He, certainly, invites public sympathy. From his lamentation,
he was at pains, disappointed and distressed even, that the people he labours
day and night to serve and turn their fortunes around are busy shooting darts
You could see it in his near wrinkled face and pensive mood
as he addressed the body of lawyers.
His speech at the last general conference of the Nigerian
Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja on August 27 pulled at peoples’ heart strings.
“I think I am the most criticised President in the whole
world”, he said.
Even though he later recanted his statement at the Nigeria’s
52nd Independence Anniversary Lecture held in Abuja on September 18, the point
had already been made.
Plucked by fate from the comparatively somnolent position of
the Vice-President and thrust into the turbulent position of number one man in
Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is one man with one job few people would,
in truth, envy.
His is certainly a crown of thorns few people would want to
Jonathan’s remonstration is an indication that it is not easy to lead a nation, let alone an
ethno-religious diverse country like Nigeria. His remorseful remark also bears
much reflection in the acceptance of his policies and actions by the Nigerian
Although, there are no statistics to back Jonathan’s claim,
the frequency of attacks, arrows, slings and bullets he receives from poltical
opponents, professional critics, poorly informed but vocal detractors, agent
provocateurs, the Nigerian hoipolloi and even the mass media is an indicator
that Jonathan may not be totally wrong.
He may not be the most critised President in the world, for
he has contenders in Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and even the famous
American President Barrack Obama who many Americans have dubbed anti-Christ and
satanic; but Jonathan has no contender among his contemporaries in Nigeria.
Never has any Nigerian President been criticised as much as Jonathan, more
often for the problems he did not create. Not even the most brutal late Sani
Abacha received such barbs.It thus appears the hostility against past leaders
is rubbing off on Jonathan.
Everywhere he goes, Jonathan tries to appeal to the
conscience of the people to be patient with him and to cooperate with his
government, while at the same time, reeling out his modest achievements
and how he intends to actualise his
At the NBA conference, he reiterated his assurance to
improve the standard of living and turn Nigeria into a development haven.
“Our administration has introduced various policies and
initiatives to build a strong and dynamic economy, inspire investors’
confidence and attract investments into critical sectors.
“Our Transformation Agenda seeks to turn Nigeria into
development realities. There is now increased focus on the diversification of
the economy, away from almost total dependence on oil and gas.
“Furthermore, our various policies will ensure that Nigeria
reclaims its pride of place, especially in the areas of commerce and
agriculture. We are also exporting the vast opportunities in the mining sector.
Rapid industrialisation is also receiving attention as all hands are on deck to
ensure that the power sector is reformed and strengthened to support sustained
“The Power Sector Reform Act 2010 which is the flagship
legislation in this regard is being faithfully implemented to achieve the
desired outcome. I am hopeful that before 2015, significant progress would have
been made in power generation and distribution,” he said.
President Jonathan went further to say that, “His
administration is also committed to the development of critical infrastructure
to support our industrialisation drive and efforts to attract investments. To
this end, our roads and airports are currently undergoing resurfacing and
remodeling to bring them in line with the demands of the 21st century”.
Jonathan also touched on areas of security and constitution
which have become festering wounds on the soul of the nation. He assured,
“Government is working assiduously to combat the state of acts of terrorism in
the country.” To this end, he said, “the Terrorism (prevention) Act 2011 has
undergone comprehensive review and a new Terrorism (prohibition) Bill 2012 has
He nonetheless noted that, “the realisation of laws alone,
without effective prosecution will not yield the desired objective”, saying
“government is therefore committed to strengthening the capacity of our law
enforcement agencies for optimal performance”.
As President Jonathan addresses the nation today, he would
likely repeat the same promises, explain to the Nigerian populace how his
administration has fared in the past 16 months. And possibly too, the President
may express his disappointment for the impatience of Nigerians with the
It is however, unlikely that the ordinary Nigerian whose
income is being depleted by the rising cost of living and who daily queues at
filling stations to buy fuel that is almost beyond his reach would easily buy
the assurances that may likely thunder forth from the President’s speech.
A litre of fuel now sells between N95 official price and
N200. A bag of cement costs as much as
N2,200, while the prices of food stuff have skyrocketed beyond what common man
on the street can afford.
The peoples’ disillusionment is understandable. For the past
52 years, they have been awash with such
promises and assurances from their leaders, to no avail.
They have been victims of what Dr. Olatunji Dare calls
“serial misrule, of policies that subvert rather than advance public
well-being, of clueless and lack of vision in higher places, of having their
names taken in vain, without corresponding adherence to their interests and
At every independence anniversary, the sing-song has
remained the same. Comatose economy, infrastructural decay, poor social
services, insecurity, corruption of over-the-table kind, socio-economic
imbalance, ethno-religious intolerance, minority marginalization and a lot more
of other deep structural misfortunes that have dogged Nigeria’s path and have
also been served as Nigeria’s birthday cake since October 1, 1960.
As President Jonathan addresses the nation, it is unlikely
he would not keep the tradition of rehashing this dirge and feeding Nigerians
with the same birthday cake they have been forced to eat since independence.
The general notion is that successive governments, since 52
years ago, have been beautiful in rhetorics, but short on delivery. Jonathan’s
government, by public opinion and development indicator, is not an exemption.
There is no doubt that most of the nation’s woes were not
Jonathan’s creation. Most of them had been there before he came to power and
may possibly outlive his tenure. The nation’s four refineries had been down,
roads had been in bad shapes; there had been general infrastructural decay and
a sea of unemployed youths; economy had been tottering in the doldrums, while
hydra-headed corruption had been the nation’s albatross.
But the people’s anger and disenchantment is with Jonathan’s
tall promises that fall short of delivery and the slow pace he pursues his
In his inaugural speech, after he was sworn in on May 29,
last year, President Jonathan was tall on promises. He reiterated his campaign
promises, to transform the economy, create jobs, improve the living standard of
the people, rebuild the infrastructure, create greater access to quality
education and improved health care delivery and generate enduring happiness for
Good vision, good talk. Given Jonathan’s humble background,
the people who had already turned out in their large numbers to give him a
Pan-Nigerian mandate believed him.
But no sooner had Jonathan begun his tenure than he had to
contend with security threats from a group of terrorists known as Boko Haram.
Today, the issue of insecurity appears to have overwhelmed Jonathan’s vision
for the country. The President himself admitted
that Boko Haram insurgency was distracting his government. On different
occasions, Jonathan was a visitor to scenes of bomb attacks and bloody violence.
At each turn, Jonathan’s campaign and inaugural day promise
to fight for the future of the common man on the streets is being questioned by
the same electorate who voted him with much enthusiasm.
Infrastructure is depreciating by the day, while security
agencies appear to have no known solution to the Boko Haram menace and other
heinous crimes. Across the length and breadth of the nation, the death toll
from road accidents, arising from poor road network, is alarmingly high.
Unemployment has grown a notch higher than usual.
In less than two years into his four-year tenure, Jonathan
has received more knocks from the Nigerian populace than any of his
predecessors. On daily basis, his policies have become the target of public
scrutiny and criticisms. The mass media, the civil society organisations and
the opposition parties, especially the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) led the pack, and are so unsparing with
There is a general
impression that the clumsy and unintelligent manner with which Jonathan’s
administration tackles security threats has been responsible for the increasing
whirlwind of violence in the country. The fear now is if the sanguinary
tendency will not go a notch higher.
President Jonathan is being accused of being too petrified
to hold people accountable for heinous actions.
Even in the wake of the Presidential election when former
Head of State, General Muhammad Buhari and former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku
dared him that his government risked violence change if it resisted peaceful
change, Jonathan’s government merely played to the gallery with tough talks, no
Jonathan, however, attributed most of the criticisms against
him to the politics of 2015. He also
took a swipe at the mass media which he accused of playing politics with the
Jonathan may not be totally wrong. Since he became the
Acting President on February 9, 2010 through the ‘doctrine of necessity,’
following the hospitalisation of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia,
some sections of the country, particular the core North, have become
uncomfortable. The death of Yar’Adua on May 5, and the swearing-in of Jonathan
as a substantive president the next day heightened the political tension in the
North and as well disorganised the political permutation in the country.
Jonathan’s declaration to run for the April, 2012
presidential election turned out to be the high point of political permutation.
The North, by its calculation and zoning formular adopted by the ruling party,
was to take a second term shot at the presidency. But Jonathan and his
supporters, relying on the Nigerian Constitution, distorted the permutation.
Since then, there have been a heavy downpour of criticisms and media attacks
against Jonathan mostly by those who felt short-changed by the political
In the wake of the PDP presidential primaries which
President Jonathan won landslide in
February, last year, the President was accused of trying to subvert the
zoning proviso in the party’s constitution. The Northern political group, Arewa
Consultative Forum (ACF) whose membership was made up of PDP top shots, led the
pack of the opposition.
The sweeping newspaper headlines: “Arewa Rejects Jonathan”
and the counter-bluff from Jonathan’s campaign team “They (Arewa) are of no
consequence” were examples of extreme intra-party conflicts, powered by
bitterness, which the PDP launched against itself before and after the
emergence of Jonathan as PDP Presidential candidate.
Since then, there has been a growing discontent among the
rank and file of the PDP, such that several efforts have been made to reconcile
the warring factions to no avail. It was these intra-party differences that the
opposition parties seized to launch vitriotic attacks on the PDP government. It
was also on the basis of these differences that the current attacks and
terrorism being launched on the Nigerian State by Boko Haram are allegedly premised.
As noted by the former National Security Adviser (NSA) to
the President, General Andrew Azazi, “The issue of violence did not increase in
Nigeria until when there was a declaration by the current President that he was
going to contest. The Peoples Democratic Party got it wrong from the beginning.
The party started by saying Mr. A. can rule, and Mr. B. cannot rule, according
to PDP conventions, rules and regulations and not according to the
The outbreak of post-presidential election violence in some
parts of the North was also partly an indication of wrong extrapolations that
the Nigerian presidency is the fiefdom of a particular region, just as the myth
of the North –South dichotomy has thrown up deep structural issues and national
questions that bother on national cohesion.
Today, the Federal Government appears to have been buffeted
by the issue of insecurity in the country, heightened by the activities of Boko
In January this year, Jonathan’s many problems were
compounded by the sudden removal of fuel subsidy. The decision, considered too
hasty by many people, drew public flak and almost suffocated the nation’s
economy. It took Jonathan’s government nine days of stirring protests by
Nigerians to beat a petulant retreat.
The President, however, alleged that the Occupy Nigeria
anti-fuel subsidy removal mass protests, organised by civil society groups, in
Lagos and Abuja were sponsored by an unnamed class of people.
“Look at the demonstrations back home, look at the areas
these demonstrations are coming from, you begin to ask, are these the ordinary
citizens that are demonstrating. Or are people pushing them to demonstrate?,”
But the civil society groups, the opposition parties and a
section of the mass media faulted Jonathan’s allegation, saying he had
alienated himself from the people.
The suspension of Justice Ayo Salami as the President of the
Appeal Court, the renaming of University of Lagos (UNILAG) after the late
politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, and the reinstatement of Mrs Arunma Oteh as
the Director-General of the Nigerian Securities And Exchange Commission (NSEC)
were some other thorns in the flesh of Jonathan.
Recently too, the House of Representatives dangled an
impeachment axe against President Jonathan over alleged poor implementation of
the 2012 budget. The budget according to the House, was implemented below
Many observers, however, described the House threat as a
smokescreen to get its own pound of flesh from Jonathan.
Since the inception of Jonathan’s presidency last year,
there has been a muscle flexing between the House and the presidency. First was
the endorsement of Hon Mulikat Akande as the Speaker by the PDP leadership. The
PDP caucus in the House, in alliance with the opposition parties, rejected
Akande and picked Hon. Aminu Tambuwah as their Speaker.
In January, this year, the House was also in a cold war with
the President over the sudden removal of the oil subsidy, even when the
National Assembly was still debating over the issue.
Also recently, the
House leadership accused the presidency over the Hon. Farouk Lawan and
Femi Otedola bribery allegation, which the House interpreted to mean a ‘sting
operation’ to smear the character of the House leadership, particularly the
Speaker. Even now, the recall of Oteh by the President is still generating
ill-feeling in the House
In spite of the daunting challenges that face Jonathan’s
administration, the President has managed to record some modest achievements in
the last 16 months of his administration.
These include the minimum wage Act 2011 that he signed into
law in March, 2012 for Nigerian workers, the on-going upgrading of local and
international airports in the country, the on-going repair of major roads that
have been in bad shape for almost 20 years and the rejuvenation of the comatose
railway transportation system after 20 years of lull in the sector.
President Jonathan will also be remembered for signing into
law the famous Freedom of Information Act, and for his government’s
determination to unbundle the power sector after 52 years of monopoly. The
appointment of more women into his cabinet in line with 35 per cent he promised
them, and the conduct of a free and fair election in the country, among others,
were other high points of his administration.
Already, there is an on-going constitutional review in the
country. This is line with Jonathan’s promise to give Nigerians the peoples’
constitution and as well redress the imbalances in the country, as well as
remove the ambiguities in the constitution.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan, according to the former NBA
President, Mr. Joseph Bodunri Daudu, was
described as the most tolerant
President Nigeria has ever had, in spite of heavy criticisms against him.
Many stakeholders have, however, blamed the economic and
socio-political malady in the country on imbalanced development and lack of
good constitutional framework, while few others have heaped the blame on poor
As Jonathan grapples with the nation’s challenges, many
curious observers have argued that Jonathan was promoted beyond his competence
and natural ability. The weight of the nation’s myriad problems, according to
them, is too much for him.
But President Jonathan has promised to surprise and possibly
shame his critics and detractors, who have painted him with the tattoo of a
“But I want to tell this audience that before I leave, I
will be the most praised president,” he told his audience at the last NBA
conference in Abuja.
Jonathan may not be the best president Nigeria has ever
produced, but he is, certainly, not the worst.
As Nigeria’s 5th elected president, his place in the nation’s history is
guaranteed. But whether his name will appear on the front page of history or as
a mere footnote is a matter that would be decided between now and 2015.
The Tide Keeps Flowing At 49
It must have been extremely frustrating for the leaders of the Niger Delta people in the late colonial and early post-Independence periods in Nigeria; particularly those of them who partook in politics outside the canopies of the then three major political parties, namely, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and Action Group (AG).
For the NPC which was dominant in the Northern Region, it was the New Nigerian newspaper that served as a very potent instrument for mass mobilization and presentation of its views. The Eastern and Western Regions had the Nigerian Outlook and The Sketch as their respective equivalents.
Whereas the three main regional governments at that time were run by the above parties chiefly through the instrumentality of their respective newspapers, the Niger Delta people lacked any such viable medium to propagate their agitations as a minority group. This is even as the area paraded some of the best journalists of the time; people like Ernest Ikoli, Anthony Enahoro, Robert Ezekiel-Hart and Wonukuru Obaziorlu.
Their apparent frustration must have taken flight with the splitting of the country into 12 subnational entities, including Rivers State, on May 27, 1967 by Lt Col. Yakubu Gowon.
At the end of the 30-month Nigerian Civil War, and despite Gowon’s declaration of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’, there still existed some undercurrents that were discomfiting to returnee Rivers people and for which they began to clamour for a voice of their own.
In short, the frenzied bid by a long suppressed but now liberated minority people to assert themselves in the new dispensation generated ill feelings from their erstwhile dominant neighbours who, like the Egyptians in the Bible, appeared very unwilling to let go easily.
A former Chairman of Board of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC), Mr. Friday Yowika, alluded to this while explaining why the Nigerian Tide newspaper was established.
“Pilloried by its big neighbour that had always regarded Port Harcourt as its satellite, resented by others with vested interests, the state (Rivers) found itself misrepresented in almost all the then national papers. It was no wonder therefore that the government, aware of the need to protect its own image, desirous of putting across its own views and to seek justice and fair play, came to the inevitable conclusion to establish a newspaper.”
The Rivers State Newspaper Corporation Edict No. 11 of 1971 was thus promulgated by the government of Navy Commander Alfred Papa Priye Diete-Spiff as the first Military Governor of Rivers State. The Edict provided for a Board to direct the affairs of the Corporation.
But prior to the constitution of the Board, there were those who served as the think-tank for the planning and execution of events that led to the founding of the newspaper house. Call them the Founding Fathers. They include the then Commissioner for Information, Kenule Saro-Wiwa; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Henry H. Jumbo; Commissioner in the Civil Service, Athanesius Woluchem; and Gabriel Okara, an internationally acclaimed poet and literary icon.
When it was eventually formed, the pioneer Board comprised A.O.Woluchem as Chairman; Valentine James Spiff as Deputy Chairman; Israel Idamiebi-Brown; Ashley Williams; Preye Okosi; Dr. Theo Vincent and the General Manager of the Corporation, Gabriel Okara.
Starting as a weekly newspaper, Nigerian Tide soon grew to become an authoritative source of information to the extent that readers were wont to discard any breaking news until it was authenticated by the next edition of the paper. It was like the Rivers man’s new identity. Indigenes of the state resident in distant places like Lagos, Kaduna and a few other parts of Nigeria craved for it regardless of how late it arrived. Of course, the paper was always early at nearby newsstands and was, at some point, even used to sell copies of other reputable national dailies.
And even though it is owned by the state, the paper was by no means afraid to criticise government actions. This was confirmed by no less a personality than Chief Okogbule Wonodi, the second General Manager of the Corporation, who said, “I do not think that the history of the Nigerian Tide to date, is (that of) an official mouthpiece of the Government. True enough, The Tide has carried and will continue to carry news of government activities but the paper has also carried critical views that represent public reactions to some government policies.
“In other words, The Tide is a newspaper whose function as an independent paper is not in any way curtailed.”
The paper’s maiden edition was launched in Lagos on December1, 1971 by Diete-Spiff himself but commercial copies were officially rolled out for circulation three days later on December 4,1971. Hence, the date of its annual anniversary.
Not quite long after its launch, the Nigerian Tide began a twice weekly publication (Wednesday and Saturday). Its pioneer management team was said to include Gabriel Okara, General Manager; G. N. Loolo, Secretary to the Corporation; J. O. Yekwe, Production Manager; J. E. Agbogidi, Assistant Production Manager; and D. O. Jumbo, Advert Manager.
The first set of Editorial Managers was made up of Rowland Amaewhule, Acting Editor; Bieshia Bellgam, News Editor; Anthony Tebekaemi, Features Editor; Maurice Dombo, Production Editor; Tons Fetepigi, Chief Reporter; William Bozimo, Chief Correspondent (Lagos); A. F. Isokariari, Circulation Officer; and Monday Nwikpo, Advert Representative (Lagos).
With almost all the states inheriting or floating their own newspapers, there was a serious shortage of professional journalists across the land. It therefore became the practice then for media organisations to recruit secondary school leavers as cub reporters and sponsor them to journalism training schools such as the Nigerian Institute of Journalists (NIJ) in Lagos and Jos or Daily Times School of Journalism. Some were also sent abroad to study at prestigious training centres on Fleet Street in London.
Staff welfare was robust as operational vehicles were made abundant for both the distribution of the newspaper and conveying workers to and from assignments. Residential quarters were rented for staff at some low-density areas of Port Harcourt, including D-Line. At a time, Nigerian Tide offices were said to be operational in 10 of the original 12 states with radio communication links for daily transmission of reports. The paper was also said to have undertaken the payment of its staff salaries.
Such was the good fortune of the Nigerian Tide in its nascent years. In fact, not even the sudden emergence of colourful private newspaper in Port Harcourt, Garden City Sunray, could affect the former’s print run in the early 1990s.
Then, let us fast-forward to 1995 when things took a turn for the worse, leading to the suspension of the paper’s titles for several months.
It took the efforts of a team headed by the then Information Commissioner, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, to revive the Nigerian Tide stable in 1996 but under a new name, The Tide. The state government had hired Taijo Wonukabe, a professional team of consultants led by Chido Nwakanma to undertake the recruitment of some experienced hands to refloat the paper. Their effort saw to the emergence of a new Editorial Management under Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart as General Manager/Editor-in-Chief; ThankGod Igwe, Editor; Dagogo Clinton, Deputy Editor; Nengi Ilagha, Editor (The Tide On Sunday); Kadilo Toby, News Editor; Celestine Ogolo, Sports Editor; Soye Jamabo, Entertainment Editor; Goodluck Ukwe, Political Editor; Fred Fabor, Copy Editor; Juliet Njiowhor, Women Editor; and Friday Nwinude, Business Editor.
The Tide was able to return to the newsstand but only to discover the disappearance of almost all its state-owned contemporaries.
There is no doubt that The Tide hoped to fare better with the return of democratic rule in 1999. But unfortunately, there has been no tangible relief for the RSNC for so long. Yearly budgetary accommodations have hardly translated into any meaningful fiscal dole-outs. Printing machines bought at the inception of the Corporation in the early 1970s are still in use. What’s more, the newly installed state-of-the-art Goss machine acquired in 2014 was immediately discovered to have been shipped without a very vital component. And this has rendered it non-functional ever since.
The Tide staff had until a few years ago retired without any benefits under the former parastatals pension arrangement before the system was brought into the state’s mainstream civil service pension scheme.
Again, the current facelift being enjoyed by the Corporation was at the insistence of the present state administration after many years of the structure being abandoned to the elements.
Then entered COVID-19 with its lockdowns which drained advert sources and temporarily forced the paper out of the market.
As if this was not a handful already, the second-hand electricity generator donated to the Corporation by a previous administration in the state is now a cause for daily concern as it breaks down every so often, mostly in the middle of production.
Even in the face of all this, the RSNC still hopes that the state government’s recent appointments in the Corporation indicates its determination and poise to throw more positive surprises in the paper’s direction. Until that happens, The Tide will continue to flow, by the special grace of God.
So far, those who have served as General Managers of RSNC include Gabriel Okara, Okogbule Wonodi, Dominic Anucha, Felix Obilor, Lyte Kosu, Anthony Tebekaemi, Edward Akpa, Magnus Bara-Hart, Godfrey Sikoki, Anthony Amakiri, Eriye Iyayi, Bernard Graham-Douglas, and Dan Obinna.
Others are Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart, Amabipi Martins, Augustine Nwikinaka, Celestine Ogolo, Vincent Ake, and now Ernest Chinwo.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
‘We’ll Continue To Advance Rivers Interests’
Being The Text Of A State Broadcast By His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike, To The People Of Rivers State On Monday, 30th September, 2019.
My dear people of Rivers State On the 9th of September 2019 we kick-started the celebration of the 100 days of our second term in office and for three weeks we carried out the daily inauguration of completed projects as the main thrust of the celebration.
The projects we inaugurated, which ranged from strategic road infrastructure, markets and a football academy to senior civil servants’ quarters and secretariat buildings for Labour and Student Unions, are testaments to our resolve to effectively utilize available resources to advance the socio-economic progress of our State and improve the wellbeing of our people.
It is still early morning in our second tenure and we have demonstrated that, for us, there would be no lull in the administration of our renewed political mandate. Rather, we will increase the tempo of deliverables, fulfil our promises and bequeath a much better State.
We are happy to note that the soundness of our policies and governance have enabled us to grow the State’s economy, deliver so much on infrastructure and improve the general wellbeing of our people under a difficult national economic climate.
We wish to also state that we are sensitive to the agitation of our people for political and economic freedom and we shall continue to respond appropriately to the challenges of development either alone or in conjunction with our partners to advance our abiding interest in building the brightest possible future for our State and for all our people.
It is for this sense of collective purpose that I am delighted to inform you that the Rivers State Government has fully acquired Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) 45% interest in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 situated in Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area and the adjoining Ogoni and other communities of Rivers State.
The background of incidents and processes that culminated into this salutary development are as follows:
Following a major oil spill from SPDC Trans Niger High Pressure Crude Oil Pipeline at Ejama Community, an approximate area of 255 hectares of arable agricultural land, fishing swamps and rivers were devastated.
SPDC admitted that the oil spill came from their pipeline and occurred sometime in 1970. They paid some compensation to the community in the sum of N300,000.00 sometime in 1986 and promised to come and de-pollute the area.
SPDC failed to de-pollute the area which gave rise to a lawsuit in 1991 commenced at the High Court of Rivers State, Nchia Division presided over by Hon Justice P.N.C. Agumagu (now retired). At the end of the trial, the Court found against SPDC and entered judgment in the sum of N1 billion in addition to and order for SPDC to clean up the spill or pay N6 billion in lieu thereof.
SPDC appealed the judgement. During the pendency of the appeal, the jurisdiction of the State High Court was taken away and donated to the Federal High Court by a subsequent judgment of the Supreme Court. The Ejama-Ebubu Community conceded SPDC’s appeal without a formal hearing.
The community commenced a fresh suit in 2001 at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, this time against SPDC and its parent companies – SHELL of Netherlands and SHELL of United Kingdom.
This fresh case commenced in 2001 passed through four different justices of that Court arising from twists and turns associated with opposed litigations, until it was disposed of about 10 years after in June 2010 by Buba J. (the fifth judge to preside over the matter).
SPDC and its parent companies appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in 2010, which again suffered the twists and turns passing through six different panels comprising three justices each between 2010 and 2017 before it was finally disposed of by the panel of that Court led by Gumel JCA of the Port Harcourt Division. The appeal was dismissed.
SPDC and its parent companies took out a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2017, which appeal was considered and dismissed by that Court in a judgment read by Hon. Justice B. Akaahs, JSC delivering a lead judgment in a unanimous decision.
After losing at the High Court, SPDC gave the successful Ejama-Ebubu Plaintiffs a Bond Guarantee stipulating that First Bank of Nigerian Limited would pay them the value of the Judgment debt and interests thereon in the event that SPDC’s appeal to the Court of Appeal fails at that Court. The original Bank Guarantee is still with the Community.
When SPDC’s appeal failed at the Court of Appeal, Shell instructed the Bank to dishonour their guarantee, which did and gave rise to a series of six different litigations in various Courts against First Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria. SPDC’s excuse was that they had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The enforcement cases had been to Owerri, Abuja, Lagos, etc. in six different lawsuits.
On the 11th of January, 2019, Shell’s appeal was dismissed at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The judgments of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court were registered in the United Kingdom for enforcement over there against SPDC parent companies domiciled outside Nigeria’s shores.
ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT IN NIGERIA
(i) The Ejama-Ebubu community commenced enforcement by domiciling the judgment in the State High Court and levying execution on SPDC movables in their Industrial Area in Port Harcourt;
(ii) Those chattels were attached on the ground but not removed;
(iii) SPDC invited the community and offered them N7 billion as against the judgment debt of N194 billion, which the community refused to accept;
(iv) The community approached the court for and order granting them leave to sell SPDC’s immovable property comprised in OML 11 and their kidney Island support base in Port Harcourt.
Upon the advertisement of the said immovable assets for auction, the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State alerted the Government of the State.
RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO BUY
I have given due consideration of the following factors from information made available to me:
(i) That this oil spill impacted the Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State from the activities of SPDC;
(ii) That the impact is still there and un-remedied since 1970 as admitted by SPDC vide letters they wrote seeking to clean the spill in 2006 while the case was at the trial Court;
(iii) That the Rivers State has suffered the worst impact of environmental degradation resulting from oil related operations;
(iv) That the very difficult swamp and mischievous waterlogged terrain of the Rivers State has impeded development as a result of increased construction costs on the near and non-existent infrastructures and attendant rapid decay of the little we have been able to achieve as a result of oil related acid rain and black sooth enveloping the State;
(v) That these phenomenal degradation and impoverishment had continued with the decline of revenue and inflation, lack of employment of well-educated Rivers State youths, idleness and restiveness arising from want;
(vi) That SPDC is said to have paid the sum of USD 2,000,000 (two million United States Dollars) only for the renewal of their operatorship and interest in the said OML 11 to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;
(vii) That for the past 25 years, the rich oil potentials of OML 11 have remained untapped following the hanging of the world-renown Ogoni poet and environmental activist, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9 as well as the unfortunate mob lynching and death of four prominent Ogoni citizens, one of whom was the Secretary of Government of the Rivers State and another, a Commissioner under the tenure of Lt. Col. Dauda Musa Komo as Governor of Rivers State;
(viii) That it has become unlikely that for peace and security, the people of Ogoni in the Rivers Stat will welcome SPDC on their land forming part of OML 11;
(ix) That a lot of revenue is lost to the Federation Account accruable to the 55% stake of the Federal Government in OML 11 and by extension the rest of the Federating States of Nigeria due to non-production of nearly 250,000 barrels per day of its crude oil potentials equalling one sixth of the country’s total out-put per day;
(x) That the Rivers State Government has continued to loose 13% derivation fund from the said 55% stake of the Federal Government in that field for nearly 30 years now, which revenue would have transformed the State and its peoples for the better;
(xi) That rather than standby and watch other persons or group purchaser SPDC 45% interest in that OML 11 and further exacerbate the poverty of the people of the State, a responsible and responsive State Government should weigh in and bid for the purchase of SPDC interest already set down for auction;
(xii) That the present Government of Rivers State entrusted in my care through the Will of God and those of the peoples of the Rivers State have concluded that it will be in the overall interest of the State, the other Federating States and the Federal Government that we as a Government, should make a bid for the purchase of the said interest of SPDC now placed on auction by extant Order of the Courts of Law.
Therefore, I directed the Rivers State Ministry of Finance Incorporated to make a bid of USD 150,000,0900.00 supported by a Bank Guarantee and cash payment to the Deputy Sheriff in the sum of N1 billion, the later payable to the Judgement Creditors while the former is escrowed.
I have further directed the relevant Government agencies to take immediate steps to liaise with any financially capable companies to partner with the Rivers State Government to ensure that the said oil field come on stream within 15 months from today.
In line with our commitment to accelerated development, industrial harmony and security, the Rivers State Government will graciously concede some portion of its 45% per cent equity interest to all the oil producing communities within OML 11 to enhance mutual ownership, participation and sharing in the benefits of these resources.
I have taken these steps with all sense of responsibility believing that addressing the pains and poverty of our peoples with the resultant security and welfare of its people is the main purpose of governance and nothing less.
Without any doubt, this is a profound economic investment with profound and enduring positive implications on peace, security, development and prosperity for the oil-bearing communities of OML 11, the entire Rivers State and our country.
I have attached a Certified True Copy of the Judicial Certificate of Purchase of Land/Immovable property dated 25 September, 2019 issued by the High Court of Rivers State under Order VII Rule 9 of High Court Rivers in reference to Suit No: PCH/1696/2019 between Government of Rivers State of Nigeria vs. Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara & 5 Ors and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. & 2 Ors.
Thank you and may God continue to bless and prosper Rivers State.
Nigerian Entertainment @59 …So Far, So Good
Kudos and more rewarding years ahead to the good people of Nigeria as the country marks 59 years of independence and freedom from domination by the British colonial over lords. In the past 59 eventful years the entertainment industry had remained a dependable partner in the nation’s quest for economic rejuvenation, as the industry accounted for over 1.4 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic product (GDP) in 2013 and the figure is fast growing.
Apart from generating income for the country, the entertainment sector also provides employment to the teaming population of Nigerians as well as show cases the cultural heritage of the country and also rebranding of the nation’s image abroad. The unprecedented growth of the industry from obscurity to international limelight is evident in the achievements of stake holders in the various organs of entertainment vis-a-viz, movie, music, comedy, tourism and hospitality.
Movie: From the 1957 ‘Fincho’, 1980 ‘Kadara’, 1992 Living in Bondage, 2012 Keeping Faith to the 2014 October 1, the Nigerian film industry has come a very long way as it had witnessed the good, the bad and the urgly, but has continued to thrive in the face of the daunting challenges.
In 1957 ‘Fincho’ became the first Nigerian film to be shot in clolour following Nigeria’s independence in October 1, 1960. In 1972 the independence Decree of General Yakubu Gowon’s regime made possible the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinemas from their foreign owners to Nigerians, resulting in more Nigerians actively participating in Nigeria’s film growth.
In 1992, the release of the classic movie “Living in Bondage’ Kicked off a new era in the Nigerian film industry. This era produced movies that are still referred to as classics. It produced actors that were and still household names in Nigeria.
In the mid 2000s the home video experienced a major deadline with factors such as piracy and film rental shops playing a major role. In 2004 a new cinema era began with the launch of series of modern cinema houses by silver bird group. The new wave film to be shown at a modern cinema was Kunle Afolayan’s 2006’ Irapada’ which screened at the silver bird galleria.
Ever since then, high and small budget movies like ‘Ije’, surulere’, the Figurinel. The CEO, 90 days, Half of a yellow Sun, The Meeting, October 1 and the Arbitrator have been screened at different cinemas in Nigeria. With the launch of silver bird cinemas, other cinema houses like Ozone, filmhouse and Genesis Deluxe were also launched and are playing important roles in the evolution of the Nigerian film industry.
The Nigerian film industry has become more profitable with movie like the wedding party grossing over 405 million naira in just two months and ‘A Trip to Jamaica “earning a Guinness book of world record spot for its box office success. The industry has also created quality TV series such as ‘Hush’, ‘Sons Of Caliphate’ and ‘The Governor’ among others.
Over the years, the web platform like iroko TV, Ibaka TV and cix TV provide paid for Nigerian films on demand at affordable charges pay TV entertainment platforms like Africa magic have also invested in the Nigerian film industry creating shows and empowering the youths.
The Nigerian film industry has established itself as a major cultural and socio economic force in Nigeria and the rest of the world. Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry revenue witnessed a 25.5 percent growth. This amounted to $3.8 billion with $605 million of the estimated $764 million rise said to be attributed to internet access, according to a recent report.
Music: The development of modern music and dance had their origin and foundation in the traditions of various communities in Nigeria. Who are known to have their own music and dance forms which they use in entertaining themselves and important quests. Every event attracts its own form of music in the traditional setting.
The Nigerian music industry is proud to storm the world stage by identifying its relevance and essence. The music fact of entertainment has waxed relatively strong, expanding year after year, turning in billions of naira to the economy. There is no gainsaying the fact that music is part of our everyday life and more or less an integral part of visual and audio media productions including sound tracks in both local and foreign movies.
With an apparently inexhaustible stream talents and capacity to innovate, the Nigerian music industry is one that can neither be hindered by economic depression nor lack of relevance.
The industry has the necessary resources to rule the airwaves of not only Nigeria, but also the length and breath of Africa and the world at large. It is note worthy that the number of stakeholders in Nigerian music business is ever increasing, they include the musicians, producers, promoters, manager distributors and marketers.
In the past six years, the growing number of new production studios and artistes springing up has paved way for a more vibrant and self sustaining industry. A lot of Nigerian artistes are already enjoying corporate sponsorship for their unique talents and achievements some have recorded land mark album sales sometimes running into hundreds of thousand copies.
Others have won prestigious awards in international contests and events hence attracting more and more investments from very many sources. The investments have no doubt aided production of world class quality music as a result of innovations in sounds, rhythms and recording techniques.
Nigerian musicians have developed a vast spectrum of music genres blending hip hop, rap, rhythm and blues reggae gospel etc with traditional Nigerian beats and instruments. Some of the popular names include 2face idibia, P-Square, Davido, Timaya, Tiwa savage, Wiziki, D’banj, Don Jazzy, M.I., Bracket and Olamide others are KCee, Asa, Skales Mc Galaxy, Yemi Alade, patoranking, Tekno, Phyno, Flavour etc
A good number of them have also made name in gospel music such as Chris Morgan, Frank Edward, Panam Percy Paul, Yinka Ayefele and Sinach among others.
STAND UP COMMEDY: Stand up comedians have come to compete in Nigeria’s entertainment landscape, they distill humour and jokes inspired by everyday life experience of Nigerians to a wide variety of audience through direct stage shows or recorded VCD/DVD in English or Nigerian pidgin.
Among the most popular of these highly talented comedians are ‘1 go dye’, Bovi, Seyi Law Lepacious Bose, Funny Bone, Klint d’ drunk, Basket mouth, Helen Panel, Chi Girl etc.
TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY:- Some of the diverse cultural features of the country are the manifestations of the socio cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups that have inhabited the land for ages. Some of the cultural events with tourism potentials which have attracted several international recognitions and revenue to the country, some of these tourists events include the Grand Dubar festival, the famous Arugungu fishing festival (Ondo State), Olojo festival (Ile Ife), the Oshun festival (Oshogbo), Atilogu dances and the new yam festivals from the east as well as the Abuja, calabar and Rivers State carnivals among others.
The natural tourist sites include Sukur landscape (Adamawa State) Zuma Rock (Niger State), Olumo Rock (Abeokuta), Kuru falls in Jos, Shere hills (Jos), Abokin Waterfalls, Gurara waterfalls, Erin Ijesha water falls, Mambulla plateau (Taraba State).
Idanre and Oka hills Ondo State, others are Obudu cattle ranch, Oguta Lake Imo State, Ikogosi Springs Ekiti State, Lekki Beach Lagos, Mayegum Beach Lagos and the whispering Palm resort Lagos as well as other tourists destinations across the country.
In hospitality Nigeria parades world class hotels and other outlets located in different parts of the country which ranges from first, second and third classes according to international standard and specification. The sector is regulated by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
Hotels serve as avenue for revemae generation to the economy and support for the entertainment industry by providing opportunity and platform for music and movie stars to do stage performance and lodging. Some of the top hotels in the country are transcop hotel Abuja, Eko hotel and seraton hotels lagos, Ham dala hotel, hotel presidential, Enugu and Rivers States, premiere hotel Ibadan etc.
The Nigerian entertainment clan over the past 59 years has evolved and still gaining more grounds in the global entertainment anclave, we can beat our chest and say ‘so far so good’ as the beat goes on.
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