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COVID-19 Fight: FG Must Set Politics Aside

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The non-existent All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State believes that the best way to maneuver its way into reckoning is to aimlessly criticise Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. They also imagine that they can eke out acceptance if they sabotage the development of Rivers State by derailing the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Having failed repeatedly in their struggle to undermine Governor Wike, the remnants of Rivers APC have seen the fight to check the spread of Coronavirus as their only way to maintain visibility.
Therefore, any action taken by Governor Wike to protect Rivers people from Coronavirus is seen as an excuse for Rivers APC members to criticise the administration and attempt to sabotage the entire state.
From the very beginning, Governor Wike led the way in instituting precautionary measures to check the spread of Coronavirus. The proactive measures adopted by the Governor have been helpful.
Governor Wike was the first governor to close the borders. When this action was taken, APC leaders condemned him.  They even paid mercenaries to write nasty articles calling the Governor names. When other states emulated the Rivers State Governor, they dropped this condemnation and fished for another.
Several steps have been taken by some unscrupulous persons to sabotage the precautionary measures in place to protect Rivers people.  Governor Wike is working round the clock because nobody expects any form of assistance from any quarters.
For days, Caverton Helicopters worked with some groups to make Rivers State vulnerable.  In a state broadcast, Governor Wike drew their attention to this ugly trend, but they ignored it; perhaps, because the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, was beating the drums for them. They acted as if they are above the law.
On April 5, 2020, Governor Wike in a state broadcast declared: “Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards Coronavirus.
“If they come to Rivers without us knowing their status, what will be the implication assuming they have the virus?”
Despite the warnings, on 7th April, 2020 Caverton Helicopters conveyed passengers into Port Harcourt and arrogantly refused to subject them to prescribed tests. That action further jeopardised the state’s scheme to protect the people from Coronavirus.
The pilots and the said passengers were promptly arrested. They were arraigned before courts of competent jurisdiction and they are to face trial.
They weren’t arrested for flying a helicopter. They were arrested for refusing to cooperate with state health authorities by complying with regulations on the testing of anyone coming into the state for essential duties. Same way other states have arrested different persons who violated regulations at this time.
Part of the regulations signed by the Rivers State Governor, which the pilots and Caverton Helicopters contravened read: “These Regulations apply where the Governor declares, that the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus or any other infectious disease constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health, and that the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus or any infectious disease is at such a point that the measures outlined in these Regulations may reasonably be considered as an effective means of preventing the further, significant transmission of Coronavirus or any infectious disease.”
The Executive Order signed by Governor Wike is titled: “EXECUTIVE ORDER RVSG – 01 2020 PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 2, 4 AND 8 OF QUARANTINE ACT, CAP. Q2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA 2004 AND REGULATION 11 OF THE QUARANTINE (CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES) REGULATIONS, 2020.”
The Executive Order stated: “In exercise of the powers conferred on me by Sections 4 and 8 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and regulation 11 of Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 2020 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, Governor, Rivers State, hereby issue the following Orders: It added: ”Flight operations at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Airforce Base, Port Harcourt and Bonny Helipad are hereby suspended and no person landing at these airports shall be allowed to transit into the state.”
Governor Wike was the very first to sign this order. Other states, including the Presidency, copied from Rivers State.
The Minister of Aviation is not conversant with the seriousness of the issues involved. We are talking about public safety. Nothing could be more important than that. The lives of over six million Rivers people are at stake with his careless issuance of permits premised on the arrogance of telling Caverton Helicopters not to subject themselves to the health protocols on the ground for the protection of Rivers people.
In Rivers State, everyone understands that the law must to be respected. The Governor knows the law and respects the rule of law. He will never obstruct the process, but insists that Federal Agencies respect their boundaries. After issuing landing permit, will the workers work inside the plane or helicopter? That is where the respect for the COVID-19 regulations in the state comes to play. You must subject the pilots and passengers to test.  Thereafter, they proceed to carry out their essential duties.  This particular area is way off the Minister of Aviation’s jurisdiction.
Does the Aviation Minister run Isolation/Treatment Centres in Rivers State? Is there any record that the Minister has ever taken measures to protect Rivers people from Coronavirus?
Aside the deliberate plot to make Rivers State vulnerable to Coronavirus, what positive contribution has the Federal Government made to protect the state?
Governor Wike said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of Coronavirus has been politicised by the Federal Government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10 billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the Federal Government.
“One wonders why the Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 states to give support.  Does it mean that support will come when a state has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support?  No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others.”
Rivers State is not the first state to arrest violators of Coronavirus regulations.  Only a few days ago, Lagos State arrested and convicted Nollywood Star,  Funke Akindele, and her husband. The Minister of Culture and Tourism did not defend her. Lagos also arrested different classes of offenders.  No Federal Agency or professional organisation defended the offenders. See the following links: http://saharareporters.com/ 2020/04/08/coronavirus-lagos- government-quarantines-67- ivory-coast-returnees; https://www.premiumtimesng. com/regional/ssouth-west/ 386797-lockdown-lagos-police- impounds-over-600-vehicles- arrests-78.html; https://www.channelstv.com/ 2020/04/08/breaking-27- quarantined-in-niger-state- over-covid-19/
In Abuja, the FCT COVID-19 Enforcement Team arrested 17 Turkish professionals for violating the Coronavirus regulations on Wednesday. The Foreign Affairs Minister did not defend them.
Kaduna State Government has arrested Christian and Muslim clerics for violating the Coronavirus regulations, nobody from the Federal Government rose to the defence of the offenders. See: https://www.vanguardngr.com/ 2020/04/lockdown-kaduna-drags- clergy-men-to-court-for- holding-service/
This brings me to the threat issued by an association of pilots. Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari were not arrested with 10 others because they are pilots. They committed an offence. The rule of law will be upheld.  Nobody is above the law because of his/her profession. Most importantly, the lives of Rivers people remain paramount.
Governor Wike captures this point: ”The highly insensitive and provocative actions of Caverton Helicopters took place in the midst of credible intelligence reports about plans by our enemies to traffic carriers of the dreaded Coronavirus into the state.
”Their morbid intention is to create panic by pushing up the infection rate and rubbish the robust measures we have since put in place to cut off the spread of the virus and keep our State and our citizens safe and secure from the ravaging pandemic.”
An Adviser to Governor Wike, Mr Erastus Awortu, captured the folly of the Minister of Aviation thus: “It does not matter to the FG if Rivers lives are wiped out by the virus so long as they can take oil to service other lands.”
Once it comes to Rivers State, the Federal Government sees money. It cannot see safety of lives. It cannot see security. It cannot see projects and it cannot see the welfare of Rivers people.
The misconduct of the Aviation Minister is unfortunate.  We saw this character trait in the former General Officer Commanding 6 Division and the former Rivers State SARS Commander.  Sirika’s outburst, to me, is a confirmation of the ulterior motive behind the recklessness of Caverton.
The Federal Government and her officials should retrace their steps and work with the Rivers State Government to fight the spread of Coronavirus. The fight against Coronavirus is not an election. There are no institutions to manipulate results. That is why the Federal Government must abandon this ugly political strategy.
I know that the Federal Government will invest huge sums in misinformation and propaganda on this issue as they have always done, but the fundamental issue remains: why the eagerness to jeopardise the safety of Rivers people by compromising the health defence network of the state?
When there were cases of insecurity in Rivers State, the APC- led Federal Government offered no support to the Rivers State Government.  Governor Wike had to personally lead the way to pull Rivers State out of the woods.
Hadi Sirika can blatantly talk trash because he is playing politics. Otherwise, in Kaduna, the state government has declared that any person passing through the state will be quarantined for 14 days. This is irrespective of the profession of the person. Coronavirus is no respecter of professions. See:https://www.premiumtimesng. com/coronavirus/386772- coronavirus-travellers- passing-through-kaduna-will- be-quarantined-14-days- official.html; https://www.channelstv.com/ 2020/04/08/covid-19-kaduna- quarantine-law-violators-to- spend-14-days-in-isolation- facility/
On March 30, 2020, Rivers State Government announced waivers to different categories of persons in view of the directive of the State Government closing the borders.
They include: Medical and Pharmaceutical Personnel, Food and Beverages, Essential Oil and Gas Staff, Petroleum Products and Media Workers and Newspaper Distributors. All these categories of staff must identify themselves with valid identity cards.  These persons are to subject themselves to health checks by health professionals at the surveillance posts at the entry points and their contact addresses obtained for tracing in the case of any eventuality.
Medical and Pharmaceutical Personnel, Food and Beverages , Essential Oil and Gas Staff, Petroleum Products and Media Workers and Newspaper Distributors subject themselves to the health protocols outlined in the state governor’s Executive Order at the entry points of the state.
But his Imperial Majesty, Hadi Sirika, the Almighty ‘Elected’ Minister of Aviation, wants to jeopardise the health of Rivers people because he issued a permit on the EXCLUSIVE LIST.
If there is any person who is ignorant, it is Chairman of EXCLUSIVE LIST. I want to reiterate. The pilots of Caverton Helicopters were arrested because they refused to respect the health regulations outlined in the Executive Order signed by Governor Wike. They executed the tenets of Sirika, a permit by landing in Rivers State, but refused to obey the extant regulations in place to protect Rivers people.
I will still refer to Governor Wike’s state broadcast of March 30, 2020. He said: “Let me reiterate that this government will continue to do what is right no matter who is involved.  As you are all aware, no conventional war has grounded global life and economy like Coronavirus has done.
“Everybody is affected.  Therefore, all hands must be on deck to defeat Coronavirus. I want to sincerely express my heartfelt gratitude to our health professionals on the frontline of this fight.  Let me also thank all the security agencies, individuals and organisations who are collaborating with us to make Rivers State safe”.
No well meaning Nigerian should take Sirika seriously.  The matter at stake is beyond the touting of LISTS. We are talking of the safety of Rivers people. Not who is on what list. Sirika serves a government that lacks the moral ground to discuss Rivers State. By his irrational outburst, Sirika has emphasised the deadly conspiracy against Rivers people.
As usual, Rivers people are prepared to defend themselves. If they rose to defend their mandate during the 2019 elections against soldiers and the F-SARS, then Sirika and those who sent him to display irresponsible ignorance should understand that Rivers people will defend themselves at this crucial moment. It is a matter of life and death.
Two days ago, the APC Federal Government took the necessary precautionary measure of placing the visiting Chinese doctors on quarantine for 14 days. These Chinese doctors were invited by the Federal Government, but they took action to protect the Abuja community. But they want the Rivers State Government to be careless. See: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v= zaP6J8G9_VU; https://gwg.ng/2020/04/08/ chinese-doctors-arrive-go- into-quarantine/
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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The Media’s Endorsement Of Wike’s Governance Style

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Media scholars and polemicists have since concluded and rightly so too, that the media, over the years, have been globally acknowledged as the watch dog of the society.
Therefore, their information monitoring roles have been considered a sine qua non for democracy and good governance.
With the progressive consolidation of our democracy, good governance has become more imperative and yet critically measured. 
Periodic situations of dwindling resources caused either by unexpected natural occurrences or sadly by the retrogressive policies of inept  leadership  have imposed great hardship on the masses.
Luckily for us, there are still a few good men at critical points in the country, delivering  courageous,  strategic, articulate and progressive leadership.
This group of leaders are determined to sustain the delivery of qualitative and enduring legacies to maintain our hope in democracy as the best form of government.
One of those few leaders is Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and we are happy that the Media, that watch dog of the society, even against the backdrop of thinly veiled autocratic censorship, is recording the  achievements of this extra ordinary leader, for posterity.
Thus it was that between Sunday, June 6 to Wednesday, June 9, 2021, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), comprising members as well as the State and National Executives, converged in Port Harcourt, the  Rivers State capital for their 3rd National Conference, with the theme: “The Media, Insecurity And National Unity.”
Governor Nyesom Wike was the Special Guest of Honour and represented by the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr  Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, declared the conference open, while the keynote address was delivered by the Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu. 
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was represented by the Director of NTA Port Harcourt Network Centre, Abosede Adebayo, while the Chairman of the opening ceremony was the  distinguished legal luminary and former President of Nigeria Bar Association, Onueze Okocha(SAN).
One of the key highlights, which hallmarked the power packed three-day national conference, was the  comprehensive projects tour by the National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo and members of the NUJ.
This was to prove to the Journalists, as chroniclers of good governance, that what they had been hearing and seeing about Rivers State were not audio or Newspaper prototype projects like some detractors had been desperately misleading Nigerians, but verifiable and functional legacy projects.
The project tour was incorporated as part of the conference activities and they had visited in split groups, a number of projects sites undertaken by Governor Wike in Rivers State. 
The journalists inspected  completed  projects including the Mother and Child Hospital, the Real Madrid Football Academy and Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges Quarters, amongst others, as time would permit. 
 Of course, the NUJ members had cruised across some of the newly commissioned legacy flyovers that adorned the capital city and the exclamations of awe and wonder they gushed as they beheld them, spoke volumes for the architectural beauty and construction excellence that Governor Nyesom Wike had delivered to his people.
At the end of the tour, a visibly overwhelmed and pleasantly astonished team of journalists in their unanimous verdict, described Governor Wike as a pride to Nigeria’s Democracy. They also noted that by redefining governance, Governor Wike practices democracy in action.
Corroborating what has now become generally accepted and greatly admired by many, as the core extra ordinary attributes of Governor Wike, the views of National and State Executives and members of the NUJ, was captured first by National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, who stated unequivocally that the 1999 constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold government accountable to the people and having placed the projects side by side with the expectations of the populace, it is obvious that Governor Wike’s investment in critical infrastructure will remain as lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
“We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country. At the much talked about the Real Madrid Football Academy where you are going to train the young ones, and they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
“That’s also to catch them young and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources are continuously invested in sports development, Nigeria, in just a matter of time, will gain its pride of place in the sporting world.”
National President of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ),  Ladi Bala said the projects she had seen are entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country, especially the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges Quarters which stands as first of its kind in Nigeria. 
“Its serene ambiance  will surely translate into enhancing the productivity of Judges of Rivers origin. 
“I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
“I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working and we are very proud of what we have seen here.” 
National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur described Governor Wike as a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of his people.
Vice Chairman of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city a tourists attraction, while the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Larai Musa said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Governor Wike and his project mantra and asserted that it is leaders like that that are needed at the national level.
Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Alhaji Ismail Ademola Babalola asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital and the Real Madrid Football Academy are part of projects Governor Wike is using to secure a productive future for youths of the state because they meet global standard, while Ikechukwu Ordu of the Enugu State Council of the NUJ advised other political leaders to emulate Governor Wike in the way he was providing the dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortune of his state.
Anyone who has visited Enugu State will fully understand why Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, from Enugu State Council of the NUJ confessed that she was completely overwhelmed by what Governor Wike has done in providing the flyovers at Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuogba and Rebisi,  delivered within a short space of time. 
She also observed with the eye of someone who lives in Enugu, the emerging architectural beauty and practical ease of traffic which the GRA junction flyover, Orochiri flyover and Oro-abali flyover, all of which have reached advanced stages of completion, will provide, when they are delivered.
The agglutination of these media voices is not only historically definitive, but resonates stridently with the multiplicity of voices which have been consistently unwavering in capturing and reporting the exceptional achievements  of Governor Wike in the last six years, in the media Constituency.
Rivers watchers will recall that one of the earliest media award bestowed on Governor Wike, was the New Telegraph Newspaper Man of The Year 2017 Award.
Mrs Funke Egbemode, the then Managing Director and Editor In Chief of the Newspaper, had said that the Award was in recognition of the Governor’s outstanding achievements and activities in office and in particular, his rising profile in the management of state resources, projects execution, massive construction of roads, renovation of general hospitals and schools in the state, which were some of the considerations that placed Rivers State at the top in the stiff competition.
Other media awards from reputable National and Continental Newspapers and other media establishments for Governor Wike include: The Sun Newspaper, Independent Newspaper, African Leadership Magazine, United Kingdom, the Authority Newspaper, Hallmark Newspaper, all of them conferring on him the distinguished Awards of, “Governor of the Year” or  as the “Best performing Governor in Nigeria”, and echoing the same excellent sentiments about Governor Wike’s developmental strides and accomplishments.
Silverbird Group also gave him the Extraordinary Personality of the Year Award for 2020.
He also bagged the Daily Independent Newspapers Infrastructure Gov­ernor of the Year 2020 Award, while only recently the Rivers State Governor got the Blueprint Newspapers Governor of the Year Award, in the company of former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was bestowed with Icon of Democracy in Africa Award.
A select delegation of the Nigeria Guild of Editors were in Rivers State in October 2020, for an on-the-spot, fact finding, verification mission of some of Governor Wike’s reported projects and at the end of an independent tour of the projects, this is what the President of the Guild, Mustapha Isah said:
“Anytime I come to Port Harcourt, there is always a new project on-going. Flyovers are being constructed, existing roads are being expanded, and new roads being built. This is your second term and you’re maintaining what you said that you will work until the last day of your tenure. You have zeal and passion in handling issues of Rivers state, from COVID-19 to issues of security,” he enthused.
Indeed the place of Governor  Wike in the annals of the media was best captured by Silverbird Creative Development General Manager, Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, when he led his management team to confer the “Extraordinary Personality of the year 2020” on Governor Wike. 
He said the award is to let the Governor know that he is doing a fantastic job for the people of Rivers State and Nigeria and his actions have not gone unnoticed.
“Your boldness made you the first prominent Nigerian to raise the alarm over the atrocities of the now disbanded SARS. And you also spoke against the politicisation of security. Now your forthrightness in telling the truth to power including the presidency when you think things are going wrong, is worthy of emulation. You did not hesitate to commend when necessary also. And on political issues, you are not afraid to tell even your own party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) the whole truth when necessary. “
“There are very few Governors like you who walk the talk and there are very few Governors like you who have the passion and are not sentimental. You say things the way they are and you also say the things that you believe in.
“So we sat back and we said the person we can think of this year is your Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike
“Also in the area of projects, the last time I was here, you were referred to as Mr. Projects. Now you have been elevated to Mr. Quality Projects.
“You promised on the day you were sworn in for second term that you will work for Rivers State people to the very last day and you are living up to that task. Seven bridges in a record period of time and all these were embarked upon in 2020 when the country and indeed the entire world were greatly impacted by the COVID- 19 pandemic, but you still delivered.”
There is no doubt whatsoever that despite the dubious, misleading and often desperate and delusional propaganda spewed by the fractured and dwindling opposition in the state and their hirelings of detractors, the reports of the amazing and superlative projects delivery of the Rivers State Governor, continues to grab the top headlines nationally in the media and silence his detractors at home.
The 3rd NUJ National Conference, in Port Harcourt has come and gone and once again, it has afforded the globally acknowledged watch dogs of the society, a first hand opportunity to perform their information monitoring roles in reporting the reality on ground, as Rivers State continues to transform in the unfolding kaleidoscope of amazing development, under the visionary, determined, focused and progressive leadership of an extraordinary man, who believes and is fully committed towards ensuring that the resources of the people work for them and only the best will be good enough for Rivers people.
Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State

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Radio Rivers FM @ 40: The Journey So Far

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It was the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, who once said: “Let the people know the facts and country is safe”. This notable aphorism of Lincoln’s is crucial for the development of society.
Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo, as it was then called, was 40 years on May 2, 2021, following its establishment and launch of its signal on May 2, 1981. Ace broadcaster, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, signed on the new frequency modulation radio station with the call signal: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo.
The radio station was tagged Radio Rivers Two then because the Amplitude Modulation (AM) began operation on June 1, 1978 under late Chief Olu Benibo Fubara as General Manager of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (RSBC) as Radio Rivers alone. It is on record that Mambo Tumbowei, later known as Elizabeth Odumo, signed on the station with the call signal: Radio Rivers.
At inception, the original plan of the founding fathers was that RSBC would serve as an umbrella body for radio and television. The late literary icon, Gabriel Imomotimi Gbain-Gbain Okara, was the pioneer General Manager of RSBC-Radio and TV together; but the television station, known as RSBC-TV, commenced operation before the radio arm. And this was largely due to the fact that there had been radio broadcasting service provided by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the state.
It is pertinent to accentuate the fact that RSBC was encapsulated in the vision of the founding fathers to promote the favourable identity of the old Rivers State created from the defunct Eastern Nigeria.
Following the restructuring of radio broadcasting in Nigeria in 1978, NBC transformed to be Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) wherein the Rivers State Government inherited the personnel and equipment of the former. The personnel included the legendary Opuerembo Gloria Fiofori, Elder Goddy William, Japudiari Jumbo and Elder Walson Asako, among others.
Interestingly, this pool of staff aided Chief Fubara to actually commence broadcasting using NBC equipment at William Jumbo Street, Old GRA with the engineering and technical services at Ozuoba in present day Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State.
It is common knowledge that Radio Rivers AM truly promoted favourable identity of Rivers people as envisioned by the founding fathers. This was articulated through community broadcasting module where premium was attached to programming in indigenous languages as well as translation of programmes into Rivers languages.
The administration of Chief Fubara was remarkable and would particularly be remembered for sending staff for training abroad in England, The Netherlands and the United States. Specifically, Dafini Gogo-Abbey trained in the US, Eric Uzoma was in The Netherlands while Ibiye Degbani went to the UK, among other staff who benefited from overseas training. This does not in any way demean those who trained at home at the time. No doubt, such training equipped members of staff to tackle the challenges of rural broadcasting ahead.
The government of Chief Melford Okilo did build on the legacies of the regimes of Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, Col. Zamani Lekwot and Commander Suleiman Seidu to broaden the broadcast space by introducing the rave of the moment: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo on May 2, 1981.
While it was the first FM radio station to be established by a state government in Nigeria, the Rivers broadcast facility came after the first FM studio called Radio Nigeria Two or Metro FM Ikoyi, Lagos, established in 1977. The superior sound quality and highly-skilled professionals’ commitment to duty endeared Radio Rivers FM to many, not only in the state but across the nation.
Tribute must be paid to the founding fathers and managers who had a clear sense of purpose and vision to provide favourable identity for Rivers people through this medium. To this end, one must acknowledge the commitments of pioneer staff as well as their team spirit. The General managers and management staff included Mrs. Nguba Aspinnal, late Jonny Abasa, Ernest T. Ogbanga, late Sunny Joe, Gloria Fiofori, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, Florence Ekiye, Digi Hart, Mike Yempe, Brighton Sorgwe, among others.
Interestingly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM was born at the time when the war of words between Governor Sam Mbakwe of Imo State and his Rivers State counterpart, Chief Okilo, reached a crescendo following the controversy over post-Biafran War abandoned property policy and non-inclusion of Imo State in the list of oil-bearing states to benefit from the derivation per centage of that time. As a result, Mbakwe never saw anything good in the administration of Okilo.
This was where the news commentaries churned out by the News and Current Affairs Department of Rivers FM radio rose to the occasion and the specialised news features of staff, particularly Dumo Oruobo, remained exquisite. The other notable writers were Oju Daniel-Kalio, Eriye Iyaye, Simon Ambakederemo of the Ministry of Information, Kudo Eresia-Eke and Bobo Brown; while literary giants like Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Ola Rotimi, Paul Naale, Elechi Amadi and Gabriel Okara were regular guests on the literary discourses hosted by Oruobo.
Speaking in a live interview tagged Spotlight on Rivers FM radio on Sunday May 2, 2021, Chief Oruobo noted that Governor Mbakwe did surrender to the fireworks from the AM and FM studios of Radio Rivers.
“Yes, Governor Sam Mbakwe caved in and pleaded with his colleague, Governor Melford Okilo, to stop the war; then Governor Okilo asked him to tell his people to stop the propaganda too,” he said.
In her remarks, Opuerembo Fiofori, who was also a guest on the live interview programme admitted that she headed a team mandated to produce the public service jingle of old after the war of words. She sang recalled the lines thus: Love Rivers State or leave alone; don’t pull her down, no no; think what you can do for her; engage yourselves in meaningful activities; no room for gossips; do something meaningful.
Additionally, it is on record that RSBC introduced News In Special English in 1984, another milestone in the annals of radio broadcasting while bridging the gap between government and the governed through programmes and translations in indigenous languages. Tamunokuro Akaluogbo anchored Arokerenime in Okrika, Billy Evans handled request programme in Kalabari, Dehkai Ema was for Khana, Nyemavuchi Ohaka and Austine Weji Akajile for Ikwerre and Francis Vibeleh for Bonalo-lobel for Gokana audience.
On account of the outstanding achievement of Radio Rivers FM, it was not only a tourist site but training centre for other FM radio stations. It is common knowledge that Benue State Radio and Cross Radio State Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) came to radio Radio Rivers for training.
Radio Rivers accorded adequate airtime to coverage of RIVIFEST, Peoples Parliament and programme such as English By Radio while it also organised outdoor events such as Miss FM and Mr. FM. According to the former General Manager, Gloria Fiofori, Tonye Koko was the first to win Miss FM while David Ibiyeomie (now founder of Salvation Ministries) won Mr. FM, respectively.
Despite its contributions to state affairs, the authorities concerned did not replace obsolete equipment as at when due and Radio Rivers began to experience incessant off-air syndrome. Truly, broadcast equipment have lifespan and approved room temperature to function well. Worse still, the government of Dr Peter Odili directed RSBC under Sir Mike Oku, as General Manager, to vacate the AM studio’s premises at Ozuoba and handed it over to Daar Communication.
The attempt to combine community broadcasting of AM station with FM programming resulted in shapeless programming. Thus Radio Rivers at 40 requires restructuring and programme re-engineering. Similarly, the RSBC Management has been directed to vacate its William Jumbo property.
The government of Diete-Spiff established the Rivers State College of Science and Technology in 1970; Okilo upgraded it to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) in 1980, while Governor Nyesom Wike amended the law to make it Rivers State University (RSU) in 2017.
In the same vein, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) grew from a nursing home to Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH) and later to Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) before transforming to its present status. This is the way to keep vision alive.
Edict No. 8 of 1973 governing the establishment of RSBC must be amended to enable the Corporation handle present-day challenges while effort must be made to restrict radio broadcasting through merger of Garden City Radio and Radio Rivers as well as meet deadline for digitization.
The point must be made that funding a vision is different from funding road project as gestation period and profit motive vary. Truly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM is the voice of experience and it has the potentials to rise again.
Congratulations at 40!

Sika is a public affairs analyst in Port Harcourt.

 

By: Baridorn Sika

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Wike Passes Rotary’s Four-Way Test

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Rotary International operates a time tested Four-Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships and will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotary Club is very particular, especially when giving out its awards, that whoever has been endorsed by its Directors for recognition and decoration, must be seen to have excelled in upholding the tenets of the Four-Way Test, when such a person is put to public scrutiny and assessment.
Having been deemed to have passed the Four-Way Test in his leadership of Rivers State for the past six years, therefore, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Friday, May 7, 2021, received the  2019/2020 Good Governance Award for his sustainable projects, from the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt.
Presenting the Award to Governor Wike, Vice President of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, Rotarian Obiageli Ejezie said that the Rotary Board of Directors had approved and endorsed Governor Wike as best suited for the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award, for his very laudable sustainable projects for Rivers people, especially in  urban renewal and excellent infrastructure delivery.
Most importantly, she said, Governor Wike was proactive, firm and determined in the way he handled the Covid-19 pandemic and saved the lives of many indigenes and residents in the state.
“Many laudable and sustainable development projects of your government are scattered across Rivers State and we note particularly, your projects and achievements in the areas of urban renewal, road maintenance, construction of flyovers, education, health care and others.
“The proactive manner Your Excellency has managed the Covid-19 pandemic has been serving the desired purpose of saving the lives of a considerable number of residents. “
She also informed Governor of the intention of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt to build a skills acquisition centre in Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt, where youths and widows will be trained.
For the records, Rotary Club started with the vision of one man, Paul Harris. the distinguished Lawyer and Attorney from Chicago in the city of Illinois, USA on 23 February 1905, and the primary purpose at that time was to bring together, business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace around the world, through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
Those who are conversant with the operations of Rotary Club, will attest to the fact that it is a cautious and conservative group, which tends to avoid things that are political and is one of the most highly principled and respectable, non-political and non-religious organisations in the world.
Everything about its activities and operations, including the conferment of awards, are done with painstaking investigation, comprehensive assessment and resolute conviction, devoid of any ulterior or self aggrandising motives.
It is against this very internationally acclaimed reputation and impeccable operational backdrop, that one must access and appreciate the decision and endorsement by the Rotary Board of Directors to confer the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award on Governor Nyesom Wike.
No doubt, this award ranks as one of the most prestigious in the burgeoning gallery of awards which Governor Wike has been confered with over the years, for the incontrovertible fact that it underscores the suggestion that the great work the Governor is doing, resonates quite impressively with a solid and reputable organisation like Rotary Club.
It also underscores and consolidates the resounding national tribute and eloquent testimony which have come from all walks of life, including peers and even the opposition, recognising Governor Wike as indeed, one of the truly great leaders of this generation.
Receiving the 2019/2020 Good Governance Award, from the Vice President of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, Rotarian Obiageli Ejezie, who led others leaders of the association to the Government House, Port Harcourt,  Governor Wike used the opportunity to comment on the burning issue of  National Security;  a matter which is very dear to his heart and quite central to the objectives of Rotary International, in their mutual desire to advance understanding, goodwill and peace in Rivers State and Nigeria.
Addressing the delegation, Governor Wike, who wondered how long the APC federal government will allow the needless killings and abduction of innocent Nigerians to continue, said: “There can’t be good governance without security and this is based on rule of law. All of us are living witnesses in 2015 when it was alleged that the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, could not perform. So Nigeria needed a change. What has happened to the change? They have taken Nigeria back by 50 years,” he lamented.
While stressing that it is no longer acceptable for Nigerians to wake up daily to such ugly news of killings because they expect the government to guarantee security, Governor Wike assured however that his administration was doing everything possible to secure life and property of all residents in the state.
“But thank God that in our state, we are doing everything we can to protect lives and property. For us, we believe that everybody has a role to play in this country. This is because when Nigeria is bad, Rivers state will be bad, since we are all component units of the country. But as a government, we will continue to partner with voluntary organisations like Rotary club to improve the wellbeing of our people.”
Governor Wike then lauded Rotary Club of Port Harcourt for the initiative to build a vocational centre to train Rivers’ youths and widows in different skills, which is quite in tandem with the youth and women empowerment initiatives of his administration and announced a donation of N65 million to support the  scheme in Rivers State.
Governor Wike is not a man who seeks or is easily swayed by awards, but when a universally renowned institution like the Rotary Club, decides to honour you with an award, it then becomes obvious that you must be doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right place, to ensure the promotion of peace, goodwill, enduring development and harmonious co-existence for your people.
Governor Wike is indeed working and Rivers people, including the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, are seeing it, clearly, boldly and without any prejudice or propaganda.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State
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