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“Nigeria Has Weak Institutions”



This is the 3rd part of The Tide Round Table Encounter with Barr OCJ Okocha (SAN), first published on Friday July 17, 2009. Continued on Page 17 of last edition. Fantastic! Read on.

What is the difference between the Police of the olden days and today?

My father served in the colonial police the only problem my father ever had in the Police was that of tribalism. Because he was a minority in the old Eastern Region, Ikwerre man. Whoever heard of Ikwerre people becoming Police Officers but even at that his promotions came as at when due. He went to Police Colleges in England, out of merit and then the Police was dedicated.

Your character needed to be examined before you enter the Police, my father was recommended to join the Police by an old headmaster from Ohafia through his relation that was in government in the Eastern Region. That was how my father got into the Police.

As a minority he went to Police Colleges and was able to perform and on merit. He got deployed to the branch called Special Branch. Special Branch is the branch of the Police that eventually became NSO and SSS.

Chief Horsfall served under my father in Special Branch in the Eastern Region and that time just before the civil war broke out he was the Deputy to MD Yusuf in a Special Branch. Then a Police man was really a friend, you would walk along the road and you stopped a Police man very knowledgeable.

You are going to Aggrey Road, a policeman will take the pains to tell you where Aggrey road is, in fine language. You know they used to carry batons in those days and alone policeman standing at the end of the street was enough to drive criminals away but now police is for all kinds of people.

I can tell you that the stories we have indicate that some of these check points that you see armed robbers operating some of them are wearing police uniforms.

Some policemen have also been implicated in armed robbery. Police need to be trained you know, overhaul, thoroughly overhaul. Any and any person cannot be recruited into the police because the police is a civil force for maintenance of law and order. When you have criminals in the police you have difficulties.

You know in those days, if you are a police constable and you bought a motorcycle you need to explain where you got the money to buy a motorcycle-constable, everybody knew your salary, but today, you see a constable operating 20 buses, 20 taxis, in the days of okada, there were policemen who owned 20 okadas.

So the police now is not what it was. My father used to tell me stories of how they used to investigate cases. Detectives were trained. Now you go to the Police, they ask you who do you suspect.

How can you suspect, you are sleeping in the night somebody came to steal your properties and you know there was something the Police had they had this supernunary Police Officers. They had what they called Police informant.

By the time you go to an informant he would know where armed robbers came from to operate in Elechi Street Diobu. Is no longer the same, they are not trained, they are not properly motivated, they are not properly equipped.

And in those days, every Policeman who signs for rifle will sign for the number of cartridge, what they call bullet that will go into that rifle.

They had an Armoury, you had hand writing experts, you have forensic analysts in the Police in those days and you know what they say, just by dusting this envelop now, they will tell you how many people had handled this envelop and they had record, without record, you can’t police anywhere I had a problem once with a young man in America, and I wrote a letter to Chief of Police in Boston. They picked up the man, fingerprinted him and told him they don’t want him any where within three miles of where I was staying in Boston, and they were able to monitor that young man and they succeeded in making sure he was nowhere near me for the three weeks I stayed in Boston that is what the police used to do. They know the criminals, they monitor them on a daily basis. So we need to retrain the police properly equip the police and then properly motivate them.

What is your comment on the current ASUU strike?

Yes, is unfortunate, I will say government has been unfaithful to its obligation to the educational sector. The time we went to the university late early 70s, we were satisfied that we entered university in September of 1973 and graduated in June of 1977 four years for a degree programme, we were satisfied that lecturers were being paid their salaries as at when due and their salaries were commensurate with the work they were doing. Government as we have read and heard, had several agreements with ASUU and the university teachers but government had not been faithful to implement those agreements.

Why should that be so. And we are talking of universities. The same thing goes down all the way to secondary education, primary education. I don’t know whether government actually recognizes that without education, without proper educational foundation this country is in jeopardy. Who will take over tomorrow from those of us who have gone through these processes. Most people are now sending their children to schools in places like Ghana, Togo, because our educational system cannot guarantee a proper education for our children. Is unfortunate, and I think that government would wake up to its responsibilities. The educational sector must be given immediate attention. All agreements signed with university teacher must be implemented and without any delay.

Sorry before we go back to the police, lets go back to Niger Delta, if you are in position to suggest what percentage should come to the Niger Delta, what will you suggest?

50 per cent because there are precedents. We started with 50 percent, shouldn’t be anything less. And people are telling you those who want to play the politics of Nigeria Oh no body is producing the oil, the oil was put there by God. Have they forgotten that in the traditional principles of land ownership, the man who owns the land owns everything under the land. So leave me with my land and if any oil company wants to take oil and gas from my land, let that company negotiate with me.

In that case I will have 100 per cent. Isn’t it. The argument cannot be sustained that any body should tell us, that God put the oil there yes, but we came and live here wherever you migrated from, everybody ended up somewhere and that place you ended up is your own land. For Nigeria to claim Oh: that the oil is there, God put it, so did He put gold and other minerals in other lands. Let everybody exploit his own and whatever you can make of it, make of it and take it 100 per cent.

So the principle that exists and the principle is fair is that Nigeria as a federation started with 50 per cent derivation as in the 1960, and the 1963 constitutions. That is the principle that already exists. The principle we should go back to.

Talking about the quality of Education because of incessant strike, has that also affected the products from the law school?

Certainly, is a sorry situation I was telling somebody just two days ago, a lawyer was drafting his statement of defence in a particular case, he said though, that the ancestor, had three female daughters.

That is what a layer wrote. That this man who found the village had three female daughters and male son, so his properties was inherited by his brothers.

So I said a lawyer who has been called to the bar and is at least four years post call.

Do you know that sometimes, lawyers coming out of the law who cannot even draft letters applying for adjournment. That is the reality of the situation; Because the products from the primary school into the secondary school into the University, weak foundations.

All of us remember by the time we left primary schools, I left primary school in 1964. We were the first set that moved from class four to elementary six. By the time you got to class four in primary school, you could write a letter. They used to call it composition in those days. You could write a beautiful essay of two or three paragraphs of three pages telling them your experience during your holidays, but look at today.

Lawyers cannot draft a simple letter applying for adjournment, is not the lawyers fault, obviously if primary education is weak, secondary education is weak at the time he got to the university with weak foundations, he was only barely able to pass and we know what is still happening to the universities. Students will go with gun points and insist that they must give them marks, which they haven’t earned.

Nobody ever heard of it and you know we used to belong to campus society in our days, those campus societies were just for what we called justification.

We were in the Palm Wine Drinkers Club you go and take a palm up to the mountain at Ife and when you finished you go and take your food.

You wouldn’t go and say because you are member of the Supreme Comorado as you called it, you are entitled to so many marks, you hold a knife at the neck of your lecturer.

How dare you enter your lecturers office and we used to have lecturers that you know we called terrorist.

So the educational system has suffered neglect at every level you know, they say primary education is for local government, Secondary for state government, tertiary for federal government. At every level, every government should do something seriously for the glory of education in our land.

There are numerous Anti corruption Agencies, but they have failed to check corruption.

When I was President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), we went on a study tour of the United States of America (USA), to study their law enforcement institutions, the FBI, the CIA, the police, the commissions responsible for appointing judges, the commission responsible for removing Judges. The institutions, we have in Nigeria are weak.

We have not put in place proper laws and proper regulations to check corruption. In that study tour, I came to know that if you were a relation of a government official, you were disqualified from being a contractor to any government agencies.

So if a commissioner or a minister awards a contract to his brother or a company belonging to his brother or sister, you haven’t started to fight corruption. When you have institutions which will regulate the police, these agencies, EFCC, ICPC you also have the Code of Conduct Bureau and the tribunal, we have not properly established.

Some police men formed EFCC with Nuhu Ribadu sooner or later, we now heard about the commission being used by the then President to intimidate his political opponents.

EFCC was now doing the work that police should do. Some EFCC officers were collecting rents, some were settling problems between husbands and wives. We have weak institutions, so if we had strong institutions, EFCC this is your responsibility, this is how you do your job, and they stocked faithfully to the principles for which they were established for, when you have proper regulations, every commissioner you know when you filled those forms for the Code of Conduct, there are certain things you declare and there are certain things you should not disclose.

I was a commissioner, there was a base upon which I awarded contract in my days in government we have what we called Tenders Board and Finance and General Purpose Committee. Those were institutions put in place by the colonial masters to check undue corruption, so those things have all disappeared.

Now, the governor can sit in one place and say to a commissioner award a contract to soso and so, and the commissioner awarding obviously will look at cases and wonder what will be the benefit of those people so the institutions have not been properly established and until they are we are beating about the bush.

EFCC cannot do it and ICPC cannot do it. How many political officeholders have been brought to book for corruption and you and I are living day and night with them in the same village and communities. The man who have difficulties buying car, somebody you saw moving on okada, he becomes a politician and the next thing he is building a mansion of three plots. I told you a story about how a policeman who was a corper bought a motorcycle and he was sent to Orderly Room to explain where he got money to buy a motor cycle. Now what do we do, we give them chieftaincy titles. We invite them as chief launchers, even government ceremonies.

No, the institutions are weak to fight corruptions and until we strengthen those institutions and the institutions include as I said the police, the courts. The courts are also weak, because the courts only deal with what you bring before it. So unless we strengthen these institutions all this talk about fighting corruptions is baldadash.

Are you interested in politics?

You know politics is something which unless you are certain that the playing field is level any sensible person will always be reserved. When politics returned to this country, people didn’t think it was a serious thing, because we have heard several series of banning and unbanning by Babangida and by Abacha. So by the time they said oh; Abubakar came up and all that yes we are really going to hold election, and hand over in May of 1999, not every body was convinced that it was a serious thing. Those who went into it ended up entering a game that the rules will keep changing on duly basis. Those who could spare in politics managed to survive all those occurrences and today they are our political leaders.

I have this strong believe that serious and credible Nigerians will have reservation before they venture into partisan politics.

Look at the recent one we are hearing from Ogun State. We have heard it in Anambra about Okija shrine. How we reached the level now our so called representatives have to go before a shrine, fetish juju shrine to swear oath of allegiance to a governor who was supposedly elected by the people, do they not understand that the power is for the people until we get that into our mentality politics is not for serious people, so, yes I have every right you know I was asked by a newspaper once, are you prepared to serve and I said “Yes I am prepared to serve.” I think it was your colleague, the headline that came out was that Okocha: I’m prepared to serve” All the friends I have in the government suddenly became my enemies – OCJ wants to run for governor he won’t let me know. If I offer myself to the people and the people find my policies and programmes attractive, they will say that this is the man we will vote for.

Barr OCJ Okocha (SAN)

Barr OCJ Okocha (SAN)

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Opobo Agog For Governor Fubara



Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. He carries the stamp of that passing moment for ever, and the appeal of that moment shapes his generational impact.
Beyond the return of an illustrious and exceptional son to his root, Opobo Town in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, home of the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, on Sunday, January 28th, 2024 witnessed a momentous and historic moment as it played host to throngs of visitors and guests from far and near.
The mission was to felicitate the Rivers State Governor, Sir Fubara in the double celebration of his 49th birthday and his victory at the Supreme Court as the duly elected Governor of the State.
Before this auspicious occasion and outright vindication of Governor Fubara in the contentious legal tussle, the State had been caught up in a web of impending political explosion that kept everyone in suspense.
Then came the Supreme Court verdict which cleared the legal barriers and affirmed Sir Fubara as the man with legitimate clout to navigate the course of governance in the oil rich State that bears the enviable sobriquet; “Treasure Base of the Nation”.
There was relief in the air, as the teeming Rivers population who have come to trust their brand new, genial, affable, benevolent and resourceful Governor hailed the verdict in unison.
As a man who has premised his elevations and breakthroughs in life on providence and divine endorsement, Governor Fubara chose to celebrate his political victory and 49th birthday in a grand thanksgiving to God who made everything possible.
But Rivers people stepped in and in full solidarity to honour their new leader, a man in whom they are pleased. Thus, Governor Fubara was amazed and astonished as he beheld the warmth, acceptance and show of love by his family, kinsmen, supporters and well wishers who thronged in their numbers to felicitate him in his double celebration.
The tumultuous reception by Governor Fubara’s kith and kin and the larger Rivers family at Opobo Town, signalled a new dawn in the annals of Rivers political history. There was nothing unusual about the gathering in terms of regular political estimation but there was everything different about the mood of the people and their declarations which were explicit in demands and hope of redemption into a new era of economic prosperity under Governor Fubara.
The event was held at the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Opobo Town in Opobo/ Nkoro Local Government Area, and fully attended by all strata of the society; the business community, the religious community, the political class, the academia, the traditional institution, and the masses, the popular base very much at home with, and grateful to the Rivers State Governor for giving them a sense of belonging in his governance.
There were also those who braced up against skewed, vested political control and surveillance to identify with the people’s Governor. It was an interesting scenario laden with intrigues, fanfare and great expectations.
The festivities that graced the event were akin to a carnival as the people of ancient Opobo Kingdom rolled out their drums to honour their son. Chiefs, elders, women, youths and children revelled in unbridled excitement as they celebrated the Governor in sonorous and enthralling renditions.
During the intensive thanksgiving service at the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Opobo Town, the Bishop of Niger Delta Diocese, the Most Rev, Bishop Emmanuel Oko Jaja had taken time to explain the importance of leadership and execution of leadership responsibilities.
In delivering his homily, the Bishop harped on the importance of forgiveness and thanksgiving as a key leadership function.
According to the revered cleric, “thanking God is a sign of gratitude, and we are under obligation to thank God as God honours faith and dependability on him life’s circumstances”.
He said now that the Supreme Court has declared him the authentic helmsman in Rivers State, Governor Fubara should, “forgive those who have hurt you for God to continue to fight for you and crown you with more victories”, while the aggrieved should, “sheathe their swords, respect the office of the Governor and pursue peace to promote development in the State.
The Bishop further urged the Governor to expand development to all sectors of the Rivers economy and prioritise youth and women empowerment to boost enterprise development in the state.
In his admonition, the Bishop of Ikwere Diocese of the church, Most Rev Bishop Blessing Enyinda urged the Governor not to be distracted by the onslaught of his opponents but should remain focused to give Rivers State the best to be the envy of all States. He congratulated the Governor and urged him to hold on to God and pursue peace.
Special prayers were offered forthe peace of Rivers State and for the Governor to have clear vision and wisdom to lead the State.
Addressing the people shortly after reading the only lesson in service taken from Luke 17, 11 to 19, Governor Fubara expressed deep appreciation to God and Rivers people for their contributions and support which had propped him up in the evolving political tension in the State, before, during and after his election as Governor.
The Rivers State Governor said he drew his strength and encouragement from God and people’s huge support base to tread on in the task of governance, stating that the development on the State depended on total peace..
The Governor who dedicated his Supreme Court victory to the endearing peace process in the State urged those persecuted for standing for the truth to count it as a blessing and sacrifice for the development of the State.
He commended the security agencies for maintaining peace in the State, noting that Rivers State remains peaceful despite the heightened political tensions in the State.
While thanking the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his fatherly support during his travail, Governor Fubara noted that the battle was yet over as there were still ploys to create disharmony in the State.
But Governor Fubara perceives such trappings as raw materials for the glorious exploits of his administration which is poised to bequeath an endearing legacy of peace and development in Rivers State.
He called on religious leaders and Rivers people to continue to pray for the peace of the state.
“We have a lot of distractions but I strongly believe that while we navigate the path of peace, prayer is also needed for us to pass over this phase. Continue to put us in your prayers, there’s nothing God can’t do”
“A lot of people who started this journey with us ought to have been here with us but unfortunately they are not here. God knows why. We can’t question the Almighty.
“But one thing we can’t take away is that God does not make any mistake. Whatever happens, and when it happens, it is for a purpose.
“I am happy to return this glory to God Almighty, to say thank you to God, and ask for extra energy to continue with the task of governance. But no battle can be bigger than God.”
While celebrating the surmounting of a critical stage his journey to the exercise of his electoral mandate, Governor Fubara believes that the grave challenges, trials and ominous signs of chaos that hung over the State were enough lessons to be learnt to have a collective rethink on the positive way forward for the development of the state.
He emphasised that the hope of the future was tied to the collective responsibilities of the people to embrace peace and keep faith with the Rivers dream above individual interest.
In his characteristic conviviality and deep sense of accommodation, Governor extended the olive branch across political divides to jointly build the State, stressing rectitude as a political culture of strengthening the prospects of development in the State.
Most importantly, the Governor expressed concern over the need for his team to bequeath an endearing legacy of prestige, excellence and positive impact on both the office of the governor and the development of the State at large.
In outright detestation, Governor Fubara dissociated his administration from predatory and vindictive politics, noting that his administration will not yield to the trappings of anarchy but remain open to reconciliation and accommodation of constructive criticisms and divergence in views to place Rivers State on its deserving pedestal among the comity of Nigerian States.
A cursory appraisal of Governor Fubara’s political antics shows that as an active catalytic administrator, he approaches political governance from a practical mindset inclined towards achieving the goals of development and devoid of an abrasive and infringing order, a philosophy mistaken to be weakness by his traducers, and detractors.
In his welcome address, the Intercontinental Youth Pastor of RCCG, Pastor Belemina Obunge acknowledged the immense support RCCG had received from the state government towards the hosting of the rally, which he noted has prophetically coincided with the birthday of Governor Fubara.
Earlier on the eventful Sunday at the Port Harcourt Holy Ghost Rally organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium Governor Fubara had declared that the foundation of his administration was anchored on God who has given him unfettered promotion and breakthrough in the face of glaring challenges.
Governor Fubara described the theme of this year’s edition of the Port Harcourt Holy Ghost Rally, “Promoted for a Purpose”, which coincided with is birthday and Supreme Court Victory, as a personal gift from the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
“Let me take that theme to be a personal gift from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, because the theme isn’t different from my story, I was promoted by God, first through my party, and leaders of my party, promotion comes from God alone.”
“I want to say a big thank you to the Redeemed Christian family for your support before, during and after our elections, your prayers have kept us going. Our government will continue to support this programme in this State, continue to pray for us so that the purpose of governance will be achieved in the State.”
The Governor expressed special gratitude to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye for his love for Rivers State as demonstrated by the choice of Port Harcourt for the Special Holy Ghost Rally and blessings at the beginning of every year.
The Intercontinental Youth Pastor of RCCG, Pastor Belemina Obunge who officiated the Port Harcourt Holy Ghost Rally thanked the Governor for his commitment and support towards the success of the rally.
Governor Fubara’s deep sense of humility, civility, pragmatism and magnetic aura has continued to attract the support of Rivers people who see in him the sincerity of purpose to promote people-oriented policies and sustainable development in the State. In an enigmatic and metaphorical coinage, Governor Fubara sees himself as a man of destiny that God uses even his enemies to bless.


Taneh Beemene

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Why Police Welfare Package Should Be Improved



The Nigeria Police Force is the principal law enforcement agency in Nigeria. It has its origin in Lagos following the creation of a 30-man Counsular in the year, 1861.
It further has its Constitutional backing in the Chapter Six (6), Part Three (3), Section 214 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (as amended). Down the line, the Nigeria Police Force begin to have other formations like the Mobile Police Force in the 1980s.
The motive behind the creation of the Nigeria Police Force, is to preserve law and order, the enforcement of law and regulations with which they are directly charged. The performance of such military duties within and outside the country as may be required of them by or under the authority of the Police Act or any other Act.
When the heat or should I say, the need or urge to provide better policing in the country became necessary, more formations like the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) were birthed around 1992 to battle crime especially armed robbery.
This very formation (SARS), before it went under on Sunday November 11, 2020, when the then Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu announced its disbandment was a talk-of the-town.
People were delighted to catch a glimpse of SARS men especially when they are in operation and in their full regalia. They fought crime to almost zero point before the devil took over the outfit and placed it in the history book.
The Slogan ‘ The Police is Your Friend’ is one of the most disgusting or disturbing things about the Nigeria Police Force. Many are not at ease with it. In most cases, they begin to wonder what the Police is even doing to get the least attention.
But until you are closer to some people including the Police, you may not say for sure what they do or their importance to the society. Some Police men are down-to- earth. They execute their jobs in such professional manner that one may be tempted to purchase Police recruitment form of a given year.
I have the privilege to interface with some of them at some Special Areas in Rivers state. Their profiles are not only intimidating, but reveal a serious road map on how best to tackle security challenges in the country.
When they related to me why they cannot execute some actions, I was flabbergasted. The government ought to look for those kind of officers and secretly talk with them.
They complained of being tagged as saboteurs should they approach their Heads with their ideas on some issues.
One of the officers confided in me how he unearthed a high profile kidnapping gang that nailed a certain bigman. I mean a bigman with both wealth and honour. I looked at the fragile frame of mind of the officer and took his claims with a pinch of salt.
When other of his colleagues at different fora commended him on some hard job success, it then dawned on me that I was dealing with a senior intelligence officer. His challenge was not also far from the ones earlier enumerated by his colleagues .
Armed with the little information I have gathered about the Police and its challenges, I delved into personal investigation. I went round almost the big formations in the state. With utmost humility, I discovered that the government was unfair to the Police.
In some of the outfits, over ten (10) officers are squeezed into one office. About three (3) of them or so share one (1) table. One will begin to imagine what the occupants of such place will produce.
Even the big formations with big names are not better. They suffer even the worst. But as the big men they are, they stomached the whole thing and welcome you with a beaming smile.
If you are not of a good temperament, you may take him (the bigman officer), for an evil man who derives joy in suffering. Or was the foremost Afro Beat King , Fela Anikulapo Kuti right when he sang ‘Suffering and Smiling’?
I think it is about time those that head some big Police formations in the country begin to think on how to improve on their jobs. Those at the top are not too mindful of the welfare of others. I blame them not, because such is a typical Nigerian factor.
I can recall vividly well at a particular public function in Port Harcourt when one officer was introduced as the Financial Officer in charge of a certain Police outfit. The master of ceremony (MC), took it up. He (MC), was like “thank God oga will bless us today”, the officer in a quick reaction, gave it back to the MC, thus, please “I am sorry, we are only bearing the name, the real office is in Abuja”.
People took it as a joke including me, but when I dug into the situation, I knew what exactly the officer meant then. The narrative must change, if the police must perform to the taste of the common man.
The Police and its welfarism must not be gambled with. The government and its authorities should consider the need for Police reform and execute it with immediate alacrity.
This will also help the authority to place a plum line on the Police. I think part of the poor check on the side of the government on the Police is deliberate, in that the authority know that they have not performed their own part of the agreement hence, the ‘On Your Own’ kind of approach to issues.
The police, if well equipped, will do more than expected. The manpower to execute some tactical operations are within them, but lack of support for them remains a bane to their positive operations.
Another point to effective Policing in the country is , management of the Internally Generated Funds by the Police. If the Police are allowed to manage the funds they generate internally, it will go a long way in fixing things among them.
The issue of waiting for approval to fix even furniture in the office is a major clog in the system. At times, they are forced to ask for financial support from the suspects to enable them buy as little as writing materials.
Such ought not to be in that the risk of compromising the matter will be high. If the materials are so provided, the officer will have no option than to do the needful.
Another point is that of personal visit and inspection. The authority should make out time to visit the Police formations across the country. They should visit such places like the convenience, bathrooms, canteens, etc. When you pay some unscheduled visits to some of the mentioned places, you will agree with this piece to the extent of making a quick case for an improved welfare package for the police.
As a citizen of Nigeria, make a personal visit Police formation as part of your menu. Let the issue of the police harassment especially on the roads not deter you. By so doing, you will be armed with some information that will convince you that of a truth, the to any Police is really ‘Your Friend’.
The time to address the challenges of the police is now. No need to dwell on the past. Let’s stop the blame game and think of the way forward.

By: King Onunwor

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Rivers State: Governance, Economy and the People



VOLUME – PP. 654
The Review
The title of the book –Rivers State: Governance, Economy and the People – seems to have been borne out of an undying passion and love for Rivers State not just because it is the author’s state of nativity but most certainly by reason of  its undeniable socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural relevance to Nigeria and by extension the globe in its entirety.
With its foreword by a legal icon and a man of inestimable social stature – O.C.J. Okocha (SAN) – the book attracts a badge of honour not just by mere optics but by reason of content going by the fact that O.C.J. Okocha, as a man given to excellence, would not put his name on print except it is wrapped in editorial splendour. The author on his part should be commended for his boldness in choosing a crème of the legal profession for this vestige. This boldness can only be inspired by an intrinsic confidence in the editorial content and ideological substance of the book.
The book is spread across ten chapters with each chapter exhaustively treating a distinct yet not disparate component of the entire ideological construct. When pieced together, it makes a comprehensive whole but when disaggregated it assumes the form of an unfolding scenario which leaves the avid reader with a longing to flip the pages so as to satisfy a knowledge-bound quest.
Chapter one takes a look at the socio-cultural dynamics of Rivers State. The author in this chapter demonstrates a complete grasp of the ethno-genesis, socio-linguistic links and cultural variegations of the state and its people.
The chapter begins with a conceptual overview of environment as a primal nomenclature. To demonstrate depth in knowledge, using an inferential approach, the author draws from an expansive review of cognate literature. Worthy of commendation is the fact that the resources as cited herein are not dated but current. The author’s hindsight to draw from contemporary literature also stems from the fact that he is well schooled, tutored, and grounded in philosophical adumbrations and prognostications. In-depth analysis of the geological formations and topography of the state was highlighted in this chapter. The summation as given by the author is that “… the soils of the state are organic in nature and sandy in texture” (p.22). The author further opines that:
The value of the mean thickness appreciates upward to about 45m in the northeast and over 9m in the beach ridge barrier zones to the southwest (p.23).
A geopolitical peep of the state was also given by the author. He notes that fifteen of the twenty-three local government areas of the state are upland with varying heights of 13m to 45m above sea level. According to him, the upland areas produce vastly the food consumed in the state and beyond while the riverine areas produce fishes as well as other sea foods that serve as sources of protein for the people.
The presupposition interestingly is that the state is self sufficient in terms of agricultural produce. To say that chapter one is loaded with facts and figures is indeed an understatement. The author in this regard draws the admiration of his readers by a demonstration of the fact that his knowledge base is not journalism specific but enviably vast drawing from his peroration that the “… the inter-tropical discontinuity at various locations within the year controls the temporal patterns of rainfall in Rivers State” (p.25).
Forays into the people of the state, their religion and culture were also highlighted in the chapter. Worthy of note is the fact that the author focused more on the things that bind the people rather than the things that divide them. In this regard, the author detached himself from the prism, being an indigene himself, and confined himself within the purview of objectivism which truly is the hallmark of scholarship.
Chapter two is titled- Rivers State: The story of Creation. This chapter looks at the socio-political history of the state. The discourse contextualizes the people of the state as cosmopolitan going by early contacts with the Europeans. A vivid account was given on p.47 where the author notes that:
In Kalabari, the era produced King Amakiri (Amachree I), who through the combination of rare display of political-cum-diplomatic maturity, military prowess, and commercial acumen established the Kalabari kingdom on a firmer foundation that enabled the city – state to withstand British imperialists in the second half of the 19th century (p.47).
Drawing from rich historical antecedents, the author traces the contemporary history of Rivers State to the coming of Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon. As noted by him:
Prominent Rivers people, including Chief Dappa-Briye, Chief Edward Kobani, Mr. Robert P.G. Okara, Kenite Giadom, Finimale Nwika, Mr. Wobidike, Mr. Graham  Otoko, and others had signed a memorandum for the creation of Rivers State. The memorandum had support from many persons across the communities (p.62).
Consequent upon this, the author further notes that;
Gowon heeded the advice of the two men and in a nationwide broadcast on May 27, 1967, the Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, announced the creation of Rivers State, as part of a 12-state structure for Nigeria. This was also validated through the promulgation of Decree No. 14 titled: States (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Decree of 1967 (p. 63).
The historical account of the book accords a pride of place to Lieutenant Commander Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff by denoting him the first Military Governor of the state. In evoking imagery, which is a rare literary skill, the author describes Lieutenant Commander Spiff as a twenty-four year old naval officer from Nembe, in present day Bayelsa State.
By a stroke of historical accuracy, the author bridges the gap between the past and the present through an ideological symmetry by noting the fact that “as more states are created to solve the perceived marginalization of minorities, other minorities are created in the process, leading to agitations in the future” (p.79). This postulation is a philosophical masterstroke by the author and speaks volumes of his rich repertoire in scholarship.
Governance is the title of chapter three. In this chapter, the author adopts a heuristic pattern by tracing the etymology of the word – government. As shown in his discourse, the word is traced to the Latin verb – Gubern- as derived originally from the Greek – Kubernaein- which means to steer. Again, the author demonstrates literary proficiency by casting these non English words in italics. This is in line with best practices and deserves humongous commendations.
The author avers that the world over governance is the main framework for assessing the effective utilization of human and material resources for the development of a state or organization. From the conceptual overview, the author took an in-depth look at the various administrations of the state and notes that the state has had about sixteen (16) administrations that left imprints of development in the sands of time. Optimism is interestingly expressed here by reason of the reference that “… more growth and development are expected in the coming years” (p.83).
A systematic account of the various administrations with a graphic composition of their Executive Councils was given by the author. This also demonstrates resilience, perseverance, and resourcefulness on his part going by the perennial dearth in secondary data as occasioned by the unwholesome absence of databases and resources.
As an offshoot, the searchlight was also beamed on the judiciary as a statutory arm of government. A period of judicial inactivity was delineated by the author which he aptly typified as “the period of judicial hiatus.” By chronology, the author situates this period as stretching from June 2014 to May 29, 2015.  In a graphic presentation embellished in rich vocabulary, the author opines that “… the judiciary, as it were, became the chessboard on which political mavericks displayed their sophistry” (p.161). The intrinsic role of traditional rulers in governance was not left out in this masterpiece. These accounts are rich, inspiring, and thought provoking.
Chapter four is titled – Issues in Rivers State Development: Resource Control, Militancy and Cultism. In this chapter, the author chronicles the interplay that marked the clamour for true federalism and how the crusade was marked by politicization and criminalization with widespread communal conflicts.
The chapter adopts a systematic approach as broken down into cognate ideological components. The first subordinate stream in the light of the ongoing discourse is resource control. In the unfolding narrative, the author took more than just a cursory glance at issues of environmental degradation. In his words:
Oil extraction and production has cost the people of Rivers State and the Niger Delta extensive ecological damage… what is worse is that environmental guidelines to safeguard the people are either non-existent or observed in the breach (p.181).
Following the first subordinate stream is the presidential amnesty programme. The author sees it as a necessitation by the growing militancy and insurgency in the Niger Delta Region. He describes the programme as a “systematic way of reintegrating the former militant and non-militant groups into the economy as an urgent priority to increase employment…” (p. 198). The author further argues that the “payment of the monthly N65, 000.00 has had the unintended consequence of making some beneficiaries larger than their communities” (p. 201).
For cultism as a sub-stream in chapter four, the author shied away from being chronologically specific as to its origins in the state but traced its beginnings to the universities as marked by the founding of the pirates confraternity. He however attributed the snowball feature of cultism in the state to pre-democratic chieftaincy tussles in the state. In his narrative, the author commended the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for setting up the social rehabilitation institute in Okehi as a way of positively engaging the youths.
As a writer of great repute, the author attempted a synthesis of the carrot and stick principle as panacea to cultism in the state. In his analysis, he espouses that “irked by the act, Governor Nyesom Wike took tougher measures to curb cultism and other criminal acts in the state” (p. 217).
In concluding the chapter, the author raised a poser as to the presence of oil being a blessing or a curse. Not minding the ideological cacophony, the author allowed his readers to draw the inference.
The political economy of the state was reviewed in chapter five. As unveiled in the chapter, agriculture had been the mainstay of the state prior to the discovery of oil. The author recalls with fond memories the prioritization of agriculture and the establishment of PABOD Food Company Limited.
In this chapter, focus was also on rural-urban migration as orchestrated by the presence of multinationals in the capital city – Port Harcourt. The account details that by 1988, the state had over 150 industrial concerns by private and public orientations.
The author notes the importance of industrialization by drawing attention to the fact that:
… If you do not create opportunities for industries to thrive where mass production will result in mass employment… the local economies cannot grow (p.281).
This narrative draws attention to a twist of fortune in the tide of events by noting that the communities are truly unproductive. In all succinctness, this twist has been described by the author as “migrant remittance dependent economy” (p.283). Worthy of note in this chapter is the fact that the author cited some of his earlier works to buttress his discourse. This besides being commendable speaks volumes of his grasp in epistemology and pedagogy.
Another point worth noting in this chapter is the expansive review of other sectors of the economy with the oil and gas sector as the central pulse. With reflective disposition, the author raises a poser on the future of Rivers State without crude oil. This interestingly calls for brainstorming that would most certainly reposition the state in the eye of global investors as wrapped around propensities for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). As a corollary, ideals of the Bonny-Dubai vision were played up in this chapter with medical tourism as a beacon.
Women have never been left out in the general scheme of things. It does not therefore come as a surprise that chapter six was dedicated to “Women and State Building in Rivers State. In highlighting the undeniable potentials of women, the author notes that:
Women hold the key to progress and development in any nation. How they are treated and the opportunities that are open to them can make them tools for positive change. They are a significant and indispensable portion of the population (p.333).
Factors that inhibit the optimization of women potentials were highlighted in this chapter. Historical accounts of Opobo Women Riot of 1929 were given illumination as well with a cascading on modern Rivers State women. With an approach akin to that of Yellow Pages, the author makes a list of women who have etched their names on marble in their respective fields of endeavour.
In his outline, the author notes that:
Nyesom Wike’s choice of a female, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, as his deputy and the swearing in few days after he became governor of the Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Daisy Okocha, and the President Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Christiana Nwankwo, both females, marked a new dawn in Rivers State (p.345).
The author’s analytical skills were also brought to bear in this discourse. In this chapter, the author gave a breakdown of Rivers State women’s involvement in governance. This interestingly accorded empiricism to the unfolding discourse.
Rivers State’s contributions to National Development formed the fulcrum of chapter seven. The author in this chapter gave a detailed overview of national development without limiting it to the conspectus of economic development. The argument interestingly is that national development is an all round development that finds expression in every facet of human endeavour.
The fact is clearly stated in this chapter that the state has continuously impacted the nation with its abundant human and material resources in all spheres of national endeavour. Without the fear of contradiction, the author unequivocally states here that “Nigeria’s progress among other nations has strong roots in the contributions of the people of Rivers State” (p.372). From Arts and entertainment to NAFEST enveloping the movie industry and notable personalities in the demonstrative industry, the author leaves no one in doubt as to the veracity of his postulation.
Focus also was on the Real Madrid Academy which the author foresees will change the age long perception and narrative about Rivers State of Nigeria since the Academy is sure to produce the future stars of the country.
The chapter delineates and streamlines the contribution of the state to national development along the lines of oil and gas, manpower, energy, and lots more. This approach of logical conclusion, in philosophy, is known as deductive reasoning.
Chapter eight is titled – Education: Growth and Development. In this chapter, primary and secondary education assumed the first level of focus. The author in his scholarly mien animated a paradox which cannot be wished away when objectivism is accorded its place of honour in the descriptive analysis of this most important sector. According to the author, citing Cookey (2016), “…while western education came to the area now called Rivers State before it reached most other parts of the country, the state seemed to be lagging behind in education by the 1960s” (p. 453).
The reason for this aberration was attributed to the policy of the British colonial administration which left the establishment of primary and secondary schools in the hands of non-state actors. The author was also quick to narrowcast on the way out of the woods which according to him was made manifest through the First Development plan of 1970 – 1974. The plan, the author notes, was subsumed in the notion of inalienability which saw education as a right which the Rivers State government guarantees all its citizens.
With a knack for statistics, the author recounts that:
As at 1990, there were a total of 17 pre-primary (private) schools; 1166 primary schools, 295 secondary schools, 5 technical colleges, 2 teacher training colleges, 1 polytechnic, 2 colleges of education, and 2 universities. By 2013 the number of primary schools rose by 894 (p.456).
A progressive trend was observed by the author as he notes that the administration of Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi between 2007 and 2015 committed a lot of resources to ensuring that education received a great boost in the state. Fortunately, that progressive trend was not broken even as the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike renovated over 11,000 classrooms across the state besides the renovations and furnishings of all state owned basic, secondary and vocational secondary schools in the state.
A welcome development as espoused by the author is the massive training of teachers and school administrators under the State Universal Basic Education Board. The scheme the author notes has “contributed immensely to the performances of the institutions; administratively and academically” (p.457).
As touching on tertiary education in the state, the author situates its essence within the framework of ensuring manpower development for adequate resource needs of the state in particular and the world in general.
The Rivers State University was given a primal concern in the unfolding analysis. From the status of a College of Science and Technology to that of a university, the administration of Melford Okilo upgraded the college to a University of Science and Technology thereby making it the first university of science and technology in the Niger Delta region and by extension Nigeria.
By 2017 the school experienced a rebirth from a university of science and technology to a conventional university. In his remarks, the visitor of the university explains that:
Today, Saturday, April 1, 2017 will be the last day that this institution would be known as the Rivers State University of Science and Technology… the university will henceforth be known as the Rivers State University (p. 459).
The author was also quick to note that since the renaming of the institution the Rivers State government has sustained the dedicated funding of the university which has led to widespread improvement in infrastructure and manpower. Besides the listings of the faculties and institutes, a profile of the pro-chancellor and vice-chancellor was given adequate illumination.
Focus was also given to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital. As further illuminated in this chapter, the Rivers State government in 2021 approved over N5 billion for the revamping of the two hospitals affiliated to the university with a view to boosting learning, training, and research.
The second focus was on Ignatius Ajuru University of Education which was upgraded from the status of a College of Education affiliated to University of Ibadan. The author notes that the main ethos of the university is the search for teaching, research and community service. The success story as recorded by the university bordered on the successful accreditation of 21 programmes in 2022.
The University of Port Harcourt, Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic and the Rivers State College of Health Science and Management, Federal College of Education (Technical) Omoku, and Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas Bonny were all given a kaleidoscopic attention.
The title of chapter nine – Local Government Administration in Rivers State- draws its justification from the fact that this is a very important tier of governance being that it is the closest to the grassroots while addressing their sensibilities.
In this chapter, the author takes a look at the historical background of this tier of governance as backed up by extant secondary data. The author’s depth in scholarship is beyond bounds being that he accorded animation to the legal framework with specific reference to the provisions of Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution.
Discourses on how this tier of governance has fared in Rivers State were also situated in the nexus with a review of a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as a primal focus. According to the author, the report states inter alia that:
The performances of local government councils in Rivers State were shocking and disastrous… a view which is widely shared among residents of Rivers State academic, civil society groups and even government officials (p.501).
More damaging is the fact that the report notes that local government Chairmen in Rivers State “have no goals, no objectives; with 99% seeing the local government office as an opportunity to get paid for doing nothing” (p.501).
The author interestingly triggered off a sigh of relief when the enthused that:
… A lot has changed in the governance of local government councils in Rivers State. With the coming on board of suitable manpower rather than unqualified and unskilled individuals in the helm of affairs, a lot more is being achieved in the local councils (p.502).
He attributes this fortunate twist to the visionary style of Governor Nyesom Wike. In his narrative, the author opines that the chairmen were determined to carry out the Governor’s noble directives to the last dot. A typical example in the light of the foregoing is the soot menace as occasioned by illegal crude oil refining activities in the various communities.
A systematic approach was adopted in the chapter to look at the performances of the local government chairmen in the 23 local government areas of the state following an alphabetical sequence.
In all, the author notes that the local government chairmen have performed creditably in their respective domain which he contextualized as complimentary being that the government at the center is blazing the trial.
Chapter ten is titled – Impactful Personalities in Rivers State. This chapter in all modesty and pride speaks volumes of the elite human capacity of the state. The author draws antecedents from the state’s early contacts with the Europeans. It is true that the Rivers people are cosmopolitan in nature. It is in this light that the author notes that:
Over a century ago, forebears of the people of Rivers State welcomed and stood in the shadows of European explorers and mercantilist who through commercial interaction, overbearing and domineering influences, sometimes punctuated by conflicts imposed their ways of life  on the people… (p. 508).
These individuals the author notes have been very outstanding in their contributions to the growth of the state. This chapter can aptly be tagged “Who’s Who in Rivers State” going by the rich and intimidating profiles of the individuals so listed.
The author accorded the book an undeniable touch of scholarship in the reference section. Referencing is in line with best practices and obviates the pitfalls of plagiarism. A great deal of precision and accuracy was observed in the rich repository of resources; both online and offline.
With a comprehensive index that clearly serves the purposes of cross referencing, the resource commendably completes the 360 degrees of the basic components of a book as delineated by internationally acclaimed standards.
Through this book, Celestine Ogolo, the author has earned a place in scholarship. The book by all standards is a masterpiece. The language is lucid, unambiguous, and unequivocal. Scholarship to a large extent is assessed through the prism of written communication. One’s ability to articulate thoughts and condense them in a written form is a mark of deep intellectualism. The ability to navigate syntactic infractions as borne on the wings of morphology and mechanical accuracy does not come by chance. What this means is that the author is intellectually balanced with a high dose of rational sagacity.
Writing a book is not for the faint hearted because by so doing, one opens up himself for attack – constructive and destructive. It is a ventilation of one’s thought processes. It tells if one is reasonable or contrary. Bernard Shaw in his criticism of censorship opines that “… he who kills a man kills a reasonable creature but he who destroys a book destroys reason itself.” This ironically depicts that a book is accorded more value than its author.  A volume of 654 pages can only be a product of diligence, tenacity, and assiduity.
This book, by all shades of opinion, should be seen as a good resource for not only those in governance but by all across varied demographics. By my own assessment, it should be seen as a must read by those who desire to be in governance at all tiers.
Governing and administering a state like Rivers does not call for “learning on the job.” It requires vision, tact, and style. This book interestingly is a compendium of these traits. It is a map, a compass, and a glossary for governance. For those already in governance, it is recommended they read and assimilate its content so as to adequately and safely overcome the challenges their predecessors faced. This is so because the book is rich in history and precise in data. In these days of strategic thinking government decisions can no longer be based on hunches, conjecture, and speculation. With facts, nothing fails. This book in the light of this is a repository of facts.
The unique thing about this book is its ideological balance. The different segments and aspects of governance were not just treated as disparate entities but condensed within the web of intricate interlink which serves to give vent to the Systems theory. By this commendable feat, the author has shown to the world that he has the rare gift of literary poise. His choice of words is apt and his literary construction quite enviable.
What more can be as fulfilling as putting up thoughts on marble? For the author, posterity beckons. With this book on the shelf, ingested, and digested, one begins to acknowledge that wisdom can no longer be an exclusive preserve of the elderly. The wisdom, knowledge, and ebullience so demonstrated by the author, in this discourse, position him as a walking encyclopedia of the multi-faceted dynamics of Rivers State. Why such people are not given a place in governance despite their luxuriant repertoire remains a rhetorical resonance.
For the academia, this book holds widespread relevance across a plethora of disciplines. It is a good resource for extant literature both conceptual and empirical. For those in the Humanities and Social Sciences, it should be seen as a handbook with overbearing relevance for ethnography and anthropology.
The book no doubt is not without its flaws knowing that perfectionism is beyond humanism. While commending its editing and proof reading, minor infractions were observed in the referencing going by the conventional style sheet in use. This infraction by my assessment is distinctively infinitesimal.
Having worked in the knowledge industry for about thirty unbroken years, I can at best affirm that this book is an excellent piece of philosophical erudition. To this end, my seal of scholarship which is an undeniable mark of endorsement is here affixed without any fear of ambiguity, contradiction, and equivocation. Herein goes my unalloyed recommendation as preconceived in the foregoing.
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