Archive for July, 2015

Youth storm radio station featuring NLNG spokesman to protest Drydock Shipyard site decision

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: news |

Youth storm radio station featuring NLNG spokesman to protest Drydock Shipyard site decision

The raging controversy over proposed citing of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural gas company drydock shipyard in Badagry, Lagos rather than its operational base in Bonny Island or Niger delta region took a turn for the worst as some youth led by the General National Secretary of Ijaw Youths Council, Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya stormed the premises of Love FM 97.7 venue of a live radio phone-in programme featuring, Tony Okonedo the NLNG spokesman to massively protest the decision.

The youths who said the protest was premised on two issues said they are disappointed over the role of NLNG management in  the decision to construct the first major ship yard in Badagry Lagos,, adding also that they are embarrassed that NLNG management also brazenly bribed management of Love FM 97.7 to stall the appearance of the General National Secretary of IYC who was slated to appear on the same Love FM live programme to speak elaborately on the shipyard saga in order to
pave way for the NLNG spokesman, Tony Okonedo to appear in the programme instead on a face saving mission.

The protesters waited patiently at the premises of the Love FM radio station and hoisted their placard in protest waiting for the moment the NLNG spokesperson will alight from the building.

With inscriptions such as: WE CAN NO LONGER SUFFER IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY! BONNY AND NIGER DELTA PEOPLE CANNOT SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF NLNG GAS FLARING AND YET LOSE THE GAINS OF AN NLNG SHIPYARD! WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN UNTIL NLNG REVERSES ITS DECISION! NLNG DECISION WILL DENY OUR YOUTH’S EMPLOYMENT AND OUR GOVERNMENT DUE TAX! ONNE, BONNY AND OTHER AREAS IN THE NIGER DELTA HAS HUGE POTENTIALS TO HOST THAT
PROJECT!!,
The NLNG spokesman who finally alighted found out with shock the number of placard hoisting youths on parade but kept mum until he was driving off.

Meanwhile during the live phone-in programme the NLNG spokesperson, Tony Okonedo had outlined some of the benefit derived from the company by the host communities, he explained that NLNG is not wholly responsible for the $1.5 billion dollar project but only a facilitator whose decisions are not automatically binding.

However the NLNG spokesman’s defense was met with strong criticism from different quarters, notably from IYC General National secretary Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya who said there is no iota of truth in the defense put up by the NLNG spokesman. According to him before the decision to cite the project in Badagry was reached were the stakeholders in the host communities consulted?

He demanded the certified true copies of the feasibility study carried out to ascertain where it was clearly stated that Onne, Bonny, Ogogoro island among others in the Niger delta are second to Badagry. “We want to know why Badagry was singled out as the best place to cite the project”. According to him, “we need to know if it was adjudged the best or one of the best, If the feasibility study had said Badagry was one of the best places then we have reason to start asking questions
why options like closeness to the raw materials and closeness to operational base and consideration for the people that bear the brunt of pollution were not considered”, he said adding that until we are able to get clarity on these issues we will continue to condemn in strong terms the decision and will continue to press that the NLNG shipyard building be reverted back to Niger delta.

“NLNG cannot deceitfully use money for Niger delta development to develop other areas while our people wallow in abject poverty. We advise strongly that they reconsider their decision because we will continue to express our grievances and shall pursue this matter until we reach a logical end” Bristol was quoted as saying.

Former Youth leader of Bonny Youth Federation, Gift Furo in hos remark argued that we have enough manpower and security to cite the project in Niger delta, “We hear that Lagos state is congested, how come they want to further congest it with the Badagry shipyard project in Lagos
when we have virgin Lands with huge potentials in the Niger delta to accommodate the shipyard project. More painful is the fact that there is regional marginalization under corporate decisions to perpetually marginalize our people and the Niger delta region” he said.

It will be recalled that NLNG company is sponsoring the construction of the first major ship yard in Africa’s biggest economy at the cost of $1.5 billion, in its attempt to turn the country into a hub for
maritime operations on the continent. Nigeria is the world’s eighth biggest crude oil producer and Africa’s top oil exporter but it does not have a drydock for maintaining and repairing large crude oil
vessels, a major drawback for carriers sailing to the country

NLNG spokesman, Tony Okonedo had said in the programme that only South Africa had such a facility on the continent, meaning that ships travelled a long distance for repairs. He said Nigeria has two facilities that can only accommodate small vessels. Okonedo disclosed that Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries had both made a $30-million commitment towards the construction of the facility adding that decision has been reached to locate it in Badagry, Lagos.

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited, NLNG, a joint venture project between the federal government and foreign oil majors in the country, has generated $85 billion from exports since its inception 15 years ago.

Source: Anderson Hart is a Media and Publicity Consultant, Online News Expert,
Social Network Professional, Print and Electronic Media Journalist Per
Excellence.

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Rivers APC calls for trial of Wike, others for murder

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: , |

….Congratulates Peterside on Election Tribunal victory

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to hasten to fulfil his pledge that those who perpetrated various acts of violence during the last general elections would be duly punished so as to serve as a deterrent to others who may be contemplating such acts in the future.

“We appeal to our Dear President to quickly look at the issue of Rivers State, where Chief Nyesom Wike and other Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) henchmen planned and executed a mind-boggling campaign of violence that claimed over a hundred APC members and supporters in their desperate bid to capture power. Wike and his people should be prosecuted for murder without delay to restore hope to the families whose breadwinners were slain during the elections. Wike and his evil collaborators should be brought to justice, as this is the only way the souls of our people killed because of these elections can rest in peace,” Rivers APC said in a statement on Thursday in Port Harcourt and signed by the Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya.

The party told Chief Wike to correctly read the handwriting on the wall and start packing his bags in readiness to leave the Rivers State Government House which he has been occupying since May 29 due to the wrong verdict of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announcing him as winner of the April 11 governorship poll in the State. “We happily welcome the striking out, yesterday by the Rivers Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, of the eligibility suit filed against the APC gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, by Chief Wike. With this, the stage is set for the unraveling of the big scam that saw Chief Wike illegally occupying the Rivers Government House. For Wike, there is no more hiding place. He should start packing his bags as his ouster is imminent,” Rivers APC said.
The party congratulated Dr. Dakuku Peterside for all the successes he has so far recorded at the Tribunal and urged him not to relent until the infamous victory of Wike against the wishes of Rivers State and her people is completely upturned. “We remain fully convinced that Dr. Peterside is the popular choice of Rivers people and that he will retrieve his stolen mandate sooner than later,” Rivers APC said.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,

SSA on Media and Public Affairs to the State Chairman, APC Rivers State.

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Keep Rivers State Clean, Obuah Charges Service Providers

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: , |

…Says No Contractor Will Be Punished Unjustly

The Sole Administrator of Rivers State Waste Management Agency, Bro Felix Obuah charges service providers currently handling different jobs with the Agency to keep Port Harcourt and its environs clean, assuring that no contractor will be punished unjustly.

Addressing contractors handling different jobs with the Agency on Thursday, July 30, 2015, at the Agency’s Headquarters in Port Harcourt,  Bro. Obuah disclosed that over 3814 contractors have applied for various contracts with the Agency, saying they should consider themselves lucky, because a lot of others are enthusiastic of doing jobs with this Agency.

The Sole Administrator further revealed that over 95 percent of contractors were inherited by his administration from the previous government in the State and that any decision taken so far or to be taken is certainly in the interest of the State.

He emphasized that the Agency is not collecting any money for waste generated, as Rivers State government is paying for them, saying the only report he wants to receive regarding the contractors is that they are doing   their job well, reiterating that he will not let any stone unturned in his quest to achieve a clean and healthy State. In doing this, he assured, “am not here to witch-hunt any contractor, but I am your partner in progress”.

While strongly condemning the attitude of some contractors who stopped working because government was changing in the month of May 2015, and that the Agency is also aware that some contractors do not have compactors and other equipments to work with, the RIWAMA Boss also announced that with effect from Saturday, August 1, 2015, Sweeping and De-silting contracts will be carried out in the various local government areas currently being covered by the Agency.

This, he explained, is to allow the Caretaker Committee Chairmen of the affected Local Government Areas engage people within the locality, and who are familiar with the terrain to sweep the streets and roads, as well as clean the gutters.

He appealed to the contractors to join the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Barr. Nyesom Wike, in his desire to keep Rivers State clean and healthy, and to return the city of Port Harcourt to its lost glory, the garden city status, by diligently doing their jobs well.

Meanwhile, Contractors at the meeting unanimously commended the Sole Administrator, Bro Felix Obuah, for what they described as transparent and open door policy as well as prompt payment of their money. They also resolved to forfeit May 2015 money, following reports and confirmation that they did not work.

Signed:

Jerry Needam

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity

To the Sole Administrator,

Rivers State Waste Management Agency

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Gov. Wike in hot soup, as FG probes 28 Ministries’ N4trn debts under GEJ

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: , |

Gov. Wike in hot soup, as FG probes 28 Ministries’ N4trn debts under GEJ

…Education Ministry tops with N1.2 trillion

The All Progressives Congress, APC, Rivers State Chapter has congratulated the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari [GCON] for ordering the comprehensive probe of the N4trillion debt by 28 Ministries and their departments and agencies handed over by the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

“We are deeply sad and embarrassed that the highest culprit among the 28 Federal Ministries was the one headed by a Rivers son, Barr. Nyesom Wike as Minister of State and later as substantive Minister. Out of the total sum of N4 trillion debts accumulated largely through unconscionable and reckless contract awards and graft, the Federal Ministry of Education under Nyesom Wike came out tops with a total debt of N1.2 trillion or 30 percent of the total indebtedness by the 28 Ministries” the party said in a statement today signed by its chairmain Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, JP and made available to The Press by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone.

The statement reads in full:

For the APC, judgment time has come for the former Minister now Governor of Rivers State given that a number of sordid things were perpetrated in the Ministry while under his watch.

The then Minister of Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike got audit queries in his Ministry for 3 years which he blatantly refused to respond to. And each time he was reported to the then President Jonthan, the President did nothing but rather shielded him from responding to queries in line with civil service rules.

At some point, the matter was reported to the National Assembly Committees on Public Accounts who invited the then Minister, Barr. Nyesom Wike for clarifications. Again, he blatantly refused to comply with the invitations with the active protection of former President Jonathan.

The APC recalls that sometime ago, a mysterious fire broke out at the Federal Ministry of Education Headquarters; Abuja in what was allegedly a deliberate arson to destroy vital evidence on corruption in the Ministry with fingers pointing at some highly placed persons.

The APC has earlier drawn attention to an allegation that N20bn was released for the purchase of books for Federal Government institutions, adding that such books were never provided. We also drew attention to the Almajiri School Scheme, the Universal Basic Education, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and the N87bn approved for the ministry but not utilised. Another is the N180bn UBEC funds allegedly looted by Chief Wike and Dame Patience Jonathan, through fraudulent contracts for the supply of textbooks to higher institutions but the textbooks were never supplied.

When the special task force to conduct the probe of the Ministries is raised by the Federal Government, The APC would like it to be meticulous with its assignment especially with the Federal Ministry of Education that was headed by an artful dodger and master of underhand deal-making.

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Bayelsa Governorship Poll: Do not be deceived, Tatua tells Bayelsans

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: news |

Bayelsa Governorship Poll: Do not be deceived, Tatua tells Bayelsans

By Nwaorgu Faustinus

image001Mrs. Ibifuro Thompson Tatua who is the spokesperson of the Niger Delta People’s Movement, has enjoined Bayelsans to come out en masse to support and vote for the former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva who will make Bayelsa State prosperous during the forthcoming governorship election.

According to her, “Bayelsa State needs an effective leader. Sylva represents very different vision for the future of the state. He has a vision that will finally defeat the unethical, incompetent Seriake Dickson led PDP leadership in the next election” she said.

She also advised Bayelsans at home and abroad not to be carried away by the alleged endorsement of certain people in the state.

Tatua said misguided attacks by some self-acclaimed leaders and their backers would never deter Sylva from becoming governor of the state”.

Speaking in a breakfast session with leaders of major political parties in Yenagoa, Tatua said Sylva would make the difference in the politics and development of the state.

“Bayelsans have a choice in December to pick someone who can bring about a new direction in the state, or someone who seems to want to lead because they think they are entitled to lead. Bayelsa needs a new direction, and Sylva represents that direction”.

Drawing inspiration from the good governance template as laid down by the group, Tatua said  Sylva’s  leadership would go beyond providing critical infrastructure, paying salaries, gratuities, pensions, employing large number of qualified people into the civil service and financing the education of thousands in local and foreign universities.

“Sylva will complete abandoned and all on-going projects in the state. He will find solution to the problems of the state, inculcate positive values like honesty, hard work, and fairness and ensure social justice and good governance in the state.

“Sylva will also encourage the poor and powerless to take part in the government of the communities and the state, promote grassroots economic development, prevent environmental degradation, help the poor people develop a clearer understanding of the social, political and economic factors affecting their lives, make the development process more accountable, transparent and participatory as well as provide conducive atmosphere for local and foreign investors” Tatua said.

“Sylva is committed to ushering in a brand new way of doing things for the state. He will get Bayelsa’s economic house in order, by ensuring progressive spending and social engineering policies in place” she added

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Rivers APC’s Election Petition Tribunal Triumph: ‘It is God’s doing’ – Finebone

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: Politics | Tags: |

Rivers APC’s Election Petition Tribunal Triumph: ‘It is God’s doing’ – Finebone

It is now common knowledge that the APC had a string of favourable rulings at all the election petition tribunals today sitting at Abuja. From the matter of locational jurisdiction of the panels to the now vexed issue of 21 days notice to INEC for party primaries, the APC candidates all got positive rulings.

It is of immense significance to point out, at this juncture, that about a fortnight ago, one of the tribunals ruled that the petitions of Dr. Dawari George and Hon. Lucky Odili did not meet the time requirement as specified in the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, an otherwise pre-election matter.

Following this ruling, the Rivers State Chapter of the PDP went on air to announce that same rulings awaited all petitions by APC candidates before the various tribunals.

Today, the APC is glad to state that the particular tribunal that handed that ruling on the matters of Dr. Dawari George and Hon. Lucky Odili, having realised the grave error it committed with those rulings, now ruled that the issue at stake was actually a pre-election matter and therefore dismissed the objection of Betty Apiafi in the matter of Ahoada East/Abual Odua Federal Constituency involving Hon(Mrs) Betty Apiafi and APC Candidate, Hon.Robinson Nnamdi Ewor.

The Tribunal maintained that matters regarding errors during primaries are pre-election matters, and therefore the Tribunal was not constituted to look into such matters, but disputes arising from the conduct of the election.

The Tribunal must have also taken advantage of a recent Kwara State appeal court ruling that all such matters are pre-election issues that are not within the scope of work before election tribunals.

Therefore, a number of things are now clear from the present situation.

The matter of 21 days notice to INEC for Primaries has been confirmed a pre-election matter which is beyond the adjudication of the election petition tribunals. It also means that none of the petitions of the APC candidates in Rivers State is in danger of disqualification on the basis of such a pre-election requirement at the tribunals. Most importantly, it confirms that the ruling on the matter reserved for Wednesday with regard to the motion by Gov. Nyesom Wike and the PDP against Dr. Dakuku Peterside and the APC is likely to suffer a dismissal as no proper ruling on same matter under same circumstances can go in a different direction. Yet again, it serves notice that Hon. Dawari George and Hon Lucky Odili will have the rulings on their matter reversed as the appeals have already been filed.

The APC would like to appeal to our leaders and members to continue to remain steadfast in our determination to reclaim our individual and collective mandates taken away by the Philistines of our time who are already plundering our commonwealth while threatening us with violence.

Signed

Chris Finebone

Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary

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Amaechi’s role to free Nigeria of the Polio Scourge

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Amaechi’s role to free Nigeria of the Polio Scourge

Gov Chibuike  Rotimi Amaechi

Gov Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

By Philemon Doro Adjekuko.

It has been about a year now since Nigeria recorded any case of polio.  For over 17 years, the disease was on rampage, especially in the northern part of the country. The country accounted for about 50% of global and 80% of African polio cases.  Nigeria was the face of the disease.
According to one medical source, “polio is a viral illness that begins with flu-like symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting and/or diarrhea and muscle aching. The virus enters the body through the stomach and intestines. In some people the virus can enter into the central nervous system and produce damage to motor nerve cells, whose function is to instruct muscles to move”.

Concerned about the inability of national governments to tackle the rapid advance of the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) back in 1988 launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with the goal of eradicating the disease by the year 2000.  By 1996, WHO realized that the eradication initiative was not going as planned in terms of reducing the outbreak and spread of the disease. A massive booster immunization initiative “kick out polio” was launched. The initiative was indeed ground breaking as vaccination was taken to the door steps of millions of children across the world, especially in vulnerable regions.  Nigeria was again, the poster child of the campaign.

According to Maryam Yahya an anthropological researcher, everything was going on well until July 2003 when three Northern states of Kano, Zamfara and Kaduna halted the campaign on the ground   that “the vaccines were deliberately contaminated with anti-fertility agents and the HIV virus” There were also some cultural and political angles to the boycott.

The botched Trovan trial on 200 children against meningitis by Pfizer in 1996 which led to the death of at least five of them provided another strong reason for the popularity of the call for boycott of the polio immunization.  The boycott was costly in both economic and human terms as more northern states joined. Most of those who managed to survive polio attack became severely and irreversibly deformed.

That was the state of things when then Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi took over as Chairman of Governor’s Forum in May 2011. Health was on top of Amaechi’s mind and he had a robust plan for primary, secondary and tertiary levels of the health sector in Rivers State. But he was greatly disturbed by the heavy toll polio was inflicting on the country, especially in the north.

Back in May 2014 when I asked Mr Asishana Okauru, DG of Governors’ Forum about how Amaechi went about the fight against polio, he was practically speechless. When he eventually got his voice back, he said he had never seen anything like it.

“Ameachi made polio a permanent part of our agenda for at least 18 months. At every single meeting it was discussed. So when you see that polio is being well managed today it is because of his effort.   And I can tell you that it is that same spirit that helped the country with the outbreak of ebola.  So with that state of mind every time there is a challenge that should be handled at the sub-national level with a common governance template, you see all of them (the governors) moving in the same direction because of that mentality. So, when you have something consistently on your agenda for eighteen months, there is just no way would you not make progress”.

Okauru said each of the states set up an emergency centre that was linked to a special desk managed by a public health expert Dr Zikrullah Giwa at the Forum’s office in Abuja.   At each meeting, Dr Giwa would brief the governors on the state of affairs in the crisis states.  Any state that was not doing well with the immunization initiative was put on the spot for explanation.     The governors all bought into the project so much so that they never travelled for the Forum’s meetings without establishing their current “status” from their commissioners of health.

As Okauru said above, it was that collegiate and governance template approach that later became helpful during the deadly Ebola outbreak in mid-2014.   Incidentally, Rivers State was the only state outside Lagos that was hit by Ebola. The collaborative efforts of the two states as well as the Federal Government helped Nigeria tremendously in containing the spread of the fearsome disease.

The success recorded in the immunization program following Amaechi’s drive at the Forum has paid off handsomely.  Having been free of a fresh case of polio in almost a year, Nigeria is currently waiting to be delisted from the list of polio endemic countries by end of August this year.  If the status quo remains till 2017, the country will be then be declared polio free.  If that happens, it will be a major relief to Africa and the rest of the world.
Hopefully, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi will be remembered for his tireless effort and contribution to making Nigeria polio free.

Philemon Doro Adjekuko
is a development economist and media consultant based in Abuja.

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PDP is dead in Lagos State -Olorogun-Etti

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: news | Tags: |

PDP is dead in Lagos State -Olorogun-Etti

Njamanze Fidel

Chief Babatunde Olorogun – Etti on Monday called on Lagosians to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to develop the country.

He also urged Buhari to steer the ship of state away from economic hardship, political wrangling and insecurity.

Speaking in Lagos Island shortly after defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olorogun-Etti praised the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu for piloting the party along the path of greatness in Nigeria, particularly the South-West geo-political zone. He described him as a dynamic and brilliant politician.

“The development, growth and peaceful co-existence of the state should be paramount to us. APC is large enough to accommodate everybody. Senator Bola Tinubu has been fair to everybody no matter which divide of the state such a person comes from. Therefore, any citizen of Lagos State who loves this state, who believes he has a stake in the development of this state with a passion, has no reason to be in PDP” he said.

Olorogun Etti also hit at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos chapter, declaring the party dead in the state.

“It’s time to face facts: PDP is finished in Lagos State. PDP can no longer compete in any serious way in Lagos. The local government election in the state will be a formality” he said.

He urged his teeming supporters in the state, particularly Lagos Island to go to their wards and register in the APC.

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Rivers APC calls for the right thing to be done

Posted on July 26, 2015. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

Rivers APC calls for the right thing to be done

The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) says information it received it that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has formally written to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa requesting for the disbandment of the Rivers State House of Assembly Election Tribunal [Panel 1] chaired by Justice Uchenna Okorie allegedly having been appointed in violation of Paragraphs 1[1] and [2] of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

The APC who noted this in a press statement signed by its publicity secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone said, “The APC is not averse to rectifying the constitution of any of the election petition panels as long as such action is to put right a cogent and verifiable error noticed in the process”.

Continuing, the party said: “In the case in point, the APC, as a law-abiding party, agrees that it was wrong to appoint the said Justice Uchenna Okorie being a Justice of the Customary Court of Appeal in Imo State instead of being a justice of the high court. However, we believe that the error might have been caused by the state that handled the nominations and not an error on the part of the President of the Customary Court of Appeal that constituted the panels”.

“The APC will always be in support of what is right unlike our opponents, the PDP who, time and again, allow selfish and pecuniary benefits to determine where they stand on major issues of constitutionality and play politics with everything.

“Therefore, the APC would like to urge the relevant authorities to do the needful with dispatch to thwart the penchant of the PDP to utilize every available opportunity to cause delays to the quick dispense of justice on election petitions pending at the various tribunals” the statement concluded.

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Amaechi’s stellar leadership and the effect of injection of N170 billion into LGAs

Posted on July 24, 2015. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

By Achinike William-Wobodo

Whereas in most States of Nigeria the Chief Executives (Governors) were accused of misappropriating Local Government Councils Funds, the case was different for the former Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Chibuke Rotimi Amaechi. Former Governor Amaechi bequeathed and injected into the local government councils administration over N170 Billion in his eight years in office as the Governor.

Under the present Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, primary school administration and management is placed under the authority of the local government councils. Reports have shown that this is one of the major factors that have led to the very poor foundation in the Nigeria education system. This is so because most of the Local Government Councils do not have the financial capacity to handle the number of primary schools within their area.

For some Local Government Councils, once salaries of primary school teachers were deducted, the Councils were left with nothing to run the Councils, talk less of embarking on infrastructural development. For some others, they were not even able to pay teachers’ salaries. This was the situation popularly referred to as “Zero Allocation”.

This was the situation in Rivers State prior to the emergence of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State. Teachers across the state were not motivated. They were not paid as at when due and the work environment were obviously not conducive. The most outstanding consequence of these was that the primary schools bequeathed to the secondary schools system students that were inadequately prepared; this accounted the poor performance then.

For former Governor Amaechi, that was not good enough for his people, so he immediately declared a State of Emergency in the Education Sector. He commenced with the rebuilding of over 750 Primary School in the State. Each of the school has computer studio with not less the 30 computer; 14 classrooms with smart boards; each class has a teacher and a computer to teach with; the school has 16 toilets; a sickbay; a 700-capacity auditorium; internet wifi; headmaster’s office; a standby generator; open play area; a football field; a demonstration farm; etc. The Rivers School structure and policy have received commendations both locally and internationally and have now become the model for neigbouring state like Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and Edo. On account of the Governor’s policies on Education, Rivers State Government, for four consecutive years, was adjudged the best state in Education by the Federal Ministry of Education and was rewarded with huge sums of money. Rivers State remained undisputed in this position, until Chief Nyesom Wike as Minister of State for Education allegedly, in a bid to whittle-down the perceived political achievements of former Governor Amaechi, directed that Rivers State should no longer tops, albeit, it could not be dropped below second.  The same proactive policy on Education took Rivers State from nowhere and made Port Harcourt City the UNESCO WORLD BOOK CAPITAL 2014, a feat that only a few cities in the world have enjoyed. The state of emergency also saw to the upward spring of the State University of Science and Technology from its number 76th in 2007 to 12th 2014 in the rankings of universities in the country.

Well, this is not the focus of this article. The focus here is the complete takeover of the Primary School System from the Local Government Councils. Prior to the takeover, the salaries of primary school teachers were paid by the Local Government Councils and the monthly wage bill for primary school teachers was a little in excess of N2Billion. Former Governor Amaechi pursuant to the State of Emergency convened a meeting of the stakeholders in the primary school sector and announced the policy of the State Government to take over the administration and management of primary school education in Rivers State, which included payments of primary school teachers’ salaries.

Contrary to expectations, Governor Amaechi announced that the N2billion monthly that was the wage bill for primary school teachers, as at then, and which would have been the contribution of, or cost to, the Local Government Councils should be reverted and re-injected into the Local Government Council System. Subsequently, that wage bill increased following the employment of additional primary school teachers during the popular Rivers State Engagement of 13,200 teachers in one single employment process. The consequence of this policy was enormous, as it put more resources in the coffers of the LGAs, which enabled them to reach out to the local needs of the people better. The implication of this decision and policy is that the Government of Rivers State makes a grant of more than N2 Billion monthly to the Local Government Councils in the State. This policy was initially in the first quarter of 2008 and has run consistently till the former Governor left office in May, 2015. A simple arithmetic puts that amount in seven years as N168 Billion.

As a separate and independent tier of Government, the Councils were allowed to function independently; they generated their needs and created their own policies based on their peculiar needs and realities. Monthly allocations of the councils went to the various Local Government Councils without any interference from the State Government. The Governor never had need to interfere with Local Government management, whether in terms of day-to-day administration of financial administration, except for two or three cases, where the Governor had had, on the approval of the House of Assembly to suspend some Local government Chairmen either on grounds of corruption or inability to address security situation in such LGAs. In those six Local Government Councils where the Chairmen were suspended for inability to maintain law and order, they were restored as soon as security situation in their respective Council Areas was normalized. In fact some Local Government Councils were rewarded for exemplary administration and management of resources; for instance Gokana, Abua/Odual, etc.

Today, the Local Government Councils in Rivers State present a formidable tier to take over the payment of primary school teacher has put additional pressure on the wage bill of Government and with a very robust capacity to address basic and local needs of the people. This is to the credit of former Governor Amaechi. Although the new Governor of the State has not taken any overt steps to reverse this particular gain, but indications from his public speeches, to the effect that the decisions of the former Governor of the state; his present attitude and policy of “operation reverse Amaechi legacies”, tend to suggest that he might do so. Some schools of thought hold the view that for Governor Wike reverting the primary school teachers’ salaries to the Local government Councils was an option and a matter of time, that is, if the Local government Councils structure remained with the All Progressives Congress. However, now that the structure is seemingly within his control, he might drop the idea.

It is interesting to observe that from this singular policy of the State Governor to takeover payment of salaries of primary school teachers from the Local Government Councils, two gains emerged for the state. Firstly, is the fact that it has created a sustainable primary education system for Rivers State that is now the envy of all in the Country, and gladly so, it has also become a model for many other states. The second is that, it has put more resources in the coffers of the Local Government Councils, which has now broadened their capacity to attend to the needs of the people. In all of these, Rivers people are the beneficiaries of this singular act of proactive good governance.

In conclusion, transferring primary education from the Local Government Councils to the State Government is a worthwhile policy and a way to go if we must revamp our comatose public primary school system in the country and I am proud to recommend the Amaechi Example.

Achinike William-Wobodo is Legal Practitioner, Development Analysts and Public Commentator and Freelance Writer.

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