Few weeks ago, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim invited journalists to his office to intimate Rivers people about the readiness of his Ministry to commence the second phase of its advocacy campaign programme hash tagged, #OurStateOurResponsibility.
The initiative is aimed at mobilising people living and doing business in Rivers State to promote the giant strides recorded by the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s administration, showcase the proud heritage of the Rivers people known for their traditional hospitality and to change the negative narrative about the state. It was first launched on July 13, 2019.
Observers allude to the fact that Rivers State under Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, in the last six years, has witnessed unprecedented developments in areas of landmark projects and social re-engineering that have brought about tremendous positive impact in every facet of life.
In executing the first phase of the campaign, the Ministry took the advocacy to the doorsteps of different media organisations, traditional rulers, various professional bodies and associations, including faith-based organisations with a clear mission to etch into the psyche of everyone living and doing business in Rivers State to know that the State belongs to them all and therefore the responsibility to uphold virtues that only portray the State in good light and to counter evil political, religious and ethnic bigots whose stock in trade is to demarket the State.
Two years down the line, reports have indicated overwhelming and massive buy-in by citizens from all walks of life resident in the State. Indeed, people from all facets of society including non-indigenes residing and or doing business in the State readily embraced and owned the message of #OurStateOurResponsibility.
The campaign received such high level of acceptance by the public as the Ministry leveraged on the glaring unprecedented achievements of the state Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who has shown unparalleled commitment to religiously execute his deliberately mapped out NEW Rivers Vision blueprint launched shortly after he assumed office as Governor on May 29, 2015.
This motivated the Ministry to tinker on a second phase of the campaign, this time, aimed at evolving further steps to impress the message in the hearts of the citizens with deliberate intention to ensure that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers project and to portray the State in its true positive status as the most hospitable in Nigeria. The second phase of #OurStateOurResponsibility was launched on September 1, 2021.
Rolling out the various segments of the second phase, Nsirim told the media that 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.
“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. 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,” he told newsmen.
The Commissioner disclosed that the Ministry would also call for entries from members of the public, including members of the Port Harcourt chapter of the Advertisers Practitioners Council for the theme song selection, skits and short film competitions centred around the hash tag to further create more awareness that would give greater visibility to the advocacy campaign.
The essay competition is between people within ages 16 to 25 years. According to the Commissioner, the reason for this is to inculcate in the minds of the young ones the idea and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the advocacy.
“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,” said Nsirim.
The spokesman of the Rivers State Government did not end at conveying of the message within the confines of his office, but he took a step further to engage the various state-owned media organisations on a live radio and television programmes as another avenue to elicit public conversation in advancing the advocacy to the public.
At the Radio Rivers, Nsirim was equivocal on the justification for the advocacy campaign. He told millions of listeners that the ingenuity of Governor Wike has brought about rapid infrastructural development of Rivers State, hence, the need to sell the good product.
The Commissioner described the developmental strides of Governor Wike in the last six years as unparalleled and revolutionary. “For anyone living and doing business in Rivers State, what has happened in the last six years is like a revolution.”
“Things that they least imagined would happen in the State are already happening because of the ingenuity of one man who has come to really serve his people,” he said.
Nsirim recounted the numerous infrastructural development initiatives of the state government in the various sectors, including education, healthcare delivery, agriculture, roads and bridges, security, sports, amongst others, saying that the state government is carrying out a silent revolution.
“This government is carrying out a holistic agenda for our people, and like I tell people, Governor Nyesom Wike is a visionary leader. He is building for tomorrow.
“He is building all the sectors of the economy for people to enjoy. Rivers State is supposed to be a haven of sort, and that is what Governor Wike is trying to do in redefining governance here.
“There is no local government in Rivers State that is not feeling the impact of this administration. Rivers State Government under Governor Wike is to ensure that the interest of Rivers people is protected,” Nsirim emphasised.
He said Wike has become the beautiful bride because the facts on ground had distinguished him from the crowd as a man carrying out a revolution in governance in Nigeria. “All the media houses have come to recognise that and have given him awards.”
As guest to the Garden City Radio station live programme, Nsirim told the numerous listeners that the Chief Executive of the State, Governor Wike’s vision is to place Nigeria on the path of true federalism. “The point I would want every Rivers person to understand first is, today, we have a Governor Wike, a visionary leader beyond Rivers State and beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“What you have seen with the VAT issue just clearly shows that we have a man at this time in history who has taken it upon himself to right the wrongs and place Nigeria on the path of true federalism.
Bolstered by the unprecedented achievements of Governor Wike which has made it easier for the #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign message to be sold, the Information and Communications Commissioner mocked the leadership of the opposition in the State which had earlier expressed scepticism on the success of the Wike’s government.
“Remember and I like making this point because people need to know where we are coming from. In 2015, this man was told they would see where he would see money to pay salaries and do projects
“He inherited four months’ unpaid salaries. He inherited five months’ pension arrears. This was the only administration in Nigeria that did not get a handover note from the previous administration, but look at where we are. We are in a place of glory,” he said.
Nsirim described the rapid development witnessed in the State currently as a golden era. “I also make the point that because Governor Wike is a people-oriented Governor, even the less privileged feels the impact of his administration. The Rehabilitation Centre we have at Iriebe today is the best in the country.
The Commissioner insisted that the Governor remained committed to his ultimate desire to make Rivers State the destination of choice.
Playing guest to the Rivers State Television on a live programme, Nsirim said categorically that Governor Nyesom Wike has made Rivers people proud by showing the roadmap for development and governance in Nigeria.
“That’s why it pays to have a patriotic leader at the helm of affairs. All the places we have gone to receive awards as best Governor, the story is the same. Wike has made Rivers people proud, that’s why I am proud working with him.
“You don’t need a lot of advertising, when you have a good product. Wike has become the face of democracy in Nigeria, so, you don’t need to struggle to convince people to rally around you.
“The facts on ground in the areas of infrastructure network, education, Sports, security, human capital development amongst others, speak for themselves.
“These are things you thought would never be possible. But one man who has vision, political will and the interest of Rivers people has come to redefine governance in Rivers State and Nigeria,” the Information Commissioner remarked.
Nsirim is optimistic that the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign will achieve it’s set goal of enlisting effective citizens participation in governance in the state.
Ibim, Special Assistant, Media, Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
NIPR And Burden Of Insecurity On Nigeria’s Reputation, Dev
One dominant issue that has premiered the global space in recent times is the negative effect of the daring security challenges, not only on the rationale of citizens, but also on the reputation of the Nigeria nation and its consequent effect on the development of the country.
The devastating effects of escalating violent crimes such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual killings among others on the country, since the inception of the current democracy in 1999, have done terrible damage to the reputation of the Nigerian nation in the global community.
According to reports by Statista 2021, as at 2019, Nigeria ranked second coming after Afghanistan as the terrorism most impacted country with a total of 1,245 fatalities. Afghanistan came first with 5,725 fatalities while Somalia came behind Nigeria with a record of 569 deaths.
The level of insecurity observed in the country has led to some countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and others, listing Nigeria as an unsafe place to travel to. This year, the UAE refused work permit applications from Nigeria because of the involvement of citizens in profile crimes.
Burdened by the negative impact of this daring challenges, the Rivers State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), at its 2021 conference cum annual general meeting held in Port Harcourt on September 23, elicited public discourse on Nigeria’s security challenges and to proffer solutions to the impact of the challenges on the reputation and development of the Nation.
The State chapter of the Institute, established in 1963 and chartered by decree 16 of June 1990, assembled stakeholders drawn from the public and private sectors in the Nigerian project within and outside the state, to brainstorm on a well thought out theme: “Nigeria’s security situation: a factor in reputation and national development.”
The thought provoking theme of the conference brought to the front burner the daring security situation currently bedevilling the Nigerian State and how it’s devastating effects on the reputation could be remedied for meaningful national development.
Welcoming participants to the conference, the Rivers State Chapter Chairman of the NIPR, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim told the audience that, as a responsive organisation to national development, the chapter had chosen the theme of the conference as its own contribution to the national discourse.
With great expectations, Nsirim told the gathering that the purpose for the conference was to set agenda for moulding public opinion.
“We are excited as a chapter that we will use this conference to begin to show a roadmap for security situation in Nigeria and national development.”
He urged participants to contribute robustly to the conversation with high expectations that the conference wasn’t going to end a talk shop but was going to produce a blueprint that would guide national discourse.
“It is our expectation that the fallout of the conference will re-engineer national security, re-engineer national development with the aim to put our country on the path of rapid growth,” the chairman charged participants.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who was special guest at the conference, noted that time had come for deliberate effort by image managers to begin to rebrand Nigeria considering the hydra-headed security challenges that are adversely affecting the nations socio-economic, political and security development.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, the governor stated that the survival of Nigeria’s sovereignty is presently burdened by security challenges and urged members of the NIPR to rise up to their challenging career of reputation management in addressing the nation’s challenges.
“We need to seat up to make our people and government realize that everyone must rise to the dare challenges of our country. As PR and media managers, you have crucial roles to play in terms of national development.
“I strongly recommend that all hands must be on deck, especially reputation managers such as members of the NIPR to call on the Government and all stakeholders to begin to act in ways that will help revive the battered image, security, and economy of our dear nation.
He assured that the Rivers State Government on its part, would continue to support security agencies to ensure a safe and secured environment for the economic prosperity of all. “We have set up the Rivers State Neighbourhood watch, Operation Sting and revived the C4i, as an effort to provide security, stimulate growth, development and prosperity of all”, he said.
He noted that the administration in implementing the NEW Rivers Vision blueprint, has also embarked on a deliberate infrastructural development and urban renewal effort to attract local and foreign investment to stimulate the economy of the state.
Earlier, Nsirim, who also doubles as the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, had disclosed that the relationship between the Rivers State Government and the State Chapter of NIPR has blossomed during the Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration.
The commissioner noted that Wike, as a visionary leader, had changed the landscape of the State infrastructure and various developmental projects that touch the life of the ordinary man.
“We are proud of being associated with the NEW administration and the giant strides he has recorded and continue to record until 2023, he said.
Taking his turn to address the conference earlier, the President of NIPR, Mallam Muktar Sirajo, noted that the issues of security were of urgent national interest that needed the attention of all Nigerians.
“You can agree that there was a country we all enjoyed living in without fear and looked at one another as brothers and sisters and without asking questions. You will agree with me the situation is no longer the same. As an institute that regulate the practice of public relations and at the core of its mandate is relationship building, we feel that it is a duty incumbent on us to build our bridges.
“It is unfortunate that we have come to this path… but we believe that the basis of coming together cannot be served if there is no communication between the component parts to fix the country.
A cerebral Public Relations practitioner and the keynote address presenter, Dr. Ike Neliaku diagnosed the topic as a worry by the NIPR about the security situation in Nigeria and its implication on the nation’s reputational capital and national development.
He majored his presentation on two issues at the core of the theme-Insecurity and Reputation, expected to land on their implications for national development. Therefore, simplified the topic of his presentation to, Insecurity, Reputation and National Development.
Speaking on insecurity, Neliaku observed that three critical issues have shaped and influenced the trajectory of the Nigerian State and the welfare of citizens in the last twelve years which he listed as insecurity.
He gave statistics of the security situation presents adding that insecurity caused over 70,000 deaths in Nigeria between 2012 and 2020.
“Since 2011, Boko Haram insurgency has led to 37,500 deaths, 2.5million displacement, and 244,000 refugees.”
He disclosed from statistics that in just two years, farmers-herder clashes claimed 10,000 lives and resulted in the displacement of 300,000 people. “Nigeria has one of the world’s worst kidnap-for-ransom with 685 kidnaps reported in the first of quarter of 2019 alone.”
He noted that between June 2021 and March 2020, Nigerians paid about $18.34million as ransom and that militancy in the Niger Delta has resulted in kidnapping, unrest, and economic distortion.
“Indeed, any part of the nation that appears safe, including military formations and the territory of our national sovereignty which are not spared, are considered rather an act of God’s benevolence and love for mankind than the efficacy of security agencies.
“The question that bugged my mind at some point was, what has not happened in Nigeria in the last 10 years? In my lifetime I heard about money been stolen, bicycle stolen, motorcycle stolen, small car stolen, big lorry stolen, ship stolen, human parts stolen full human beings stolen.
“In spite of all this, I may not have been as shocked when I heard that soldiers had been stolen from their barracks and other formations. Need we any further proof that we are really in troubled times where only the mercy of Almighty God can save us, Dr. Neliaku lamented.
He listed human rights violations by State armed forces and cybercrime as other vices that dragged Nigeria’s reputation into the mod and hindered development. “In December, 2020, the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by Boko Haram and the Nigerian military and that Nigerian authorities had failed to investigate and prosecute these crimes, therefore warranting a full investigation.
He said 2018 report has it that commercial banks in Nigeria lost a cumulative sum of N15 Billion to electronic fraud and cybercrime. “Nigeria’s Consumers Awareness and Financial Enlightenment Initiative has projected a US$6 trillion loss by 2030 to cybercrime within and outside Nigeria. These crimes are committed mostly through phishing and identity theft.”
Neliaku traced causes of insecurity in Nigeria to include rising rate of unemployment, religious and ethnic differences, corruption, weak security apparatus, porous borders, marginalisation and inequalities in resource distribution, and bad governance and poor leadership.
The key note speaker also identified vicious attacks on the family unit which he said has led to near complete collapse of family values. “In the course of struggling for survival, parents have abandoned their responsibilities in raising quality ‘seeds’ to preserve the true heritage of what a responsible family should stand for.”
He blamed the increasing rate of drug addiction and other vices in society on the failure of the State to meet its expectation to the youths. “This is one of the things that have laid the foundation for massive acceptance of criminality by the youths.”
Neliaku listed Shoprite, Mr. Price Woolworths, Etisalat, HSBC and UBS, Tiger Brands, and Truworths as companies that have closed business in Nigeria in the face of escalating insecurity.
“Businesses are the vehicle for economic activities that would lead to national economic development. It therefore follows that businesses play a great role in the process of development and such role can be hampered in the absence of adequate security as we find in Nigeria,” he said.
He also observed that one of the greatest impacts of insecurity in any society is the creation of climate of fear and culture of uncertainty in the hearts of citizens.
“A high level of insecurity makes it difficult for citizens to plan effectively and make creative decisions and take effective control of their operating environment,” he asserted.
He finally submitted that the rising insecurity situation in Nigeria had impacted and would continue to impact negatively on corporate and national reputation, with concomitant consequences on individuals and national development unless the people have a rethink of their nationhood by rebuilding their relationship.
By: Amieyeofori Ibim
Ibim, Special Assistant on Media to Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, resides in Port Harcourt.
Nigeria @ 61: So Far, So Fair
Nigeria’s Independence movement started when she became a British Protectorate in 1901. The period of British rule lasted until 1960, when an independence movement led to the country being granted freedom. The Independence movement in Nigeria emerged first in 1920 under the influence of Herbert Macaulay who is considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism.
The nation’s independence was achieved by an act of the British parliament and she became an independent country within the Commonwealth on October 1, 1960.
Actually, in 1953, Anthony Enahoro, became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence which was eventually granted in 1960 after several political setbacks and defeats in parliament. As a result of this, Enahoro has been regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the Father of Nigerian State.
When Nigeria was granted independence a new constitution established a federal system with an elected Prime Minister and ceremonial head of state. The NCNC was headed by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who had taken control after Macaulay’s death in 1946. He formed a coalition with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s NPC after neither party won a majority in the 1959 election. Balewa continued to serve as the Prime Minster, a position he held since 1957, while Azikiwe took the largely ceremonial position of President of the Senate. Following a well supervised referendum, the northern part of the Trust Territory of the Cameroons joined Northern Nigeria in June, 1901, while in October, the Southern Cameroons united with Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroons.
On October 1, 1963, Nigeria became a republic. Azikiwe became president of the country, although as prime minister, Balewa was still more powerful.
On October 1, 1960, Nigeria was conceived as it officially gained independence from the British colonial masters. A lot of things have changed in 61 years especially as regards the political landscape.
However, the labour of our heroes who made Nigeria’s independence possible can never be forgotten. From Tafawa Balewa, to Azikiwe, the country’s first elected President, they made the fight for Nigeria’s independence look like their personal struggle.
Ahmadu Bello was the first and only premier of the northern region who ruled from 1954 to 1966. As the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), he led the party to a majority victory in the pre-independent parliamentary election of 1959. As Sardauna of Sokoto, he was a formidable force behind the throne and was considered one of the most powerful men in Nigeria.
The historic 1959 general election, which effectively ushered in Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, saw an alliance between the NPC under Bello to forge an alliance with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) under the leadership of Nnamdi Azikiwe, which resulted in Nigeria’s first indigenous Federal Government Ahmadu Bello chose to remain the premier of northern Nigeria and always preferred to be among his people in the north. His reign was cut short in the January 1966 coup, when he was assassinated by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu in a coup which toppled Nigeria post-independence government.
Nnamdi Azikiwe was a leading figure of modern Nigerian nationalism who spent a better part of his life working to end British control of Nigeria, both as a journalist and a politician. He served as the last Governor-General of Nigeria from 1960-1963 as well as the country’s first elected president from 1963 to 1966 during the First Republic. He joined politics in 1944 and later co-founded NCNC after a successful stint as a journalist, he became active in politics in 1944.
The great Zik inspired the Zikist Movement, a radical revolutionary and multi-ethnic youth body which championed the Nigerian struggle against imperialism and the belief that Nigerians and indeed Africans should manage their own affairs. Back in the 1940s, Nnamdi Azikiwe championed Nigeria’s Independence from British rule and in 1943, joined other West African editors to sign a memorandum to raise awareness about political independence. They also called for socio-political reforms that would include a repeal of the crown colony system, installing a representative system in regions and granting independence to West African colonies under the British rule.
Tafawa Balewa was among those who fought for Nigeria independence. After the NPC won the pre-independence parliamentary election, Tafawa Balewa, being the vice president of the party, emerged Nigeria first prime minister. A position he held till January 1966, when he was killed in the coup. In the 50s, he was actually involved in the campaign for indigenous rule and discussions on constitutional reforms which ultimately led to independence in 1960.
Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of the western region from 1954 to 1960, was another nationalist who played active role in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence.
Anthony Enahoro according to reports was the first politician to move the motion supporting Nigeria’s independence in the parliament in 1953, although ended up unsuccessfully. The early agitation for self-rule suffered setback and at a time, caused the northern members of parliament to stage a walkout from the legislative chamber.
Despite the fact that his motion suffered setbacks, it contributed to a new movement in the parliament that sustained the pressure on the British colonial masters for Nigerian independence. There were also similar motions from Balewa and former deputy premier of the western region, Remilekun Fani-Kayode, which all resulted in Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
As part of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence, women were not left out even as they confronted the British maladministration. Mostly, women from the southern part of Nigeria, carried out the Aba Women Riot. The women in a riot rebelled against economic and socio-political oppression on the colonial masters in Nigeria. Such things as the imposition of tax on market women and the dictatorial powers of the warrant chiefs who were in power. Following the introduction of indirect rule system of government. In November 1929, thousands of women assembled in Calabar and Owerri from where they took over major roads and streets in protests. Some of the warrant chiefs where forced to resign, following the riot, which was seen as the first major uprising against the British rule in Nigeria.
Margaret Ekpo of Calabar, led women in the eastern part of Nigeria during the pre-independence era while Funmilayo Ransome Kuti took control of the western part of Nigeria. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti organised and mobilised women to resist any colonisation during the pre-colonial era. That was when colonial masters refused to give permit for demonstrations in some parts of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Independence Day came on the 1st of October 1960. Indeed, Nigerians at the time were joyful for being liberated from the hands of their colonial masters. Reports have that it was a symbolic day. Since then, the day had always been celebrated. A day Nigeria, which was amalgamated by joining the southern and northern protectorate by Lord Frederick Lugard got recognition. It was like people being granted their heart desire. Since Nigeria got independence, one can say that she has sustained it.
Nigeria’s independence was achieved through dialogue and negotiation rather than confrontation. Clubs and weapons were not used to achieve what we know today as independence. Since then, Nigerians have continued to govern themselves as a nation bound in freedom, love and unity.
Some of the elderstatesmen who ensured that Nigeria’s dream was achieved have passed on but their legacies still live on. Even as the nation celebrates independence annually, they are also remembered for the good works they did in their time.
When it was clear that Nigeria had attained Independence after series of constitutional proceedings with the United Kingdom, it was the night preceding October 1, 1960, that British Union Jack gradually descended from Nigeria’s parliament building and Nigerians Green-White-Green ascended. Princess Alexandra of Kent, who represented the Queen of England, handed over the constitutional instrument of Nigeria’s Independence to Tafawa Balewa. He became the prime minister
Independence day is significant as it is celebrated on every 1st October annually to mark Nigeria’s proclamation of independence from British rule. It is also important because it is used by Nigerians to decide on its economic, political and cultural fortunes. It is significant in that all states positions would be occupied by Nigerians and that the economy would be invigorated so that an egalitarian society would be created.
Achieving independence in Nigeria means that all the nations cultural practices would be restored and that anything foreign that did not respect their way of life would be jettisoned. As Nigeria became independent, it was assumed that people could exercise their franchise to choose and vote into power those they think will perform well as they vote them into power. But this is not the case as many have testified. Slowly, corruption has continued to rise.
Instead of helping Nigerians, some persons entrenched corruption. There are those who don’t care about the feelings of the masses. Whether Nigeria is independent or not, as far as they are concerned, the British can come back and let it be as if nothing worked since 1960. There are also people who lack faith in the survival of the country. As Nigeria marks 61st birthday, it is time to take stock and ask where we got it right or wrong. Nigeria after gaining independence in 1960 is not totally independent. The country still depends on importation of foods, power generation and supply and others. Other basic things of life are still being sought overseas like medicare.
If Nigeria is really independent, she should not import certain items for consumption. She should provide for her youths. Various systems should be strengthened. At 61, Nigeria should not still be grappling with leadership challenges.
As Nigeria commemorates her 61st birthday, hatred, mediocracy, tribalism, ethnicity and division in religious beliefs should be avoided. Bribery and corruption must stop to exist. Nigeria with her abundant human and material resources should be able to compete favourably with other countries. The issue of kidnapping, killings, banditry, armed robbery, insurgency to mention but a few should be discouraged.
By: Eunice Choko Kayode
Wike’s Development Blueprint Still On The March
The Rivers State Government, on Monday, September 27, 2021, approved the sum of N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira) loan from Zenith Bank of Nigeria, for the funding of the Oyigbo-Afam Road, Chokocho-Igbodo Road, the Rumukwurushi-Elimgbu flyover in Port Harcourt and other projects.
Approval for the loan was given during the State Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
In keeping with his unflinching insistence on following due process in the utilization of public funds, Governor Nyesom Wike has already settled the repayment schedule for the facility by stating categorically that the loan would be repaid within eighteen months, from the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
It is indeed heart-warming that at a time when Nigerians are expressing collective dissatisfaction and futuristic fears with the spate of monumental borrowings that are mounting into a huge and frightening national debt profile, without commen-surate developmental indices to justify the action, Governor Wike is exhibiting astute financial management and admini-strative acumen by matching borrowing with the delivery of critical infrastructure for the long term benefits of Rivers people.
A clear example of using funds to provide critical infrastructure is the Oyigbo-Afam Road and Chokocho-Igbodo Road.
These roads have been agonising and tortuous stretches of nightmare not only for users and commuters but indeed for the economic and commercial fortunes of these areas and the state.
The roads remain the major connecting artery for the substantial volume of commercial movement and activities between Abia, Imo and Rivers States.
We even recall with a subtle sense of irony, the recent unfortunate action and utterances of the member of the House of Represen-tatives, who claimed with the flimsy excuse, that the bad state of the Oyigbo Road was the major reason he defected to another political party.
It is no longer news that our political space is filled with charlatans and fickle-minded politicians without any integrity and we wonder how that politician would be feeling, now that Governor Wike has set down a definite plan to fix and deliver the Oyigbo-Afam Road before the end of his tenure.
What is even more satisfying is the fact that while some other Governments and leaders are borrowing heavily with the wicked intent of passing the huge debt to the incoming administrations, Governor Wike has already made it clear that servicing and repayment plan for the loan is firmly tied with IGR of the state, a brave and strategic decision which can only be embraced by a Governor who is fully confident that his state will generate the requisite revenue to offset the loan within the moratorium period.
For the avoidance of doubt and in fulfilment of the demands of transparency, this loan has a repayment period of 18 months, with effect from October 2021 and to be completed in April 2023, from the State’s IGR. The repayment structure and schedule is N1, 547, 874, 350.66 monthly for the period under review for the projects to be executed.
Simply put, Governor Wike has made it clear and left no one in doubt from the onset, that repayment of this loan would be completed even before the end of the tenure of his administration. This is indeed impressive leadership and astute administration at its finest.
Governance, by a contextual definition, is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) and it has often been noted in international development, that good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions, including governments, conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way.
According to the United Nations, Good Governance is measured by the eight factors, viz: Participation, Rule of Law, Trans-parency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclu-siveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability.
It is thus against the backdrop of the United Nations assessment of Good governance, that we must appreciate the fact that the projects to be funded with this N25 billion loan, in addition to the Chokocho-Igbodo Road in Etche Local Government Area, the Oyigbo-Afam Road in Oyigbo Local Govern-ment Area, also include, the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School at Rumueme, Port Harcourt; the construc-tion of new Magistrate courts, construction of Judicial Institute for training of judicial officers in the state that would enhance justice delivery and the Rumuokwurusi-Elimgbu flyover, which would be the tenth flyover that will be constructed by the Governor Wike’s adminis-tration.
Of course, these wide range of projects, in addition to the plethora of projects that have already been delivered by the Governor Wike admini-stration, are all people oriented and they are intended to further enhance development in all the nooks and crannies of the state, in line with the Governor’s avowed commitment to ensure that all projects that are initiated by the government are completed before the end of his tenure.
Those who have followed Governor Wike’s administrative trajectory objectively and dispassionately, since he assumed office in May 2015, are already well aware of his avowed pledge and commitment, both in actions and comments in the last six years, that he is very determined to ensure that he will not leave any debt behind for the incoming administration in the state.
He has also kept faith with his pledge to Rivers people of his commitment not to leave any abandoned project behind for the next administration, as well as his promise to make sure that he delivers legacy projects to every local government area in the state.
The Oyigbo-Afam Road, Chokocho-Igbodo Road, just like the dualised Bori-Sakpenwa-Kono highway and the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity road, is therefore not just a project that will be done for the sake of political publicity and grandstanding, but in fact a project that will touch and impact on the lives of the people positively, just like the others already delivered are doing.
Most importantly however is the fact that these will serve as major projects of the Wike administration to consolidate the promise which our dear “Mr. Quality Projects” made to Rivers People at the beginning of his tenure, that he will make sure that even development across the length of breadth of Rivers State is and will be the hallmark of Governor Wike’s leadership style.
Governor Wike is indeed touching lives and finishing strong, as his administration continues to deliver quality projects and good governance to Rivers people.
This will be the standard until he hands over on May 29, 2023.
By: Paulinus Nsirim
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
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