Last weekend, two great musical shows held in the great city of Port Harcourt. Two of Nigeria’s leading musicians stormed the Garden City and enlivened the entertainment industry.
These two major musical shows underscored the growing acceptance of Port Harcourt as the headquarters of relaxation, conferences, holidays and events. The two concerts hosted well over 50,000 fun-loving Nigerians.
Davido and Wizkid thrilled their fans at the Port Harcourt Polo Club and Port Harcourt Pleasure Park. People enjoyed their time, money and the electric currents that flowed.
Before Davido and Wizkid came to Port Harcourt, the city hosted 10, 000 lawyers, hundreds of editors, African Beauty Queens from 54 Countries, African Wrestlers from 54 Countries, Super Eagles, the 5-Day Daniel Kolenda Crusade, the ongoing National Badminton Championship, PDP Presidential Primary and several religious programmes in the course of the last two years. Each of these programmes ended without any major incident.
To host thousands of youths in open fields come with their challenges. This is, more so, when the youths are not there for the sake of religion.
For five straight days, the NLNG Sand-Field hosted over 200,000 persons in morning and evening sessions of the Christ for All Nations (CFAN) Crusade. The programme attracted people from all over the South-South and South-East. Families attended. There was no single kidnap, phones were not reported stolen and there were no robberies. The crusade on each day ended at about 10pm. Remember Kolenda and his team came from the United States of America.
During the 2018 NAFEST, Rivers State hosted 28 States for several days at different locations. Thousands of participants were quartered at different facilities and the event ended on a high note. It was described as the best in many years. There were no robberies, no kidnap and no major security breaches.
The two concerts hosted came with a few challenges associated with the youth population. Some members of the crowd fought and a few untoward incidents occurred. But the security details managed the situations. All the artistes performed. At the end of the concerts, those who attended peacefully went home. Whatever lapses that occurred form the lessons that will be learnt by the organisers, which will be addressed in subsequent concerts.
Therefore, it is uncharitable for anyone to claim that Port Harcourt is unsafe because of few infractions associated with a gathering of youths. For well-meaning persons, they understand the process of addressing challenges for mega-events involving different social groups. It is a continuous exercise with room for improvement.
Quite regrettably, some politically sponsored individuals and organisations are struggling to sell the narrative of “Port Harcourt is unsafe “. Yet they forget that no city in the country has hosted major events like Port Harcourt in the last two years. Port Harcourt has continued to emphasise her suitability as a destination of choice. Each time they throw up lies, Port Harcourt responds with greater peace and several more events.
The fact that cannot be contested is that Rivers State is about the safest state in the country. Nightlife has returned and different shows hold every other day . Even when the concerts in question ended very late, musical fans found their ways home without molestation. Like every other major city, criminals breach security once a while, but the security agencies were mobilised to respond.
However, Governor Wike has introduced the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency to fill the noticeable gaps in security management across the state. Imagine if 500 Neighbourhood Safety Corps members were detailed around that crowd at the Davido event.
Rivers State is safe. That is why it is currently the number one investment destination in the country, according to to a report by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). The NIPC is a Federal Agency. Under Governor Wike, Rivers State overtook Lagos State to emerge the investment destination of choice.
The two major musical concerts were beautiful events staged in a great city. As I write, some music promoters are concluding work to bring international artistes from the United States of America to perform in Port Harcourt. This city, under the watch of Governor Wike, will continue to grow in peace and security. Those who are sponsored to de-market the state should have realised that the more they struggle, the higher Port Harcourt flies.
Simeon Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.