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First year anniversary: We inherited over N225bn debt on projects — Fubara

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…Awards N534.332bn nine new road contracts

By Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has revealed that his administration inherited 34 uncompleted projects, valued at over N225.279 billion spread across 13 local government areas of the State.

The Governor also disclosed that under his watch, the Rivers State Government has awarded nine new road projects, valued at N534.332billion.

This is even as he described as vicious and existential in nature, the political crisis that was waged against his administration, barely three months after take off on May 29, 2023.

The Governor, however, said that the worst was over because his administration has successfully defended the rights and privileges to govern the State and advance its progress in liberty and freedom without compromise.

Governor Fubara stated this Wednesday, while presenting an Account of Stewardship and Scorecard to mark One Year Anniversary of his administration at  Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt.

“We started this journey with a bang. We were focused. We were determined to make the change we promised with a sense of urgency.

“But then, somehow, we suddenly found ourselves in the cesspit of crisis barely three months into our tenure. It was not just an ordinary political crisis. It was a vicious existential crisis.

“But thank goodness, the worst is over. We have successfully defended our rights and opportunity to govern our State and advance its progress in freedom and we will continue to prevail,” he said.

Governor Fubara said that since then, a lot has changed in the political landscape, adding that he remains committed to the covenant taken a year ago to put Rivers State first, defend her interest, and ensure that the people get the dividends of democracy and good governance.

“For us, any government worth its name must be accountable, responsive, and responsible for the security and well-being of the people.

“Having managed the affairs of our State for one year, including dispensing public resources, it is only proper that we render account with a public presentation of our performance record.

“I am, therefore, pleased to stand before you to present our Scorecard for the first year we have been in office as the Executive Arm of the Government of Rivers State.”

Governor Fubara reflected on his promise to deliver on the core priorities of economic growth, infrastructure, healthcare, education and agriculture, as contained in his Blueprint as a resolve to building a virile, resilient and progressive State that caters for the needs of the people.

The Governor said, he was proud to report that, despite the unprecedented challenges, his first one year in office has witnessed significant achievements visible to everybody.

Governor Fubara particularly said that he inherited a State, whose economy was on a declining trajectory despite its growth potentials, but within one year of his administration, the negative narrative has changed for the better.

The Governor revealed that he set up an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)/Investment Advisory Committee that he chairs himself,to coordinate activities in the sector that has increased inflow of economic investments to the State.

”We also needed to attract investments into the State and increase our internally generated revenue base as too much reliance on federal allocations was a challenge to the realisation of our development goals.

“We, therefore, set up an IGR/Investment Advisory Committee, which is helping us to navigate our course for increased economic investments and internally generated revenue to accelerate economic growth, create jobs and advance the welfare and well-being of our people.

“Our liberalised business-friendly economic policies and programmes are boosting confidence and attracting local and international investors and investments into the State, judging by the expression of interest offers we receive every month.

“We have kept our taxes low, frozen the imposing of taxes on small businesses across the State, and increased the ease of doing business in the State by eliminating bureaucratic bottlenecks. No request for the signing of a certificate of occupancy remains in my office beyond two days, except if I am otherwise engaged beyond two days or out of town.”

Governor Fubara also said, “One year down the line, and we believe we are succeeding. Our internally generated revenue witnessed an astronomical increase from N12 billion to between N17 billion in off-peak periods and N28 billion during the peak months.

“We have established a N4billion matching fund with the Bank of Industry (BOI) to support existing and new Micro, Small, and MediumEnterprises (MSMEs)  to grow their businesses to drive economic growth, create jobs and wealth for citizens. Over 3,000 citizens and residents have applied to access this loan to fund their businesses at a single-digit interest rate, and a repayment period of up to five years.”

Governor Fubara expressed his belief in using infrastructure as key to sustainable development, which he said was the reason why he explained, pointing out that he did not abandon the 34 uncompleted projects that he inherited, valued at over N225.279 billion spread across 13 local government areas of the State.

The Governor also said that 12 of those projects have been completed and put to use, while construction work is ongoing on the others, with nine new road projects initiated by his administration valued at N534.332 billion.

Governor Fubara stated that except the Port Harcourt Ring Road project that is funded with loan, other ambitious projects of his administration such as the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road, Okania-Ogbogoro Road and the Trans-Kalabari Road are funded from accumulated IGR and federal allocations savings.

”I wish to emphasise that with a combined cost of N528.6billion, the 50.15 kilometres Port Harcourt dual-carriage Ring Road, the dualisation of Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road and the Trans-Kalabari Road projects are three most ambitious road projects ever carried out by any Governor in Rivers State.

“The 50.15 kilometres Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Ring Road, with six flyovers, one river crossing, walkways, drains, streetlights, and spanning six local government areas, was awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc at a total cost of N195.3billion for a 36-month completion period.

“The speed with which the project is advancing shows that this administration is in a hurry to deliver this project even before the due date with the 77 percent down payment of N150 billion to the contractor. Presently, work on the project is progressing satisfactorily from six different locations.

“The 33.5-kilometre Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road was awarded on the 26th of March, 2024 at a total cost of N80.886billion to Craneburge Construction Company with a down payment of 50 per cent of the contract sum and 24-month completion timeline. The contractor has since commenced work on this project.”

Governor Fubara said so much has been achieved in the health sector with Rivers State Emergency Ambulance Service resuscitated, facilities upgraded at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, 1,000 medical personnel employed, and 35 primary healthcare centres empowered to function maximally.

The Governor assured that his administration was committed to economic diversification through agriculture, stressing that efforts are in top-gear to attract serious investors to take over and revive all state-owned farms and agricultural assets.

The purpose, he emphasised, is to harness the huge agricultural potential of the State to enhance food security, grow the economy, create jobs and generate revenue for the government and stakeholders.

”In addition, we have concluded plans to engage our youths in profitable agriculture, and applied to participate in the second phase of the Special Agro-processing Zones project of the African Development Bank, and all other agriculture development schemes of the Federal Government.”

In the education sector, Governor Fubara explained that he inherited several uncompleted secondary schools’ reconstruction and other projects.

Among other efforts made, Governor Fubara said, “On assumption of office, we quickly released funds to complete these schools and deliver them for public use.

“To this end, we made final payments of N701,943,233,05 for the completion and delivery of Community Secondary School, Rumuepirikom; N355,682,471.99 for Kalabari National College; N329,330,552.25 for Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borokiri; N379,793,277.60 for Government Secondary School, Eneka; N461,973,829.38 for Government Secondary School, Emohua; N134,600,000.00 for Comprehensive Secondary School, Alesa–Eleme; N1,142,279,618.17 for Community Secondary School, Koroma, Tai; N1,863,213,093.13 for Government Comprehensive School, Okarki; N585,084,678.80 for Government Secondary School, Ataba; and N2,092,313,561.19 for Government Girls Secondary School, Ahoada.

“We also released N193,785,313.00 for the reconstruction of Community Secondary School, Kunusha, N1,500,000,000.00 for the reconstruction of Okrika Grammar School; N612,632,677.94 for the furnishing of the University of Port Harcourt Convocation Arena; and N700,000,000.00 for the twin hostel projects at the Yenagoa campus of the Nigerian Law School.

“We released N1,902,334,833.33 as matching funds for the Universal Basic Education Board for the provision of infrastructure, including the rehabilitation of basic education schools.

“It is noteworthy that the State’s Universal Basic Education Board has used funds released to rehabilitate over 50 basic education schools across the State,” he added.

He listed other projects and programmes undertaken by the administration across various sectors, as well as the financial commitments made to ensure quality projects delivery within specifications and timelines.

Governor Fubara said the payment of salary to civil servants has been sustained, adding that an engineering firm has been engaged to do structural assessment of what can be done to give the Rivers State Secretariat Complex a facelift.

Speaking at the event as the Chairman of the occasion, former representative of Rivers East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator John Azuta Mbata, said the essence of democracy and sovereignty is for leaders to serve the people, be responsible to them and work to improve their well-being.

Senator Mbata stated that Governor Fubara has distinguished himself as a servant-leader whose one year in office is momentous, full of enormous accomplishments, and has such audacity to embark on an unusual phenomenon of reporting back to the people on how he has served them.

The chairman emphasised that Governor Fubara, by conducting himself as answerable to the people, has set a record difficult to match for upholding accountability and democracy, sustaining public trust and fostering good governance.

“So, we are glad that such an occasion has presented itself in this State, where our servant-leader is before the people to give account and show his scorecard. I congratulate you most heartily for this great achievement.

“Popular sovereignty principle connotes the fact that power belongs to the people. It is the people that leaders are called upon to serve. The people play the role of choosing their leaders through regular and periodic elections, and also the people have the mandate to renew or refuse to renew the mandate periodically.

“It is accountability that ensures responsibility and transparent exercise of power in the public interest. Accountability provides the opportunity for the players to explain and account for their performance in office. I am proud that His Excellency has chosen the path of transparency and accountability as Governor of Rivers State,” he said.

Earlier in his welcome address, Secretary to the  State Government (SSG), Dr Tammy Danagogo, described Governor Fubara as an eagle leader.

Such a leader, he explained, flies higher, touches the sky with speed and accuracy at hitting his target without any noise making in solving many societal and human problems that offer succour to the people.

Dr Danagogo said over the past one year, Governor Fubara has championed what he called, ‘a quiet and noiseless revolution’ wherein he had worked assiduously, performed excellently and achieved what seemed almost impossible.

On such a day as this, Dr Danagogo stated that Governor Fubara, who is the people’s Governor, decided to present a vivid account of his stewardship to the people on how public funds have been deployed judiciously in delivering critical projects and social services.

“Over the past one year, what has been going on in Rivers State is what I will call a quiet and noiseless revolution. His Excellency has been working very assiduously, performing very excellently, and without noise, daring and achieving what is seemingly impossible.

“Most of you know, like I said it the other day, projects like the Trans-Kalabari Road, only the government of Dr Peter Odili was able to award the original Trans-Kalabari Road and after that, nobody has dared to do it. But, His Excellency has awarded it and that project has commenced.

“So, you can see, without equivocation, that indeed, Rivers State is witnessing a noiseless revolution. And you can see that without making noise, His Excellency is completing most of the uncompleted or abandoned projects, and initiating new crucial ones across the State”.

“Today marks exactly one year that the people’s Governor was sworn into office. And in his characteristic quest for transparency and accountability, he has asked us to hold this forum so that he can give you, the good people of Rivers State who graciously voted him into office, a vivid account of his stewardship.”

He assured the people of the State that going forward, the administration will continue to exhibit utmost sense of transparency and accountability to justify the confidence reposed in the government by the people on whose mandate the Governor is serving the State at this time.

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Politics

Osun APC felicitates muslims at Eid festival

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The Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has felicitated the Muslims in the state for enjoying Allah’s magnanimity to witness this year’s Eid-eil-Kabir festival.

This goodwill message is contained in a statement by the State Chairman of the party, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, issued by the party’s Director of Media and Information, Chief Kola Olabisi, today, where he rejoiced with the Muslims in the state in general and those of them who are the members of the APC in particular.

Lawal reminded the Muslims that it would be necessary to celebrate the annual Islamic festival with moderation without necessarily incurring debt to celebrate the event.

The State APC chairman said it would be an act of exhibition of humanity for the affluent Muslims to remember to extend their hands of fellowship to the needy during the festival.

He explained that it would not be out of tune for the Muslims to pray for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all the members of his cabinet for continuous God’s guidance in their efforts to actualize his Renewed Hope Agenda in the interest of the prosperity of all and sundry in this nation.

In Lawal’s words: “On behalf of my family, state executive officers of our party and all the members of our party in Osun State, I greet and congratulate the Muslims for witnessing this year’s Eid-eil-Kabir festival.”

“I will implore all the members of our party not to lose faith in the realization of our collective political aspiration through the 2026 general elections as everything is in our favour to chase out the clueless Governor Ademola Adeleke out of the Bola Ige House during the next elections.”

“Let’s celebrate this year’s Eid-eil-Kabir festival with moderation by the way of cutting our coats according to our pieces of materials in the interest of the sustainability of our integrity and credibility.”

“There is nothing wrong by the members of our party in using the avenue created by the Eid-eil-Kabir festival to win more souls for party.”

“It is my fervent supplication that the members of our party and our supporters would be divinely favoured by Allah to celebrate more of our annual religious festival in the land of the living in a sound health, more riches and accomplished aspirations in all ramifications”, the state APC chairman prayed.

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Police raid kidnappers’ den, arrest 3, neutralise 1 in Abuja

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The Police Command in the Federal Capital Territory said it has raided a kidnappers’ camp in an Abuja border community,  arrested three suspects and neutralised one.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the FCT,  SP Josephine Adeh, said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
She said the raid was part of the continuous efforts by the command against criminality in FCT.
According to her, police operatives from  Utako Divisional Headquarters, led by CSP Victor Godfrey stormed an identified kidnappers’ hideouts in Chikara, a border community in Kogi with the FCT.
Adeh said the three suspects were arrested, with one neutralised in a streak of clearance operation between June 8 and 13.
“The sudden appearance of the police operatives in the kidnapper’s camp resulted in a gun duel.
“However, the bandits were overwhelmed by the firepower of the police operative, as one of the gang members got hit during cross-fire and the three suspects, arrested.
“The suspects have confessed to being involved in a series of kidnapping incidents and other heinous crimes in FCT and its environs,” she said.
Adeh said an English pump-action gun, a locally fabricated pistol, two live cartridges, cutlasses, knives and items, believed to be charms, were recovered from the suspects.
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Kwara Assembly passed 9 bills, 20 motions in one year — Speaker

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Speaker of Kwara House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, on Thursday said nine bills and 20 motions were passed by the Assembly in the last one year of its 10th legislature.

The Speaker, during the first anniversary of the 10th legislature under his leadership, said eight other bills were also undergoing legislative processes.

“They are at various stages of scaling passage in the House,” he said.

The 10th legislature of the state House was inaugurated early June 2023 after a proclamation.

The bills passed in the last one year include the Kwara State Education Trust Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Revised Appropriation (2023) Bill, 2023.

Others are the Kwara State Environmental Protection Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Kwara State Local Government Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2023; and Kwara State Rural Access Roads Agency Bill, 2023.

The remaining bills passed include the Kwara State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (Amendment); and State Roads Fund and Administration Bill, 2023.

The rest are the Kwara State University Teaching Hospital (Establishment) Bill, 2024 and Kwara State University of Education (Establishment) Bill, 2024.

The Speaker however said the House has been enjoying a harmonious working relationship with the other arms of government in the past one year.

He added that Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq deserves appreciation for the prompt attention accorded the resolutions of the House when transmitted to him.

Danladi-Salihu noted that the governor has allowed the independence of the three arms of government to be firmly rooted in the state.

“The cordial relationship that exists among the arms of government is paying off in the state, and we the lawmakers envisage the same hand of fellowship from Gov. AbdulRazaq in subsequent legislative years,” the Speaker said.

He stated that the House also introduced new ideas into the conduct of legislative business without sacrificing the norms for innovation.

“For the record, in the first session, the 10th Assembly has as of date at the committee of the whole house considered a total number of nine landmark reports which emanated from different standing and ad-hoc committees of the House.

“These reports which generated robust debates on the floor, and on which resolutions were made in line with transparency, equity and accountability, have significantly assisted in reshaping governance in the state,” Danladi-Salihu noted.

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