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How ICT Can Push The Envelop In National Dev

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If it was just for information and its gathering, processing and transmission, it can be said without any fear of equivocation that Nigeria has never lagged, especially in the context of the development of that sector within sub-Saharan Africa. After all, the first crop of the country’s political leaders was among the best journalists and newspaper publishers in the region, namely Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro, among others.
Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and the Western Nigeria Television inaugurated in 1959 by Awolowo served to inform, educate and entertain the people while also effectively galvanizing them for the Independence struggle of the time.
At that time, radio broadcasting had already been dominated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All the people did was to cluster around their short-wave radio sets for an hourly dose of news from London. Private radio stations were not a common sight, if they existed at all.
Cinema was a luxury then as the mobile cinema units of the various regional information ministries travelled around to entertain mostly rural dwellers who had little or no access to electricity and television. A community was considered lucky if it enjoyed such visitation as many as three times in one year.
On the other hand, telecommunication and its associated technology did not develop as rapidly, being the more expensive. For a long time after attaining Independence on October 1, 1960, Nigerians depended on whatever communication infrastructure their British colonial masters left behind. This consisted of the local town crier system, postal and wire services (including land telephone, telegraph and cable telegram). The Post and Telecommunications (P&T) Department saw to the provision of the latter services. It was later split into the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), now privatised as NTel.
Foreign companies like the International Telephone and Telegraphs (ITT) won major contracts for the development and rehabilitation of communication infrastructure, especially after the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. Recall that the late politician and business mogul, MKO Abiola, once rose to become its chief executive officer for the African region.
It is widely believed that not until the introduction of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) on August 6, 2001 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led civilian government did the face of ICT change in Nigeria.
The government took the decision to deregulate the telecom sector through its policy on adoption of ICT in 1999 by licensing such international mobile phone service providers as ECONET (now Airtel), MTN, and Etisalat (9Mobile) to set up shop in Nigeria. They were later joined by an indigenous telecom firm, Globacom, as a Second National Operator (SNO).
It could be recalled that the entry of Globacom into the telecom industry was at a time when call cost was N50 per second. The firm immediately introduced a pricing system that charged 11 kobo per second, thereby forcing a crash in the cost of mobile telephony as the competition was practically whipped into line. As if that was not enough, it soon undertook the laying of underwater international fibre-optic cable for superior service delivery.
Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) like Starcomm, Reliance Telephone (Reltel), Multilinks and Visafone were also licensed to provide mobile phone services but mainly on the fixed wireless GSM and CDMA platforms.
With regard to its social and economic impact on the nation, industry experts are agreed that the GSM revolution has led to massive employment generation. From the ubiquitous roadside under-the-umbrella call centres to the street corner cybercafés and cell phone retail shops the nation had never witnessed such rise in the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Additionally, available statistics indicate that the overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecoms sector stood at $32 billion in mid-2015; second only to the oil and gas sector. Others have even posited that, with the collapse of crude oil prices between 2015 and 2017, activities and earnings from this sector may have seen to Nigeria’s quick recovery from the recession of those years.
In terms of policy and regulatory oversight, ICT in Nigeria is said to be conducted under three major policy documents, namely: the National Mass Communication Policy of 1990 which implementation falls under the purview of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); the National Telecommunications Policy of 2000 with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as chief executor; and the National Policy for Information Technology of 2001 to be executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
NBC is the main regulator of the broadcast industry in Nigeria. Some of its activities include the issuance of broadcast licences, allocation of transmission frequencies, establishing operational standards and ensuring compliance with the broadcast code.
The Commission is, by law, required to report to the Presidency through its parent ministry (Information and National Orientation).
The NCC which came into existence via an Act in 2003 has regulatory authority over activities in the telecommunications industry. It has powers to license operators, encourage competition, ensure quality service, monitor tariffs and protect consumers, among others.
The NITDA came on board through a 2007 Act and is charged with the planning, promotion and development of IT penetration and projects across Nigeria.
There are four other policy implementation and regulatory bodies within the ICT sector. They are: the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA); NIGCOMSAT; National Frequency Management Council (NFMC); and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).
The non-ICT sector has also recorded some significant gains arising from developments in information and communications technology. For instance, the use of presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint in schools and corporate boardrooms, computer spreadsheet for accounting, e-learning, e-library, e-banking and e-commerce are some popular applications that have yielded good social and commercial dividends.
The use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (POS) terminals and mobile money transfers have helped to decongest banking halls and also save man-hours that would ordinarily have been wasted in long queues.
Another benefit of ICT was made even more manifest at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown when schools were abruptly shut down and children who could afford it engaged in virtual learning from their homes. Even some of their parents were forced to work from home using whatever ICT means available to them.
Also, the New Media which is powered by ICT and includes Internet publishing and social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have significantly enhanced real-time information sharing and social interaction with people across the globe.
Personnel management and remuneration systems have been made easier with the advent of biometric exercises, electronic time-keeping and integrated staff records and payroll methods long adopted by the private sector, and more recently, the federal, state and local governments. Even the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the systems upgrade steadily being undertaken by some of its agencies are ICT-driven.
In agriculture, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration used GSM phones to dislodge middlemen while distributing fertilizers and other farm inputs directly to beneficiaries in the rural areas. This may have served to boost food production.
After successfully emerging from the latest economic recession, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration drew up a four-year Economic Reconstruction and Growth Plan (ERGP). In this plan was included an ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 which it hoped to achieve through activities of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and which seeks to create two million jobs by the end of 2020.
Overall, the ICT sector still has the potential of yielding more positive results if only the government can follow through with some of its lofty roadmaps, especially those that aim to establish ICT Centres and Innovation Hubs in selected states across the country.

 

By: Ibelema Jumbo

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Entertainment

Transforming Nigeria Through Movies, Music, Arts

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Oil since its discovery in commercial quantity in Nigeria has dominated the nation’s economy, oil exports have contributed 98 percent of the Federal Government’s revenue. This over dependence has made the Nigeria’s economy unstable, non-static and has displayed a large over dependence on oil incomes.
It is on this premise that studies have been carried out to identify other sectors of the economy that could minimise the over dependence and mono economy syndrome of the nation. One of the veritable sectors is the entertainment industry, also known as the creative sector which comprises the movie, music, comedy, arts and culture, among others.
As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence from colonial rule, an indepth analysis of these eventful years reveals that the creative industry is dynamic and has not only generated unprecedented wealth for the country, but has also created employment opportunities for her citizens, contributed immensely towards transforming the country into a leading nation in Africa as well as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.
After Nigeria’s independence in October 1,1960, the cinema business rapidly expanded. In 1972, the indigenisation Decree issued by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon encouraged the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinema houses from their foreign owners to Nigerians resulting in more Nigerians playing active roles in cinemas and film businesses.
Today, Nigeria’s film industry popularly known as Nollywood is adjudged the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood of America and Bollywood of India and contributed 2.3 percent (N 239 billion) to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the economic and recovery growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $ 1 billion in export revenue by the end of 2020.
In the music sector, music has become Nigeria’s new export, in November 2017, Nigeria’s music star, Wizkid won the Best International Act category at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards held in London, the first for Africa-based artistes. At the same MOBO Awards, another Nigerian super star, Davido, took home the Best African Act Award for his song “IF”, a love themed ballad with a blend of Nigerian rhythms and RnB.
Since its release in February 2017, the official IF video has raked in up more than 60 million views on You Tube views for any Nigerian music video and one of the highest ever recorded for a song by an African
Across the African continent, other musical groups such as Kenya’s, boy band, Soto Sol, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and South Africa’s Mafikizolo have collaborated with or featured Nigerian top stars in attempts to gain international appeal.
Reuters news service calls Nigerian music,’’ a cultural export’ and the Nigerian government is now looking towards the creative industry including performing arts and music to generate revenue.
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics Report that the local music sector grew in real term by 8.4 percent for the first three months of 2016 and that in the first quarter of 2017 the sector grew by 12 percent compared with the same period one year prior.
The Price Water Cooper (PWC) reports that the global attention the Nigerian music scene has received in the past three years has been accelerating. There is no better time for Nigerian artistes to use data and insight to reach billions with their musical content which will help to reposition the country.
According to the vice president, International Strategy and Sperations Warner Music Group, Mr. Temi Adeniyi,” the promise of what could be achieved by Nigeria’s booming music industry in the next decade is awe-inspiring especially if the industry focuses on the critical issues of adequate compensation and piracy.
In Arts, the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe noted that” culture is the new revenue driving sector which can serve as an alternative to the oil sector in Nigeria “
He stated this at the official opening of the 13th edition of Akwaa Travel and Tourism fare in Lagos in 2017. He maintained that culture was a viable alternative revenue generating sector that could help to boost the economy.
According to a recent entertainment and media output report by PWC, Nigerian entertainment and media industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.8 billion by the end of 2023.The report which was released in October 2019 disclosed that the market is dominated by internet revenue as it presently contributes about 61 percent of the sector’s revenue followed by television and radio which is expected to push towards $1billion in revenue by 2023.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “We are ready to explore and exploit the new oil. When we talk about diversifying the economy, it is not just Agriculture or solid Minerals alone, it is about the creative industry, about the films, theatre and music”.
The minister made the comments ahead of a Creative Industry Financing Conference held in Lagos in 2018.He noted that the Nigerian government is already providing incentives in the sector including a recent $1 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians preparing to set up business in the creative industry.
He also said, “The country is allowing the industry pioneer status, meaning that those inventing in motion picture, video and TV production, music production publishing, distribution exhibition and photography can enjoy a three to five years tax holiday.
Other incentives such as government backed and privately backed investment funds are also been implemented. The minister noted that with the impressive performance so far recorded, the creative industry has been viewed as a sector that could help the government reach its goal of diversifying the nation’s economy away from oil.

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Oil Exploration And Niger Delta Environment

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From the first crude oil export in 1958 to the exploration of its associated products such as gas, the Niger Delta region for the past 60 years has not fared well in terms of sustained development despite being the source of the nation’s means of livelihood.
According to reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the region generates between 65% to 75% of all Federal Government’s revenue especially after the end of the Civil War in 1970.
But today, although oil and gas and its associated products still run the nation’s economy, its bye-products and impact on the region are quite devastating on both environment and the socio-economic life of the people of the area. The aquatic life, forests and farmlands have been so degraded that some areas are now devoid of human and animal habitation. Diseases and sickness are now prevalent with some communities are facing great health challenges.
Worried by these hazards, the late renowned playwright, and novelist, Kenuule Saro-Wiwa raised alarm in the late 1980’s about the fast paced degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta region. Although he was eventually killed during the struggle to find an equitable solution to the problem, the fight for a comprehensive study and remediation of the environment continued unabated despite the obstacles placed on would-be environmental activists.
The region is also described as one of the most polluted in the world. It is estimated that while the European Union experienced 10 incidences of oil spills in 40 years, Nigeria recorded 9,343 cases in 10 years which could be described as a deliberate effort to slowly eradicate life from the area through poisoning of the environment.
Following the long agitations and protests from the area, the Federal Government in 2016 finally gave the nod for the implementation of the long awaited United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report beginning from 2016.
In a foreword to the report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland as a case study, UNEP had this to say: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoni land is a large complex and often painful one that till date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future discussion.”
It also says, “It is also history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterised by lack of trust, paralysis and become set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned.”
The situation in Ogoniland is peculiar to the rest of the Niger Delta region.
The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State was the beginning of the environmental crisis bedeviling the Niger Delta region.
It would be recalled that the agitation for environmental reparation of the Niger Delta region dated back to the colonial times.
The agitations led to the setting up of the Willinks Commission of inquiry into the fears of the minorities. Although the commission amongst others, recommended the granting of special developmental status to the Niger Delta, the recommendation was never implemented by successive Nigerian governments after independence.
The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta region can be said to be of mixed blessings to the region.
On the one hand, it improved the per capita income of the region through the creation of middle and high income earners. But on the other hand, it has led to series of environmental pollutions, thereby depriving communities in the region of their sources of livelihood.
This situation has led to series of crisis in the region such as the Ogoni crisis of 1990 to 1993, the Kaiama Declaration which led to the creation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the crisis in Umuechem in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and others.
Similarly, the development of artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta has also been blamed for contributing to the recent acid rain and black soot in the environment.
Although the Nigerian authorities may have taken some measures to ameliorate the sufferings caused by oil explorations in the region, through the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) which metamorphosed into Federal Ministry of Environment, the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); inclusion of derivation into the Constitution and the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have not been able to provide the much-needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta as the problems still persist.
Meanwhile, experts have attributed the high rate of poverty in the Niger Delta to the environmental degradation of the region. At a recent Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo shared a documentary of the current situation in the Niger Delta, adding that the region has remained backward despite its huge economic contributions to the Nigerian nation.
Ambassador Toyo who was secretary to the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration said, “it is frustrating to know that the context has not changed as these challenges still stare the region in the face.
“The Niger Delta is still very much degraded as issues such as the following are still debated upon: gas flaring, abject poverty, militancy, crude oil theft, unemployment, cultism and organised crime, poor state of infrastructure and underdevelopment,” she said.
She also said; “apart from lack of opportunities in the region, there is also the breakdown of law and order in the communities.
“Communities often fight over who gets what when development opportunities arise as seen in some communities in Ogoni with regards to the clean-up,” adding that such fight can scare investors away and the region will continue to suffer underdevelopment.
Also in its policy brief note on insecurity in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat says, “there is an environmental dimension to insecurity in Rivers State. For several years now, Port Harcourt and its environs have been covered by soot.
“This is as a result of increased artisanal refining of crude oil and other forms of pollution in the state.
“These pollution-inducing activities from both illegal artisanal and legal oil production has increased environmental insecurity in Rivers State.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of life in Rivers State,” it said.
Also speaking on the issue, a civil society activist, Ambassador Christy Iwezor said the Nigerian nation has not done enough for the Niger Delta.
She said 60 years down the lane, some oil producing communities have no water to drink and cited the example of some communities in ogoniland in which sources of water have been polluted.
Also speaking, another civil rights activist, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for a policy that will incorporate the polluters pay principle into the Nigerian law.
According to him, if multinational companies are fined for pollution, they will be more careful in their operations.
He also blamed environmental problems on sanitary conducts.
“The problems of environmental degradation in Nigerian is caused by poor sanitary conduct of Nigerians and inefficient use of local government council workers on environmental sanitation.”
According to him, local government councils must also wakeup to their responsibilities of ensuring improved level of hygiene in their various communities.
The question is after 60 years of independence, have we really made any meaningful progress in the Niger Delta compared to similar environments across the globe where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy. It would be noted that the gulf countries where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy have gone far ahead in terms of environmental remediation.
The 60 years anniversary should provide the opportunity for the country to further look into the Niger Delta issues.

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Rivers, Safest State In Nigeria

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The recent comments by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, concerning the safety and security of Rivers State, did not come to many people as a surprise.
His penchant for bitterness propelled propaganda and anger-fuelled political rhetoric are already well known to Rivers people and discerning Rivers watchers.
What is sadly surprising, however, is the occasion he used as platform to ventilate his hate filled sardonic comments, which has left many aghast by the brazen display of this rigid, unbending, cold hearted vindictiveness.
One had expected that a man like Amaechi, who has enjoyed unmerited favour in abundance and unquantifiable goodwill in excess, irrespective of his own very limited credentials, would at least have displayed a modicum of respect in the presence of the mortal remains of a distinguished elder statesman, whom he even referred to as his mentor.
But rather than show humility and reverence, Rotimi Amaechi chose the very sombre and solemn occasion of the funeral service of late Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, to launch into an egocentric rant celebrating his regime as Governor, with disrespectful and megalomaniac impunity to the chagrin and consternation of all who had gathered to bid the great man goodbye.
The Transportation Minister, in his lamentations on what he, in his warped imagination, contrived as the rising spate of insecurity and political intimidation in Rivers State, told the gathering that: “You have lost your voice. The sage has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was Governor, I gave people voices, but they have blocked those voices. I was happy with the sermon, the Bishop indicted us. If you are a Governor, have you governed well? If you are a politician, have you carried your people along?
“Everyone is scared. We are going back to when Ateke held sway. We are going back to the period where we run away from our people. We are back to a period when nobody can speak. But from next year, I will begin to speak, if nobody wants to speak.”
Rotimi Amaechi also made other atrocious and provocative comments, like casting aspersion on the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, for the non completion of the Trans-Kalabari Road, as well as some elementary advise he received from the late renowned jurist, which even a greenhorn aspiring politician should be knowledgeable about and all these of course have elevated Justice Karibi-Whyte to the enviable status of ‘his mentor’.
It is quite unfortunate that Amaechi had to spew this verbiage at such a poignant occasion, but those who know him well, have come to understand his uncensored demagoguery, unquenchable lust for divisiveness and the sadistic pleasure he derives in the politics of blackmail and subterfuge.
However, the question to ask Rotimi Amaechi is: what exactly does he want people to say that has not already been said by his diehard attack dogs, hirelings and refuseniks, who have not given the Governor Wike administration breathing space with their worthless, totally irrelevant negative criticisms since 2015? Indeed, which voice is he accusing the great Kalabari people of losing now that the sage is gone?
Obviously, Amaechi has forgotten so soon, how he deceived, insulted and rubbished the whole Kalabari ethnic nation, by first imposing with impunity, a candidate and his crony, who is a complete outsider, in the guise of riverine Governor agitation, at the expense of tried, tested, articulate and seasoned Kalabari sons who contributed huge human and material resources to build the structure he hijacked to achieve his selfish objectives.
Recall also that when that ill fated project failed woefully, he deceitfully dredged up a complete political greenhorn and drafted him as the favoured candidate, all in the name of appeasing Kalabari people. One is compelled to ask, is that the best Amaechi can do for Kalabari people?
Or does he want the people to recall how he sent soldiers to Abonnema, the very home town of the eminent Justice Karibi Whyte that he claims to be his mentor, to slaughter innocent men, women, youths in his quest to seize power at all cost? What did the people do to him as he came to dance on the graves of those that were killed? Nothing. Yet, those who sat down in that church and listened to him excoriate Kalabari people for not speaking out, clapped for him, all in the name of mourning the departed sage. So, what does he want them to say to him now?
The wickedness of Rotimi Amaechi’s anarchist mindset was further revealed when, in very choice sentences, he dragged King Ateke Michael Tom, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri kingdom, into his bitter commentary.
Of course, those who know better understand why he had to drag King Ateke into a hate speech in Kalabari kingdom, but what Amaechi forgot was that the people of Okochiri, with one loud, united voice, came together and unanimously crowned Ateke Tom as their beloved king.
Infact, there has been complete and permanent peace in his kingdom since he was crowned king, except for one incident of external provocation, when soldiers, acting on the command of the Transportation Minister, invaded King Ateke’s palace in the run up to the 2019 elections.
The calculation was to provoke reprisal attacks but wisdom reigned supreme and that evil was defeated and averted. So, will Amaechi’s attempt to foment another trouble again by dragging King Ateke Tom into his bitterness succeed?
The answer is a resounding No, because his dubious intention of invoking the name of King Ateke Tom in Kalabari land is not lost on anybody and the people are not at all fooled for one minute by this latest foul mouthed loquaciousness.
Rivers people, including the Kalabaris, are wiser now and have long passed that stage and nobody, especially Rotimi Amaechi, will drag them back there again for his selfish ambition.
Again, Rotimi Amaechi went to Kalabari land and told the people that President Goodluck Jonathan, who he shamelessly claimed to have reconciled with, refused to give him approval to construct the Emohua/Abonnema Road but he dualised the Airport/Elele/Omerelu which is a federal road project and the people are not talking.
Or maybe, what they should be talking is how come Rotimi Amaechi is getting billions of naira and dollars from China to do railway projects all over the country and even to Niger Republic, except in Rivers State, yet he cannot do anything for Kalabari people, if only to honour his “mentor”, Justice Karibi Whyte?
Talking about security, one must make the incontrovertible point that in Nigeria today, unlike Amaechi’s own imagination, Rivers State is arguably the safest State in the country at this present time and the reason is quite simple.
Governor Nyesom Wike embraced the security challenge frontally and deployed a proactive, effective, functional and pragmatic security strategy, accommodating all security agencies in a symbiotic synergy that completely rejigged the security architecture in the State.
At the commencement of his second term, Governor Wike initiated a comprehensive security platform to address the security challenges facing different parts of the State. This was a product of careful planning and implementation and on Friday, 26th July, 2019, right in the presence of all key stakeholders at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, he launched a new Rivers State Security outfit code-named Operation Sting.
Operation Sting is an outfit that involves all the security agencies, working in unison to address security concerns in all parts of the state. It is fully funded by the Rivers State Government with the aim of tackling criminal elements, the sources and drivers of insecurity in their diverse criminal manifestations and operations and to nip them in their buds, rout and root them out of existence and reduce crime and criminality in all parts of the state.
To ensure that the new security outfit responded effectively across the state, the administration provided the right logistics and equipment in patrol/operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets; armoured fitted gunboats, to tighten coastal security and protect the waterways from the activities of criminals; Armoured Personnel Carriers for Police swift responses actions as well as; hand-held mobile radios to enhance communication among the security operatives and overcome the current wide gaps in intelligence gathering.
Operation Sting has functional and operational bases established in all the 23 Local Government Areas to strengthen the command and control structures of the initiative and ensure effective coordination and synergy between the State Headquarters, the Local Government Areas and the communities to achieve the common objective of providing comprehensive security cover for the State.
In addition, the operationalization of Operation Sting across the State has also increased citizens’ awareness and made the public to be more alive to the dangers of insecurity and their responsibility to be part of the present crusade to stamp this menace from the state and in appreciation of the officers and men who will participate in the new security architecture, the State Government set up a fund to cater for their families, in the event of any mishap in the course of service.
The result of this has manifested in the excellent collective intelligence gathering that has led recently to the smoking out and capture of some of the most dreaded criminal elements terrorizing the state over the years. Some were even apprehended outside Rivers State for the simple reason that the Wike administration has made the state too hot for criminals to operate or even hide out. This has made Rivers State arguably the safest state in the country today.
The Next Supermarket, the biggest in West Africa, Turkish Airline, Ethiopian Airline, Greenville Energy Company and Stockgap Nigeria Limited are new businesses thriving under this administration. In fact, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 Project could not have taken off if there is insecurity.
To buttress this point Governor Wike, in a recent Television interview said: “Rivers State is safer than any other State. See what is happening in Borno, Kaduna and Plateau States where bandits have taken over their areas. When Amaechi was Governor, Julius Berger Nigeria PLC was chased away because of insecurity. But they are here now, constructing roads all over the State without fear.
“The heads of security agencies that Amaechi influences their postings, come here and see the reality on ground.”
So, the Transportation Minister, having nothing better to say, than to instigate people with his provocative comments, has confessed that he will start talking from next year, if nobody wants to talk from now till then. But sadly for him, Rivers people are now wiser and nobody is afraid of talking because many people have come to the realization that when they talk, the Governor listens and makes sure he delivers what the people want.
Governor Wike is not only delivering good governance, he is also fulfilling all the promises he made to Rivers people. And that is why, when he also talks, the people listen and comply, as they demonstrated commendably during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
This, of course, is a far cry from what obtained in the previous administration where, when the Judges talked the courts were shut down for two years, when lecturers spoke, they were suspended. In fact, anybody who raised a voice of dissent was either clamped down by the dictator or denied the dividends of democracy.
The fact remains that Amaechi is the singular most divisive political figure in Rivers State today and the feeling, even amongst his own supporters, is that he is only deceiving himself, if he believes he will continue to behave like a dictator and an unpopular godfather, whose word must be obeyed always, in the political space of Rivers State.
Rivers people have proved to him that they are not afraid to talk and they have spoken loudly and clearly every time it mattered most, especially in 2015 and 2019. Rivers people are talking and Governor Wike is a listening Governor, who hears what they are saying and is responding to their voices with the commitment and dedication of a leader who has the interest of his people at heart.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.

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