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Rebuilding PH For Generations

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Chima Aaron

When I was told by a friend whose wife had been told that part of their house has been marked for demolition, I replied if that was the bargain the people had with the Governor. This was sometime in 2008.

Then in March 2009, I visited Nigeria, usually through Lagos to Port Harcourt where I had a firsthand witness of the demolition exercise and the Governor’s intentions for Port Harcourt, the only Garden city of Nigeria.

For example, the demolition of late Dr. G.B. Leton’s fence in G.R.A.Phase 2, brought me memories of the eighties, when we used to standby to admire the fine architectural design work of the building and many others that were later taken over by high rise fences.

It will only take the imaginations of “an old Port Harcourt boy” to have an insight into the Governor’s present efforts that need everybody’s support to turn the city back to its original status. If the creators of Port Harcourt should see it as it is presently, they’ll really be disappointed.

Who is “an old Port Harcourt boy”, shortened for “an old boy”. He is anybody who at one time or another lived as a boy in Port Harcourt from its’ creation to 1967 when the Nigeria civil war started.

“An old boy” prefers taking the backyard shortcut instead of the main roads to school and errands because they were kept clean as the main roads with flowing gutters and no foul smell. There were men paid to see to the cleaning of the gutters and to cut the grasses.

If these men should have reason to file report of your dirty premises to the sanitary authorities and a letter of inspection is sent to you, a day before the date will be used by the tenants for general cleaning. On the day of the inspection, you will clearly notice the panic on the faces of our parents before the sanitary inspectors and their big hats.

“An old boy” on a dry evening with friends may choose to lie either in the courtyard or the front cement pavement, telling stories without fear of mosquitoes or rats.

Above, are the experiences of the Garden city for you. It was designed in the form of a garden by the British who stationed men to manage the planning and maintenance of it until at our independence in 1960 when it was handed to us. We continued like them until 1967 at the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war, when the process broke down.

The problem started when the Rivers State government, after Eagle Island and G.R.A.Phase 2, abandoned planned design development of the city to land owners and private developers who built and fenced their properties, according to their plots.

From the Chief Rufus Ada-George to Dr. Peter Odil’s governments, for reasons to decongest the city, created roads for expansion without planning. With these roads, the land owners started selling to individuals who started building along the roads. And secondly, the increased activities relating to the petroleum industries, brought about inflow of people into the unplanned city, from other parts of the country.

These two factors created the over congestion and the “nightmare” traffic holdups. Let me use this experience as an example. From my Stadium Road base, I, at 3p.m left for an appointment with an office that closes at 6 p.m along Olusegun Obasanjo road. I could not make the appointment for that day. I am not condemning the plans the Government has, but rather to add onto it.

Let us create five development areas from:

Eleme junction, Onne, to           Bori road, Oil-Mill junction to Imo River Bridge (Oyigbo),Uniport, along Emohua to Ahoada, Rumuokoro junction to Omagwa to Isiokpo, and Iwofe, Bakana, Borikiri, Isakato Tombia swamps for sand filling and latter converted for reserved areas.

The Government can pass laws to prevent these areas from sales and development without government approval. The best way to development is on the long term, say a twenty year development plan of these areas or zones. This is an idea to decongest the city.

The government can start the experiment from any of the five zones depending on available resources.

Take for example, the size of the area known as “the New-lay-out” which is to covers say from the Plaza Cinema, Enugu Street, the Town Market, Central Cinema, through Ibadan, Bishop Johnson, King Jaja, Churchill and Morehouse Streets to the end of Capt. Amangala, Harold Wilson and Ndoki Streets.

The government can photocopy the design of the New-lay-out, even add  Creek, Bonny, Niger, Bende and Victoria Streets, Aggrey Road, King Amachee Road area, and design any of the five zones it wishes to start with in that way.

It will provide all the infrastructures found in the existing photocopied areas, like Schools, parks, hospitals, Post Office, Police Barracks, Roads, street lights, water, markets, drainage systems, cementry, churches, mosques etc.

It is the government that will approve the type of design for the buildings. I suggest that three quarter of the area should be shared in double plots of 1 00×1 00, while the remaining one quarter should be plots of 50×100. All these should be done by the government after marking and construction of secondary/ principal roads (with enough parking space) and footwalk areas. The footwalk, parking space and roads should be wider, considering the large population of people.

For the 1 00×1 00 plots, the government should insist on four stories commercial block of flats for renting like we have in Onitsha. Then the 50×100 for individuals for personal homes. We waste land by building bungalows, instead of high rise buildings. Backyards should be used for court yards without passages.

After all these have been put in place, the government can now ask land owners to start selling their land according to plots to only investors that can demonstrate proof of having money to start developing immediately. This is where our banks are supposed to take over but unfortunately they don’t invest much on this sector of real estate.

The government can also approve the design of the blocks of flats or design them itself by having stores on the ground floors.

This plan if properly executed continuously will decongest the city.

The Rivers State Government can seek the assistance of the Federal Government for projects of this nature because it has Port Harcourt among its territories for development.

A Ring road with two or three lanes on both sides, round Port Harcourt, would link all the in and outlet roads of Port Harcourt to it. So that a lorry coming from Aba, heading to NPA, does not have to follow Aba road but to divert through the Ring express road to N.P.A. So also anybody going out of the city doesn’t need to take Ikwerre or Aba road, but to go out through the Ring express road.

Infrastructures are supposed to last for centuries, this is the more reason we should be very careful of our source.  They maybe cheaper but at the long term, are they worth it?

For example, let’s look at the Fly Over Bridges/Roads in Lagos and the Aba road express road constructed by Julius Berger(Lagos) and Guffanti (PH) they are very sound except for lack of maintenance problems. We should always go for the best when it comes to putting up infrastructures that will need our remembrance by generation to come.

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Opinion

Shape Of Things To Come

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In monitoring and surveillance activities, there are two abbreviations that are given priority attention, namely: STC and DEWS, which stand for Shape of Things to Come and Distant Early Warning Signs. From aviation, to health and security industries, shape of things to come and distant early warning system are taken seriously, with appropriate precautionary measures sought and put in place immediately such alert features. Whatever may be the nature of issues concerned, various activities and organisations put precautionary measures in place, and people given some orientation on how to respond to alert.
The Tide, Friday, January 7, 2022, Opinion: Page 9, “That Buhari’s Interview”, by Calista Ezeaku, contained more information than an average reader would grasp. A President’s interview with a television house is obviously not a domestic affair, hence there was a detection and comment about “a close-minded approach to serious national issues”. It was not enough also that someone would say: “From the economy, to insecurity, killings of innocent farmers by terrorists … and other sundry issues, President Buhari honoured his calling as a president who has nothing new to offer”.
It is needful to add that the task of managing affairs that affect millions of people demands that when such a manager has nothing new to offer, what would follow should be an honourable resignation from the task. With regards to the tenure and performance of Buhari, distant early warning signals had long been ignored, denied or distorted, such that one man’s interests can override and become more important than those of millions of people who must bear the brunts of political amnesia.
Management failures do not always arise from wrong decisions and policies, but more often from the intrigues and shenanigans hatched and padded into a management system by a cabal or sapiental authority are not answerable to the masses but always cause great harms for which they are rarely held accountable, nor would the big boss have the courage to dismiss or detach himself from such political parasites. The result of this system of political administration is the installation of weak institutions and structures.
This is why a public analyst would observe and say that “all the abuses of powers by the governors are possible because of the flawed electoral system in the country”. From the refusal to allow for a state police as a complement to the federal police, to the lethargy involved in introducing a fraud-free electoral process, there are parallel forces in government that would not allow leakages and flaws in the system to be closed or checked effectively.
When “administrative banditry” becomes institutionalised, the result would be the situation which we experience currently in Nigeria. Since this anomalous situation had been going on, long enough for more and more Nigerians to know the tricks, it would not be hard to predict the nature of mass reaction to the malpractices. Especially when each federating unit which should be independent and able to have state police and manage indigenous resources cannot be allowed to do so, it is easy to see the shape of things to come in the near future.
For the information of obtuse members of the Nigerian ruling elite and the groups or institutions that shield and protect them in their malpractices, there are glaring signals that the Nigerian masses are wiser now. Even if new tricks are introduced to create a semblance of change from the old system, that would not be enough to avert the shape of things to come. There was a distant early warning signal that the movement of cattle and herders Southwards was a ploy to pursue some hidden agenda.
To quote Mrs Ezeaku again: “It is also worrisome that in this age, the president still believes that establishment of grazing routes would solve the persistent problem of farmers-herders clashes in the country”. Rather than admit that there was a definite hostility against farming communities in Southern parts of Nigeria by herdsmen, President Buhari told American audience that the issue was a cultural one, rather than acts of terrorism. Check all the antics and shenanigans, from Ruga to the quest for allocation of land and huge donations to patrons of cattle business in Nigeria by the federal government, it is easy for anyone to see and read the “handwriting on the wall”.
To have a mindset that all Nigerians can be fooled and bamboozled all the time, would be to cultivate “a close-minded approach to serious national issues. The worsening state of insecurity in Nigeria requires a more broad-minded approach to address the challenge. Not a few Nigerians suspect a possible re-enactment of the Afghan/Taliban experience in Nigeria, whereby a section of our security forces can be described as complicit. General T. Y. Danjuma raised such alarm long ago.
Recently, a Nigerian professor was quoted as picking holes with the observance of New Year on the ground that it is associated with Christian calendar. The idea is that since Islam has a different calendar and new year, the Julian Calendar introduced in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar, with 365 days in the year, should cease to be. The other alternative would be to recognise and observe the Islamic calendar alongside. Already, there is a similar move to make Friday a work-free day, like Sunday.
There are a few zealots and fanatics carrying these issues too far, to the extent of sponsoring terrorism as an act of proselytism, with recognition and implementation of Sharia law as a mission. This is where the influence of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) needs to be examined, to ensure that democracy and secularism are not placed in jeopardy.
There are glaring pitfalls which Nigeria must strive to avoid, if the nation must survive current challenges. There is a need to re-organise the security and intelligence organs of the nation, revisit the issue of the true federalism and ensure that no ethnic group or power bloc boasts of being Born to Rule. There is more to the glib talks about corruption than what we put emphasis on. To allow current imbalances and inequities to continue would be chaotic!

By: Bright Amirize

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Citizen And Government Reciprocity

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Simply speaking, reciprocity refers to rewarding kind actions and punishing unkind actions. It is the practice of exchanging values with others for mutual benefits.
There is Government-citizen reciprocity. Mutual exchange of privileges between the people or the governed and the government is predicated on the principle of social contract. First the people vote for a government to assume the mantle of leadership while the government is expected to reciprocate this gesture of mandate by fulfilling their electioneering promises.
In a second perspective social psychologists see reciprocity as a “Social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind action”.
How can the citizens and residents of Rivers State demonstrate reciprocity with the Government of the State over the dividends of democracy delivered to them in the last six years?
Surely Rivers State Government through its New Rivers Vision blue print has delivered the needed development and general good.
It is interesting to recall that when Rivers State Government began its Urban Renewal Programme and building of road infrastructure, it called on Rivers people to make the necessary sacrifice to enable government complete the projects on record time.
The projects indeed are expected to add great values to the people and the city of Port Harcourt in terms of aesthetics and improved urban logistics.
Only those with village mentality can wish away the beauty, glamour and convenience which the modern fly over in Port Harcourt has provided.
It is also important to observe that Rivers State Government took the right steps when it contracted the services of the Civil Engineering giants Julius Berger. The German firm has reputation of delivering solid and functional projects in Nigeria.
It was on the bases of this reputation that Rivers State Government pleaded with host communities of the ongoing construction of fly overs to observe restraint in their expectations and demands.
Government has also encouraged Julius Berger to exercise full corporate Social responsibility to the benefits of host communities.
These communities were expected to organize their unemployed youth population to engage in lower grade labour and supplies peacefully.
The recent grandstanding by some members of these host communities in the State capital is therefore worrisome.
These restive youths were expected to reciprocate the gesture of State Government in hosting and protecting these infrastructures in their communities.
The government had appealed to them through their community leaders to observe the necessary restraint and allow the company to complete the projects to avoid the uncompleted project syndrome in the state.
The government/citizen reciprocity was expected to play out here in the positive sense. The positive gesture by the people should be by owning and protecting these projects from any form of sabotage.
Sabotage on public infrastructure has become serious threat in the state and some, as in the case of the Julius Berger Community boys brouhaha could be politically motivated. It will be unfair for any group of persons or community to instigate any form of crisis to abort the plans and programmes of Government to the people, for any negative reason. When the right hand washes the left hand, the left hand in return washes the right hand. Road infrastructure is a venture that adds social and economic values to the beneficiaries. It opens and expands the space of a given community, saving it from suffocating grid lock which affects social and economic activities of communities in close proximity.
According to Carrol Ouigley “The basis of social relationship is reciprocity: if you cooperate with others, other will cooperate with you”.
Government of Rivers State has shown good will to all the people of the state. Governor Nyesom Wike has demonstrated enough concern for the welfare and wellbeing of the state. He has brought development to every part of the State, irrespective of their political and ethnic inclinations.
The Trans Kalabari High way project conundrum had lingered too long. One would have thought that the rescue plan of Government in prosecuting it would bring Joy to the people of the area and elicit support of all segments of that society.
Unfortunately, those who do not want any good for themselves and government have begun criminal activities, aimed at crippling the project.
There was an era in this state when government projects were grounded because of criminal activities by few citizens.
The recent kidnapping of staff of the firm working on that project is a sad commentary which brings back sad memories of the past. Insecurity is anathema to development. The Trans Kalabari High way project is expected to open up the area which is in the heart of Creeks, and Rivers. Community leaders should rise up to the occasion and call their people to order. A difficult terrain such as this makes the penetration of development very difficult.
The one city status of Rivers State will continue to subsist if communities are not opened up for social infrastructure and economic investment.
The security operatives in Rivers State should protect development projects from the activities of men of the underworld. It is on record that Rivers State Government has been supporting and providing for all security Operatives in the State. It is therefore incumbent on the Police and the Armed Forces to reciprocate by showing capacity in protecting lives and property in the State. The Federal Government must reciprocate the gesture of Rivers State Government and motivate functional security architecture in the State.

By: Bon Woke

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Opinion

Shape Of Things To Come

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In monitoring and surveillance activities, there are two abbreviations that are given priority attention, namely: STC and DEWS, which stand for Shape of Things to Come and Distant Early Warning Signs. From aviation, to health and security industries, shape of things to come and distant early warning system are taken seriously, with appropriate precautionary measures sought and put in place immediately such alert features. Whatever may be the nature of issues concerned, various activities and organisations put precautionary measures in place, and people given some orientation on how to respond to alert.
The Tide, Friday, January 7, 2022, Opinion: Page 9, “That Buhari’s Interview”, by Calista Ezeaku, contained more information than an average reader would grasp. A President’s interview with a television house is obviously not a domestic affair, hence there was a detection and comment about “a close-minded approach to serious national issues”. It was not enough also that someone would say: “From the economy, to insecurity, killings of innocent farmers by terrorists … and other sundry issues, President Buhari honoured his calling as a president who has nothing new to offer”.
It is needful to add that the task of managing affairs that affect millions of people demands that when such a manager has nothing new to offer, what would follow should be an honourable resignation from the task. With regards to the tenure and performance of Buhari, distant early warning signals had long been ignored, denied or distorted, such that one man’s interests can override and become more important than those of millions of people who must bear the brunts of political amnesia.
Management failures do not always arise from wrong decisions and policies, but more often from the intrigues and shenanigans hatched and padded into a management system by a cabal or sapiental authority are not answerable to the masses but always cause great harms for which they are rarely held accountable, nor would the big boss have the courage to dismiss or detach himself from such political parasites. The result of this system of political administration is the installation of weak institutions and structures.
This is why a public analyst would observe and say that “all the abuses of powers by the governors are possible because of the flawed electoral system in the country”. From the refusal to allow for a state police as a complement to the federal police, to the lethargy involved in introducing a fraud-free electoral process, there are parallel forces in government that would not allow leakages and flaws in the system to be closed or checked effectively.
When “administrative banditry” becomes institutionalised, the result would be the situation which we experience currently in Nigeria. Since this anomalous situation had been going on, long enough for more and more Nigerians to know the tricks, it would not be hard to predict the nature of mass reaction to the malpractices. Especially when each federating unit which should be independent and able to have state police and manage indigenous resources cannot be allowed to do so, it is easy to see the shape of things to come in the near future.
For the information of obtuse members of the Nigerian ruling elite and the groups or institutions that shield and protect them in their malpractices, there are glaring signals that the Nigerian masses are wiser now. Even if new tricks are introduced to create a semblance of change from the old system, that would not be enough to avert the shape of things to come. There was a distant early warning signal that the movement of cattle and herders Southwards was a ploy to pursue some hidden agenda.
To quote Mrs Ezeaku again: “It is also worrisome that in this age, the president still believes that establishment of grazing routes would solve the persistent problem of farmers-herders clashes in the country”. Rather than admit that there was a definite hostility against farming communities in Southern parts of Nigeria by herdsmen, President Buhari told American audience that the issue was a cultural one, rather than acts of terrorism. Check all the antics and shenanigans, from Ruga to the guest for allocation of land and huge donations to patrons of cattle business in Nigeria by the federal government, it is easy for anyone to see and read the “handwriting on the wall”.
To have a mindset that all Nigerians can be fooled and bamboozled all the time, would be to cultivate “a close-minded approach to serious national issues. The worsening state of insecurity in Nigeria requires a more broad-minded approach to address the challenge. Not a few Nigerians suspect a possible re-enactment of the Afghan/Taliban experience in Nigeria, whereby a section of our security forces can be described as complicit. General T. Y. Danjuma raised such alarm long ago.
Recently, a Nigerian professor was quoted as picking holes with the observance of New Year on the ground that it is associated with Christian calendar. The idea is that since Islam has a different calendar and new year, the Julian Calendar introduced in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar, with 365 days in the year, should cease to be. The other alternative would be to recognise and observe the Islamic calendar alongside. Already, there is a similar move to make Friday a work-free day, like Sunday.
There are a few zealots and fanatics carrying these issues too far, to the extent of sponsoring terrorism as an act of proselytism, with recognition and implementation of Sharia law as a mission. This is where the influence of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) needs to be examined, to ensure that democracy and secularism are not placed in jeopardy.
There are glaring pitfalls which Nigeria must strive to avoid, if the nation must survive current challenges. There is a need to re-organise the security and intelligence organs of the nation, revisit the issue of the true federalism and ensure that no ethnic group or power block boasts of being Born to Rule. There is more to the glib talks about corruption than what we put emphases on. To allow current imbalances and inequities to continue would be chaotic!

By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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