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NCHAKA: Heritage Of Purity, Dev

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Being the highest oil and gas bearing area in the country, playing host to numerous oil prospecting and servicing companies including, most prominently, the Agrip Oil Company and Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (TEPNG), the Ogba Kingdom in Rivers State of Nigeria has been influenced by such social components as the values, behaviours, laws, and traditions of modern life. In fact, Western culture has left its mark on the people’s life and values especially in the areas of economic and vocational aspirations, education, and social life.

But inspite of all these, the Ogba people have maintained their distinctive identity and retained many of their traditional customs. They are known for their elaborate greetings, praise names, and titles which make them very prominent in any gathering. They are also known for their cultural celebrations which are staged to show gratitude to God for fertility, cleansing, and protection, and to mark the end of the planting or harvesting season.

The most prominent among the cultural celebrations of the Ogba people is the Nchaka festival. Oher cultural festivals celebrated by them are Igba-Ogwe, Ebiam, Egwi-Iji Onube, and Egwu-Ohali.

Nchaka is celebrated by virtually all the clans and communities that make up the kingdom. It is an annual new yam festival that is celebrated between the months of November and December.

The 2009 Nchaka festival was celebrated from 1st to 5th of December. Though the main festival is performed for five days, beginning from the female one called Nchaka-Ki-Inyenwa to the male one known as Nchaka-Ki-Ikenwa, several activities take place before and after the five days of singing, dancing, jubilation, and merry-making which involves eating of yam as the main food throughout the festival period.

The festival is heralded by its proclamation at the famous Ahiakwo, the main market in Omoku, headquarters of the Kingdom, by the Ogba Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs under the directive of the King and custodian of the customs and tradition of Ogba people.

The King, His Eminence, Sir (Dr) Chukwumela Nnam Obi II (OON JP) Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland kicks off the festival with a dinner which attracts chiefs, elders, sons, and daughters of the 39 towns and villages that make up the kingdom. The dinner which also attracts dignitaries from outside the Kingdom therefore ushers in this ancient carnival of beauty, colour, abundance, and sharing.

The festival is marked with beautification of the environment including painting and decoration of houses. The Nchaka festival encourages courtesy calls on well wishers, friends, relations, the King, and community leaders. It is associated with harvest of plenty, and a period of rebirth, in which diseases, evils, misfortunes, and calamities are repelled.

It therefore goes without saying that the Nchaka festival provides a sound indigenous cultural foundation for socio-political progress and sustainable economic development for the state and the nation especially in view of the natural endowment of the Ogba kingdom.

The objectives of any cultural policy for the country should thus aim at ensuring the continuity of traditional skills, sports, and cultural festivals and their progressive adaptation to serve modern needs and establish a disciplined moral and enterprising society.

It is believed that the giant economic, political, and social strides of both China and Japan are rooted in their culture.

Now what is required to make Nchaka rank among the cultural festivals across the world that attract tourist attention? Since culture is human centred, the Nchaka festival can attract tourists from both within and outside the country if, among other things, the environmental problems especially those of degradation, resources depletion, and oil and gas pollution faced by the kingdom are addressed.

The annual carnival can also be elevated to its pride of place if the required foundation is laid for a true urban life that is already characterizing the Ogba Kingdom especially Omoku, its headquarters. This will involve providing the area with the necessary infrastructures and putting in place model markets, holiday resorts/recreational centres or beaches, zoological gardens, libraries, and sports centres in such major towns and villages in the Kingdom as Omoku, Erema, Obrikom, Akabuka, Ogbogu, Obite, Oboburu, and Ede.

Considering the primacy of the Ogba Kingdom in the growth and development of the Nigerian nation, the provision of any facility by government and the oil companies operating in the area to upgrade the living condition of the people and the Nchaka festival should be treated as a priority.

 

Vincent Ochonma

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Sokonte Davies And The Folly Of Speaking When Silence Is Better

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There are some people who really have nothing meaningful to say, but finding themselves in the perculiar situation where they must say something, they end up sounding like a tired, irrelevant ventriloquist, straining his falsetto vocal chords to mouth some overflogged, outdated criticism.
Dr. Sokonte Davies is one of such persons and his populist echo, calling on Governor Nyesom Wike to, according to him, “reopen markets which have remained securely locked in the overall interest of the people,” which was reported in some media platforms, is the very epitome of ventriloquy at it’s worst.
According to several reports, Dr. Sokonte Davies made this call, while receiving a delegation of market women in the State who paid him a visit at their Port Harcourt Party Secretariat, in his capacity as APC’s Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State.
He also echoed other irrelevant comments to justify the visit of the market women including the obvious white lie that the APC had a complete understanding of the situation, and a rejuvenated party which is currently engaged in internal efforts at reconciliation, would defend the interests of Rivers people and those who

reside in the State. What a joke!
But the part which really raised a huge laugh was when he was described as the “APC’s Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State”. Against this backdrop therefore, it becomes quite obvious why Dr. Sokonte Davies must be compelled to say something, even when he has absolutely nothing to say, but must talk in other people’s voices, like a Ventriloquist’s dummy.
It is important to state here that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the appeal by the market women for the markets to be reopened and the Rivers State government also feels the pains which affects not just the market women alone, but indeed, what majority of the populace is going through, as a result of the Corona virus pandemic, which has completely dislocated and rearranged all our lives, from the normal way we used to do things, to the new normal.
Without mincing words, the Rivers State Government, ably marshalled by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, can beat it’s chest proudly and claim that it has done excellently well in the proactive efforts and strategic initiatives which have been deployed so far, to contain and curtail the  spread of Covid-19 in Rivers State.
The unfortunate irony of such calls by Dr. Sokonte Davies for all precautionary restrictions to be lifted, is reflected in the fact that, even as the leader he claim to be, he still wallows in the tragically naive ignorance that Covid-19 is just a hype and not as dangerous as it is made to appear. And that is why for example, he and his ilk can deceive market traders, who they are supposed to be educating, with statements like finding “creative ways of getting their people to maintain social distancing and encouraging them to have access to the marketplace”.
The question to ask Dr. Sokonte Davies is this: “Has he actually been studying the figures released everyday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and has he also noticed that the states with the highest number of confirmed positive cases and recently recorded spikes in numbers, are those states that have lifted precautionary restrictions and relaxed Covid-19 advisories and directives? Does Dr. Sokonte Davies even realize that there is no “creative way” of getting people to wear face masks and observe social distancing, except to enforce it, and in the process, protect and secure their lives?
Covid-19 is not a child’s play or a tea party. Global economies are struggling for survival and

tottering on the edge of recession. Some have even collapsed right now and looking for aid, so when Dr. Sokonte Davies rants that: “The continued lockdown of the markets, has become an impediment to the expansion of commerce and trade, both of which have clear impacts on the health of the Rivers economy”, one begins to wonder which economy he wants to expand and which Commerce an trade he is talking about, in a Coronavirus pandemic afflicted world, or is he actually living in another world different from ours?
Indeed, if Dr. Sokonte Davies has been living in Rivers State, he would confirm that the efforts of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to address, contain and curtail the spread of Covid-19 in Rivers State have been robust, bold, pragmatic and implemented with both legitimate and humane considerations.
From the periodic lockdowns of specific communities, to the provision of comprehensive palliatives to every local government area, to the free bus service scheme and the on-going decontamination of  markets, schools, churches and other settings that accommodate large crowds, even the most unrepentant critic will applaud the structured and strategic manner through which the Rivers State Government has

been responding and  forestalling the community spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
It is little wonder therefore, that the confirmed cases in Rivers State, which rose disturbingly for a couple of days, have now been decreasing rapidly with each passing day, with recoveries and discharges on the rise and reported cases confined mostly to those with underlying health issues or those exposed to cross border, imported carriers. This reduction in cases is the result of the bold and stringent enforcement of the directives and precautionary measures mandated by the state government and medical authorities, with Governor Nyesom Wike himself leading from the front and ensuring that impressive compliance is observed.
The fact remains that Covid 19 is not only real and dangerous, it has now become a fluid, unpredictable condition, which may not even manifest the symptoms earlier associated with it before striking it’s victim and it has no respect for anybody. But the most worrisome realization is that till date, a cure or vacinne that can be easily accessed by everybody, has still not been developed for it and the best prevention is to observe precautions and advisories.
So, when people like Dr. Sokonte Davies talk about opening markets and advocate other glib and flippant suggestions, because they want to sound politically correct and play politics with Covid-19, without considering the dangerous implcactions of their reckless suggestions to the lives of our people, they deliberately coerce and deceive people into endangering themselves and when the inevitable happens, they will be the first to turn around and accuse government of not enforcing precautionary measures.
Of course, it is understandable that his new elevation to the dodgy position and status of APC Rivers State Caretaker Committee Chairman, could be responsible for this urge to speak up and be heard when silence could have been wiser, but one can only sympathize with Dr. Sokonte Davies for the simple reason that his amateur strategy of trying to divert attention from the many troubles of his fractured party, as well as carrying the monumental responsibilities he did not bargain for on his weak shoulders, may have compelled him to the desperation of leaning on the old and tired crutches of criticising Governor Wike, which sadly has failed in the past and will continue to fail.
Let us remind Dr. Sokonte Davies that he has bigger things to battle with and more important

things to say in his factional and fractured party. We also want to assure him that Governor Wike is not all disturbed by this unnecessary noise and distraction, because he is fully committed in his effort to secure and protect the lives of Rivers people from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
Rivers lives matter and Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike will continue to do what is right for Rivers people. Covid-19 is real, but together we can outlast and overcome the pandemic by the Grace of God. Amen.
Soibi Max-Alalibo
SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Communications
Rivers State
July 8, 2020.
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Governor Wike: A Leader With A Heart Of Gold

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Thursday, May 25, 2020, was a historic day not only in the lives of the people of Abonnema kingdom, in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area (AKULGA) of Rivers State, but indeed in the annals of our emerging democratic nation.
On that day, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike fulfilled the promise he had made to the good people of Abonnema on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, during a memorial service at St Pauls Nyemoni Church, in honour of Abonnema people who had been killed and had sustained injuries from the attacks of the Nigerian Army on the community, during the Presidential election of 23rd February 2019.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Wenike Danagogo, Governor Wike redeemed his pledge by releasing N 450 million (Four hundred and fifty million naira) to the victims of the 2019 Presidential election violence in Abonnema.
While some other leaders in the opposition, in their justification of the Army invasion and  killings in the community, had described Abonnema as a ‘hideout for criminals and militants’, Governor Wike like a true leader, had promptly inaugurated a committee headed by the the Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, with the main responsibility of identifying the bereaved families and also identify damaged properties affected by the election crisis, so that the Rivers State Government will offer the required assistance and support to the families and the community.
Governor Wike subsequently inaugurated two more committees on Thursday, March 28, 2019; a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violence, killings and other related matters that occurred during the February 23 and March 9, 2019 general elections in the State, headed by Justice Monima Danagogo, and a Panel of Inquiry into the violent invasion and attack on the Rivers State Judiciary and destruction of public properties, which occurred at the state judiciary complex in Port Harcourt on May 11, 2018, chaired by Justice Simeon Amadi.
Dr Tammy Wenike Danagogo, speaking on behalf of Governor Nyesom Wike, during the brief ceremony to present the N 450 million to the beneficiaries in Abonnema, told the select audience that no amount of money could adequately compensate the people for the harrowing experience they suffered at the hands of the Nigerian Army, even as he stressed the Governor’s appreciation of the support and commitment of the People of Akuku Toru Local Government Area before, during and after the elections, adding that the State Government had insisted on seeking the consent of the Amanyanabo, the traditional institution and the community in order to establish and ensure the transparency of the ceremony and the presentation.
He also assured the people that the comprehensive documentation of the names of bereaved persons had been compiled by the Deputy Governor’s verification committee and that the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike would continue to execute programmes that would positively impact on the lives of the people of the area, even as he confirmed that the second phase of the Abonnema ring road, which had been abandoned since 2006, was virtually completed and would be commissioned soon.
The Secretary to the State Government then reassured them that Governor Wike was ever reliable, courageous and caring. Adding that even in the face of the Covid-19 Pandemic, he has continued to exhibit these enduring qualities and attributes and would stand by the people of Abonnema and Rivers State, through thick and thin, by taking practical steps not only to protect Rivers People but to also provide palliatives to bring succour to the vulnerable and less privileged unlike the selfish politicians in other political  parties who only visit the people to solicit for votes during elections but do not have the interest of the people at heart.
The Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bobmanuel in full regal splendour but visibly subdued in Majestic mien by the solemnity of the moment, thanked  Governor Wike for fulfilling his promise to the Abonnema People and while confirming that the Governor has proven over the years that his word is his bond, described him as a man worthy of trust and support because he has fulfilled all his promises to the Abonnema People and advised beneficiaries to make judicious use of the Money the Governor has graciously given to them.
The Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area Hon. Roland Sekibo said he is still traumatized by the events that took place during the Presidential election in 2019 and expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for his kind gesture, stressing that the People of his Local Government Area would continue to support the Governor in his quest to improve the lives of Rivers People.
One of the beneficiaries Mr. Minamiango Romeo, nursing a limp and trotting along with trouser legs folded up to reveal darkened scars from sustained gunshot injuries on the fateful day, expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for not abandoning them in their time of need and promised to continue to support his Administration and the leaders of the Local Government Area.
The ceremony in Abonnema to present the N 450 million to the bereaved families, was brief and precise, conducted in full compliance with the mandated social gathering guidelines and hallmarked by the new reality of wearing face masks even by royalty, and social distancing. The poignancy of the event was underscored by the fact that it was devoid of the usual publicity razzmatazz and political mileage often associated with such events, mainly in recognition of the gravitas of the occasion and also in silent acknowledgement of the pall of Covid-19 fatalities that hung ominously, with dark, sinister uncertainty in the air.
The grave and subdued nature of the event, captured by the memorial essence of a dark episode in the history of Abonnema kingdom, also attained historic significance on two levels.
Those who remembered, recall the gory and clinical military offensive in Abonnema on February 23, 2019 and likened it as akin to the invasion of Abonnema on 21 June 1968, a date people of Nyemoni community in Abonnema, Akuku-toru Local Government Area of Rivers state have not forgotten and still serves as a day and memorial still commemorated till date by the proud, cosmopolitan and culturally flamboyant people of the great and ancient Abonnema kingdom.
The second is that for probably the first time in the history of our political trajectory as a democracy, this was arguably the first time a leader and politician, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, had exbited great courage, sincere empathy and a historic recognition and penitence to the existential and collateral damage which election violence has unleashed on our people, our communities, our psyche and indeed our evolution as a nation.
For so long and indeed in every  democratic dispensation, nascent or otherwise, periodically enacted in the civil space of the country, political actors have not only embraced the unleashing of mayhem and procurement of violence as a sine qua non in the operational guidelines of electoral competition, but have glorified damage and destruction, disruptions and dislocations, abduction and hostage taking and most brazenly, the totting up of casualty head-counts as the ultimate yardsticks for measuring their victories.
But for arguably the very first time in the history of our political narrative, a man and political leader, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has recognized and established the sacred fact that the lives of our people matter. Those who know Governor Wike will remember his clarion cry to the opposition in the heat of the elections when he asked them passionately: “If you kill everybody then who will you govern?”
By setting up a committee with the sole mandate of identifying the bereaved, the injured, the damaged and dislocated occasioned by election violence in a once peaceful community, Governor Wike has not only put a name and face to the malevolent masquerade of electoral violence, he has also identified completely with the people and bravely called out political actors whose magnum opus is the deployment of violence and stockpiling of casualties as the ultimate end game in political contests.
Like the SSG, Dr Tammy Danagogo said, echoing Governor Nyesom Wike in very clear terms, the N 450 million was but a mere token, which can never equate or sufficiently replace or compensate for the lives lost because of the quest of some power mongers to seize power at all cost.
Sadly however, those who inspired, sponsored and delivered the violence openly gloated in bizarre triumph when the final result that was declared showed a drastic drop in the votes cast during the presidential election considered against previous elections, where Rivers State used to account for one of the highest votes in Nigerias general elections.
Governor Nyesom Wike by identifying with the people of Abonnema who lost their loved ones as a result of the presidential election violence of February 23, 2019, has also put political actors in Rivers State on notice that there is no place anymore for election violence in the State, under his watch.
The token to the people of Abonnema can never compensate or replace the lives lost or even wipe away the memorial scars of that gory day in February 2019. But Governor Nyesom Wike, by his singular courageous act of great leadership responsibility has shown the people that Rivers lives matter and he is ever ready to stand by them and with them always.
May the souls of the departed continue to rest in peace and may the good Lord continue to protect the living from the evil machinations of those who seek political power at all cost in Rivers State.
Paulinus Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
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Opinion

Wike: A Man With A New Vision

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Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has every reason to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure as the Governor of Rivers State. From every political calculation and calibration, the unequivocal conclusion is that he is a man of the people who emblematizes the Divine injunction that “Power comes from God alone.”
Throwback to 2015: Governor Nyesom Wike, then a Minister of Education, found himself in the eye of a raging political storm, contrived and fermented by treacherous forces, who betrayed a political vision and threatened to completely overturn and dismantle a well nurtured political agenda to achieve their own selfish power grabbing ambitions.
Pitted against the backdrop of a manipulated and deviously translated zonal power sharing arrangement and confronted by the real threat of political annihilation in the face of a viscous opposition that will stop at nothing to secure victory, Governor Wike found himself literally and practically isolated and surrounded as the last man standing and the only hope for the redemption and protection of the political soul of Rivers State.
However, he was greatly loved, admired and adored by the people of Rivers State as their champion. Nyesom Wike took on the opposition, both within and externally, battled them to a standstill, defeated them on all fronts and won the election convincingly. Governor Nyesom Wike ascended the throne, carrying the hopes and aspirations of Rivers people on his broad shoulders.
Fast forward to 2019: The viscious, acrimonious opposition, now emboldened with Federal might and empowered with the added authority of directing their second term campaign, deployed the full weight of both mercenary and compromised military might to the political battlefield. Traditional war songs reigned and echoed ominously at the venues of every campaign stomp and the poisoned manifesto rhetoric reeked of bitterness, inciting anger, unbridled hatred and imageries of political purgatory worse than Dante’s inferno, in the event of political defeat.
But Governor Wike was fully prepared and ready for them and believing in his superior strategic plans and greatly buoyed by the resilient will of the people, the tide would once again turn to victory in the quite remarkable life of this political Colossus. The opposition had already perfected their machinery or so they thought, to arrest and detain top people, cause disruptions of the electoral process instigate unrest to nullify voting in certain areas, abduct and hold electoral officials hostage replacing them with compromised lackeys and aid the snatching of election materials by unknown persons. All these were in their handbook of practical guidelines on Election Day and were implemented to the letter.
The last straw was in the Federal High Court, Abuja where they had all hoped that on March 8th, the day before the governorship and state assembly elections, the Court would give judgment in their favour, in a suit seeking to disqualify Governor Wike from contesting the March 9th election.
At the end of the elections however, 37 innocent Rivers people had been killed in Abonnema alone. Many more had been maimed and wounded across the state and at least 187 people had been arrested by soldiers, and detained. The harassment was unparalleled, but the people stood firm behind Wike, especially the heroic courageous women of Okirika and Ogu, who formed a human shield to prevent the military from hijacking their ballot boxes and their votes.
Indeed, as destiny would have it, the Divine hand of fate, had once again already played another master stroke and the monumental miscalculation and failure of the opposition, which had already taken place even before the first ballot was cast, can be summed up in the following Biblical verses:
Exodus 23 vs 27: I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
Deuteronomy 28:7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.
Isaiah 19:3-4: Then our enemies (the Egyptians) shall fight themselves rather than fighting us. I will confuse their strategy and they will tremble and fail, they will consult each others demonic powers to no avail”
So, Governor Ezenwo Wike has a plethora of reasons to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure in office, but in typical charismatic, all action fashion, the Rivers Governor, who was Christianed as “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, simply rolled up his sleeves and knuckled down to the business of delivering the dividends of democracy to the good people of Rivers State.
At the end of the first year of his second tenure, the gains of the first term were solidly consolidated upon, but addressing Rivers people in a  statewide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office, Governor honestly confessed that normally, the State should be celebrating this important milestone with the commissioning of completed projects and correlated social activities, but these are abnormal times and moments like this call for subdued feelings and thankful prayers to God for His abundant grace and mercy upon the State and on the lives of Rivers people.
That preamble set the tone for the summary of the achievements and engagements of the Governor Wike administration in the first year of his second term and starting with the solemn declaration that, every life matters; and every Rivers life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families, but also to all of humanity. The Governor confirmed that as at May 29, 2020, Rivers State had painfully lost 12 persons, and probably more, to the death pangs of the deadly coronavirus pandemic which has ravaged the entire world with devastating effect for over six months now.
The scorecard on the last one year has however been replete with outstanding achievements, ground breaking events and the initiation of legacy projects which have not only transformed the landscape of the state impressively but also ensured the comprehensive sustenance of the well-being of the people in line with the development blue-print released for the second term in office, which reiterated the commitment and determination of the administration to work and serve Rivers people as if it was still the administration’s first term.
A summary reveals that virtually every area and sector has been positively impacted upon in the last year. The urban renewal programme in the capital city have progressed at an amazing place as the restoration works, including underground drains, sidewalks, green areas and street lights on most of the roads in both the old and new Government Reservation Areas are at very advanced stages of completion.
The construction of the three multi-billion-naira flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-odo and Rumuogba, all progressing simultaneously, is an architectural wonder to behold and are expected to be delivered within schedule by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited and this is even as work on the construction of the 4th flyover bridge across GRA junction and accompanying dualization of Ezimgbu (Mummy B) road are also underway.
The dualization of several critical roads across the state, including Tombia Extension, GRA to link Ikwerre road,  Kira  Sapkenwa  Bori  Kono, straddling three Local Government Areas in Ogoni heartland are progressing satisfactorily with some having reached 92 per cent completion, all to be delivered on schedule. This is in addition to the construction of Oyigbo (Mbano camp) to Iriebe, linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the State, which has already been completed.
Still on infrastructure delivery, the Alesa – Agbonchia – Oyigbo road linking Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State; and the Rumuakunde and Isioudu communities roads in Emohua Local Government Areas of the State, as well as the 2nd phase of Isiokpo community internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Areas has been completed, while construction works on the 16.85 kilometers Rumuji  Ibaa  Isiokpo road in Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas have reached 90 percent completion level, and the dualization of the 23 kilometers Omoku  Egbema road in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area has progressed beyond 50 per cent.
The Odufor/Akpoku/Umuoye road in Etche Local Government Area, spanning 21.3 kilometers has crossed 70 percent construction level, while the Aker-base road in Obio/Akpor Local Government, the Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke road, the Odiokwu internal road network in Ahoada West Area as well as the Abonnema ring road in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, and the Sime  Eteo  Nonwa road connecting Tai and Eleme Local Government Areas, have all progressed to between 80 and 85 percent completion.
The administration in the last one year, accelerated work on the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas of the State with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni  Andoni  Opobo (Unity) road the commitment to deliver on the promise to complete these landmark projects and actualize the age-long yearnings of the indigenes and residents of these local government areas to connect and access the rest of the State by tarred road, has been the prime motivating factor driving the zeal and energy to complete these projects and bring joy to the people. In fact, the people of the Ancient Opobo Kingdom drove home for the first time last year.
Apart from roads, significant progress was also made in the delivery of Health Care and Education Infrastructure and Services. The mother and child hospital is virtually completed, fully furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning. Also completed is the Comprehensive Health Centre at Odiokwu in Ahoada West Local Government Area.
Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (popularly known as BMH) was upgraded, completely equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, which is not only reckoned as one the best in the country, but has led to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Also, the furnishing and equipping of the regional referral hospitals in Degema and Bori in Degema and Khana Local Government Areas respectively, which commenced in the first year of the second term is progressing smoothly, while structural work is continuing on the ones located in Omoku and Okehi in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Etche Local Government areas.
In the area of Education, the strategic intervention of the administration in the restoration, upgrade and expansion of secondary schools across the State, commenced in the first term, continues to deliver remarkable results and improvements in the quality of public education system, as funds have already been released for the comprehensive restoration and upgrade of scores of dilapidated secondary schools across the State, including: renowned schools like Enitonna High School and Government Comprehensive High School, Borikiri in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.
Renovation and upgrading of Obama High School, Degema and Model Secondary School, Tombia, all in Degema Local Government Area, as well as Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, the famous Kalabari National College, Buguma in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government Area, and Community Secondary Schoo, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area, have all been more than 85 per cent completed.
On the international front, the construction of students hostels for the state of the art, visionary Real Madrid Football Academy is progressing with admirable speed and consistency and the academy will soon open its doors for simultaneous academic and football and related training and mentoring programmes.
In the area of Agriculture and in line with the administration’s promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco cassava processing plant, with guaranteed off-taker opportunities for over 3000 local cassava farmers, and inspiring capacity to stimulate the cassava revolution in the State and related industries and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for our people is coming on stream.
Indeed the last one year of the second tenure has been hallmarked with a commitment to the promise on inauguration day to provide first-class socio-economic infrastructure and keep the State and businesses safe, secure, achieved through hard work and the accomplishment of more with less resources and a year cut short so dramatically by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant debilitating consequences.
This progressive trajectory will definitely continue into the second year and while it is already clear that it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spin-off effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the zeal and dedication to do more and recommit to work harder and deliver greater development to Rivers people is already evident in the work going on all over the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike himself puts it succinctly: “As a government, we welcome constructive and frank criticisms devoid of politics and mischievousness, because they serve to make us better performers. At any rate, this is a time for governance, not for politics, and we welcome everyone onboard to enable us to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments and good jobs; to build a State of shared prosperity; a place of boundless opportunity for all residents; and a State we can truly call our native home, our pride, our heritage, while looking into the future with optimism.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness. And so, as we look forward to the next twelve months, all I can say is that we are inspired by your continuous support and prayers to believe that our best days are ahead of us, and working together, we will surely do more to move Rivers State forward.”
Paulinus Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
By Paulinus Nsirim
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