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Wike: A Man With A New Vision

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Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has every reason to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure as the Governor of Rivers State. From every political calculation and calibration, the unequivocal conclusion is that he is a man of the people who emblematizes the Divine injunction that “Power comes from God alone.”
Throwback to 2015: Governor Nyesom Wike, then a Minister of Education, found himself in the eye of a raging political storm, contrived and fermented by treacherous forces, who betrayed a political vision and threatened to completely overturn and dismantle a well nurtured political agenda to achieve their own selfish power grabbing ambitions.
Pitted against the backdrop of a manipulated and deviously translated zonal power sharing arrangement and confronted by the real threat of political annihilation in the face of a viscous opposition that will stop at nothing to secure victory, Governor Wike found himself literally and practically isolated and surrounded as the last man standing and the only hope for the redemption and protection of the political soul of Rivers State.
However, he was greatly loved, admired and adored by the people of Rivers State as their champion. Nyesom Wike took on the opposition, both within and externally, battled them to a standstill, defeated them on all fronts and won the election convincingly. Governor Nyesom Wike ascended the throne, carrying the hopes and aspirations of Rivers people on his broad shoulders.
Fast forward to 2019: The viscious, acrimonious opposition, now emboldened with Federal might and empowered with the added authority of directing their second term campaign, deployed the full weight of both mercenary and compromised military might to the political battlefield. Traditional war songs reigned and echoed ominously at the venues of every campaign stomp and the poisoned manifesto rhetoric reeked of bitterness, inciting anger, unbridled hatred and imageries of political purgatory worse than Dante’s inferno, in the event of political defeat.
But Governor Wike was fully prepared and ready for them and believing in his superior strategic plans and greatly buoyed by the resilient will of the people, the tide would once again turn to victory in the quite remarkable life of this political Colossus. The opposition had already perfected their machinery or so they thought, to arrest and detain top people, cause disruptions of the electoral process instigate unrest to nullify voting in certain areas, abduct and hold electoral officials hostage replacing them with compromised lackeys and aid the snatching of election materials by unknown persons. All these were in their handbook of practical guidelines on Election Day and were implemented to the letter.
The last straw was in the Federal High Court, Abuja where they had all hoped that on March 8th, the day before the governorship and state assembly elections, the Court would give judgment in their favour, in a suit seeking to disqualify Governor Wike from contesting the March 9th election.
At the end of the elections however, 37 innocent Rivers people had been killed in Abonnema alone. Many more had been maimed and wounded across the state and at least 187 people had been arrested by soldiers, and detained. The harassment was unparalleled, but the people stood firm behind Wike, especially the heroic courageous women of Okirika and Ogu, who formed a human shield to prevent the military from hijacking their ballot boxes and their votes.
Indeed, as destiny would have it, the Divine hand of fate, had once again already played another master stroke and the monumental miscalculation and failure of the opposition, which had already taken place even before the first ballot was cast, can be summed up in the following Biblical verses:
Exodus 23 vs 27: I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
Deuteronomy 28:7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.
Isaiah 19:3-4: Then our enemies (the Egyptians) shall fight themselves rather than fighting us. I will confuse their strategy and they will tremble and fail, they will consult each others demonic powers to no avail”
So, Governor Ezenwo Wike has a plethora of reasons to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure in office, but in typical charismatic, all action fashion, the Rivers Governor, who was Christianed as “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, simply rolled up his sleeves and knuckled down to the business of delivering the dividends of democracy to the good people of Rivers State.
At the end of the first year of his second tenure, the gains of the first term were solidly consolidated upon, but addressing Rivers people in a  statewide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office, Governor honestly confessed that normally, the State should be celebrating this important milestone with the commissioning of completed projects and correlated social activities, but these are abnormal times and moments like this call for subdued feelings and thankful prayers to God for His abundant grace and mercy upon the State and on the lives of Rivers people.
That preamble set the tone for the summary of the achievements and engagements of the Governor Wike administration in the first year of his second term and starting with the solemn declaration that, every life matters; and every Rivers life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families, but also to all of humanity. The Governor confirmed that as at May 29, 2020, Rivers State had painfully lost 12 persons, and probably more, to the death pangs of the deadly coronavirus pandemic which has ravaged the entire world with devastating effect for over six months now.
The scorecard on the last one year has however been replete with outstanding achievements, ground breaking events and the initiation of legacy projects which have not only transformed the landscape of the state impressively but also ensured the comprehensive sustenance of the well-being of the people in line with the development blue-print released for the second term in office, which reiterated the commitment and determination of the administration to work and serve Rivers people as if it was still the administration’s first term.
A summary reveals that virtually every area and sector has been positively impacted upon in the last year. The urban renewal programme in the capital city have progressed at an amazing place as the restoration works, including underground drains, sidewalks, green areas and street lights on most of the roads in both the old and new Government Reservation Areas are at very advanced stages of completion.
The construction of the three multi-billion-naira flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-odo and Rumuogba, all progressing simultaneously, is an architectural wonder to behold and are expected to be delivered within schedule by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited and this is even as work on the construction of the 4th flyover bridge across GRA junction and accompanying dualization of Ezimgbu (Mummy B) road are also underway.
The dualization of several critical roads across the state, including Tombia Extension, GRA to link Ikwerre road,  Kira  Sapkenwa  Bori  Kono, straddling three Local Government Areas in Ogoni heartland are progressing satisfactorily with some having reached 92 per cent completion, all to be delivered on schedule. This is in addition to the construction of Oyigbo (Mbano camp) to Iriebe, linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the State, which has already been completed.
Still on infrastructure delivery, the Alesa – Agbonchia – Oyigbo road linking Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State; and the Rumuakunde and Isioudu communities roads in Emohua Local Government Areas of the State, as well as the 2nd phase of Isiokpo community internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Areas has been completed, while construction works on the 16.85 kilometers Rumuji  Ibaa  Isiokpo road in Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas have reached 90 percent completion level, and the dualization of the 23 kilometers Omoku  Egbema road in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area has progressed beyond 50 per cent.
The Odufor/Akpoku/Umuoye road in Etche Local Government Area, spanning 21.3 kilometers has crossed 70 percent construction level, while the Aker-base road in Obio/Akpor Local Government, the Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke road, the Odiokwu internal road network in Ahoada West Area as well as the Abonnema ring road in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, and the Sime  Eteo  Nonwa road connecting Tai and Eleme Local Government Areas, have all progressed to between 80 and 85 percent completion.
The administration in the last one year, accelerated work on the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas of the State with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni  Andoni  Opobo (Unity) road the commitment to deliver on the promise to complete these landmark projects and actualize the age-long yearnings of the indigenes and residents of these local government areas to connect and access the rest of the State by tarred road, has been the prime motivating factor driving the zeal and energy to complete these projects and bring joy to the people. In fact, the people of the Ancient Opobo Kingdom drove home for the first time last year.
Apart from roads, significant progress was also made in the delivery of Health Care and Education Infrastructure and Services. The mother and child hospital is virtually completed, fully furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning. Also completed is the Comprehensive Health Centre at Odiokwu in Ahoada West Local Government Area.
Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (popularly known as BMH) was upgraded, completely equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, which is not only reckoned as one the best in the country, but has led to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Also, the furnishing and equipping of the regional referral hospitals in Degema and Bori in Degema and Khana Local Government Areas respectively, which commenced in the first year of the second term is progressing smoothly, while structural work is continuing on the ones located in Omoku and Okehi in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Etche Local Government areas.
In the area of Education, the strategic intervention of the administration in the restoration, upgrade and expansion of secondary schools across the State, commenced in the first term, continues to deliver remarkable results and improvements in the quality of public education system, as funds have already been released for the comprehensive restoration and upgrade of scores of dilapidated secondary schools across the State, including: renowned schools like Enitonna High School and Government Comprehensive High School, Borikiri in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.
Renovation and upgrading of Obama High School, Degema and Model Secondary School, Tombia, all in Degema Local Government Area, as well as Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, the famous Kalabari National College, Buguma in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government Area, and Community Secondary Schoo, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area, have all been more than 85 per cent completed.
On the international front, the construction of students hostels for the state of the art, visionary Real Madrid Football Academy is progressing with admirable speed and consistency and the academy will soon open its doors for simultaneous academic and football and related training and mentoring programmes.
In the area of Agriculture and in line with the administration’s promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco cassava processing plant, with guaranteed off-taker opportunities for over 3000 local cassava farmers, and inspiring capacity to stimulate the cassava revolution in the State and related industries and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for our people is coming on stream.
Indeed the last one year of the second tenure has been hallmarked with a commitment to the promise on inauguration day to provide first-class socio-economic infrastructure and keep the State and businesses safe, secure, achieved through hard work and the accomplishment of more with less resources and a year cut short so dramatically by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant debilitating consequences.
This progressive trajectory will definitely continue into the second year and while it is already clear that it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spin-off effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the zeal and dedication to do more and recommit to work harder and deliver greater development to Rivers people is already evident in the work going on all over the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike himself puts it succinctly: “As a government, we welcome constructive and frank criticisms devoid of politics and mischievousness, because they serve to make us better performers. At any rate, this is a time for governance, not for politics, and we welcome everyone onboard to enable us to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments and good jobs; to build a State of shared prosperity; a place of boundless opportunity for all residents; and a State we can truly call our native home, our pride, our heritage, while looking into the future with optimism.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness. And so, as we look forward to the next twelve months, all I can say is that we are inspired by your continuous support and prayers to believe that our best days are ahead of us, and working together, we will surely do more to move Rivers State forward.”
Paulinus Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
By Paulinus Nsirim
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Opinion

Checking High Bride Price

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Marriage is a sacrament which every couple is expected to obey as instituted by God. But today the reverse is the case, especially in African societies where most people violate this sacrament due to their selfish desires and sometimes, pressure from parents.
It is no longer news that in most African societies today, bride prices have gone so high that marriage ceremonies have become an economically viable venture. As such, most poor young men have remained unmarried  until they get so old. Yet, the rich young ones easily get wives to marry because they are buoyant enough to lavish money.
Although many leaders recognise this in Nigeria, especially in the southern part of the country, they are afraid to talk about it. This is mainly because they fear how the society would react. The fact is that whether high dowries are paid on brides or not, there is no marriage all over the world that would enjoy stability if Christ is not its pillar, and the anchor that those who make the contract rely on. Those who have accepted Jesus as their personal saviour also enjoy His spirit of love in their marriages. And there are a lot of testimonies to this effect. This is why most couples are able to stay till death do them part.
Talking about high bride prices in this society, the ability to haggle and bargain has an unhappy angle associated with the process itself. You can agree with me that in every marriage, there is some selfish human heart that comes into play. If not, how can a man pay well over N100,000 for a lady, and another pays as little as N200 and sometimes, no cash deposit to bring a wife under his roof?
However, because the game has become an expensive and dicey one, many young men have been frustrated and defeated, and most end up eloping with their heartthrobs as wives. But as long as the customs of the land remain, eloping with a lady boils down to  immorality, which may not be the direct sin of the man  in question.
In fact, numerous cases abound where men eloped  with their girlfriends, and began to live together as  husband and wife. They are, in most cases, blessed  with children, even in the midst of illegality. They ignore the parents of the woman or man, and go into their  own procreation process.
But the unfortunate thing is that sometimes the  problem associated with that strategy is that if the woman dies in the man’s house, the parents of the  deceased are likely to demand that the man marries the woman even in death, sometimes at very exorbitant prices. In fact, a lot of things may be lined up as  requirements for the marriage of the dead woman. In  some other cases, the children produced in that marriage are classified as bastards or children of the woman’s father until the man does the right thing, that is to pay her bride price.
I think as long as mankind lives on earth,  high bride prices never make husbands price their wives (like property) better. Instead, there are reported cases of men who have treated their wives as slaves because  of the huge sum of money spent as bride price. Methinks that if young men are able to prove to their supposed parents in-law that they can love and hold their daughters, this should be enough dowry than paying fabulous amounts of money that do not equate true love.
The high dowry on women has disadvantages on the bride too. Many women have confessed openly that high bride prices have compelled their real husbands out of the work contest, leaving unlovable wealthy men available in the market. The result is an unnecessary joining of  incompatible couples because money has become the  name of the game.
High dowries make women slaves as most of them  remain unhappy in their marriages. Perhaps, they just stay to satisfy the man who has spent so much on  them. The consequence of this is that a wide gap exists for infidelity, and a display of fake and smokescreen love, which is far from being genuine.
This is not to say that those with low income have not  married wives. No! On the contrary, some have actually found themselves wives, and they lived as happy couples  for decades. But we have also heard stories where men  go on to borrow huge amounts of money just to get  married. In a situation like this, such couples are forced  to go through terrible and agonising marriages.
In perspective, it has been imperative that high bride prices are no guarantees to long, stable and well-enjoyed   marriages. High bride prices only help to force men who are not rich into borrowing, thereby putting men with such financial crisis into slavery while the women are boxed into a corner, with little or no choice than to settle for men with the money. In the end, such women  look more like the men’s personal properties.
It is high time the state government or better still, local  government councils fixed equal amount to be paid as dowry for all women. Although this suggestion may sound primitive, I think it is workable and the right path to toe. This can be done by encouraging would-be husbands to go to their local governments to pay for their wives. This action should attract receipts, and such monies should later be handed over to parents of the  brides.
If all Nigerians go to the same markets, schools, workplaces, among others, then I do not see any reason why bride prices should vary. And until this is done,  women will ever suffer, and men without money will remain unmarried.
Etim writes from Port Harcourt.

 

Sintrials Etim

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Opinion

Nigeria: Can We Be Hopeful?

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Not a few times have we heard citizens express displeasure about how things are going on in the country. To many, there is no hope for a better Nigeria. Try all they can, with all the tales of how government in power has worked wonders and has surpassed all previous administrations, government functionaries cannot convince this set of people to think otherwise. And woe betide you if you hold a contrary opinion and want to persuade to believe that all hope is not lost.
A scene played out at a computer/phone repair centre otherwise called GSM village, in the nation’s capital. Some young men were lamenting how those in government (both past and present) had milked the nation dry and made life hellish for many Nigerians. One of them narrated how despite having graduated with Second Class Upper from the university nine years ago, he had been unable to secure a job.
Another recounted how terrible the nation’s roads were which makes road travels a nightmare in spite of the billions of naira budgeted annually for road construction and repairs.  “Since l was born, l have been hearing that Nigeria will be better, yet things keep getting worse every year. There are no good government hospitals, no water, no electricity, Nigerians are being killed by armed bandits daily yet our leaders are getting richer with the money meant to furnish these amenities, infrastructure and security. As far as l am concerned, there is no hope for this country”, he insisted.
Hearing all these tales of woes, a middle aged man in an opposite stall, who apparently was there to fix his device joined the discussion.  He told them that their line of thought was wrong, that Nigeria was a blessed country, which would be better in the nearest future through the joint effort of every citizen. Certainly, that man will not forget in a hurry the invectives and insults he got for saying that.
Indeed, it is very patriotic to think good of our beloved country and to believe that no matter how heavy the storm may be, the sun will rise one day; that the issues of corruption, bad governance, selfish leadership at all levels and many others, which have held the nation spellbound and stagnant for decades will one day be a thing of the past and Nigerians will have reasons to rejoice in the land that God has placed them. However, truth must be told that should the recklessness, embezzlement of public funds, seeming lack of direction, and other forms of impunity that have characterised governance across board in Nigeria are not checked, the better days hoped for might just be a mirage.
In the past few days, we watched the scandalous drama at the National Assembly during the probe into the alleged financial improprieties in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Those entrusted with the responsibility of developing the impoverished area couldn’t account for how about N40 billion was spent in a few years. Members of the commission were rather enriching themselves at the detriment of their fellow Niger Deltans who have suffered the devastating effects of oil explorations in the region for many years.
Painfully, that may be all we can hear about the case just as similar probes yielded little or no results. Already, the Senate has recommended that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC be made to refund the N4.923 billion alleged illegal payments made to staff of the commission and contractors in breach of the procurement process among other soft landing recommendations and that might be the end of the story. Nobody gets punished for the great crime.
Ours has become a country where the “connected”, those who can fake fainting , those who can mesmerize the lawmakers, the highly placed ones, are given a part on the back and told to go that their sins are forgiven while the poor and the less-privileged, people not in government, are punished for even the slightest offences. Consider the recent disclosure by the Defense Headquarters (DHQ) that 603 repentant former Boko Haram members would be re-integrated into society next month.
During a media briefing on the operations of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on Thursday, penultimate week, DHQ spokesperson, Major General John Enenche, said the 603 former combatants had completed the De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) programme of Operation Safe Corridor and would be pushed into the society.
Reports have it that the “repentant” terrorists would be provided with psyche-social supports and continued religious admonitions in order to make them good citizens of the country and of course starter packs to help them practice the skills they acquired in the camp.
Does one have issues with the authorities being magnanimous to forgive criminals who have killed over 30,000 people in the country, rendered thousands homeless and caused many people grievous pains?  Not at all.  But the worry is how will such a generous act aid the fight against insurgency and give hope that the nation will be victorious in her war against Boko Haram and other insurgents? What hope do we have that the senseless killings in southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, the kidnappings, banditry and other forms of criminalities going on across the land will abate when the culprits are not tried and punished in accordance with the law?
A great concern has also been raised about the consequences of such reintegration on those affected in one way or the other by the dastardly acts of the insurgents and what plans to ensure that such act does not lead to breakdown of fragile peace in the recovering communities and cities mostly in the North East.
What about the morale of the military men and women that have been risking their lives in the fight for many years? Again, what incentives are given to the law-abiding citizens to encourage them to remain on the right path? As Martin Luther King Jnr puts it, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice”. Again, in the words of the American Writer, Terry Goodkind, “Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent”.
It therefore behoves on those in authority to inspire hope in the millions of hopeless Nigerians through words and actions. Many of us have no other country but Nigeria and to make it better for us and the future generation, we must all resolve to play our roles efficaciously.

 

Calista Ezeaku

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Opinion

Mass Communication As Unbundled

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With the recent happenings in Nigeria’s education sector, the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) cannot be said to be living below its vision of being a dynamic regulatory agency acting as a catalyst for positive change and innovation for the delivery of quality university education in Nigeria.
Created in Nigeria, to enable the attainment of stable and crisis-free university system, work with Nigerian universities to achieve full accreditation status for, at least, 80% of the academic programmes, NUC was also to initiate and promote proficiency in the use of ICT for service delivery within the commission and the Nigerian university system, as well as upgrade and maintain physical facilities in the Nigerian university system for delivery of quality university education.
However, while the commission is still on a mandate to foster partnership between the Nigerian university system and the private sector, the need to match Nigerian university graduate output with national manpower needs, seems to have gained top priority in its scheme of things.
This is evident on the recent visible reforms in the country’s tertiary education which have birthed the federal government’s approval of the establishment and immediate take-off of six new federal colleges of education in each of the geo-political zones in the country, as well as the unbundling of mass communication programme in Nigerian universities
This resolve, which experts have applauded and described as a step in a right direction, is the commission’s way of guiding Nigerian universities to be in line with 21st Century requirements; most importantly, the establishment of additional colleges of education.
More institutions for teacher education will not only increase the number of quality teachers in the country, it would create more job opportunities for Nigerians, and also improve standard of education. Of course, with an improved teacher education, the system is sure to turn out products that can compete globally with their counterparts.
The unbundling of mass communication programme in Nigerian universities into seven separate degree programmes, thereby, making Mass Communication to be a full faculty, happens to be another landmark achievement.
The seven new programmes or departments to be domiciled in a Faculty, School or College of Communication and Media Studies are: Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film & Multi-Media Studies, Development Communication Studies, Information & Media Studies.
Recall that the executive secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, on assumption of office in 2018, said during a workshop in Abuja on the proposed Higher Education Reform and Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE), that getting it right at the higher education level would proffer solutions to the socio-economic and political problems facing the country.
Needless to argue, the original mass communication degree curriculum was too packed, didn’t have much on visual images and films, not even much attention was given to development communications. Above all, it has become obsolete and so cannot accommodate the new developments in the media trends, particularly the changing landscape of politics and economy.
The unbundling, no doubt, would allow lecturers to go into the newsroom to practice and journalists to go into the classroom to teach. By the segmentation, one can be allowed to focus on skill cultivation. In the long run, it is hoped that the practical will be balanced with the theory.
This invariably makes the university more responsive to the dynamics of the labour market by ensuring that the right curriculum is put in place to ensure that quality graduates are turned out at the end of the day to meet the demand of industries.
By so doing, the university community moves from theoretical to the practical aspect of science and technology thereby increasing graduate employability skills.
From the foregoing, graduates of a media studies bachelor’s degree programme would be prepared for both traditional and non-traditional media careers. Some graduates will find work as news journalists, film editors and communication specialists. Other job titles might include public relations specialist, advertising account manager, marketing analyst, newsroom coordinator, broadcast journalist, photojournalist and a range of other exciting career options.

 

 

Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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