Rivers Assembly Approves Wike’s N10bn Loan Request

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•   Inec issues Certificate of Return to state assembly members

By Ernest Chinwo  in Port Harcourt and  Omon Julius Onabu  in Asaba

The Rivers State House of Assembly yesterday authorised the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to obtain a N10 billion loan from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

This is as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued certificate of return to members of the state House of Assembly who won in the rerun polls.

Meanwhile, the remains of Samuel Cukwudumebi Okonta, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member killed during the rerun election in the state, were on Friday laid to rest at his hometown, Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.

The approval came after a letter to the assembly by the governor.

 Wike had said in the letter dated April 5, 2016, that the loan would be used to fund some development projects in the state.

 The letter read in part: “You are aware of the huge infrastructure development challenge and our efforts to address the situation. Since we came on board, we have not only remobilised all contractors handling major road sites, but have also awarded new contracts for the construction and reconstruction of new roads and other projects.

“We have also advertised for tenders for the Bori-Saakpenwa road, the Obiri Ikwerre-Airport bypass, while the contracts for the comprehensive rehabilitation of 11 secondary schools and some of the dilapidated general hospitals are also due for award. However, our major constraint is inadequate resources, which is worsened by shrinking returns from the Federation Account.

“On the Strength of the above, it is my desire to obtain N10 billion loan facility from the Excess Crude Account to continue funding our numerous development projects. The loan, which attracts a single digit interest of nine per cent and 20 years repayment period, is quite favourable to the reality of the state’s economy.”

 In their various contributions, lawmakers supported the loan saying it would facilitate the governor’s drive to develop the state.

 Speaking, Hon Opurum Iruanya, representing Etche I, submitted that the road projects embarked by the governor had yielded positive results and called on the House to approve the loan.

Also, Hon Deeya Barine representing Khana I, submitted that “I’m gladdened that the Bori-Saakpenwa road is one of the projects that this loan is meant for and I know it would open the gateway to Ogoniland. I also support the loan because all the projects highlighted there; rehabilitation of schools and rehabilitation of general hospitals are worth the value for the loan.

 Commenting, the Speaker, Rt. Hon Dabotoru Dima, said the loan was worth it, considering the percentage interest rate and the projects for which it will be used for.

 Eight lawmakers including the Speaker were present at the sitting. The House later adjourned sine die.

Meanwhile, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC yesterday issued certificates of return to 11 members of the state House of Assembly elected in the March 19 re-run elections in the state.

The state lawmakers who received certificate of return are nine members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and two members of the All Progressives Congress.

The PDP members are Martins Manah of Ahoada East 1, Ehie Ogerenye of Ahoada East 2,  Jack Major of Akukutoru 1, , Sam Ogeh of Emohua , Martin Amaehule of Obio/Akpor 1, Michael Chinda of Obio/ Akpor 2, Kelechi Nwogu of Omuma, Christian Ahiakwo of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Adoki Smart of Port Harcourt 2 constituencies.

The APC members are Benibo Anabraba of Akukutoru 2 and Andrew Miller of Opobo/Nkoro constituencies.

Presenting the certificates of return to the elected lawmakers, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Aniedi Ikowaik, restated that the commission would not be forced into declaring of results in places where irregularities were recorded in the re-run elections.

He also said due procedures would be followed before the pending results would be released and announced to the public.

Torrents of tears flowed uncontrollably and loud wailing rent the air as a team of Rivers State NYSC members and officials arrived the family home of the Okonta’s with the hearse bearing the slain corps-member with close relatives and residents of all ages pouring out to catch a final glimpse of their son and brother.

The crowds went into a sorrowful frenzy when, at about 11.23 a.m. corps-members brought out the white casket draped in the national green-white-green colours and the NYSC cream and gold colours and logo from the Toyota hearse with registration number, ‘Abuja RSH 414 AS’.

A detachment of NYSC members from Rivers State mounted a guard-of-honour during the brief lying in state at the family compound in Ogbe-Orji Quarters amid mournful cry of “Dumebi…..Dumebi, have you come back to us in a coffin” as well as  invocation of curses against his murderers went on unrestrained.