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Editorial

Nyesom Wike: Celebrating A Trail Blazer

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Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike was born into the Christian family of Revd. and Deaconess (Mrs.) Nlemanya Wike, from Rumuepirikom community in Obio/ Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. He is a complete Ikwerre son and proud Rivers man and had his early education in Rivers State before proceeding to study Law at the Rivers State University. Today, he is a recognized legal luminary and a distinguished Life Bencher.
In the political terrain, Nyesom Wike, after a brief working period in private legal practice, embraced his true leadership calling and started from the very scratch, when he contested the election as the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, with the return of democracy in 1999.
He won the election and was re-elected for a second term as a result of his phenomenal performance which was so remarkable that he transformed and positively re-positioned the Council into one of the most productive and dynamic local government Councils in the country.
By the end of his tenure as Chairman, Obio/Akpor Local Government had fully and proudly taken its pride of place and transformed into a beehive of commerce and other post modern trappings, in what has been described by many as the golden years of the Council.
He then moved up to the bigger political space from Local Government to the State level to play a key role in the post-Sir Peter Odili tenure.
Those who understood and followed the politics of Rivers State at that time, were fully aware of the vision of Sir Peter Odili and what transpired in the succession battle to take over from him in 2007. Suffice it to say that when the electoral and legal dusts finally settled, the anticipated balance was eventually achieved and it is germane to note that Nyesom Wike played what many have come to accept as an unparalleled pivotal role in achieving political stability in Rivers State in that turbulent season of succession; a story which has still not been fully written for posterity.
By virtue of his admirable administrative savvy in office and immense political stature, he was appointed Chief of Staff during the first tenure of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s government.
Indeed, the unprecedented role and sacrifice Nyesom Wike made to resolve the 2007 governorship debacle, stabilize the leadership and sustain the Rivers political structure in the eight years that followed the election in the state, still remain largely unsung.
It was arguably in recognition of his impressive efforts and contributions, both as a staunch party man and an unflinching stakeholder in the promotion of the Niger Delta political advocacy and also to have a trusted ally in the Federal cabinet, that President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as the Minister of State(Education) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on July 14, 2011.
Wike became a full Minister, though initially in an acting capacity of the Education Ministry, from September 2013, when the substantive Minister, Prof. Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i, who was appointed on April 6, 2010, was relieved of her position. He discharged the duties of his new portfolio with great efficiency.
However, the build up to the 2015 general elections and especially, the Governorship election in Rivers State with the attendant highly combustible succession situation that emerged, required greater courage and extraordinary tactical and strategic political brilliance to confront and surmount it.
Bitterness, laced with provocative and acerbic language had already been injected into the once peaceful political ambience of Rivers State.
In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, one time British Prime Minister: “One ought never to turn one’s back on threatened danger or try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything”.
The world will always stand still for those who take responsibilities and while those that take responsibilities will stand to be counted, those who choose to sit on the fence and do nothing will have their names consigned to the wilderness of history.
With this driving mantra in mind, Nyesom Wike voluntarily resigned as the Minister of Education to contest for the Governorship of Rivers State under the PDP and take charge of the structure that would eventually save the State from the fate that would have befallen it, just like he did in 2007, to uphold the clarion call of “Rivers First” in all considerations.
Nyesom Wike is loved by his people. That is why he has metamorphosed into an unstoppable movement and in the titanic electoral battles that was waged for the soul of Rivers State in 2015 and 2019 respectively, he came out triumphant in the governorship elections.
It has rightly been pointed out by discerning analysts and Rivers commentators alike, that Governor Wike met an economy that had been bruised and battered, by the time he took over as governor on May 29, 2015, and all he has done since that day, has been to unlock the economic potentials of Rivers State and attract investors back to their once-beloved Garden City.
He has set about his task with a single-minded determination and firm leadership to re-organize the security architecture, which had so nearly been completely mortgaged, re-order the socio-political and infrastructural priorities and transform the landscape of Port Harcourt with marvellous infrastructural aesthetics befitting a state capital.
Rivers State has gradually been positioned in the last five years as a dynamic and competitive modern hub for the vicissitudes of the present and the challenges of the future.
Governor Wike’s second term started with the same verve, zeal and committed focus which defined the first term and things were moving smoothly, until the deadly coronavirus broke out as a global pandemic that destabilized the whole world.
Many leaders are still grappling with this challenge but Governor Wike has displayed courageous, pragmatic and focused leadership, not only in the management of the Covid-19 situation, but particularly, with the numerous projects that are either ongoing or completed in the State.
Five years into his tenure, the urban renewal programme in the capital city and indeed the interconnectivity across the length and breadth of the State is progressing amazingly.
In addition, the brilliant economic module of strategically concessioning major government owned assets to willing and capable private investors, which had already started with the Afam Cassava processing plant, is a critical futuristic component that is already on stream and will create massive jobs for the youths and unemployed.
By a combination of unshakable commitment and an unwavering visionary drive to ensure the delivery of excellent legacy projects, the infrastructural development of Rivers State is inclusively holistic.
Contrary to the notions and misleading opinions of critics, who have not traversed the State to actually see things for themselves, a transformational and aesthetic metamorphosis is actually taking place all over Rivers State, which will unravel fully with time.
Governor Wike has already confirmed that his administration will not leave any abandoned project when his tenure comes to an end in 2023.
In the political arena, Governor Wike has also transformed Rivers State into the political headquarters of the South South geo-political zone. Port Harcourt, the capital city hosted two very successful Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Congresses and has been the home for the reconciliation of many internal party conflicts.
He has also contained the opposition with deft and political brinkmanship and the way he has astutely supervised the affairs of the PDP has ensured that all the elections and Congresses in the state have been smooth, peaceful and rancour free.
There is definitely no contesting the fact that Governor Wike is a trail blazer who is building for the future and actually leading from the front. He is a promise keeper and he has kept his promises, worked hard and achieved so much more with far less resources, while providing first-class socio-economic infrastructure.
He has also kept the State and businesses safe and secure, despite the unexpected outbreak of Covid-19 and the contrived attempts to frustrate and create diversionary situations, both by internal and external forces.
His administration has remained firm and focused on this progressive trajectory, with a constant pledge to recommit to work harder and deliver greater development to Rivers people.
Like Governor Wike himself said in his inaugural second term address to Rivers people on May 29, 2020: “We know it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spinoff effects on ours. But, tough times like this call for unity of thought, unity of purpose and unity of actions; believing in ourselves and in our ability to overcome all the challenges that confront us as a State and as a people.”
Indeed the story of Nyesom Wike, is the unfolding narrative of a man who, in the last half a century and counting, has not only become one of the iconic living legends of Rivers State, but is today, the Dike Ohna Ikwerre, a title reserved only for heroes, warriors and patriots of the great Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality.
Governor Nyesom Wike is a devout Christian and is happily married to Her Excellency, Justice Eberechi Suzette Wike. They are blessed with children.
There is no doubt that as he celebrates his birthday today, even his critics will agree that he is indeed a trail blazer in every sense of the word.
Happy Birthday Your Excellency.
Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State, wrote this comment from Port Harcourt.

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Editorial

Trans-Kalabari Road Kidnap: Not Path To Go

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The recent abduction of Lubrik Construction Company’s expatriate staff working on Trans-Kalabari Road by unknown miscreants is deplorable and profoundly distasteful. According to reports, three policemen assigned to the employees were viciously exterminated. The sad incident, said to have occurred on Thursday, September 9, along Sama Road, in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, is painfully bewildering. It is absolutely the product of disordered minds to ward off the Kalabari people from benefiting from the generosity of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Unfortunately, such an action could be considered at a moment when the governor is trying harder to ensure that progress takes place in every nook and cranny of the state. Several projects are underway in communities across the state with little or no abduction claims. Why Kalabari land? The Kalabaris are known to be peace-loving, who know how to protect what is theirs. Why did they let this happen to such an extensive project as this, which bears direct impact on their lives?
We denounce the kidnapping and appeal to the police, including all Kalabari leaders, elders and the youth, to go after those answerable for this reprehensible and senseless enterprise. The Kalabaris should remember that they patiently waited for 15 years to witness the actualisation of the road project and must hold on to it pertinaciously. Henceforth, youths from the area should be mobilised to secure all government projects in Kalabari Kingdom, specifically the Trans-Kalabari Road, to preserve it from brigands.
Before the onset of the Wike government, Rivers State had long endured abandoned projects, both at conceptual and advanced stages. The Trans-Kalabari Road had been a neglected project from the time of Dr. Peter Odili when it was awarded for the first time for N9billion. The project was deceased even before it was perfectly visualised.
Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi also signalled a N21billion contract for the same road in December, 2012, and committed to mobilise the contractor to the location by January, 2013. That also didn’t take effect. Yet, this was the same government that used about a whopping N40billion on a white elephant project (the Rivers Monorail) which remains blight for the past six years and deserted even before he left office in May, 2015.
However, in March, 2021, the present government declared a contract for the development of Phase 1 of the project at N13.6billion. On June 24, 2021, Wike eventually flagged off the road with a span of 14 months. The road will link six communities and would be reinforced by an irrevocable standing payment request of N1billion that would be paid to the contractor monthly.
At the initiation of the project, the Chief Executive of the state pleaded with the Kalabaris to give up everything that might imperil the realisation of the initial phase of the venture. The governor spoke at the flag-off of the road at the Degema Waterfront, saying, “Do not allow saboteurs to come and kidnap the contractors and sabotage the road. If I hear that the contractors are being harassed, then it is you”.
Thankfully, the ongoing work has offered an end to the relentless promises that previous governments had made to the people about the execution of the contract. Sadly, the governor’s impassioned appeal was never taken to heart. This untoward incident could prolong the culminating date of the project, thereby, undermining the confidence of the sons and daughters of Kalabari, who look forward to the realisation of the historical undertaking.
While we demand the prompt and outright release of the expatriate, we regard the hard-featured occurrence as a huge challenge to establish reciprocity and tranquillity within all the Kalabari project communities. We strongly advise all adversaries of the Kalabari people and Rivers State to stay clear from all project locations and amenities. Law enforcement and stakeholders of the Kalabari Kingdom should enhance their endeavours to emancipate the expatriate worker.
In 2019, three Lebanese expatriate workers from the Raffoul Nigeria Limited were kidnapped in Andoni. Governor Wike immediately reacted by issuing a 72-hour ultimatum to some traditional rulers and the chairman of Andoni Local Government Council at the time to ensure the release of the engineers working on the Andoni Unity Road or be stripped. The threat paid off, as attempts were stepped up, and the men regained their freedom. We call on the governor to apply a corresponding measure in the Trans-Kalabari Road abduction saga. 
Chairmen of the three local government councils of Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema have to work collectively to bring off the freedom of the abducted worker and not stick around, expecting the governor to prompt them to act. They need to take steps to protect contractors and workers labouring on projects in their communities. As chief executives and security officers of their respective councils, they must make certain that contractors are not seized under their watch.
Contractors and workers at construction sites must rely less on the government to assure their security. They need to discover ways to secure themselves against delinquents and portentous gangsters. The first step is to broach a security scheme that will provide a policy for an emergency and ensure that all their workers realise how to react and whom to call. Installing surveillance cameras can help monitor the site as a whole and protect lives and equipment.
Wike has always prognosticated a proclivity to move further projects to Kalabariland. But, the activities of kidnappers in the area can dissuade him. The Kalabari people should see themselves too sophisticated to tolerate brigandage in their midst. Hence, they must close ranks to bring an end to the actions of miscreants who aim to see that the development of the area is nixed. Given that the criminals did not emerge from the sky, they have to be detected.

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Editorial

That Desecration Of NDA

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The contumelious assault on the headquarters of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, by gunmen in the early hours of Tuesday, August 24, is possibly the most menacing sign that the Federal Government may have lost total control of the ungraceful security predicament faced by Nigerians. With this tragic incident and many others counting, obviously, the North-West may have increasingly evolved into the new terror epicentre, as the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism ostensibly dies down in the North-East.
According to media reports, the gunmen took advantage of a chasm in the NDA’s perimeter fencing and stormed the location along Airport Road, Afaka. They gained access to the residential area where two senior officers (Lieutenant Commander Awolor Wulah and Flight Lieutenant Chinecherem Okoronkwo) were shot dead. They also abducted another officer, Major Christopher Datong. The NDA is just steps away from the Federal Forestry Mechanization College, Afaka, where a gang of bandits kidnapped 39 students last March.
Indeed, the NDA, an institution that engenders young men and women to become gallant military personnel, should not come under an invasion of that dimension so easily. The onslaught was a rude reproach to the military, and by extension Nigeria. The Armed Forces ought to have carefully studied earlier raids and taken steps to safeguard their men and institutions. That this did not happen was indicative of imprudence on their part.
The inability to repel or capture the assailants highlights the shortcomings of our security system and demonstrates how daring terrorists or bandits are. Are there moles inside the Army? How would bandits attack a military institution without any effort or considerable resistance? We are asking because there has always been lingering suspicion that people are undermining the endeavours of our military, particularly in the ongoing anti-insurgency and banditry war.
While we vehemently denounce the incursion and call for the perpetrators to be apprehended and prosecuted, we urge that every effort be made to salvage the kidnapped major in the attack. The military must note that the continuous assaults on their men and formations are not only disconcerting, but hazardous as they erode the confidence of Nigerians in their ability to keep them safe. Something has to be done about that. These relentless attacks should be considered acts of terrorism and properly addressed.
In the aftermath of the NDA ambuscade, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt-Gen Lucky Irabor, assured Nigerians of updates on the search and rescue of the abducted officer, and added that “the Armed Forces of Nigeria will continue operations to ensure that all those involved in the dastardly act are brought to justice”. Much as Irabor’s words may be soothing, we believe more can be done to reassure Nigerians that the military is in firm control.
It was reported that the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was investigating the unfortunate attack. It is a step in the right direction. But characteristic of the government, it should not take eternity to conclude. We call for a thorough inquiry and all those found to have pitched in to the success of the onslaught either through their actions or inactions must face the law. Also, the findings should be released to the public to instil trust in the inquisition.
Nigerians have consistently been experiencing fear and anguish. Most people are afraid of the road these days. Anytime they have to travel, their hearts are always tucked in their mouths. It was no surprise that in 2020, our nation was considered the third most terrorized country in the world for the sixth year in a row. Sadly, and most ignominiously, the authorities have never been perturbed by such unenviable rankings.
Millions of scared Nigerians are wondering what truly is going on. What is happening to our once mighty Nigerian Armed Forces, which were able to keep the nation one during the Civil War between 1967 and 1970, and return peace to war-torn Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Mali and even Libya? Why can the once dominant military power in Africa no longer defend itself from ordinary armed thugs on motorbikes that have clearly become a new frontier for terrorism?
Could it be the insatiable greed of the leaders? Could it be that top military officers have been compromised or put in jeopardy and are politicking with issues as sensitive as security? Have our soldiers lost the will to fight gallantly? Or are their weapons obsolete and can no longer withstand the sophisticated projectiles of their enemy? Or could it be that the military is no more as potent as it used to be back in the day? Those critical questions deserve responses.
What is most perplexing is that the security of our country is degenerating vis-a-vis the ever-increasing military allocations. Official figures indicate that more than N5trillion of our annual budgets have been spent on the military for our defence in the past six years. Allocations to the police and other security agencies not inclusive. All seems to have gone down the drain without a corresponding output.
These bandits have to be regarded as terrorists and treated as such. Lately, they have become very unsparing and appear a step ahead of our security agents. Therefore, they should be handled ruthlessly. Those behind the attacks must be fished out. The criminals must be properly defined, chased after, and apprehended, including their patrons. This can be accomplished by the military intelligence.
There is no doubt that the NDA attack is a special message that the bandits are sending to Nigerians to prepare for more deadly onslaughts. So, the security agencies must brace up. This is to say the least, very hair-raising, and the Federal Government must sit up to protect, not only the military establishments, but the country in totality. Hence, there is a pressing need for a change in our security architecture.
All patriotic Nigerians should be troubled by the attacks on the NDA and other military establishments as they undermine the sovereignty of the country. As a result, security agencies are expected to grow with renewed fervour to tackle this failing condition in the nation. Insecurity is the biggest challenge every government has to deal with, and should not be treated lightly. Additional tactics must, therefore, be deployed to hammer away terror and banditry in the land.

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Editorial

Slaughter Market Demolition: Kudos To RSG

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On Thursday, September 1, the Government of Rivers State commenced the demolition of Oginigba Slaughter Market along Trans Amadi Industrial Layout in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. The demolition came exactly one month after the State government permanently shut the slaughter and the market on account of the health hazards it posed to the people and residents of the state as well as the security and social menace it also posed to the people.
Governor NyesomWike maintained that besides the demolished slaughter being a haven for criminal elements, its location at the Trans-Amadi Industrial Area is now considered inappropriate in terms of the State government’s urban renewal policy.
The Governor only said the obvious as the area around the slaughter has become a death and drug zone. The base of the adjoining bridge not only served as a home to all sorts of criminals, the area indeed had become the drug capital of the state.
Indeed, as Governor Wike explained, over the years, the area had come to be identified as a very dangerous place, where large cache of weapons were harboured and used at will to terrorise innocent people.
To have such a slaughter located in the industrial hub of the state definitely runs counter to the urban renewal programme of government and efforts to return Port Harcourt to its Garden City status.
We therefore see no ethnic, religious or other divisive and less altruistic sentiments attached to the decision to relocate the slaughter to a more spacious and modern facility by the State Government.
This is moreso as the State Government has already commenced the construction of a modern abattoir, fitted with state-of-the-art equipment with capacity for the slaughtering of 400 cattle as well as 1,500 goats and sheep per day at Mgbuosimini, Rumueme in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, where butchers and other related businesses would be accommodated to engage in their activities in a more decent, healthy and conducive environment.
We believe that the action of Government will check the incessant cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and other violent crimes perpetrated daily within the precinct of the Oginigba slaughter market.
Also, with the clearing of the area of shanties that doubled as stalls and criminal covens, residents of Oginigba and commuters through the area will heave a sigh of relief from activities of the men of the underworld that had made life a living hell for them.
We are further gladdened that Governor Wike has said the demolished site would not be left fallow but will house another befitting project that will not only occupy the same land but that will be in tune with the urban renewal effort of the present administration.
The governor has earned the reputation and trust of the people that he keeps to his words as exemplified in the number of projects littered all over the 23 local government areas of the state. That is why The Tide aligns with his assertion that, “Anybody bringing religion or ethnic colouration doesnot mean well for the people of the state and the country. And I am not going to be perturbed; I am not going to be cowed; and also, I am not going to be blackmailed by anybody.”
We believe that no government worth its time in office will stand by and watch miscreants and criminals turn any part of its jurisdiction, let alone a choice area of its capital city, into an enclave where lawlessness reigns, criminals rule and safety and security of lives and property of innocent and law abiding citizens cannot be guaranteed.
We are also encouraged that Governor Wike has taken the war against shanties in the state capital and its environs to every nook and cranny of the state. Evidently, the recent demolition of illegal structures around the Eastern Bypass, Ikoku and other areas within the metropolis and other parts of the state have not only chased criminals away but has tremendously enhanced the beauty of the state capital. We also salute the Governor’s recent order for the demolition of shanties where counterfeit bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are produced side by side some other criminal and illegal activities at Nkpogu area in Port Harcourt.
This is why The Tide salutes the courage, determination and zeal of Governor Wike for standing up to the challenge of ridding the Oginigba area of the Trans Amadi Industrial Layout of the criminal elements, giving the residents a new lease of life and bringing restoration to the area by the plan to site a trademark quality project in keeping with his revolutionary urban renewal agenda.
As in many other areas where successive administrations had failed or feared to tread, Wike deserves nothing but acknowledgement, appreciation, support and encouragement from every well-meaning Rivers indigene and lovers of the state in what he has been able to do at the Oginigba Slaughter Market and other parts of the state as part of a comprehensive effort at identifying and demolishing all criminal hideouts across the state and making the state safe for residents and legitimate business activities.
The Government needs the support of all people and residents of the state. Indeed, only people who do not mean well for the state and its people will complain about efforts to restore sanity to our polity.
All hands of Rivers people and residents of the state should be on deck to realise the vision of Governor Wike to recreate Rivers State as a business destination of choice and a safe, secure and peaceful habitation of note for all law abiding Nigerians and others across the world.

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