‘I Need To Be Remembered For Laying RSUTH Basis’

Being a particular interview with Obio/Akpor Native Authorities Council Chairman, Barrister George Ariolu, on June 22, 2022, on the council premises at Rumuodomaya to mark one yr in workplace of his administration. The Crew was led by Normal Supervisor, Rivers State Newspaper Company, Chief Ernest Chinwo; with Performing Chairman, Editorial Board and Supervising Editor of The Tide Group, Nelson Chukwudi; Performing Editor, The Tide (Every day), Reward Akwu; and Reporter, John Bibor. Prince Dele Obinna took all the pictures. Excerpts: 

We thanks in your dedication to supply of dividends of democracy, and we imagine that you’ve got accomplished a lot. What are your visions and the challenges you have got had in your first yr in workplace?

Up to now, so good by God’s particular grace. We predict now we have accomplished nicely. We really got here in on June 17, 2021. So, we clocked one yr in workplace precisely final Friday. However now we have lined up plenty of actions over a time period to mark the one yr anniversary.
For us, we made electioneering guarantees to our folks, and now we have been working alongside that line to meet them. After we got here in, outdoors what we promised the folks, we got here into the workplace, did an inspection around the council’s premises to familiarise ourselves and take inventory of what was out there for us to ship on our marketing campaign guarantees. It was a watch opener for us!
The very first thing we found, outdoors the decrepit nature of the premises, was the truth that we didn’t have different supply of energy provide. We didn’t. And the invention confirmed us that due to that circumstance, the employees’ zeal to do their job was nearly beneath zero. Any time you come right here whether or not within the morning or afternoon, you simply see the employees loiter about as a result of the places of work weren’t snug, due to lack of electrical energy. And you already know what it takes, together with your personal company, authorities businesses and ministries; you already know what it takes to pay electrical payments, even when energy provide shouldn’t be common. So, we promised the employees that we’re going to present an alternate supply of energy provide to handle that problem to their morale. And two – three weeks thereafter, we procured a model new 500KVA Generator, and we put in it. In reality, as I converse, that’s what we’re utilizing to energy all the council premises and buildings.
So, proper now, now we have a close to 24hour energy provide, and the council’s actions are now not hampered by lack of electrical energy. Employees at the moment are common to work; employees at the moment are common within the places of work as a result of the air conditioners and followers are working, and the workplace surroundings is conducive and pleasant. Now, they put of their finest, and their zeal to work has appreciated tremendously.
We additionally undertook an all-round renovation of the secretariat, as a result of as they are saying, cleanliness is subsequent to Godliness. What we found is that the surroundings shouldn’t be what it’s alleged to be, sanitary sensible. It additionally has an impact on the human psychology whether or not we prefer it or not.    The surroundings performs a job within the psyche of those that are working and guests coming in. After they hear that that is the headquarters of the good Obio/Akpor Native Authorities they’ve been listening to, after which, after they come round, they see an surroundings that’s not welcoming.
We took an enormous renovation of the fence. At first, we began with corridor. We’ve a corridor right here within the secretariat constructing: the ceilings and followers had been falling off. All over the place was wanting untidy. So, I advised them that this type of place shouldn’t be adequate for an area authorities like ours. So, inside that very same interval, we took a complete turnaround of the corridor to worldwide commonplace. We are able to even organise or host any worldwide convention or seminar there. Immediately, now we have a state-of-the-art occasion corridor befitting of the good Obio/Akpor Native Authorities Council inside this constructing housing the chairman’s workplace with bolstered roof as a part of the facelift you might be seeing now. It’s there for anyone or organisation to examine and rent.
We additionally found that the workplace areas that now we have aren’t sufficient for the employees, contemplating the truth that nearly all of the Federal Authorities businesses have their numerous places of work in Obio/Akpor Native Authorities Council headquarters. We’ve the DSS, NSCDC, NYSC, FRSC, Immigration, Peace Corps, and NIMC, title them. They’re all situated right here. They’ve invariably taken over the workplace areas our typical employees would have been allotted to. So, I promised them that we’re going to construct extra workplace areas for them in order that our employees can have sufficient places of work to carry out their professional work, and ship optimum providers to the council. As a result of the surroundings you’re employed additionally influences your efficiency on the job and your stage of productiveness.
So, that additionally knowledgeable us to start the constructing of two models of 30-room workplace blocks. We began it 4 months and a few weeks now. Proper now, we’re on the roofing levels. Outdoors of that, we additionally met one of many constructions that had been used for councillors as legislative places of work. It was not befitting in any respect for members of Obio/Akpor Legislative Meeting, particularly as a result of there have been structural defects that had been very seen and wanted to be corrected. So, we determined to show the constructing round. Within the subsequent two months, the buildings can be prepared for commissioning and use.        Additionally, after we got here in, we found that any time it rains, irrespective of the lightness or heaviness of the rain, all the council secretariat’s surroundings is flooded. So, we additionally thought-about it as a really large embarrassment that didn’t need to proceed. So, we known as out consultants to check out it, and inform us what we will do to cease the persistent flooding of the premises of the council. They did their examine, and made their suggestions. We studied it, and on the finish of the day, we had been capable of get a contractor that has began work.
In the event you go to the entrance of our gate now, the primary entrance is blocked due to the development work. We’ve expanded and constructed a brand new drainage from the gate all the way down to the canal by the market. We didn’t have that earlier than, and that was the explanation for the flooding inside the premises. We’re increasing the drainages on either side of our fence in order that it might probably include the quantity of water from the flood coming in.
The intention is to take the flood water out of our premises, and make the storm water move via the expanded drainages to the canal. So, now we have accomplished that. The job is sort of 70 pecent accomplished. Even on the stage it’s right now, now we have observed that after it rains, the flood instantly flows out freely to the canal. Proper now, on the common, regardless that now we have not completed, we’re already experiencing the advantages of what now we have accomplished. If not for that, as you got here in now, with the rain that has been falling since final evening, it could have been tough so that you can entry this constructing.
Additionally, now we have a farm at Rumuekini: Obio/Akpor Fish Farm. It’s about 51 – 52 plots of land, acquired by the administration of the previous Chairman, Prince Timothy Nsirim. Since that acquisition, the place was stored that method. It was not fenced. So, we thought it could be penny sensible, pound silly to go away the place that method, particularly now that the actions of land grabbers are inflicting critical concern in every single place. So, now we have fenced it. We’ve fenced all the place. Simply the ending touches at the moment are ongoing.
Then, at Rumuolumeni, a jetty was put in place by the final administration however they didn’t have a ready home. So, we determined to supply a ready home for customers of the ability. The development of the ready home is about 80 pecent accomplished. Once I went on a working go to to the place, I additionally found that we would have liked to strengthen the encompassing of the river financial institution. We would have liked to do some reinforcement. So, now we have requested the contractor to place that in place, and tell us what it price. We’ve accomplished that, and I feel they’re nonetheless on it. That’s because it has to do with constructions and bodily initiatives.
We’ve additionally been capable of do another initiatives. Inside the interval we’re speaking about, now we have been capable of give out six transformers to communities that made request. When the primary group requested, and we gave them, others began sending their requests to us as nicely. We nonetheless have extra requests. Because the requests come, we course of them; and because the funds are made out there to us, we can even make the transformers out there to the communities on first come, first serve foundation.
However above all of those is our concern and deal with the world of human capability growth. That got here to thoughts inside our 100 days in workplace. And apart of that, now we have taken what I check with as comparative evaluation of what folks have accomplished earlier than; placing down constructions and its advantages vis-à-vis the funding on the human particular person. And now we have found that a lot of the constructions and initiatives like markets, for those who quantify the quantity used constructing them, you have a look at the utilisation of such markets now, assessing it by way of return on funding, and it’s nearly zero. In the event you have a look at the a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of Naira put in constructing them, the return on funding is sort of zero.
So, we at the moment are saying that now we have to redirect our focus. And the opposite motivating facet of it, although it was just a little setback, was what we skilled after they known as or the employment of PhD holders on the Rivers State College. We found that we couldn’t meet up the quota allotted to us. Though the quantity was not a lot! For us, it was a significant setback.
So, we got here again, analysed it, and we thought it sensible that it was an space value investing in. So, it was primarily based on that we accredited grants for PhD college students and Masters diploma college students. Initially, we needed to take beneath the quantity we ultimately took. However after we noticed the variety of folks making use of, we now stated, no, allow us to see the extent we will go together with the funds out there to us. So, we had been capable of do 50 PhD and 50 Masters diploma college students. As I converse with you now, now we have paid, in full, the grant cash for the 2 units we’re sponsoring. We’ve accomplished that!
And initially too, we had in the back of our thoughts as a result of now we have a three-year tenure, that it was going to be a one-off factor. We are going to simply do it, and take it for all the three years. However by the point we obtained into it, we observed that it was an space craving for consideration. So, we took it as a coverage we should pursue with seriousness. Oh yeah, I did clarify to you that that is the primary time any native authorities council in Nigeria is embarking on this type of programme as an funding. So, we’re taking it as a coverage programme. Yearly, in our three-year tenure, we can be graduating 50 individuals every for the PhD and Masters diploma batches.
So, this discovery has now given us the impetus to say, allow us to give it a attempt. We is not going to finish at that set now. We’ve taken it as coverage programme. Yearly in our three-year tenure, we’ll give out grants to new set of beneficiaries. So, we’re accomplished with the primary set for the primary yr, believing that by August, or newest the start of September, we’ll provoke the second set. As a result of our focus is that after we end our three years tenure, we will produce 150 PhD holders and a 150 Masters diploma holders. And in addition with the idea that within the subsequent 12 to 13 years, in the event that they push up academically, we’d have had a great variety of professors, specialists and consultants, particularly in the primary areas, which can be a plus to the native authorities space. After which, the multiplier impact of that is unquantifiable. In order that within the subsequent few years, as different native authorities areas within the state are boasting that they’ve 10 to fifteen professors and specialists in key areas, Obio/Akpor can even be competing, much more favourably with the little we’re capable of produce.
Then, within the space of expertise acquisition, now we have skilled over 200 youths. We’ve skilled them in key job areas. A few of them have come again to inform us that they have good paying jobs. We skilled them within the space of scaffolding, forklift, and excavator and crane operations. We skilled them at Bishop Marine. So, they’ve been totally skilled. We’ve discharged them to the society. A few of them are doing nicely for themselves and their households.
Then, we additionally found that our individuals are not there; actually, we will’t discover them within the maritime sector. We are able to’t discover them. So, that’s what motivated us to achieve out to Charkin Maritime Academy to see to what extent we will associate with them to coach our folks to be specialists within the maritime sector. So, now we have despatched 9 college students there to coach to turn out to be seafarers. The coaching is extremely capital intensive. To coach a scholar there for a two-year programme is about N4.9million. We’ve about 9 of our wards there. They only left my workplace a couple of minutes in the past. They got here to felicitate with me on my One Yr In Workplace.
We’ve 9 of them. Out of the 9, there’s a feminine. And they’re doing very nicely of their tutorial profession. So, they’ll turn out to be seafarers and cadet officers tomorrow, their additional coaching will match what the business wants.  And with what association now we have with Charkin Academy, in the event that they end, and so they do nicely, they’ll have worldwide employment from a few of the finest within the maritime business. And we’re advised that the least will earn about $3,000 per 30 days. So, once more, we’re giving all of them the mandatory help to care for themselves and their households. We’re giving them a stipend of N10,000 month-to-month to help them defray no matter bills they might incur. We imagine that after they graduate and get good worldwide jobs, they’ll add to the standard manpower profile of the state, and likewise contribute to the event of Obio/Akpor. We’ve accomplished all that. We imagine that it’s going to go a good distance in creating and contributing to the upscaling of the standard and capability of the human capital base of the native authorities. We’ve additionally recognized another areas we’ll embark on after now.
Then, worthy of word is the truth that we’re that Obio/Akpor is a metropolitan native authorities space. We don’t simply have the indigenous folks right here alone. We even have strangers who reside and do enterprise right here, and likewise contribute to the general growth of the native authorities. So, in our programmes, insurance policies and initiatives, we additionally carry the stranger component alongside. Like in that our PhD and Masters grants, we even have non-indigenes as beneficiaries. Non-indigenes from the native authorities, we’re speaking about folks from different native governments of the state, in addition to non-indigenes from the state. Additionally they benefitted in our vocational expertise acquisition programmes. So, we at all times carry the folks alongside in that respect.
Within the space of relationship with our employees, we will say categorically that now we have very cordial relationship with our employees. We’ve superb relationship with the Nationwide Union of Native Authorities Workers (NULGE). We pay them their salaries, as at when due. We’ve not reneged on that since we got here into workplace. We aren’t owing salaries! In reality, final yr’s December was the very first time in a really lengthy whereas that they acquired what they name ‘Christmas bonus’. Sure! As a result of an incident occurred: once I gave the approval and so they began receiving their alerts; we had a gathering outdoors. I used to be simply driving into the premises round 12noon for the assembly. As I simply parked and stepped down, I noticed a lot of the employees operating in direction of my automobile from completely different instructions. I believed one thing was fallacious. In reality, I used to be questioning if it was a mob motion. However as they obtained shut, they began singing and dancing; some began praying for me whereas some had been pouring praises and showering encomiums on me for making their Christmas and New Yr celebrations grand. They stated that that was the primary time they obtained that sort of motivation in latest reminiscence.
So, now we have that cordial relationship with our works. In reality, there isn’t any method we will succeed with out them placing of their finest. As a result of our success relies on their potential to place of their finest within the work they do… So, that’s what it’s!
We additionally know that now we have used different means to encourage the employees. Just like the final award ceremony we held to recognise hardwork and productiveness among the many employees. I do not forget that about 13 employees had been appreciated throughout the award ceremony in our council. That’s the little now we have accomplished to understand them. And we’ll hold doing extra to reward hardworking employees as a method to enhance their effectivity and productiveness.
Mr Chairman, your native authorities is claimed to be concerning the largest and richest within the nation. Past that, it’s also seen as a part of, actually, takes greater than half of the capital metropolis of Port Harcourt. And to cap that, we even have the governor of the state, who was a former council chairman right here, now answerable for the state. That brings lots of, I don’t know whether or not to say lots of burden or blessing. Possibly, it’s essential inform us whether or not it’s a burden or a blessing. Has there been that synergy between the state authorities and the council that your administration leveraged on, not less than, to advance the event of the native authorities and its folks?
A: Effectively, let me begin by placing one truth straight; the assertion you made that Obio/Akpor is the richest: That isn’t right! I don’t know the place you bought you figures from. However from out there figures earlier than us, it’s not right. Each from month-to-month federal allocation and internally generated income, we aren’t the richest. I’ve heard that declare plenty of instances. Since l got here in right here, I’ve been asking them: what statistics did these making the claims get their figures from? What authority are they quoting? I don’t know the place they obtained that statistics from. As a result of for us in Obio/Akpor, having been privileged to see the figures from all angles, we aren’t even near these getting the best income.
In the event you say we’re the most important within the state, sure, we’re. In the event you say we’re essentially the most populated, sure, we’re. And for those who ask me, sure, we’re the heartbeat of the capital of Rivers State because it stands right now.
If you need to assess who’s wealthy and who shouldn’t be wealthy, you are taking it from the allocation we get month-to-month from the federation accounts allocation. And once you have a look at that, we don’t get the best allocation. In the event you say, it’s primarily based on the focus of individuals or organisations doing enterprise in Obio/Akpor, it’s relative. Sure, it’s relative since you rely the variety of folks doing enterprise in Obio/Akpor, you’ll assess what you assume they should pay, however the pertinent query is: do they pay their due obligations to the council? Do they pay their statutory taxes, charges and permits as at when due? The difficulty is: will we harness that cash due us as a council? So, shouldn’t be sufficient saying it! That’s the downside now we have at all times had with folks coming to work together with us, as a result of they’ll say, ah! You’re the richest.
We at all times have folks coming into Obio/Akpor, and telling us that we’re wealthy, however for us to even go and accumulate tax from these folks owing the council is even an issue. It’s a very large downside. It isn’t as if, on the finish of the month, cash will simply drop into our account. People who find themselves owing tax, together with companies, don’t at all times need to pay. And also you and I do know that as Nigerians, folks discover it tough to pay their taxes. That’s the pertinent fact. We’ve to inform ourselves the reality; as a result of it’s only the reality that may set us free.
You go on the market, those that are doing enterprise will favor to patronise touts; who they’ll simply pay some little cash and accumulate our adulterated or cast paperwork, and they’re going to declare they’ve paid their taxes. Some others will drag and argue, and can refuse to pay the due tax or charge till we take them to the income court docket. In reality, as we converse, now we have over 300 circumstances in income court docket on the council proper now. Certainly, now we have enterprise operators in court docket for refusing to oblige to their civic tasks of paying the taxes due their companies to the council. So, it’s not sufficient for folks to only sit on the market, after which, assume that Obio/Akpor is the richest. How? Effectively, we imagine it. We’re working onerous to enhance our income profile.
Even within the space of residential tenement charge levy, you continue to see folks, even extremely educated and supposedly wealthy folks not desirous to pay. As a substitute, they like to pay little token to touts who pose as council officers. You construct your home, you hire it to tenants, and accumulate rents from them, but, you refuse to pay the council what’s due it by regulation. After we go to them to gather our tenement charge levy, they’ll refuse to pay. Then, these are the identical individuals who will go on the market, and start to say, Obio/Akpor is wealthy.     To that extent, it’s not very true. If you wish to assess it primarily based on the inhabitants and companies, sure, we’re one of many richest primarily based on that evaluation. However by way of income influx, we aren’t. Even the month-to-month allocation, we aren’t the best within the state.
So, that takes me to the second facet of the query on synergy with the state authorities. Sure! It has by no means occurred to us this good within the political historical past of Rivers State and because the creation of Obio/Akpor Native Authorities Space. The profit we’re getting from the state authorities is unquantifiable. To not go too far, are you aware what number of flyovers which have been put in place to beautify Obio/Akpor, the flyovers alone; to not speak about roads?
The rigorous city growth programmes of the state authorities, we’re key beneficiaries. You realize that we personal over three quarters of the Authorities Reservation Areas (Phases 2 and three) you might be listening to about. Sure! It’s in Obio/Akpor. So, the city renewal programme of the state authorities, we’re main beneficiaries. It has by no means occurred this good to us as an area authorities. And in addition, when our son is there, what do you count on? So, it is a bonus to us. We’re very completely satisfied concerning the growth initiatives the state authorities is executing in our native authorities. And similar to you stated, we’re an integral a part of the capital metropolis of the state. So, that’s what it’s! It’s a sturdy relationship with the state authorities, and we pray it continues like that.
However does that pose any problem to you, like it’s essential meet sure stage of efficiency, in order that you don’t draw the angst of the state governor being someone who had served right here as chairman for 2 tenures, and someone who’s now in-charge of all the state?
No! No! It’s extra of a motivation than the difficulty of a drag, if I’ll put it that method. It’s extra of a motivation as a result of it will depend on the person who’s the chairman of the council, who has seen what the state governor is doing, and would need to replicate it within the native authorities or in any other case. However any proper considering one who is the chairman of Obio/Akpor ought to have a look at what the governor is doing on the state, and must be motivated and pushed to even do extra to enrich no matter he’s doing for our native authorities. So, for us, that’s our motivating issue. As a result of he can’t be doing all that he’s doing within the state, after which, we come over right here, and we fall beneath expectations, no. That’s even our driving power. And that’s the reason we’re shifting the best way we’re shifting.
If the fund had been to be out there, we’ll do extra for the curiosity of our folks. As a result of he’s a governor that has the curiosity of his folks at coronary heart! If he doesn’t have the curiosity of his folks at coronary heart, he is not going to go to the extent he has gone. As a result of the political circumstance is such that the second you end your first tenure, and you probably did initiatives, you employ it to make folks vote for you for a second tenure, then, you fall asleep after assuming workplace for the second tenure. However up until this second as we converse, initiatives are nonetheless ongoing within the twilight of the tip of his second tenure. Initiatives are nonetheless ongoing! So, it takes a person that has love for his folks to do what the governor is doing. And we’re additionally studying from him positively. Like I stated, for what now we have accomplished to date, that’s the foundation of our motivation.
Obio/Akpor over time has gotten a popularity, albeit to the destructive aspect. This is kind of the centre of thuggery and touting. We’ve numerous job forces harassing folks right here and there, and taking the legal guidelines into their palms. What have you ever accomplished to date to alter that notion and proper any the place that there could have been lapses?
Effectively, like you have to be conscious, you’re a media particular person, so, you have to be conscious. The second week we got here, we heard that there’s this explicit job power that they stated has one thing to do with the council, that was within the enterprise of arresting motorists, seizing their autos, and making them pay outrageous sums of cash as fines. They stated one was straight reverse the Particular Space Police close to the council secretariat. I went there myself. I do not forget that day; it was raining closely the best way it’s raining right now. We went there, and we busted them.
One factor folks don’t perceive, and that’s what I’ve taken my time to relate, particularly on this space is the notion folks have already got. Something about…, even to the purpose now that for those who stand at bus cease, and these hoodlums choose your pocket, they’ll say it’s Obio/Akpor. It’s as dangerous as that! You perceive, due to the fallacious impression folks have already got concerning the space. And in that respect, the media homes haven’t accomplished us any good, particularly the radio stations. They organised programmes, particularly these speak reveals, and other people simply name in and speak with out details, creating the impression that that’s the true scenario. Even the hosts of the programmes speak with out details.
And I ask them: what has occurred to Investigative Journalism? You will have info, and also you go there to seek out out whether or not that is the true details concerning the info. As a result of as media folks, you don’t simply entertain, you additionally enlighten and educate the general public. As they hear you say it, they count on what you inform them to be the gospel fact, and nothing however the fact, in order that they’ll use it to kind their very own opinion on the difficulty. These individuals are not from Obio/Akpor. Whilst on the time we busted them, and known as all people that had their autos of their custody to return and carry them, we arrested the touts. After we arrested them, they turned out to be a job power arrange by someone within the Nationwide Union of Highway Transport Employees (NURTW). They made confessional statements, and said that they weren’t working for Obio/Akpor Council. Even after that, the radio stations had been nonetheless saying that the duty power was arrange by the Obio/Akpor Council. Certainly one of them situated not removed from right here stated they’d one thing to do with the council, which is a fallacy. You simply see people who had their minds made as much as tarnish the picture of the council.
I busted one other one right here at Eligbolo by East-West Highway. They had been additionally arrested. And anytime I’m driving and I see them on the street, I pursue them, and catch them. My safety males additionally catch some and take them to the police station for correct investigation and prosecution.
That’s the reason the opposite day, someone advised someone by the aspect that he got here to make supply from Warri in Delta State, and he was shocked that he drove his truck from Choba to an organization on the Obio/Akpor axis of Trans Amadi with out winding up his truck’s door glasses or being harassed alongside the best way. Which implies that this problem of you might be driving and touts are harassing you on the street in Obio/Akpor has decreased to the barest minimal!
We don’t have any of such job forces! We don’t! And that’s the reason we advise the general public, anyplace you see these touts parading themselves as job power members working in Obio/Akpor, name us instantly or report them to the closest police station. I don’t ship anyone, I am going there myself to arrest them. I don’t ship folks.
A few month or two in the past, we heard that there was this set of hoodlums by Rumuokwuta to Mgbuoba Junction that function and harass folks anyhow. They had been discussing it on a radio station, and considered one of my mates known as me. So, I led a workforce to put siege on the touts, and we apprehended them. And for those who go there now, you received’t see any of these miscreants terrorising unsuspecting residents and motorists. However anyplace such issues occur, and we get info on their operation, we instantly swing into motion, and apprehend them. I defined to some journalists that got here the opposite day what now we have accomplished by taking the result in verify touting in Obio/Akpor, and so they acknowledged that our efforts had been paying off.
I’ve a buddy who has a enterprise round Rumuodara axis of the East-West Highway. I used to be in his workplace someday final week, and his driver and motor boy got here again. My buddy requested the driving force ‘what occurred, I hope you have got delivered the products to the client?’, and his driver stated ‘no, that Obio/Akpor folks caught him’. And my buddy known as my consideration to the driving force’s declare. And I requested him, ‘Obio/Akpor boys?, at the place?’ And guess what the driving force’s response was: He stated they caught them at Patani; Patani in Delta State. Laughs! Sure, you could assume it’s humorous, however that’s how infamous the title, ‘Obio/Akpor boys’ has turn out to be. He got here and advised his ‘Oga’ that Obio/Akpor boys caught him! Sure! That’s how dangerous it has turn out to be. They catch someone at Enugu or Aba, and the subsequent title the driving force remembers is ‘Obio/Akpor boys caught me’. Wherever they catch folks for visitors violation, the subsequent factor you hear is ‘Obio/Akpor boys impounded my car’. So, since we got here in, now we have taken very proactive measures to cease all of that.
Other than the duty power that the governor instructed us to set as much as guarantee that articulated vehicles and heavy responsibility autos obstructing driveways and main roads are eliminated to make method without cost move of vehicular motion within the capital metropolis, we don’t have some other job power. And as you’ll be able to see, now we have free move of visitors in most strategic areas that use to expertise heavy visitors gridlock within the metropolis. Many of the articulated and heavy responsibility vehicles are now not blocking main entry roads inside the metropolis. A few of the areas that we recognized, like round Worldwide Breweries on the Oginigba axis of Trans Amadi Industrial Structure, and Iriebe by the previous Toll Gate on the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, have been addressed. You hardly can discover these heavy responsibility vehicles blocking main roads anymore. Prior to now, you’ll simply see them park anyhow and block vehicular motion. No less than, now we have introduced sanity to our roads in Obio/Akpor. That’s the reason we’re pleading with the media folks, anyplace you see such untoward parking on main roads inside the native authorities, tell us; we is not going to hesitate to arrest the scenario. We’re right here to serve the folks of Obio/Akpor! We’re pleading with the media folks, after they hear or see violations of the regulation, otherwise you see some folks working on the roads, at all times verify who they’re and on whose authority they’re on the street earlier than going to the press or on air to report, so that you simply don’t misinform the their retailers or enterprise premises. However now we have given you adequate time; now we have introduced within the media the timeline and deadline so that you can pay. Early January to mid-February, we’re on air all-through making bulletins for folks to return to the council and make your funds for the yr. What else do you count on us to do? The second we arrange job forces now, they’ll begin shouting to excessive heavens, they’ve come once more; they’re harassing us; they don’t need us to do our enterprise. However you that was alleged to pay your obligations to the council; you have got failed to try this, and you might be blaming us for taking steps to get well our cash. As a result of you probably have come right here to pay, we don’t have any cause to arrange any job forces that generally, are confrontational, to get well our cash. After which, it turns into the difficulty of criticism. That’s the downside now we have!
And once you say, let me keep away from these complaints, and never arrange any job power, they nonetheless received’t come on their very own to make the fee in order that we will have cash to work for our folks. Or is it my private cash that I’m going to make use of to work for the folks? Is it my very own cash that I’m going to make use of to pay for the Postgraduate grants? Or pay for the abilities acquisition coaching for beneficiaries? Or for the initiatives we’re doing? It’s this cash from levies, taxes, and many others, that we’re utilizing to do them! And so they make it appear to be if it comes, you place it in your pockets: it’s not for private aggrandisement! It’s for the supply of democracy dividends to the folks. It’s only those that don’t have initiative that won’t utilise the council’s cash prudently to ship high quality providers to the folks. We’re targeted and resilient, and we all know what to do to make our folks, who elected us to serve them, completely satisfied.
However we’re nonetheless reaching out to them. We are going to proceed to attraction to enterprise operators to return and do the needful for the nice of all within the native authorities, as a result of with out that cash, we can not work. Allow them to cease patronising touts. They’re those encouraging them. So, these are a part of the key issues we expertise in attempting to harness our income so that you can have the inspiration to inform us we’re the richest or we’re the most important. There isn’t a statistics to again that up! That’s what it’s.
Q: Chairman Sir, you have got stated loads regarding your achievements previously one yr. I do know it requires some huge cash so that you can perform these developmental initiatives within the native authorities. So, what are you doing to shore up the income base of the council by means of diversification of the economic system of the native authorities?
A: Effectively, how will we diversify? Except you might be speaking of it from the viewpoint of investments! However like I stated, because it stands now, our core funding is within the space of human capability growth. The regulation permits us to supply help for well being; schooling; construct markets; parks; property approval and constructing permits; and assortment of tenement charges and derivable levies. That’s all of the diversification you’ll be able to speak about. Besides you might be speaking of venturing into agriculture! We don’t have that capability.
What we do is to see to what extent we will add worth to enhance the lives of our folks straight. That’s what we see as our personal diversification or what can name funding; as a result of we imagine that by tomorrow, it can yield constructive dividends. The multiplier results arising therefrom may rely for us.
However out of that, now we have the intention of constructing one or two new markets, or renovate one or two. We additionally plan to develop one or two extra parks, as a result of even for those who achieve this, now we have parks and markets already current. You see these ones in these communities, even for those who construct extra, they received’t help you come and accumulate the hire. By the point you need to press it, they’ll say you might be confrontational. It’s one thing once you come to expertise it that you already know higher. If not, these are the little openings the regulation permits us to become involved in, with the intention to elevate income for the council. As a result of we can not on our personal become involved in issues the regulation doesn’t allow us to do. What the regulation present for us is: you identify markets; you identify parks; you accumulate every day tolls; and all of that. The diversification you might be speaking about now can solely be within the space of funding. I feel we’re doing all we will outdoors our month-to-month allocation to spice up our income and add to speed up high quality service supply. It’s what now we have in our place right here, that God has blessed us with, however the issue is learn how to harness it to reinforce our income base due to the bottlenecks I’ve defined to you. That’s what we’re exploring.
We’ve our brokers, and we’re doing every part potential to faucet all out there choices to extend our income base. I need to additionally acknowledge that they’re some corporations and enterprise operators within the native authorities that inside the interval given to them, the second they obtain our demand discover, they arrive to pay their due. However we nonetheless have some large corporations that connive with these touts to evade fee of what’s due the council.
Q: There are two points I need to elevate. One is a suggestion on what you could discover to lift your council’s income base. That suggestion relies on my understanding that you do not want to proceed to do enterprise as standard. I feel you could must digitise your income assortment course of by producing a web site and database that captures, if not all, however not less than, a big variety of these certified inside your income internet, in order that they don’t must bodily come to your council to pay you your due. They’ll really keep on the confine of their places of work and retailers, log in and pay for his or her operational permits, and others, and nonetheless get automated acknowledgement receipts and approvals crucial. This fashion, you eradicate the stress related to handbook assortment of income, which is prone to corruption, fraud and touting. It additionally helps you do near-accurate income projections by way of budgeting.
Cuts in!
A: We’re working in direction of that. However one factor you will need to perceive is, even at that, like I understand how many filling stations which can be working in Obio/Akpor. I understand how many accommodations. In reality, now we have a report of what number of corporations which can be working in our space. However irrespective of the way you have a look at it, it takes a prepared thoughts to pay what she or he is statutorily obligated to pay to the federal government. Anybody not keen on paying is not going to need to pay voluntarily. Majority of the folks at all times needs to be pressured to do the best factor. We don’t have problem accumulating the cash. The difficulty is: are they prepared to pay? As a result of it’s a prepared thoughts that can do what you might be saying, whether or not automated or not. I hope you perceive me? These which can be paying would be the identical ones that can pay whether or not you automate the method or not, as a result of it’s a voluntary factor. What they hear is that one which officers will come and lock up their retailers or enterprise premises or carry their items or wares. That’s the downside: lack of individuals’s willingness to discharge their obligations voluntarily. Even once you unfold the annual fee over a time period inside the yr, these not prepared and prepared to pay, received’t pay.

Interjection! Chairman, let me step in right here. Allow us to go away that problem, sufficient has already been stated about it.

Q: Chairman, I do know that this isn’t your downside, however lots of motorists have been complaining concerning the dangerous gullies and craters close to the doorway to your council’s gate on the Port Harcourt-Owerre Highway. Why don’t you attempt to do one thing to rehabilitate these dangerous spots to ease free move of visitors round this axis?
A: Oh! The one in entrance of the council secretariat? Anyone advised me they talked about it on radio the opposite day. Effectively, two weeks after I assumed workplace, we tried to do one thing round that. However I’ve listened to a few of the commentaries on radio. Some folks really feign ignorance on who has the duty to handle that problem.
You realize that now we have three tiers of presidency: The federal, state and native authorities. That duty falls squarely below the purview of the Federal Authorities, as a result of it’s a federal street. It isn’t even the responsibility of the state authorities to intervene, besides it secures the go-ahead of the Federal Authorities.
In case you are saying it as a suggestion, fantastic. We are able to think about it primarily based on out there sources to us. However it’s not my duty as a council. It isn’t! We’ve lots of competing wants that we’re obligated to handle as leaders on the native authorities stage. Our folks elected us to serve them, and now we have to judiciously spend the scarce sources out there to ship for our folks. It isn’t simply one thing you get up in the future and throw your self into. Do now we have the cash to do it? The reply isn’t any!
And extra so, they’ve given the contract to LCC, a building firm to deal with. They’re within the strategy of offering drainages on the street. It’s a gradual course of. They’re doing the work! It isn’t as if autos aren’t passing the street. It’s simply that some individuals are simply idle, and have no idea what to say or do with their treasured time. Some journalists simply need folks to take heed to their stations, so that they search for simply something to say to interact idle minds.
Q: Chairman, each job has its personal dangers and exposures. This job, for the previous one yr, has additionally uncovered you to sure dangers that you could be not have anticipated. A working example was early this yr when your job power workforce on unlawful crude oil refineries was accosted at some extent round Rumuolumeni, and there was a close to fight scenario between some armed personnel of a Federal Authorities safety company and your workforce. My intuition tells me that you simply had been bodily current whereas the battle was raging. How did you are feeling about your security throughout that confrontation?
A: Effectively, let me begin it this manner. You realize that one of many questions you requested was that my native authorities is the richest. That’s a part of the chance. You received’t perceive.
Effectively, that’s what management is about. You may’t come right here and simply assume it’s a mattress of roses. There are attendant dangers related to the job. That scenario on that devoted day is considered one of such dangers. Even within the job you do as a journalist, there are dangers you face each day. It’s what comes with the job, and you have to be able to face it. We’re right here to resolve issues; we’re right here to face challenges initially. This place shouldn’t be a celebration corridor; it’s not a spot for luxurious. You that made up your thoughts to turn out to be council chairman should have additionally made up your thoughts to frontally sort out no matter challenges could come up throughout the course of your tenure.
So, it’s not the workforce I despatched. I used to be bodily current there, and I used to be the one they had been attacking for main a workforce to disrupt and dismantle their unlawful enterprise actions in my council space. It was the confrontation I had with males of Nigerian Safety and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Rumuolumeni. I used to be the one with the man that had a gun; I used to be the particular person within the video that went viral on social media. It’s what it’s: it’s governance! It’s management! You could confront points as there come up. As a result of: what’s democracy? It’s all concerning the folks! What’s governance? It’s all concerning the folks! The centrepiece of it’s the folks.
So, no matter it’s that affects your folks that you’ve got sworn to control, must be your private problem. We knew the impact of the soot pandemic in every single place within the state till the governor intervened and took the proactive step, and ordered the chairmen of the 23 native authorities councils to make sure that the operators and sponsors of unlawful oil bunkering actions within the communities are recognized and reported to applicable authorities for investigation and prosecution whereas their websites must be closed completely. He ordered the chairmen to affix the battle as a result of there isn’t any method he can do it alone. In spite of everything, we relate extra intently with the folks on the grassroots. It bothers on our folks. The soot was affecting the well being of our folks.
So, so that you can be a frontrunner, irrespective of the extent, you have to be resilient; your thoughts must be made as much as confront most of those challenges head-on. Some folks have misplaced their lives in the midst of defending their folks. That’s management! And in case you are not able to sacrifice in your folks, then, you don’t should be a frontrunner. So, that’s the motivating issue that now we have to maintain pushing as a result of it’s within the curiosity of our folks.
Q: Chairman, you talked about what you had been doing at Rumuekini: the fish arm. I’ll wish to know: what’s the state of that farm, right now? Is it producing? Are we incomes cash from the farm already? Secondly, Obio/Akpor has a critical problem of refuse disposal. We perceive the challenges, particularly when the difficulty of refuse disposal was handed over to you by the governor when Rivers State Waste Administration Company (RIWAMA) had issues. What’s the scenario now? And the way are you dealing with that to make sure that the native authorities is freed from filth?
A: Effectively, we thank God that because it stands now, a job power has been arrange by the governor to take over that duty. However whereas it lasted, it was a frightening expertise. An enormous one at that! It was an intervention that we obtained concerned straight. However expertise has that refuse assortment and disposal is a critical enterprise. Very critical enterprise managed by very serious-minded folks!
In fact, refuse is produced in seconds. And you already know that it’s human beings that produce waste. So, it follows that the place you have got excessive focus of the inhabitants, the tendency is that you’ve got extra refuse produced by the seconds inside that space. Like Obio/Akpor, for those who speak about inhabitants focus, it doubles that of Port Harcourt Metropolis. That’s the reason we appear to have extra waste than some other native authorities within the state.
It has at all times been the duty of RIWAMA. However via the directive of the governor, we intervened and did what we had been capable of do to assist. The job has reverted to RIWAMA, and the duty power is in-charge now. We even attended a gathering on the invitation of the duty power, yesterday, to ask us on what expertise now we have garnered and what recommendations we might make to assist them do even higher. We had very candid conversations across the points, and we additionally made recommendations for seamless refuse assortment and disposal within the capital metropolis via a strategic synergy that works for the nice of all within the communities.
In fact, the native authorities council should be concerned; simply because the communities should even be concerned, as a result of they’re those producing the refuse. So, they need to even be concerned in all-round monitoring and supervision of evacuation on the receptacles and compaction on the dumpsites, as a result of now we have the manpower at this stage. We all know that a lot of the refuse contractors, for those who don’t supervise and monitor them very intently, they received’t do their jobs diligently. So, we have to work with RIWAMA for them to succeed. All the identical, we thank God that we had been ready to try this job, but it surely was very overwhelming, I need to admit.
Now, again to the difficulty of the Rumuekini fish farm. Sure, as it’s right now, it’s not functioning optimally. We try to work out modalities for its environment friendly and efficient operation. However we stated, if we end securing the place first, to make certain, then, we will start the subsequent course of. We need to arrange an agro-based enterprise there outdoors of the fish farm in partnership with traders. We’re speaking with some folks already, and we imagine that by the point we’re one, we’d have bequeathed a thriving agro-based enterprise portfolio that won’t solely make use of lots of our folks but in addition generate earnings for a lot of households and the council as nicely.
If we’re to proceed with the ability, we could need to completely renovate and broaden it. Our intention initially was to, as a result of it’s in models, simply so as to add further models, make them trendy, after which, in every unit, elevate like two or three girls, give them cash to run it as a enterprise. They may handle it, promote and make returns to the council, irrespective of how little. We’re working that out. Now that now we have been capable of safe the place, it can now give us that platform to work out one thing. My supervisor for agriculture is understanding the modalities. We’re speaking with a workforce from Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN) and two or three different organisations to see how the place will be optimised for the nice of the folks of Obio/Akpor.
Q: Going ahead, what are we anticipating from you in Obio/Akpor?
A: Sure, now we have hit the bottom operating. Like I stated, within the space of human capital growth, we’ll proceed with our Publish-Graduate grants. We can even proceed with our vocational expertise acquisition programme. We are going to do one other two units. The PG Programmes, we’ll do one other two units of fifty for PhD and 50 for Masters. So, on the finish of our three-year tenure, we’d have produced 150 PhD and 150 Masters diploma holders.
We’ve different essential initiatives we need to embark upon. First amongst them is the Secondary College Block we promised to construct for Woji group. We’re fascinated about one or two vital hyperlink roads within the two constituencies of Obio and Akpor that make up the native authorities. If it’s not one thing that may go spherical all of the 17 wards, we do it constituency-by-constituency. If it might probably transcend the constituency by lower than the ward stage, we do it by clans, like what we did with the Charkin Academy admission. We couldn’t carry the burden on the ward stage by selecting 17 individuals, as to at least one from every ward. So, what we did was use the 9 clans as a foundation for the choice of beneficiaries. In Evo, now we have three clans – Oro-Evo, Oro-Esara, and Oro-Opotoma, that’s in constituency one; in constituency two, now we have three clans – Akpor, Apara, and Rumueme; then, the remaining, we gave to non-indigenes of Obio/Akpor. That was how we distributed the slots for the Charkin admission. So, we had a stability within the choice course of.
All we will say is that Obio/Akpor folks ought to count on extra from us. And above all of those is the programme we need to begin for our girls petty merchants. You realize that we don’t have farm lands anymore. Our girls was very industrious and hardworking farmers, however with the lands gone to urbanisation, the one out there area they’ve now, they show pepper, tomatoes, greens, and all these foodstuffs. So, we predict we will encourage them by giving seed cash to enhance their trades; possibly, N10,000 to N20,000 revolving facility, in order that we will attain as many ladies as potential within the communities. That method, we’ll assist them increase their small companies to help their households, and likewise assist the council develop economically. So, that can be our focus too in no distant time.
The second we’re certain that it’s workable, and can influence positively on the folks, we’ll kick-start it, possibly, in direction of the tip of the yr, and nosedive into subsequent yr. We’ve already advised them that it’s not going to be enterprise as standard. They need to be even handed and frugal within the administration of no matter they’re given, as a result of it’s not without cost; they need to pay again the cash. The constructions need to be in place to make the scheme sustainable.
We even have a scheme for the youths. We are going to establish those which can be able to be engaged, and need to eke out a dwelling for themselves, in the event that they get any help. Then, with the scheme, we’ll help them to be helpful to themselves and the society. That method, we’d have strengthened the economies of our communities; and constructed a extra resilient and peaceable society.
We’re going to do all these as a result of now we have the curiosity of our folks at coronary heart. We promised to handle their challenges after we come on board, and now we have to maintain our promise. We is not going to disappoint them.

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