Front Page

Post front page news here

Front Page

New Bayelsa Govt Begins Work

The three days curfew imposed in Bayelsa following the violent protests is likely to be reviewed as the new governor, Senator Douye Diri settles down to work after his swearing in last Friday.

Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was inaugurated as the fifth governor of Bayelsa State, amid violent protests by supporters of David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), had declared Diri winner of the Bayelsa governorship election yesterday after the Supreme Court nullified the election of Lyon, barely 24 hours to his inauguration.

Chief Judge of the State, Justice Kate Abiri, administered the oath of office on Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor.

The inauguration ceremony was moved from the Samson Siasia stadium for security reasons, following protests that erupted in the morning.

The ceremony, which took place at the Government House, Yenagoa, was met with huge celebration among the party supporters, who thronged the Creek House in their thousands.

Speaking during the event, Diri declared that he would always work to achieve peace, love and prosperity for the people.

He described the swearing in day, as “a day made by God” which he said is “marvelous in the eye of the people of Bayelsa.”

He said: “I have been sworn in today as your new governor. My advice is that we have to be magnanimous in victory. We have to forget the bitterness, and the acrimony, because if we kill ourselves, who are we going to lead? Of course, we are not going lead animals.

“I, therefore bring to you a message of love, hope and prosperity for Bayelsa. Let us eschew all the bitterness and acrimony and learn to love ourselves irrespective of political parties.”

The ceremony was attended by governors of Oyo and Bauchi states, Seyi Makinde and Bala Muhammad respectively.

read more
Front Page

O.B. Lulu Briggs Burial Stalled Again …As Widow Challenges Ghana Supreme Court Order Releasing Body to Dumo

The controversy over the burial of business mogul and philanthropist, Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs does not seem to be ending soon.

This is as the widow of the deceased, Chief Seinye O.B. Lulu Briggs has again filed a suit at the Ghana High Court, challenging a recent Ghana Supreme Court decision that the body of the late High Chief be handed over to the head of the Oruwari war Canoe House and son of the deceased, Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs.

Chief Dumo Briggs, disclosed this during a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt.

According to Chief Dumo, the Supreme Court in Ghana recently ruled and affirmed the decisions of the lower court on the burial of the late Lulu Briggs, “but regrettably the widow of my father has again gone to the Ghana High Court to stop me from burying my father.”

Dumo explained that the action  challenging the decision of the Ghana Supreme Court will mean that the burial would take another set of months as according to him, any case filed at the Ghanaian’s  courts on any pending matter, is automatically a stay of execution on the matter.

He however added that the matter which will come up in the court on February 27, will determine how soon the burial of his late father will be carried out.

On the result of the autopsy on his  late father which shows that the late O.B. Lulu Briggs died a natural death, Chief Dumo stated that any autopsy carried out on the dead is just one of the ways to ascertain the cause of death of the deceased.

He however added that the Ghana police  organization have in addition to the result of autopsy began an official inquest into the death of the late Chief, stressing that such inquest does not in any way stop the burial activities.

Spokesperson of the widow, Barrister Oraye St. Franklin who spoke through the phone on behalf of Mrs. O.B. Lulu Briggs countered Dumo’s allegation on the matter but explained that Mrs. Lulu  Briggs decided to challenge the matter in Court because according to him, Chief Dumo had failed to fulfill certain conditions set out by the court before the burial.

He denied that Mrs. Lulu Briggs was in any way apprehensive of the police inquest on the death of Chief O.B. Lulu Briggs, emphasizing that the result of the autopsy conducted in Ghana was enough to vindicate her that there was no foul play on the businessman’s death.

Franklin agreed that several meetings have been held with some eminent Nigerians and groups aimed at finding amicable resolutions to the family feud. “We have met with the inspector General of policy, IGP Idris Abubakar to broker peace. The I.G. instructed that all pending matters in court be withdrawn but Dumo has refused to withdraw the inquisition case he instituted against Mrs. O.B. Lulu Briggs. The woman equally has the right to protest herself from any attempt at labeling her a murderer,” the spokesman alleged.

Dumo also explained that the 24-man committee recently setup by the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, HRM King Princewill was not a burial committee but a peace and reconciliation team, mandated to reconcile the parties on the matter.

The Vortex recalls that the death of the 88year old, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs in Ghana in 2018 has been enmeshed in wild controversies and attempts by individuals and groups to resolve the impasse have not been successful.

Dates for his burial activities have on several occasions been fixed and cancelled as a result of litigation between the widow of the deceased icon and his son, Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs.

read more
CultureFront Page

Cultural Splendour As Govs, Kings Grace Sekibo’s Chieftaincy

Dignitaries from all walks of life including Traditional Rulers graced the installation ceremony of the former Minister for Transport and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Abiye Samuel Precious Sekibo as the Chief and Head of Achin War Canoe House of Koniju Town, Okrika.

The ceremony which took place at the National School Field, Okrika Local Government Area on Saturday could best be described as a carnival and the people gave honour to whom honour is due.

The VORTEX correspondent who was at the venue of the ceremony observed unprecedented crowd, as guests jostled for space even as attempts by the master of ceremony, Barr. Golden Tamuno directing security personnel to clear the arena for other guests to have a glimpse of the events proved herculean.

Some of the dignitaries that added colour to the installation include the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, His Deputy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, former Governor, Sir. Celestine Omehia, the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Senator George Thompson Sekibo,  former senator, Lee Maeba, Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and former Information and Communication Commissioner, Emma Okah.

Also present were a former President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief OCJ Okocha (SAN), Chief of State Government House, Hon. Emeka Woke, top politicians, National and state lawmakers, Local Government Council Chairmen and party loyalists.

Our correspondent also report that Traditional Rulers at the occasion include the chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, His Majesty, King Dandison Douglas Jaja, Jeki V, a former Chairman of the Council and Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny, His Majesty, King Edward Asimini William Dappa-Pepple III, Perekule XI, His Majesty, Eze Leslie Nyebuchi Eke, Eze Gbakagbaka of Evo Kingdom,  His Majesty, King Onyekachi Amaonwu, Eze Eberiugo IX of Eberi Omuma, His Majesty, King Emmanuel Biagolike Obudibo, Ikwo V, Amanyanabo of Ogoloma Kingdom, His Majesty, King Alfred Semenitari Abam Ado IX, Amanyanabo of Wakirike Kingdom, Okrika, His Royal Majesty, King Tamuno-omisiki Ogube, Ogube I of Kirike and His Royal Majesty, King Ateke Michael Tom, Sekuro of Niger Delta, Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom.

Also present were His Royal Majesty Mene Suanu Baridam, Gbenemene Bua-Bangha III, Kasimene Bangha VII, Amanyanabo of Abuloma, King Bright Ateke Fiboinumama, Amanyanabo of Ele Kingdom, His Royal Highness, King Felix Tamunoseipiriala Okuru, Apina VII, Amanyanabo of Kala-Ogoloma, His Royal Highness, King Goddy Idaminabo Idikisima-Olunwa, Amanayanabo of Koniju, His Royal Highness, King Nelson Atubo Oputibeya, the Amanyanabo of Tuboniju, King A.A. Opuambe among others. 

Businessmen, religious leaders, women of sustenance (growth and just every social group was represented at the ceremony to bear witness as Achin III takes oath as the a War Canoe House and a member of the Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs.

read more
CommentsFront Page

Unemployment, A Ticking Time Bomb

The prediction by the World Bank that Nigeria crucially had to create millions of jobs to avert imminent bust requires a composite approach to better the economy frantically. The release further advised the country to establish at least 30 million jobs by 2030 to prevent the unfortunate augury from being fulfilled. Don’t forget, 2030 is only 10 years away.

The implication is that the economy must generate 3 million jobs annually for 10 years. But how is that possible when statistics have revealed that about 19 million Nigerians enrolled in the labour market within the last five years while only 3.5 million jobs were created within the same period, leaving a shortfall of 15.5 million jobless Nigerians? Also, the unemployment rate has quadrupled in the last four years attaining an all-high 23 per cent.

From the foregoing, it is explicit that there have been consistent job losses. Very few manufacturing activities happened while service providers only managed to employ a few people all due to an asperous business climate. Agriculture, the largest employer of labour, has lost attraction largely because of the activities of insurgents and bandits in some parts of the north. The prolonged herdsmen/farmers’ clash never bolstered matters.

As unemployment advances, population growth edges faster. While the population grows at 2.6 per cent annually, the economy progresses at a paltry 2 per cent. With a low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $397 billion, Nigeria’s population expansion has been projected to hit about 401.3 million by 2050.

Of course, this is portentous because it will exert enormous pressure on the economy, the job market and social infrastructure. As employment declines, extreme penury is on the rage. If the projection that unemployment figures will rise to 23.5 per cent this year is anything to go by, then we must anticipate a time bomb.

I believe the situation would have ameliorated if we operated a social welfare scheme. Rather, in the face of dwindling economy and increasing poverty, all what Nigerians can get are mere promises and at best ill-defined and rudderless social benefit schemes like “Trader Moni,” “Market Moni”, and “Farmer Moni” that disburse soft loans without collaterals.

The impact of the schemes is hardly perceptible. They have failed to prevent Nigerians from sliding into poverty every single minute of the day. Sadly, the number of extremely poor Nigerians has recently moved from 91.50 million to 94.4 million, fuelling speculations that a populist revolt may happen sooner than later.

Following the frightening figures, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. But how will he go about it when there are no sustainable policies to create massive jobs? On the other hand, State governments have never helped matters either as they have failed to reduce unemployment.

What do we expect? After all, this is what occurs when a country decides to practice a lopsided, “feeding bottle” federalism. A report by BudgIT (an NGO) stated that 33 States are heavily dependent on monthly allocations from Abuja and therefore cannot survive by themselves. Any wonder the States are unable to boost activities needed to generate employment.

While the States are irredeemably dependent, Nigeria heavily relies on other countries for survival thus financing jobs in those nations. This situation is clearly against sound economic practices. How does one explain a development where we import virtually everything including fuel that should be taken for granted by virtue of our role as a leading crude oil producer? Since oil constitutes more than 90 per cent of our exports, the economy is usually left to the vagaries of crude prices in the international market.

Truth is Nigeria can never get its economy right till it gets its political structure correctly. An economy that energises States to go cap in hand to Abuja every month cannot inspire growth and development. The present sharing system only breeds parasitism, indolence, graft, joblessness and poverty. To reverse this ugly trend, fiscal federalism is the answer to a structure that gives impetus to uncompetitiveness. Let States drive the economy, not the centre.

We must look at what has worked best in other climes to create jobs by focusing on sectors that have the highest potentials. Resolving the current power crisis is the beginning point. Then the private sector should be empowered to lead the way. Finally, we must always understand that the agricultural and manufacturing sectors hold great capacity for job creation.

read more
Front Page

Currency Of Rivers Neighbourhood Security Watch

In the wake of the launch by all six South West governments of the ‘Amotekun’ security initiative, has trailed an avalanche of reactions for and against the project. Last week, the governors of these South West states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo jointly launched a neighbourhood security platform code named ‘Amotekun’ (tiger in Yoruba), with  headquarters in Ibadan capital of Oyo State. Expectedly, the project enjoyed widespread acceptance in the host region and sympathisers outside it, among whom the reason for the initiative struck home. The sponsoring governors had cited the seeming incapacity of the establishment security apparatus in the country, namely the Nigeria Police Force and the military establishment. Their alibi is accentuated by the daily worsening state of insecurity across the country. On a daily basis, instances of kidnap for ransom, murders and other heinous crimes rankle Nigerians, right across the length and breadth of the country.

Just as well, there has also been some opposition to the initiative with the most potent salvo so far coming from the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), and who have also tied the aspirations of the South West to clinch the country’s presidential slot in 2023 to the Amotekun dispensation. In one vein the concern of the Miyetti Allah over the Amotekun is understandable given that much of the ongoing spate of criminality has been associated rightly or wrongly with Fulani pastoralists whose welfare MACBAN was established to protect. In another vein many observers fear that their grouse can mis-present them as benefitting from the challenge which Amotekun is intended to resolve. Meanwhile another group which came claiming northern origin, and which was initially, erroneously believed to be the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), expressed in strong terms its opposition to the Amotekun initiative. The group even added a threat to go to war if the Amotekun initiative is not shelved before the expiration of their 20th January 2020 ultimatum.

In any case, it is for good measure that the AYCF has dissociated itself from the war mongering group and its disturbing opposition, through a statement personally signed by its National President Yarima Shettima, dismissing the discredited opposition as a spurious creation which did not originate from its quarters. In fact, in its authenticated position, the AYCF commends the South West Governors for the Amotekun initiative and noted that it would even go a long way in promoting community policing in the zone. Shettima further clarified that as an advocate of community policing he supported the initiative and urged the northern governors to initiate a similar venture that will protect the north.

Meanwhile, a most disturbing dimension of the follow-up to the entire matter came when the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami ruffled feathers with his pronouncement that Operation Amotekun was an exercise in illegality. According to him, the project runs contrary to Nigeria’s laws. Malami had in a statement by his aide stated that the Constitution had established the military and police along with other security agencies to tackle the security challenges of the country, hence precluding the emergence of any other security apparatus. However, the weakness of his argument remains self-manifest as the sponsors of Amotekun never envisaged that it would displace the extant security agencies. Rather, the project would provide critical back-up for the latter, as circumstances may dictate.

In the interplay between proponents and opponents of the Amotekun dispensation, lies the fact that over time, various authorities across the country had established non-state security outfits, with varying responses trailing their advent. According to the investigation by a Nigerian newspaper, at least 23 states out of 36 operate one form of neighbourhood security platform or the other. And in each particular case, the response that trails the venture was often associated with perspectives that drew from the prism of Nigeria’s ethnically jaundiced political values.

For instance, within the reactions to Amotekun, comparisons arose between its advent and the establishment of similar outfits in various parts of the country, such as the formation of the Hisbah police in Kano in 2003, the coming up of the Bakassi Boys through Aba based Ibo traders in1998, the formation of the Civilian JTF in Borno and adjoining states of the North East of Nigeria who are contending with the scourge of insurgency and the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South West; just to name a few. The fact that virtually all of these outfits emerged as responses to the failure of the extant establishment security agencies to do the job, largely vitiates whatever merit that may exist in opposition to the Amotekun dispensation. 

In a related context however, the Rivers State Government in 2018, launched its Neighbourhood Security and Safety Corps (Neighbourhood Watch agency), which advent raised hopes of some remediation of the state of insecurity in the state. The Nyesom Wike administration had conceived it with the endorsement of the statutory security establishment, and at a time of significant as well as peculiar security challenges in the state, which threatened the country’s all important oil and gas business. The project was however aborted by the Army in 2019, under circumstances that are still begging for clarification. For many Nigerians, the assault by the Army on the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch was particularly disturbing as it was like killing a pet dog just by waking up and calling it a new, borrowed, bad name. Little seemed to have been thought of the promise in the circumstances of its advent, and the acute significance of its core mission. Hence, the undignified manner of its termination by the military, acting ostensibly on the basis of the proverbial orders from above, left a sour taste in the mouth. Here was a body that was duly established by a state government through the involvement of credible military and security establishment, coming to grief for reasons not connected in any way with any breach of the rules of engagement it shared with the security authorities.

Like other non-state security platforms across the country, it was conceived to serve as a response to the short comings of the establishment security agencies, through providing them with critical support in terms of credible intelligence and other logistics. Yet unlike most of them the Rivers State Neighbourhood Corps were not designated to bear arms, nor even prosecute anybody. Yet they were stopped.

As things stand now, the coming of the Amotekun dispensation at this time must be for good measure, as it accentuates the indisputable imperative for self-defense by everybody, in the context of the near run-away state of insecurity across the country. And in this respect, it is no exaggeration to contend that if there is any state in Nigeria that deserves a viable neighbourhood security platform, it is the Rivers State, for obvious reasons of protecting this hub of Nigeria’s all important oil and gas economy and thereby a critical factor in the country’s common patrimony.

read more
EconomyFront Page

2020: Rivers Budget Of “Reassurance, Profound Impact For Inclusive Growth And Shared Prosperity”

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Tuesday,  presented a budget proposal of N530,813,357,619.00 for the 2020 fiscal year to the State House of Assembly for consideration and passage.

The 2020 Budget of Rivers State is christened: Budget of “Reassurance, profound impact for inclusive growth and shared prosperity”. The Rivers State Government in 2019 budgeted N480billion for recurrent and capital expenditure.

Presenting the Budget Proposal, Governor Wike said the budget has a Total Recurrent expenditure of  N156,659,436569.00, while Capital expenditure is N374,153,920,743.00.

Governor Wike said: “The capital expenditure for 2020 is estimated to be N374, 153,920,743.00, which constitutes nearly 70% of the total budget. The summary of sectoral allocations of the capital expenditure are as follows:

·Administrative sector: -15, 061,008,000.00

·Economic sector;- 136, 444,523,766.60

.Law and Justice:- 2, 400,000,000.00

·Social sector – 138, 558,553,322.35

·Special Head:-57, 367,124,462.05

·Loan repayments –    24,322,731,192.00

“ The substantial increase in capital over recurrent expenditure, once again reflects and underscores our commitment to direct more resources to the growth and productive sectors of our economy. This Administration is poised to fulfill every promise it made to our people. Consequently, various expenditure portfolios have been allocated to all the relevant MDAs to fund capital expenditures and deliver physical and socio-economic infrastructure and development for our people.”

The Highpoint of the recurrent expenditure is the allocation of funds for the new minimum wage and the recruitment of new employees.

“The sum of N70,227,748,472.32 is earmarked for salaries and wages; N8,000,000,000.00 for the new minimum wage, while N18,429,375,634.45 is for overheads. Also, N5,000,000,000.00 is set aside for new recruitments, N3,000,000,000.00 as counterpart fund for pensions, N900,000,000.00 for death benefits and N33,176,728,931.33 as monthly pensions and gratuities. Government has also provided over N400,000,000.00 as counterpart contributions for donor programmes”, he said.

Governor Wike stated that the sum of N93,968,823,766.60 has been provided for the Ministry of Works to continue to fund the strategic road development programme for 2020. He said that several roads are under construction, but the State Government is committed to delivering some key roads by the end of 2020.

The roads include:

· Kira – Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono road linking Gokana Tai, and Khana Local Government Areas;

·Andoni – Opobo Unity road linking Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas

· Abonnema Ring Road in Akuku Toru Local Government Area

· Isiokpo internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area

·Rumuekini – Aluu road linking Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Area

·Rumuepirikom internal roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area

· Rumuakunde and Isiodu roads in Emohua Local Government Area;

· Akaer Base road, Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area

·Expansion of Nzimiro, Herbert Macaulay, Amassoma and other sundry streets within Amadi Flats, old GRA, Port Harcourt

·  Eteo – Sime – Nonwa – Kira road linking Tai and Eleme Local; Government Areas;

· Eleme – Afam road linikng Eleme and Oyigbo Local “Government Areas;

· Rumuji – Ibaa – obele – isiokpo road;

·Omoku – Egbema road dualization in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area;

·Ula Ehuda – Odioku – Anwunugboko – Ubeta – Ihuechi – Odiereke road;

·Omoku-Aligwu-Kreigani-Oduoboburu road;

· Odieku community internal roads in Ahoada West Local Government Area;

·Abuloma/Fimie/Ozuboko and AmadiAma Community road in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;

·Bolo community internal roads in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area;

·Umuogba – Umuokpurukpu – Umueke – UmunjuUmuelechi – Eberi roundabout link road in Omuma Local Government Area;

· Rebisi Flyover in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;

· Okoro-Nu-odu Flyover bridge at Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;

·Rumubiakani Flyover at Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;

· Expansion of Ikwerre road from Education Bus stop to Igwuruta sections spanning Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerrre Local Government Areas; and

·Phase one of the Trans-Kalabari road network.

The Governor added that the State Government has allocated N26,087,783,322.35 for e Bureau for Special Projects to fund the completion of key ongoing projects .

He noted that the sum of N3,000,000,000.00 has been allocated to the Ministry of Transport to complete the Bonny/Bile/Nembe jetty and embark on other key projects, including rehabilitating of bus stops to advance the transport sector in the State.

The Governor proposed the sum of N49.471 billion to fund the education sector for 2020.

He said: “ This sum represents 20% of the total budget and is the highest ever budgetary allocation to education, reflecting the level of our commitment to investing in the future of our children.

“In 2020, we will continue to ensure the systematic rehabilitation, upgrade and transformation of our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and build new ones where the population demands to deliver a more conducive learning environment across schools in Rivers State. For basic education, we will promptly access the contributory grant from the Federal Government and deploy same to improve access, standards and quality. We will also continue to improve access to ICT infrastructure, employ more teachers to further reduce the teacher/learners’ ratio, especially in English Language, Mathematics, Science and technology and ensure the training and retraining of teachers to deliver measurable results and outstanding outcomes in our primary and secondary schools.”

The Governor said that the following schools would be upgraded in 2020:

°Enitonia High School, Port Harcourt in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area;

·Government Secondary School, Ogu in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area;

·Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;

·Community Secondary School, Rumuepirikom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;

·Bonny National Grammar School, Bonny in Bonny Local Government Area,

·Government Secondary School, Okarki in Ahoada West Local Government Area,

·Western Ahoada Central High School, Ahoada in Ahoada East Local Government Area,

·Government Secondary School, Abua in Abua/Odual Local Government Area,

·Government Secondary Schoo, Okporowo -Ogbakiri, Emohua Local Government Area

·Government Secondary School, Obuama in Degema Local Government Area;

·Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area;

· Model Secondary School Bakana in Degema Local Government Area; and

·Model Secondary School, Tombia in Degema Local Government Area.

In a bid to strengthen the agricultural sector, Governor Wike earmarked N40,400,000.00 billion to the sector for the 2020 fiscal year.

Specifically, the Rivers State Government will:

(i) invest and support the commercial production of cash and other crops to which we have relative advantages, such as cassava, palm oil, yam, plantain, banana, rice and vegetables for both domestic and export markets;

 (ii) revive the school-to-land programme and engage over 10,000 youths in commercial agriculture;

 (iii) establish farmer input support programme to provide farming inputs to farmers across the State;

 (iv) train and build the capacity of Rivers State farmers to engage in productive and profitable commercial agriculture, including farming in crops, poultry, piggery, and fisheries;

 (v) complete the Cassava Processing Plant at Afam in Oyigbo Local Government Area.

To promote healthcare delivery to Rivers State, Governor Wike proposed N38,900,0healthcare for the development of healthcare facilities and programmes in 2020.

He said the State Government will complete and deliver the Mother and Child hospital with capacity for 108 patients as well as the Degema and Bori regional referral hospitals with combined capacities of over 200 beds.

He added that the State Government will  continue with the construction of the remaining 3 regional hospitals at Okehi, Omoku and Ahoada to advanced stages;

and  continue with the restructuring, upgrade and expansion of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital.

Governor Wike said his Administration will  improve on emergency medical services by procuring more ambulances to ensure effective and more responsive emergency and trauma management.

For youths and women, Governor Wike allocated a combined sum of N16 billion to the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Empowerment and Employment Generation, Youths, Sports, and Women Affairs to initiate, coordinate and implement appropriate programmes for poverty eradication, job creation and empowerment for youths and women. The objective is to create not less than five hundred thousand jobs for our youths in 2020.

The Governor said that the State expects the onward economic growth to continue in 2020 peaking around 3.5% to 3.7% with significant improvements in foreign and domestic investment inflows to the different sectors of the economy.

He said the growth in 2020 will come with associated effects on job creation and other economic opportunities for Rivers people.

He said:  ”Given therefore the fundamentals of our economy, which has remained sustainable with a steady growth rate since 2017, it is relatively safe to conclude that the economic outlook of our State for 2020 remains positive.”

He also gave an appraisal of the performance of the 2019 Budget of the State.

He said: “At as end of October 2019, total net revenue collected between January and October was N261,074,352,792.23 representing about 64.4% of total revenue estimates.

“Further breakdown shows that only N37,102,734,345.42 was collected as FAAC receipts; N79,794,256,970.19 as 13% Oil Mineral Fund, N90,923,318,238.78 as taxes, and 14,666,472,353.79 as Value Added Tax. Also, N600,000,000.00 was received as Paris Club Refund, N25,000,000,000.00 as local credits, while others, including exchange gain, forex equalization and excess bank charges amounted to N7,496,428,837.31

It is obvious from these figures that the 2019 budget under performed by about 36% on the revenue side. However, contributions from internally generated revenue is expected to peak at a much higher rate than what was projected for the year.”

Governor Wike said that over the last four years, the development successes of his Administration are visible across the State.

He said: “By and large, the development effort of our government across all indices of our NEW VISION blueprint is clearly evident everywhere you go even as we admit that there is still much more to do to realize our collective aspirations and fulfill our destiny as a united, peaceful and thriving society.

“It is on this optimistic premise that we have come to present the Rivers State Budgetary Estimates for fiscal year 2020 before the State House of Assembly for the consideration and passing into law. Mr. Speaker, the 2020 budget is about effective resource mobilization, responsible management of available finances, living within our means and delivering efficient public services to our people. “

Governor Wike assured that the Rivers State Government will work hard to mobilise resources to implement the 2020.

He said: “We will build and consolidate on the gains and progress of 2019 to deliver on the commitment of this budget for the benefit of our people. We will mobilize resources from the different sources and scale up investments in infrastructure, human capital development and the productive sectors of our economy to create jobs and improve the wellbeing of our people. And as our economy grows and creates opportunities, our people will benefit and enjoy a better standard of living.

“ Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am confident that, working together, and with the support and prayers of our people, we can achieve the set targets of this budget.”

In his remarks, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ikuinyi Ibani assured the Rivers State Governor and Rivers people that the Assembly will diligently consider and pass the budget to facilitate the continued development of the state.

He said budget is critical to the development process. He commended Governor Wike for his commitment to the development of Rivers State. He commended the Rivers State Governor for prioritising capital expenditure.

The Speaker said that the Rivers State House of Assembly has passed the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the development of the State.

He said that the Executive-Legislative relationship is not about confrontation, but about cooperation and development.  He assured the Governor of support of the State Assembly for the development of Rivers State.

read more
FocusFront Page

The Vortex @ One: Celebrating Vision And Passion For Newspapering

One year ago, precisely on the 21st of December, 2018, when The Vortex Newspapers, a full-color weekly newspaper with a vision to change the face of newspapering hit the newsstand. It was dexterity, panache and courage at work. And as the nation endures depression and political, economic and cultural upheavals, The Vortex has survived and prospered beyond imaginations.

As it marks its 1st anniversary in the market and in the minds of men of value, The Vortex is widely becoming an influential newspaper. Its philosophy of unbiased and balanced reportage of news across Rivers State and beyond is a major strength. 

The Vortex story is a complex and paradoxical blend of steadfastness and willingness to change, with staff espousing core values of fairness, accuracy and responsibility.

With The Vortex, readers have become accustomed to a supermarket of information, a panoply of sports, business, arts, entertainment, science and other areas, from the mundane to the mysterious.

Indeed there is something for everyone, elegantly written..

Speaking on the one year of The Vortex, Publisher of The Vortex Newspapers, Dr. Alpheaus Paul-Worika recalled the inaugural presentation of “The Vortex in 2018, thus: “we are determined to establish a privately-owned newspaper that will earn the trust and confidence of the public as critical stakeholders to whom he shall be accountable. Consequently, we have designed a content that takes into consideration the various segments, sectors and interest of our public as we deem it necessary to meet the wishes and expectations of readers”.

The Vortex has become a popular choice for readers. In the last one year as it has enthralled the media space with factual reportage, insightful features and profound comments that have informed, educated, enlightened and refreshed the minds of readers, keeping them glued to newspaper stands as they anticipate new editions of its publication.

The Vortex is committed to creative journalism that upholds the sanctity of facts while providing the platform to support every noble course. Its support for the #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign initiated by the Rivers state Ministry of Information and Communication received commendation from the Ministry. It is the peoples’ voice.

The Vortex has deepened its presence in the internet by establishing a website to supply internet users with news resources. So with just a click, you can access news stories, comments and features with unique The Vortex flavor.

The Vortex is determined to establish a tradition of news evolution that does not rely on spontaneous breaks that fizzle out moments after. The focus is on deep-rooted research that interrogates government policies and programmes and motivates the citizenry to be responsible for the enthronement of a value-based society.

It’s one year of service. The journey has indeed started on a good note.

read more
CommentsFront Page

Re-Strategizing For The New Nigeria Project

The seeming difficulty in raising a new generation of leaders is apparently due to the percolation of negative values from some set of leaders into the impressionable consciousness of the emerging community of potential leaders. There is yet a nationally shared vision regarding the Nigeria of our dream to which the leadership is committed in spirit and in truth. The consequent ideological underpinnings of the envisioned Nigeria is in the behavior of a political leadership class that repeats the same old game of playing chess with the destiny of the nation.

It is failure to come up with a vision and the direction to take that makes it difficult for many public policies such as the quota system, Federal Character, NYSC, the rebranding Nigeria project, Change Begins with You to promote active citizenship in Nigeria.

To achieve corporate citizenship, a state must ensure social cohesion and social justice. It demands that all forms of social inequalities; gender, income, class, political and material etc are minimized as much as possible. In any society where the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is excruciatingly wide in ways that are even facilitated by the government through its tax regime, the social strain of inequality undermines social growth.

In Nigeria, where the ethnic diversity is so virulent as to constantly undermine social cohesion, where there is a disproportionate sharing of scarce resources in ways that enable one group to have more than the other, it builds the blocks for social disorder.

Nigeria’s diversity facilitates ethnic and religious distrust at individual and group levels. This can be explained as one consequence of t sure sign that relating with an Igbo appears as a distasteful possibility.

Essentially, social cohesion demands a strategy of governance, as good governance is the framework within which the transformation of ethnic diversities into nationhood can begin to unravel.

Two dimensions of the strategy of governance are needed to ground social cohesion. The first is, urgent need to leverage education and value reorientation as the dynamics which engages with the citizens’ mental sets and worldviews.

The way people perceive the world and their relationship with others has a lot to do with what they have learnt or refused to learn as they go through life. Such citizens might have learnt but there is a sense in which learning undermines the basis of relationship when it is founded on crass individualism and selfish understanding. A state that desires social cohesion must therefore invest in an educational policy that encourages the growth of reflective, respectful and ethically-minded citizens who are willing to trust others and live with them in tolerance. Ultimately, this kind of value reorientation helps the citizens to learn skills, competencies and values that promote the common good.

The second strategy of governance required for social cohesion is a reform blueprint that leads to a capacity building social policy. This refers to policy initiatives, social relations and institutional arrangements that energize human well-being. It constitutes a deliberate attempt, on the part of government, to intervene in the redistribution of resources among its citizens as a means of achieving welfare objectives that empowers the citizens. This involves investing in healthcare, employment, housing, and so on as well as opening up the society in ways that undermine inequalities, protect the vulnerable and facilitate democratic relations.

The Nigerian project at present seem to lack coherent strategic dynamics that would ensure that the leadership deploys towards ameliorating the Nigerian al condition.

Until the political leadership is awakened to this consciousness of ameliorating the negative conditions that affect national progress, the country will remain with the cries of desperate citizens seeking for better opportunities to express their potentials maximally and position the country for socio-economic growth and political greatness.

read more
Front PageNews

‘Jan 2: No Tax ID, No Bank Transaction’

With effect from January 2nd, 2020 all Account holders in banks must have Tax Identification Number. Also, all customers intending to open banks accounts will provide evidence of tax identification.

This was contained in a circular reportedly sent to all State Internal Revenue Board and copied to all banks in the country.

The directive to this effect followed the recent passage of the Finance Bill by the National Assembly. Part of the provision of the law requires all bank Account holders and intending ones to indicate their Tax Identification Number (TIN).

According to information, the Federal Government initiated the policy to widen the government tax revenue and ensure that all taxable citizens pay their tax.

The Vortex reporter, who visited the Federal Inland Revenue Office in Port Harcourt, was told that the policy was already on place and by January 2, 2020. Banks will no longer be expected to operate the old regime of banking without TIN.

The officer, who did not want her name in print, however directed the reporter to the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service where she said matters of personal Income tax are dealt with.

The officers, who did not also indicate what sanctions may befall defaulters, said it was important that eligible tax payers begin the process to obtain the Tax Identification Number (TIN) before it becomes too late.

A staff of the state Internal revenue Board who simply gave his name as Smith, told The Vortex on phone that people have started registration for TIN, stressing that applicants would only be required to fill a form from the revenue office and the information given would be used to access the individuals tax returns.

Investigations by The Vortex indicate that many Nigerians are likely to be affected by the January 2, 2020 deadline if it is not extended. Our investigations show that not many Nigerians are aware of the policy due to the low publicity of the policy by the government.

Our reporter observed that the situation may go the way of the BVN policy when it was introduced; which witnessed last minute rush by bank customers.

read more
FocusFront Page

Media Assistants In Democratic Space

The manner public office holders appoint assistants to handle media responsibilities is proof that proper information management is the life wire of business even in a democracy. For most of our political history, it used to be Minister for information at the federal levels and Commissioners for information at the state level. But today, exciting progress is being made in this direction; as we now have not just Minister for information, Commissioners for information and Chief Press Secretaries but Senior Special Assistant (Media), Senior Special Assistant Media (Technical), Special Assistant (Media), Special Assistant (information gathering), Special Assistant (Print Media) and Special Assistant (Electronic Media), in most of the government offices at both Federal and state levels.

In concept and reality, the shift has gained momentum and two types of reactions come into view. To some, the development looks good in words but useless in action. Aside from shooting up the cost of governance these appointments were not targeted at improving information flow between the government and the governed, but merely to settle political jobbers, many of the appointments into such office are to people who have no minimum prerequisite to function in that capacity.

it’s not surprising that the second group-which, of course, constitutes a greater number argue that a Media Assistant is but a mere robber stamp, a position used to  launder the image of public officers without recourse or adherence to the ethos of the media profession.

These so-called media assistants expose embarrassing competency when they are challenged about their principals, as they fail to perform as well-trained information managers. Rather they fall back on data that is hardly objective and generate inferences that are never explicit. And the conclusion they reach is usually self-serving. Though one can sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women (media assistants) are placed.

Particularly, when one remembers that power, in the consideration of an average public office holder in Nigeria is usually an opportunity to protect personal interest, as against what is obtainable in developed countries where power is a vehicle for effecting political, social, economic and cultural changes in the country. Substantially, away from the fact that every society/profession needs some shared values to hold it together, an important distinction to make is that the concerns of this piece in absolute terms are whether; and to what extent the media assistants’ attitude has helped the nation; deepen information dissemination, enrich democracy and promote peace and unity among Nigerians of different culture, ethnicity, and religion?

Most importantly, how efficiently and effectively have the occupiers of these positions been in analyzing trends, predicting consequences, and counseling political office holders? Some are mere puppets dancing to the tunes of their principals, filling up media space with gossips, misinformation, malcontents and messages that are self-driven. Clearly, having seen this controversy from both sides, it is clear that there are countless reasons why media assistants position in most public offices appear both unnecessary and unproductive. But, perhaps, understandably, the major one is the fact that communication from public officials/offices are self-undermining and often always reputed for encouraging complacency.

If an effort is dedicated to understanding the why the existing system is accepted and its fundamental assumptions not challenged? More critical questions will emerge. For instance, are media assistants in the first place aware that; every decision they make while discharging their responsibility require value judgment? Are they truly aware that different decisions bring different results; that all decisions have direct and indirect consequences intended and unintended, short term and long term? Are they conscious that their decisions affect others; that those decisions may influence thousands of people on a political issue?

Finding answers to these questions will have far-reaching implications on both the public officials and the entire Nigerians. As it is laced with the capacity to compel public office holders, engineer socio-economic prosperity while propelling the masses to work together for the greater good. To get started, beginning with the last question, it is a pedestrian knowledge that most of these appointees instead of telling their principals what the real issues are, or encourage them to keep their promises, curtail the challenges confronting the people and promote consensus politics, they (media Assistants) encourage divisiveness, autocratic tendencies, and promote media trial of political opponents. In most cases, they become propagandists using radio, television and the internet as outlets to relentlessly false feed Nigerians.

The viability of democracy depends upon openness and a two-way nature of the communication environment; that democracy depends upon the regular sending and receiving of objective signals. It is through the media that the people may know freely what is going on. And to misstate or suppress the factual news is a breach of trust. One urgent skill government media handlers must internalize is that aides can intelligently criticize their bosses.

Until necessary and deliberate steps are taken to tackle the seeming upsurge in of half-baked “media practitioners” to handle media related duties by political office holders, our great politicians will hardly escape the ridicule as they invariably expose themselves to better informed public.

read more