NIGERIA OFFERS 100% REPATRIATION OF PROFITS TO FOREIGN INVESTORS

NIGERIA OFFERS 100% REPATRIATION OF PROFITS TO FOREIGN INVESTORS
The Federal Government of Nigeria has rolled out robust incentives for foreign investors who are willing to invest in the country, according to the country’s Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Breaking the news Thursday 23rd May, 2013, Vice President Namani Sambo revealed that other incentives aimed at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) include 100 percent repatriation of profits, 140 percent capital allowance in research development, 20 percent capital allowances for five years on local raw materials utilization as well as 30 percent tax relief and expenditure on public infrastructure.
In a related development, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has unveiled plans to attract over $1.8 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) over the next four years through the Abuja Industrial Park.
Vice President Namadi Sambo who performed the ground breaking ceremony of Idu Industrial Park, in Abuja, further noted that “the establishment of industrial park is our national implementation plan to meet vision 20:20 of Mr. President is determine to create a vibrant private sector that could create competing advantages in the place of globalization.
“We are made to plan and ensure to boost the GDP from the present condition to substantially programme. The FG is providing numerous incentives to attract investment into the country.
Sambo noted that the Abuja Industrial Park project was direct fallout of the state visit of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to the Republic of Turkey in 2011 in the course of his economic diplomacy tour of selected countries.
“The outcome of these negotiations is an arrangement whereby FCTA is expected to provide enabling environment for Nigerian, Turkish and other foreign businessmen and women to establish small and medium scale industries within the Industrial zone through Zeberced Limited,” the Vice President said.
He therefore directed all relevant agencies including Nigeria Investment Promotion Councils (NIPC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Nigerian Free Trade Zone to provide necessary support for Zeberced, the investor engaged by FCTA to develop the Abuja Industrial Park.
Under the arrangement, the FCTA provided 250 hectares of land while Zeberced is to construct 177 factories and 14 commercial Areas as well as major components of infrastructure including 24km road network, 10.4km of clean water network, 8.6 of electrical network, 9.6km of sewage network, 9.7km of pain water drains and 29km telecommunication network.
Others include training & research unit; cold storage & warehouses facilities; shopping mall, hotels, parking spaces & helipad as well as public and religious facilities including Police Station, Custom area, bank hall, fire station, filling station, clinic amongst others.
In his remarks, Bala Mohanmmed, FCT Minister explained that the administration during the conceptualization of the project put into focus the primary policy objective of manufacturing sectors.
He reiterated that “with the view to significantly drive the economy for increased productivity, expansion of value addition, enhanced competitiveness of finished goods and production of surplus for export. We are hopeful that Abuja industrial park will assist in ensuring a shift from a low technology based production system to more modern production processes.”
The Minister observed that the company will provide integrated infrastructure to the tune of $200 million, attract competent industrialists and manufacturers into the industrial park as well as ensure optimum management and maintenance of the facility.
“The project is anticipated to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) amounting to over $1.8 billion within the next four years and also create employment for over 40,000 skilled and unskilled workers.”

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Tips on Safe Swimming

Tips on Safe Swimming

It was bright Sunday morning. Citizen Oluka in company of four of his friends has gone to Okulu creek for swimming exercise. Thirty minutes later, the peaceful community of Agbonchia was disrupted following the death of citizen Oluka in Okulu creek. Citizen Oluka did not only lack swimming skill and ability; none of his friends knew what to do to rescue him, until he got drowned. Reasons advanced for the fatal swimming accident range from act of God to witchcraft.
To worsen the situation, three days later a deity (Ogbe) claimed to be responsible for the death. Towards this end, the deceased family was asked to perform certain cleansing sacrifices (Owara ogbe) and to pay over a million naira in cash to the Juju priest. Superstitious belief is still a leading factor in increasing swimming related deaths in riverine communities.
Many people who engage in swimming as recreational activities do so neither well nor wisely. To enjoy swimming activities one has to be free from injury, illness and death. Yet injury or death from swimming activities is primarily a result of accident.
The Nigeria’s Niger Delta region has topography of flat plains netted in a marvelous web of rivers, creeks, streams, and swamps. In Eleme alone there are several swimming outlets, including the Bonny River, Ngololo Creek, Gberekpii Creek, Okulu Creek and Wamba Creek. A good climate coupled with favourable natural endowments make swimming one of the leading sporting and recreational activities in the Niger Delta.
Swimming is one of the healthiest sports. Nearly every muscle of the body is used in swimming. Regular swimming helps develop coordination and strength. Across the world, millions of people swim regularly in rivers, lakes, oceans, and pools. If you do not know how to swim, take a course now. You never know when it will save your life.
In Nigeria, it is estimated that every year approximately 1,000 people drown while swimming. Over 20 percent of these deaths occur in home swimming. Several contributing factors have been advanced including poor supervision; failing to avoid dangerous areas; lack of swimming skills and ability; failing to wear life jackets or Personal Floating Devices (PFDs) for first time or amateur swimmers; being struck in the water by objects; and fatigue and overexertion.
These basic rules or tips are intended to guide swimmers and reduce recreational injuries through the use of adequate swimming equipment and facilities, adequate supervision and leadership and provision of appropriate swimming information.
Besides, we believe that the frequency and severity of accidents in swimming can be reduced through attention to a number of issues including the following:
1. Never swim alone – use the buddy system.
2. Swim only in areas that are well supervised. Stay within sight.
3. Check all swimming areas carefully before entering the water.
4. If you lack swimming skills, do not go near or in the water without an approved life jacket or Personal Floating Devices (PFDs).
5. Never push or throw anyone into the water.
6. Adjust your body to the temperature of the water slowly by taking a shower, or slashing your body with water.
7. Swim only in areas that are well supervised.
8. Do not swim past safety buoy markers.
9. Determine the depth of the water and check for potential hazards such as drops-offs before swimming in the water.
10. Avoid swimming if you have infectious viruses, skin allergies, or any communicable disease.
11. Do not swim immediately after eating a heavy meal or you may get cramps.
12. Do not swim immediately after drinking alcoholic beverages.
13. Never swim immediately after taking medication.
14. Swimming in rivers and seas poses special risks due to current and debris on the bottom.
15. Overexertion is a major factor contributing to injuries and death. Take frequent rest breaks.
16. Never swim during a thunderstorm or for 15 minutes before or afterward because of possibility of being struck by lightning.
17. Do not run on wet pool decks. Many serious injuries occur when people run on pool decks that are slippery and wet.
18. Stay out of areas used by boaters and surfers.
19. In the ocean, swim with the waves and avoid heavy surf. Always watch out for undertow and stay on the surface of the water.
20. Always acquire the relevant information concerning the water and facilities; and use adequate equipment to swim in it.
Swimming activities are meant to be happy events. Too often, death or injury producing accidents turn these otherwise happy occasions into tragedy. But, by observing these rules and acting upon many of its practical suggestions and advice you can protect the most precious gift you and your family possess: The Gift of LIFE.

GEJ To Reshuffle Cabinet

GEJ To Reshuffle Cabinet

There are speculations that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will reshuffle his cabinet as the administration approaches its second anniversary. The move aimed at dropping some ministers, switching others and bringing in new hands results from Mr. President independent reviewing of the performances of the different ministries of recent, especially with regards to the Performance Bond the ministers signed last year.
Government sources confirmed the fact that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who is not used to frequent changes in the running of his Government had allowed them time to improve in the performance of their assignments so as to ensure stability. It is the belief in Government that with frequent changes, there would arise the complaint of instability and that such could affect performance.
“There is a popular opinion that only a number of ministers are working and projecting the administration in positive light, while some are merely warming the chairs,” a top Government source said, adding that those who had been found below expectation would soon be relieved of their appointments.
Recently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings had also been devoted to assessing the performance of the ministers, with some of the appointees merely rolling out submissions made to them by the bureaucrats.
A source close to the Government said though most of the submissions had been applauded at the FEC meetings, Mr. President had his own independent assessment strategies.
It was reliably confirmed, however, that two camps had emerged in the running up to the expected cabinet reshuffle.
The source also revealed that while Mr. President was still compiling the list of those to be dropped, some forces in Government have started parading the names of some performing ministers, in order to create tension in the system.
Our source reiterated that while some ministers might be reassigned, no fewer than 10 would be sacked.

ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR

ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR

ON THE DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN BORNO, YOBE AND ADAMAWA STATES IN ORDER TO RESTORE PUBLIC ORDER, PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY IN THE AFFECTED STATES OF THE FEDERATION

MAY 14, 2013

Dear compatriots,

1. It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states. These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our security forces.

2. The recent killing of security operatives by a cult group in Nasarawa state is particularly condemnable. I have directed that no effort or expense be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those who had a hand in the killing of the operatives.

3. The activities of insurgents and terrorists have been reprehensible, causing fear among our citizens and a near-breakdown of law and order in parts of the country, especially the North. We have taken robust steps to unravel and address the root causes of these crises, but it would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve.

4. Since I returned to the country after cutting short my visit to South Africa and aborting a planned state visit to Namibia, I have received detailed briefings from our security agencies. These briefings indicate that what we are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity. Already, some northern parts of Borno state have been taken over by groups whose allegiance is to different flags and ideologies.

5. These terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country. In many places, they have destroyed the Nigerian flag and other symbols of state authority and in their place, hoisted strange flags suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.

6. They have attacked government buildings and facilities. They have murdered innocent citizens and state officials. They have set houses ablaze, and taken women and children as hostages. These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten her territorial integrity. As a responsible government, we will not tolerate this.

7. Previously, we adopted a multi-track approach to the resolution of this problem through actions which included persuasion, dialogue and widespread consultation with the political, religious and community leaders in the affected states.

8. We exercised restraint to allow for all efforts by both State Governors and well-meaning Nigerians to stop the repeated cases of mindless violence.

9. Yet, the insurgents and terrorists seek to prevent government from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to the people as they pursue their fanatical agenda of mayhem, mass murder, division and separatism.

10. While the efforts at persuasion and dialogue will continue, let me reiterate that we have a sacred duty to ensure the security and well-being of all our people and protect the sovereign integrity of our country. Therefore, we shall, on no account, shy away from doing whatever becomes necessary to provide the fullest possible security for the citizens of this country in any part of the country they choose to reside.

11. We have a duty to stand firm against those who threaten the sovereign integrity of the Nigerian state. Our will is strong, because our faith lies in the indivisibility of Nigeria.

12. Following recent developments in the affected states, it has become necessary for Government to take extraordinary measures to restore normalcy. After wide consultations, and in exercise of the powers conferred on me by the provisions of Section 305, sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, I hereby declare a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

13. Accordingly, the Chief of Defence Staff has been directed to immediately deploy more troops to these states for more effective internal security operations. The troops and other security agencies involved in these operations have orders to take all necessary action, within the ambit of their rules of engagement, to put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists.

14. This will include the authority to arrest and detain suspects, the taking of possession and control of any building or structure used for terrorist purposes, the lock-down of any area of terrorist operation, the conduct of searches, and the apprehension of persons in illegal possession of weapons.

15. The details of this Proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. But in the meantime, let me make it clear that within the purview of this Proclamation, the Governors and other political office holders in the affected states will continue to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.

16. I urge the political leadership in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states to co-operate maximally with the Armed Forces and the Police to ensure that the exercise succeeds. We call on the citizenry to co-operate with our security agencies to ensure a return to normalcy within the shortest possible time.

17. I am again approaching our neighbouring countries, through diplomatic channels, as done in the recent past, for their co-operation in apprehending any terrorist elements that may escape across the border.

18. Nigerians are peace-loving people; these sad events perpetrated by those who do not wish our nation well have not changed the essential character of our people.

19. I want to reassure you all that those who are directly or indirectly encouraging any form of rebellion against the Nigerian state, and their collaborators; those insurgents and terrorists who take delight in killing our security operatives, whoever they may be, wherever they may go, we will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice. No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror.

20.I am convinced that with your support and prayers, we shall overcome these challenges and together, we will restore every part of our country to the path of peace, growth and development.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Citizens’ Security versus Freedom in a Rising Crime Environment

 

The “Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations” of the Federal Government of Nigeria permits the National Communication Commission (NCC) to tap telephone lines with the goal of monitoring communications in the country. It empowered the Police, State Security Services (SSS) and other security agencies to intercept phone calls, internet, SMS and other electronic communications to filter information that may be useful to security operations.

The regulation is designed to make it easier for the Nigeria intelligence community and law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorists’ attacks in Nigeria and against Nigeria interests abroad.

This regulation was received by Nigerians with two contending and conflicting feelings – that of hope of being safe and that of concern for surrendering their freedom to feel secure. A provision of the regulation states clearly that, “It shall be lawful for any law enforcement agency to intercept communications pursuant to any enactment for the time being in force and these regulations, if the interception relates to the use of a communication service provided by a licensee (network operator) to persons in Nigeria; or the interception relates to the use of a communication service provided by a licensee to a person outside Nigeria”.

The NCC said that any network operator shall not be liable in any criminal proceedings of any nature for any damage, loss, cost or expenditure suffered or to be suffered (whether directly or indirectly) for any act or omission done in good faith in the performance of the duty imposed under these regulations. The agency bears all the responsibility alone but however warn licensees (network operators) that noncompliance with this regulation would attract serious penalty. “If a licensee or any of its officers, managers, chief executive officer, secretary or other similar officers of the licensee or its officers shall be liable to a fine of N5,000,000 and if such an offence is continuing, such a licensee or officer shall be liable to a daily penalty of N500,000,” NCC stated. What this means is that the security agencies can kick off demand as may be considered necessary from any network operator to intercept conversation of any suspect in the course of criminal investigations.

Recently reports have it that due to rising insecurity in northern Nigeria prominent persons in the region, including governors and emirs have started avoiding public mosques. Northern governors and VIPs had come under increased pressure to change their security arrangements following incessant attacks and killings of Muslim faithful by Boko Haram gunmen targeting prominent individuals. On the other hand, investigations have revealed that southern governors and VIPs are becoming more skeptical about attending public functions and churches due to persistent threat emanating from the Niger Delta militants. The spate of insecurity and rising violence in the country culminated in the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar referring to this period as “a bag time to be born in Nigeria”. Something must be done and urgently too.

With the bombs booming in the desert and the war drums rolling out in the creeks, the Federal Government of Nigeria is not only in-between the devil and the blue sea, but must rise up to its constitutional responsibility which is “the security and welfare of the people”; to maintain law and order and ensure that law abiding citizens and residents go about their legitimate businesses without crime or fear of crime. History is replete with accounts of civilizations that have risen and fallen searching for a balance between citizens’ safety and freedom.  The search for a balance that can guarantee security and establish lasting peace and stability in the system and at the same time protect citizens’ rights, freedom and welfare is ongoing. No nation can claim to have gotten the formula. The civilized world is still groping in the dark in this regard.  

Perhaps, that accounts for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s expression of bitterness at an Israelis company, Elbit System for the breach of confidentiality in the $40million contract intended to see the Israeli company spy on citizens’ computers and Internet communications under the guise of intelligence gathering and national security.   Under the arrangement Elbit Systems is to supply its Wise Intelligence Technology (WiT) system that will help the Federal Government to access all computers and read all email correspondences of citizens in what has been described as, “an infringement on constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression”.

Nigeria is not alone in this race to protect itself and citizens both at home and abroad from terrorists’ attacks or stay on top of its safety and security. Several civilized countries of the world with higher security awareness have adopted similar programme while the search for a universally acceptable best practice continues.

The USA Patriot Act passed by the 107th Congress otherwise known as “Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” allows more electronic surveillance and wiretapping of private citizens. The law although strongly criticized by civil liberties advocates broadened America security agencies’ phone and electronic surveillance authority and made it easier for the government to obtain phone, Internet, and even business records. This legislation which was passed less than two months after the 9/11 is considered to be a vital tool to help prevent terrorism directed at America citizens and American interests.

The America Homeland Security Act passed in 2002 which created the Department of Homeland Security designed to protect critical national infrastructure and focus US resources on protecting the safety of US citizens and respond to emergencies, shielded Internet service providers from customer lawsuits if providers share private subscriber data with law enforcement agencies. The Act empowered law enforcements to obtain information regarding private Internet subscribers without warrant. It also allowed law enforcement agencies to trace the location and identity of an Internet user suspected of posing an “imminent threat to national security interests”, or perpetrating attacks on “protected computers”  both government machines and any system used in “interstate commerce or communication”.

In the United Kingdom the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 empowered security agencies to carry out surveillance and investigation; it covers the interception of communications, technological changes such as the growth of the Internet and strong encryption, and gives unlimited powers to security agencies who on the grounds of “national security”, and for the purposes of detecting crime, preventing disorder, public safety, protecting public health, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom intercept any information that may be useful to security interests and operations.

Today, Nigeria is a growing global market for the communication industry. Nigeria is also a fast growing social media hotspot. Nigeria is also fast attracting a lot of religious extremists that are accelerating terrorist activities in the country. The number of telephone lines is rising by the day. By 2012 counts, there are 109 million telephone lines in Nigeria. Reports also have it that Nigeria had 48, 366, 176 number of Internet users and 6, 630,200 Facebook fans, and the highest in Africa. Nigeria is said to be the third largest users of twitter globally.

No doubt, the right to privacy, long cherished by Nigerians and guaranteed by Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is being compromised by the Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations and more of such legislations that will be unfolding from time to time as terrorists and criminals expand their scope and modus operandi the government device new means and laws to check them and their activities in the country.

Again, there is this fear that political opponents and those considered radicals will be unfairly target for surveillance.

Besides, what is the guarantee that network operators will not intercept private communication or give such information to wrong persons? Many Nigerians have continued to border. There is need for appropriate regulations to ensure that the privacy of Nigerians, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations, etc are protected from dubious elements in the system who may like to use this method to collect information about innocent people to victimize or target and attack.

The Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations is the Federal Government of Nigeria’s counterterrorism and crime prevention strategy that should be welcomed by all, in view of the emergent trends in insecurity and criminality in the country. Governments at all levels on their part should make sure that this strategy is leak-proof, the procedure well defined and operators trained to protect innocent people from being victims of this good intention.

While we depend on our military and law enforcement to defend and protect us, we also must do our part. We must give a little of our freedom to get more of protection! Safety comes before freedom! One cannot be free in the face of danger!

GEJ Set to Declare State of Emergency in Northern Nigeria

GEJ SET TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

There are strong indications that the Federal Government is considering to declare state of emergency in the five northern states of Benue, Borno, Nassarawa and Yobe in efforts to check the rising killings and insecurity.

The hints emerged on Friday after an emergency meeting held by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan with security chiefs and some other top government officials in his bid to address the problem of rising insecurity in many parts of the country, with the latest being the killing of 47 policemen and 10 State Security Service operatives and the destruction of nine patrol vans by the Ombatse militia in Alakyo forest in Nasarawa State on Tuesday.

It could be recalled that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan cut short his trip to South Africa late on Thursday to review reports from the security chiefs on recent violence in Baga and Bama in Borno State; Alakyo Village in Nasarawa State; and Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.

The meeting which lasted several hours was attended by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’id; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh; Director-General of State Security Service, Ita Ekpenyong; representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj-Gen. Emmanuel Bassey; and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar who wore a black arm band to the meeting as a sign of mourning for the slain policemen.

Others at the meeting were the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.); Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (rtd.); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe.

Midway into the meeting, Olubolade, Anyim and Oghiadomhe left the meeting wearing gloomy looks while President Jonathan and the security chiefs continued with the discussions.

At the close of the meeting, none of the government or security officials was willing to speak with journalists. Although the inspector general of Police, Mohammed Abubakar described the killing of the policemen as “a sad development”, he was shielded from journalists who sought an interview with him on the recent killing of policemen.    

A reliable source at the meeting however described it as “a stormy session”, with far-reaching decisions, some of which would soon be made public and others kept under wraps for security reasons taken.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (rtd.), who was moved to tears, managed to answer reporters’ questions on the murder of policemen.

On the speculations that the Federal Government was considering the imposition of a state of emergency in some states in northern Nigeria, he said, “That is not within my purview. They (security chiefs) have the right to call for whatever they want. At the end of the day, the President will take a decision.

“It was an emergency security meeting at the instance of Mr. President. He had to cut his journey short because of insecurity and loss of lives; he was supposed to have been in Namibia. So, he summoned the security agencies to have a quick meeting with us and as you can see, they are still there. The Chief of Defence Staff and other service chiefs are still with him.

“He is looking at how we can put an end to all these troubles we are having and I think that at the end of that deliberation, you will get to know the outcome.”

Olubolade advised policemen against revenge, stressing that such actions would not help the nation. In his words, “The security agencies particularly the police will not want to go and revenge. It is not going to help us because they are supposed to protect lives and property. Going to revenge will not douse tension. It will bring about a lack of confidence in the system. So, we will strictly discourage that”.

Concerning the allegation that policemen killed nine of the Ombatse cult members in Nasarawa State first before they retaliated, the minister said, “I wouldn’t know what is true about that. All I know is that the police have a duty to perform and as such, they must not be afraid, they must be equipped, they must be trained, they must do their job because they are under instructions. The police will not just wake up and pick their leaders if nothing has gone wrong.

“The populace must know that anybody can be brought in by the police for interrogation depending on the intelligence the police get; and that is what happens elsewhere.”

Following the inability of the Police and SSS to dislodge members of the Ombatse cult from their hideout in Alakyo forest in Nasarawa State, the Federal Government was considering military option to accomplish the task.

Meanwhile the death toll of policemen and SSS officers now stands at about 60 bodies recovered from the forest with another 30 still missing.

 

LET RIVERS INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND TRAINING BE

The determination of the enemies of Eleme to keep Eleme in perpetual educational disadvantage and further alienate the Eleme people from effective participation in the economic, social and political mainstream of Nigeria is being amplified by the efforts of the current Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Professor Barineme Fakae to close down the Rivers Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, (RIART), Onne – the only campus of a tertiary institution in the whole of Elemeland. This is happening when the people of Eleme are envisaging the upgrading of RIART, Onne to a fully-fledge University of Agriculture.
In 1974 the Rivers State Government acquired 156 acres of arable land from Onne community in Eleme Local Government Area for the establishment of a School of Agriculture and Fisheries (SAF), Onne, to train general agriculturists and create employment opportunities for the ever growing number of young Nigerians – a welcome development.
Under the superintendent of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, the students who were admitted into the School of Agriculture and Fisheries, Onne, successfully completed their full time course of study and passed the prescribed examinations were awarded National Diploma (ND) Certificates. Many of these students on graduation proceeded to Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umunike, Abia State and other tertiary institutions were they furthered their studies and obtained higher qualifications. Indeed, the School of Agriculture and Fisheries, Onne turned out qualified men and women from all over Nigeria with specialty in agriculture. Most of them are now holders of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in various aspects of agriculture and are working in various capacities and contributing positively to national development.
To formalize the school and further give legal backing to its activities, in 1980, the Rivers State House of Assembly passed the Rivers Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Onne Act, 1980, which did not only change the name of the School to “Rivers Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (RIART), Onne” but, also mandated it to carryout research, training and award of National Diploma Certificates in Agricultural Technology and related disciplines.
But, rather than pursue these goals and expand on them with a view of transforming the Institute into a fully- fledge University of Agriculture, the current management of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology under the leadership of Professor Barineme Fakae is bent on scrapping it. Besides, it is unfortunate that the Rivers State University of Science and Technology cannot maintain the only off campus extension of the University charged with the obligation of conducting research and training of students in both theories and practice of agriculture. What is the responsibility of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University if it cannot sustain and promote the goals of RIART? Is the University already infected by the Nigeria-Fever known as corruption and/or the Nigeria-Cancer called brain-drain?
Since assumption of office as the Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology in 2009 up to the closure of RIART, Onne and the transfer of RIART staff to the main campus in Port Harcourt in October 2012, Professor Barineme Fakae did not visit RIART, Onne campus. Even when the staff demanded to have audience with him, he turned down the request. Decrying the deplorable condition of RIART, Onne the management said they have envisaged the closure stressing that, “It was long expected because of the long neglect of the Campus”.

The idea of scrapping Rivers Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (RIART) Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Onne Campus will not be unconnected with the dwindling finances of the University, despite huge investments in the University by the Rivers State Government. Over the years, the votes met to run RIART, Onne have persistently been diverted thus killing the dreams of making it a viable research and training institution. Where are RIART votes? Who are those responsible for blurring the future of RIART, Onne? Why does Professor Barineme Fakae want to scrap or move RIART from Onne Eleme without recourse to its enabling legislation and what the institute sets out to achieve? Is the closure of RIART, Onne intended to hide something? Otherwise there is no explanation to justify why someone should want RIART, Onne shut. Is Rivers State financially unable to keep the Institute, at Onne? Must Eleme men and women travel to Ogoni or Ikwerre in search of education in this 21st century that education is moving closer and closer to people at the grassroots? Must Eleme be deprived of every good thing including educational establishment? RIART, Onne, is an entity enacted by law therefore it should not be destroyed for trivial reasons.

The rash decision by the RSUST authority to close down RIART, Onne because rainstorm de- roofed the buildings in 2012 was not only to dodge its responsibilities as the parent body and superintendent university, but was also intended to sabotage the efforts of the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to decongest Port Harcourt. Besides, Eleme is in Greater Port Harcourt, which also questions the rationale behind such decision.

The people of Eleme are predominately farmers and fishermen and women. Apart from depriving the people of Eleme and its environs access to higher education in our vicinity, the cost of the closure of RUST RIART, Onne campus include the abandonment of ongoing research projects on the field on plantain and cassava. What becomes the fate of casual workers who have rendered long service years ranging from 15 to 19 to the University on meager salary to be displaced by the closure? What happen to RIART, Onne Staff School, staff and the pupils who are mostly from the environment where RIART is situated? Is the purported transfer of the vast areas of farmland, 156 acres, to RSSDA by RSUST with the consent of Onne clan, the owners of the land? What is the content or terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between RSUST and RSSDA that allows RSSDA to take over and improve the facilities at RIART, Onne? Is Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) going to use the land or develop the facilities at RIART, Onne, for the same purposes it was originally donated? We demand some explanations; we asked to be carried along, to be told the use for which our land is being put.

That Eleme, christened the “Heart of Nigeria’s Economy” cannot boost of a single tertiary institution is very shameful; yet her lands and waters are forcefully acquired daily for national and multinational industrial developments; and her crude oil, the black gold, taken daily at gunpoint to keep Nigeria going, without minding the wellbeing of the Eleme ecosystem or employment of her youths.

We are appealing to the authorities concern to reconsider and rescind the decision. We therefore call on the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Professor Barineme Fakae, to let RIART, Onne be! Considering Eleme’s contributions to the economic mainstay of Nigeria, it is not out of place to ask for special treatment for Eleme. Let us think of upgrading RIART, Onne to a fully-fledge University of Agriculture. Education is the ladder to the top. We deserve to have tertiary institutions in Eleme. Nigeria, do not take from Eleme always; at times, add to Eleme! Do not pull down Eleme, prop up Eleme! If RIART, Onne is not performing maximally there are many options open to the University management to make it to work better and serve the people rather than scrapping it or pulling it out of Eleme.