INEC Set to Distribute Permanent Voter’s Cards

From the 7th of November 2014, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will distribute permanent voter’s card to eligible voters in Rivers State.

This is to enable voters to participate in next year’s general elections and the preparedness of the people will depend on the smooth conduct of the exercise.

It is obvious that eligible Nigerians cannot perform their civic responsibilities during the election without possessing this permanent voter’s card. This card will be electronically confirmed on the Election Day as true and genuine before the voter can cast his vote.

When Professor Atahiru Jega was appointed the chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2010, he led the commission to register eligible voters for the 2010 general elections. Then, the voters used the temporary voter’s card to expressed their will on who become their political representatives. That election was adjudged one of the best elections in the history of Nigeria’s election.

After that election, the commission has promised to distribute the permanent voter’s cards and it started the process in phases with pairing of states within geo-political regions in the country, since the beginning of 2014. With few months away to the general elections in 2015, Rivers State appears to be among states scheduled for the last lap to have the cards distributed to eligible voters.

There are sensitization rallies organized by the resident electoral commissioner of INEC in Rivers State. The train is determined to tour the 23 local government areas in the state. It hopes to arouse enthusiasm among the people to participate in the exercise.

Already, the chair of Obio-Akpor Local Government area, Lawrence Chuku has declared Friday, 7th November 2014 as public holiday to enable its workers to participate in the weekend exercise that will end on the 9th.

However, there are worries expressed by members of the public over the smooth conduct of the exercise. They agreed that it will promote good governance but cautioned politicians against using the exercise to heat up the polity. While suing for a credible election to be conducted next year, they wondered why additional thirty thousand polling units were created nationwide by INEC.

There is a palpable fears among electorates that the three days set apart for the distribution of the cards will not be enough for all eligible voters to get their cards.

Rivers State Resident Electoral commissioner, Mr. Aniedi Ikowak has allayed the fears and assured that the process of collecting the cards is a continues one as voters can go to their various local government headquarters after the three day exercise to collect their cards.


Trouble in Claws Of Over Zealous Council Bosses

The ban placed on political gathering by Council Chairmen in their council areas in the wake of preparation for party’s by- and re-elections and full scaled election in some council areas is described as calculated move to frustrate healthy political activities among political parties as they prepare to participate in the forth-coming election organized by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission.

Rivers State Chairman of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP Mr. John Geoffrey said he considered the ban pronouncement as instigating and confusion in the polity. He said supporters and electorates in those council areas will fear to associate with any mobilization train of political parties that visit the council areas.

Mr. John Geoffrey appealed to the Governor Amaechi to call the chairmen to order and allow for a healthy political atmosphere in those council areas where the election will hold.

Mr. John Geoffrey also wondered the constitutional powers that the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission has to screen to disqualify or disqualify candidates who were successful at the party primaries and forwarded to them.

The Commissioner in charge of media and public Affairs of the Rivers state Independent Electoral Commission, Ms Ibiso Dakoru had said early in the week that the commission was screening candidates presented to it by their parties for the forth-coming election.

Serving The Community With Agriculture

With six geo-political regions into which Nigeria is delineated, the contribution to the national economy should have been on the basis of comparative advantage. But this is not the case; more worrisome is the near absence of attention given to harness the potentials agriculture presents in each region, and dare say in each state.

Time and again, the call had remained strong and well meaning that individuals, corporate bodies and government take a decisive step to return attention to agricultural activities, grow the sector and make it a major revenue earner to the national government. At present, agriculture contributes merely 20% of the Nigeria total GDP, second to oil. This makes a minimal of 42 percent of a vast land of about 82 million hectare of Nigeria’s total land area of 91 million hectares found to be arable abysmally cultivated.

Agricultural potential is remained the needed revenue source that is underdeveloped or untapped. The multiplier effect the sector could contribute is taken lightly. But it is the only source that guarantees availability of more food on the table for the growing population as well as provision of raw materials for manufacturing concerns.

One such person has heeded the call. And with his FIBICLAP integrated farm, Deacon Clapton Ogolo had confidently filled the gap, doing the very best to become one of the largest farms privately owned in Rivers State with it products visible on the market.

Like every business endeavour that starts small often times, FIBICLAP integrated farms began on a small scale with the idea owner employing all farming principles, knowledge and techniques to set up his poultry with a large stock of birds and the ponds have different species of fishes.
Initially, the effort which started in 1991 on hired sites owned by the Agricultural development project-ADP at Rumodomaya and the Rivers state university of science and technology’s farm sites was confronted with so much challenge. But the personal effort was concerted with a commitment to a single and overriding goal. And that was to contribute genuinely to the availability of agricultural produce of food and live stock to every class of people in the society.
Consistent effort saw the farm grew from a small farm on hired sites to become one of the biggest singly owned agricultural farms in Rivers state with a permanent site in Woji. The farm produce is also filling the agricultural need in the south-south region of Nigeria.

Aside the availability of farm produce from FIBICLAP integrated farm in the market and households the idea owner has devoted to building capacity of youths and women in the host community. The conviction is hinged on the fact that if more local capacity is developed, it will increase the number of those whose interests are ignited towards agriculture. And even if it were for subsistence farming, the trainees would have solved their personal substance food needs and reduce the pressure on prices of goods.

It is no doubting the fact that these efforts attracted the attention of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency, RSSDA to the farm. And the visit of the executive director of the agency, Mr. Noble Pepple, this far, becomes an all important endorsement on the singular effort of Deacon Clapton Ogolo.

With explanations from Deacon Ogolo on how the farm had faired, its market share control and competitive advantage, Mr. Pepple was conducted round the facility of all the different ponds that have catfishes, tilapias and mullets including the section for the fingerlings. He was also showed round the poultry of birds, the feed mills, and the pineapple and vegetation farms. The farm has cement cast ponds and other naturally built up ponds which provide the fishes a natural habitat to thrive.

Impressed with what he saw, Mr. Pepple observed that a cursory effort had been taken to nurture the FIBICLAP integrated farm. And he expressed the desire that more people should get involved in farming activities to compliment government effort in t he sector as FIBICLAP integrated farm was doing. His conviction was that such effort would stem the perennial food scarcity experienced in the state.
Mr. Pepple noted that FIBICLAP integrated farm’s effort is in tandem with what RSSDA is doing in the sector which is made good by the recent signing of a pact with the Rivers State University of Science and Technology to support in the training of agriculture experts as well as encourage agriculture research. He opined that RSSDA would corroboration with the farm.
FIBICLAP integrated farm, according to Deacon Ogolo, is a lead consultant and had contributed to the establishment of a prototype of the Soughai farm in the state. He asserted that Rivers State has good soil and favourable climatic condition that ensure adequate reward to any person who was involved in agriculture. His believes was un-swerved that FIBICLAP integrated farm would gladly link to the hob of RSSDA farming programmes.

He however, listed the lack of access to fund, poor electricity supply and the problem associated with the sourcing for chicks that takes the entrepreneurs to Owerri, Ibadan and Jos. But expressed the hope that FIBICLAP integrated farm was doing everything possible to be a one stop place for the supply of chicks in the state.

Bamanga Turkur To lead PDP Of Nigeria

Chief Bamanga Turkur had pulled 3185 votes at the 2012 National Convention of the People Democratic Party [PDP] to emerge as the chair to steer the affairs of the Party for the next four years. He was the only man standing to contest for the position after the other contenders stepped down amidst hazy conditions of touted compromise, and announced to the all the delegates present at the Eagle Square in Abuja that they were stepping down to please the party. Their decision was also to please the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, giving the reason that it was in the best interest of the party that they step down.

Dr. Sam-Sam Jaja was returned unopposed as the National Deputy Chair and Chief Olagunsola Oyilola pulled 3061 votes to emerge as the national secretary in a convention that gathered about five thousand delegates. Dr. Bello Muhammed the chair electoral committee made the announcement.

Chief Bamanga Turkur said with the election now over, it was penitent to know that everybody in the party is a winner, called on board to lead in the best way possible to take the party to greater height. He noted that the travail experienced in the country requires that only unity can overcome the imposing differences of the various nationalities, and be resolved that under the Party’s umbrella of freedom everybody will be given a pride of place. His victory will not be for personal gain, he had held a long lasting dream believing that all effort needed to be geared to build a strong and united Nigeria.

He said Nigeria since 1999 entrusted its destiny to PDP and that behoves on it to tackle poverty and enforce national unity. Without peace, it is difficult to make progress at the local, state and national level. We cannot wish away our neighbours that live with us, let our dream be of a common goal and forge agreement that nothing will be impossible if we do not lose sight of the need to pursue social justice and good governance. Let us be honest to tell ourselves the truth that our party is not a perfect one and resolved to respect all, honour the separation of power and the integrity of our programme in line with the party constitution to modernize our operation to conform to current reality.

If we are disorganised and confused, we cannot make progress, we need to define clearly the path we must tread to correct the decay in the society, combat corruption that impinges on quality governance. He assured that PDP will enthrone a stable political order, the rule of law and called for hands across the regions to be on deck to build a new Nigeria.

Namadi Sambo who represented President Goodluck Jonathan noted that PDP will continues to lead, remaining as a formidable party that unite all culture and religion. The challenge is to make the party more cohesive, enforce discipline, ensues bickering that divide us, and the growing obsessions of the politics leading to 2015, He said PDP should be a party of fresh idea and innovation to remain relevance in the minds of the people.

The party must be a melting pot of ideas, set best standard of discipline in Nigeria and at continental level. We must align our agenda to make development and grow the economy, which the government had endeavoured to do. Out of the ten power stations built, three would be inaugurated this year and gas energy is explored powered by a gas master plan that provides a road map of gas provision for domestic use. We must enlarge the frontiers to stabilise our democracy, make votes counts, freedom of expression, association, amendment of the national constitution that would strengthen out unity, now before the national Assembly. We are committing to make a difference in building strong institutions and along the part of creating eighty thousand jobs across the country.

We are resolving to fight terrorism to protect the sanctity of life. Let PDP improve its capacity to mobilise for a national transformation and fight corruption to a stand still. For the people are short changed when the preponderance of corruption is a common indices they see that frustrate the provision of social amenity and society that should promote healthy completion.

Chair of the convention planning committee, Ojo Madukwe noted that the national convention was a proof that the party can harvest the gains of the internal democracy, which it had pursued with maturity and attained. He asserted that PDP is the only truly democratic party that had carried out successful congressed from the wad levels to state and now at the national level with the candidate enjoying a near one hundred percent support  of their candidature, and returned.

We need uncompromising loyalty towards national patriotism and to the party and given the full effect it’s constitution, the party had come so close to a flawless and hinge-free convention where leaders are elected, a sure model for Africa countries to emulate. He said the entire party adopted one constitution, the party review membership registered within the out going tenure and members were chosen as approved by the constitution to qualify for election. The last being that the environment for the national convention is secured and crisis free.

A former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mkie Okiro who was the chair of the security sub-committee said his committee was constituted on Wednesday three days to the convention day and suffered time constraint, lacked of sufficient fund for the security egg-head put together to ensure a crisis free convention. Their security model did not allow for carnival like displays of cultural troupes known of party convention since 1999. To ensure that people did not moved about, they were allowed to come to the Eagle Square with their water and food. The police also was suspicious of every item, unlacing watches from wrists, debarred delegates from bringing in bags, and other personal jewelleries. But the Police officers were more polite than you would find of officers on the streets.

Reclothing The Port Harcourt Zoo

Until today, the Port Harcourt Zoological Garden is the only place tourists in Rivers and Bayelsa States could visit to see a collection of animals, not necessarily endangered species. Of interest are the crocodiles that lay in the water, a particular type was seen with its head put out of the water to enjoy the heat of the sun when I visited, and this one had lived forty-five years. She is interestingly the first set of animals keeper of the zoo would quickly show to a visitor. But it is difficult for a visitor to confidently transverse the entire eight hectares of land on which the zoo is built. It is not too big to trek, or boring, it is rather not safe and of no attraction to take the chance to go beyond the two point five hectares of land presently in use. The section that is not attractive has overgrown plants.

Dangerous reptiles breed in this seeming forest, including small sized snakes, though not consciously stocked by the keepers. They had become uncontrollable intruders that pose threat to the health of the rightly stocked animals in their different cages. One of the monkeys shown to me had its right eyes badly destroyed when a snake attacked it. Ordinarily, the few animals seen in the cages are a delightful sight to a first time visitor. It will still not stop you from asking what had happened to animals in the empty cages. At which time, the keeper will come to the rescue and begins to tell the long and winding story of the several efforts taken to attract the government attention to provide fund, and supervision in the purchase and stock piling of animals in the zoo. That is the level of monitoring required to improve the status off the zoo.

It means if the sitting governor was overwhelmed by the duty of office, and did not look keenly into what happens at the zoo, the yearly budgetary allocations allegedly could become pocket money for personal upkeep of those into whose hands the upkeep of the zoo is assigned. If they did not share the money among themselves, they could channel it to other areas under the ministry of culture and tourism for projects more visible and quick to catch public attention. Nobody really knew exactly at what point in time in the course of the several administrations this neglect sets in. it definitely did not start in 1974 when the Port Harcourt Zoological garden was built by the Alfred Diete-Spiff military administration.

But the neglect would have started when successive governments started to divest interest from the general heath of the people and genuinely focus on the need to improve the status of the city or the entire state. The resultant decay caused a disrepair facility at the zoo with most of the stock dying, a situation that is not easily told to a third party. In fact, the experience is an ugly part of the zoo hard to break away, with the zoo still a shadow of itself, only that the present management had embarked on a wholesome sanitation. It is touted that the internally generated money of one hundred naira ticket fees per person entrant and rents from privates individuals who pay to park their cars. Sometimes, Associations or clubs rent a space to host their meetings.

Largely, it was during the period of neglect that the Azuabie Community as narrated by the community youth president, Abel Okujaku woke to feel that it had to re-establish its presence so that they would not be over ran or think that they were docile. They started to engage traders to who spaces on the perimeter fences and along the road were allocated to them. Operators of commercial vehicles and mechanics workshops also pay rates to the community. This gives them the effrontery to confront neighbouring communities that dare challenge the ownership of the precinct of the zoo. The heavy noises from occupants of shanties and the mechanical workshops affected negatively on the zoo.

But at the time, the Azuabie community did not grasp the enormity of nuisance their action could cause, now the illegal traders and motorists feel wounded like the several times in the past by the removal of what they said is their source of livelihoods despite the long time of warning issued to them to vacate the area. The warning seemed true and intended to be sustained at improving the aesthetics of both the internal and external environment of the Port Harcourt Zoo and to keep the traders, mechanic shop and commercial vehicle operators keep away from the perimeter fence of the zoo. But the commercial vehicle operators may not go, they seemed to have got a better bargain to conduct themselves in descent manner and remain in the area until n alternative commercial motor park was provided.

The guiding policy thrust of the external environment clean-up exercise is ‘recover and utilize’ the area that has become an extension of the Slaughter and Woji markets and also a commercial park. This exercise is undertaken by the Urban development and Physical planning control ministry. The nuisance created by activities of traders and commercial motorists operating these illegal market and park around the perimeter fence of the Port Harcourt Zoo takes away the beauty and serenity benefiting a zoo. And for many years, on-lookers and indeed previous government had articulated well intended demolition exercise that would recover the serenity expected of the area. But most of such exercises had been a hyped razzmatazz, never seen to have achieved the intended purpose as the illegal operators return so soon because the place was left fallow and the enforcing officers allegedly receive gratification to allow the activities.

Now the government is burning up the debris, grinding the land and poised to use part of it a private motor park and the larger section including the frontage of the zoo as garden of green as a first attraction to members of the public. Commissioner for Urban development and physical planning control, Mr. Tammy Danagogo asserted that the culture of impunity of traders who abandon spaces in the slaughter and woji markets to display their wares around the perimeter fence of the Port Harcourt Zoo must stop, insisting that any defaulter would be prosecuted.

He said the ministry is also working with the Port Harcourt Local government to ensure that it does it’s statutory duties of protecting the Zoo environment, ensure free flow of traffic so that vehicular cluster around the area is controlled.

Mr. Godwin Otikor, is  the principal of the Foundation Nursary and Secondary School, Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, brought his pupils to the zoo, and allowed them to ride on camels, and enjoyed the sight of the few available animals. They pupils affirmed some of the things he had taught them about wild animals. While adjudging the time spent with the children worthwhile, he said it was difficult to answer questions from curious pupil who wanted to know why some cages were empty, appealed for the upgrading of the Zoo, and increase the stocks.

The manager of the Port Harcourt Zoo, Mrs. Victoria Ovunda expressed excitement ffor the clean-up exercise that is intended to recover the external environment of the Zoo and make it a first attraction to lure prospective visitors to the area. She agreed that the zoo currently operates below it capacity with most cages without stocks and only two point five hectares of land put to use out of the eight hectares of land. She however assured of the determination of the ministry of culture and tourism working with the state government to improve the stock of animals at the Port Harcourt zoo. She said there were plans to build a new zoo in the Greater Port Harcourt, giving the impression that when the land was located, the Port Harcourt zoo would be transferred wholesomely.

This should not be the case.  The growing population of Rivers State is ever growing. There is also an uncontrollable expanding nature of Port Harcourt. This requires that more than one zoo to offer variety of sights and entertainment to the diverse residents in the state. It would be like the case of the increasing number of tertiary institutions in the state. There are about two polytechnics, one university of education, a college of health science, one school of nursing and Midwifery, a university of Science and Technology. This number added to the Federal University of Port Harcourt, and the Federal College of Education. If the zoo is a place of conversion and education, then these schools including the lower level of education would depend on the zoo to affirm what they had learnt of animals and have the opportunity of seeing wild animals, and the endangered ones, importantly.

Nigerian Pro-Chancellors Decry Isolated University Education

Though not a new concept, the fostering of a mutual relationship between universities and host communities will not only improve the living standard of the people but also teleguide the process of development of critical sector of the economy as every potential would be tapped to make Nigeria occupy its leadership role in Africa. This leadership will be a break away from the denigrated positions Nigeria University had filled over the years.

This was the thrust of the robust discussion at the second Biennial conference of pro- chancellors of state owned universities in Nigeria. The conference was a convergence of stakeholders in the academia and they attempted to divulge the theme of the two-day event of ‘Gown-Town Relationship: A synergy For National Development’ where it was surmised that the university existed primarily for the community to improve the standard of life.

They decried the situation where the universities in the country are failing in their roles of functionally develop the capacity of the individual citizens that pass through them as students and that of the communities in which they operate.

The conference chaired by the pro-chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte and it held at the Amphi-theatre hall of the institution.

The first conference of the committee of pro-chancellors of state owned universities held at the Kaduna State University in 2010. At that session, it was a clear mandate that they would continue to familiarise with host universities, accentuate policy and understand the implication for national development.

Today, at this second session, the thinking is tilted to the overriding role the universities should play in pulling the doldrums of society to heights of growth and development, which requires a robust relationship with host communities to change both the fortunes as well as fast track sustainable progress.

To actualise this goal, universities should deploy results of researches carried out in the ivory towers as a sure way of strengthening collaboration in the dissemination of knowledge.

Justice Karibi-Whyte who is also the chairman of the committee of pro-chancellors said the days were gone when universities operated solo ignoring what happens in the society but should take a leading role in engaging government, the industry and the communities adhering to a national transformational model.

At the event the Rivers State Governor, Right Honourable Chibuike Amaechi was represented by the permanent secretary, Rivers State Ministry of education, Mr Rchard Ofuru who said the relevance of the university was when its research finding begins to make meaning to the artisan and other classes of the society. The Executive secretary, Nigeria University Commission, NUC, was also represented by Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph Ajenka who reiterated that NUC now believes in institutional accreditation and ensure quality control of all staff of the university system. The vice chancellor, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Professor Barineme Fakae made boost that his insitition was one of the twenty seven universities that had satified NUC standard in the country. These speakers agreed on the need to break away from the present way university affairs were run to a more functional pattern where university education is relevant to driving the needed industrial growth in the country.

In their separate papers on ‘Gown-Town Relationship: A synergy for National Development by Professor Kimse Koko, and ‘Communities in Town-Gown Relationship for National Development’ by Professor Elo Amucheazi said if the afore mentioned relationship is strengthened, the ensuring mutual benefits would include unimpeded access to revenues sources, boost personal income, enhance the security of lives and property as well improve the local capacity of the indigenous people in the communities.

At the interaction session, most speakers cautioned that if the university did not moderate its affinity with the communities; it would be distracted from its responsibility of providing a neutral ground for the acquisition of knowledge by all and sundry.

Kano Rocks Under Suicide Bomber Attack

A twenty-four hours curfew had been imposed in Kano, the commercial centre of North Central Nigeria. This is sequel to multiple terrorist attacks spear headed by members of the Boko Haram sect launching a series of explosive on the city. The office of the Assistant Commissioner of police and the Assistant Inspector General of police at the Zone one Headquarters of the police were the worse hit, leaving a number of people death and building rend apart.


The attack is coming barely hours after the Nigeria Police placed a 50 million naira ransom on one Kabiru Sokoto [Umar], allegedly fingered to be the man behind the Christmas day bombing of a church in Niger State.


At least 20 explosions were launched to rock the city of Kano making people scamper for safety.  They targetetd Zone 1 Headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force and blew off the roof while a number of other police stations including the ones at Naibawa, Dakata, Farm Centre and BUK Road suffered similar fate. Residence of the Kano State Commissioner of Police witnessed the explosion.

Offices of the State Security Service and the Immigration Service witnessed a simultaneous explosive after the first one went off at 5.02 pm causing panic all over the city. Thick smoke was seen rising in many parts as the whole town was suddenly shut down on Friday evening.

The number of casualties could not be ascertained but at least seven are confirmed dead and five successfully rushed to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. The Kano State Police PRO has not made himself available for comment on the situation.