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Anniversary Special

The Rivers Project At 49 …Making And Makers Of The State

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New Government House

New Government House

Administrative and commercial
developments in two Nigerian cities, namely Enugu and Port Harcourt between 1939 and 1967, more than any other factor, provoked and motivated the Rivers people to start thinking of, and fighting for the ownership of a separate state.
The peoples of the present day Bayelsa and Rivers State were, administratively made part of the Eastern Group of Provinces in 1939, with administrative headquarters at Enugu. The Eastern Group of Provinces later came to be known as Eastern Region of Nigeria or for short, Eastern Nigeria.
Eastern Nigeria was made up of one majority ethnic group, the Ibo and several minority ethnic groups such as Ijaw, Ibibio, Efik, Annang, Ogoja, Ikwerre, Ogoni, Ekpeye, Ogba, Abua and many more. The ratio of the population of the Ibo vis-a-vis the Eastern Nigerian minorities is 7.5 : 5.5.
The entire Rivers area was part of Owerri Province at the time. The first documented pressure for a Rivers Province was generated in the old Legislative Council in Lagos by the late Rev. E. T. Dimiari, member of the Legislative Council from 1944 to 1946. He was a priest from Bonny, Rivers State He was supported by Chief the Hon. Obaseki, Prime Minister of Benin, Edo State. The Hansards of 1946 are replete with speeches of these two legislators on the issue.
However, the person that championed the struggle for the creation of Rivers State for a quarter of a century until the goal was realized is Chief Harold J. Dappa-Wilcox, later Dappa-Biriye, also from Bonny.
Mr. Harold Dappa-Biriye actually sacrificed his life, time and career for the titanic struggle for the creation of a Rivers State. His father, Mr. R.T.E. Wilcox, the first Bonny lawyer, graduated in Law from the University of London, England in 1948 and later became a Magistrate in Nigeria. Mr. Harold Dappa-Biriye’s performance in the school certificate examination at Kings’ College, Lagos in 1941 was, simply superlative! He scored Alphas (A1) in all his subjects.  This excellent performance instantly earned him exemption from the London University Matriculation examination. That implies automatic admission at the University of London, England. However, the struggle for the creation of a Rivers State so attracted his attention that he sacrificed his going to study at the university, for the struggle for the creation of a Rivers State.
It is now of common knowledge that in 1941, Mr. Harold J. R. Dappa-Biriye, fresh from Kings’ College, Lagos effectively convinced his father, late Mr. R. T. E. Wilcox, the reality of the fact that a separate province for the various communities traditionally styled by our Ibo neighbours as Rivers people would induce a government based in Lagos to provide relevant facilities for the people. He also suggested to his father the need for the organisation of a body for those communities to press for the creation of a Rivers Province.
There was an important political development that took place at Aba, Abia State in June 1949. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1944 and remained its effective leader. The NCNC is the first militant political party in Nigeria. In 1947, the Ibo State Union (ISU) offered Dr. Azikiwe the presidency of ISU, and he mistakenly accepted the offer. The first Ibo congress took place at Aba in June 1949. Dr. Azikiwe, at the congress addressed the Ibos through a Key-Note Address, in his joint capacity as President of the NCNC as well as President of ISU. The Key-Note address is published in Selected Speeches of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (London: Cambridge University Press, 1961).
A part of his speech was very offensive to all non-Ibo Nigerians. Dr. Azikiwe planted the seed of TRIBALISM in Nigeria through this speech. The offensive part of the speech reads as follows: ‘It appears that the god of Africa has specially created the Ibo man to lead the other sons of Africa out of colonial bondage. It is our manifest destiny to rule’.
Dr. Azikiwe began his political career in Lagos and making an inroad into the Western House of Assembly at the time.
Nigeria was yet to obtain political independence from Britain in 1949 and the Ibos were already claiming that at independence they (the Ibos) would take over political leadership from the British and rule all non-Ibo Nigerians.
1951 was an election year in Nigeria. Sir, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello in the Northern Nigeria and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Western Nigeria reacted drastically to Dr. Azikiwe’s 1949 Key-Note Address. In order to fare well in the 1951 national elections, Sir Ahmadu Bello transformed a socio-cutural pressure group, Jan’yyar Mutenam Arewa into a political party: The Northern Peoples Congress (NPC). Chief Obafemi Awolowo took a similar step by transforming Egbe Omo Oduduwa into the Action Group (AG).
Chief Obafemi Awolowo did not stop at that. As leader of the Yorubas, he mobilized his people and drove Dr. Azikiwe away from the Western House of Assembly in 1952.
‘Professor’ Eyo Ita, an Efik from Calabar, Cross River State was the most successful politician in Eastern Nigeria at the time. A prolific writer, he graduated in Education from Columbia University, New York in 1932 and was already Leader of Government Business (the topmost office held by a Nigerian) in Eastern Nigeria in 1952.
Dr. Azikiwe, driven away from the Western Region, returned to the Eastern Region and teamed up with his more populous Ibo people and displaced ‘Professor’ Eyo Ita and became the new leader of Government Business in Eastern Nigeria towards the end of 1952. Dr. Azikiwe committed a civilian coup d’etat to occupy this office.
In 1954 when experimental independence known as ‘Self Government’ was introduced in the three Nigerian Regions, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the leader of Government Business in the Eastern Region, occupying the highest office held by a Nigerian, automatically became the region’s first Premier, an office that, under normal circumstances, was supposed to be occupied by ‘Professor’ Eyo Ita, who became the leader of Government Business on MERIT!
In 1959, when Dr. Azikiwe became the first indigenous President of the Nigerian Senate, he ensured that another Ibo, Dr. Michael Okpara replaced him as Premier of Eastern Nigeria. Another Ibo, Dr. Akanu Ibiam was civilian Governor of Eastern Nigeria. Ibos were well represented in the Federal Government Ministerial list in the 1960s with distant cousins, Jaja Wachuku and Aja Nwachukwu, each a Federal Government Minister. Chief Wenike Opurum Briggs, the first indigene of the Old Rivers (now Bayelsa and Rivers States) State to serve as a Federal Government Minister was not appointed until 1967, by General Yakubu Gowon, a minority man of the Anga ethnic nation in Plateau State, and then Military Head of State of Nigeria.
Even when military rule was introduced into Nigeria in January 1966, another Ibo man, Lieutenant Chukwuemeka O. Ojukwu was made Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, over and above the superior Brigadier Wellington Bassey, an Ibibio from Akwa Ibom State. Brigadier Bassey is the first to matriculate in the Nigerian Army. His matriculation number is NA 1.
Educational and other facilities in Eastern Nigeria were also deliberately concentrated in Iboland. The so-called University of Nigeria was situated at Nsukka, Iboland in 1960. Alvan Ikoku College of Education was sited at Owerri, Iboland in 1963.
Higher School Certificate (H.S.C.) was the gateway to universities in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Baptist High School, Port Harcourt was the only secondary school in the present Bayelsa and Rivers States to offer the HSC programme and she offered it for the first time in as late as 1966. The Nigerian Civil War intervened in 1967 thereby derailing the programme.
On the other hand, nearly a dozen secondary schools in Iboland enjoyed adequate facilities for the H.S.C. programme. Some of the schools in question include Government College, Umuahia, Holy Ghost College, Owerri, Government College, Afikpo, Methodist College, Uzuakoli, Dennis Memorial Grammar School (D.M.G.S.: Does Monkey Go to School?) Onitsha and Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha. More than ninety percent (90%) of Eastern Nigerian scholarships from the mid 1950s to 1967 were commandeered by Ibos. They were majority in Eastern Nigeria with a ratio of 7.5 : 5.5 as against all the Eastern Nigerian minority peoples. The Ibos made themselves masters and treated the minorities as servants.
The developments mentioned above took place during nearly three decades (1939 to 1967), and greatly fuelled the various groups, both constitutional and militant that combined their efforts over the decades to fight for the creation of Rivers State.
Groups That Championed Creation Of Rivers
Some of the major organisations that championed the fight for the creation of Rivers State include the Rivers State Congress (RSC), Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference (RCPC) and Niger Delta Congress (NDC). These bodies pursued their goal through constitutionally approved methods.
At least, one prominent agitator for the creation of Rivers State, the late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, dramatized the struggle by employing an unconstitutional method. The struggle for the creation of Rivers State shall remain incomplete if the actions that constituted the Isaac Boro episode is not examined.
Isaac Boro was President of the Student Union at the University of Nigeria in 1965. He was a Chemistry student. He was a policeman in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He abandoned his university studies, summoned Nigeria’s one and only Prime Minister, Sir, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in a law court over irregularities in some national issues. Prime Minister Balewa had in 1963 created the Mid Western Region out of the Western Region. He struck a deal with Boro: ‘Let us settle out of court and you work for us. We shall create a Rivers State for you’. Boro immediately declared his loyalty for Prime Minister Balewa. As soon as the Prime Minister was assassinated on the 15th of January 1966, Boro decided to take the laws into his hands. He spent about 5 weeks recruiting and training volunteer freedom fighters.
On 23rd of February 1966, Boro declared an independent Niger Delta Republic and successfully defended it with arms against the Federal Government troops for twelve days. He later gave a good account of this episode in his one and only book – The Twelve Day Revolution (Benin: Idodo Umeh Publishers, 1982).
Although the Federal Government troops overpowered the Isaac Boro Freedom Fighters, his action greatly raised consciousness amongst the Rivers peoples for the need for a separate Rivers State. The Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is an Ibo, as was the Military Head of State of Nigeria, Major General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi. These two Ibo leaders conspired and subjected Boro and his volunteer Freedom Fighters to a Kangaroo trial in Port Harcourt. They were all condemned to death for allegedly committing ‘treasonable felony’. All these drastically raised consciousness amongst the Rivers people for the need for the creation of a separate Rivers State.
A big political storm was gathering at the national level since the 15th of January 1966 when the Ibos assassinated Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister Balewa and many other non-Ibo political leaders and top army officers and replaced the Hausa Prime Minister with an Ibo Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi as the first Military Head of State of Nigeria.
About six and a half months later, the Hausas struck in what they termed ‘a return match’ on the 29th of July, 1966. They avenged the death of both Prime Minister Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello, first and only Premier of Northern Nigeria and some top ranking army officers like Brigadier Zakariya Mailalari by killing Nigeria’s one and only Major General at the time as well as the first Military Head of State of Nigeria, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi. The Head of State’s whereabout was not disclosed until five months later, strangely in a foreign land, on the 4th of January 1967 at Aburi, Ghana during the now famous Aburi Peace Talks.
Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu ‘Jack’ Gowon, a minority Northerner of the Anga ethnic nation from Plateau State, had just returned from a short term course abroad at the time. He was not part of the Hausa coup plotters. The coup plotters attempted to secede with Northern Nigeria as an Independent Republic with Major Murtala Mohammed as its first Head of State.
It was the British High Commissioner in Nigeria and the American Ambassador to Nigeria at the time that convinced them to remain as part of Nigeria or face the danger of owning and running a land-locked country like Niger Republic, that amongst many disadvantages, has to be constantly paying CUSTOM DUTY to the coastal countries through whose harbours industrial goods of the western world would pass to the land locked country in question.
When the Hausa coup plotters reluctantly gave up the idea of secession, they saw the difficulty in selling the candidature of Major Murtala Mohammed as Military Head of State of Nigeria, particularly to the Ibos. The late Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi was an Ibo and a Christian. Major Mohammed was an Hausa and a Muslim. The Hausa coup plotters reasoned correctly that since they rejected the Ibo and Christian Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi as Military Head of State of Nigeria that the Ibos would react similarly to the choice of the Hausa and Muslim Major Mohammed.
There was an instant search for an acceptable, compromise candidate for the office of Military Head of State of Nigeria. The choice of Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu ‘Jack’ Gowon seemed divine! He is not a Hausa by ethnic nation. He is an Anga from Plateau State. He was the highest ranking army officer from Northern Nigeria at the time, his seniors having been killed during the 15th January 1966 coup detat. He was not a Muslim. He is a Christian. His father was a Pastor of a Penticostal church. His choice was indeed divine! During the prosecution of the barbaric 30 month Biafra war, his name GOWON was apparently deciphered in Nigeria as ‘Go On With One Nigeria’ and in Biafra as ‘Go On Worrying Our Nation’. He became Military Head of State of Nigeria on 1 August 1966.
Fortunately, Isaac Boro and his volunteer Freedom Fighters, all of whom had been condemned to death by the Ibo controlled Port Harcourt courts at the time (Port Harcourt was 90% Ibo as at 1966) were yet to be physically executed. The agitators for the creation of Rivers State began to gather strength as the Ibos had the more populous and bolder Hausas to confront in a new warfront.
Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria refused to recognise the choice of Lieutenant Colonel Gowon as Military Head of State of Nigeria. He wanted the Hausas to tell the world the whereabout of Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, the last occupant of the office, since 29th July 1966. He started behaving as Military Head of State of a Sovereign nation. For example, he turned the local Enugu Airport into an International Airport without clearance from the Lagos based headquarter office of the Nigerian Airport Authority. He also received ships at the Port Harcourt and Calabar harbours without clearance from the Lagos headquarter office of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). He also, on the one hand, without utilizing legal advice, single-handedly discharged and acquitted all the prisoners in the Enugu prisons, recruited militants and began to offer them full military training right inside the high walled Enugu prisons.
He did not end at that. He began to be loudly boasting of Eastern Nigeria’s preparedness to go to war against the Hausas and how ‘there is no power in black Africa that can subdue my regime’ He repeatedly stressed the empty claim that the Ibos were the wisest and the most industrious black people on the earth.
Lieutenant Colonel Gowon is a man of peace. Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu’s empty threats greatly troubled the Nigerian Military Leader at the time. It was this fear, more than any other single factor that facilitated the creation of Rivers State as at when it was created.
Two illustrious sons of the Niger Delta played the trick. They are the late Chief Dr. (Barr.) Okoi Arikpo from Ugep in Cross River State and the late Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye of Bonny in Rivers State.
Dr. Arikpo is the first Nigerian to obtain a doctorate (Ph.D) in Anthropology from the University of London, England in 1949 and lectured at the same university between 1949 and 1952. He returned home to serve as Colonial Federal Government Minister in 1954 under the leadership of Governor Macpherson. He qualified as a lawyer from the University of London in 1956. As at 1967, Dr. Okoi Arikpo and Dr. Egbert Udo Udoma were the most accredited leaders in the South-Eastern (Calabar, Ogoja and Uyo axis of) Nigeria.
Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye obtained a record breaking School Certificate result at the famous Kings College, Lagos in 1941 and was the doyon of the London Constitutional Conferences of 1957, 1958 and 1959 that finally yielded Nigeria’s political independence on 1 October 1960. Chief Biriye, at these conferences effectively rubbed academic and intellectual shoulders with the legendary Dr. Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo.
It was Dr. Okoi Arikpo and Chief Biriye that jointly talked Lieutenant Colonel Gowon out of the fear of Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu. They advised Colonel Gowon to quickly create more States out of the four existing regions, and to ensure that three States were created out of Ojukwu’s Eastern Region. The ratio of the Ibos (the only majority ethnic nation of the region) to the Eastern Nigerian minorities is 7.5 : 5.5. They advised Gowon to lump the more populous Ibos in one East Central State with capital city at Enugu, and give two States to the less populous Eastern Nigerian minorities. They suggested a South Eastern State with capital city at Calabar and a Rivers State with capital city at Port Harcourt for the Eastern minorities.
They concluded their advice to Gowon by rightly claiming that if such a development takes place, the Eastern Nigerian minorities that have been agitating for the creation of a separate State for them since the early 1940s, would effectively fight the Ibos to a stand still with their local weapons of war until such a time that Nigeria under the able leadership of Gowon shall be ready with plenty armour and ammunition and fighters and bombers and warships and gunboats to fight a full scale war against Ojukwu.
Gowon heeded their advice and it worked like magic! Gowon created twelve States out of the existing four regions on the 27th of May 1967. Rivers State with capital city as Port Harcourt was one of the original twelve States.
For the purpose of clarification now that States have multiplied into 36, the twelve original States and their capital cities include Benue-Plateau State (Jos), East Central State (Enugu), Kano State (Kano), Kwara State ( Ilorin), Lagos State (Ikeja), Mid Western State (Benin), North Central State (Kaduna), North Eastern State (Maiduguri), North Western State (Sokoto), South Eastern State (Calabar), Western State (Ibadan) and Rivers State (Port Harcourt).
The first serious step Colonel Gowon took towards actualizing the creation of Rivers State was the appointment of a Military Governor for the newly created State. Commander Dannyson Okujagu of the Nigerian Navy from Okrika was Colonel Gowon’s first choice for the hot job. A few sampled opinions concerning his suitability for the job suggested he should change his igbo sounding Okujagu surname. He refused on ground of principle and thereby lost the job. He later rose to the rank of Rear Admiral in the Nigerian Navy and served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to India during the second Republic between 1979 and 1983. Yet, he vehemently regretted his refusal to change his name and become the first Military Governor of Rivers State in a 1992 interview with this writer.
Lieutenant Commander Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, also of the Nigerian Navy from Nembe in present day Bayelsa State was finally appointed first Military Governor of Rivers State.
Colonel Gowon, on the same day (27th May 1967) he created the twelve States out of the previous four regions appointed Lieutenant Colonial Ojukwu Military Governor of the new, Ibos confined East Central State. Between 18th January 1966 and 27th May 1967, Ojukwu was Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria. Gowon’s creation of the twelve new States meant that Ojukwu instantly lost very significant territories – the riverine territories of the Eastern Nigeria. Eastern Nigeria’s two harbours, Port Harcourt and Calabar, are situated in this area.
Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu saw Colonel Gowon’s exercise as a well calculated attempt to demote him (Ojukwu). Ojukwu spent only three days thinking of how best to respond to Gowon’s action. And when he finally concluded his consultations with the Igbo oracles, he declared Eastern Nigeria an independent Republic of Biafra on the 30th of May, 1967, with himself as its first Military Head of State.
The battle line for a civil war in Nigeria was instantly drawn between Gowon’s Nigeria and Ojukwu’s Biafra. Both sides used the month of June 1967 to acquire new weapons of war and on 6th July, 1967, at Gaken, on the northern border of Eastern Nigeria, Nigerian soldiers shot the first bullets at Biafran troops. The Biafran troops replied and so began the barbaric 30 month Nigerian Civil War.
Commander Diete-Spiff ran a Government in exile in Lagos. His office was based at No. 24 Queens Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos.
There were three major co-ordinators of the numerous activities of the agitators and freedom fighters for the creation of Rivers State. Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, from Bonny, of who much has already been said above jointly with Dr. Isaac John Fiberesima from Okrika, co-ordinated the struggle at the Port Harcourt war-front. The first medical doctor from Okrika, Dr. Fiberesima studied Human Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland and qualified in 1953.
Chief Godfrey Kio Jaja Amachree, popularly known as G.K.J., co-ordinated the Lagos war-front of the struggle. Chief Amachree was an exceptionally wealthy man who placed many of his resources at the service of the struggle for the creation of Rivers State.
He studied Law at the University College, London, England and qualifies in 1948. In 1958 he became the first indigenous Solicitor General of the Federal Government of Nigeria. In 1960, Chief Amachree and Chief Rotimi Williams, alias ‘Timi the Law’ were the first two Nigerians to earn the prestigious Queen’ Council (Q.C.), the highest legal accolade throughout the British Empire (now Commonwealth Nations).
Chief Amachree is the first significant United Nations Official (Under Secretary) from Africa (1962-1966), during when he was the ‘highest paid civil servant in the world’. He was also Head of State of Democratic Republic of Congo (once known as Zaire) from 1962 to 1963. He was also the first Nigerian to own his private jet (New York, 1966).
He made both his residence and chambers (the second largest in Lagos) as available meeting points for Rivers people. As at 1967, Chief Amachree was better known worldwide than Governor Emeka Ojukwu.
Two prominent sons of Rivers State played the role of scouts for Governor Diete-Spiff. Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni was Civilian Administrator of Bonny whereas Captain Elechi Amadi, an Ikwerre, was Civilian Administrator of Port Harcourt, and successfully put together the bits and pieces of what was left of the war-ravaged city of Port Harcourt before handing over to Governor Diete-Spiff on 1 September 1968. Both Saro-Wiea and Captain Elechi Amadi, being creative writers chronicled their stewardship in book form. Saro-Wiwa accounted for his in his On A Darkling Plain: An Account of The Nigerian Civil War (Port Harcourt: Saros International Publishers, 1989) whereas Captain Elechi Amadi did so in his Sunset In Biafra (London, Heinemann, 1973).
Let us conjure up the pioneer Executive Council of the Rivers State Government in 1969. The Council was made up of the following eleven members. Commander Alfred P. Diete-Spiff, a Nembe (now in Bayelsa State) was Military Governor. Mr. W. P. Daniel-Kalio from Okrika was Secretary to Government and Head of Service. Chief Harold J. R. Dappa-Biriye, an Ibani from Bonny was Commissioner for Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources. Dr. N. B. Graham-Douglas, a Kalabari was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. Chief S. F. Kombo-Igbeta from Nembe was Commissioner for Establishments. Dr. Lawrence Ekpebu an Izon (now in Bayelsa State) was Commissioner for Finance, Dr. W. T. Wakama was Commissioner for Information and Local Government.
Others included Dr. Obi Wali, an Ikwerre, was Commissioner for Rehabilitation. Mr. K. B. Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni, was Commissioner for Education. Chief E. J. A. Oriji, an Ikwerre, was Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade and Industry. Mr. Nwobidike Nwanodi, also an Ikwerre, was Commissioner for Health. Mr. Isaac Dema, from Abua was Chairman, Civul Service Commission. He was a special member of the Executive Council in the sense that his office was not affected by any cabinet reshufflement.
At the Federal Government level, at the time, the late Chief Wenike Opurum Briggs, a Kalabari became the first indigene of the Old Rivers State to serve as a Federal Government Minister. He qualified as a lawyer from the University of Shefield, England and was called to Bar in Grays Inn, London in 1958. General Yakubu Gowon, then Military Head of State of Nigeria appointed Chief Wenike Briggs Federal Commissioner (Minister) of Education in 1967 and later he reappointed him Federal Commissioner for Trade, an office he held from October 1971 to 1974.
Rivers State was first created on the 27th of May 1967. Since then sixteen Governors have sat on the Brick House throne.
They included Commander Alfred P. Diete-Spiff (1967-1975); Colonel Zamani Lekwot (1975-1978); Navy Commander Suleiman (1978-1979); Chief Melford O. Okilo (1979-1983); Police Commissioner Fidelis Oyakhilome (1984-1986); Colonel Anthony Ukpo (1986-1988); Group Captain Ernest O. Adeleye (1988-1990); Col. Godwin O. Abbe (1990-1991); Chief Rufus Ada-George (1992-1993); Lt. Col. Dauda Musa Komo (1993-1996); Col. Musa Sheikh Shehu (1996-1998); Group Captain Samuel Ewang (1998-1999); Sir (Dr.) Peter Odili (1999-2007); Sir Celestine Omehia (May 2007-Oct. 2007); Rt. Hon. Chibuike R. Amaechi (Oct. 2007-May 2015) and the man of the moment: Chief (Barr.) Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike who became Governor of Rivers State on the 29th of May, 2015.
On 1 October 1996, during the reign of Colonel Musa Sheikh Shehu as Military Administrator of Rivers State, an important restructuring of the State took place. The fresh water part of the Old Rivers State was carved and added to the Salt water Nembe region to become a new Bayelsa State with Yengoa as its capital city. The name Bayelsa was formed from the three merging old divisions or local government areas, including Brass, Yenagoa and Sagbama. Port Harcourt remained the capital city of the new Rivers State.
Space will not allow us to continue chronicling the details of the story of Rivers State. Let us end this essay by calling a few more names of some key freedom fighters. It may be unfair to talk of the Isaac Boro episode without mentioning his two immediate lieutenants: Sam Owonaro and Nottingham Dick.
At the Lagos warfront, the names include Prince Emmanuel Opuru (now Oyichi-Etche), William Pikibo Daniel Kalio, Chiefs. N. Uzph (late Nze Obi of Egbema), Otonti Nduka, Dr. Melford Graham-Douglas. Others were Dr. Lawrence Ekpebu, Chief Ranani Abbah, Chief Ekp-Spiff, Dr. Oruwariye and Horatio Agedah.

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Anniversary Special

The Tide Keeps Flowing At 49

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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

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Anniversary Special

‘We’ll Continue To Advance Rivers Interests’

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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.
BACKGROUND FACTS
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.

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Anniversary Special

Nigerian Entertainment @59 …So Far, So Good

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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.

 

Jacob Obinna

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