Naturally, celebrations are moment of joy and happiness. It is also a moment of stocktaking.
In a democratic system of Government, where supreme power lies with the people, assessing one’s performances is quite essential due to yearning and aspirations of the people.
This is true because elected public office holders are accountable to the people especially the electorates who voted them into office.
The achievement of Udi within the period under review is not only in the pages of Newspapers or in the wireless.
There is a popular saying that, “What we see is what we believe”. In view of this fact, Government agencies, NGOs and the press have been coming to Abua/Odual Local Government of Rivers State for on – the-spot assessment of the performances of the Abua/Odual Chairman, Mr. Udi Odum and their reports have always been positive.
Interestingly, a statistic survey on the administration of Udi in 365 days shows in practical terms that he is committed with sincerity to render quality services that would impact positively on the lives of the people.
That is why in several meetings, involving PDP stakeholders he often said, “the monthly allocation is open for the people of Abua/Odual who are the property owners of the council to verify, and greater percentage of the allocation is meant for development”.
Apparently, Udi, no doubt is in the forefront of being press friendly and have been fraternising with the men of the noble profession in realisation of his firm belief that the press is an agent of change in any democratic system of Government.
In fact, “a well established system of Government is a web of resistance as well as a circuit of control”.
Udi has made the people of Abua/Odual to realise that indeed there are dividends in democracy. This, he is doing by embarking on sustainable and people oriented projects as well as waging war against all forms of criminality in the area.
Without mincing words, the solace of any disciplined worker in society is the consciousness of one’s self respect. Although one’s self respect emanates from several factors.
As a leader, there is no gainsaying that the perfect man rules forever, but the people crave and yearn for a good leadership whose shining legacies is the source of pride to the generality.
Indeed, Udi has virtually proved himself as a true leader committed to serve the people of Abua/Odual and beyond as well as organising programmes for the wellbeing of the people especially by harnessing resources to execute activities that touch on individual lives, such as Health, socio-political advancement, economic empowerment, Education, legal rights, peace and conflict resolution and family issues.
Udi’s simplicity of life, despite his affluent background is note worthy in many respects. Virtually, the people of Abua/Odual have observed with keen interest that the present administration under the able and dynamic leadership of Mr. Udi Odum has not only brought a relative peaceful atmosphere to Abua land where the people can now sleep with their eyes closed and freely walk in all the streets and towns of Abua Central and communities in Abua kingdom both day and night without being harassed or intimidated, but he has also proved himself as the best performing Local Government Chairman in the State.
In practical terms, Mr. Udi believes that the concept of leadership is indeed the act of guiding, motivating and empowering people to achieve individual or group goals.
In realisation of this fact, Mr. Udi Odum apart from working in tandem with the security agents as well as empowering the youths economically, he is also committed to paying WASC registration fees of over three hundred candidates as well as the provision of over five thousand free exercise books to primary schools pupils in the area.
More importantly, within hundred days in office Udi was chosen among the seven best performing Local Government Chairmen in the State and was virtually crowned with a meritorious award of outstanding performance by an NGO: The Niger Delta Assessment Movement.
Above all, the presentation ceremony which took place at presidential Hotel on 6th November, 2008 attracted distinguished personalities including a US based business tycoon.
Interestingly, these notable personalities were seen in their colourful attire as they were overwhelmed with joy and happiness at the venue of the award.
Happily, Udi has not only proved himself as undefiled, unpolluted and undeterred in his style of leadership and good governance, but he has also created a remarkable and superlative track records of accomplishments of performance within the period under review.
In the light of the above, Udi is apparently synonymous to peace and community development and alphabetically Udi connotes three significant words. That is to say U stands for undisputable, D signifies development, while I simply means Integrity.
Ostensibly, with this significant revelation of Udi coupled with rapid development in the area, the people of Abua Odual are now basking in the euphoria of a worthy and a proud son in the person of Mr. Udi Odum whose leadership potential is second to none.
On Assumption of office on Friday 25th April, 2008 Mr. Udi has been honoured by notable groups in Abua/Odual Local Government Area in appreciation of his landmark achievements.
Prominent among these groups are, the Abua Progressive Forum, Okana Students Forum in conjunction with the Okana Community, among others.
Without mincing “words, the honour done on Udi is a practical demonstration of rewarding hard work and commitment to duty, which everyone who is professing to become a leader should aim at possessing.
A former cashier in Abua/Odual Local Government Council who is presently the internal auditor of Bonny Local Government, Mr. Madighi Dickson chronicled the rising political profile of Udi as saying: I know Udi as a man who will never disappoint the people of Abua/Odual because he has been tried, tested, entrusted and found worthy in view of his past records especially when he was the caretaker committee Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government in 2003.
On a very serious note; the recent award on the Abua/Odual Chairman, Mr. Udi Odum is not a miracle, but rather it shows high ideal, sacrifice and absolute determination to render quality service to the people devoid of self aggrandisement and personal gains.
Definitely, with the spirit of positive change dangling around Udi, it is hoped that he is going to win again this year’s award by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency.
Obviously, an indigene of Abua who left Abua for some years returned home recently and was quite amazed with the arresting changes in the Local Government headquarters.
The people of Abua/Odual have started pouring scintillating comments and praises on Odum’s performances
In most of these comments they say Udi’s projects will definitely speak for his second term in office.
Happily, on Saturday 13th December, 2008 the Abua/Odual Chairman Mr. Udi Odum was again honoured with another prestigious award of Excellence in Local Governance.
To win the award, Udi was adjudged by the Rivers State sustainable development Agency to Excel among other Local Government Chairmen in the State and won prices especially in the area of primary Health Care services, information technology centre (ITC) and infrastructural sustainable projects.
At this juncture, the grand award of thirty million naira cheque including a brand new Pajero Jeep was presented to the Abua/Odual Chairman Mr. Udi Odum as the best performing Local Government Area Chairman in the state in 2008.
In view of the scintillating and superlative nature of the RSSDA programme, the Director, Rivers State sustainable development Agency, Mr. Bolaji Ogunseye described the award night as important, because it was aimed at recognising Excellence in Local Governance initiative.
Ostensibly, Ogunseye noted that the award would enable those honoured to do more, while others would be beating their chest.
The award night which took place at the Rivers State House of Assembly auditorium attracted the presence of Obed Mlaba, Mayor of Durban, Republic of South Africa, the Director of the Rivers State sustainable development Agency, Former Deputy Governor, Sir Gabriel Toby, top Government functionaries, Captain of industries, Local Government Chairmen, among others.
Of course, the ceremony was greeted with pomp and Peagantry Culminating to Drama presentations and other colourful events.
At this juncture, Governor Chubuike Rotimi Amacehi should be commended for promoting the rich cultural heritage of the Rivers people and his logistics support to ensure the success of the award night in honour of the best Local Government Chairman in the State.
The award night which was organised by the Rivers State sustainable Development Agency ‘tagged’ Excellence in Local Governance Initiative will not only enhance effective administration in the Local Government System, but it will also spur Local Government Chairmen to greater productivity.
History, which offers a reflection of past events could better illustrate the uniqueness and aesthetic nature of the award night, being first of its kind in the history of Rivers State.
In-fact, the Abua/Odual Chairman, Mr. Udi Odum has not only made history, but he has demonstrated hard work and Excellence in leadership.
“it is true to say that the infiltration of the rightists persons in the helm of affairs could be noticeable judging from the level of their performances and not by mere imagination which rather brings some fairy tales to riddle the minds”.
One is very analytical to figure out that Udi was visibly overwhelmed by the honour done him.
“One basic, but fundamental philosophy in human existence, which permeates all religions, is expressed in the concept that the whole world is a mirror which reflects back unto you that which you put forward unto it”.
That is to say the activities of Local Government Chairmen and other public office holders, are like a mirror which reflects back unto you and the society at large. “One can only be remembered while in office when you left your developmental foot prints on the sands of time.
An economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz views development as “a transformation of society, a movement from traditional relations, traditional ways of thinking, traditional methods of production, to more modem ways”.
In other words, development should, then, be viewed as a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes and a national condition of life from unsatisfactory to satisfactory.
In the actual sense, satisfactory means materially well to do and spiritually happy or content with what one or country has got.
Basically, the need to give adequate publicity to the activities of Local Government Chairmen in the state particularly the Abua/Odual Chairman Mr. Udi Odum can not be overstressed.
This is true because information is the key to success. “And if you are not informed, you are deformed, and if you are informed, you are transformed”.
Therefore, it will interest you to know that the Abua/Odual Chairman, Mr. Udi Odum has embarked on a number of people oriented projects in all the seven distinct clans of the Local Government Area.
The projects under reference include, Akeodi Oyaghiri information Technology and Communication Centre, Interlocking of one kilometre Road from Abua Roundabout to Emilaghan Community, Interlocking of Council Secretariat, Construction of 18 Units of 8 Market Stalls, Rehabilitation of one kilometre Road from Okana Junction to Ogbema Community, construction of Okana Town Hall.
Others include, Construction of Emelogo Town Hall, construction of Anyu Town Hall and construction of two bedroom Headmasters Quarters at Okolomade, all in the Odual axis.
On Health Care delivery, the Abua/Odual Chairman, Mr. Udi Odum has not only given special attention to the Health needs of the people, but he has also embarked on the provision of free drugs as well as equipping the primary Health Centres in Otapha, Ayama, Arukwo, including the construction of new health Centres at Iyak and Ogbema Communities.
On transportation, Mr. Udi Odum has declared a state of emergency in the transport sector in the area by procuring 15 brand new Toyota buses and Two (2) 75 Horse power engine boats to tackle the transportation needs of the people.
Little wonder, Mr. Udi Odum was declared the best performing Local Government Chairman in 2008. This is in view of his unprecedented achievements in all strata of human and material development.
To this end, all hands must be on desk to support Mr. Udi Odum to enable him actualise his lofty dreams for the people of Abua/Odual Local Government Area.
To God be the glory.
The Media’s Endorsement Of Wike’s Governance Style
Media scholars and polemicists have since concluded and rightly so too, that the media, over the years, have been globally acknowledged as the watch dog of the society.
Therefore, their information monitoring roles have been considered a sine qua non for democracy and good governance.
With the progressive consolidation of our democracy, good governance has become more imperative and yet critically measured.
Periodic situations of dwindling resources caused either by unexpected natural occurrences or sadly by the retrogressive policies of inept leadership have imposed great hardship on the masses.
Luckily for us, there are still a few good men at critical points in the country, delivering courageous, strategic, articulate and progressive leadership.
This group of leaders are determined to sustain the delivery of qualitative and enduring legacies to maintain our hope in democracy as the best form of government.
One of those few leaders is Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and we are happy that the Media, that watch dog of the society, even against the backdrop of thinly veiled autocratic censorship, is recording the achievements of this extra ordinary leader, for posterity.
Thus it was that between Sunday, June 6 to Wednesday, June 9, 2021, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), comprising members as well as the State and National Executives, converged in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital for their 3rd National Conference, with the theme: “The Media, Insecurity And National Unity.”
Governor Nyesom Wike was the Special Guest of Honour and represented by the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, declared the conference open, while the keynote address was delivered by the Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was represented by the Director of NTA Port Harcourt Network Centre, Abosede Adebayo, while the Chairman of the opening ceremony was the distinguished legal luminary and former President of Nigeria Bar Association, Onueze Okocha(SAN).
One of the key highlights, which hallmarked the power packed three-day national conference, was the comprehensive projects tour by the National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo and members of the NUJ.
This was to prove to the Journalists, as chroniclers of good governance, that what they had been hearing and seeing about Rivers State were not audio or Newspaper prototype projects like some detractors had been desperately misleading Nigerians, but verifiable and functional legacy projects.
The project tour was incorporated as part of the conference activities and they had visited in split groups, a number of projects sites undertaken by Governor Wike in Rivers State.
The journalists inspected completed projects including the Mother and Child Hospital, the Real Madrid Football Academy and Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges Quarters, amongst others, as time would permit.
Of course, the NUJ members had cruised across some of the newly commissioned legacy flyovers that adorned the capital city and the exclamations of awe and wonder they gushed as they beheld them, spoke volumes for the architectural beauty and construction excellence that Governor Nyesom Wike had delivered to his people.
At the end of the tour, a visibly overwhelmed and pleasantly astonished team of journalists in their unanimous verdict, described Governor Wike as a pride to Nigeria’s Democracy. They also noted that by redefining governance, Governor Wike practices democracy in action.
Corroborating what has now become generally accepted and greatly admired by many, as the core extra ordinary attributes of Governor Wike, the views of National and State Executives and members of the NUJ, was captured first by National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, who stated unequivocally that the 1999 constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold government accountable to the people and having placed the projects side by side with the expectations of the populace, it is obvious that Governor Wike’s investment in critical infrastructure will remain as lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
“We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country. At the much talked about the Real Madrid Football Academy where you are going to train the young ones, and they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
“That’s also to catch them young and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources are continuously invested in sports development, Nigeria, in just a matter of time, will gain its pride of place in the sporting world.”
National President of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ladi Bala said the projects she had seen are entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country, especially the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges Quarters which stands as first of its kind in Nigeria.
“Its serene ambiance will surely translate into enhancing the productivity of Judges of Rivers origin.
“I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
“I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working and we are very proud of what we have seen here.”
National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur described Governor Wike as a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of his people.
Vice Chairman of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city a tourists attraction, while the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Larai Musa said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Governor Wike and his project mantra and asserted that it is leaders like that that are needed at the national level.
Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Alhaji Ismail Ademola Babalola asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital and the Real Madrid Football Academy are part of projects Governor Wike is using to secure a productive future for youths of the state because they meet global standard, while Ikechukwu Ordu of the Enugu State Council of the NUJ advised other political leaders to emulate Governor Wike in the way he was providing the dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortune of his state.
Anyone who has visited Enugu State will fully understand why Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, from Enugu State Council of the NUJ confessed that she was completely overwhelmed by what Governor Wike has done in providing the flyovers at Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuogba and Rebisi, delivered within a short space of time.
She also observed with the eye of someone who lives in Enugu, the emerging architectural beauty and practical ease of traffic which the GRA junction flyover, Orochiri flyover and Oro-abali flyover, all of which have reached advanced stages of completion, will provide, when they are delivered.
The agglutination of these media voices is not only historically definitive, but resonates stridently with the multiplicity of voices which have been consistently unwavering in capturing and reporting the exceptional achievements of Governor Wike in the last six years, in the media Constituency.
Rivers watchers will recall that one of the earliest media award bestowed on Governor Wike, was the New Telegraph Newspaper Man of The Year 2017 Award.
Mrs Funke Egbemode, the then Managing Director and Editor In Chief of the Newspaper, had said that the Award was in recognition of the Governor’s outstanding achievements and activities in office and in particular, his rising profile in the management of state resources, projects execution, massive construction of roads, renovation of general hospitals and schools in the state, which were some of the considerations that placed Rivers State at the top in the stiff competition.
Other media awards from reputable National and Continental Newspapers and other media establishments for Governor Wike include: The Sun Newspaper, Independent Newspaper, African Leadership Magazine, United Kingdom, the Authority Newspaper, Hallmark Newspaper, all of them conferring on him the distinguished Awards of, “Governor of the Year” or as the “Best performing Governor in Nigeria”, and echoing the same excellent sentiments about Governor Wike’s developmental strides and accomplishments.
Silverbird Group also gave him the Extraordinary Personality of the Year Award for 2020.
He also bagged the Daily Independent Newspapers Infrastructure Governor of the Year 2020 Award, while only recently the Rivers State Governor got the Blueprint Newspapers Governor of the Year Award, in the company of former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was bestowed with Icon of Democracy in Africa Award.
A select delegation of the Nigeria Guild of Editors were in Rivers State in October 2020, for an on-the-spot, fact finding, verification mission of some of Governor Wike’s reported projects and at the end of an independent tour of the projects, this is what the President of the Guild, Mustapha Isah said:
“Anytime I come to Port Harcourt, there is always a new project on-going. Flyovers are being constructed, existing roads are being expanded, and new roads being built. This is your second term and you’re maintaining what you said that you will work until the last day of your tenure. You have zeal and passion in handling issues of Rivers state, from COVID-19 to issues of security,” he enthused.
Indeed the place of Governor Wike in the annals of the media was best captured by Silverbird Creative Development General Manager, Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, when he led his management team to confer the “Extraordinary Personality of the year 2020” on Governor Wike.
He said the award is to let the Governor know that he is doing a fantastic job for the people of Rivers State and Nigeria and his actions have not gone unnoticed.
“Your boldness made you the first prominent Nigerian to raise the alarm over the atrocities of the now disbanded SARS. And you also spoke against the politicisation of security. Now your forthrightness in telling the truth to power including the presidency when you think things are going wrong, is worthy of emulation. You did not hesitate to commend when necessary also. And on political issues, you are not afraid to tell even your own party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) the whole truth when necessary. “
“There are very few Governors like you who walk the talk and there are very few Governors like you who have the passion and are not sentimental. You say things the way they are and you also say the things that you believe in.
“So we sat back and we said the person we can think of this year is your Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike
“Also in the area of projects, the last time I was here, you were referred to as Mr. Projects. Now you have been elevated to Mr. Quality Projects.
“You promised on the day you were sworn in for second term that you will work for Rivers State people to the very last day and you are living up to that task. Seven bridges in a record period of time and all these were embarked upon in 2020 when the country and indeed the entire world were greatly impacted by the COVID- 19 pandemic, but you still delivered.”
There is no doubt whatsoever that despite the dubious, misleading and often desperate and delusional propaganda spewed by the fractured and dwindling opposition in the state and their hirelings of detractors, the reports of the amazing and superlative projects delivery of the Rivers State Governor, continues to grab the top headlines nationally in the media and silence his detractors at home.
The 3rd NUJ National Conference, in Port Harcourt has come and gone and once again, it has afforded the globally acknowledged watch dogs of the society, a first hand opportunity to perform their information monitoring roles in reporting the reality on ground, as Rivers State continues to transform in the unfolding kaleidoscope of amazing development, under the visionary, determined, focused and progressive leadership of an extraordinary man, who believes and is fully committed towards ensuring that the resources of the people work for them and only the best will be good enough for Rivers people.
Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State
Radio Rivers FM @ 40: The Journey So Far
It was the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, who once said: “Let the people know the facts and country is safe”. This notable aphorism of Lincoln’s is crucial for the development of society.
Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo, as it was then called, was 40 years on May 2, 2021, following its establishment and launch of its signal on May 2, 1981. Ace broadcaster, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, signed on the new frequency modulation radio station with the call signal: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo.
The radio station was tagged Radio Rivers Two then because the Amplitude Modulation (AM) began operation on June 1, 1978 under late Chief Olu Benibo Fubara as General Manager of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (RSBC) as Radio Rivers alone. It is on record that Mambo Tumbowei, later known as Elizabeth Odumo, signed on the station with the call signal: Radio Rivers.
At inception, the original plan of the founding fathers was that RSBC would serve as an umbrella body for radio and television. The late literary icon, Gabriel Imomotimi Gbain-Gbain Okara, was the pioneer General Manager of RSBC-Radio and TV together; but the television station, known as RSBC-TV, commenced operation before the radio arm. And this was largely due to the fact that there had been radio broadcasting service provided by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the state.
It is pertinent to accentuate the fact that RSBC was encapsulated in the vision of the founding fathers to promote the favourable identity of the old Rivers State created from the defunct Eastern Nigeria.
Following the restructuring of radio broadcasting in Nigeria in 1978, NBC transformed to be Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) wherein the Rivers State Government inherited the personnel and equipment of the former. The personnel included the legendary Opuerembo Gloria Fiofori, Elder Goddy William, Japudiari Jumbo and Elder Walson Asako, among others.
Interestingly, this pool of staff aided Chief Fubara to actually commence broadcasting using NBC equipment at William Jumbo Street, Old GRA with the engineering and technical services at Ozuoba in present day Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State.
It is common knowledge that Radio Rivers AM truly promoted favourable identity of Rivers people as envisioned by the founding fathers. This was articulated through community broadcasting module where premium was attached to programming in indigenous languages as well as translation of programmes into Rivers languages.
The administration of Chief Fubara was remarkable and would particularly be remembered for sending staff for training abroad in England, The Netherlands and the United States. Specifically, Dafini Gogo-Abbey trained in the US, Eric Uzoma was in The Netherlands while Ibiye Degbani went to the UK, among other staff who benefited from overseas training. This does not in any way demean those who trained at home at the time. No doubt, such training equipped members of staff to tackle the challenges of rural broadcasting ahead.
The government of Chief Melford Okilo did build on the legacies of the regimes of Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, Col. Zamani Lekwot and Commander Suleiman Seidu to broaden the broadcast space by introducing the rave of the moment: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo on May 2, 1981.
While it was the first FM radio station to be established by a state government in Nigeria, the Rivers broadcast facility came after the first FM studio called Radio Nigeria Two or Metro FM Ikoyi, Lagos, established in 1977. The superior sound quality and highly-skilled professionals’ commitment to duty endeared Radio Rivers FM to many, not only in the state but across the nation.
Tribute must be paid to the founding fathers and managers who had a clear sense of purpose and vision to provide favourable identity for Rivers people through this medium. To this end, one must acknowledge the commitments of pioneer staff as well as their team spirit. The General managers and management staff included Mrs. Nguba Aspinnal, late Jonny Abasa, Ernest T. Ogbanga, late Sunny Joe, Gloria Fiofori, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, Florence Ekiye, Digi Hart, Mike Yempe, Brighton Sorgwe, among others.
Interestingly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM was born at the time when the war of words between Governor Sam Mbakwe of Imo State and his Rivers State counterpart, Chief Okilo, reached a crescendo following the controversy over post-Biafran War abandoned property policy and non-inclusion of Imo State in the list of oil-bearing states to benefit from the derivation per centage of that time. As a result, Mbakwe never saw anything good in the administration of Okilo.
This was where the news commentaries churned out by the News and Current Affairs Department of Rivers FM radio rose to the occasion and the specialised news features of staff, particularly Dumo Oruobo, remained exquisite. The other notable writers were Oju Daniel-Kalio, Eriye Iyaye, Simon Ambakederemo of the Ministry of Information, Kudo Eresia-Eke and Bobo Brown; while literary giants like Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Ola Rotimi, Paul Naale, Elechi Amadi and Gabriel Okara were regular guests on the literary discourses hosted by Oruobo.
Speaking in a live interview tagged Spotlight on Rivers FM radio on Sunday May 2, 2021, Chief Oruobo noted that Governor Mbakwe did surrender to the fireworks from the AM and FM studios of Radio Rivers.
“Yes, Governor Sam Mbakwe caved in and pleaded with his colleague, Governor Melford Okilo, to stop the war; then Governor Okilo asked him to tell his people to stop the propaganda too,” he said.
In her remarks, Opuerembo Fiofori, who was also a guest on the live interview programme admitted that she headed a team mandated to produce the public service jingle of old after the war of words. She sang recalled the lines thus: Love Rivers State or leave alone; don’t pull her down, no no; think what you can do for her; engage yourselves in meaningful activities; no room for gossips; do something meaningful.
Additionally, it is on record that RSBC introduced News In Special English in 1984, another milestone in the annals of radio broadcasting while bridging the gap between government and the governed through programmes and translations in indigenous languages. Tamunokuro Akaluogbo anchored Arokerenime in Okrika, Billy Evans handled request programme in Kalabari, Dehkai Ema was for Khana, Nyemavuchi Ohaka and Austine Weji Akajile for Ikwerre and Francis Vibeleh for Bonalo-lobel for Gokana audience.
On account of the outstanding achievement of Radio Rivers FM, it was not only a tourist site but training centre for other FM radio stations. It is common knowledge that Benue State Radio and Cross Radio State Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) came to radio Radio Rivers for training.
Radio Rivers accorded adequate airtime to coverage of RIVIFEST, Peoples Parliament and programme such as English By Radio while it also organised outdoor events such as Miss FM and Mr. FM. According to the former General Manager, Gloria Fiofori, Tonye Koko was the first to win Miss FM while David Ibiyeomie (now founder of Salvation Ministries) won Mr. FM, respectively.
Despite its contributions to state affairs, the authorities concerned did not replace obsolete equipment as at when due and Radio Rivers began to experience incessant off-air syndrome. Truly, broadcast equipment have lifespan and approved room temperature to function well. Worse still, the government of Dr Peter Odili directed RSBC under Sir Mike Oku, as General Manager, to vacate the AM studio’s premises at Ozuoba and handed it over to Daar Communication.
The attempt to combine community broadcasting of AM station with FM programming resulted in shapeless programming. Thus Radio Rivers at 40 requires restructuring and programme re-engineering. Similarly, the RSBC Management has been directed to vacate its William Jumbo property.
The government of Diete-Spiff established the Rivers State College of Science and Technology in 1970; Okilo upgraded it to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) in 1980, while Governor Nyesom Wike amended the law to make it Rivers State University (RSU) in 2017.
In the same vein, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) grew from a nursing home to Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH) and later to Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) before transforming to its present status. This is the way to keep vision alive.
Edict No. 8 of 1973 governing the establishment of RSBC must be amended to enable the Corporation handle present-day challenges while effort must be made to restrict radio broadcasting through merger of Garden City Radio and Radio Rivers as well as meet deadline for digitization.
The point must be made that funding a vision is different from funding road project as gestation period and profit motive vary. Truly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM is the voice of experience and it has the potentials to rise again.
Congratulations at 40!
Sika is a public affairs analyst in Port Harcourt.
By: Baridorn Sika
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