Rivers, Flowing With The Tide

Vincent Ake, Current General Manager, RSNC

Added to these were a crop of dedicated reporters actively recruited by the corporation over the years.
It is interesting to note here that most of the afore-mentioned journalists and others that were recruited later have made their marks in journalism and other fields of human endeavours.
A former General Manager and Editor of The Tide, Tony Tebekaemi was to later become the General Manager of The Observer of the Old Bendel State. Tons Fetepigi  was a Second Republic lawmaker; Aloys Nweke was a Third Republic legislator.
Nigerian Media Merit Award (NMMA) winner, Moffat Ekoriko is the Publisher of The Moment and  News Africa magazine,  Braeyi Ekiye was President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Documentation, Award –winning poet and author of several works, Nengi Ilagha was Diepreye Alamieyeseigha’s Speech Writer just as Mike Ejims Enwukwe was a one-time Rivers State Budget Commissioner.              Paulinus Nsirim was Chief Press Secretary to two military administrators and Ex-Governor Celestine Omehia, Prose stylist, novelist and poet,  David Diai is currently the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of the on-line medium, Flashpoint and a Special  Assistant (Media), to Delta State Governor, Senator  Ifeanyi Okowa.
Chief Wofuru Okparaolu was a Commissioner, Rivers State Local Government  Service Commission and pioneer Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council.  Senibo Bobo Brown,  also an ex-chairman, NUJ,  Rivers State, was former Managing Director of the defunct Garden City  Sunray  and one-time President, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). The list is endless.
For a period of time, the Nigerian Tide could not be found on the newsstand due to some bureaucratic hiccups.
The newspaper, however, came back to live in 1995 when the Corporation was re-organised, with Mr Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart as the Editor-In-Chief/Chief Executive.
Ezekiel-Hart brought in good and progressive hands who are senior editors today to revive and reposition the newspaper. It was also under his tenure that the Nigerian Tide was changed to The Tide.
Forty six years in the existence of a newspaper as The Tide, is certainly something worth crowing about, just as the 50 years of Rivers State, given the tempestious see that has characterised Nigerian journalism.
That most of its contemporaries – The Herald of Kwara, Standard of Plateau, Voice of Benue, the Statesman of Imo, Daily Star of Old Anambra, The Triumph of Kano, The Observer of Bendel (now Edo), The Lagos Horizon, The Chronicle of Cross River, The Renaissance of Defunct East Central State, The Sketch of Old Western State and later day tabloids like The Ambassador of Abia, The Pioneer of Akwa Ibom, The Waves of Bayelsa-have either fallen by the wayside or are not fairing any better, testifies to the dream of its founders and the religious preservation of professionalism by those who have, at various times, been at the helm of its affairs.
It is for that reason that Sociology teacher and Assistant Director of the Clande Ake School of Government, Dr Sofiri Joab-Peterside, while reviewing the people and institutions that have shaped Rivers State in the past 50 years, said that the history of the state would be incomplete without a special mention of The Tide.
Insisting that The Tide had been a symbol of Journalism in Nigeria for its pungent editorials on matters of public interest, the university don said the paper deserves the support of the people, companies and organizations in the state.  We  agree no less.
At the risk of sounding immodest, it can be said that The Tide has come of age. However, longevity is not the only apparel that it  wears.  The paper has, within limits of human fallibility, championed the cause of Rivers people and achieved their true aspirations.
It has served the best interest of government at all times and had also played crucial roles in ushering and sustaining democratic values in the state.
Nothing really evinces that more than the “Abandoned property” saga of the 80s between Rivers and Imo State government when both states disagreed so sharply that they engaged in a fierce press war. The Tide, expectedly, lived up to its billings as the defender of the government and people of the state.  Of course, The Tide won the war as our more populous Igbo neighbours eventually discountenanced their agitations over the properties in Port Harcourt.
Recalls Fitzallen Briggs, now a media consultants: “We used Nigerian Tide to fight the Ibos.  Today the Statesman will say something, tomorrow the Nigerian Tide will finish them.
“Our editorials were lucid, pungent and hot that Radio Nigerian was airing them daily. An entertainment column ‘The Tide Beats’, edited by Jossy Jacks and later by myself, made youths crazy.
“The Tide sold like hot cake. Vendors were using it to sell epileptic papers.  The Tide hardly had unsold copies and we were running three editions with the first one moving between 1pm – 2pm to our outstations”.  For this, Briggs adds: “Rivers State Government and its people owe The Tide a wealth of debt”.
“The Tide”, observes an elder Statesman, “may not be fantastic  at all times, but until it carries a statement, the Rivers State Government has not spoken; until it takes a stand, the people of the state have not been heard”.
The Tide is, indeed, pleased to have served Rivers people and indeed Nigerians so religiously all these years, hence it deserves to be greatly celebrated.
Notwithstanding its chequered history, as is the case with state-sponsored newspapers, The Tide will continue to flow and will not ebb or give in to the occasional fluctuations of the tide of the sea.  What this means is that the commitment of successive government to keep The Tide dream alive must be sustained for posterity and even more as a tribute to the founding fathers, especially Diete-Spiff who dreamed it and realized it and in whom we owe eternal gratitude.
Thank goodness.  The Tide’s new General Manager, Mr Vincent Ake, a veteran journalist, has started repositioning the paper in consonance with government’s new vision and developmental agenda rather than as a tool for propaganda or misinformation.
That effort is being complemented by a team of professionals who have already keyed into the dream of a greater Rivers State.  These are Donald Mike-Jaja, Acting Editor; Goodluck Ukwe, Acting Chairman, Editorial Board; Amieyeofori Ibim, Research and Training Editor; Nelson Chukwudi, News Editor; Victor Tew, Political Editor; Boye Salau, Op Ed/Features Editor; Gabriel Nwanetanya, Sports Editor; Ibelema Jumbo, Business Editor; Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye, Director, Special Projects;   Abiebuka Johnson, Director, ICT;  and Donatus Ebi, Acting Production Editor.
As Rivers State marks its 50 years of existence, all The Tide is asking for is an increased patronage and support to enable it serve the society even better than envisaged by the founding fathers of the state.
As a  timeless index of  societal development, The Tide, on its part, will, within the dictates of journalism best practices, continue to pursue those goals that would ensure the attainment of “a desirable social change” as encapsulated in the editorial of its maiden edition in 1971.