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Anniversary Special

We’ll Continue To Give Our All To Rivers-Wike

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Being a text of the address presented by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, during his second term inauguration on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
Excerpts.

Protocols

Let me begin by expressing my deepest gratitude to God Almighty and the people of Rivers State for the rare privilege and opportunity to serve you as your Governor for another four years.
I wish also recognize and specially thank my dear wife and First Lady, Justice Eberechi and our children, Jordan, Joachim and Jasmine, my parents and my entire family for their wonderful love and support.
Let me also acknowledge and thank the State House of Assembly and the State’s Judiciary for the role they played in the last four years to support our administration and move Rivers State forward.
When I reflect on the last four years, I can visibly see the hands of both arms of government in the successes our administration recorded and I feel very proud that we did it together because ours was an era of co-operation, mutual-dependence and progress.
Thank you Mr. Speaker and other members of the State House of Assembly. Thank you Hon. Chief Judge and other distinguished judges, magistrates and other members of the State Judiciary as I look forward to working with you to advance our State for the next four years.
Four years ago, on this day and about this hour, and on this very place, I took the oath of office as the 6thdemocratically elected Governor of Rivers State.
I was humbled by that opportunity, the trust and the overwhelming support you all gave to us throughout the four years we’ve presided over the affairs of our State.
In spite of the challenges, it has been a truly fulfilling experience and I remain very grateful for every single day of the last four years we have served.
In our inaugural address four years ago, we shared our vision with you and committed ourselves to take our State on a new direction through responsible governance.
We promised to take on the challenges that we faced and optimize our resources to advance the potential and prospects of our State.
We said we would reverse the years of economic decline, put the improvements to work and deliver a new foundation of hope for our State and our children.
We promised not to take your trust for granted but work every single day to advance the vision of our founding fathers for a united, secure, and prosperous State.
We pledged to be fair to all parts of the State, inclusive in our agenda and ensure that no constituent is deliberately left out in our efforts to advance our State and improve the wellbeing of our people.
We also asked for your prayers, patience and cooperation as we set out to deliver on our promises to fix our broken infrastructure, restore our educational system and advance access to quality healthcare.
We have, in the last four years, stayed through to our commitments and responded to the compelling prescriptions of the covenant we entered with our people.
Today, we are proud to say that we have, in the last four years, delivered significant milestones on our development agenda and advanced the progress of our State despite the daunting challenges.
We gave true meaning and expression to the rule of law, separation of powers and judicial independence in ways never experienced in our history. Today, our judiciary is the envy of other States: independent, strong, well motivated, effective and efficient with the most modern judicial infrastructure
We also intervened in the conditions of federal courts and built the most modern courthouses for the Port Harcourt Divisions of the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal, which are now providing effective judicial services to our people.
In the next couple of weeks we will commission the first phase of the luxury estate we have built to accommodate our judges for life as part of our commitment to strengthen the independence of our judiciary.
We have in the last four years tackled our fiscal challenges, improved on revenue mobilization, eliminated the souring deficit and put our economy on the path to progressive recovery and growth.
Today, our economy is widely acclaimed as the fastest growing in the country with internally generated revenues projections and fiscal responsibility attaining record levels.
We’ve eased the tax burden on investors; our economy is on upward spiral, creating jobs and attracting new investments from within and outside the State, pushing up property rates and creating new opportunities for existing and budding entrepreneurs.
We have rid all our roads of potholes, completed most of the abandoned road projects we inherited and built new ones, including dual carriageways across the State.
For the first time in history, the ancient Opobo Kingdom, Ikuru town and other adjoining coastal communities have been linked to the rest of the State by road by our administration.
We’ve also provided internal roads to a number of communities as well as regenerated some of our decaying neghbourhoods, including Diobu, Port Harcourt Township, Ogunabali and Amadi Ama.
In the last four years, we have made historic investments in education, healthcare, security, and sports development.
We have renovated, rebuilt and equipped several primary and secondary schools; upgraded infrastructure in our tertiary institutions to levels never seen before, as well as fulfilled our promise to establish a faculty of medical sciences in the Rivers State University to increase the production of medical personnel for the State and our nation.
Within the period, we’ve also funded healthcare delivery at great levels, restored our general hospitals and established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital to improve the level of healthcare delivery in the State.
Work on the five regional referral hospitals have reached advanced stages of completion just as we are set to commission and put the mother and child hospital into use in a few weeks time.
We are also made significant progress in our plan to train 500 indigenous medical students on full scholarship at the Pamo University of Medical Sciences with 200 students already enrolled and progressing with their studies in the last two years alone.
In the last four years, we’ve worked hard to secure and preserve lives and property throughout the State. Although there are still challenges, Rivers State today remains one of the safest States when compared to the ravaging security situation in most parts of our country.
Looking back, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ve had an incredible run and delivered great progress for our State and our people in ways that we could only have imagined four years ago.
But for us, progress is a journey to the mountaintop of shared security and qualitative improvement in living conditions for all our citizens.
Therefore, even with the progress we have made over the years since 1967, it seems today that we have only risen to the foothills of our collective aspirations for our State.
Our task is therefore not yet done; neither our mission in governance accomplished, until we fully and comprehensively deliver on the vision of our founding fathers and the promise of statehood by building a State:
that offers equal protection, freedom and opportunity for everyone irrespective of background;
where our people will move up the social, economic and political ladder on the basis of their hard work, character and affinity with the people, not on the basis of their connections or privileged background;
where everyone will have enough for themselves and cater to the needs of their children and families with relative ease;
where quality healthcare will be accessible, affordable and adequate for all citizens, whether poor or rich;
where our children will get quality education with the right skills to advance their careers and achieve their full potential;
where senior citizens will retire with security and enjoy their post-retirement in dignity, peace of mind, good health and happiness;
where development and the benefits of progress are spread to all parts of the State in respective of location; and
the ordinary laws of the land are equally applied to promote good governance, justice and fairness to all;
As we reflect on these goals against the background of where we are coming from, where we are and what we are ultimately striving to become, we must admit that there’s still a lot more work to be done to reach the promise land.
And so, today we stand at the turning point of history with another opportunity to drive the vision and trajectory of our collective progress for another four years.
And because of today’s renewed trust, I stand before this solemn assembly to reaffirm the commitment of our government to continue to deliver on this journey to sustainable progress and prosperity for our State and our people.
We will not take this second term as a chance to warm the seat of governance but to continue to take the tough decisions and give our all to the task we have ahead of us every single day of the next four years with courage, commitment and compassion.
Together, we have been on the journey of giving true meaning to the collective dreams and aspirations of our people for economic and political emancipation and meaningful development.
The next four years are therefore pivotal as we consolidate on the progressive foundations of the last four years to take Rivers State through a greater era of achievements and progress, because making Rivers State the greatest State in Nigeria is a task that must be accomplished.
Our economy is great but it should be greater and made more beneficial to all. And so we will continue to grow our economy, expand our tax base, provide a friendly business environment and attract foreign and local investments to create more jobs and empower our people.
We will continue on the economic trajectory of fiscal discipline, prudence, prioritization of capital projects over recurrent and giving value for money spent in the delivery of services.
We know we are developing, but it’s better and more result-oriented if approached in an organized and strategic form.
We will therefore adopt a holistic approach to development by partnering with relevant national and international agencies and expertise to initiate and implement a 25-years Marshall Plan for economic transformation and development to guide and accelerate the future development of our State.
We are already doing great to close the existing deficit in infrastructure but the need to deliver more roads, bridges and modern jetties to connect our cities and communities, improve our economy, accelerate our development and improve the general wellbeing of our people. This we will do with greater vigour and commitment.
We love our communities and we will continue to prioritize their development for sustainable living with more social amenities, including paved roads, schools, health facilities, water and sanitation, electricity, land reclamation and preservation of their natural resources.
For too long, we have relied mostly on a single vanishing revenue source to fund our development. The reality is that we cannot continue in this economic folly lest we remain forever vulnerable to the ripples, uncertainties and miseries of the mono-product based national economy.
Apart from oil and gas, Rivers State also has a vast agricultural potential, which has remained largely untapped for decades.
For us therefore, it is about time we embraced the green revolution as a strategic measure for achieving economic diversification, job creation and food security for the State and our people, and we are just ready to do that.
Our role in this regard will span from granting interest free loans to providing training, land preparation and logistical support to our willing youths to invest in commercial agriculture and allied businesses.
We will also establish regional agricultural development belts in partnership with private firms to advance commercial farming in cash and other crops and invest in the establishment of agro-allied industries and processing plants across these belts.
We will complete and privatize the multi-million-naira cassava processing plant at Afam, sell off all State-owned farms and agricultural companies, including the Okomoko Rubber plantation and company, and release all idle State farmlands to private sector investors for commercial cultivation.
We will revive the school-to-land programme and leverage on the incentives from the Federal Government and the Central Bank to promote and sustain the development of agriculture across the value chain by our youths so that they can proudly earn their living, be employers of labour and contribute to the development of the State.
Our youths are our most valuable human assets and we believe that their destiny shouldn’t be defined by their circumstances or station in life.
We cannot therefore, as parents, government or as society, continue to make excuses for the difficulties that are stunting their hopes for a better life.
Let me therefore reassure our young ones that we care about you; we feel your despair and frustrations; the poverty and the violence that continue to chew meaning out of your existence.
But, we’ve got good news for all our youths this time around as we will dedicate much of the next four years to Youth Development by tackling the challenges that continue to keep you behind.
As a starting point, we’ve resolved to give our youths some significant positions in our government and provide viable economic opportunities to spark hopes of a better future in their eyes.
Let me also assure you that those who need education will get quality one; those who want life-skills will be trained; those who want to do business will continue to get our interest free loans; and those who have sporting talents will have quality sporting facilities and encouragement from us; and for those interested in making a career out of football, we have provided the Real Madrid Academy to prepare you for life-transforming professional footballing career at home and abroad.
Most importantly, we will continue to encourage, inspire, mentor and support our youths to believe in their abilities and to realize that they are and can be of much more value to society than the self-destructive traps and frills of the cults, the gangs and the guns.
It is for our youths therefore to take on the challenges threatening their future by keying into the socio-economic opportunities we are providing to free yourselves from the shackles of despair to become responsible, passionate and progressive leaders of today and tomorrow and the builders of our State and communities.
We all want our children to have the opportunity to attend great schools; be taught by committed and well-motivated teachers and get the training they need to be successful.
Although we are doing a lot to reposition the education sector, but we do also admit that our pupils in public schools deserve more than what the educational system presently offers.
Also of concern is the curriculum and focus of our universities, which continue to turn out students that are neither equipped with appropriate skills nor imbued with the right disposition, attitude and courage to overcome life’s ever-present and dynamic challenges.
Be that as it may, I wish to assure us that we are determined to change this narrative for the better. We will continue to equip our public schools and ensure our children have access to quality learning experience; empower our teachers with modern teaching skills to deliver better outcomes in the classrooms, and advance our universities to equip and prepare our graduates to be competitive and strive for creativity, self-reliance and service.
We believe that quality healthcare should be available and affordable to every citizen as of right and this is what we are working hard to achieve with our efforts and commitment to fix the existing shortcomings in the State’s healthcare system.
To this end, we hope to fully restore all the general hospitals, complete and equip the five zonal referral hospitals, fully upgrade the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital and provide more healthcare facilities to under-served areas of the State.
In addition, we will establish the most advanced diagnostic and curative centre for cancer and heart diseases and roll out a comprehensive health insurance scheme to guarantee universal healthcare coverage so that no one is denied medical attention and treatment for lack of money.
Also, our environment is our life and we all bear a duty to protect and manage it in the most responsible and sustainable way for the present and future generations.
Therefore, I wish to emphasize that we will no longer tolerate those who continue to degrade and undermine our rights to live in a clean, healthy and safe environment.
We are therefore minded to declare a state of emergency on the environment and tackle all forms of degradation, nuisance and irresponsible behavior occasioned by individuals, companies and other agencies, both public and private.
We will not fold our arms anymore while oil and gas companies continue to the environmental rights of our people with be reckless and unaccountable to our environment.
We will continue to welcome investors and entrepreneurs into the State but not anymore to the detriment and destruction of our environment, survival and livelihood.
Therefore, oil and gas companies must secure their facilities and stop the recurrent ejection of hazardous crude and other contaminants into our water bodies through leakages or damaged to pipelines.
In the same vein we will no longer tolerate the indiscriminate dumping of household and industrial refuse on unauthorized sites, including open lands, road/street corners, medians and drains.
We equally expect all residents to regularly clean their contiguous surroundings and drains; clear the grasses and plant trees in deserving places to beautify and preserve their immediate environment.
We remind landlords in particular of their legal responsibility to clean all adjourning open spaces verging their property as we will not hesitate to strengthen and enforce our sanitation laws against any property owner who fails to keep his or her premises and surroundings clean, safe and secure.
On our part, we will collaborate with the private sector and through shared cost ensure the healthy and efficient evacuation and disposal of household and industrial wastes in accordance with world best practice to keep Rivers State clean, safe and healthy.
Enough of the lawlessness and indiscipline on our roads by traders, motorists and developers.
We therefore restate the ban on all forms of street trading and arbitrary creation of illegal motor parks and taxi ranks across the State.
I hereby direct all street traders to find accommodation at the existing markets, including the new mile one and fruit garden markets, which we have just completed to conduct their trades and keep off our streets or get subjected to the might of the State Government and the full wrath of our laws.
In the same vein, I hereby order the immediate closure, arrest and prosecution of any person, company or agency that continues to operate illegal motor parks, taxi ranks and loading points along street corners, road shoulders and other unauthorized spaces in the interest of public safety, public order and public security.
In addition, we will sanitise the transport sector and ensure that all commercial taxi and bus operators are duly registered with the State’s Ministry of Transport to safeguard the comfort, safety and security of commuters.
To be continued next edition.
85. We recognize the correlation between adequate security and the well being of our people. We all therefore deserve to be safe and secure in our homes, offices, business places, along our roads and in our neighbourhoods and inn our communities.
86. Regrettably, the Federal Government politicized the provision of security in Rivers State and exposed us to preventable security challenges, setbacks and injuries in the last four years.
87. While they readily funded special security operations against intense banditry in some parts of the country, they refused our requests for similar interventions and operations when we wanted and even offered to bear the cost to stem increasing kidnapping and cult-related violence across the State.
88. What’s more, they have refused to accord adequate security attention to Rivers State in spite of the unprecedented support they receive from us in terms of provision of operational vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, gunboats, communication gazettes, fuel and overheads to the security agencies.
89. Nevertheless, we thank the security agencies, especially the State Commands of the Police, the Department of State Security, the Nigerian Air force and the Nigerian Navy for the partnership and willingness to give their best to keep us safe and secure in spite of the seaming indifference and lack of tangible material support and encouragement from the Federal Government.
90. Even now and going forward, we can only pray to them to depoliticize the provision of security in Rivers State because we are also Nigerians as other States and the preservation of our lives and property should equally matter to the Federal Government.
91. However, we wish to assure our people that we will continue to prioritize the provision of security and do our possible best within our constitutional powers and resources to safeguard lives and property across our State.
92. Accordingly, we will make Rivers State too hot for criminals and bandits and deal ruthlessly with any person, gang or group, including traditional rulers and landlords who directly or indirectly participate, aid, abet, provide safe havens or allow criminal activities in homes, premises and territories under their control.
93. We will also partner with the judiciary to ensure swift dispensation of criminal justice as well as work with stakeholders to operationalize the Neighbourhood Security Watch Scheme to support the security agencies so that we can all live and enjoy the State, raise our children and do our businesses in peace and security.
94. Ladies and gentlemen, 52 years ago, our founding fathers dreamt about Rivers State and its greatness; a State brimming in prosperity; at peace with itself and its neighbours; a State everyone would be proud off for its underlying achievements and values.
95. We’ve spent the last four years working on this vision with demonstrable capacity and commitment to make Rivers State as great as it could become and for everyone to share in its successes.
96. We believe that no success is more fulfilling and worth sustaining than keeping faith with the hopes and aspirations of the people who freely gave us their trust to govern in their behalf and change their material conditions for the better.
97. For us, Rivers State was created for a purpose and the confidence in its future is what continues to motivate us. And having renewed our mandate therefore, we cannot but concede to your yearnings that we deliver greater progress for the State in the next four years.
98. We’ve heard you loud and clear. All that we can say at this point is to assure you that we are fully ready and determined to deliver four more years of meaningful progress and hope for our State and our people.
99. But, we must also not forget that it won’t be as easy. As a State, we are not immune to the inherent challenges bedeviling our dysfunctional federal system: the ravaging insecurity everywhere; declining revenues, low economic growth, double-digit inflation rate, high cost of living, lack of basic infrastructure and public services, high unemployment, as well as inequality of wealth, income and opportunities.
100. This being so, it cannot be gainsaid that our progress is to extent dependent on how quickly the Federal government resolves these challenges and improves the national economy.
101. But whatever the challenges may be, we remain undaunted to solving the only problem that continues to confront us as a people: the Rivers problem.
101. I had often said that Rivers State is ours to build and no one can be interested in its progress more than us. No one can care more about the future of our youths or the education and health of our children, and our security than us.
102. Therefore, wherever we are; whatever office we hold and whatever action we take, we must make Rivers State the center, the measure, the reason and the motivation.
103. For us, everyone counts and we must not allow ourselves to be divided between upland and riverine considerations but strive for common grounds, solidarity and work together towards achieving our common goals and aspirations.
104. Our refrain at this time, and especially in the face of the social and economic uncertainties in our nation, should be: ask what you can do for Rivers State instead of what Rivers State can do for you.
105. The future of our State depends on us. It is up to us to renew, re-energize, and advance the Rivers dream, to fight for what belongs to us, and to defend our right to exist in freedom, security and peace in our own nation.
106. And if we do cooperate, think and act among ourselves with tenacity and unity of strength, purpose and commitment, then there is no mountain we cannot level; no river we cannot cross, and no goal we set for ourselves that we cannot achieve.
107. We are not in opposition to the Federal Government and we seek their partnership to move Rivers State and Nigeria forward.
108. But we are not a conquered people and we will never surrender our freedoms to any body or entity, whether internal or external.
109. We will therefore not accept to be subjugated to a headmaster and pupil power relationship; neither will we abandon the collective interest of Rivers State for the sake of political expediency.
110. We are for the rule of law, democracy and mutual respect as autonomous State entities and co-building blocks of the Nigerian federation.
111. And so, for us, in all things it is Rivers State first; Rivers State is the measure; Rivers State before others. This is the essence of the political mandate and burden that we will bear for the next four years and we will not disappoint you.
112. We will continue to stand up for Rivers State and defend her interest, no matter the challenges or what comes at us.
113. We do not claim to have the solutions to all the problems that we face as a State and as a people. But we will never surrender our core values and standards and our commitment to do to what is right, necessary and appropriate for our State.
114. We believe that working together, as one, remains the better and stronger path to accelerate and ensure enduring progress for our State.
115. And so we promise open doors and open minds as we get down to work with all stakeholders, including the legislature, the judiciary, leaders of the State, traditional rulers, local government chairmen, social interest groups and the opposition to deliver on our mandate and move us forward.
116. We all need each other because everyone counts. We need ideas and contributions from everyone, irrespective of ethnic, party or religious affiliations and together, we can consolidate, target new heights and build the Rivers State that we all want to see now and in the future.
117. We may be from different social, economic or political background, but the bottom-line is that we are all Rivers people with common aspirations and challenges and when we reflect on our shared values and responsibility to the State and our people, we will discover that we all stand to win by repudiating the politics of division, hatred and self-interest that constitute a drag on our collective progress.
118. Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot let this glorious moment to end without thanking all those who made this historic day possible in our lifetime.
119. Again, let me thank the good people of Rivers State, especially the voters, for your trust and for your support as we discharge our responsibilities for the next four years.
120. Let me recognize and thank the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince UcheSecondus, the Rivers State Chairman, Felix Obuah, and all other leaders of our party at both national and State levels for your continued support and encouragement.
121. I wish to also recognize and give special thanks to our leaders, especially our former Governors, Dr. Peter Odili, and Sir Celestine Omehia, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, Chief Sergeant Awuse, Prince Emma Anyanwu, Rt. Hon Austin Opara, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Mr. Frank Owhor, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, Senator Olaka Nwogu, Senator Lee Maeba, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, Chief Azubuike Nmerukini, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, OCJ Okocha, SAN, as well as all my former Commissioners, Special Advisers, Special Assistants and Security Aides for your support and services to the State over the last four years. I look forward to working with you to advance our State for the next four years.
122. Last but not the least are the members of the clergy, our hard working women and energetic youths for your prayers, devotion and commitment to our collective struggles to defend the rights of our people to freely choose their leaders.
123. Finally, I stand here today with a humble spirit, conscious of the enormous responsibility that you have again entrusted in us and confident in our potential and with God on our side, we will surely discharge our mandate to the benefit of all and leave our dear Rivers State better off than when we started four years ago.
124. Thank you. God bless you all. And may God bless our dear Rivers State.

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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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Anniversary Special

OML 25: Gov Wike’s Pro-People Leadership Pays Off

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Imagine for a split second if Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, was one of those docile, inconsiderate and anti-people leaders, Oil Mining License (OML) 25 would still be shutdown.  If Governor Wike was one of the leaders that could be intimidated by lies, negative propaganda and false paid advertorials/radio programmes, the nation’s economy would still be bleeding endlessly from lost revenue.
Thank God Wike “get morale”. He has the staying power and courage to withstand the enemies of Rivers State and Nigeria.  He is a man of vision with the capacity to ensure the state’s goals are achieved.
It was on June 22, 2019 that Governor Wike set the ball rolling for the re-opening of OML 25. Before this historic date,   NNPC, the Federal Government and the security agencies made no attempt to re-open the facility.  Till date, no explanation has been given for this inaction.
From June 22, 2019, Governor Wike set in motion all the platforms for negotiation, public discourse, social and economic engagements on the re-opening of OML 25. This was the first courageous move to empower all stakeholders for the good of the country.
The meeting in question had in attendance Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the host communities of OML 25, security agencies and Belema Oil.  This meeting laid out the template for the resolution of outstanding grievances.
On June 27, 2019, stakeholder communities of OML 25 in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State and SPDC agreed  on the procedures  for the re-opening  of the oil facility during a meeting facilitated by Governor Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Memorandum of Understanding was signed and the modalities for the release of intervention funds were agreed upon.
After these meetings, several engagements for the re-opening of the facility continued, despite the sponsored attacks on the person of Governor Wike. All Governor Wike did was to create a platform for SPDC and the stakeholder communities to reach a compromise in order to facilitate the rapid development of the oil-bearing communities.
This year alone, he has facilitated the key settlement of disputes between Shell and Mgbuesilaru community and Newcross and oil-bearing communities of Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas.  These settlements have led to the restoration of peace and the promotion of economic development of the affected areas.
The successful resolution of the induced OML 25 crisis brings to the fore the importance of having credible and courageous leadership.  Governor Wike stood on the side of truth, the people and their growth. That is why his re-opening initiative gained traction and was met with success.
At a point, the sponsors of falsehood claimed that Governor Wike must have received gratification for insisting that the right thing be done. The same persons who struggled to vilify the Rivers State Governor are now declaring that SPDC owns the operating license of OML 25 as the June 22, 2019 confirmed and commenced the process of its actualisation.
For Governor Wike, it’s about the people; the ordinary folks, their leaders and the overall development of all communities of the state. Whenever their interest is threatened, he comes up to defend them. This may not go down well with vocal economic/political entrepreneurs, but in the long run, the communities benefit.
The Pro-stakeholder Communities’ Initiative
By the initiative of Governor Wike, stakeholder communities of OML 25 and SPDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the re-opening of the closed flow station and the payment of outstanding funds owed stakeholder communities under the extant Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU).
The M.O.U. signed between Shell and the Stakeholder Communities also mandated Shell to pay into a dedicated account, the sum of N1.36 billion within two weeks for the development of the communities.
The settlement agreement was signed on behalf of the communities by Traditional Rulers, Youth Presidents, Chairmen of Community Development Committees and Community Leaders.  Those who signed the agreement include: the Stakeholder Communities of Kula, Belema, Offoin-Ama, Ibie-Ama, Boro and Opu-Kula.
The above act of comprehensive engagement and collective action, engineered the final re-opening of OML 25. Shell played their part as reported in the media, the communities were happy and the sponsors of the illegal closure capitulated.
Aside the direct engagement with the people and their leadership, Governor Wike carried along the political leadership of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, where OML 25 is located. From the two councillors, to the State Assembly lawmakers, to the council Chairman through to the House of Representatives member, the Governor ensured that they participated in seeking a lasting solution for the conflict.
The Right Acknowled-gement
On Saturday, September 28, 2019, the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC and SPDC arrived Government House, Port Harcourt to recognise the fundamental role that Governor Wike and the Rivers State Government played in kick-starting and sustaining the process that led to the re-opening of OML 25.
During that historic visit, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Silva, made very important statements.
“The people of the Niger Delta have struggled with security and conflict for far too long.  Because of that, we have lost a lot as well.  We have probably gained a little, but we have lost more than we have gained “, Silva said.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, said the country lost a whopping $1.7 billion during the period OML 25 was shutdown.
He said, “We had a shutdown of the Belema flow station for over two years leading to the loss of over 35,000 barrels of oil per day; in monetary terms that is over $1.7 billion which could have been put to use for the benefit of the community and the rest of the federation.
“We have engaged the communities and Shell to make sure that this dispute between them is brought to a closure, the communities have agreed to vacate the facility to allow petroleum operations to continue”.
The successful re-opening of OML 25 is a victory for courageous leadership.  A victory for pro-people governance.  A victory for consistency in the face of oppressive and criminal propaganda.  It confirms the Biblical injunction: Luke 9:62 :  “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Once Governor Wike ignited the process of solution, he stayed firm for the good of the stakeholder communities of OML 25, the good of Rivers State and the good of Nigeria.  We can all afford to smile, beat drums, dance and celebrate because a visionary leader with character stayed firm.
The Way Forward
Having secured a peaceful resolution of the OML 25 crisis, Governor Wike has laid out a template for the successful management of the facility to the benefit of all stakeholders.  The oil companies must abide by the ideals of the memoranda of understanding signed at different stages of the resolution process.
“The oil companies should also respect the Memoranda of Understanding signed with the host communities.
“As the SPDC goes in, whatever they have agreed with the communities should be implemented.  If they implement it, they will do their work.  If they don’t implement, there will be another round of crisis. And then, they will call government to come in.
“Ours is to make sure that people carry out their businesses in a very conducive environment.  This is the role the Rivers State Government will always play”.
He said that the fundamental focus of the Rivers State Government is for the OML 25 to be operational and productive. He regretted that for over two years, the oil facility was shutdown and nobody acted.
“I don’t know the role of the security agencies in all of this.  We will meet here and agree that the people should vacate the place and let Shell resume work, but the security agencies will do something else “, he said.
He noted that Rivers State is a very peaceful State where oil companies have always been supported to carry out their legitimate activities.
“We took it on ourselves to see that Shell reconciles with the communities”, he said.
Governor Wike noted that during the days of pipeline vandalism, Rivers State witnessed the least cases of vandalism because of the security investment of the State Government.
“When there was this issue of vandalism of oil facilities, Rivers State Government gave the highest support to stop it. In the Niger Delta, Rivers State had the least cases of vandalism.
“I have always supported efforts to protect national assets in the state. Anybody can tell you that.  I will continue to create the right environment for investment.  If I don’t do it, how will I get funds to execute key projects “, he said.
Facts Are Sacred
It took the involvement of Governor Wike for the public to know the facts of the OML 25 dispute.  Otherwise, some interested elements misled the media and members of the public.  Once the truth was out in the public, OML 25 was set free. The communities are now free and better development will be their portion. Those who sponsored this failed economic coup are themselves now singing from this hymn book with the rest of Rivers State.
OML 25 Is Located In Rivers State
Towards the climax of the settlement process, some anti-Rivers elements sponsored an AIT reporter to fly the kite that OML 25 is located in Bayelsa State.  This falsehood was broadcast for two days. It would have been overlooked, but this line was earlier contained in advertorials published by persons under the sponsorship of those who facilitated the shutdown of the oil facility.
But the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, laid this ugly plot to rest. He declared that the team visited the Government House, Port Harcourt because OML 25 is situated in Rivers State and there was need  to pay a courtesy visit on the Rivers State Governor.
·Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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