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Education

Rivers Govt. abolishes fees in public primary, secondary schools

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State-owned primary and secondary schools in Rivers have been directed to stop collecting fees and levies from pupils and students with immediate effect.

Gov. Nyesom Wike gave the directives on Monday during a meeting with the Heads of Primary and Secondary Schools, Senior Secondary Schools Board and Universal Basic Education Board at Government House, Port Harcourt.

He said that the abolition of all forms of fees and levies in public primary and secondary schools across the state was intended to create access to quality education.

Wike also stated that the state government would be sending direct allocations  to all primary  and secondary schools management  for their  operations.

He said “From today henceforth, no child either in primary and secondary schools should  pay fees and levies in any school  across the state.

“The monies you collect from these children are just used for your personal purposes.

“If I hear that any school head collects any fees or levies, be they examination, NECO or WAEC fees, that school head would be sanctioned.

“We shall not only dismiss the school head who collects fees or levies,  we will prosecute  the person  involved.

“Government will work out grants that will be sent to the schools  for their regular management and operations.’’

He directed the Ministry of Education, the Senior Secondary Schools Board and the Universal Basic Education Board to monitor all public schools across the state to ensure full compliance.

The governor also noted that his administration funded the salaries, allowances, examinations and equipment of all public schools.

He assured parents that his administration was commitment to the provision  of quality  education and accessible to the less privileged.

“I have abolished all fees and levies and it will never happen  again in our public primary and Secondary schools.

“Nobody should collect fees and levies from the  children of  the less privileged,’’ he said. 

Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede

Defence/Security

Boko Haram: Drivers offer free rides to returning residents of Auno

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As residents of Auno town in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno, troop back home following assurance of adequate security by Gov. Babagana Zulum, commercial drivers plying Maiduguri-Damaturu road, are giving them free ride.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that residents of Auno which is few kilometres from Maiduguri, deserted the town in February following an insurgents attack that led to many deaths and destruction of properties.

A driver, Bukar Gwange, said that the gesture was part of the drivers  support to the returnees as they wish to see the once bubbling town bounce back to life.

“Auno is a place we use to get passengers and loads to and fro Maiduguri. When the sad incident happened in February, we were sad as it affected many of our colleagues and passengers.

“Now that the residents are returning home, we feel the best we can do is to give them free ride,”Gwange said.

Another driver, Ali Mohammed, told NAN that they always picked the returnees at Njimtilo area, in the outskirt of Maiduguri.

He said that after dropping the returnees in Auno, the driver used the opportunity to pick passengers who are going back to Maiduguri from Ngamdu and Beneshiek

“That way, we get little money to ease the hardship caused by the lockdown due to the existing ban on inter state travels,” Mohammed said.

Dauda Mustafa, another commercial driver, said the free ride was a blessing in disguise as security personnel along the road also appreciated the gesture and no longer  subject them to tedious screenings and delays.

Meanwhile, Gov. Zulum had already directed that an operational outreach office where he would be working from time-to-time, be set up for him in Auno,  so as to boost the people’s confidence.

The governor has also established zonal office of the state Rapid Response Squad, made up of police, hunters, vigilante and Civilian Joint Task Force in Auno.

According to the Commander of the squad, CSP Abioye Babalola, the team would not only ensure security in Auno and its environs, but also be on constant patrol and respond to distress calls along the busy Maiduguri-Damaru road.


Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Foreign

Thailand’s rubber agency to push for construction of riverside rubber embankments

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A large volume of rubber might be used in the construction of riverside rubber embankments throughout Thailand in an effort to promote its domestic use instead of export.

Uthai Sonlaksap, chairperson of the Rubber Network Council and Rubber Farmers Institute of Thailand, said on Thursday that his agency is yet to submit a proposal to the National Rubber Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The proposal is made for the planned use of some 500,000 tons of rubber in the construction of the anti-flooding rubber embankments along the banks of 25 rivers in all regions of the country.

If initially approved by the committee and finally by the government, an estimated 100-billion-baht (about 3.16 billion U.S. dollars) budget will be provided for rubber embankment projects to be carried out nationwide, according to the rubber agency’s chairperson.

That sum of money to finance the planned rubber levee scheme might be secured from a 500-billion-baht (about 15.81 billion U.S. dollars) government budget, which have no been allocated under an executive decree for postpandemic social and economic restoration measures.

Instead of exporting a large volume of rubber at lowered prices to the world markets, Uthai said, Thailand might look to use more of it within the country to create jobs and raise more incomes for local villagers, who might be hired in such rubber levee project.

Some 360,000 tons of rubber might be used in the planned making of rubber fender barriers along 12,000 km of roads throughout the country, according to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.

Rubber farmers will earn more income by directly providing their product to road-building agencies, namely the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads.

Such rubber fender barrier project is primarily designed to make a substantial domestic use of rubber, which would be otherwise bound for export, according to the minister.

As the world‘s biggest producer and exporter of natural rubber, Thailand’s total rubber production increased for 2.43 percent from 13.54 million tons in 2017 to 13.87 billion tons in 2018, according to Rubber Statistical Bulletin.

Thai rubber accounts for up to 40 percent of global supply but Thai rubber farmers have struggled with low prices in recent years due to decline in global demand.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Rivers may demolish markets for flouting COVID-19 directives, says Commissioner

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The Rivers Government warned on Wednesday that some markets in the state might be demolished for flouting the order of the government that trading should stop at the markets because of COVID-19.

The state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, gave the warning in a statement issued in Port Harcourt.

He lamented that traders had continued to flout government’s directives that markets should be shut, due to rising cases of the coronavirus in the state.

Nsirim said that five markets in the state might be shut down permanently for flouting the directives. He did not elaborate.

The Rivers Government wishes to draw the attention of the general public that Mbiama Market has been closed down.

“Any attempt to continue trading activities at Mbiama Market will lead to complete demolition of the market.

The commissioner named Oginigba Market and two others as markets notorious for disobeying Gov. Nyesom Wike that the markets should be closed.

“The government warns that anybody who goes to Oginigba Market for any form of business will face the full wrath of the law.

Similarly, Oil Mill Market has been closed and as such all those using Igbo-Etche Road as an alternative market are warned to desist forthwith or risk destruction of their goods.

“Government has not approved any goat market at the Eleme/Ahoada stretch of the East-West road in the state.”

Nsirim directed authorities of Emohua and Ahoada-East Councils to shut down the goat market in the area immediately.


Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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General news

Federal Road Projects: FEC approves refunds of N148bn to Rivers, Ondo, 3 others

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved refund of N148billion expended on federal roads by Rivers, Cross River, Ondo, Bayelsa  and Osun states.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the  third virtual meeting of the FEC, held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed said the approval of the refund followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.

This prompted Mr President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.

“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the minister of works and housing, but also had Ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office as members.

“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.

“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.

“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, that is why the BPP is on the committee.

“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.

Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”

Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges, that not only were they completed, they were in substantial good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.

He, however, disclosed that “there is a caveat, as the federal government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.

“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”

According to him, the modalities of refund are being worked out and payment will be made over a period of time.

Mohammed said 31 states were earlier paid the sum of over N550 billion as refund for the reconstruction of federal roads in their respective states.


Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Defence/Security

Women protest cultists invasion in Rivers community

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Some women in Port Harcourt on Tuesday took to the streets to protest invasion of their community by gunmen suspected to be cultists.

The women, who are indigenes of Owube community in Ahoada West Local Government Area in Rivers, decried incessant attacks by suspected cultists in their community.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the protesters later  converged at the Government House with placards reading: “Save Our Soul”, “Enough is Enough” and “We want to live”, among others.

Some of the women who spoke with NAN said that cultists were daily raping women on their farmlands.

They urged the Rivers Government and security agencies to intervene in the matter and protect them.

Mrs Florence Eric said that women in the community were now living in fear due to the frequent rape and kidnap by the hoodlums.

“The cult boys in our community do not allow us to go to our farmlands again. They attack, rape and kidnap us everyday.

“We can no longer go out to look for food to eat. We want government to help us in any way they can, because we need to survive this challenge,” she said.

Mrs Victoria Ekpeye said that the cultists were demanding ‘settlement’ from the community to end their siege on the area.

“The boys said they need money from us to leave the community, but they did not mention how much money they need,” she added.

On her part, Franco Confidence said the protesters decided to submit their petition to the state government after several concerted efforts made to end insecurity in the area failed.

She said after exhausting all options of ending the crises, that the community later engaged the services of a popular local vigilante.

The ONELGA Security, Peace and Advisory Committee (OSPAC) comes at night to secure the area, but the cultist now come in the afternoon to kidnap and rape women.

“We are really tired of living with this challenge for five years now. We want Gov. Wike to come to our aid, because we are tired of sleeping in the bush,” she said.

The protesters also called on the police to establish a police post in the community to end the rising insecurity in the area.  


Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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General news

COVID-19: Rivers Govt inaugurates free bus scheme

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The Rivers Government has inaugurated a COVID-19 Free Bus Scheme to cushion the effect of the pandemic on residents and visitors to the state.

The scheme was inaugurated on Monday in Port Harcourt by the Commissioner for Transport, Mr Sunny Ejekwu.

According to Ejekwe, the buses will ply Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt, Oyigbo and Eleme Local Government Areas as a pilot scheme.

Ejekwe, who commended Gov. Nyesom Wike for the initiative, said that the 28 luxury buses would operate in line with advisories on social distancing, use of hand sanitiser and wearing of face masks.

He said that the buses would pick and discharge passengers at designated bus stops.

The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, described the free bus scheme as “a gift you get from a compassionate and visionary leader’’.

A cross section of commuters, who commended the initiative, said they could not believe that government could provide such a free service.

Meanwhile, the state government has also began the decontamination of public places as part of measures to keep the state safe from coronavirus.

According to a statement by Mr Paulinus Nsirim, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, the programme was flagged off at Government House, Port Harcourt, by Gov. Nyesom Wike who assured that all public places in the state would be decontaminated.

He said that all public places, including markets, Churches, motor parks and schools, would be decontaminated before schools reopen.

In his speech, the Sole Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency, Mr Felix Obuah, said the Decontamination Team, made up of medical and environmental experts, was inaugurated in line with Rivers governor’s directives to decontaminate public places.

The Leader of the decontamination team, Dr Ian Gobo, assured that the team would carry out the exercise with utmost dedication.


Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Economy

COVID-19 pandemic delays arrival of RoRo vessel at Rivers Port

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Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Monday said that the first RoRo vessel expected by the Rivers Port in Port Harcourt had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Mr Adams Jatto made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

According to him, the vessel, which was supposed to have come in by April, has not been able to make it, and there is no definite date for its arrival  the country.

“This vessel is a special cargo which has to do with vehicles and, maybe, they could not get people to load them.

“We are still in touch with them to get updates,” he said.

Recall that on March 15, the NPA, in its bid to improve vessel traffic to the Eastern Ports, said that the Rivers Port was expecting its first Roll on/Roll off (RoRo) operations.

Jatto had said that the first RoRo Vessel to berth in the history of the Rivers Port was scheduled to depart the United States of America in the middle of March and arrive Port Harcourt at the end of March or early April.

He had said that the introduction of RoRo operations would in no small measure increase the revenue base of Rivers Port in particular and NPA as a whole.

Jatto had indicated that the move was traceable to intentional commitment and landmark reforms that the current management of the NPA had instituted toward ensuring that all ports in Nigeria became optimally functional.


Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

 

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Education

Rivers awards N3.9bn convocation arena project in UNIPORT– Gov Wine’s aide

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The Rivers Government has awarded contract for the construction of N3.9 billion new convocation arena at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT)
to a contractor, Telios Group.

Mr Alabo George-Kelly, the Special Adviser to Gov. Nyseom Wike on Projects, made this known in a statement by Dr Williams Wodi, the university Deputy Director (Information), on Sunday in Port Harcourt.

George-Kelly, handing over the construction site to the contractor, assured the university management that the project would be completed within the stipulated time and according to specification.

“The project’s letter of award has already been issued to the company.

“We are confident that Telios Group will deliver a quality project with attention to details. We do not expect the contractor to cut corners,” he said.

Responding, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Ndowa Lale, thanked Wike for taking steps to fulfil his promise of building a world class convocation arena in the university campus.

He said that Wike, who is alumni of the university, had demonstrated his commitment to the institution.

“To this end, our physical planning and development unit will closely monitor the project to ensure quality job delivery,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Emmanuel Adaria, representative of Telios Group, said the project would be completed to the contracts’ specification.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the convocation arena, when completed, would accommodate 15,000 students during ceremony.

The arena would also accommodate a minimum of six thousand students when partitioned into six lecture theatres.

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Defence/Security

17 suspected sea pirates nabbed in Rivers

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No fewer than 17 suspected sea pirates have been arrested by the Police Command in Rivers following a major raid on their hideout, an official said.

The command’s spokesman, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday that the suspects were responsible for recent coordinated attacks on policemen in the state.

The 17 sea pirates attacked the men of Special Protection Unit (SPU) Base five, Benin on May 24 while they were on duty at Egelegele River in Degema Council in Rivers.

“The dastard act by the sea pirates resulted to our men losing their arms and ammunition during the attack.

“However, in a well coordinated operation in the late hours of Wednesday night, operatives of the Marine Division of the Rivers command arrested the suspects.’’

Omoni said items recovered from the suspects includes, two AK 47 magazines, charms and amulets, mobile phones, gas cylinder, N50,000 cash and two speed boats allegedly used in the attack.

“The suspects are currently helping the police with useful confessions to the attacks on personnel.

“Also, the command has intensified efforts to arrest the remnants of the criminal gang that attacked passenger boats along the Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru waterways,” he added.

The police spokesman said that the Commissioner of Police in Rivers, Mr Joseph Mukan appealed to residents of coastal communities to be conscious of activities of sea pirates in their localities.

He urged residents to assist the police with useful information on the whereabouts of sea pirates through the telephone numbers: 08032003514, 08028915462 and 08182157778.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

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