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11 Years Of Unbroken Civil Rule: Gains, Pains, Expectations



Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) conferring with Mrs Helen David Mark, wife of the Senate President at the opening ceremony of the first Commonwealth of Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference of West African Sub-region held in the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, Port Harcourt.

Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) conferring with Mrs Helen David Mark, wife of the Senate President at the opening ceremony of the first Commonwealth of Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference of West African Sub-region held in the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, Port Harcourt.

Nigeria has had a long, tortuous and chequered history of experimentation with democracy, but never quite have it right.

On May 29, 1999, Nigeria transited from military autocracy and absolutism to democracy. Before then, the country had been under firm military rule for all but twelve years since independence in 1960.

Essentially, the militarisation of the Nigeria society and the supplanting of constitutional provisions by decrees of the successive ruling military juntas engendered a culture of lawlessness and fundamental abuses of the citizenry rights.

Nigerians were denied their basic political rights of voting for their preferred leaders under military rule. The economic and social rights of the people were seriously trampled upon by successive military rule through gross mismanagement and looting of state resources without any element of accountability.

However, the military regime of General Abubakar Abdusalami ushered democracy in Nigeria in 1999.

The administration of General Abubakar Abdusalami in preparation for committed and sincere handing over of power established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for local government councils, state legislatures and governors, the National Assembly and President.

INEC successfully held these elections on December 5, 1998, January 9, 1999, February 20, and February 27, 1999 respectively.

These elections were indications of the military sincerity of handing over power to democratically elected leaders and return to civil rule.

Nevertheless, for the local government councils election, a total of nine parties were granted provisional registration with three fulfilling the requirements to contest the subsequent elections.

These parties were the Peoples Democratic Party the All Peoples Party (APP) and the predominantly South West Alliance for Democracy (AD). General Olusegun Obasanjo became the Presidential candidate of the PDP and Chief Olu Falae became the joint candidate of APP/AD Alliance.

The PDP candidate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was subsequently elected and sworn in on May 29, 1999 thus changing the traditional October 1st handing over date in Nigeria.

The departing military authority under the Provisional Ruling Council promulgated a new constitution based largely on the suspended 1979 constitution before the May 29, 1999 inauguration of the new civilian rule.

But the new President took over a country that faced many problems, such as, economic stagnation, collapsed infrastructure, deterioration of most of its democratic institutions and institutionalised corruption coupled with culture of impunity and executive reckless.

Therefore, pertinent questions begging for answer are what have been the gains, losses, hopes and expectations of Nigerians and the international community over these past eleven years of unbroken civil rule in Nigeria?

According to retired Major Ollorowi Ollorowi, Director General of Nigeria Industrial Security Institute, one of the gains of this civil rule was the prompt retirement of political soldiers from the Armed Forces by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Major Ollorowi Ollorowi added that he commended the President for such bold move and step taken then “I personally commended General Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President for his bold and courageous step to retire hundreds of military officers who held political positions”.

He further stressed that this move and initiative strengthened Nigeria’s democracy and civil rule in 1999.

Also supporting the fact that Nigeria has gained much under civil rule from 1999 till date, Barrister Naazigha-Lee State chairman, Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Rivers State emphasised that “the coming of democratic governance in 1999 actually restored the confidence of Nigerians in participatory democratic governance”,

He stressed that the initial decisions of the government of President Obasanjo to establish the Justice Oputa panel to investigate human rights violations, rescinded a number of questionable licences and contracts of the previous military regimes, and moved to recover millions of dollars in funds secreted in overseas accounts were undertaken to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the civilian rule and promote image of the country in the international community.

It is not gainsaying that the eleven years of unbroken democracy has safeguarded and sustained the consolidation of human rights in Nigeria.

According to the State Chairman, CDHR, Nigeria was at a crossroad with a greater challenge of how to guarantee justice, human dignity and civil liberties before the advent of democratic governance in 1999.

He stated that Nigeria returned to the community of nations with elected government, ensured significant progress to be made in the area of freedom and liberties.

According to Dr. Ishmael Guarama, senior lecturer, Faculty of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt, the eleven years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria has made it possible for a more open society in which people no longer live in fear of the arbitrariness and intimidation.

The senior lecturer stressed that Nigeria remain committed to the idea of one corporate identity despite contending proposals for a new paradigm of governance and relationship between the federating tiers of government.

Dr. Ishmael further added that Nigerians have seen a marked improvement in human rights and democratic practice during this unbroken civil rule. “Today the Nigeria press enjoys greater freedom than under previous military rule.

As part of the gains of democracy during this period the usual conflicts between the Executive and legislative arms of government over major appropriation allocation and other proposed legislations have tended to strengthen Nigeria’s demo


A noticeable gain has been that of growing visibility of state governors and the inherent friction between the Federal Government and the various state Governments over resource allocation and excess crude account funds, all meant for healthy democratic country.

Also, one of the gains of the civil rule from 1999 has been the introduction of GSM communication by the Obasanjo’s administration. Prior to that  period, few Nigerians have access to cellular phones but today, millions of Nigerians have afforded GSM handsets to ease communication. Today, the telecommunication sector is been dominated by MTN, GLO, Zain, and Etisalat, making NITEL a moribund parastatal. 

However with the advent of democracy in 1999 Nigeria has recorded some major losses in the areas of lives and properties through communal crises, and religious mayhem.

In November 1999, the Nigerian Army destroyed the town of Odi Bayelsa State and killed scores of civilians in retaliation for the murder of 12 policemen by a local gang.

In the North West State of Kaduna in February 2000, over 1.000 people died in rioting over the introduction of criminal Sharia law in the State.

In Jos, the flash point of inter-religious rioting, hundred had been killed and thousands displaced in communal violence.

In 2002 in Zaki Biam, Benue State thousands were killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed by rampaging soldiers over soldiers killed by the local gangsters.

One of the critical concern to Nigerians has been billions of naira lost through corruption. Yet no end in sight to such unwanted state plunder of resources.

However, government’s response to nip this trend of communal violence in the bud was the setting up of the National Security Commission to address this issue of re-curring communal violence.

Hopes And Expectations

Nigeria has successfully transited from one civilian government to another. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo successfully served his eight years period of two terms and successfully handed over to the late President Musa Yar’Adua on May 29, 2007.

The late President introduced his Seven Point Agenda as a conceptualised developmental programme for Nigerians. The Seven Point Agenda include Power, Electoral Reforms, Agriculture, Niger Delta, Health Sector Reform, Employment and Education.

According to a political economist and retired Permanent Secretary, Chief Obo-Ngofa, the power and energy crisis in Nigeria needs to be addressed squarely and urgently to arrest the imminent collapse of the economy.

According to him, the energy crisis remains a national embarrassment to the Nigerian Government. He appealed to the President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to seriously tackle the Power crisis to improve the comatose industrial sector.

The Niger Delta crisis actually affected foreign investment arising from the agitations for a meaningful development in the region. Luckily enough, the late President Musa Yar’Adua as part of his Seven-Point Agenda of addressing the sorry state of infrastructure and economic empowerment of the people of the region, granted Amnesty to the men who took to the creeks to drive home the pitiable situation of the underdevelopment in the region.

On the issue of Electoral Reforms, the Government had set up the Justice Muhammed Uwais Committee on the Electoral Reforms. The committee has since submitted its report to government waiting full implementation for credible elections in 2011.

However, it is the hope and expectation of Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan will implement the recommendations of the Justice Uwais report through the appointment of unbias National Chairman for the INEC with significant re-organisation of the Electoral body for credible and acceptable elections in 2011 and beyond.

However, a major monster that has eaten deep into the body fabrics of Nigeria’s society is the high level of state institutionalised corruption.

Despite the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to checkmate corruption and other related economic crimes, corruption has remained  the bane of Nigeria’s development.

According to Barrister Jas Awanen government needs to strengthen the anti corruption agencies like the ICPC and EFCC to function properly with less relative supervision.

Currently, Nigeria has over 53 political parties, an indication that Democracy in Nigeria is in progress and Nigerians are happy with participatory democracy that allow them to freely chose and elect their leaders.

However, according to Mr. Godknows Asoka, a public affairs analyst, the coming of civil rule in Nigeria from 1999 has strengthened the institution of the Judiciary, adding that under Military rule, our judiciary was very docile but now very proactive to right the wrong of injustice.

He emphasised that civil rule has created democratic consciousness in Nigerians and brought governance closer to the grassroots.

There appears to be a consensus opinion on the return to civil rule that democracy remains the best form of Government in any society.

A foremost member of the House of Representatives and chairman, Committee on Legislature Complaince, Hon. Daemi Kunaiyi-Akpanah believes that the nation has fared well although not without pains and sacrifices.

He told The Tide in his office in Abuja that the learning process began eleven years ago, although the nation had not reached the destination point. “Well I think democracy is working in Nigeria and there is progress. I don’t believe it’s the destination (yet for Nigeria): It is an ongoing journey.”

Mr. Kunaiyi-Akpanah contended that “the only thing that makes our democratic government  work is the prevalence of the rule of law and freedom of speech and religion.

The Coordinator of Egbeda Progressive Forum, Endurance Akpeli Esq, who spake with The Weekend Tide, in Port Harcourt, Thursday hailed the charisma of President Jonathan’s administration and urged him to continue his good work.

Mr. Akpelu enjoined all to support Jonathan’s administration and noted that it was divinely inspired.

He asserted that the incumbent president had done a lot to justify his election in 2011 and described Jonathan as the David of our time.

The coordinator remarked that the president came into power through a divine arrangement and warned that nobody should alter the arrangement.

Also speaking, Mr John Worah, an officer with the Nigeria police, said there was remarkable improvement in the provision of democratic dividends. He remarked that as a Niger Delta man, Jonathan had maintained stable oil price since he assumed office.

He said the fuel scarcity that marked previous administrations in the country had gone with those past administrations.

The police officer noted that the issue of where Jonathan came from should not be primary focus of Nigerians and noted that what should concern the people now was what he had to offer.

“From all indications, I am convinced that Jonathan will be bringing a lot of reforms to the nation,” he said.

We should encourage Jonathan to vie for the presidency because we believe in what he is doing and will continue to support him to deliver the dividends of democracy. Good leaders are hard to find, when we see them, we must appreciate them,” he pointed out.

Another person, who spoke with our correspondent, Mr. Andy Ihuenyi said that Jonathan should vie for the presidency in 2011 given the level of achievements he had so far recorded.

“President Goodluck Jonathan is a symbol of goodluck. We cannot afford to shun goodluck. His assumption of office is noteworthy. It is by an act of God,” he pointed out.

Mr. Ihuenyi, who is an environmentalist, said “the election of Goodluck Jonathan would pacify the neglected people of the Niger Delta. But first and foremost his track record has shown that he has all it takes to pilot the affairs of this nation.”

He regretted that the zoning system was the machination of the enemies of the Nigerian nation.

He, however, stated only those who were qualified and experienced should be entrusted with leadership, so that they would remain accountable to the people.


Philip-Wuwu Okparaji, Chidi Enyie, Justus Awaji,

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Our Policies Are Geared Towards Protecting Rivers Interest -Fubara



Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared that all the policies and programmes of his administration are tailored towards the protection of interest of Rivers people, especially the youths.
This, he said, is borne out of the importance his administration attaches to youths’ development and empowerment as leaders of tomorrow.
Fubara, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, disclosed this when he received the youths of Emohua Local Government Area under the auspices of “Emohua Youths For SIM” on solidarity visit to Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He said that his administration has put in place modalities that will boost the livelihoods and well-being of Rivers citizens, which youths of Emohua will also benefit when they materialise.
The governor, who spoke through the Rivers State Head of Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, pointed out that the recently awarded Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku Road, the ongoing Emohua-Kalabari Road, reinstatement of illegally sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Area and the approval for electrification of the area, are part of deliberate measures to open up the area to make life conducive and more meaningful for the people.
According to him, “Everything about the governor is putting the interest of Rivers State first. He is looking at and taking action on those things that we need to do to restart the wheels of progress in Rivers State.
“There are many things the governor has planned and is already doing that will boost the life and welfare of every citizen of Rivers State, but most importantly the youths.
“Growing up, I learnt that Egbeda is one of the biggest communities in the whole of Ikwerre, and it’s predominantly an agrarian community. They have food in Egbeda, they have food in Ubimini, they have food in Omudiaga and other natural resources. The whole world is tilting to agriculture, and this is the way to go.
“The Elele-Umudioga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Omoku road, when completed, will open up the area for real development. Your food and everything you produce there will now have value, they will no longer be thrown away. In all these, you the youths are going to be the utmost beneficiaries.”
He added, “Same will be applicable to the Emohua-Kalabari Road which will also, trigger development in the area, and you will be the greatest beneficiaries. When the LGA is also electrified, you will be having 24 or 20 hours of electricity, and those things the youths can do with electricity, you can stay at home and create wealth for yourself and children.
“All the totality of what the governor is doing, when they are completed, or even as some are completed now, the youths are going to be utmost beneficiaries.”
While acknowledging that youths are the true leaders of tomorrow and any government that fails to carry them along in the scheme of things is doomed to fail, the governor assured them of his administration’s commitment to always address issues concerning youths and ensure that they are part of his government.
He commended the youths for toeing the path of truth by identifying with his administration, urging them to sustain the tempo and shun evil, as his government will ensure that the trend whereby politicians turn youths to beggars are over.
He said, “Youths are, indeed, the leaders of tomorrow. The time of youth is a very important time. It a time that your parents or whoever is your leader at that time have to make the greatest investment in you. And any Government that decides to only carry the elderly, chiefs aling and abandon the youths is bound to fail,” he asserted.
“But I am happy that Governor Fubara has concentrated his energy on everything that will benefit the society, especially the youths.
“And based on these, I want to thank you for recognising what is good and calling it good, for shunning what is evil, for saying the Governor is standing for you.
“Let me tell you, you are on the right direction. Let me tell you again, Rivers State is the bride of Nigeria. The whole Nigeria is looking at what will happen here. As they look here and see you standing on the path of truth, this is a very important step that you have taken to right all the wrongs of the past, to make Rivers State stand on the tripod of justice, peace and security. That is what we are going to gain through the governor, taking all the wise actions that he has already initiated.
“The projects the governor is embarking on are meant to prepare nets for the youths to fish and put food on their table, hence you should continue to follow him.
“The SIMplified Movement brought upon by the governor will ensure that Rivers youths stop the habit of going to bow down before politicians, pledging loyalty before they can eat.”
Earlier, spokesman for the Emohua Youths for SIM, Comrade Ovamale O. Ovamale, had said that the visit by youths from the 14 political wards in Emohua Local Government Area was to thank the governor for the award of the Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku road, the approval for electrification of the area and reinstatement of sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Council, of which the youths were mostly affected.
According to him, “Siminalayi Fubara of recent has given Emohua Local Government road that links Elele to Omoku, which comprises over four communities in the local government.”
“Emohua Local Government has also been in darkness for eight years. No community in the local government that has light. But, of recent, because of the passion and love the governor has for the people of Emohua, he has approved the electrification of the local government.
“Also, the illegal sack of Emohua Local Government workers, for which the youths were mostly affected and without the approval of the Local Government Service Commission, the governor, in his compassionate nature, has reinstated them, and that is why we said we must come and thank His Excellency”, he said.

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Our Legacy’ll Leave Lasting Impression On Rivers People -Fubara



Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured that his administration will collaborate and continue to consult widely in delivering a liberated State experiencing enduring peace.
Fubara said, in doing so, he would not operate as a dictator but as a member of a team that has the best interest of the State at heart and determined to leave a lasting legacy that can be celebrated.
The governor spoke during the formal presentation of Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office to the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, King Ateke Michael Tom, as first class tradition ruler, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Fubara stated that, during the Sixth State Executive Council meeting, N80.8billion was approved with 50 percent contract value paid already as the Government awarded the construction of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road.
He said the project will be funded from the savings from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to underscore his administration’s prudence without also borrowing to complete the project.
“We are at a crossroad in our State where we all need to stand for what is right. It happens once in a life time. So, for now, be one of those people that will be in the course to liberate and free our dear State.
“And I know strongly that having the support of a peace-loving Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, having the support of the wonderful Council of Chiefs, having the support of the great people of Rivers State, we will bring peace in our State. We will do those things that are right to develop our State.
“We will continue to consult. We will not act as dictators. We will act as people who know that one day, we will leave, and when we leave, the way we have acted will speak for us. We will not force people to talk good about us. Our legacy will be a signature for how we led”, the governor said.
Fubara explained that he acted within the ambit of the law to upgrade the traditional stool upon which King Ateke Tom sits in recognition of his efforts in promoting peace in Okrika, and indeed, the State, and urged him to continue to do justice to everyone.
In his speech, Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon Charles Amadi, congratulated King Ateke Tom for being formally presented with the Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office as first class traditional ruler.
Also speaking, former Transport Minister, Chief Abiye Sekibo, thanked the governor for fulfilling his promise of upgrading the traditional stool of Okochiri Kingdom, and pledged the support of Kirike Se people to his administration.

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We’re Determined To Leave Legacy Of Quality Education -Fubara



Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has promised to give the best attention to the education sector so that standard and quality learning will never be compromised in the State.
The governor emphasised that in achieving such legacy, schools in the State will be driven with a curriculum that will equip school-aged children to become competitive, innovative and self-reliant.
Governor Fubara made the assertion while inaugurating the Governing Council of Rivers State University at Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
He said: “There is a lot of noise everywhere: people asking what we are doing; that we are not focused, and that we don’t have direction.
”But I want to tell the world that we are focused and aware that we cannot grow if our energies are not channeled to education. Not just education, but purposeful education.
”Education that is creative. Education that gives you independence. We have left the era in the world when you speak too much grammar. We are in such times when it is what you can do with your hands.
”Our purpose for education is that we should bring back our academic programmes to where, at the end of your studies, you don’t need a job but you create jobs. When one creates a job, you automatically employ others. That is what I want this council to see as their task.”
Governor Fubara noted the non-existence of public secondary schools for the male child in the Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
He said such negligence leaves children in that area who have completed primary education, and whose parents cannot afford sending them to far away secondary schools, to roam the streets, and therefore becoming willing tools for criminality.
Governor Fubara assured that such fundamental problem will be addressed by his administration as a measure to curb the negative impression associated with Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
The governor said he trusts in the capacity of the members of the Governing Council of Rivers State University to bring about positive change in the institution while also contributing their quota to improving the general education standard in the State.
”I charge you, not just in terms of administering the affairs of the university, but let us add something different from the normal things that we already have to see new things.”
In her response, on behalf of the other members, the Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of Rivers State University, Justice Mary Odili (rtd), thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in such capacity.
Justice Odili assured they will work assiduously as a team to solve the problems that agitate the mind of the governor and ensure their contributions form part of the legacy that will be bequeathed by his administration.
The members included Justice Mary Odili (rtd) as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council with Barrister Mela Oforibika and Chukwuma Chinwo, Esq.
Others were Adata Bio-Briggs, Esq., Dr. Jonathan Nimi Hart, Ngo Martins-Yellowe, Dr. Nancy Nwankwo, Dr. Igoni William-Park, and Mr. Ogbugbu Barisua.

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