After a period of respite
from militancy-induced violent crime and cult wars that plagued Rivers State some years back, men of the underworld appear to be up in arms again against residents of the state.
A few weeks ago, gun men reportedly attacked and killed an army major posted to the state and attached to the 2 Amphibious Brigade, Nigerian army, Bori camp, at the Waterlines area of Port Harcourt.
This came on the heels of three kidnap incidents in different parts of the state in which some prominent politicians from the state were said to have fallen victims.
Just recently, a popular comedian and radio broadcaster Akas Baba was also abducted from his residence at Rumuekini in Obio/Akpor local Government Area of the state after being shot on the leg.
Akas Baba passed through a week of ordeal in the hands of his abductors before he was rescued by the police.
Not too long ago, the police in Rivers State led by its State Commissioner, Johnson Tunde Ogunsakin paraded 15 persons arrested for kidnapping and 13 others for armed robbery. The police command also paraded five other suspects who disguised in army and naval uniforms to rob a truck loaded with 900 bags of cement.
A Niger Delta activist and President of Agape Birthrights Organization, Mrs Ann-Kio Briggs was among those that have continued to raise their voices against kidnapping and other social crime. She said: “I am totally against kidnapping. It is a criminal act. Nothing justifies the kidnapping of anybody, by a group of people, no matter the reasons. I am sure that it is a very distressing situation to be in. The closest I came personally to kidnapping was when my uncle’s wife Sienye Lulu-Brigss was kidnapped and I know how terrible that was for the family and for the people it affected directly, you know. So, I am opposed to kidnapping for any reason whatsoever, but definitely the rate of kidnapping in Nigeria today, the latest one being the young school girls, female children that were kidnapped a couple of days ago”.
These only go to show that violent crime is on the increase in the state but not just in Rivers State but even at the national level where the picture appears even grimmer.
In 2005, the Central intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America was reported to have predicted that Nigeria as a country would likely disintegrate by 2015. Though the report attracted sharp criticisms and condemnation from Nigerians especially the ruling class who viewed it as one of those prophesies of doom, it was later denied by the US authorities. Today the rising level of insecurity in the land raises much fear for the worst. At that time, it was the Niger Delta militants threatening the peace and sabotaging the economy. The successful launch of the amnesty programme by the then President Musa Yar Adua administration largely restored peace in the area. But this was not to be sustained. Sooner than later kidnapping became the order of the day, especially in the South-East and South-South, kidnappers went on the prowl and spared no one that came their way including school children and their teachers.
Then followed the bloody convulsion between the Birom and the Hausa/Fulani in Jos, the Fulani herdsmen and the Benue state indigenes, political and post election violence recorded across the nation and the pivotal acts of bombings and killings by the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram interpreted to mean ‘No to Western Education’. Attack by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents have come in torrents and appear to defy both dialogue and force. It has also left on its trail rivers of the blood of the innocent. The protracted state of insecurity has not only left Nigerians scampering for refuge even at the slightest unusual blare of the horn of a truck. Many now wonder whether the nation can still continue to weather the storm and come out in the end in one piece. The ever increasing problem of insecurity in the country has become a monster threatening to consume or swallow up the country faster than any one would have predicted. The federal government has also responded with the declaration of a State of Emergency in the three most affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Many have suggested that terrorism or general insecurity is an ill wind that is blowing across several nations. The world powers, like the US, the UK and many others, have also battled with the oddity for several decades. The difference bothers mainly on the cause, the nation’s unity of purpose and the management of the threats of insecurity in those countries.
Since the first successful attack in the nation’s capital, Abuja in 2010, it has been a string of somewhat unrestricted strikes at various locations especially in the northern states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Taraba and Nasarawa which have claimed thousands of lives
Since then, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja has also been attacked four times , starting with the October 1st, 2010 Independence Day Twin Bombing to the latest bomb blast at Nyanya Bus Park which killed not less than 75 people and injured over a hundred others.
The Boko Haram insurgents, in the last two years have also successfully launched their attacks on various police stations including the Abuja Force Headquaters, and other military locations and barracks with attendant killings of security personnel saddled with the work of providing security for the ordinary Nigerian. It is a situation that had apparently kept operatives of the security outfits at the receiving end.
Nigerians at various levels of government have made statements on the situation condemning the acts and advising on the way forward even though Nigerians are yet to see better days or a seeming effect of the numerous condemnations of the dastardly acts.
In the wake of the Nyanya bombing, the Senate President, David Mark in a statement called on all the Security agencies to synergize further in their fight against terrorism and Nigerians to give them the necessary support through supply of useful information.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has pointed out that political sentiments may be part of the driving forces behind the terrorist acts and on arrival from the National Hospital where he had earlier gone to commiserate with victims of the blast and donated blood for their survival cautioned the perpetrators to stop playing politics with the lives of Nigerians.
”From what I have seen among the victims, I doubt if they are members of any political party. We should stop playing politics. We should address the issue and it is not about any religion.
”It is unfortunate. We must come together. We must rise up to the challenge together and address it collectively” Tambuwal said.
Also, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, last week Tuesday called on all Nigerians to rally round the government and the security agencies in the fight against terrorism.
He said: “This is a very somber moment for the nation and my heart goes out to the entire nation, especially the dead, the injured, their friends and family members”.
He regretted the rising disregard for human life and insisted that only a multi-level policing could secure the country adequately.
He said: “I was out of the country for an official visit at the time of the incident and I feel completely dehumanized that a country that values human life more than anything else is going through this kind of bestiality; so, it is completely unacceptable and we must come together as a nation and borrow from our past and relevant examples in the world to fight this evil and put it behind us”.
However, still hopeful on the existence of one united Nigeria Ekweremmadu expresses hope of victory in the war against terrorism.
“However, one thing is sure – Nigeria is winning and will certainly come out victorious as the forces of divisiveness, extremism, darkness, blood-letting, and insurgency would never triumph over the forces of light and national unity, peace, and prosperity.
”The nation must stand together against these blood guzzlers and enemies of state, nature, and sound reasoning. Our collective will, to completely snatch our nation and destiny from the jaws of this insanity and barbarism must never waver, just as our socio-cultural orientations that uphold the sanctity of life and the intrinsic dignity in the human person must never be surrendered to the ungodly.”
He insisted in the statement that the collective will of the nation would never be broken and urged Nigerians to stand against the forces of darkness, adding that the Senate had made additional budgetary allocations in the 2014 Appropriation Act to beef up the numerical strength and efficiency of the Nigeria police. He urged Nigerians to rally round the security agencies to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book and put a final stop to acts of terrorism in the country.
In a statement of similar tone on the same day from the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, Nigerians according to him, should rise up to the challenge at hand by joining in securing the nation from the grip of terrorists by acting as security agents wherever they are.
”Violence is the argument of one who has run out of logic. It’s mindless, senseless, and barbaric and it’s a call for every Nigerian to be a stakeholder in the security of this country. We have gone past the point of leaving our security just to security agencies. We must all now be conscious of our environment…every Nigerian must now be a security agent because these godless people are not spirits; they operate amongst us”, he said.
Obviously, the situation at hand in the country as regards the prevailing problem of insecurity seriously calls for vigilance from all Nigerians in their respective neighborhoods at all time for the needed intelligence gathering for the security operatives in their bid to nip in the bud, devilish plots of the terrorists in our midst and not just indulging in bomb scare rumouring with attendant needless pandemonium as it happened in NASS last week,
Just as Nigerians slumped deep in grief over those who lost their lives to the Nyanya bomb blast, the bandits like a giant hawk lowered their wings clutched and flew away with 234 students of Government Girl’s Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. Yet, sounding bold and unrepentant Boko haram spokes person then bluntly informed Nigerians that Abuja and its environs should expect more from them.
Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Smart Adeyemi last week visited some of the victims of the blast in Hospital. He vowed to see that NASS, through its appropriation mandate, helps security agencies in their fights against terrorism by providing for functional security devices and gadgets like Close Circuit Cameras at needed points in public places in the country especially in Abuja
According to Adeyemi, the situation on ground now in the country as regards incessant terror attacks by mindless terrorists in our midst, urgently requires government at all levels and in particular, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), to make provisions for Close Circuit Television (CCTV) at various strategic points in the territory for prompt detection of crimes.
He said: “It is unfortunate that this has happened. On our part, we would look at the possibility of ensuring that now that we are still working on the FCT Statutory budget, that we make enough funding for security.
“We are going to ensure that virtually in all parks and commercial centres of the city would have cameras that can capture movement of people. Cameras that would be far above what people can tamper with.
“In essence, we are going to ensure that good cameras are purchased. We are going purchase CCTV’s that are of international standard that can really do the job for us. We must realise now that we are faced with a very serious problem”.
We are indeed faced with very serious problem in the country presently as regards the rising wave of security challenges at hand but time will certainly tell how Nigeria as a nation represented by government at all levels and Nigerians themselves across the various divides be it, political, ethnicity or religion, would change their approach to the menace by fighting it jointly and collectively and stop viewing it as a problem of one political party, region, religion or even one particular leader.
Still on appropriation for national security, it would be recalled that DSP Ekweremadu, had also noted that the responsibility of NASS “ is essentially budgetary and we have appropriated nearly one trillion (Naira) in the budget to deal with security challenges; this year we made a specific provision for police to hire more hands”
Here the issue of the efficiency of the formation of security operatives vis-a-vis the provisions made available to them becomes topical.
The DSP Ekwerremmadu in his recent comments noted that “We are the only country that runs a federal system and run the type of police we have now.” The type of police system we are running is not suited for a federal system of government. We are about 170 million people; we cannot have 320 thousand policemen to deal with it and I don’t believe that the federal government can ever produce the number of police that will be enough for this country”.
Former Nigerian Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari recently tasked the Federal Government to show more seriousness in combating insurgency.
Gambari, opined rather, than engaging in blame-games, every stakeholder should pool resources together to fight terrorism because it is a global menace that deserves seriousness.
“I have done some preliminary research and found that if we put all our security forces together in this country, may be they are not more than 500, 000 in a country that has a population of 160 to 170 million. If we think that the security of our country is the business of the police and the Army, then we are making a big mistake. It has to be a business of all of us,”
Whether the federal government is capable of winning this war on terrorism may depend much on one’s mindset and faith in the yet to come. Boko Haram has almost taken over Northern Nigeria. The sect and their foreign allies of al-Qaeda,have imposed their authority and reign of terror on the masses of the people in the North and had successfully carried out their heineous and deadly attacks.
President Jonathan and heads of security agencies past and current had vowed to root out Boko Haram. But here they still strike successfully from time to time.
The calibers of weapons they use, some say, are unrivalled.
Boko Haram is a law onto itself. It boasts of superior fire power, better intelligence, logistics and organization than the country’s armed forces. Where are the men of the State Security (SSS)? Why can’t they locate and subdue Boko Haram? This is the question on the lips of many Nigerians.
Where are the men of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and the other mushroom military agencies of the Nigerian Armed Forces?
The Terrorist in Abuja first shook the force headquarters in Abuja on June 24, 2011 and killed several people there with several others injured. So where is safe?
IGP Abubakar has promised Nigerians better policing and commitment to safeguard Nigerians and their concerns but has always pointed out that they can only achieve this with cooperation of the Nigerian people.
After the Nyanya bombing, the Nigeria Police Force announced the commencement of special operations nationwide.
The operations, according to a statement by the Force PRO, CSP Frank Mba, encompass extensive counter-terrorism sweeps, detailed overt and covert surveillance operations, intelligence-driven raids, arms mop-up exercise, special stop and search exercise, amongst others.
His words , “Police operatives involved in this exercise will be drawn from the Bomb Disposal Squad, Counter-Terrorism Units, Police Mobile Force and Joint Border Patrol Units, Force Intelligence Bureau, Police Dog Section and conventional Police Teams. They are expected to pay special attention to Motor Parks, Airports, Seaports, Border points, Recreation Parks, Major Markets, Shopping Malls, etc.
“In ensuring a successful execution of this special operation, the IGP has ordered all Zonal AIGs and CPs including other Commanding Officers to ensure effective deployments of men and resources throughout the period of the operation.”
Gambari in his speech recently cried out “Whether it is APC or PPP, or whatever, the security of this nation is far too important to become a political football, one accusing the other. It should be stopped immediately because they are trivializing the lives of Nigerians who were cut short as a result of these mindless killings,” Gambari said.
“Sometimes we forget that we are part of the world. Sometimes we think we are so exceptional that it cannot happen here. We think that global terrorism manifesting elsewhere in Afghanistan, Iraq, cannot happen here. At the same time, we should be able to use exceptionalism to address the challenges of terrorism and the security situation in our country,” the former envoy said.
Beyond all the speeches, condemnations and personal ideas of the way forward, the route to stemming insecurity must include the resolve to work out new security policies, commitment to total war against terrorism and the need for civic education for all which will develop patriotism amongst Nigerians
The Government at all levels must be seen to be ‘working its talking’. Match action with words. The Nigerian Constitution, in Chapter 12, Section 14, out rightly places on the Government the responsibility to protect lives, property, etc of the people of Nigeria. It stipulates in part: The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
President Goodluck Jonathan from all indications is still battling to let Nigerians feel his commitment to his pledge to safeguard lives and property of Nigerians as the head of Nigerian Government. “As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live” Even with these comments on the commitment of the federal government to bring terrorists to their knees, Nigerians are yet to heave a sigh of relief, because each new day brings them to fresh realities.
At the maiden Nigerian Leadership Summit organised by Anabel Leadership Academy in Lagos recently, solutions proffered to save the nation from the clutches of insecurity include: empowering the youth, ensuring the emergence of good leaders and followers, pursuing revolution of ideas instead of bloody revolution and amending the constitution to cater for the welfare of the citizenry.
Convener of the summit and president of Anabel Group, Prince Nicholas Okoye, who kickstarted the discourse when he spoke on the need for a new direction of leadership for Nigeria, outlined the major political failures of the past and hinged the blame on the Nigerian constitution, which he said must be amended for the nation to make meaningful progress.
“The indigene clause must give way to state of residence; if a Nigerian works in Lagos and pays his taxes in Lagos, he should be allowed to represent Lagos in national issues,” he said.
He identified the indigene clause as the primary cause of recurring sectarian violence in Nigeria, especially in Plateau State where people are being referred to as settlers even after living in an area for over two generations.
Not done, Okoye decried the billions of dollars Nigeria loses by being heavily dependent on imported rice, sugar, fuel and generators. He berated the Nigerian middle class for spending over $500 million a month or $6 billion a year on medical services abroad and between $10 to 12 billion a year on educating middle class children in the United States, Great Britain and Ghana.
He argued that there would be opportunities for job growth that would accommodate Nigeria’s millions of unemployed youths if only the leadership would focus on plugging the leaks in the system.
Citing the fear of poverty as the major cause of corruption in Nigeria, Okoye advocated a complete mindset change for leaders in Nigeria and making job creation the single most important driver of all government policies.
He lamented that about $400 billion stolen funds were stashed in foreign bank accounts by corrupt politicians and civil servants. To recover the funds, Okoye advocated a six-month financial amnesty for anybody that has never been charged, whereby the Federal Government will allow all looted funds to return to Nigeria over a six-month period with no questions asked, provided the individuals responsible pay a 10 per cent Federal Government tax, 5 per cent tax to their chosen state of residence and invest the 85 per cent balance of the funds in key target areas of the economy that would create jobs for millions of Nigerian youths.
To Dora Akunyili, who spoke on “Principles-centered leadership: A Nigerian experience,” there is the need for leaders to have principles and the followers to have life-changing ideas. Recalling how she almost lost her life as Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, when she took on fake and adulterated drugs cartels, she said the country should not be allowed to continue the drift into abyss.
“Some people have been talking about bloody revolution, what we need is revolution of ideas,” she said and appealed to the present generation of leaders to read the writing on the wall and not wait until it was too late to act.
In an emotion-laden tone, she said: “What we are seeing here is deep energy by people that are angry. What is happening in Nigeria cannot continue. Yes it cannot continue. A leader is not just the president, governor, minister or director. A mother is a leader of the home; a father is a super leader of the home. The chief cleaner of a hotel is a leader there. So at any level ineffective, non-principled and bad leadership becomes catastrophic.
Speaking on the importance of leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School said we need credible leaders because “we live in a world full of problems and to solve the problems we need leaders that will galvanize energies that are generously given to people to solve these problems.
All are agreed, that modern security challenges are tackled using a multifaceted approach of intelligence gathering and community policing among others. Since small arms proliferation, drug peddling and cultism have been linked to violent crime, proactive measures stopping these anti-social activities would help in making the environment for crime un-conducive for criminal elements.
But above all, everyone must summon courage to condemn the spate of violence raging across the country.
General condemnation helps to morally and socially isolate the criminal elements and to weaken their courage. A situation where some influential citizens make comments that create the impression that they are playing politics with national security only goes to embolden the criminals.
In gathering intelligence, the security community should pay close attention to some political groupings that have found it fashionable to train cultists and thugs for the purpose of intimidating their political opponents during elections. Politicians that are suspected to be funding these activities must be watched closely. Parents, teachers and religious leaders must also be seen to be playing effective role in the upbringing of children. Street hawking which exposes under aged children to criminal elements that entice them and sometimes forcefully recruit them into cult and criminal gangs should be banned.
Government on the other hand must take its single most important role of securing lives and property seriously. Embarking on job creation programmes and projects rather than spending fantastically on frivolous political activities will go a long way in removing the mind of the youth from criminal activities.
Further effort should be made by both the state and federal governments to mop up what is left of the Niger Delta militants into some job creation and empowerment programmes.
The general view today seems to be that winning the war against insecurity, would, require politicians separating politics from national security.
Desmond Osueke with reports from Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Eze Ogba @80: A Salute To Greatness
Critics and admirers fondly refer to him variously and severally as amiable, charismatic, blunt, visionary, an inspirational and committed King, a philosopher King, a philanthropist, an orator and motivator, a man of truth, perception and action, a defender of the oppressed, a versatile and courageous monarch. Indeed, there is no denying the fact that he has lived up to the billings.
This perhaps explains why many have sometimes misunderstood His Eminence, Sir (Dr) Chukumela Nnam Obi II, the Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland, who turns 80 today. And if we are to believe the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson that “to be great is to be misunderstood,” the Oba truly deserves a golden place in the pantheon of greats.
A consummate monarch imbued with congenital aura that shines like neon light, the Eze Ogba superintends the grassroots consciousness of his kingdom with mercurial audacity and clinical precision, and bestrides Nigeria’s traditional landscape like a magnificent colossus.
A man of capacious intellect with deft navigational capability, Sir Nnam Obi II possesses a conservative charm which accommodates all divergent opinions, even as it is difficult for his critics to dislodge his position on matters of public or political interest.
Nevertheless, the attestation to the greatness of this first class citizen and traditional ruler is underlined impressively by his array of honours and appointments since ascending the ancient Oba (Eze Ogba) throne on December 19, 1970, upon the death in April that year of Oba Wokoma Obi.
He has been an Officer of the Order Of the Niger (OON), Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS), Justice of Peace (JP), Grand Patron, Nigeria Union of Journalists; Knight Grand Commander of the Mystical Order of St Peter; Doctor of Letters (D. Litt), Los Angeles, California; Doctor of Technology, and First Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (1980-84); Doctor of Science (D.Sc) and Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure, 1992-2000; Fellow, Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku; Chairman, Rivers State Conference of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, 1972-79; member, International Committee on Chieftaincy and Royalty for FESTAC (Nigeria’s representative), 1974-77; Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, 1994-96; pioneer National President, Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), 1994-2000; member, National Council on Nigerian Vision (NCNV), 1996-99; member and Elder Statesman, National Political Reform Conference (NPRC), 2004; Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, 2007-2009 and a lot more.
Since his ascendance to the sacred throne of Eze Ogba over 49 years ago, the light of Sir Nnam Obi II’s wisdom has continued to shine to the admiration of his people and others across the globe. The Ogba people have continued to preserve their loyalty to the sacred monarch as various group pay him solidarity visits in support of his visionary and dynamic leadership and efforts at bringing peace to the kingdom. No doubt, the Eze Ogba belongs to that class of mortals whom the legendary classical playwright, Williams Shakespeare said achieved greatness.
Yet, appraising Oba Nnam Obi II’s resume, evokes an intriguing paradox as his road to greatness was not without bumps and potholes.
Born by remarkable intervention of destiny on November 20, 1940 into the royal family of Umueze-Ogba kindred of Ogba at the foot of the great Opowu shrine of Ahiakwo Nwaozegbe, a sacred temple of worship by the Ogba people, Oba Nnam Obi II had a rather poor and humble background as things were extremely difficult for him.
Infact, the claws of poverty and the drudgery of hard labour were so much that it got to a point where the young Chukumela prayed for death to no avail.
Disappointed that his prayer was not answered, the young ruler-to-be went to his father’s grave and asked: “why did you bring me to the world and ran away.” But these travails, rather than discourage him, toughened and made him have patience, despite being orphaned on both sides and colonized by the insensitive nature of man as exemplified in his brothers who made him a total stranger.
Resilient and determined, and perhaps edged in by his destiny, the young Chukumela, relying on sheer force of will-power and self-support, paved his way through primary and secondary education.
On countless times, he dug sand at Omoku River, fished at the River Niger to make ends meet. Even at a point in his life, he was a newspaper vendor in Kano.
Undeterred by his condition, he excelled in academics at Sancta Maria High School, Omoku where he was a pioneer student. His excellent leadership qualities were identified quite erly as he was at various times labour prefect and senior prefect.
It was for this reason that his school principal then, Rev Fr. G.B. Kilbride wrote in his testimonial that: “Chukumela Obi is a very remarkable boy who is being groomed by the fate of great suffering into a great office.”
However, owing to what the Eze Ogba himself described as barriers of life, he finished secondary education at the age of 26 in 1966. He explains: “Some people were born without certain hurdles. But whether hurdles come early or later in life, I have learnt my lessons. They are all one and the same. The God who occasioned both hurdles did not intend to punish anybody. He intended them for experience. We must learn these experiences. We have come here (this world) to learn.”
Even at that, he does not wish anyone, whether his children or even his detractors, that kind of experience as, according to him, they may not have the patience and ability to cope with it.
Oba cautions that in life nobody should be boastful or be deterred by the situation he finds himself as God is the excellent judge who knows it all, and can deprive man of his needs and wants at a particular time just to observe him.
According to the monarch, provided one does not do things that are wrong in the sight of God, time would come when He would exalt the poor. To him, everyone should strive assiduously to explore situations and even opportunities opened to him in life as an individual with a view to destroying impediments to self-actualization.
It is irrefragable that Oba’s humble beginning epitomizes the parable of perseverance and triumph over the vicissitudes of life. As the Curator of the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rose and Cross (AMORC), Spencer Lewis, once put it: “there is no destiny, no fate, no change, that can circonvent nor hinder, nor control the firm resolve of a determined soul”.
Today, he is unarguably one of the few bright stars in the throbbing firmament of Nigeria’s traditional institution.
Pondering the meaning of life and his place in the cosmos as a mystic and traditionalist, the Eze Ogba has been living in the service of his people, confronting the resultant challenges therein and bringing integrity, straight forwardness, and serene peace into the governance of Ogba Kingdom.
It is perhaps as a measure of the magnitude and influence of Oba’s existential excellence, charming personality, and unique traditional inheritance that successive administrations in Nigeria have always sought his wise counsel, especially at every critical moment of the nation’s life.
Married to four wives with several children, most of whom are holding their own in their various callings, Oba proudly says loud and clear that he is happier than many who are married to one wife. He maintains that such persons have more problems than himself, adding that anybody who visits his palace would not know that he is married to four wives.
Albeit, he abhors autocracy, he is a very strict disciplinarian who takes full charge of his palace at all times with his word as law.
At his usual morning devotions, Oba, a Knight of the Mystical Order of Saint Peter, inculcates in his wives and children, the sense of oneness and truth, and makes everyone realize that his possession is theirs.
As a mystic and philosopher versed in the different characteristics of people, he blends his wives different qualities to have matrimonial bliss, harmony, and cohesive family.
However, Oba Nnam Obi II who says he ought to have married before his years at Sancta Maria High School in 1962 in compliance with his step mother’s advice to do so as the only surviving son of his mother, states that he owes his success to the immeasurable support of his wives and children, and to the understanding cooperation, and unflinching loyalty of his people.
No doubt, Odudu, Anyiama Osa, Ekwueme, as he is fondly called by his ever loving people has, by all parameters, lived a fulfilled life, having exhibited and manifested a wonderful and divinely-inspired progressive pilgrimage of sterling leadership.
These days, owing to age and health, Oba prefers pounded yam, chicken, fishes and non-carbohydrate foods. And to unwind, he watches television, listens to radio and reads newspapers even though he has no dull moments at all, given the number of children he has, and the swarm of visitors to his palace.
And as with all his birthday celebrations, even if low-keyed, his daughters, the Oba hints, do “compose songs and sing like sparrows to my delight,” saying, he does not regret having them, just as the boys.
As we toast to the long life and good health of this great African traditional ruler at 80 today, may those his beautiful daughters never get tired of singing like sparrows to his delight and to the satisfaction of everyone, and to the glory of God.
By: Victor Tew / Vincent Ochonma
60 Years Of Nigeria’s Health Sector: Challenges And Way Forward
Like every other sector of the Nigerian state, the country’s health sector has evolved from one stage to another, up to the present state.
From the pre-colonial era, when treatment for ailments was based purely on traditional medicine as it relates to different parts of the country, through the emergence of the first modern medical services in Nigeria, then during the various European expeditions in the early, to mid19th century, to the era of organised healthcare services, and finally to the present era of deliberate and planned brain drain in the sector, the development in Nigeria’s heath sector has been one that requires more attention than is given it.
There is no doubt that the profession of medicine has been quite active in terms of changing for the better in accordance with global demands. For instance, the Health care systems have undergone changes, and, except for a few exceptions, the changes are for the better:
The way in which physicians are trained has changed. The management of disease entities has also changed at various points. The change has also cut across disease entities that have been treated and available therapeutic modalities, which have also undergone continual changes.
On attaining independence in 1960, the health sector, like other sectors, inherited the centralised health care services format of the colonial era, which vested the authority to take key decisions in the sector in the hand of the central government.
Then, while medical services developed and expanded with industrialisation, most medical doctors were civil servants, except those working for missionary hospitals, who combined evangelical work with healing.
Among the civil service doctors, one was appointed the Chief Medical Officer, who became the principal executor of health care policies in Nigeria, along with several other junior colleagues comprising senior medical officers and medical officers, who formed the nucleus of the ministry of health in Lagos. The detail of centralised administration of health services then was complex and reflected the complex political transformation of the whole region.
The health care services in Nigeria have been characterised by short-term planning, as is the case with the planning of most aspects of the Nigerian life. The major national development plans are “The First Colonial Development plan from 1945-1955″, “The Second Colonial Development plan from 1956-1962”, and “The First National Development Plan from 1962-1968”.
Others are: “The Second National Development Plan from 1970-1975”, “The Third National Development Plan from 1975-1980″, “The Fourth National Development Plan from “Nigeria’s Five year Strategic Plan from 2004-2008″.
All of these plans formulated goals for nationwide health care services.
The overall national policy for Nationwide Health Care Services was clearly stated in a 1954 Eastern Nigeria government report on “Policy for Medical and Health Services.” This report stated that the aim was to provide national health services for all.
The report emphasised that since urban services were well developed, going by the country’s standards then, the government intended to expand rural services. These rural services would be in the form of rural hospitals of 20-24 beds, supervised by a medical officer, who would also supervise dispensaries, maternal and child welfare clinics and preventive work, such as sanitation workers.
The policy made local governments contribute to the cost of developing and maintaining such rural services, with grants-in-aid from the regional government. This report was extensive and detailed in its description of the services envisaged. This was the policy before and during independence. After independence in 1960, the same basic health care policy was pursued, and still is the case.
By the time the Third National Development Plan was produced in 1975, more than 20 years after the report mentioned above, not much had been done to achieve the goals of the Nationwide Health Care Services policy.
This plan, which was described by General Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of the Military Government, as “A Monument to Progress”, stated: “Development trends in the health sector have not been marked by any spectacular achievement during the past decade”.
As far as development of the health sector was concerned, this development plan appeared to have focused attention on trying to improve the numerical strength of existing facilities rather than evolving a clear health care policy. This, in a nutshell seems to have been the lot of Nigeria’s development in the health sector, and, in fact, all other vital sectors of the economy.
Health care in Nigeria has been prone to so many problems which are attributable to the fact that health services are in great demand following what could be tagged astronomical increase in population but accessibility to health services been very low. The cause of this has been related to factors such as socio-economic, cultural, political as well as poor planning and/or poor implementation of health policies and programmes by the government. There are also problems of availability, accessibility, affordability, sustainability of health services and weak referral system.
In 2000, World Bank noted that “deprivations that lead to ill health are common in developing countries, especially in Nigeria, and the poor in Nigeria are particularly at risk”.
According to Adam Wagstaff, a Research Manager of the Human Development team in the Development Research Group of the World Bank, ”the relationship between poverty and access to health care can be seen as part of a larger circle where poverty leads to ill health and ill health maintains poverty”.
The implication is that to effectively address health care, other relevant sectors that directly or indirectly contribute to poverty, which is a key factor in enhancing provision of health care and accessibility of same has to be addressed.
Unfortunately, policies in these sectors, especially for the negative impacts, are often not based on health criteria because the health sector itself tends to focus its interventions within the health care delivery system, not necessarily in other relevant sectors that constitute the sources of the problem.
For instance, to ensure totally effective health care delivery system, regular power supply is required to power all necessary equipment at all times. In the same vein, to totally prevent mosquito-borne diseases, environmental planning should ensure adequate provision of drainages avoid water stagnation, however little. As a result, the enormous health benefits accruable from interventions outside the health sector are not realized.
The education sector is another key long-established determinant for quality health and health care in any development-oriented society, but which has pitiably been bastardized, knowing that better education allows individuals to be more effective in converting health care and other health-enhancing goods into health.
The challenges facing the health sector in Nigeria, in sixty years of the country’s existence are, to say the least, numerous. But it can be summarised to include inaccessibility of quality health care, poor hygiene, corruption, malnutrition, lack of access to safe drinking water, poor health infrastructure, fake drugs, insufficient financial investment, and lack of sufficient health personnel.
Government’s performance in the health sector has been at best abysmal. Investment in infrastructure has been poor and meagre remuneration for health workers has created a massive brain drain to the US and Europe.
The annual budget of the government for the health sector is 4.17% of the total national budget, which is equivalent to only $5 per person annually.
In more recent Nigeria, the expected lofty goals in the health sector have not been achieved. The capacities of the facilities that emerged from previous efforts have been stretched and infrastructure broken beyond repair. Primary health care services now exist only in name. The common man has virtually reverted to the herbalist and traditional healers for care because of access to quality health care and affordability issues.
The elites have perfected medical tourism to India, Singapore, South Africa and even Ghana. This is in the face of a rapidly changing disease patterns in which infectious diseases have been replaced by behavioural, environmental and poverty-related diseases.
Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector, and this is in the face of many Nigerians not being able to afford private hospitals which are simply too expensive.
Unfortunately, again, the management of the National Health Scheme (NHS) through the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) which should ordinarily help people to secure better quality health care, had been bedeviled by corruption, crushing the opportunity and further making quality medical care inaccessible for people who contributed to the system.
The situation becomes worse when one considers the fact that the problem has nothing to do with lack of medical personnel. Certainly not! This is because about 77 per cent of black doctors in the United States of America are said to be Nigerians, and Nigerians have achieved tremendous feats in American medicine.
A good example is Doctor Oluyinka Olutoye, a Nigerian based in Houston, who made history recently by bringing out a fetus from a mother’s womb to remove a tumor, and then successfully restoring the unborn baby to the womb. In fact, there is rarely any top medical institution in the United States or Europe where you won’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.
The health sector, no doubt, has failed largely due to inept leadership. Despite the huge talents of Nigerians, which are on display in health sectors all over the world, Nigeria’s health system is failing. Donor countries and multilateral organisations are aware of these challenges, but there’s little they can do to improve the situation.
The key solution, therefore, is for Nigeria’s policymakers and health professionals, including Nigerians in Diaspora, to come together and create a long-term blueprint for the sector. The term should not only be ideally realisable in the context of the country’s peculiar socio-cultural and economic reality, but should also include a strategy for success in the next 25-35 years with timelines and key performance indicators.
If this can be judiciously done, Nigeria can truly and easily be moving towards its dream of attaining that “Giant of Africa” status it has so much desired but truly failed to achieve in it in reality.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
‘Wike Has Transformed Rivers Through Projects’
On April 11, 2015, the good people of Rivers State trooped out in their numbers to declare their preference for the creation of a New Rivers State. They voted overwhelmingly for Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON, GSSRS) to lead the state into prosperity.
That decision by 1,029,102 (One Million and Twenty Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Two) Rivers people representing 87.77 per cent of the total valid votes cast established the process of rebirth, revival and reconstruction of Rivers State. That decision laid the foundation for the unprecedented development being witnessed across the length and breadth of Rivers State.
Over the first 31 months of his first term, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has transformed the state through the unprecedented roll out of people oriented projects.
Economic recession has crippled development in most states of the Federation . Majority of states cannot pay salaries , let alone, embark on the developmental projects.
The case of Rivers State has been different . Like Governor Wike has told anyone who cares to listen, Rivers State is operating a divine economy built on sound economic principles and the overriding interest of the people .
Governor Wike has over the first 31 months of his first term embarked on the massive construction , reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, schools, hospitals, reclamation of lands, agricultural development and provision of other critical infrastructure across the three senatorial districts of the state .
Revival of the State economy and basic governance structure
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike ( CON, GSSRS) inherited a battered economy. At the twilight of the immediate past APC administration in the state, all the economic fundamentals were in a terrible shape, while businesses had collapsed. The basic governance structure in the state was in shambles with the state bureaucracy at a vegetative state.
Through careful implementation of reform policies, Governor Wike has over the last two years revived and repositioned the Rivers economy. After two years of good governance, Rivers economy is one of the most vibrant in the country, supporting corporate, medium-sized and small businesses across the state.
Business entrepreneurs who relocated from the state at the twilight of the immediate past APC administration are returning to the state. One of the major indicators of revived economy is the sustained growth of the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
While other states suffer from economic recession, Governor Wike posits that Rivers State is enjoying an era of boom because it operates a Jesus economy. The foundations of the state’s economic growth are from God, hence it cannot be affected by political and economic developments in the country.
The governor revived the State Assembly which was sitting at the dinning of the Government House under the last APC administration in the state. Since he proclaimed the Assembly, they have been passing laws for the good governance of the state. Two budgets have been passed, while the State Assembly enjoys independence and financial autonomy.
Regular payment of salaries and pensions
Immediate past Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi painted a gloomy picture of the finances of the state on May 27, 2015, when he declared: “Nyesom Wike is coming, let us see where he will get the money to pay salaries.” At this point two days to the end of that failed administration, the state civil servants were owed four months salaries and pensioners owed for six months.
With the state governance system and bureaucracy revived, Governor Wike has taken deliberate steps to ensure that civil servants and pensioners in the state receive their monthly salaries and entitlements.
Governor Wike initiated and implemented a scientific biometric exercise which paved the way for accurate data on workers and pensioners on the state’s payroll.
Rivers State is one of the very few states that is up-to-date in the payment of salaries and pensions. This has served as a motivation to civil servants to contribute their quota to the development of a New Rivers State.
The regular payment of salaries and pensions has helped in making the Rivers economy functional as the flow of liquidity is constant all through the period under review.
Projects Galore Governor Wike did not emerge Mr Projects by happenstance. His emergence is a product of vision and careful planning, targeted at repositioning Rivers State.
The 2017 budget was crafted to lift and flood the state with developmental projects.
Out of the N470billion budgeted for 2017, the total projected capital expenditure is N329 billion (three hundred and twenty-nine billion naira) only, which represents 70% of the capital estimate of the budget. This gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 70:30. This is unprecedented. The multiplier effect of this pro-people decision is being felt across the state.
Thirty one months ago when Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took over the reins of leadership, the economy of Rivers State was at its lowest level. The road infrastructure had completely collapsed, leading to economic stagnation.
Right on the day of his inauguration at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike launched “Operation Zero Potholes Programme”. Since May 29, 2015, the Wike administration has constructed, reconstructed and rehabilitated over 200 roads.
The administration started with the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads in Port Harcourt; Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Eleme Local Government Areas. Majority of these roads were completed and commissioned at the end of the governor’s first year. Roads in Diobu, Borikiri, Port Harcourt Township and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Governor Wike’s development of road infrastructure is tied to the rapid social and economic development of the state. The first class road infrastructure, drainage systems and bridges being constructed, reconstructed and rehabilitated across the state by international and indigenous contractors have enhanced economic recovery in the state.
The road infrastructure is linking communities, thus enabling farmers and businessmen to link up with markets in Urban Centres.
At the last count, the Wike administration has constructed or is constructing over 200 roads, spanning over 500 kilometres in a statewide unprecedented intervention in the road sector.
Some of the key road projects include:
1.Rehabilitation/ Maintenance of some roads and drains, tagged “Operation Zero Potholes” in Port Harcourt metropolis (additional Works) (Ahoada Road, Force Avenue, Churchill and Creek Road, Evo and Woji Road, Tombia Extension, Ohiamini Road, Ogbunabali Road, Sokoto Road, Eleme Flyover, Kolokuma Road) – completed and commissioned
2. Rehabilitation of Industry Road – Completed
3. Construction Of Internal Roads and Drains In G.S.S Rumuokwuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area – Completed
4. Rehabilitation of marine base junction and Moscow road roundabout and laying of kerb stone and concreting of the island- Completed
5. Port Harcourt Government House – work in progress
6. Reconstruction of High Street, Rehabilitation of Prof. Okujagu Street and Danjuma Drive off Peter Odili Road in Trans Amadi Industrial Area-
7.Construction of Sani Abacha Road-
8. Captain Amangala Street, Bishop Fabara Street, Tourist Beach Road, Elliot Henry Street, Bishop Johnson Street, Bonny Street, Adaka Boro Street, Creek Road Extension, Extension of Ada Expressways by Rumuola Bridge and Dualization of Birabi Road by Presidential Hotel Roads
9.Desilting and Cleaning of Subsurface Drains and Manholes from Education to Emenike Junction, Okija Road to Nta-Wogba Creek, Mile 3 Diobu Section of Ikwerre Road and Big Culvert Under Aba Road and Desilting of Covered Drains and Deflooding of Bank Road, Gokana, Forces Avenue Thru Moscow Road Junction, Old GRA Port Harcourt-
10. Construction of Eagle Island – lioabuchi By-Pass, Port Harcourt. – completed and commissioned
11. Construction of Chief Benson Street Chief Benson Close, Omunakwe Str. And the Surrounding Streets Ortiarunma and Omarunma Close. – Contractor is on site.
12. Reconstruction of Roads in D/Line, PHC. – completed and commissioned
13. Dualization of Azikiwe Road (UTC) Junction – Lagos .Bus Stop. – completed and commissioned
Name of project – lga obalga
14. Reconstruction of Diobu Roads (Nnokam Road, Chief Amadi Street, Elechi Street, Odioma Street, Ekwe Street, Wokoma Lane, Azikiwe Street, Ojoto Street, Adelabu Street, Abel Jumbo Street, Ikwerre Rd By Education Bus Stop By The Flyover To Abonnema Wharf Road, Abakaliki Street, Anokwuru Street, Nkoro (Nsuka) Street, Nnewi Street, Okolabiri Street, Osina Street, Azikwe Lane, Ataba Street, Wokoma Street, Enwume Ave, Ejekwu St., Nnokam Street, Bishop Okoye Street, Wobo Street, Elechi Beach Road, Lumumba Street and Joinkrama St.) – comple ted and commissioned
15. Rehabilitation of Agip Gate to Eagle – Island- lloabuchi link Road Junction and Wike Road in Obio /Akpo L.G.A – Completed
16. Rehabilitation of Abuja Bypass, Mile III Diobu, Port Harcourt – Completed
17. Rehabilitation of Rumuola By Boricamp Junction To Rumuola Flyover, Rumuola Overhead Bridge By Rumuadolu Road To Presidential Hotel, Eliozu East-West Road By The Overhead Bridge – Completed
18.Rehabilitation of SARS (Nelson Mandela) Road, Rukpakwolushi-Eligbolo Road and Agip Road – Completed
19.Rehabilitation of Okocha Mgbuodohia Roads, Rumuolumeni As a Replacement For East/West – Ogbakiri-Degema-Abonnema Road – Completed
20.Construuction of Eneka-Rumuapu-Rukpokwu and Miniorlu – Mgbuakara – Eliaparawo RoadsConstruction of Owabie Road, Canaan Avenue and Ozurunha Street, Off Orazi, all in Rumuowabie Community in Rumuopirikom Town- Eneka- Rumuapu Completed
21.Reconstruction of Rumuagholu-Airport Road “A” L=2550m Spur to Nkpolu East/West Road “B” L = 1170m and Spur to International Market Road “C” L= 1675m- Completed
22. Rehabilitation of Rumukalagbor Road (the link road between Elekahia and Aba Road), Rumuibekwe Road and Eliohani Road- Completed
23.Rehabilitation of Mid-King Perekule Road to Woji Road, Port Harcourt- Completed
24.Reconstruction of Eliozu-Rumunduru-Oroigwe- Elimgbu Road/Bridge in Obio/Apkor LGA- Completed
25.Rehabilitation of Oyigbo Express to Imo River Aba Express Road- work in progress
26.Rehabilitation of Aba Road (Artillery Phase 1 – Phase 2 With CBN Junction, Rivers State Secretariat Complex Access Roads- Completed
27. Reconstruction of Woji Road From Old Aba Road to Woji Road/Bridge. – Completed
53. Construction of Akpajo-Woji Road/Bridge. – Completed
54.Reconstruction of Elioparanwo Road. – Completed
55.Dualisation of Epirikom – Rumuoiumeni Road, (additional works of canals) – Completed
56. Dualisation of Nkpogu Road (from Trans Amadi Road – Micheletti Junction – NLNG Roundabout) Including a Bridge, Reconstruction of Micheletti Junction – Amadi Ama Road and Mammy Market (Nlerum) Road. – Completed
57.Dualisation of East/West-Elelenwo-Woji- Slaughter- Trans Amadi-Garrison Roas. – Completed
58.Construction of Ozuoba-Ogbogoro-Rumuolumeni Road. – Completed
59.Reconstruction of Oyigbo Market Road to Kom-Kom in Oyigbo LGA. – Completed
Name of project – LGA Eleme
60. Repair of some section of East/West Road from Eleme Junction-Onne Junction. Contract Sum
Name of project – LGA OBALGA/Eleme
61.Dualization of Oil Mill-Elelenwo-Akpajo Road- work in progress
Name of project – LGA Ikwerre/Etche
62. Reconstruction of Igwuruta-Chokocho Road terminating at the Bridge – Completed and commissioned
Name of project – LGA Etche
63. Construction of Eleme Junction-lgbo Etche-Chokocho Road
64. Reconstruction of Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road in Etche LGA
65. Construction of Ulakwo ll-Afara-Nihi Etche Road in Etche LGA
Name of project – LGA Emohua and Ikwerre
66.Construction of Rumuji-lbaa-Obele-lsiokpo Road In Emohua and Ikwerre LGAS –
67. Reconstruction of Airport-lpo-Omademe-Ozuaha Roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area –
Name of project – LGA Emohua
68. Construction of Elele Alimini Internal Roads Phase I –
69. Construction of Elele Alimini Internal Roads Phase II-
Name of project – LGA Tai, Khana/Gokana
70.Dualization of Saakpenwa-Bori Road –
71. Construction of Internal Roads of Birabi Memoral Grammar School (BMGS) Bori
Name of project – LGA Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru
72.Dredging, Sandfilling and Reclamation of Bakana, Abalama and Abonnema in Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru LGAS –
Name of project – LGA AKULGA
73.Construction of Abonnema Ring Road Phase 2- work in progress
Name of project – LGA Gokana
74. Completion of Kpopie-Bodo City Road
Name of project – LGA Akuku Toru
75.Construction of Internal Roads and drainage in Nyemoni Grammar School in Abonnema, Akuku Toru LGA
Name of project – LGA Abua/Odua
76. Construction of Abua-Degema-Emoh-lyak-lghom- Elok and Emoh-Egbolom Access Road in Abua/Odual Local Government Area
Name of project – LGA ONELGA
77. Reconstruction of Akabuka-Omoku Road –
78. Completion of Unity Road & Bridges (Khana/Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas)
79.Rehabilitation of Omoku Internal Roads in ONELGA –
Name of project – LGA Okrika
80. Reconstruction of Ekerekana-Okochiri Link Road in Okrika Local Government and the construction of Okochiri Internal roads in Okochiri Community
Name of project – LGA Oyigbo
81.Reconstruction of Old Aba Road By Mbano Camp Junction
Name of project – LGA AKULGA
82. Construction of Abonnema New Bridge and Approach/Asphalt Overlay of Abonnema Internal Roads in AKULGA. – completed and commissioned
Name of project – LGA Ogu/Bolo
83. Reclamation/Sand filling of Olombie/Owukiri Island, Ogu Community . work in progress
Name of project – LGA Ahoada East
84. Reconstruction of Edeoha-lkata-Ochigba Road In Ahoada East LGA
Some of the roads completed or under construction are key to the rapid development of the benefitting communities.
The dualisation of the Sakpenwa-Bori Road that cuts across Tai, Gokana and Khana Local Government Areas and links neighbouring Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas, remains the greatest post independence gift to the Ogoni People.
The road is also a key facilitator of economic activities. Even the milestone completion already attained has improved the fortune of the people.
The Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road is one of the most important roads since the creation of Rivers State, 50 years ago. This road links the prominent riverine communities of Andoni and Opobo Nkoro Local Government Areas to the rest of Rivers State, through Khana Local Government Area.
It is a road with economic and social significance to the riverine populations. The people of Andoni and Opobo Nkoro have shown their deep appreciation to Governor Wike for translating the vision of this road to reality.
The Woji-Akpajo Bridge recently completed by the Wike administration is a story of the commitment of Governor Wike to completing key projects abandoned by the immediate past APC administration in the state, but which are relevant to the development of Rivers people. Earlier in the life of the administration, the governor completed the Abuluoma -Woji Road and Bridge, also abandoned by that administration.
The recently completed Woji-Akpajo Bridge links Obio/Akpor Local Government Area to Eleme Local Government Area and helps to solve traffic congestion on Aba Road.
The Reconstruction of Edeoha-lkata-Ochigba Road In Ahoada East Local Government Area is a major economic intervention to help the farming communities in this axis. This is another abandoned road, which Governor Wike is reconstructing in line with his pledge to the Ahoada East people.
The Reconstruction of Obiri Ikwerre – Airport Road is a major alternate route to the Port Harcourt International Airport. This road nearing completion was flagged off for reconstruction during the first year anniversary of the Wike administration. Today, it has reduced travel time to the airport.
The Etche Roads are worthy of special mention. First it was the Igwuruta-Chokocho road, which was delivered as a major link between the food basket of the state and the markets of Port Harcourt.
That completed, Governor Wike flagged off and intensified the construction of other roads linking Etche communities and the rest of Rivers State.
They include: Construction of Eleme Junction-lgbo Etche-Chokocho Road, Reconstruction of Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road in Etche LGA and Construction of Ulakwo ll-Afara-Nihi Etche Road in Etche LGA.
Etche people have never had it so good.
In Kalabari land, Governor Wike first completed the Abonnema/Obonoma Link Road and Bridge. Thereafter, he is constructing the Abonnema Ring Road which serves as an alternate route out of the ancient town.
The Wike administration is also constructing the internal roads of Nyemoni Grammar School in Abonnema.
It is necessary to highlight two other critical roads that are helping to reinvigorate the economy of Rivers State. The Construction of Abua-Degema-Emoh-lyak-lghom- Elok and Emoh-Egbolom Access Road in Abua/Odual Local Government Area and the reconstruction of Akabuka-Omoku Road.
In Rivers State, all the three senatorial districts have been impacted positively in terms of road infrastructure. Governor Wike people-oriented style of governance entails that all segments of the state are carried along. So far, he has religiously kept his promise.
December 2017 Road Flag Off Programmes
As the 2017 Christmas approached , Governor Wike flagged off the construction of key road projects. He flagged off the reconstruction of Ahoada-Odienereyi-Ihugbogo-Odieke Road in Ahoada East Local Government Area. The Governor also flagged off the dualization of the Omoku-Egbema Road and the construction/rehabilitation of Isiokpo Internal Roads and Drains in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has worked towards creating a comprehensive healthcare that caters for the needs of Rivers people. The administration has invested in the improvement of health facilities and services across the state, while taking care of the welfare of professionals in the sector.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was in Rivers State to lay the foundation for the construction of an ultra-modern doctors quarters at the Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital. This project is progressing satisfactorily.
Training of Health Professionals
The administration established a College of Medical Sciences at the Rivers State University and also started the setting up of the State Teaching Hospital with the signing of the bill to actualize it.
Support for Private Medical Practitioners
In order to guarantee that more residents of Rivers State have access to quality healthcare, the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike flagged off a private hospitals loan scheme (PHLS).
The first batch of the scheme witnessed 37 hospitals in the state having access to N500 million to upgrade their facilities and improve their services to the people . Seven of the beneficiaries are non-indigenes, while 30 are from Rivers State.
Flagging off the PHLS at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike urged the private medical practitioners to apply the loans judiciously.
The state government would pay the interest on the loans on behalf of the beneficiaries, while the beneficiaries will pay the principal sum. This novel scheme has improved access to quality healthcare in Rivers State.
Unprecedented Rehabilitation of Secondary Healthcare Facilities
Prior to the advent of the Wike administration, secondary healthcare had collapsed across the state. These General Hospitals suffered criminal neglected during the leadership of the immediate past APC administration in the state. Therefore, Rivers people in rural communities were denied access to quality healthcare.
In line with the vision of the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to create access to quality healthcare for the people of Rivers State , the Wike Administration commenced the total rehabilitation of 13 General Hospitals .
The following are the hospitals being rehabilitated : General Hospital Omoku, General Hospital Nchia , General Hospital , Abua , General Hospital Isiokpo, General Hospital Abonnema, General Hospital Okirika , General Hospital Opobo , General Hospital Bodo, General Hospital Ngo, General Hospital Buguma, Psychiatric Hospital , Rumuigbo , General Hospital Emohua and General Hospital Eberi.
Rivers people from all walks of life have declared their support for the Governor’s commitment to rebuild the health infrastructure in the state. These hospitals have never witnessed any form of rehabilitation since they were constructed in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Governor Wike declared that his administration will transform the secondary healthcare sector of the state as a means of improving the living standard of the people.
The governor said that the state government resolved to revive the secondary healthcare facilities because they were abandoned for over two decades.
Their upgrade would open a new chapter in healthcare delivery in the state . Quality healthcare would be close to the ordinary people of Rivers State at their doorsteps .
Recruitment of Medical Personnel/Improvement of Facilities at Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital
Aside the development of physical infrastructure in health facilities across the state, the Wike administration has recruited qualified medical professionals to help the state government strengthen access to quality healthcare.
Also, facilities at the Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital (BSMH) have been improved by the administration. Governor Wike has released $4million for the purchase and installation of modern equipment at the BSMH.
The administration will implement a phased distribution of vehicles to doctors on the payroll of the state government in the course of the year.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.
To be contd.
- News5 days ago
Shell Recommits To Research, Dev In Nigeria
- Sports5 days ago
Championship: Muaythai Federation Appeals For Support
- Sports5 days ago
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
- Sports5 days ago
Udi Wants Ex-S’Eagles To Coach NPFL Teams
- Politics5 days ago
Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan
- Sports5 days ago
Ogunsakin, Mubarak Hit Finals At Sapetro Futures Tennis
- Sports5 days ago
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
- Sports5 days ago
Coordinator Okays Youth Basketball Festival