… Lists Accomplishments
The Executive Chairman of Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State, Hon. Ben Eke, is to receive Best Local Government Chairman Award in Sports Development as National Network Newspaper celebrates its 18th Anniversary on October 28 in what will be a great and memorable day.
On a courtesy visit to the Executive Chairman led by the Publisher of the foremost newspaper, Pst. Jerry Needam, the paper’s General Manager and Editor-in-Chief, Mr Chris Konkwo, said that the Chairman was nominated for the Award based on opinion survey and handed over the award letter to the Executive Chairman.
The Chairman of Ahoada East Local Government Area, Hon. Ben Eke, thanked National Network Newspaper for the award based on the survey. He also said running the paper for 18 years was not a small achievement.
Hon. Eke said: “To run an organization like this for 18 years uninterrupted is no mean feat. There are papers you read and you feel very bad. It’s either they are giving stale news or even the write-ups or what they report … will be replete with mistakes” saying that National Network can favourably compete with any known national daily adding that the management is determined.
Talking about the nomination for the award, the Executive Chairman said: “Wholeheartedly I accept the nomination. Sports generally has been one of my best areas, one area I cherish most and among other things in growing up I partook in a whole lot of sporting activities. I played football, did boxing and little bit of taekwondo and wrestling as well and sincerely I must tell you that it has really helped me.
“So when we came on board I felt we should, not only me, give back to the society those things we enjoyed growing up because it was a serious business then. There were sports councils in all the local governments and I know I represented my local government in wrestling, in football and in boxing. So in 2018, we started with football competitions and wrestling as well and it’s one thing we’ve been doing consecutively but for the Covid-19 epidemic which made it impossible for us to hold sporting activities in 2020 but apart from then we’ve been on and on. We’ve been supporting organizations that also hold sporting activities in my local government and beyond.
“We sponsor a whole lot of our athletes in our local government to state and national events and they’ve been coming home with a whole lot of laurels which is very good.”
Hon. Eke said that he procured sporting equipment for all public schools in the local government saying goalposts were fixed for schools which did not have them.
We’ve been doing quite a lot, he said saying that the local government holds wrestling competitions in the three principal clans which are encouraged to have opening ceremonies for the event and to formally close the wrestling season saying the ceremonies are principally sponsored by the council as the council also makes new drums for communities in the beginning of every wrestling season.
“Wrestling is one thing that really unites our people and I must tell you that the traditional institution is very pleased with the council particularly with the fact that we help in preserving and promoting the culture”.
Hon. Eke said that the local government had got more than 50 laurels from both state and national sports competitions.
He said his administration will be on the construction of a stadium starting with construction of a soccer pitch and possibly tracks in first quarter of next year.
He said that he was on construction of the stadium on a 322 plots of land with the survey done and had got a company to design the stadium and was to start with construction of a soccer pitch when the project was stalled by a judgement against the council in a case of someone claiming to be cash contractor to his predecessor and part of the money for the project spent in meeting up requirements of the judgement.
Hon. Eke said: “We discovered that the world over stadia are built in phases so we decided to start with construction of soccer pitch and we kept about N25million for that purpose in project account. While we were still working out the modalities, we had published for the construction in one of the local dailies when unfortunately, there was a judgement against the council. Somebody claimed that one of my predecessors, Chief Cassidy Ikegbidi, made him a cash contractor, a nomenclature unknown to law….”
Hon. Eke said he put in place a neighbourhood water scheme in all the wards in the local government area and also built a mechanical workshop for skills acquisition which is fully equipped.
He also said he rehabilitated a tailoring workshop which was in a deplorable state and got it fully furnished and trained about 50 women and gave them starter packs.
The Chairman said the council registered students of the local government in 2018 for the West African School Certificate Examination and other deserving students for the universities matriculation exam and paid bursary to students of the local government origin in tertiary institutions from 2018 to date.
He said there has been improvement in local government allocation in his second term and also improvement in Internally Generated Revenue in the local government saying that the council had been able to carry out major projects including the construction of a road.
Hon. Eke also said that he completed electrification project in his ward which was the only ward without electricity.
He said that his administration built a Home Economics centre where currently there are 150 intakes with 50 going for tailoring, 50 for catering and another 50 for hairdressing saying that the home economics centre built from foundation is fully furnished.
The Executive Chairman said the 150 trainees who are trained for six months will pass out in December saying that they will get starter packs and cash.
He said his administration also built an office for the staff of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in the council and renovated some schools saying the council’s district office is in each of the three clans.
The Chairman of the council said that he completed construction of 51 open stores at Ahoada Market with conveniences and built new fence and gate for the council secretariat adding that the administration is also landscaping the grounds of the Local Government secretariat.
On empowerment, Hon. Eke said that “one of the fundamental duties of a council is to empower its people economically and so what we do as a council and I say it without any fear because I have that constitutional mandate, outside our staff, we are paying at least 970 persons who are members of committees. We have the Flood Committee, Sanitation Team, we have Sports Committee, Policy Implementation Committee, we have so many of them”.
He also said he provides workers welfare and got award from the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) saying that his administration had never borrowed since 2018 when he became Chairman of the council.
On health, Hon. Eke said that the council takes health issues very seriously and was given Best Chairman on Health Service Delivery Award by Rivers State Ministry of Health.
As a result of vandalization of health facilities, the council is employing on ad-hoc basis four persons from each community in the local government as labour and security, he said saying that he also gave assistance in monetary terms to Medical Officers of Health in the council to get medical items in health centres.
“So we can go on and on and on to say that we are happy being given the opportunity to serve the people and what is more, when you’re with your people you feel happy. I stay in Ahoada. I don’t stay in Port-Harcourt and I must say that the experience there has been very, very wonderful”.
He also said he enjoys robust relationship with security agencies saying that his administration has not failed to provide logistics for security agents explaining that they have been responsive when called as he added that the council area relatively is peaceful.
Hon. Eke also said that there’s no oil bunkering in the council.
He said while the allocation especially from the Federation Account to the local government council is about the least in the state, the council tries its best to “manage what we have”.
Earlier, while talking about the anniversary, the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief, Mr Chris Konkwo, had said that National Network would use the occasion to recognize and celebrate those who’ve made impact in society and helped the foremost newspaper.
He said that the council Chairman was nominated based on opinion survey as someone who deserves to be appreciated and celebrated saying that the paper’s existence for 18 years is a landmark.