Archive for April, 2016

Delta Speaker to address press conference

Posted on April 22, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Delta Speaker to address press conference

By Njamanze Fidel

The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya is expected to address a major press conference on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

A statement in Asaba, signed by Henry Ebireri, Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, said the conference would take place at the Press Centre, Delta State House of Assembly.

The time is 11:00am.

Meanwhile, Igbuya will present a report on the activities of the Sixth Assembly on Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Igbuya, a guest on the live radio programme “The People’s Assembly”, will focus on the past, present and future of the Delta State House of Assembly.

Executive-legislative relations, old and new laws, safety of lives and property, rights and privileges of women and young girls, the educational system in Nigeria, job creation and persistent attacks by herdsmen are also expected to be discussed.
In the upcoming Hot FM 96.5 Live Interview programme, Igbuya will deal with major issues in legislation, representation and oversight functions” the statement said.

 

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Delta Speaker praises Otuaro

Posted on April 19, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

Delta Speaker praises Otuaro

The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya has paid glowing tribute to the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro who attained the age of 48 on Saturday.

Igbuya described Otuaro’s life as one of huge professional and political accomplishments.

In a congratulatory letter to the Deputy Governor, Igbuya said that he joined the good people of Delta State and other well-wishers in rejoicing with him.

“I write on behalf of my family, the Delta State House of Assembly and the good people of Sapele State Constituency to rejoice with you as you mark your 48th birthday. The Almighty God will grant you many
more years of exemplary service to the state.”

Igbuya who extolled the deputy governor’s exemplary dedication to service and his leadership qualities said “We are celebrating what God has given to us, a personality of great honour and a man of thepeople”

He urged Otuaro to continue to serve the state prudently.

“I congratulate you for every success in your noble service to the people and your role in ensuring a better future for progress, prosperity and well-being for the good people of Delta State.”

Ending, Igbuya said “It is my prayer that the Almighty God will continue to bless you with robust health and many more years of happiness and fulfilling service.”

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There is a fine line between determination and desperation…. – Princewill

Posted on April 19, 2016. Filed under: Interview | Tags: |

What was your perception of Nollywood before you became a film maker? ‎

Prince Tonye Princewill

Prince Tonye Princewill

I must admit, I thought it was just fun and games. But it is hard work. These Nollywood people are something else. The foundation they have built is with little or no support from government, yet they’ve put Nigeria on the world map and contributed to increasing our GDP. They are our cultural ambassadors, our escape, and our lives. Three industries – banking, religion and Nollywood – work in Nigeria, albeit with lots of room for improvement. You just simply have to hand it to them.


How much has this view changed?

In recent years, new kids on the block are knocking on the door. They are bringing in new money, fresh faces, wide international interest and very new techniques. They are asking the tough questions and challenging the status quo. Kunle Afolayan and Izu Ojukwu in film, Chioma Ude of AFRIFF and Wangi Mba Uzoukwu of Africa Magic in the aggregator platforms, Kene Mkparu and Nnaeto in new cinemas. Change is inevitable. Let me not forget Adonis Production, of course in production. Those of them who don’t try to think that they are better than Nollywood seem to be making it. I think the trick is to tweak, not to try to take over. Nollywood is Africa and Africa does not need to be re-invented. What is changing now is that Africa’s voice, courtesy of Nollywood, is getting a lot louder. A few years ago, we had four cinemas in Nigeria. Now, we have 24 and by the end of the year, we will have 30. Not to talk of new cinema investment that is on its way. In Rivers State, we have a well-known local saying, “I dey there better pass them say.” Something is happening in Nollywood. If you blink, you will miss it.

What’s the toughest part of putting a movie together?

Getting the money. Too many of us who can help don’t. Too many who can lift up the next African Steven Spielberg, the next Spike Lee or the future Oprah Winfrey, see them as irrelevant, because they don’t get it. This industry is the next best thing. As politicians become more and more unpopular, less and less news will be watched and more and more movies will give Nigerians the escape they need. Our entertainers are already becoming more influential than our leaders. The brands get this. Nigerians need to get it too. Very few industries afford our youth the freedom that this one does. It speaks to their souls. We all need to understand that.

Politics, business and film making, how do you marry all these? ‎

There is a link – youth empowerment. So, once you see it from that perspective, it shouldn’t surprise you. I love to create jobs, to get people working, watch them slowly building and feeding their families. Politics for me is what to do, the business has taught me how to do it because by virtue of listening to and telling the real Nigerian story, I understand why things need to be done. I am driven in all these areas. But at my core, the engagement of the younger generation encompasses all. It’s not work for me.

How do you balance them with family?

Good question. That is the hard part. But I have the most amazing family ever. They are my biggest fans, so my work is theirs. From my wife to my kids, to my siblings, to my parents, we are all in this together. They just loaned me out. It’s not a life choice, it’s just a project. And very soon, my work will be done.

‘Kajola’ is Nigeria’s first science fiction movie. What was the story behind it?

I came in as executive producer after the same team I worked with on ‘Nnenda’ brought this unique project to my attention. Adonis Production is synonymous with good stuff and so I naturally took a keen interest. But what appealed to me with ‘Kajola,’ was the tale of two cities, two classes, the rich and the poor. It resonated powerfully and I simply had to be part of telling that story. Trying new things is also one of the signatures of the Adonis team, so being a part of the crew that brought you the first full science fiction feature film was not an accolade I could reject.

What’s on your mind when you are making a movie?

It is, what message am I sending? To me, Nigeria’s, Africa’s biggest challenge is re-orientation. I want to use film to get you to have a rethink. I want you to use film to escape from the stress and I want to use film to keep people busy. ‘Nnenda’ was about orphans, ‘Kajola’ was about the poor while ‘76’ is about Nigeria. My hope is that as people watch these powerful films, they see what I saw, escape from the day to day hassles and then immerse them in how life should be. If we succeed, we will get more youths empowered and that is the ultimate goal. Over 200 cast and crew were used in ‘76.’ Apprenticeship programs that took place on set. Up and coming actors then, are now winning best actor awards now. Top directors today were associate directors then. We want to give to the industry. Not simply to take away from it.


Which has been the most challenging of your works to realize?

No doubt, ‘76’ by far. It’s the first movie we did on celluloid, first movie to be shot in an army barracks, first blockbuster in our pack, first movie to do a private screening within post production. First this, first that. But as it was challenging, it has also been very rewarding. To see the child grow into a man leaves a smile on the face. All in all it took us seven years to get here. I am my own worst constructive critic, but I can look back on ‘76’ and say, wow, we tried!


Why don’t you commercialise your movies?

We will. Content, as one media executive here told me, is king. It always has value, just like time. Nobody is in possession of any of our rights – yet. We will choose very carefully before we decide, but very soon, our films will be available for your viewing pleasure. You can count on that. Having said this, it is not all about the money. Alliances need to be built and we are almost there.

How are you able to fund other projects without commercialising them?

By taking small bites and not biting more than we can chew. Also by taking our time to get it right, when we can. The search for cash is a skill by His grace. It is neither by sheer strength nor by might. You can easily run into bad debts whilst searching for good money, especially if you talk to the wrong people. We handle long term money. So we have minimum pressure. As we build the right teams, funding for other projects will emerge, while revenue from existing ones will come back. Film making is a business.

At what point did you decide to do ‘76’ and what motivated you?

‘76’ is a game changer. It’s a new chapter in storytelling and the fact that it is based around real events is even more fascinating. So as a story, we already knew we had something there. I had worked with Izu Ojukwu on ‘Nnenda’ before and so I knew his pedigree. He is meticulous, prudent and world class. So I knew that with Adonis production in the lead, nothing could go wrong. That was why I got involved. The movie went over budget but that was due to changing locations twice and the need to satisfy military protocols. Let’s just say, getting the permission to shoot in a barracks was not as easy as we thought.

What was your experience getting the cast to fit into the 1976 setting?

That was the job for others. Mine was to give it a final nod and wink. Seeing the movie now, they put round pegs in round holes. Rita Dominic performed out of her skin, in her role as the officer’s wife. Chidi Mokeme, I am sure will make many new fans with what was an excellent portrayal of the life of a soldier in 1976. Of course it is now no secret what Daniel K Daniel is made of. He and Ramsey Nouah struck a bond on set that showed up in the final product. Ramsey killed it. He was out of this world. And the list goes on. I couldn’t be happier than with the cast and crew of this film. I love them.

The actors changed physically and all that over the seven-year period. How did you manage that?

Don’t let the makeup fool you. The cast were only there for six months of filming. One month prior to that was military drill exercises for the male cast. They wanted them, not acting like soldiers but actually being soldiers. That put them in very, very sound physical shape. This was critical for the authenticity of the movie. I know six months is an eternity in Nollywood but we wanted to build a family. And I think we did that. We had weddings, birthdays, child dedications and funerals on set. We had it all.


Why did it take seven years to do it?

For a variety of reasons. First, it was an idea in Izu’s head that required support. Adonai, the CEO of Adonis Production provided it. They then began to build on that until they felt they knew something that Princewill’s trust could add, which is where I came in. That process took a few years. Then you had a green light from us for pre-production which required the crew to now recreate 1976. First location was Adamawa, then Ibadan, before the Mokola barracks became our home. Refurbishing the cars, repainting the houses, putting the props in place and shooting without viewing all meant that time and lighting was critical to outcome. Months were exhausted. We spent a relatively short time shooting compared to pre-production and post-production. Due to the fact that we shot on celluloid, post production is in Munich, Germany. Good soup, na money kill am. [sic] [Laughter]

When you are not making movies, doing politics, business or being a philanthropist, how do you occupy your time?

I watch movies, play video games and listen to music. Running away from the girls is also a full time job. So many very pretty women, but I only have eyes for one, Rosemary.

In all you have done, what is the biggest thrill for you?

Running for governor, politics. It has the biggest impact, the largest reach. They say it’s dangerous, but not for me. I want to make things happen. Not watch things not happen. And politics is what gives you the opportunity. If you can’t stand the real heat, stay out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, we have allowed the lunatics take over the asylum so principled performers like me who are not mad enough to loot and kill are at a disadvantage. I’d rather lose than kill and steal, and people with money don’t have the guts to fight the system because the system can and does break them. The people are helpless. Remove the lunacy from politics and Nigeria will explode into the next level. But that will require the resolve of civilized Nigerians, an uncompromising international community and institutions devoid of interests. A long shot yes, but a choice we must make sooner or later.


When you ran for governor, what were your chances?

If we had an electoral body that meant what it said, people with resources who cared enough about their country to keep their promises and politicians who realize that their actions have equal and opposite reactions, I would have won. Without a card reader, we don’t stand a chance. With a card reader, we do. The three major parties had a debate, the first of its kind in Rivers State and I practically wiped the floor with Wike and Dakuku, without breaking a sweat. As the Labour Party candidate, I was being called by PDP and APC members to say, it was a landslide. I would make the best governor amongst us. But that is not what wins – because the people don’t vote. So I guess, my portion is to be the best governor Rivers State never had. Life goes on.


Are you likely to contest again?

No. Even if the people want me, the system either does not want me, or refuses to put in place basic fundamentals for people like me to emerge. Twice now I have put everything on the line for my state with little or no support from people who will benefit most from my emergence. How many times will I run for the same position at such a high price? There is a very fine line between determination and desperation and I will not cross it. If youth empowerment is truly my passion, I will find other ways to execute it and other people to support to be governor of Rivers State. Let me make it clear though, I will not quit politics or my supporters, but I am not desperate to be governor. Let us all make the bed we will lie in.

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House of Reps C’ttee on Army Visit to R/S Sponsored by Gov. Wike – APC

Posted on April 19, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

DR IKANYA IBIAMU DAVIES THE APC RS INTERIM CHAIRMANHouse of Reps C’ttee on Army Visit to R/S Sponsored by Gov. Wike – APC

…… intended to Blackmail Army Out of Ogoniland Prior to Conclusion of Rerun Election

The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress [APC], said having painstakingly observed and reviewed the visit of the House of Representatives Committee on Army to Rivers State, it has justifiably concluded that the entire exercise was contrived and sponsored by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike for the purpose of blackmailing and stampeding the Nigerian Army out of Ogoniland before the conclusion of the outstanding rerun elections process in Rivers South East Senatorial zone.

The APC in a statement signed by its Chairman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, JP said, “our conclusion that the desire of Gov. Nyesom Wike to hound the Army out of Rivers South East is to pave way for his own army of cultists, ex-militants and hoodlums led by his ally, Solomon Ndigbara to, once again, impose insecurity, fear and killings on Ogoniland with a view to preventing the people from living their lives and exercising their franchise in peace.

The statement reads: “Information available to the APC credibly confirm that Gov. Nyesom Wike and his officials sponsored the so-called petitions by Civil Liberties Organisation [CLO] and other nebulous characters accusing the Nigerian Army of wrongdoings in Ogoniland. Evidence abound of how the governor and his officials paid huge sums of money to some Chiefs and individuals to put up various shows and make false presentations to the House Committee members during their visit.

“Again, observers also noted the various interactions between the Committee members and the governor during their stay in the State and concluded that the Committee members were compromised through financial inducements to turn out a damning report against the deployment of the Army in troubled parts of Ogoni to pave way for getting the Army out of the way before the conclusion of the suspended rerun elections in the area for the benefit of the PDP and their candidates.

“For example, a PDP top member boasted yesterday that with what happened between Gov. Wike and the House Committee members during their visit, he was sure the Army will be nowhere near Ogoni during the conclusion of rerun elections in the area. This boast by a PDP member only goes to confirm the information available to the APC that the House Committee visit, the timing and what has transpired so far point to a well-planned scheme by Gov. Nyesom Wike to get the Nigerian Army out of Ogoni to aid the return of his own army led by Solomon Ndigbara to intimidate the citizens whenever the remaining rerun elections will hold.

“The APC wishes to call on the leadership of the Nigerian House of Representatives, the leadership of the Nigerian Army and all other stakeholders on the matter not to fall for the scheming of Gov. Nyesom Wike. They should insist on carrying out their constitutional responsibilities especially in ensuring that there is peace and security in Ogoniland and any other part of Nigeria at all times. No one should be swayed by the blackmail contrived, nurtured and sponsored by Gov. Nyesom Wike as part of his scheme to stop Senator Magnus Ngei Abe from consummating his victory to the Nigerian Senate.”

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Who Is Really After Rotimi Amaechi?

Posted on April 13, 2016. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Who Is Really After Rotimi Amaechi?

By Achi William-Nwobodo

This question has become pertinent following the 2016 Budget saga and the narratives trending in the media. Why has Rotimi Amaechi suddenly become the centre of the discussion and the scapegoat? In all of this, I have waited patiently to hear or see anyone come out publicly to quote with precision any comment credited to Rotimi Amaechi on this matter that could be alleged to have triggered this whole crisis for which he is now been vilified and persecuted before Nigerians.

The present Budget sage started with Mr. President’s refusal to assent to the Appropriation Bill without verifying its content. I have carefully listened to everyone on this matter and nobody has shown that it was Rotimi Amaechi who advised and convinced Mr. President to take such position. After the Emergency Federal Executive Council meeting, the Council issued an official statement in which it alleged that for some adjustments made by the National Assembly, the Budget “cannot be implemented” as it is. There was nothing from that Statement suggesting that the Minister of Transportation took that decision or influenced it, neither did he address the press to convey the decision. The question then is: is Rotimi Amaechi now the President?

In fact, I had the privilege of listening to the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Appropriation Hon. Abdulmunin Jibrin during his appearance on Channels Television programme (Sunrise Daily) today (Monday), who himself was the first to speak about the matter publicly on behalf the National Assembly. He unequivocally said he could not confirm that Rt. Hon Amaechi made any comment, but based his entire statement on assumption, as he continuously prefaced his statements with: “if he said such”; “if indeed he said so”. He confirmed that the bases for his statement were reports on social media.

I also heard him say that similar issue occurred in the Ministry of Health’s and Ministry of Works’ appropriation, and went ahead to explain the scenarios. Not calling for the antagonism or persecution of other persons, I ask the question: why are the Ministers of Health and Works not as much on the news and persecuted on this same issue as Rotimi Amaechi? Why is Rotimi Amaechi singled out? Why have both the Senate and House of Representatives taken such a posture against a person who has not spoken on the matter, to either cast aspersion on them or corroborate their story?

Senator Gbenga Ashafa, the Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transportation, who is the only person that has so far given a clear account of what transpired has confirmed that the Lagos – Calabar Rail Line, the subject matter, was part of the projects that the Minister of Transportation defended before his committee and that his committee in turn defended the project before the appropriation committee. He maintained however that it was not contained in the Budget Document submitted to National Assembly by Mr. President. Another question: Shouldn’t the National Assembly have waited for the Minister of Transportation to have joined issues with Senator Ashafa, either to disprove or agree with him?

Curiously, the Senate went ahead, without hearing from the Minister in question, without an official statement from the Ministry of Budget or Budget Office, or from the Presidency that disagrees with Sen. Ashafa, but most regrettably relied on Social Media stories and reports to reprimand and vilify Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi and even went ahead to call for his apology or resignation. What a pitiable situation!

It is even more worrisome the extent to which the Senate, a very distinguished institution, could rely on “unofficial communication” on social media, to lower the person of a Minister, vilifying him with such uncouth remarks as “this latest antics of this particular minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is reckless, uncalled for and dangerously divisive”. The Distinguish Senate in its haste to make the Minister for Transportation the scapegoat tied to accuse him of “setting the people of the southern part of the country against their northern compatriots, it potentially sets the people against their lawmakers from the concerned constituencies and sets the lawmakers against themselves”. Ironically, it is indeed the actions of the National Assembly so far that rather put these concerns on the national burner and raise the bigger questions: is it because the Minister of Transportation is of the southern part and not the northern that he is singled out to be humiliated and vilified? Is it because some other ministers are of certain parts of the nation that is the reason they are not called upon to apologize or resign?

I totally do agree with the Senate that “reprehensible Mischief has no place in a democracy”. Equals should and must be treated equally. Equally in regional development, equally in respect for dignity of persons, and equally in association of like terms. This is the take in the Rule of Law; and main of democracy.

Achi William-Wobodo is a Lawyer and Development Analyst.

 

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Odebala, Unukegwo, Ayomanor, others move to kill Delta PDP

Posted on April 13, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

The Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sapele Chapter, Dr. David Oghenekevwe on Wednesday lent his voice against the moves of the chairman of Sapele Local Government Council, Hon. Ejaife Odebala and his associates to kill the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

He also blamed Odebala for instigating and perpetuating nasty discord in the party.
In a statement in Sapele, Oghenekevwe accused Odebala and others of foisting blatant lies to malign the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya.

“Odebala is clearly in the picture of all meetings and consultations in preparation for the upcoming congresses. Because of his sinister motive, he has most times dishonoured invitations extended to him and where he manages to attend such meetings, it is to insult the leadership of the party and to conspire with blind, egocentric and embattled individuals whose known antecedence is coming and going out of the party. Chief Margaret Unukegwo is a strong supporter of Labour Party governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru. She signed an Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) document endorsing Ogboru in 2015 as published in one of the national newspapers. Chief Lucky Ayomanor is not a member of PDP. He contested House of Assembly election in Sapele State Constituency in 2011 and 2015 under the platform of Labour Party”.

Oghenekevwe who frowned at defectors who like to destroy the party advised such people to desist from such tendency.

“Odebala and his associates are always blowing their ego beyond their actual relevance, rushing to the state capital to shop for sympathy and attention while abandoning constituted channels of resolving their issues if any in Sapele”

The party chairman while calling for decisive action against those with conflicting affinities and divided loyalties, alerted the nation to desperate measures being planned by Odebala and others to discredit Igbuya.

“The anti-Igbuya move is choreographed by the chairman of Sapele Local Government Council. Odebala participated in the consultation and preparation for the upcoming congresses. The date, time and mode of the congresses are clearly stated. Odebala even submitted a list to the state chairman, Chief Edwin Uzor. To lead such a protest and also submit a list to the chairman, amount to total disrespect for the PDP leadership and the party guidelines. He wants to disrupt the party’s congresses” the statement said.

Describing the language of Odebala, Titus Ezewuze, Onome Akpokhere, Umukoro Perkins, Edokpolor Joseph, Gabriel Gabinson Oyovwhaire, Jenkins Igogori, James Edeyan, Kenneth Ekwejunor Etchie, Margaret Unukegwo, Omasan Mabiaku, Lucky Ayomanor and others as unguided, he said “Violence has no place in Sapele politics.

“The allegation that Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya is sidelining the leaders is preposterous.Appointments were made strictly on merit. He did not nominate miscreants and thugs to party offices. When you have a council chairman that disrespects the leaders, that encourages violence and is ready to destroy the party, you should expect anything” he said.

He advised Odebala and his co-travelers to return to Sapele and think of ways of developing the local government area.

“Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya is not working against the interest of other stakeholders in Sapele Local Government Area. He will continue to articulate, defend and espouse the interests of the Sapele people” he added.

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Gov. Wike: The wicked flee when no man pursueth – APC

Posted on April 12, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

The Rivers State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, said its attention has been drawn to a press statement by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, on behalf of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, accusing the APC of sponsoring groups to raise frivolous petitions against PDP members to have them arrested by security agents.

This according to the APC “is the inglorious height of falsehood and propaganda by the corruption-ridden PDP house of shame in Rivers State.”

“While the APC cannot put itself in the way of any issues between the PDP and its dubious partners in crime, we make bold to state in clear terms that we find neither the PDP nor its criminal partners worthy of any patronage or collaboration with the APC for anything noble. The difference between light and darkness is never in doubt and PDP is the darkness here” Senibo Chris Finebone said in a press statement.

The APC advised the Rivers State Government and the PDP to seek the face of God for forgiveness so that they can overcome the trauma and fear of their shadows occasioned by their evil deeds and killing of innocent souls in Rivers State directly or through their franchised killing gangs.

“The APC is well aware that the reason for this recent propaganda is to create a smokescreen for the insidious plans the PDP hierarchy is busy hatching towards the suspended rerun elections whenever they are re-scheduled. Their schemes will fail.

Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP must know that what is happening to them is simply the fulfilment of the Holy Scriptures in Proverb 28:1 which says that, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth” the statement averred.

 

 

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MOSOP Condemn Removal of Host Community Fund From Petroleum Industry Bill

Posted on April 12, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has called on the national assembly to rescind their decision to drop the Host Community Fund (HCF) from the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)

The President of MOSOP, Comrade Legborsi Saro Pyagbara who stated this today in Port Harcourt whilst speaking to journalists said that the removal of the Host Community Fund in the current Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the 8th Assembly is detrimental to the economic survival of the Niger Delta people and should be stoutly resisted.

Comrade Pyagbara told journalist that the passage of the PIB bill is over-due in the National Assembly and the purported removal of the Host Community Fund which is the backbone of the bill is uncalled for and is an invitation to anarchy as this is the only part of the bill that assures community participation in the entire oil industry.

He stressed that if the Host Community Fund is removed as has been speculated, what hope will the host community who has suffered pain, environmental degradation and pollution arising from oil spill that has over the years impoverish the people.

The MOSOP President therefore, tasked the 8th Assembly to retrace their step and not to invite the wrath of the Niger Delta People that has supported the country economically but hasnothing to show for it since oil exploration and exploitation in the region.

Signed:

Mr. Fegalo Nsuke
Publicity Secretary

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Budget Impasse: Rivers APC Throws Weight behind President Buhari

Posted on April 12, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

Budget Impasse: Rivers APC Throws Weight behind President Buhari

…..Pleads with NASS Not to Play Politics with the Budget and to Restore Removed Portions

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to return the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly and not to assent to it until the lawmakers restore the removed portions.

Rivers APC in a statement signed by its Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, argued that the lawmakers erred in removing what the party described as critical aspects of the 2016 Appropriation Bill, saying that what NASS submitted to the Presidency on Thursday was unacceptable.

The party said: “We are shocked to read in the papers about the removal of some of the critical portions of the 2016 Budget by the National Assembly. These include the Coastal Railway project being jointly funded by Nigeria and China, for which a counterpart funding of N60bn was provided but which was completely removed by the National Assembly. While the Lagos – Kano provision was left untouched, the Calabar – Lagos line was inexplicably removed by the lawmakers. Also, the amount proposed for the completion of the Idu – Kaduna rail project which has reached an advanced stage was reduced by N8.7bn, a development which will make it difficult for the project to be completed. In addition, while the Executive had provided for the completion of all major road projects across the country, the National Assembly reduced the amounts provided and instead included new roads which studies have not even been conducted.

“As if that is not enough, in the health sector, proposals made for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like Polio and AIDs for which the store is fast depleting were removed and the amounts allocated to provision of ambulance, which the ministry did not ask for. Besides, certain provisions made in the areas of Agriculture and Water Resources to further the Federal Government’s diversification project where either removed or reduced while the funds were moved to provision of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere.”

Continuing, Rivers APC said in the statement issued Monday in Port Harcourt: “Some hawks within NASS are saying that the missing portions are not contained in the budget in the first instance but we are aware that in the amended budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari last January after the dust had settled over the ‘missing budget’, the sum of N80 billion was included for the Calabar – Lagos rail project in the amended budget by the executive and submitted to NASS. After the submission, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, also followed up by presenting a document in defence of the Calabar – Lagos railway project to the National Assembly in order to ensure that it was passed as one of the subheads for the budget of his ministry. However, to our chagrin, this important aspect of the budget was removed for reasons we do not know.

“We wish to emphasise that this unholy act by NASS is unacceptable because these are some of the key projects with which the present administration can positively impact on the country’s economy and meaningfully touch the lives of the generality of Nigerians.

“By rejecting the doctored budget by NASS, President Buhari has once more proved that he is not just an ordinary leader but a patriotic, astute, caring leader and a true statesman who means well for the emancipation and greatness of this nation. We therefore appeal to our distinguished lawmakers not to fall into the hands of parochial and enemies of our nation by doing the needful to avoid being tagged as working against the common interest of the people of Nigeria. We plead very sincerely with our lawmakers not to play politics with this budget as it will go a long way in restoring hope and faith to our people.

“Meanwhile, we urge Nigerians to exercise patience and continue to have faith in the APC led Federal Government as it will surely bring smiles to the faces of the good people of this nation.”

Rivers APC said it understood that President Buhari had wished to sign the budget before embarking on his official trip to China earlier on Sunday. “We, therefore, appeal to our distinguished lawmakers to correct the errors in the budget and resend to the Presidency in good enough time for President Buhari to sign shortly after he returns from China,” the party said.


Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
SSA on Media and Public Affairs to the State Chairman, APC Rivers State

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“To Create Gems”, Being Speech Delivered By Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, AG. Managing Director/CEO, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, At the Grand Finale of The Girls In Engineering, Mathematics And Science, (GEMS) Programme, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, At Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt

Posted on April 6, 2016. Filed under: Press Release | Tags: |

“As a woman in science, I sincerely hope that my receiving a Nobel Prize will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams.”

–  Linda B. Buck: Biologist who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

Protocols

The greatness and power of countries are interrelated, in no small measure, with the top priority they accord science and technology. From Israel to Germany, United States to India, and many more, innovation in and growth of great countries is largely driven by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). STEM-related careers create huge employment opportunities, for, as the UK Commission for Employment and Skills states in a recent report, “STEM skills are crucial to innovation and growth.”

Indeed, recent statistics suggest that over 90 per cent of emerging job opportunities are in STEM-related careers. Unfortunately, only a mere 14 per cent of women globally eventually find themselves in STEM-related careers. This situation is even more worrisome for us in Nigeria. While statistics from National Bureau of Statistics show there are 102 men for every 100 women in Nigeria, this gender parity in the population is not reflected in the enrolment figures at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education.

What this means is that whereas there are enormous employment opportunities in STEM-related careers, the female population is not adequately represented at, nor properly equipped by, various levels of education. Above all, despite the gender parity in Nigeria’s population, women are not enough in, nor duly prepared for STEM-related careers. This is why, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has chosen to support the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics & Science, GEMS.

GEMS is a programme borne out of our desire, as well as our social commitment and responsibility, to bridge the gaps that exist in gender related issues we encounter in our earnest effort to facilitate the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region. Of great importance is the science and technology areas, which are very vital in ensuring that our people begin to play a more definitive role in the oil and gas sector, which predominate activities in the Niger Delta.

The mission of Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science, GEMS is to promote innovative, research and standards-based practices, which will encourage students with interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to thrive in the 21st century global economy. The programme hopes to leverage on its extensive network of expertise, partnerships, resources and experience by providing Niger Delta girls who have shown remarkable brilliance in these areas the needed platform to excel and grow as scientists.

We believe that science and technology can become exciting again, for our young ones. GEMS presents a healthy competition that helps our girls interpret science in such a way that we can use science, in a glamorous way, to do every day things, and resolve every day challenges. The 33 finalists, all from SSS1 and SSS2, are beginning to see the practicality of science, even at that young age, and it becomes a foundation upon which they and other children of the Niger Delta, as well as the schools in the region, will build our collective future. That is why, as part of this programme, the school that produces the first prize winner will get a chemistry laboratory, while the second and third schools will get a physics and biology laboratory, respectively. We are also going to reward the girls with prizes, such as laptops.

These finalists were selected from a rigorous elimination process that began with 2880 girls from the nine NDDC mandate states. From this first screening test 1110 girls were selected. From the 1110, 270 were selected at 30 girls per state. They progressed to the state finals, where 11 girls qualified from each state, leading to the regional finals, where 11 girls were selected from each of the three regions. Of the 33 who will participate in the grand finale, 10 would be selected for recognition, while the top five will receive awards, prizes and scholarships.

In initiating GEMS, we are igniting a spark within these young, remarkable women, as well as in society, which we expect to build into a fire that will lead to great things. It is good for our society, and good for the Niger Delta region. It is good for our collective future. Consequently, we call on other well-meaning organisations across the Niger Delta, especially oil and gas companies, to partner with us on the GEMS programme, so that it becomes a worthy and engaging incubator for breeding young ladies who will grow up to conquer the world in various STEM-related careers.

Although some of the girls have been picked as finalists, we regard all the girls who participated in GEMS at different stages as pioneers of an emerging revolution. They all are beacons for many more girls who will participate in future editions of GEMS.

And to you, our GEMS, I leave these final words. You have all shown that you have within you precious beads of excellence with which you can produce little sparks that can illuminate the world. You have innate qualities with which you can open doors of greater opportunities in future and change the world. You have shown that our young girls can channel science and technology to help tackle the enormous challenges inherent in giving our people a better life.

You have all shown that you have what it takes to be future Nobel Prize winners. And if I may echo the words of Linda Buck, I sincerely hope that your work here, as well as the recognition you all receive will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams.

Thank you and God bless you all.

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