The year 2020 has been dreadful, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a look at events that shaped the year.
The first month of the year gave an insight into the weird things to expect as bomb blast at Gamboru in Borno State killed over 30 people and injured 35 others just three days after gunmen razed homes and killed 19 people in Tawari, Kogi State.
Another trouble for university students
Lassa fever outbreak also killed at least 29 people in 11 states during the month.
Twenty-six months after killing her husband, Maryam Sanda was sentenced to death by hanging.
The most discussed issue of the month was the decision of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to sack Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and to declare Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who came a distant fourth during the governorship poll as the Governor of Imo State.
The Federal Government declared the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun launched by the six states of the South West as illegal.
The royal battle in Kano resumed as the then Emir, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi ll, was probed by the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission over alleged sale of landed property belonging to the Kano Emirate Council.
Fifty nine-year-old Beninese singer and songwriter, Angélique Kidjo, won the Best World Music Album award at the 62nd Grammy Award, defeating Nigerian Afro-fusion singer, Damini Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy.
The month ended with the report of an 18-year-old man, Marvellous Luka, allegedly raping his 70-year-old grandmother in Plateau.
Well, it did not end there as US President, Donald Trump, expanded the travel ban to include Nigeria and five other countries. In fact, it was erroneously reported by some media outlets that the founder of Living Faith Bible Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, was denied a visa by the US.
It was not all weird as three aid workers, who were held hostage since December, 2019, were released in Borno State.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the commercial city of Lagos as an Italian citizen tested positive for the virus.
As of December 29, the virus infected 85,560 and killed 1,267 in the 36 states and FCT.
The National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) directed prospective Umrah pilgrims to shelve their plans for the Lesser Hajj as global efforts to contain COVID-19 heightened.
Earlier in the month, the Lagos State Government banned commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada on major routes, which led to protests and arrests.
Kano also banned street begging in the state.
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents set ablaze several vehicles carrying passengers, killing at least 30 in Auno, Borno State.
A former governor and lawmaker representing Yobe East, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, sponsored a bill to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
Nigerians were shocked that international flights to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos were diverted to Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, due to poor weather and complications with new equipment.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sentenced a former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, to seven years imprisonment.
He joined other high profile inmates, including a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame; a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, and a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, at the Kuje Custodial Centre.
Hours to his inauguration, the Supreme Court sacked David Lyon of the APC as Governor-elect of Bayelsa State on the grounds that his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
Duoye Diri of the PDP who came second during the poll was sworn in as the governor of the state.
INEC also de-registered over 70 political parties in the country.
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, kicked over what he termed “unfortunate reports” in mainstream media and comments on the social media berating the appearance of his four wives during his swearing in and the fact that he has 27 children.
A former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Buba Galadima, also “kicked”, describing as political vendetta the decision by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over his residence and company over “debts to the tune of N900 million.”
A report of alleged attempts by the Federal Government to hand over about $100 million the United States authorities said was stolen by a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, to Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, a top member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), also generated uproar.
The month also witnessed a royal scuffle as the Oluwo of Iwo in Osun State, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi, allegedly punched the Agbowu of Ogbaagba, Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, during a peace meeting in the state.
In sports, D’Tigers, the men’s senior basketball team, booked qualification for the Olympics through the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, while D’Tigress qualified for the games via the FIBA Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
March: Emir Sanusi II deposed
Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll of Kano was dethroned over disrespect to the Office of the Governor of the state and other government agencies.
The 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan was banished to Awe, a remote area in Nasarawa State.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje appointed Aminu Ado Bayero as the 15th Emir of Kano.
Suleiman Achimugu, a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), became Nigeria’s first fatality from COVID-19 as confirmed cases hit 139 in 11 states and the FCT.
Some states announced partial lockdown.
An explosion at Abule-Ado, Lagos State, killed at least 15 people and destroyed around 50 buildings.
Boko Haram insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weaponry ambushed an army lorry and incinerated it, killing about 70 Nigerian soldiers in Gorgi, a village in Borno State.
The attack came hours after Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Chadian army base on an island in Lake Chad, killing 92 soldiers.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced indefinite strike following the inability of the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the union.
April: Adieu, Abba Kyari
Malam Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, died in a private hospital in Lagos after battling COVID-19.
Gravediggers in Kano reported a mysterious increase in deaths. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kano tripled from 77 to 219 as health authorities ramped up “verbal autopsies”.
State officials insisted that most of the fatalities were due to other diseases rather than COVID-19.
Twenty one employees of ExxonMobil from Akwa Ibom State were arrested for violating state quarantine standards in Rivers State, but were released when the union threatened industrial action.
Nigeria protested the maltreatment of citizens as scores of Nigerians and other Africans in Guangzhou, China, were evicted from their apartments and hotel rooms by Chinese authorities.
Katsina witnessed more banditry attacks, with over 40 deaths reported.
May: Curbing COVID-19
Governors across Northern states agreed to ban the almajiri system as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Sixty-five boys tested positive in Kaduna, 91 in Jigawa, eight in Gombe and seven in Bauchi.
Vera Uwaila Omosuwa (22), a microbiology student at the University of Benin, Edo State, was raped and brutally assaulted in a church where she went to study.
She died two days later. #JusticeForUwa trended for days as Nigerians called on the authorities to apprehend her killers.
Lagos Judge, Mojisola Dada, sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging in Nigeria’s first ever virtual ruling during the lockdown.
At least 20 people were killed when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Gajigana, Borno State, as faithful were preparing to break Ramadan fast in the first attack of its kind since the Muslim holy month began.
President Buhari signed Executive Order 10 which grants financial autonomy to two other arms of government – state legislature and judiciary across the 36 states.
Evacuation of Nigerians stranded abroad continued in the wake of the pandemic.
June: Shooting in the villa, APC crisis
The Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, was arrested after shooting at Buhari’s nephew and aide, Sabiu Yusuf, when the latter allegedly refused to go into self-isolation after a trip to Lagos.
President Buhari ordered a probe of the incident while the First Lady urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to release her aide.
Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents reportedly killed 69 persons at Foduma Kolomaiya village, 11 kilometres away from Gazaure town of Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.
Over 300 cows were also killed as the insurgents rustled nearly 1,000. Other attacks were reported in Monguno and Nganzai.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State joined PDP days after he was disqualified from contesting in the primary of the APC for the 2020 governorship election in the state.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of APC.
The party sacked the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oshiomhole and set up a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Buhari sent the name of Monica Dongban-Mensem to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) accepted the nomination of two-time Nigerian Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as its Director General (DG).
US-based streaming company, Netflix, paired up with filmmaker, Mo Abudu, owner of EbonyLife TV (ELTV), to create two new TV series and several films.
July: Airports reopening, Magu’s probe, suspension
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos re-established domestic flights after a three-month shutdown; other airports were to open soon.
Olumide Akpata emerged President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), defeating his closest rival, Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), and Dele Adesina (SAN). Apata became the first non-SAN President of the NBA.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, as the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel grilled Magu over various allegations levelled against him.
The first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Tolulope Arotile, died in a road accident at the NAF Base, Kaduna, after sustaining head injuries.
The acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, fainted during an investigative hearing at the National Assembly.
Five aid workers abducted in June in Borno State were killed by ISWAP insurgents.
In sports, Kamaru Usman Usman, UFC’s Welterweight Champion, pulled in 1.3 million pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Jorge Masvidal.
Twenty two-year-old musician, Sharif Yahaya Aminu, was sentenced to death by hanging in Kano for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad; 13-year-old Omar Farouq was also sentenced to 10 years for blasphemy.
Security forces and members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clashed in Enugu.
The army regained control of Kukawa, Borno, where ISWAP had taken hundreds captive.
Akinwumi Adesina was re-elected President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a second five-year term.
The Commander, Fagge Command of Kano State Hisbah Board, Ustaz Jamilu Yusuf, was arrested by operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) over involvement in trafficking of a one-year-old child.
Shinkafi Emirate Council accepted the resignation of the five members who relinquished their chieftaincy titles over the appointment of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, as Sadaukin Shinkafi.
September: Godwin wins
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Godwin Obaseki of the PDP as the winner of the Edo State governorship election. He defeated his closest rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, of the APC.
The 26-year-old fast rising rapper, Olamilekan ‘Laycon’ Agbeleshe, won the 2020 Big Brother Naija Lockdown edition.
The Nigerian Army (NA) confirmed the killing of Mr Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, the most wanted criminal in Benue State.
Israel Adesanya, the UFC’s Middleweight champion pulled in 700,000 pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Paulo Costa in September.
Nigeria commemorated the 60th anniversary of its independence.
#EndSARS, a series of mass protests by young Nigerians against police brutality hit major cities in Nigeria.
The protests came to an end on October 20, when armed security personnel dispersed the crowd in Lekki, one of the iconic centres of the protest, leading to casualties and fatalities.
This led to vandalism and destruction of public and private property, including the palace of the Oba of Lagos, NPA headquarters and police stations.
Warehouses housing COVID-19 palliatives were also targeted and looted in many states, including the FCT.
United States Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group rescued a 27-year-old American hostage held captive by gunmen near the border with Niger.
US refused to back Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as WTO DG.
Zabarmari: Zulum leads funeral prayer of 43 farmers killed by Boko Haram
Boko Haram insurgents killed over 76 rice farmers in Zabarmari village, a rice farming community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation probed a claim by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that he spent N19m on foreign trips during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A federal appeal court in the United Arab Emirates upheld the sentencing of Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu to life in prison for funding Boko Haram.
Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbduRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were given 10 years each.
The Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the remand of Senator Ali Ndume in prison over his inability to produce a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who jumped bail, stalling his ongoing N2bn money laundering trial since September.
Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau, came under attack over a picture of her wearing a backless gown she posted on social media.
December: Abduction, Reps summon Buhari
The House of Representatives resolved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari over the killing of farmers and insecurity in the country.
The President refused to honour the invitation on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Gunmen abducted over 300 students of the Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State. The boys were later released.
Governments announced new measures following resurgence of COVID-19 infections.
The police arrested Abdulrasheed Maina in neighbouring Niger Republic and returned him to Nigeria to continue his trial.
FG reopened four land borders with a promise to open others before December 31.
Anthony Joshua defended his IBF, WBA and WBO titles as he brutally knocked out Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round.
By: Abiodun Alade
RSG’ll Not Tolerate FIRS’ Attempt To Undermine Our Authority-Wike
Being a text of the State wide Broadcast by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Monday, September 6, 2021. Excerpts.
My dear people of Riv
As we all know, following the recent judgement of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the constitutional right and authority of State Governments to impose, collect and utilize value added taxes (VAT) within their respective territorial jurisdictions, the Rivers State Government enacted the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 to regulate the effective administration of VAT in Rivers State.
As expected, the Federal Government, through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), disagreed and filed an appeal coupled with a request for stay-of-execution of the judgment before the Federal High Court.
While the appeal was pending and without any stay-of-execution of the subsisting judgement, the FIRS went about to bully corporate bodies and business entities from paying the VAT to the Rivers State Government even when they knew that an appeal does not serve as a stay neither was there anything to stay in a declaratory judgement.
As a mere agency of the Federal Government without any political authority, the effrontery and impunity exhibited by the FIRS against the Rivers State Government was ill-advised and highly provocative.
However, being a government that believes in the rule of law, we decided on our own to suspend the enforcement of the Rivers State VAT Law 2021 pending the outcome of the FIRS’s application for stay-of-execution.
Today, the FIRS has failed in its attempt to frustrate the enforcement of the State’s Law on VAT with the Federal High Court’s dismissal of its application for stay-of-execution of the judgement.
It is important to reiterate the fact that we did no wrong in exercising our legal right under our constitutional democracy to stop the continuing breach, denial and curtailment of the constitutional right of States to lawfully impose and collect value added and other related taxes within jurisdiction to the exclusion of the Federal Government.
And in doing so, our singular and progressive objective was to contribute to the advancement of fiscal federalism by enabling the federating States to explore and exploit their potential and capacity for generating greater internal revenues with which to fund their development goals and reduce the outdated over-reliance on pitiable Federal allocation and other handouts.
Naturally, some States with presently low economic activities and ethically restrictive social policies with economic implications may be adversely affected for now.
But, this is not our own making. Like the right to derivation, this is also a constitutional prescription, which we all swore as political leaders to respect and defend as the supreme law of the land.
Above all, fiscal federalism remains the right path to economic self-reliance and sustainability for all our States and the benefits derivable from this case by all the States in the long run far outweigh the immediate revenue loss that some States may presently suffer.
All that is required is for all of us to wear our thinking caps as elected Governors to collectively fight for the greater devolution of resources, responsibilities and powers to the federating States.
It is therefore very unfortunate that some State Governors led by that of Katsina State are vainly conspiring to truncate this progressive reality in favour of the inequitable status quo so that the Federal Government can continue to rob Peter to pay Paul as the nation’s self-imposed tax master-general.
For us in Rivers State, we will continue to ensure and project our constitutional rights to access all possible resources we can take hold both within and outside our geographical boundaries to advance the progress of our State.
And with today’s judgement, the way is now clear for the administration and enforcement of the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 across the entire State until otherwise decided and set aside by the Superior Courts.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Rivers State Revenue Service (RSRS) to ensure the full and total implementation and enforcement of this law against all corporate bodies, business entities and individuals with immediate effect.
All corporate bodies, business entities and individuals are advised to willingly, truthfully and promptly comply with their tax obligations under this law to avoid the full weight of the stipulated sanctions, including having their business premises sealed-up.
Let me warn that the Rivers State Government is fully in charge of the State and will not tolerate any further attempt by the FIRS to sabotage or undermine our authority to freely administer our tax and other related laws in our own State. Those who play with fire risk having their fingers burnt. Enough of the shenanigans.
I wish to further assure every resident that we shall as usual make effective use of the expected proceeds from this tax to accelerate the development of our State and improve the wellbeing of everyone.
Fellow citizens, let me also draw your attention to the alarming rate of transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic in our State.
The daily figures released by the NCDC show that both the transmission and death rates in the last two weeks have consistently been on a rising spiral because residents and visitors to the State have largely abandoned their responsibility to comply with the existing COVID-19 Protocols.
Clearly, we are headed for a serious health disaster of profound consequences if residents and visitors continue to behave as if the pandemic no longer exists or impotent in Rivers State.
This is a big lie and we cannot afford to continue to close our eyes to the dangers such irresponsible behaviour poses to the health, lives and livelihood of everyone.
Accordingly, I wish to remind residents of the subsisting protocols on regular washing of hands and use of alcohol-based sanitizer; maintaining social distancing; wearing of face masks at all public places, including transport vehicles and going for immediate testing and treatment whenever you notice any of the symptoms.
Furthermore, it has been proven that vaccinations are saving lives here and across the world and those refusing to take the vaccines for no certified medical reasons should know that they are endangering the rest of the citizens.
I therefore appeal to all residents to help protect yourself, your loved ones and the rest of the citizens by getting your jab at the designated health centres in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State as they become available.
I also appeal to religious leaders and churches to convince and encourage their followers and members to please go out and take the vaccines and comply with the covid-19 protocols in addition.
Although it remains our desire to keep the State open and allow citizens to go about their social, religious and economic activities unimpeded.
But we may be constrained to re-impose the suspended COVID-19 lockdown measures across the State if the transmission of the disease continues to increase beyond tolerable limits.
Finally, we wish to reiterate that the ongoing demolition of shanties was borne out of the compelling need to safeguard lives and property across the State.
Our objective, which is gradually achieving is to deny the criminals these sanctuaries and hideouts from which they embark on their criminal activities and safely return to.
We therefore refuse to be blackmailed by those unpatriotic elements who are trying to stir false ethnic, religious or tribal sentiments around our patriotic commitment to advance the safety and security of residents.
Furthermore, we refuse to be intimidated by such baseless pranks. Rather, we will not rest until we clear the State of all shanties wherever they are located and restore sanity to our environment and achieve a better sense of comfort and security for everyone.
Once again, thank you all for your support, prayer and understanding as we continue to work together to advance our collective security, peace and progress.
Thank you and may God bless Rivers State.
Wike, Face Of Nigeria’s Democracy – Nsirim
This is a text of a media briefing by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim on the second phase of the advocacy campaign of #OurStateOurResponsibility message in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Excerpts.
I most heartily welcome you all to this media briefing aimed at bringing you up to speed on the advocacy campaign with hash tag #OurStateOurReponsibility.
You may recall that on the 31st of July, 2019, the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications commenced an advocacy initiative with the hash tag #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign aimed at mobilising those living and doing business in the State to join hands with the government to change the negative narratives about our dear State.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the giant strides of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and showcasing the proud heritage of a people known for their traditional hospitality.
Two years after we rolled out the advocacy campaign, it is gratifying to note and appreciate the overwhelming and massive buy-in by people from all walks of life resident in Rivers State. We are glad to report that indeed the people of Rivers State, including non-indigenes who reside and do business here, proudly received and took ownership of the message of the advocacy campaign.
Thus, having noted the high level of reception of the message of the campaign, the Ministry is now ready to launch into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which aims at taking further steps to plant the message in the hearts of our citizens, both young and old, with the overall aim of ensuring that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers State project and portraying the State in its true positive status as the most hospitable in Nigeria.
To this end, the State Ministry of Information and Communications is entering into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which would involve input from members of the public in line with our philosophy of ensuring a further buy-in from all stakeholders.The second phase of the advocacy campaign would stretch beyond solidarity campaign to engage residents of the State on essay writing, theme song, skits and short film competitions which would attract cash prizes.
The essay competition which would centre on the #OurStateOurResponsibility is aimed at inculcating in the minds of our young ones the ideas and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the advocacy. It would be open for youths between the ages of 16 – 25 years. They would be required to write an essay of between 250 – 500 words, in their own handwriting, which they would scan and forward to this email address: email@example.com within two weeks from Thursday, 2nd September, 2021. The deadline for the submission of the essays is on Wednesday, 15th September, 2021.
To ensure originality and transparency of the exercise, twenty three best scripts would be selected by judges and the chosen participants would be required to appear physically for a second round of essay writing at the Ministry of Information and Communications on Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021.
As an incentive, the Ministry of Information and Communications has earmarked cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners of the essay competition, while the best essay would attract a Fifty Thousand Naira cash prize, the second and third placed winners would smile home with Thirty Thousand Naira and Twenty Thousand Naira respectively. There would also be consolation prizes for the fourth, fifth and sixth placed participants. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners would also be presented with memorable plaques for their efforts on October 4, 2021.
In furtherance to creating more awareness that will give greater visibility to the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, the Ministry would also call for entries from members of the public, including members of the Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Port Harcourt Chapter, for the theme song selection, skit competition and a short film competition, centred around the hash tag.
While the skit is not expected to go beyond sixty seconds, the theme song would be between three to five minutes long and would be judged based on the lyrics, creativity, rhythm and originality of the work.
Apart from the monetary incentives that would accompany the best of each category, the works would receive reviews on the media platforms of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, plaques would also be presented to the winners. Moreover, winners of the various categories would become Ambassadors of the Ministry of Information and Communications and would be specially invited in all activities of the Ministry for the quarter (three months) of their reign.
Gentlemen of the Press, you would recall that when we first embarked on this advocacy campaign which took us round on visits to different media organisations, traditional rulers, various professional bodies and associations, including faith-based organizations, our mission was clear. It was focused on etching into the psyche of all those living and doing business in the State to know that Rivers State belongs to them and therefore the need for them to uphold the virtues that portray the State in good light and counter the evil political, religious and ethnic bigots whose stock in trade is to run the State down.
As you can attest, the performance of His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his six years of governance of the State has been remarkable in so many positive ways. The avalanche of projects commissioned and flaggedoff in the last two months gives credence to the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike remains the hope of Nigerians that democracy can actually work to favour the common man.
When we started this advocacy campaign, we promised it was going to endure for a long time. We were clear of the direction we were headed and we are glad to say that it has been worth the effort.
It is our fervent hope that this second phase would bring even greater success as the Ministry is poised to let the world know the truth about Rivers State and for our people to tell our story in a way that would counter the mischief of a few who are overwhelmed by the achievements recorded by the present administration ably led by Nigeria’s face of democracy Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
I thank you for your attention.
Delivering Quality Projects, Soul Of My Administration-Wike
Being a text of Governor Nyesom Wike’s address at the presentation of the six years progress report to mark the 2nd year of his second tenure on Monday, July 12, 2021.
As you know, our government was first inaugurated on the 29th of May 2015 with a four years’ mandate. When it ended, we sought for and got a renewal in 2019 to continue in office for a second and final term.
The 29th of May 2021 therefore marked two historic milestones in our government. First, it marked the 2nd anniversary of our second term in office and second, it also meant that we have been in office for six consecutive years.
First of all, I wish to thank God Almighty for the grace to lead our State for the last six years and the strength, wisdom and enablement to deliver our vision of progress and transformation to the good people of Rivers State in the midst of very daunting challenges.
For us, our duty is to govern, and govern well. But it is for the people to judge whether we have done well or not taking all the circumstances into consideration.
That is why we have gathered our people to, yet again,present to you our account of stewardship for the last six years.
Let me therefore welcome and thank you all for honouring our invitation to this important accountability event as I proceed with my presentation.
Precisely six weeks ago, we kick-started the celebration of the second anniversary of our second term in office with the flagging-off and commissioning of new and completed projects.
For 40 days, we traversed the length and breadth of the State to either commission or flag-off various development projects cutting across different socio-economic sectors, including roads, bridges, education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, sports and rural development.
The entire nation was witness to this phenomenal harvest of projects in Rivers State as the sounds and sights of the happy and grateful beneficiary institutions, communities and people were beamed on live telecasts.
You may wish to recall that this is rather the third phase of the series of project commissioning events that our government has carried out since late December 2020.
Before you, or shortly to be distributed to you, is a compendium of 536 pages, which captures the fundamental achievements of our administration in the last six years in road infrastructure, rural development, economic progress, education, healthcare, housing, administration of justice, security,agriculture, social welfare, sports,as well as culture and tourism.
Going through this compendium, you will see, with facts and evidence,the claims and assertions on what we have delivered in practical terms to advance the progress of our State and well being of our people in the last six years.
From the very beginning, we stated that the mission of our administration was to mobilize and deploy all available resources to build a State that works for everyone; a State that every Rivers person and residents can all be proud of and be happy to live and raise their children.
We reaffirmed this commitment during our second inauguration and further pledged to continue to build on the foundations already laid to make our State a land of peace, justice and development.
We promised to continue to grow our economy, expand our revenue base and create viable economic opportunities for everyone to explore for the benefit of everyone and to the exclusion of no one.
We promised to continue to deliver on our equitable development agenda that guarantees the spread of public goods and services, including quality socio-economic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, health and education facilities to all parts of the State.
We also promised to continue to advance the progress of our rural communities with modern internal roads and other social amenities to spur their economic viability and stem the rural-urban drift.
We also promised to deliver some specific important roads and projects, including the long awaited trans-Kalabari road and the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo unity road.
We further promised to continue to transform and elevate the infrastructural status of our capital city, Port Harcourt and the adjourning territories with our urban renewal programme and make Rivers State one of the preferred business and leisure destinations in Africa.
We also promised to continue with our responsibility to build a virile judicial system, support the security agencies to protect lives and property and make Rivers State more safe, convenient and welcoming for residents, investors and tourists.
It is six years into our journey of renewal, transformation and consolidation; a journey to build a new Rivers State with a better life and future for the present and generations unborn, and we are very proud with what we have so far accomplished.
Recall that we came into office at a time the national economy was and is still in turmoil with much reduced revenues accruing to the State governments.
You also know that we inherited a State with visibly decrepit infrastructure, litany of abandoned projects coupled with a hopeless economic and security situation as businesses were closing shops in their numbers.
Everyone knew that Rivers State, prior to our administration in 2015,was asphyxiated and in urgent need for the restorative oxygen of rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal.
But with determination, commitment to purpose and prudent management of available resources, we have drastically changed the development trajectory of the State for the better with many more progress to be delivered before we exit the stage for the next government.
Most of you, if not all, will agree with us that fulfilling promises and delivering quality projects is the mind, body and soul of our administration.
From the economy to the provision of roads, security, and administration of justice to the provision of education, healthcare, housing, rural development, and in the advancement of sports, social welfare, culture, recreation and tourism, the constant, consistent and recurrent narratives of the last six years under our watch have been unprecedented delivery of projects, transformation and progress.
Our economy has not just recovered from regression; it has grown and far more robust, stronger and generating greater revenues for government now than when we came in six years ago.
Although the long failing national economy continues to be drag on our own growth prospects and projections, the fiscal policies and measures we have put in place have and will continue to sustain and increase our economy to create more opportunities for business, jobs and empowerment.
The Rivers Cassava Processing Company alone is a game changer in the long-subdued potential of making Rivers State the foremost hub in cassava production in Nigeria. We will leverage on this facility as well as the cassava value chain to create wealth, income and jobs for our teaming youths who are willing to take to the business of agriculture.
Our performance in the provision of quality infrastructure, especially roads, has generally been described as phenomenal with the echoes being felt, heard and commended everywhere across the nation.
With over a thousand kilometres of Trunk-A roads already delivered, no government has increased and improved the State’s road networks and connected as many communities to the State capital and other parts of the State with good quality roads as we have done in the last six years.
We will be happy to be contradicted, if any, but it is rather humbling to say that, not even the Federal Government, has embarked on the simultaneous construction of ten arterial flyovers, with three already commissioned, and the others at various stages of completion,to improve connectivity and traffic flow within a record period of two years as our administration has done.
Today, we have efficiently reconstructed and regenerated the entire road networks at the Old Government Reservation Area, Amadi Flats and substantial parts of new Government Reservation Area in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas to further improve connectivity, restore environmental sanity and enhance the socio-economic conditions of the population that live and do business in these areas.
It is historic that the ancient coastal community of Opobo has been connected to the rest of the State and the country by a tarred road and we are as excited as the good people of Opobo for being the government that ensured this glorious reality in the infrastructure and socio-economic lives of this important and famous community after one and half century of existence, 61 years after Nigeria’s independence and 54 years after the creation of Rivers State.
Again, with us, the construction of phase one of the trans-Kalabari road is underway while the remaining portions of the Ogoni-Andoni would soon be completed to connect the coastal communities of Ngo, Ikuru and other towns along that way after decades of impossibility by the previous governments.
As at the last count, we have turned and transformed not less than 18 major single lane roads, including Igwuruta – Chokocho road, Saapkenwa – Bori road, Tam David West Boulevard, Rumuokwurishi – Eneka – Igwuruta road, Reumepirikom – Rumuolumeni road, Rebisi – Trans-Amadi – Oginigba road, Justice Iche Nduroad, Eagle Island – Illoabuchi road, Elelenwo – Akpajo road, Birabi road, Emeyal road, Tombia road, Forces Avenue, Olumeni road, Abacha road, and Harley street to dual carriage ways with street lights, pedestrian walkways and covered drains, while the dualization of, Ahoada – Omoku, and Egbema Omoku roads is also underway.
Even now, a lot of roads connecting and interconnecting several more communities across the State, including Phase one of the Ahoada – Omoku dual carriage way, the Bori – Kono dual carriage way, the Eastern bypass – Ogbum-nu-Abali dual carriage way, the Ezimgbu dual carriage way, the Tombia Extention dualization, the Woji – Aleto – Alesa road and the Wakama – Ogu – Bolo road, are underway. These roads and many more would be delivered to further expand the State’s existing road networks in the next one year.
Similarly, we have continued to step-up investments in the provision of internal roads, jetties, land reclamation, water and shore protection as part of our new development deal for the rural areas across Rivers State.
Elele-Alimini, Isiokpo, Rumuche, Okochiri, Amadi-Ama, Omoku, Odiokwu Bolo and some others now have a new lease of social and economic life with the internal roads we have provided, while those for Ogbakiri, Omerelu, Okochiri phase 2, Omagwa and Igwuruta are also already underway.
The reconstructed Bonny/Bille Waterside and the Okrika, Isaka and Witt and Bush Jetties are some of our interventions in the transport sector serving the social, economic and commuting interests of our people in the riverine communities.
Furthermore, we have reclaimed vast swathes of sand-filled land for some of the coastal communities, including Abalama, Bakana, and Kulato advance their development, just as, we have also started the sand filling of 55 and 42 hectares of reclaimed land for Abonnema/Obonnoma and Okrika communities respectively to drive the growth and expansion of these ancient and major communities. Last week Saturday, we further committed the government to sand-fill 25 hectares of land for Ogu community.
Also, construction has resumed on the shore protection works at Aze-Azaga, Isukwa, Owikwu, Obiofu and Utu communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area to prevent the continuous erosion of their shorelines.
The justice sector is another important area that has received special and consistent attention from our government. In the last six years, we have built, furnished and equipped both State and Federal Courts, provided life-long accommodation for all State Judges and enhanced their movements and comfort with new official vehicles as well as built official residences for judges of all Federal Courts in the State.
The new Rivers State High Court complex, the new Federal High Court, the New National Industrial Court, the new Court of Appeal complex, and the new judges’ quarters for the State and Federal Courts all testify to what we have structurally achieved for both the State and Federal Judiciaries in Rivers State.
We have also automated the case management system, ensured the employment of more Judges and Magistrates and sustained the administrative and financial autonomy of the State’s judiciary.
Contrary to the chaos we inherited, there is no doubt that the justice system in Rivers State has been restored and what we have now is a system that meets international standards; a judiciary that is working well in advancing the administration of justice and contributing to the socio-economic progress of our State.
Our development agenda also prioritizes the provision and access to quality education and healthcare.This is why funding for education and healthcare delivery have always been next in quantum only to road infrastructure in our annual capital budgets, since 2015.
With the increased funding we have provided over 1200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. We have also reconstructed, furnished and equipped several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved interconnecting road networks.
We have continued to implement our free primary and secondary education policy with the payment of WASCE, NECO and JAMB examination fees in public secondary schools as well as stopped the collection of illegal levies by school administrators.
As a result of the concrete and targeted interventions, the education system is becoming more and more effective and qualitative in the State with enrollment and transition rates of over 98 per cent, while over 80 per cent have consistently recorded 5 credits and above pass rates, including Mathematics and English in WASCE since 2015.
At the tertiary level, we have elevated the structural quality of our tertiary institutions with new faculty, administrative and other buildings, strengthened the governance systems and enhanced staff welfare with the new salary structure.
Apart from the College of Medical Sciences, we have also implemented a multi-campus structure for the Rivers State University with the establishment of new campuses at Emohua, Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas,thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the University and providing more access to quality tertiary education for our children.
Equally worthy of note is the approval we have received and our commitment to deliver the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School in the next six months to advance legal education in the State. I wish to reassure you that the Port Harcourt Campus will be the best Law School campus in Nigeria.
In the health sector, we are also very pleased with the progress we have made so far. In the last six years, we have built some new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities, renovated some existing primary health centres and general hospitals, commissioned the 132-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, built the senior doctors quarters and rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, while a junior doctors quarters is also under construction.
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