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Detractors Sabotaging Governance, Fubara Tells Editors

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has revealed desperate and spirited efforts by detractors to sabotage his administration at every point in its determination to deliver good governance and quality services to Rivers people.
This is as the Governor has clarified that the present administration will not go into the completion of the monorail project initiated by the Chibuike Amaechi-led government, except a serious private sector investor decides to commit resources to the project under a well-defined private public partnership arrangement.
Governor Fubara emphasised that he would want to be remembered by not just the signature road projects with legacy bridges and flyovers, but sustainable impact human capital and manpower development and as well as other critical infrastructure landmarks to bridge the healthcare and education gaps in the State.
The State Chief Executive Officer said these while addressing officers of the Standing Committee and members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors led by the NGE President, Eze Anaba, at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt on Sunday evening.
Also on the delegation were chief executive officers, heads of stations, editors, heads and managers of news of other media outfits located in the Rivers State capital, as well as leaders of the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists and Correspondents Chapel of NUJ, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and Rivers State Independent Publishers’ Association (RIVPA).
The Governor said: “Monorail? Great project that was initiated by that administration. But I think they didn’t do proper studies before venturing into it.
“The cost of that project would have been cheaper if the rail was laid flat along plane land along normal road instead of hanging it on cast pillars.
“I don’t hold anything against him. But if it is something we can do, definitely we will do it. But I tell you, we cannot go in that kind of thing now.
“If we have anybody who is willing to come and put money because we are making Rivers investment-friendly, it will be fine. We will definitely welcome the idea and support such investor but not too much.”
The Governor explained that detractors were desperately attempting to frustrate and embarrass the State Government’s dogged efforts to provide the dividends of democracy to the people on whose mandate it was striving to legitimately and constitutionally serve the interest of the State.
Governor Fubara listed attempts to scuttle the process of governance in the State, including the clandestine calls to some key speakers and prominent personalities invited to participate at the just-concluded Rivers Economic and Investment Summit not to associate with his administration, or participate in the programme designed to reposition the State for robust investments and progressive economic rejuvenation.
He said that it took the courage of some the speakers and invited guests to honour the government and participate fully in the programme.
He also drew the editors’ attention to efforts to frustrate the revival and completion of the Port Harcourt International Automobile Spare Parts Trading and Commercial Centre just flagged-off at Iriebe in Elelenwo, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area about a month ago by cajoling the previous contractors who had abandoned the project due to lack of support to sue the State Government to court, to derail the project.
He noted that this was after his administration had settled and paid off the initial contractors engaged by the previous administration on the project, adding that because of the reputation and integrity of the contractors, they declined to follow the path of dishonour and sabotage of the greater good and interest of the State.
“The previous administration already had an arrangement that started even before that time. We came in, took up this project, called the partners who could not continue because their investors were Russians and when the crisis started they couldn’t come in their funds again.
“But because they have committed money there, we invited the investor to come, we discussed and agreed, paid off the old investor.
“Then we called a new investor to come and take over the project. The new investor started but you won’t believe that people who don’t want us to succeed even had to go and call the former investor, asked him to take us to court.
“But thank God for those of us who still have fear and respect for God because the investor told them, why am I taking them to court, for what? The government called us, we sat, we discussed and we were paid off. What justification do I have. How can I even look at the the head of government?”
Governor Fubara also highlighted the challenges faced by the government on the construction of the 20,000 housing units in Mgbodo-Aluu axis of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development area in Ikwerre Local Government, saying that the investors in the project have faced litigations from land grabbers sponsored by opposition elements targeting to scuttle the government.
He explained that the massive lands duly acquired and paid for by the Chibuike Amaechi-led administration at the area have been deliberately encroached on by sponsored land grabbers who had emerged to claim ownership of the lands and have already instituted no fewer than 52 litigations against the government for lands the government had paid for many years ago.
“We have got over 52 litigations, people coming to claim that the land belong to them. That is to tell you the level of sabotage that this government is facing.
“When I tell you that I don’t like to talk, I have a reason. But it has to get to a point where you tell the world that this is what it is.”
Governor Fubara emphasized that despite the many deliberate sabotage efforts and political crisis engineered by his detractors, his administration has remained focused on the ball, and has consciously recorded significant successes within its one year in office but four months of full control of governance of the State.
He restated the “Rivers People First” mantra of his administration, saying that he expend Rivers money to deliver quality services and good governance to Rivers people, and not one individual or group of few desperate politicians angling to satisfy their selfish desires and ambitions.
He said, “We are a government legitimately and constitutionally constituted in the State. It is our duty to carry out the function and act of governance properly. But somehow, we have some issues which I won’t want to dwell on.
“Like I said, we have to move on, and moving on is where we are today. By the special grace of God, we have recorded successes. We might not have gotten it the way it would have been, if everything was fine. It takes a government that is courageous to do what we have done,” given our circumstances.
He noted that at the inception of his administration a year ago, strategies were put in place to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State, adding that good money was saved which is being committed to landmark projects that are now ongoing in the State.
The Governor explained that his administration decided to execute key signature projects that had been avoided by previous administrations because their impact would add significant value to the lives of the people and spike the revenue profile of the State to enable it bounce back as a buoyant economic hub and compete favourably with Lagos, including deepening its potential in the blue economy.
He listed such ‘trunk A’ projects as the expansive 50:51km Port Harcourt Ring Road project, traversing six local government areas of Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Etche, Elele, and Okrika, with a river crossing, six flyovers, over 12 roundabouts and interchanges; the 12km original Trans-Kalabari Road, connecting Port Harcourt City to the three Kalabari local governments of Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru, and Degema, with many bridges; as well as the 33.5km Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road, with many bridges also
The Governor said that out of the whopping sum of N195billion total cost, excluding compensation, 77 percent of the sum amounting to N147billion has been paid to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc handling the Port Harcourt Ring Road, with significant work already done from six sections of the projects.
He also noted that the Trans-Kalabari Road project, which was flagged-off by former President Goodluck Jonathan on May 20, would cost a total of N225.1billion, out of which 30 percent, amounting to N67billion has been paid upfront to facilitate mobilization and fast-track construction work in the difficult deltaic terrain.
The Governor further stated that the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project would cost the government a staggering N80.8billion, out of which N40.4billion, representing 50 percent of the contract sum has been paid, adding that the government decided to award contract for the road to save lives of people from that axis of the State from criminal gangs, open up the area to increase business activities and connectivity while facilitating communication of the people through land routes to Imo State.
Governor Fubara stressed that apart from the Port Harcourt Ring Road, which was being funded from loan facility, the three key projects of Trans-Kalabari Road, Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road, and the Okania-Ogbogoro Road, also costing over N6billion, were being funded with savings accruing from IGR and federation accounts allocations over the last one year.
Governor Fubara said, “First, we; this administration is the one that commenced the Port Harcourt Ring Road project at the cost of N195billion, excluding compensation and we have paid 77 percent of that money, which is about N147billion.
“We have also done something for the people of this State. I hear people saying Trans-Kalabari Road phase one or phase two. There is nothing like a first phase.
“What we had in the State was building a bridge that connects Degema to Krakrama communities, and for you to access that place, you will still need to go into the heart of Kalabari land to ply that road.”
Governor Fubara explained that the original Trans-Kalabari Road project his administration has awarded will enable movement directly into Port Harcourt City.
“This will not take you from Elele, going that far as if you are going to Mbiama, no, no. Here, you’ll just drive into the heart of Port Harcourt City. That is the one we just awarded. That project would cost the State Government N225billion.
“So far, we have already paid 50 percent of it (N67billion) down payment as our commitment. I believe that you also heard it or watched it on the television where we invited our father, the former president Goodluck Jonathan to come and flag it off for us.
“Let me talk you something about the Trans-Kalabari Road project. By the special grace of God, because we have already started it.”
Governor Fubara said further: “By the time we deliver that road, development enters there, issues of crime will reduce. Issues of boat mishaps will be off, the menace of sea piracy will disappear.
“It is true that some people will still be using the old channels but it will help to bring the economy of he state to a certain level. Connectivity is the in-word now.
“So, we are also dualising that road, the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road. That particular road will cost the State Government about N80billion. For that one, we have also commenced work, awarded it to a contractor and paid 50 percent.
“So, I have been saving. Maybe, that’s why they term me as a bad person. But at the end of the day, what counts is the projects that have been delivered, projects that will change the life of Rivers people. Projects that will change the face and the economic status of the State.”
The Governor added that over 34 projects inherited from the immediate past administration had been completed, while others were being expedited for completion, adding that his administration would turn around infrastructure in the healthcare and education sectors in the next six months.
He lamented the dearth of secondary healthcare facilities as well as decent education development infrastructure across the local governments, and assured that in no distant time, his government would transform both sectors for the good of the people of the State in line with its policy thrust of the People First.
Governor Fubara said the situation was pathetic because there was virtually no intermediary health facilities in the State that he met and poorly operated primarily healthcare delivery system.
“Forget about what you read and what you see on issues of hospitals in Rivers State, maybe about the Dr Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagnostic and Treatment Center and, Mother and Child Hospital.
“When we came in, the only functional health centres were the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Choba the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) in old GRA that belongs to the Rivers State University.
“By the special grace of God, we are able to at least, improve the status of about 36 of primary healthcare facilities. So, we already had a target of making sure that in the next one month or so, there will be intense activity to improve the services at the intermediary health facilities.”
Governor Fubara talked about the report submitted to him by a group called New Global that had approached his administration to allow it invest $5million in developing capacity of teachers.
“We said ok, go and assess our schools. After the assessment, do you know that they told us? You’re below benchmark.
Sir Fubara, however stated: “We want to go beyond building bridges alone. I won’t limit my legacy to only Trans-Kalabari Road project, Port Harcourt Ring Road project, and other roads projects, no. I want to develop human capacity.”
In his remarks, Presudent of the NGE, Mr Eze Anaba, informed the Governor that the Standing Committee members were in the State to attend a statutory meeting of the executive body, and thanked the administration for providing the enabling environment for a hitch-free interactive session.
In her vote of thanks, the Deputy President of the NGE, Husseina Bangshika, commended Governor Fubara for anchoring his administration on the path of peace, infrastructure and human capacity development, adding that his commitment to meeting the needs of Rivers people first was the hallmark of genuine leadership and good governance.
The NGE deputy president noted the landmark projects being undertaken by the administration, despite the many sabotage attempts and politically-induced crisis by self-seeking politicians, and urged Governor Fubara remain focused, and continue to pursue the path of peace, reconciliation and sustainable development of the State.
She also tasked critics and opposition politicians and well-meaning Rivers people to rally round the Governor to move the State to the next level, so as to renew the hopes of Rivers people, and indeed, Nigerians in a great future ahead, saying that it is only in an atmosphere of peace and mutual concord that development can take place and the people can enjoy the fruits of their labour.

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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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