… to be funded from IGR in 24 months

The opposition seemed to stall implementation of the N800 billion 2024 budget of Rivers State by pressing the governor to represent the budget to the controversially divided Rivers State House of Assembly, but the governor has made a big move.

On March 26, 2024, the governor signed N80.89 billion chunk of the budget to an interstate road.

The road is the 33.5km Elele to Omoku Road project that would traverse three local government areas of the state. The local government areas include Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni.

At the state executive council meeting on Tuesday, presided over by Governor Fubara, with his Deputy, Ngozi Odu in attendance, the Council approved a 24-month completion period for the project, which means two budget cycles.

The funding would come from internally generated revenue (IGR), and this method would also be used to fund other mega projects, especially the Trans-Kalabari Highway, according to the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson.

The contract signing and approval seem to answer two crucial allegations against the Fubara administration by the opposition in the state led by Tony Okocha, the caretaker chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The APC had last week said the administration has not held cabinet meetings since December 2023, and that Governor Fubara was not active.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works, an engineer, Atemea Briggs, said the project would be funded from the savings made from the IGR.

Explaining the specifications of the project, Briggs said: “I will like to mention that along this road, we have several kilometers of low land, wherein to build a road shall require replacement and filling of the ground by more than three meters high.”

Briggs further said: “This, the contractor can only achieve through hydraulic sand-filling and using laterite. And you know how costly these are.

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“The road is also having a bridge of 99 meters long to be built side-by-side the existing one between Egbeda and Omoku. The cost of the project is N80.89 billion only. It is awarded to Craneburg Construction Company. The delivery period is 24 months.”

Also addressing newsmen, the Commissioner for Health, Adaeze Oreh, talked of the success of the accreditation exercise conducted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NWCN) at the State College of Nursing Sciences.

She explained that the State School of Nursing was recently upgraded to College of Nursing Sciences with an admission capacity now increased by 142 percent, and a 400-capacity classroom block being constructed for both midwifery and nursing students.

Oreh further explained that with a robust primary healthcare system because existing facilities in the state are upgraded, and their functionalities enhanced, gaps are being addressed in access to requisite services.

She noted that Rivers State also emerged as South-South zonal winner of the Primary Healthcare Leadership Challenge convened by UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

She disclosed a new partnership between the state government and UNICEF, which is donating oxygen manufacturing plants and equipment for the new-born neonatal unit at the Eleme General Hospital, which she said, would be handed over soon. She also mentioned approval of the implementation of Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme, which is the State Health Insurance Scheme.

The information commissioner also stated: “Council also will be setting up a five-man committee made up of commissioners of Agriculture, Urban Development, Permanent Secretary of Lands and Surveyor-General of the State to deal with the issues of land grabbing.

“All that will be put together within the week, and Council will also provide all the necessary requirements for that committee to conclude its job within record time.”

In her clarification, Acting Director-General of the State Bureau of Public Procurement, Ine Briggs, said all the road projects being undertaken by the government were scaled through due diligence and quality assurance and had been certified for delivery to Rivers people.