On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the Rivers State Government re-launched the security outfit codenamed C4I at the Government House, Port Harcourt, as a further step in the robust, pragmatic strategy and holistic approach of the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, to strengthen the security architecture of the state.
Wike donated 29 operational vehicles, as well as 200 bulletproof vests and helmets as morale booster for the personnel of the re-launched C4I, in their committed effort to reduce crime and criminality to its barest minimum in the state.
He explained that his administration has continually demonstrated its resolve to rid the State of criminality through provision of operational vehicles, gunboats and other forms of support for the security agencies.
The Governor disclosed that the security outfit comprises 400 police officers and 200 officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, that have been well trained in “relevant skills to ensure they carry out their duties efficiently.”
Wike further said that with the re-launch of C4I security outfit, the Rivers State Police Command should become more proactive in fighting crime, even as he urged the police and other security agencies to take the war against criminality to the criminals.
“We must take the war to them (criminals) let them know that enough is enough. All those people who think they can collect money from contractors, who think that they can kidnap contractors and threaten people, you must go all after them. Don’t allow them to kill your men before you go after them.”
He equally expressed dismay that some of the equipment provided by the State Government to support security agencies fight crime are often diverted to other states at the detriment of Rivers State and warned that the state will not hesitate to withdraw the five gunboats each that it will donate to the Army, Navy and Police if they are deployed for use in other states.
“But let the gunboats remain within the territory of Rivers State. I am not here to buy gunboats for any other state. I am buying gunboats for the protection of the people that live and do business in Rivers State,” he said.
Wike also announced that in the next few weeks, the State Government would donate more operational vehicles and equipment to the C4I security outfit to enhance their operations. In addition, the latest state-of-the-art equipment will be provided for the Department of State Services (DSS) to enhance their operational capability to track down criminals.
The Governor assured the police personnel attached to the C4I unit that the State Government would ensure that the families of officers would be adequately taken care of in the event of loss of life in active service.
One of the key areas that Governor Wike has performed exceptionally, is in the promotion of security and protection of lives and property in the state, given all the odds, distractions and deliberate actions by respective persons and interests to disrupt and breach the peace periodically.
Wike captured the importance of security in his second term inauguration address when he said that: “We recognize the correlation between adequate security and the well being of our people. We all therefore deserve to be safe and secure in our homes, offices, business places, along our roads and in our neighbourhoods and in our communities.”
The Governor, who has regularly called out the Federal Government for politicizing the provision of security in the state and exposing her to preventable security challenges.
“However, we wish to assure our people that we will continue to prioritize the provision of security and do our possible best within our constitutional powers and resources to safeguard lives and property across our State Accordingly, we will make Rivers State too hot for criminals and bandits and deal ruthlessly with any person, gang or group, including traditional rulers and landlords who directly or indirectly participate, aid, abet, provide safe havens or allow criminal activities in homes, premises and territories under their control, Governor Wike had pledged.
This pledge was actualised, precisely on Friday, 26th July, 2019, when Governor Wike, in the presence of all key stakeholders of the state at Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, inaugurated “Operation Sting”; a comprehensive security platform, which was the product of careful planning, consultation and implementation.
“Operation Sting”, which involved all the security agencies, working in unison to address security concerns in all parts of the State is fully funded by the Rivers State Government and serves as the State’s own specialized and dedicated security initiative anchored on an integrated and complementary approach, to effectively tackle both the sources and drivers of insecurity in their diverse criminal manifestations and operations in all parts of the state.
Under “Operation Sting”, the State Government took concrete steps from the onset, to strengthen the logistics and operational capability of the civil and armed security forces by providing patrol/operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets; armoured fitted gunboats, to tighten coastal security and protect our waterways from the activities of criminals; Armoured Personnel Carriers for Police swift responses actions; and sufficient hand-held mobile radios to enhance communication among the security operatives and overcome the gaps in intelligence gathering.
It also established toll free numbers and operational bases 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 objectives of providing comprehensive security cover for the State.
Prior to the launch of “Operation Sting”, the Governor Wike administration had already signalled its intention to give security priority attention when it took the very bold and commendable step of setting up the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency (RIV-NESCA), through legislation and due process.
The Rivers State Neighbour-hood Safety Corps Agency (RIVNESCA) was created by Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law No. 8 of 2018, with a mandate to establish the Rivers State Neigh-bourhood Safety Corps Agency (popularly addressed as Neighbourhood Watch), which will be a community based intelligence platform designed to encourage and consolidate an effective security synergy between the security agencies and communities.
However, the over 3, 900 youths who had been properly recruited into the Agency had barely commenced training, when on November 9, 2018, a contingent of the Nigerian Army stormed their camp and dispersed them, describing the outfit and exercise as an “illegal militia training camp”.
Reacting to the incident, Governor Nyesom Wike, speaking at Odiokwu, Ahoada West Local Government Area of the state, when he flagged-off the construction of a Model Primary Healthcare Centre, Odiokwu Internal roads, Odiokwu-Anwuigboko and Odiokwu-Oyigbo roads, explained that the Neighbourhood Watch was very legitimate as the State Government had worked with the Police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and other federal agencies to ensure that only law-abiding citizens were recruited.
“We did not hire boys for political reasons. This has been a transparent process, and that is why the personnel are trained at the NYSC Orientation Camp at Nonwa. We involved the police and the DSS to ensure that the trainees are profiled for the good of the society. The main aim of this agency is to assist the security agencies with intelligence and information since there is a lacuna in this regard,” the Governor said.
Governor Wike accused the army of intimidating people and causing insecurity mainly to attract more security votes in the state, even as he declared that Rivers State was blessed by God and asserted that the State Government would continue with the training, even if it meant doing it in Government House.
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt and presided over by Justice S. C. Amadi, would later, in October 2019, justify the setting up of the Neighbourhood Watch by Governor Wike, when it ordered the Nigerian Army to pay damages to the State Neigh-bourhood and Safety Corps applicants for disrupting their training process and also tagging them a militia group in November, 2018.
The court had declared that the disruption of the training and recruitment process of the applicants by the Army was illegal and dehumanising to the applicants, who were law-abiding citizens and also held that the Army, claiming that it acted on a tip-off that the Agency was illegally training a militia group was misleading, as the evidence before it proved that they (Army) were duly informed.
Those who have followed Governor Wike’s administration, will recall that the April 1st event was not the first time the Governor has extended operational support and equipment to the C4I outfit since assuming office.
On August 8th, 2019, for instance, Governor Wike had, in the course of strengthening the structure and responsiveness of “Operation Sting,” handed over 40 Patrol Vans fitted with Communication Gadgets, to some critical security outfits operating in the state including the then Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the Police Anti-Kidnapping unit, Police Anti-Cultism unit, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Eagle Crime squad and of course C4I.
Rivers people who have dispassionately analysed Governor Wike’s relationship with security agencies in the state will immediately agree that the Governor does not and has never discriminated against any of the agencies.
What Governor Wike has consistently harped on without equivocation or ambiguity is that powerful politicians should stop politicizing security, while the leadership of the agencies themselves should try as much as possible not to get themselves involved in the murky waters of politics at the detriment of the people they are supposed to be securing and protecting.
The recent donation of vehicles and other security equipment to C4I is therefore timely and laudable as it has breathed new life into the operations of the security outfit, which had quite literarily, been operating under the radar in the last couple of years.
Indeed, Governor Wike has shown once again that instead of being baited by the spurious comments and diversionary intents directed at him in recent times, he has quite masterfully eschewed the bitterness and with admirable astute leadership acumen, elevated himself above the pettiness and skulduggery which those who are desperate for power, have been wallowing in.
He has established once again that his only and immediate concern and preoccupation is to deliver and implement what is good for Rivers State and Rivers people.
The re-launch shows clearly that the State is safe for businesses to thrive. Surely, Rivers State is becoming the Investors Destination of Choice.
The onus is on the security agencies to see the gesture as an opportunity to fight criminality in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
They should be professional at all times and shun any attempt by politicians to use them for political gains.
Receiving the encomiums of the Rivers State Police Commissioner, CP Friday Ebonka and heads of other security agencies, who are only too aware that security is expensive and have constantly commended Governor Wike for his continual support, the Rivers Governor stressed once again that: “Rivers State Government is fully prepared and will do everything required to protect lives and property. Without the protection of lives and property, there will be no governance and development. To further boost our security in the riverine areas, in the next few weeks the State Government would donate a total of fifteen gunboats to the Navy, Army and Police in Rivers State.”
Governor Wike, who thanked the Inspector General of Police, represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 16, AIG Austin I. Agbonlahor and heads of other security agencies for attending the launch, equally used the platform to warn kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers to have a rethink as Rivers State is no longer safe for their nefarious activities, even as he advised security agencies to abstain from politics and focus on their primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of people of the State.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
Radio Rivers FM @ 40: The Journey So Far
It was the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, who once said: “Let the people know the facts and country is safe”. This notable aphorism of Lincoln’s is crucial for the development of society.
Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo, as it was then called, was 40 years on May 2, 2021, following its establishment and launch of its signal on May 2, 1981. Ace broadcaster, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, signed on the new frequency modulation radio station with the call signal: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo.
The radio station was tagged Radio Rivers Two then because the Amplitude Modulation (AM) began operation on June 1, 1978 under late Chief Olu Benibo Fubara as General Manager of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (RSBC) as Radio Rivers alone. It is on record that Mambo Tumbowei, later known as Elizabeth Odumo, signed on the station with the call signal: Radio Rivers.
At inception, the original plan of the founding fathers was that RSBC would serve as an umbrella body for radio and television. The late literary icon, Gabriel Imomotimi Gbain-Gbain Okara, was the pioneer General Manager of RSBC-Radio and TV together; but the television station, known as RSBC-TV, commenced operation before the radio arm. And this was largely due to the fact that there had been radio broadcasting service provided by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the state.
It is pertinent to accentuate the fact that RSBC was encapsulated in the vision of the founding fathers to promote the favourable identity of the old Rivers State created from the defunct Eastern Nigeria.
Following the restructuring of radio broadcasting in Nigeria in 1978, NBC transformed to be Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) wherein the Rivers State Government inherited the personnel and equipment of the former. The personnel included the legendary Opuerembo Gloria Fiofori, Elder Goddy William, Japudiari Jumbo and Elder Walson Asako, among others.
Interestingly, this pool of staff aided Chief Fubara to actually commence broadcasting using NBC equipment at William Jumbo Street, Old GRA with the engineering and technical services at Ozuoba in present day Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State.
It is common knowledge that Radio Rivers AM truly promoted favourable identity of Rivers people as envisioned by the founding fathers. This was articulated through community broadcasting module where premium was attached to programming in indigenous languages as well as translation of programmes into Rivers languages.
The administration of Chief Fubara was remarkable and would particularly be remembered for sending staff for training abroad in England, The Netherlands and the United States. Specifically, Dafini Gogo-Abbey trained in the US, Eric Uzoma was in The Netherlands while Ibiye Degbani went to the UK, among other staff who benefited from overseas training. This does not in any way demean those who trained at home at the time. No doubt, such training equipped members of staff to tackle the challenges of rural broadcasting ahead.
The government of Chief Melford Okilo did build on the legacies of the regimes of Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, Col. Zamani Lekwot and Commander Suleiman Seidu to broaden the broadcast space by introducing the rave of the moment: Radio Rivers Two FM Stereo on May 2, 1981.
While it was the first FM radio station to be established by a state government in Nigeria, the Rivers broadcast facility came after the first FM studio called Radio Nigeria Two or Metro FM Ikoyi, Lagos, established in 1977. The superior sound quality and highly-skilled professionals’ commitment to duty endeared Radio Rivers FM to many, not only in the state but across the nation.
Tribute must be paid to the founding fathers and managers who had a clear sense of purpose and vision to provide favourable identity for Rivers people through this medium. To this end, one must acknowledge the commitments of pioneer staff as well as their team spirit. The General managers and management staff included Mrs. Nguba Aspinnal, late Jonny Abasa, Ernest T. Ogbanga, late Sunny Joe, Gloria Fiofori, Dafini Gogo-Abbey, Florence Ekiye, Digi Hart, Mike Yempe, Brighton Sorgwe, among others.
Interestingly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM was born at the time when the war of words between Governor Sam Mbakwe of Imo State and his Rivers State counterpart, Chief Okilo, reached a crescendo following the controversy over post-Biafran War abandoned property policy and non-inclusion of Imo State in the list of oil-bearing states to benefit from the derivation per centage of that time. As a result, Mbakwe never saw anything good in the administration of Okilo.
This was where the news commentaries churned out by the News and Current Affairs Department of Rivers FM radio rose to the occasion and the specialised news features of staff, particularly Dumo Oruobo, remained exquisite. The other notable writers were Oju Daniel-Kalio, Eriye Iyaye, Simon Ambakederemo of the Ministry of Information, Kudo Eresia-Eke and Bobo Brown; while literary giants like Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Ola Rotimi, Paul Naale, Elechi Amadi and Gabriel Okara were regular guests on the literary discourses hosted by Oruobo.
Speaking in a live interview tagged Spotlight on Rivers FM radio on Sunday May 2, 2021, Chief Oruobo noted that Governor Mbakwe did surrender to the fireworks from the AM and FM studios of Radio Rivers.
“Yes, Governor Sam Mbakwe caved in and pleaded with his colleague, Governor Melford Okilo, to stop the war; then Governor Okilo asked him to tell his people to stop the propaganda too,” he said.
In her remarks, Opuerembo Fiofori, who was also a guest on the live interview programme admitted that she headed a team mandated to produce the public service jingle of old after the war of words. She sang recalled the lines thus: Love Rivers State or leave alone; don’t pull her down, no no; think what you can do for her; engage yourselves in meaningful activities; no room for gossips; do something meaningful.
Additionally, it is on record that RSBC introduced News In Special English in 1984, another milestone in the annals of radio broadcasting while bridging the gap between government and the governed through programmes and translations in indigenous languages. Tamunokuro Akaluogbo anchored Arokerenime in Okrika, Billy Evans handled request programme in Kalabari, Dehkai Ema was for Khana, Nyemavuchi Ohaka and Austine Weji Akajile for Ikwerre and Francis Vibeleh for Bonalo-lobel for Gokana audience.
On account of the outstanding achievement of Radio Rivers FM, it was not only a tourist site but training centre for other FM radio stations. It is common knowledge that Benue State Radio and Cross Radio State Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) came to radio Radio Rivers for training.
Radio Rivers accorded adequate airtime to coverage of RIVIFEST, Peoples Parliament and programme such as English By Radio while it also organised outdoor events such as Miss FM and Mr. FM. According to the former General Manager, Gloria Fiofori, Tonye Koko was the first to win Miss FM while David Ibiyeomie (now founder of Salvation Ministries) won Mr. FM, respectively.
Despite its contributions to state affairs, the authorities concerned did not replace obsolete equipment as at when due and Radio Rivers began to experience incessant off-air syndrome. Truly, broadcast equipment have lifespan and approved room temperature to function well. Worse still, the government of Dr Peter Odili directed RSBC under Sir Mike Oku, as General Manager, to vacate the AM studio’s premises at Ozuoba and handed it over to Daar Communication.
The attempt to combine community broadcasting of AM station with FM programming resulted in shapeless programming. Thus Radio Rivers at 40 requires restructuring and programme re-engineering. Similarly, the RSBC Management has been directed to vacate its William Jumbo property.
The government of Diete-Spiff established the Rivers State College of Science and Technology in 1970; Okilo upgraded it to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) in 1980, while Governor Nyesom Wike amended the law to make it Rivers State University (RSU) in 2017.
In the same vein, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) grew from a nursing home to Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH) and later to Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) before transforming to its present status. This is the way to keep vision alive.
Edict No. 8 of 1973 governing the establishment of RSBC must be amended to enable the Corporation handle present-day challenges while effort must be made to restrict radio broadcasting through merger of Garden City Radio and Radio Rivers as well as meet deadline for digitization.
The point must be made that funding a vision is different from funding road project as gestation period and profit motive vary. Truly, Radio Rivers 99.1 FM is the voice of experience and it has the potentials to rise again.
Congratulations at 40!
Sika is a public affairs analyst in Port Harcourt.
By: Baridorn Sika
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