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South insists on resource control in constitution review

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Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike

As Wike urges N’Assembly to eschew politics, sentiments
• Rivers to divest equity in cassava company

The South-South geopolitical zone, yesterday, insisted on resource control, state police, creation of additional states in the region and devolution of power.

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Representatives of the region declared their position at the ongoing public hearing on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, organised for Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

At the hearing organised by Senate Ad-Hoc Committee chaired by George Sekibo, stakeholders from various ethnic nationalities, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Ikwerre Peoples Congress (IPC) trooped to the Port Harcourt venue of the hearing yesterday, to submit their memoranda.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who declared the hearing open, stressed the urgent need for the amendments to produce a people’s constitution that would guarantee devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, creation of state police and strengthening of the nation’s electoral system.

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He said the amendments must allow the states to create and sustain local councils and ensure the reduction of the cost of governance at the federal and state levels.

Wike, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo, said a better constitution could only be achieved if the ongoing exercise was approached with sincerity and a sense of purpose.

BESIDES, he also urged members of the National Assembly to eschew partisan politics and primordial sentiments and work for the interest of all Nigerians.

In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on media, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) intend to use the review to empower the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to set up panel on appeal from the election tribunal, insisting that the plot would not work.

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Meanwhile, Wike disclosed that the state government has earmarked seed money to encourage the massive cultivation of cassava across Rivers State.

He made the pledge at the inauguration of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Plant at Afam in Oyigbo Council, adding that his administration was willing to encourage proper cultivation of the vast fallow land available in all council areas of the state to ensure that the processing plant does not lack raw materials.

He said the seed money would not be administered like previous grants but would be given to genuine farmers after being verified and encouraged to increase the production of cassava in the state.

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The governor Wike explained that it is no more fashionable for youths and leaders of local government councils to be content raising revenues from stickers. He urged them to avail themselves of opportunities offered by the cassava processing plant.

He solicited more loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria to consolidate the visible gain that has been made already in boosting agriculture in the State.

Speaking, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said most manufacturing companies today that import either glucose, starch or any other cassava by-products will be happy to source their demands from this new plant.

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With this efforts, Emefiele noted that what was mere potentials have become a reality towards developing cassava into various by-products that are needed for the industrial development of Nigeria.

On his part, Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okumbor, who was represented by Igo Weli, said experts have said that the local value-addition to cassava via local manufacturing and processing could potentially unlock about $16m in taxes to the government.

“With the Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited, Shell hopes to support the Rivers people to earn much more revenue from the cassava value chain as the company utilises leading technology to process and create more added value from this crop.

“Today, we have the Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited that will process cassava into High-Quality Cassava Flour via a unique split processing technology based on the operating principle of taking the factory to the farm gates rather than having the farmer bring the cassava tubers to the factory,” he added.

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