be ‘Consolidation and Continuity’. And if that is our mantra, the success of our administration should not be ascribed to anybody, but to the success of the administration, to the success of governance, knowing fully well that one will serve out our tenure and another will continue, and government is a continuous process.
“But with what we are faced with, we have no other option but to do this explanation so that we will understand the works that we are doing. For those people who say that we have not been doing anything, they will know that we have been doing a lot silently, not with noise or media exaggeration.”
Governor Fubara, who assured that he will continue to deploy resources of the State to better the conditions of the people, directed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works to commence the process for the immediate extension of the road from Tema Junction to Abonnema Town.
The Governor explained that the Trans-Kalabari Road project was re-routed away from the Ogbakiri axis because of the high maritime line entailed in the construction work and the associated cost but assured that the road will still connect to Tombia Town.
“Let me assure our people, as I have said before, this Government is a Government that is focused. This Government is a Government that wants the forgotten people to feel the impact of governance.
“This Government is a Government that wants to give opportunity to everyone. You don’t need to be close to me to benefit, that is the truth. This is because I see it as sycophancy. What we need to do, we will do it for our people.
“So, let me thank the four local government areas which co-operated to make this project a success: Emohua, Asari-Toru, Degema and Akuku-Toru. And let me also thank the traditional leadership of the Kalabari Kingdom, please just be peaceful, everything that we desire, by the special grace of God, will definitely come our way.”
Performing the inauguration of the project, the senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, said that crisis makes some people to forget governance but added that Governor Fubara has refused to be distracted but had rather committed to improving the wellbeing of the people.
Senator Dickson, who was former Governor of Bayelsa State, said the project is a life-changing development endeavour because his experience plying the road when it was deplorable was also unpleasant but noted that that phase was now gone, and joined the people to appreciate Governor Fubara for the feat.
He said, “Today, we have seen what you are doing. When we led that delegation last week to you at Government House, I didn’t know that you are embarking on life-changing projects like this across the length and breathe of this area.
“Not many people will see this and doubt your commitment and your understanding of the imperatives of development. Your love for our people, your love for Rivers people, and your understanding of the challenges facing your people, if anyone was in doubt, looking at this wonderful road, such doubts, clearly will be misplaced.”
He praised the Governor for what he has achieved in such a short time, despite the deliberate distractions, and urged him to remain focused to do more for the people.
He added as a competent accountant, he was sure that the Governor will prudently deploy every taxpayer’s sweat into meaningful development projects that will positively impact the majority of the people of the State.
Providing the description of the project, the Permanent Secretary of Rivers State Ministry of Works, Engr Atemea Briggs, said the Emohua-Kalabari Road is 15.24km in length, and was awarded at the cost of N21.26billion by the previous administration, which paid only 28 percent of that sum, which amounted to N6billion with work left at preliminary stage.
Engr Briggs stated other features of the road that is serving as major access into Kalabari land to include its width as 5.3 meters, with asphalt thickness of 100 millimeters – made up of 60 millimeters concrete asphaltic binder course and 40 millimeters asphaltic wearing course, with a median divide of 600 millimeters and installed street light, now completed and fully paid.
In his presentation, the Deputy Regional Manager of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, Engr Rimon Morisho, said the Emohua-Abalama-Tema Junction Road project was awarded to them in February, 2023, with a completion period of 18 months.
He said that because of the company’s commitment to meeting contractual obligations, they ensured delivery of the project in good quality and ahead of schedule
Engr Morisho stated that his company was proud to have contributed significantly to the development of infrastructure in the region, and expressed gratitude to Governor Fubara for the opportunity, including the trust reposed in them to be part of his success story.
In her welcome address, the Vice Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, Mrs Tekena Daphne Wokoma, recalled that the road, which was properly constructed with bridges first in the 1990s, eventually collapsed few years after.
The unattended deplorable condition of the road, she stated, created motoring discomfort for commuters with kidnappers and armed robbers finding it more easy to operate on the route but added that Governor Fubara has wiped away their tears, saved them from the nightmare and associated difficulties.
Dr Wokoma said the road will further improve the economic potentials of the benefiting communities in the four local government areas of Emohua, Degema, Asari-Toru and Akoku-Toru.

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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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