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Rivers Debate Group to drill guber candidates February 1

Rivers Debate Group to drill guber candidates February 1

The Rivers Debate Group led by top members of the Rivers Entrepreneurs and Investor Forum (REIF) has pointed at taxation, ports and markets as areas noted since 2015 that have not fully been tackled by the outgoing administration.

The chairman of the debate group, Ibifiri Bobmanuel, who is president of REIF, told newsmen Wednesday, January 18, 2023, that these issues would form part of drilling of those hustling to take over in May 2023.

The group announced February 1, 2023, as date for the Rivers Guber Debate.

Bobmanuel said the debate ushers in the next governor.
“We will quiz the candidates. We have come of age. We are the captains of industry and we feel it’s our duty to squeeze those aspiring to become governor to know what they have in mind and interrogate their manifestos,” he said.

He also said that as private sector players, the group cannot dictate policies to the candidates but they can ask questions.

“They have to tell us what they have for us,” he said.

According to him, the debate extracted from guber candidates in in 2015, thus: “We got them to sign a peace agreement. We raised issues which we wanted each candidate to commit to, first of which was reopening of the courts. This was done on day one.
“Seaports were an issue. We identified this. We are research-based, so we found that poor port system clogged progress of the city.

“We thus, asked construction of the port road, and this was immediately done.

“The PH seaport is operating only at 20 percent capacity. The challenge now before the business community in the region is how to push it to 100 percent functionality.
“We know that ports contribute more than 200 percent of other revenues to the IGR base of Lagos State.”

Another critical area he said the team looked at in 2015 was the small businesses (SMEs), especially the markets in the state.
Some of them, like Fruit Garden were rebuilt and given back to traders but some such as the Mile One Market were built but not given out.
“We called for the building of a world class market at Oil Mill which attracts traders from many states.
“Taxation was another crucial issue which was captured by the 2015 debate. Some mileage has been achieved but there is still need for more action.
“There is need therefore to squeeze the incoming political leaders in the areas not yet tackled,” he said.

Bobmanuel said they have assurances that all those targeted will attend. The contact committee did a great job.

He said: “If a man or woman aspiring to govern the state cannot show up at a debate, what message would he or she be sending out? You will be shooting yourself in the foot.

“The choice of the five candidates to face the panel is made by the masses through a polling system conducted by the media partners. There are 18 candidates but the poll trimmed it to seven and finally it will come down to five. The system is credible and transparent.”

To qualify, he said, a candidate must show seriousness and commitment such as being visible and making impact.

“This is because governance is serious business and our selection process must reflect this.

“The questioning system is made to be iron cast. The most credible persons on society usually handle the process. Even the moderator will get to see the questions right at the podium.

“The partners and committee members have demonstrated huge commitment to Rivers State through dedicated services so far. Our former questions committee head who is late now once removed drip from his body to attend a meeting.”

Some partners from Social Action, PIND, SDN, explained their interest and commitment to the debate system.