From all indications, trade relations between Nigeria and
the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are facing some setbacks.
Market watchers, however, attribute the setbacks to factors
such as high import duty, import prohibition policy as well as absence of
national carriers in Nigeria’s maritime and aviation sectors.
One of the observers who are concerned about the state of
Nigeria-UAE trade relations is Mr Dennis Ilechukwu, the spokesman for UAE-based
Anambra Patriotic Forum.
He recently said in Dubai that Nigeria’s cargo clearance
policy was too strict, adding that the situation was compounded by its high
Ilechukwu lamented that the situation explained the reason
why about 67 per cent of the goods destined for Nigeria from UAE usually found
their ways into Lagos through Cotonou, Republic of Benin, or into Katsina
through Niger Republic.
He particularly noted the import duty in Nigeria was quite
high, if compared to that of other African countries.
Ilechukwu noted that the Republic of Benin earned a
substantial part of its revenue via import duty generated at the Cotonou Port,
adding that many goods smuggled into Nigeria were brought in through the
He urged the Federal Government to resuscitate the national
carriers in both the aviation and maritime sectors so as to reduce the freight
rates on Nigerian-bound cargoes.
“Nigerdock in Lagos is capable of building vessels and
Nigeria ought to have its indigenous shipping line resuscitated so as to make
freight rates cheaper,’’ he said.
Ilechukwu stressed that it cost between 2,700 dollars (about N432,000) and 3,100 dollars (about N496,000) to ferry a 20-foot container to Nigeria from UAE, describing this “as expensive’’, while affecting the flow of cargo into Nigeria.
“Apart from reducing import duty, government should review
the import prohibition list by lifting the ban on some prohibited items to
generate more revenue,’’ he said.
Ilechukwu noted that many people all over Africa were coming
to Dubai to buy shoes, clothes, furniture and other goods, saying that other
West African countries had been benefiting from Nigeria’s policy, which
outlawed the importation of certain goods.
Mr Emeka Ohakawa, the President of Imo Citizens in the Gulf
Region and UAE, stressed that cargo shipment rates on goods shipped from UAE to
Nigeria were more expensive than the rates on wares shipped from China to
According to him, this is because UAE-based shipping lines
and airlines usually have nothing to transport back to the country when
returning from Nigeria.
“When airlines in UAE leave for Nigeria, they are usually
filled up with luggage but they often come back empty,’’ he said.
Besides, Ohakawa noted that the export policy of the Federal
Government had also discouraged exportation of goods like timber, groundnut,
cocoa, oranges, pineapples and other agricultural products to Dubai.
He stressed that the exportation of such goods to UAE would
have generated a huge foreign exchange for Nigeria.
Ohakawa said that a lot of agricultural produce like oranges
and pineapples were always coming into UAE from countries such as India and
He emphasised that the balance of trade between Nigeria and
UAE tilted strikingly in favour of UAE, adding that his association had been
striving to highlight the defect to spur the Federal Government to initiate
some remedial measures.
Ohakawa, who claimed to have lived in Dubai for over 17
years, said that Dubai remained a major tourist attraction in the Middle East
and the hub of business activities in the region.
He advised the Federal Government to establish a consular
office in Dubai to cater for the needs of over 2,000 Nigerians living in the
Ohakawa, nonetheless, stressed the need for all Nigerians
resident in UAE to come together and form a viable central organisation, saying
that past attempts to form such a group to unite the citizens were often
Mr Casmir Anachuna, another Dubai-based Nigerian
businessman, said that Nigeria ranked third among the nations importing goods
from Dubai, adding that Nigeria was next to Russia and Iran.
He noted that the low import duty regime of the UAE
government had stimulated huge imports from several countries into the country.
Anachuna said that Dubai was largely an import-dependent
city, having only one or two per cent locally manufactured products.
He, however, added that the UAE government maintained a good
quality control of imports coming into the country.
“Products brought into the country from China cannot be
compared to similar Chinese products in any African country in terms of
“With that, it might make products being sold here a little
bit more expensive than similar products found in the markets of several
African countries,’’ he said.
Anachuna said that wares in Dubai markets included
furniture, electronics, computers, jewellery, auto parts, lights and lighting
equipment, telephones, phone accessories, textiles and others.
He, however, said that what made Dubai a preferred business
location was its good security network and steady power supply.
Anachuna, who is a business consultant, expatiated that
security of a visitor in Dubai was guaranteed from arrival at the airport,
noting that all the hotels in the city were safe and under Closed Circuit
Television (CCTV) surveillance.
“For the over nine years I have been here, I only
experienced a power outage once,’’ he said.
Besides, Anachuna said that UAE had a strong currency,
adding that its exchange rate of Dh3.67 to a dollar had been stable for more
than 10 years.
He, however, conceded that business in UAE was currently at
low ebb due to the Ramadan period, saying that most shop owners in Dubai
usually opened their shops by 6.30 p.m. after breaking the fasting and closed
Anachuna described Dubai as the number one tourist centre in
the world, saying that the city, which had the highest number of five-star
hotels in the world, was also home to the world’s tallest building.
All the same, DP World UAE, the regional container terminal
operator, has commenced discussions with some investors in efforts to develop a
port in Nigeria.
Mr Abdol Reza, the Guest Relations Coordinator of DP World,
said that a Nigerian business delegation was in Dubai some months ago for talks
on some mutual business relationships.
Reza said that the firm, which currently managed two major
terminals in Dubai, would by 2014; complete the construction of the third
terminal in the country.
He described DP World as the third largest container
terminal operator in the world, saying that it controlled 60 terminals in 30
countries across the world.
Observers agree that Nigeria’s maritime trade will receive a
remarkable boost with the coming DP World’s investments in the country’s port
Ajayi writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
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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