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Ogonis And Visit Of National Unity

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Being an address presented by King GNK Giniwa to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,  on the occasion of the visit of Ogoni leaders to State House, Abuja, on September 3, 2012. Excerpts:

On behalf of the people of Ogoni, we, the representatives here present, convey to Your Excellency our deep appreciation for the opportunity of this August meeting with you and members of your government. We also convey to you the support, goodwill and felicitation of our people. The Ogoni people identify with you in your efforts to provide an effective leadership for our country, Nigeria. We recognize your development initiatives, especially the efforts to improve the living condition of the citizens and move the country into the 21st century. We also identify with you and offer our support in the enormous task of overcoming the numerous challenges of leadership, the protection of lives and property in every part of the nation and in keeping the country united. Nigeria has the potentials of a great nation and we support every effort to realize those potentials.

Even though Ogoni has always supported the call for the devolution of power to local entities to reflect true federalism upon which the Nigerian nationhood is anchored, we wish to assure Mr. President and the Nigerian people that Ogoni remains committed to the unity of the Nigerian state. This is contrary to recent media reports on Ogoni. Hence we are asking for the economic and social integration of the Ogoni people through special development initiatives. It will be recalled that in its report, the United Nations Secretary General’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria made this recommendation in respect of Ogoni in the late 1990s.

Your Excellency, we would at this point like to address the key issues that directly concern the Ogoni people.

Implementation Of UNEP Report

The Ogoni people sincerely thank the Federal Government for inviting the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to do a ground-breaking scientific study of the Ogoni environment in response to the people’s cries of environmental devastation consequent upon decades of unsustainable oil exploration by Shell. The people want the protection and restoration of their environment as the basis of economic and social life in Ogoniland.

Your Excellency, through the UNEP report which you received on August 4, 2011, you may by now be aware of the extent of environmental devastation of Ogoni. Not only have the terrestrial and aquatic life and soil suffered inestimable damage, but the health of the people has been tragically affected by hydrocarbon pollution. The contamination of surface and ground water by carcinogenous benzene at levels more than 900 times above WHO-prescribed safety limit means that every Ogoni person is a potential cancer patient. This is a potential public health disaster of monumental proportion, which according to UNEP,” warrants an emergency action ahead of all other remediation efforts”.

Your Excellency, tragic and catastrophic as the situation is, the Ogoni people are concerned by the protracted and near absence of a strategic response by the Federal Government to the findings of the report. What is more, the Ogoni people, as the primary beneficiaries of the proposed clean-up, were not consulted before Government’s decision to set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme. Permit us, Mr. President, to making the following observations in respect of the UNEP report:

1.     The Ogoni people have been concerned that it took as long as one year for the Federal Government to respond to the report, cognizant of the urgency of that report.

2.     Contrary to UNEP recommendation to set up an Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency that is specific to Ogoni, the Federal Government has decided to establish a programme with wider scope to cover other areas experiencing hydrocarbon pollution. We hope that this broad jurisdiction will not undermine the implementation of the report.

3.     These concerns notwithstanding, the Ogoni people acknowledge HYPREP, realising that other parts of the Niger Delta also suffer oil-related pollution like Ogoni. However, in making this acceptance, Ogoni will appreciate receiving assurance from the Federal Government that:

a)     The UNEP recommendations on Ogoni will be fully implemented regardless of HYPREP’s intervention in other areas;

b)    The one billion US dollars recommended by UNEP as start-up fund for Ogoni clean-up  will be spent on Ogoni alone;

c)      The Ogoni people will be given first priority in the business and job opportunities connected with the clean-up in the Ogoni as a means of ameliorating the dire poverty and joblessness in the area;

d)    The report will be implemented under the supervision of an internationally recognized agency that will exercise oversight and quality assurance responsibility. We have in mind in this regard United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);

e)     There will be an intensive public health programme in Ogoni, including cancer screening and treatment, to be undertaken by  competent international agencies such as World Health Organization (WHO);

f)      The Ogoni people will be regularly consulted on the activities of HYPREP, especially the clean-up in the Ogoni area.

Your Excellency, Mr. President, may we invite you to join us to thank our Governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and others such as Fr Mathew Hassan Kukah who contributed to the success of the UNEP study. Governor Amaechi undertook conspicuous, massive and constructive mobilization of the instruments of government, materials and ideas to support UNEP.

Compensation For  Damage

Considering the irreversible devastation done to the environment, health and livelihood of the people of Ogoni by the petroleum industry as scientifically demonstrated in the UNEP report, the Ogoni people hereby ask for compensation from the Federal Government and Shell. Justice delayed is justice denied. We would therefore respectfully request that the issue of compensation be addressed without delay now that the evidence of devastation is still conspicuous.

Oil Exploration In Ogoni

Mr. President, you may recall that the issue of the transfer of the withdrawn Shell operatorship of the Ogoni oil fields was mentioned during the meeting with you of Ogoni leaders when you were the Vice-President. Till date the Ogoni people are not aware of which company the operatorship has been transferred to. We strongly believe that the Federal Government would in its wisdom, consult our people in any decision to effect the transfer, and in fact, the whole issue of resumption of oil exploration in the Ogoni area so as to avoid the kind of problem we had with Shell.

Bori State

State creation has been a major tool for enhancing a sense of belonging and promoting development by groups that feel marginalized. It is an important means of strengthening federalism. Economic viability should also be an important criterion. The Ogoni people are of the strong view that these conditions apply to them and that the creation of Bori State is a necessity which the Executive arm and the National Assembly should give effect to. Such a state, which will include other ethnic communities in the South-East Senatorial District of Rivers State, will also complement the national economy as the oil and gas resources of the area will enhance the national budget.

Illegal Bunkering And Artisanal Refining, Youth Empowerment

As future leaders the youth represent an important segment of any society. Any nation that ignores the development of the potentials of its youth is doomed to have a deficient leadership. Ogoni youths are bedeviled by monumental challenges of joblessness and hopelessness. But unlike youths elsewhere in our country, they have largely refrained from the rampant violence that created huge security problem and nearly paralysed economic activities in the Niger Delta, resulting in the Amnesty Programme. Sadly, Ogoni youths have not benefitted from the opportunities connected to the Amnesty Programme probably because of their non-violent approach. We therefore ask for the rehabilitation of impoverished Ogoni youths through skills development training in Nigeria and abroad and the opening up of job opportunities to them as well as scholarship for both vocational and academic training in foreign institutions. This is surely an answer to the problems created by joblessness and hopelessness. It will also address the issue of illegal bunkering and artisanal refining.

Your Excellency, we would like to observe that the problem of youth-driven illegal and artisanal refining which not only makes the government to lose huge revenues but also complicates the environmental crisis in recent times cannot be effectively combated through a law and order approach without addressing its root causes. Poverty and general lack of opportunities are major causes. Bunkering by youths represents an aspect of Niger Delta conflict and Ogoni youths who are involved in it by force of circumstances should therefore be made to benefit from a special rehabilitation and reintegration programme to be set up by the Federal Government, similar to the current social programme connected to the Amnesty initiative for Niger Delta militants.

Pipeline Surveillance:

This represents another opportunity for productive engagement of Ogoni youths. Ogoni people should be made to protect the pipeline and other oil installations located in the Ogoni territory instead of being contracted out to other Nigerians who make huge profits at the expense of the Ogoni people as recently demonstrated in the media. It may be difficult for Ogoni people to support outsiders who are given pipeline surveillance contract in Ogoni.

Infrastructural Development And Social Development

Communication between Ogoni and the rest of the country is being threatened by deplorable roads and other critical infrastructure. The strategic East-West and the Bodo-Bonny Roads are cases in point. It will be recalled that while the Federal Executive Council had approved the reconstruction of the collapsed Onne-Eleme Junction (Port Harcourt) section of the road, the supervising Ministry arbitrarily disregarded the FEC approval and instead ordered that the portion be repaired. Without the total reconstruction of that portion of the road it will soon be impossible to have access to the strategic economic area of Eleme and as well cut off communication with the rest of Ogoni and Akwa-Ibom State. Currently, access to Ogoni and other communities along the East-West Road is through Oyigbo, a long, costly and hazardous detour. We therefore pray Mr. President to use his good offices to order the reconstruction of the road in accordance with the decision of the Federal Executive Council.

We are also making a plea for the Bodo-Bonny road, which remains one of the oldest roads on the plan of the Federal Ministry of Ministry of Works. The economic importance of the road to the Federal Government and the people of Bonny, Ogoni and the entire Rivers State cannot be over emphasized. We therefore appeal for the resumption of work on the road to open up the economic potentials of that region.

Water Supply

The provision of emergency water supply for the most impacted communities was one of the emergency measures recommended by UNEP. Only one community at the moment is irregularly supplied with water by tankers. But the whole of Ogoni, especially the direct oil-producing communities, need safe portable water, which we plead with the Federal Government to undertake as a matter of priority.

New Town Project

Your Excellency, over two years ago the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs acquired land from the Beeri and Nyokuru communities in Khana LGA for the development of a new town and industrial park. We however note that nothing has been heard of the project since then. We are requesting the implementation of this project.

Appointments

Your Excellency, we cannot conclude this address without thanking you for the appointment of some of our sons and daughters into positions of trust in your administration. These are Barrister Ledum Mitee as Chairman, National Stakeholders Work Group of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI); Mr. Lenu Kpagih as a Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Barrister Joy Nunieh as HYTREP. We however, feel that Ogoni deserve more. The recent ambassadorial appointments, for instance, did not include an Ogoni person. We also look forward to Ministerial appointment, an executive position which will strengthen a sense of belonging among the Ogoni people.

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The Media’s Endorsement Of Wike’s Governance Style

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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

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Radio Rivers FM @ 40: The Journey So Far

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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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Wike Passes Rotary’s Four-Way Test

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Rotary International operates a time tested Four-Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships and will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotary Club is very particular, especially when giving out its awards, that whoever has been endorsed by its Directors for recognition and decoration, must be seen to have excelled in upholding the tenets of the Four-Way Test, when such a person is put to public scrutiny and assessment.
Having been deemed to have passed the Four-Way Test in his leadership of Rivers State for the past six years, therefore, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Friday, May 7, 2021, received the  2019/2020 Good Governance Award for his sustainable projects, from the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt.
Presenting the Award to Governor Wike, Vice President of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, Rotarian Obiageli Ejezie said that the Rotary Board of Directors had approved and endorsed Governor Wike as best suited for the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award, for his very laudable sustainable projects for Rivers people, especially in  urban renewal and excellent infrastructure delivery.
Most importantly, she said, Governor Wike was proactive, firm and determined in the way he handled the Covid-19 pandemic and saved the lives of many indigenes and residents in the state.
“Many laudable and sustainable development projects of your government are scattered across Rivers State and we note particularly, your projects and achievements in the areas of urban renewal, road maintenance, construction of flyovers, education, health care and others.
“The proactive manner Your Excellency has managed the Covid-19 pandemic has been serving the desired purpose of saving the lives of a considerable number of residents. “
She also informed Governor of the intention of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt to build a skills acquisition centre in Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt, where youths and widows will be trained.
For the records, Rotary Club started with the vision of one man, Paul Harris. the distinguished Lawyer and Attorney from Chicago in the city of Illinois, USA on 23 February 1905, and the primary purpose at that time was to bring together, business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace around the world, through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
Those who are conversant with the operations of Rotary Club, will attest to the fact that it is a cautious and conservative group, which tends to avoid things that are political and is one of the most highly principled and respectable, non-political and non-religious organisations in the world.
Everything about its activities and operations, including the conferment of awards, are done with painstaking investigation, comprehensive assessment and resolute conviction, devoid of any ulterior or self aggrandising motives.
It is against this very internationally acclaimed reputation and impeccable operational backdrop, that one must access and appreciate the decision and endorsement by the Rotary Board of Directors to confer the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award on Governor Nyesom Wike.
No doubt, this award ranks as one of the most prestigious in the burgeoning gallery of awards which Governor Wike has been confered with over the years, for the incontrovertible fact that it underscores the suggestion that the great work the Governor is doing, resonates quite impressively with a solid and reputable organisation like Rotary Club.
It also underscores and consolidates the resounding national tribute and eloquent testimony which have come from all walks of life, including peers and even the opposition, recognising Governor Wike as indeed, one of the truly great leaders of this generation.
Receiving the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award, from the Vice President of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, Rotarian Obiageli Ejezie, who led others leaders of the association to the Government House, Port Harcourt,  Governor Wike used the opportunity to comment on the burning issue of  National Security;  a matter which is very dear to his heart and quite central to the objectives of Rotary International, in their mutual desire to advance understanding, goodwill and peace in Rivers State and Nigeria.
Addressing the delegation, Governor Wike, who wondered how long the APC federal government will allow the needless killings and abduction of innocent Nigerians to continue, said: “There can’t be good governance without security and this is based on rule of law. All of us are living witnesses in 2015 when it was alleged that the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, could not perform. So Nigeria needed a change. What has happened to the change? They have taken Nigeria back by 50 years,” he lamented.
While stressing that it is no longer acceptable for Nigerians to wake up daily to such ugly news of killings because they expect the government to guarantee security, Governor Wike assured however that his administration was doing everything possible to secure life and property of all residents in the state.
“But thank God that in our state, we are doing everything we can to protect lives and property. For us, we believe that everybody has a role to play in this country. This is because when Nigeria is bad, Rivers state will be bad, since we are all component units of the country. But as a government, we will continue to partner with voluntary organisations like Rotary club to improve the wellbeing of our people.”
Governor Wike then lauded Rotary Club of Port Harcourt for the initiative to build a vocational centre to train Rivers’ youths and widows in different skills, which is quite in tandem with the youth and women empowerment initiatives of his administration and announced a donation of N65 million to support the  scheme in Rivers State.
Governor Wike is not a man who seeks or is easily swayed by awards, but when a universally renowned institution like the Rotary Club, decides to honour you with an award, it then becomes obvious that you must be doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right place, to ensure the promotion of peace, goodwill, enduring development and harmonious co-existence for your people.
Governor Wike is indeed working and Rivers people, including the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, are seeing it, clearly, boldly and without any prejudice or propaganda.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State
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