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Anniversary Special

Those Who Shaped Rivers



Selfless. Bold. Courageous. Powerful. Influential. Athletic. Enigmatic. They were all these and more. The Pathfinders, Great Lives who shaped Rivers State.
A time like this is a time to reflect, and in reflecting, the past comes alive, especially when attempting to capture, even if adumbratively, the life (and times) of an unforgettable gallery of men who, like magnificent colossuses, traversed the trobbing firmament of their callings, to the glory of the state.
The list is obviously inexhaustive: the heroes, the titans, the politicians, the moguls, the activists, the academics, the artists, the environmentalists, and others in the crucible of history. Thus, we shall only dwell briefly on the few who spent better part of their youth to provide the platform upon which the demand and ultimate creation of the state was realized, including, however, a superficial appraisal of some public men of the Alfred Diete-Spiff era (May 27, 1967 to 1975).
But before we adumbrate on that, let us recall the spirit of self determination that gave birth to the history of the struggle for the creation of an administrative unit to embrace the diverse ethnic groups that make up Rivers State. This is moreso as it would provide an insight into how most of the dramatis personae in that struggle ultimately served in different capacities under Diete-Spiff.
Let us first state that the struggle for the creation of Rivers State was publicly carried out under various names and organizations both at home and abroad.
Some of them were the Ijaw Rivers Peoples league, Ijaw State Union, Ijaw National Union, Rivers State Movement, Rivers Chiefs and People Conference, Rivers Study Group and Council of Niger Delta Rehabilitation.
Others were Gesi Ijaw Union, Niger Delta Congress, Ijaw Union, Niger Delta Volunteer Service of Late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, Oil Rivers People league, just to mention a few.
Through petitions, resolutions, welcome addresses, memoranda, special delegations and parliamentary debates by elected representatives of the people, both the regional and central government authorities in the country were pressured to recognize the unanimous yearnings and aspirations of the people inhabiting the compact expense of the Niger Delta territory which include present day Rivers and Bayelsa States.
During the 1967 – 1970 fratricidal civil war in Nigeria, Major Isaac Adaka Boro, Captain Amangala, Captain Nyanayo, Warrant Officer Nothingham Dick and many others died without witnessing the eventual creation of Rivers State.
The rest, it is said, is history. But  suffice it to say that that history recorded the survival of a few Rivers sons in the libreration struggle. They were Mr. Timmy Samuel Owonaro, Chief Harold Dapp-Biriye, Chief Melford Okilo, Chief Ben-Wari, Chief E.A.D. Alikor, Chief O,M, Asisi-Abbey, Chief I.J. Fiberesima, Mr. J.M. Areweriyai and Chief M.E. Soba.
Others were Mr. Wenike Briggs, Mr. S.N. Dikibo, Mr. D.T. Ayawari, Justice R.P.G. Okara, Dr. Obi Wali,  Chief Nwaobidike Nwanodi, Chief Edward Kobani and Mr. Francis Ellah.
In recognition of the role played by these illustrious sons of Rivers State, the first Military Governor of the State, Commander Diete-Spiff named Dappa-Biriye, Nwanodi, Obi Wali, as members of his cabinet. While Dappa-Biriye was Commissioner for Agriculture, Fishery and natural resources, Nwanodi was incharge of health, and Wali, Rehabilitation.
Others were Chief E.J.A. Oriji, Economic Development, Trade and Industry, Chief S.F. Kombo Igbeta, Establishment; Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas (SAN), Justice/Attorney-General; Mr. Oluke Ngei, Works, Lands, and transport; and Dr. W.T. Wakama, Local Government and Information.
The rest were Mr. W.P. Daniel-Kalio, Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service, and Prof. Isaac Dema, Chairman, Public Service Commission.
Before profiling Diete-Spiff and his men, let’s first get to know who  Major Isaac Adaka Boro was.
Born to a Headmaster on September 10, 1936,            Jasper Isaac Adaka Boro, a native of Kaiama, worked briefly as a teacher and later a cop in 1958 before attending University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). He was once Senior Prefect at Hussey College, Warri, and  President of UNN students Union.
He was arrested, tried and sentenced to death on June 21, 1966 for declaring Niger Delta Peoples Republic. Pardoned and released by General Yakubu Gown, the then Head of State, Boro enlisted in the Nigerian Army as Second Lieutenant and fought during the Nigerian civil war, rose to the rank of Major and died in active service on may 16, 1968. He was later given a post-humous award, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Alfred Papareye Diete-Spiff, Seriyai 11, Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, was born on July 30, 1942 at Twon Brass to Chief Claude Diete-Spiff Amange and Madam Sarah – Ann Diete Amange.
He had his education at St. Luke’s School, Nembe, St. Barnabas Town and St. Joseph’s College, Sassie-Buea in the Western Cameroun. At various times, he was Meteorological Officer, Lagos Airport,  and a rating at Elder Dempster Lines before transferring to the Nigerian Navy.
Widely travelled, Commander Diete-Spiff was Rivers State Military Governor, 1967 to 1975, Appointed Amanyanabo in November 1978, he is the Ochikuba Osa of Ogbaland and  a businessman of Catholic faith.
Harold Jeneibiwari Roland Dappa-Biriye was born on September 26, 1920 and attended Kings College, Lagos between 1937 and 1941.
Incensed by the injustice and inequalities of his time, Dappa-Biriye, more than anyone else, championed the creation of Rivers State, forming various groups, including the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference (RCPC) and the Niger Delta Congress (NDC). He also played active role alongside Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa and others in achieving independence for Nigeria.
He had held several state and federal appointments. For a life devoted to the public service of Nigeria, Dappa-Biriye was honoured with an award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger on October 1, 1980. He died in 2005.
Professor Isaac Solomon Dema, pioneer Chairman, Rivers State Public Service Commission from 1969 to 1975; Chairman, Board of Management, Rivers State College of Science and technology, Port Harcourt, (1971 to 1973) member, Rivers State Advisory Council under Governor Peter Odili, among others, was born on July 9, 1921.
A native of Ogbema in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Dema was an international nutrition consultant who contributed greatly towards reducing infant mortality in Nigeria.
After his primary and secondary education in Ahoada and Lagos, he obtained Bachelors and graduate degrees in Human Nutrition from the University of London. He was the first African to be appointed Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan.
Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa, a native of K-Dere in Ogoni, was born in October, 1941. A businessman, novelist and television producer, Saro-Wiwa was the Administrator for Bonny and member of the Interim Advisory Council, Rivers State during the civil war period. Between 1968 and 1973, he served variously in the Executive Council as Commissioner for Works, land and Transport; Commissioner for Education; and Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs.
An environmentalist and rights activist who pioneered a non-violent approach to the ecological injustice in his native Ogoni and the Niger Delta region, Sara-Wiwa was sentenced to death by hanging along with other eight Ogonis by the General Sani Abacha administration in 1995.
He is generally regarded as a martyr by the people of the Niger Delta in the struggle for resource control.
Nwaobidike Nwanodi was born on February 14, 1931. He was President-General, Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organization Worldwide in 1963 and was later elected member of national parliament representing Ahoada Central Constituency between 1964 and 1965.
He served as Rivers State Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade and Industry; Commissioner for Health and later, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General between 1969 and 1975.
The Governorship candidate of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party in 1979, Chief Nwanodi was appointed Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2006 and member, Rivers State Advisory Council during the administration of former Governor Peter Odili.
Bestowed the Doyen of the Port Harcourt bar as the oldest practicing lawyer in the jurisdiction in 2012, he was a life member of the Body of Benchers.
Dr. Obi Wali born on February 27, 1932 at Rumuigbo, near Port Harcourt, Rivers state, was the first Ikwerre man to get a doctorate degree.
After his primary and secondary education, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of London via the University of Ibadan in 1959. He added a doctorate in English from North Western University, USA in 1967.
A former lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Wali was pioneer Commissioner for Rehabilitation in 1967 and a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Port Harcourt (now PHALGA and OBALGA) Senatorial Zone. He died in 1993.
Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas was born at Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State on July 15, 1926. After his primary education at Abonnema, he attended Kalabari National College, Buguma.
He was called to the English bar at the Inner Temple in London in 1955 after reading law at the University College, Exeter.
After a very successful legal practice in Nigeria and Ghana, the turn of national events in 1968 forced him into public affairs. That year, he was appointed Attorney-General of the Eastern region by the new Military administration of the region. He resigned after six months because of his opposition to secession.
During the Nigerian Civil War, Graham Douglas served as a special envoy to both Britain and the United States of America, explaining the federal position on the civil war and representing Nigeria at international conferences.
As Rivers State Attorney General, he stoutly defined and defended the position of the state on the so-called abandoned property issue.
In May 1976, he was appointed Chairman of the Council for Legal Education, a position he held until his death in 1983.
Author of some ten books on various aspects of Nigerian Law, Graham-Douglas was the first legal practitioner in the country to be elevated to the position of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1975. In 1989 he was honoured with the award of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).
Emmanuel Johnson Anachor Oriji was born on September 5,1921. After his primary and post primary education between 1938 and 1950, Oriji, through hardwork obtained  an intermediate  Bachelor  of Law (LLb) of the  University of London in 1955.
A celebrated teacher who taught in many schools across Nigeria,  Oriji was a councilor and later chairman, Ikwerre/Etche County Council from 1954 to 1960.
Oriji was a member, Eastern House of Assembly, 1960 to1966; Chairman, Rivers State Rehabilitation Committee for Upland, 1967-1969, and pioneer commissioner for Education and Establishments,  Trade and Industry, as well as Agriculture  in Rivers State.
A frontliner in the fight for the  creation of Rivers State, Oriji was Chairman, Board of Directors, Projects Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, member, Rivers State Advisory Council, and member, Rivers Sate Council of Traditional Rulers.
While in government, he initiated many landable projects, including  the Port Harcourt International Airport,  Omagwa and General  Hospital, Emohua.
In appreciation of his efforts, he was given the title of Ochi Oha I of Ikwerre and later crowned as Nnenwe Eli Emohua XI in 1973.
Emmanuel Elechi Amadi is a reknowned writer and author. Born on May 12, 1934 at Aluu, Rivers State, he attended  the famous  Government College, Umuahia, Abia State, from  1948 to 1952.
He obtained  a Bachelor of Science in Physics and  Mathematics (combined honours) from  the University College, Ibadan  between  1954 and  1959; Diploma in Land  Surveying from the School of Surveying, Oyo (1960 to 1962) and  briefly practiced Land Surveying  before joining the education corps of the Nigerian Army.
He left the Army in November, 1965 to teach in secondary  schools and much later became a seasoned administrator with the Rivers State  Government, overseeing, at different times, the Ministries of Information, Education and Lands as commissioner,
He is a creative  writer, and one the best known authors published by the African Writers Series. He is a playwright and an author of many books, including the popular trilogy: The Concubine (AWS 25), The Great Ponds (AWS 44) and The Slave (AWS/210), as well as a verse play, Isiburu.
Amadi is popularly acclaimed in African Literature  as the leading authority in ‘The Supernatural in African Literature’ due to the excellent presentation  in his  works of pre-colonial African societies as ruled by the gods.

Victor Tew

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Anniversary Special

The Tide Keeps Flowing At 49



It must have been extremely frustrating for the leaders of the Niger Delta people in the late colonial and early post-Independence periods in Nigeria; particularly those of them who partook in politics outside the canopies of the then three major political parties, namely, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and Action Group (AG).
For the NPC which was dominant in the Northern Region, it was the New Nigerian newspaper that served as a very potent instrument for mass mobilization and presentation of its views. The Eastern and Western Regions had the Nigerian Outlook and The Sketch as their respective equivalents.
Whereas the three main regional governments at that time were run by the above parties chiefly through the instrumentality of their respective newspapers, the Niger Delta people lacked any such viable medium to propagate their agitations as a minority group. This is even as the area paraded some of the best journalists of the time; people like Ernest Ikoli, Anthony Enahoro, Robert Ezekiel-Hart and Wonukuru Obaziorlu.
Their apparent frustration must have taken flight with the splitting of the country into 12 subnational entities, including Rivers State, on May 27, 1967 by Lt Col. Yakubu Gowon.
At the end of the 30-month Nigerian Civil War, and despite Gowon’s declaration of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’, there still existed some undercurrents that were discomfiting to returnee Rivers people and for which they began to clamour for a voice of their own.
In short, the frenzied bid by a long suppressed but now liberated minority people to assert themselves in the new dispensation generated ill feelings from their erstwhile dominant neighbours who, like the Egyptians in the Bible, appeared very unwilling to let go easily.
A former Chairman of Board of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC), Mr. Friday Yowika, alluded to this while explaining why the Nigerian Tide newspaper was established.
“Pilloried by its big neighbour that had always regarded Port Harcourt as its satellite, resented by others with vested interests, the state (Rivers) found itself misrepresented in almost all the then national papers. It was no wonder therefore that the government, aware of the need to protect its own image, desirous of putting across its own views and to seek justice and fair play, came to the inevitable conclusion to establish a newspaper.”
The Rivers State Newspaper Corporation Edict No. 11 of 1971 was thus promulgated by the government of Navy Commander Alfred Papa Priye Diete-Spiff as the first Military Governor of Rivers State. The Edict provided for a Board to direct the affairs of the Corporation.
But prior to the constitution of the Board, there were those who served as the think-tank for the planning and execution of events that led to the founding of the newspaper house. Call them the Founding Fathers. They include the then Commissioner for Information, Kenule Saro-Wiwa; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Henry H. Jumbo; Commissioner in the Civil Service, Athanesius Woluchem; and Gabriel Okara, an internationally acclaimed poet and literary icon.
When it was eventually formed, the pioneer Board comprised A.O.Woluchem as Chairman; Valentine James Spiff as Deputy Chairman; Israel Idamiebi-Brown; Ashley Williams; Preye Okosi; Dr. Theo Vincent and the General Manager of the Corporation, Gabriel Okara.
Starting as a weekly newspaper, Nigerian Tide soon grew to become an authoritative source of information to the extent that readers were wont to discard any breaking news until it was authenticated by the next edition of the paper. It was like the Rivers man’s new identity. Indigenes of the state resident in distant places like Lagos, Kaduna and a few other parts of Nigeria craved for it regardless of how late it arrived. Of course, the paper was always early at nearby newsstands and was, at some point, even used to sell copies of other reputable national dailies.
And even though it is owned by the state, the paper was by no means afraid to criticise government actions. This was confirmed by no less a personality than Chief Okogbule Wonodi, the second General Manager of the Corporation, who said, “I do not think that the history of the Nigerian Tide to date, is (that of) an official mouthpiece of the Government. True enough, The Tide has carried and will continue to carry news of government activities but the paper has also carried critical views that represent public reactions to some government policies.
“In other words, The Tide is a newspaper whose function as an independent paper is not in any way curtailed.”
The paper’s maiden edition was launched in Lagos on December1, 1971 by Diete-Spiff himself but commercial copies were officially rolled out for circulation three days later on December 4,1971. Hence, the date of its annual anniversary.
Not quite long after its launch, the Nigerian Tide began a twice weekly publication (Wednesday and Saturday). Its pioneer management team was said to include Gabriel Okara, General Manager; G. N. Loolo, Secretary to the Corporation; J. O. Yekwe, Production Manager; J. E. Agbogidi, Assistant Production Manager; and D. O. Jumbo, Advert Manager.
The first set of Editorial Managers was made up of Rowland Amaewhule, Acting Editor; Bieshia Bellgam, News Editor; Anthony Tebekaemi, Features Editor; Maurice Dombo, Production Editor; Tons Fetepigi, Chief Reporter; William Bozimo, Chief Correspondent (Lagos); A. F. Isokariari, Circulation Officer; and Monday Nwikpo, Advert Representative (Lagos).
With almost all the states inheriting or floating their own newspapers, there was a serious shortage of professional journalists across the land. It therefore became the practice then for media organisations to recruit secondary school leavers as cub reporters and sponsor them to journalism training schools such as the Nigerian Institute of Journalists (NIJ) in Lagos and Jos or Daily Times School of Journalism. Some were also sent abroad to study at prestigious training centres on Fleet Street in London.
Staff welfare was robust as operational vehicles were made abundant for both the distribution of the newspaper and conveying workers to and from assignments. Residential quarters were rented for staff at some low-density areas of Port Harcourt, including D-Line. At a time, Nigerian Tide offices were said to be operational in 10 of the original 12 states with radio communication links for daily transmission of reports. The paper was also said to have undertaken the payment of its staff salaries.
Such was the good fortune of the Nigerian Tide in its nascent years. In fact, not even the sudden emergence of colourful private newspaper in Port Harcourt, Garden City Sunray, could affect the former’s print run in the early 1990s.
Then, let us fast-forward to 1995 when things took a turn for the worse, leading to the suspension of the paper’s titles for several months.
It took the efforts of a team headed by the then Information Commissioner, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, to revive the Nigerian Tide stable in 1996 but under a new name, The Tide. The state government had hired Taijo Wonukabe, a professional team of consultants led by Chido Nwakanma to undertake the recruitment of some experienced hands to refloat the paper. Their effort saw to the emergence of a new Editorial Management under Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart as General Manager/Editor-in-Chief; ThankGod Igwe, Editor; Dagogo Clinton, Deputy Editor; Nengi Ilagha, Editor (The Tide On Sunday); Kadilo Toby, News Editor; Celestine Ogolo, Sports Editor; Soye Jamabo, Entertainment Editor; Goodluck Ukwe, Political Editor; Fred Fabor, Copy Editor; Juliet Njiowhor, Women Editor; and Friday Nwinude, Business Editor.
The Tide was able to return to the newsstand but only to discover the disappearance of almost all its state-owned contemporaries.
There is no doubt that The Tide hoped to fare better with the return of democratic rule in 1999. But unfortunately, there has been no tangible relief for the RSNC for so long. Yearly budgetary accommodations have hardly translated into any meaningful fiscal dole-outs. Printing machines bought at the inception of the Corporation in the early 1970s are still in use. What’s more, the newly installed state-of-the-art Goss machine acquired in 2014 was immediately discovered to have been shipped without a very vital component. And this has rendered it non-functional ever since.
The Tide staff had until a few years ago retired without any benefits under the former parastatals pension arrangement before the system was brought into the state’s mainstream civil service pension scheme.
Again, the current facelift being enjoyed by the Corporation was at the insistence of the present state administration after many years of the structure being abandoned to the elements.
Then entered COVID-19 with its lockdowns which drained advert sources and temporarily forced the paper out of the market.
As if this was not a handful already, the second-hand electricity generator donated to the Corporation by a previous administration in the state is now a cause for daily concern as it breaks down every so often, mostly in the middle of production.
Even in the face of all this, the RSNC still hopes that the state government’s recent appointments in the Corporation indicates its determination and poise to throw more positive surprises in the paper’s direction. Until that happens, The Tide will continue to flow, by the special grace of God.
So far, those who have served as General Managers of RSNC include Gabriel Okara, Okogbule Wonodi, Dominic Anucha, Felix Obilor, Lyte Kosu, Anthony Tebekaemi, Edward Akpa, Magnus Bara-Hart, Godfrey Sikoki, Anthony Amakiri, Eriye Iyayi, Bernard Graham-Douglas, and Dan Obinna.
Others are Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart, Amabipi Martins, Augustine Nwikinaka, Celestine Ogolo, Vincent Ake, and now Ernest Chinwo.


By: Ibelema Jumbo

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Anniversary Special

‘We’ll Continue To Advance Rivers Interests’



Being The Text Of A State Broadcast By His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike, To The People Of Rivers State On Monday, 30th September, 2019.
My dear people of Rivers State On the 9th of September 2019 we kick-started the celebration of the 100 days of our second term in office and for three weeks we carried out the daily inauguration of completed projects as the main thrust of the celebration.
The projects we inaugurated, which ranged from strategic road infrastructure, markets and a football academy to senior civil servants’ quarters and secretariat buildings for Labour and Student Unions, are testaments to our resolve to effectively utilize available resources to advance the socio-economic progress of our State and improve the wellbeing of our people.
It is still early morning in our second tenure and we have demonstrated that, for us, there would be no lull in the administration of our renewed political mandate. Rather, we will increase the tempo of deliverables, fulfil our promises and bequeath a much better State.
We are happy to note that the soundness of our policies and governance have enabled us to grow the State’s economy, deliver so much on infrastructure and improve the general wellbeing of our people under a difficult national economic climate.
We wish to also state that we are sensitive to the agitation of our people for political and economic freedom and we shall continue to respond appropriately to the challenges of development either alone or in conjunction with our partners to advance our abiding interest in building the brightest possible future for our State and for all our people.
It is for this sense of collective purpose that I am delighted to inform you that the Rivers State Government has fully acquired Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) 45% interest in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 situated in Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area and the adjoining Ogoni and other communities of Rivers State.
The background of incidents and processes that culminated into this salutary development are as follows:
Following a major oil spill from SPDC Trans Niger High Pressure Crude Oil Pipeline at Ejama Community, an approximate area of 255 hectares of arable agricultural land, fishing swamps and rivers were devastated.
SPDC admitted that the oil spill came from their pipeline and occurred sometime in 1970. They paid some compensation to the community in the sum of N300,000.00 sometime in 1986 and promised to come and de-pollute the area.
SPDC failed to de-pollute the area which gave rise to a lawsuit in 1991 commenced at the High Court of Rivers State, Nchia Division presided over by Hon Justice P.N.C. Agumagu (now retired). At the end of the trial, the Court found against SPDC and entered judgment in the sum of N1 billion in addition to and order for SPDC to clean up the spill or pay N6 billion in lieu thereof.
SPDC appealed the judgement. During the pendency of the appeal, the jurisdiction of the State High Court was taken away and donated to the Federal High Court by a subsequent judgment of the Supreme Court. The Ejama-Ebubu Community conceded SPDC’s appeal without a formal hearing.
The community commenced a fresh suit in 2001 at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, this time against SPDC and its parent companies – SHELL of Netherlands and SHELL of United Kingdom.
This fresh case commenced in 2001 passed through four different justices of that Court arising from twists and turns associated with opposed litigations, until it was disposed of about 10 years after in June 2010 by Buba J. (the fifth judge to preside over the matter).
SPDC and its parent companies appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in 2010, which again suffered the twists and turns passing through six different panels comprising three justices each between 2010 and 2017 before it was finally disposed of by the panel of that Court led by Gumel JCA of the Port Harcourt Division. The appeal was dismissed.
SPDC and its parent companies took out a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2017, which appeal was considered and dismissed by that Court in a judgment read by Hon. Justice B. Akaahs, JSC delivering a lead judgment in a unanimous decision.
After losing at the High Court, SPDC gave the successful Ejama-Ebubu Plaintiffs a Bond Guarantee stipulating that First Bank of Nigerian Limited would pay them the value of the Judgment debt and interests thereon in the event that SPDC’s appeal to the Court of Appeal fails at that Court. The original Bank Guarantee is still with the Community.
When SPDC’s appeal failed at the Court of Appeal, Shell instructed the Bank to dishonour their guarantee, which did and gave rise to a series of six different litigations in various Courts against First Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria. SPDC’s excuse was that they had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The enforcement cases had been to Owerri, Abuja, Lagos, etc. in six different lawsuits.
On the 11th of January, 2019, Shell’s appeal was dismissed at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The judgments of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court were registered in the United Kingdom for enforcement over there against SPDC parent companies domiciled outside Nigeria’s shores.
(i) The Ejama-Ebubu community commenced enforcement by domiciling the judgment in the State High Court and levying execution on SPDC movables in their Industrial Area in Port Harcourt;
(ii) Those chattels were attached on the ground but not removed;
(iii) SPDC invited the community and offered them N7 billion as against the judgment debt of N194 billion, which the community refused to accept;
(iv) The community approached the court for and order granting them leave to sell SPDC’s immovable property comprised in OML 11 and their kidney Island support base in Port Harcourt.
Upon the advertisement of the said immovable assets for auction, the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State alerted the Government of the State.
I have given due consideration of the following factors from information made available to me:
(i) That this oil spill impacted the Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State from the activities of SPDC;
(ii) That the impact is still there and un-remedied since 1970 as admitted by SPDC vide letters they wrote seeking to clean the spill in 2006 while the case was at the trial Court;
(iii) That the Rivers State has suffered the worst impact of environmental degradation resulting from oil related operations;
(iv) That the very difficult swamp and mischievous waterlogged terrain of the Rivers State has impeded development as a result of increased construction costs on the near and non-existent infrastructures and attendant rapid decay of the little we have been able to achieve as a result of oil related acid rain and black sooth enveloping the State;
(v) That these phenomenal degradation and impoverishment had continued with the decline of revenue and inflation, lack of employment of well-educated Rivers State youths, idleness and restiveness arising from want;
(vi) That SPDC is said to have paid the sum of USD 2,000,000 (two million United States Dollars) only for the renewal of their operatorship and interest in the said OML 11 to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;
(vii) That for the past 25 years, the rich oil potentials of OML 11 have remained untapped following the hanging of the world-renown Ogoni poet and environmental activist, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9 as well as the unfortunate mob lynching and death of four prominent Ogoni citizens, one of whom was the Secretary of Government of the Rivers State and another, a Commissioner under the tenure of Lt. Col. Dauda Musa Komo as Governor of Rivers State;
(viii) That it has become unlikely that for peace and security, the people of Ogoni in the Rivers Stat will welcome SPDC on their land forming part of OML 11;
(ix) That a lot of revenue is lost to the Federation Account accruable to the 55% stake of the Federal Government in OML 11 and by extension the rest of the Federating States of Nigeria due to non-production of nearly 250,000 barrels per day of its crude oil potentials equalling one sixth of the country’s total out-put per day;
(x) That the Rivers State Government has continued to loose 13% derivation fund from the said 55% stake of the Federal Government in that field for nearly 30 years now, which revenue would have transformed the State and its peoples for the better;
(xi) That rather than standby and watch other persons or group purchaser SPDC 45% interest in that OML 11 and further exacerbate the poverty of the people of the State, a responsible and responsive State Government should weigh in and bid for the purchase of SPDC interest already set down for auction;
(xii) That the present Government of Rivers State entrusted in my care through the Will of God and those of the peoples of the Rivers State have concluded that it will be in the overall interest of the State, the other Federating States and the Federal Government that we as a Government, should make a bid for the purchase of the said interest of SPDC now placed on auction by extant Order of the Courts of Law.
Therefore, I directed the Rivers State Ministry of Finance Incorporated to make a bid of USD 150,000,0900.00 supported by a Bank Guarantee and cash payment to the Deputy Sheriff in the sum of N1 billion, the later payable to the Judgement Creditors while the former is escrowed.
I have further directed the relevant Government agencies to take immediate steps to liaise with any financially capable companies to partner with the Rivers State Government to ensure that the said oil field come on stream within 15 months from today.
In line with our commitment to accelerated development, industrial harmony and security, the Rivers State Government will graciously concede some portion of its 45% per cent equity interest to all the oil producing communities within OML 11 to enhance mutual ownership, participation and sharing in the benefits of these resources.
I have taken these steps with all sense of responsibility believing that addressing the pains and poverty of our peoples with the resultant security and welfare of its people is the main purpose of governance and nothing less.
Without any doubt, this is a profound economic investment with profound and enduring positive implications on peace, security, development and prosperity for the oil-bearing communities of OML 11, the entire Rivers State and our country.
I have attached a Certified True Copy of the Judicial Certificate of Purchase of Land/Immovable property dated 25 September, 2019 issued by the High Court of Rivers State under Order VII Rule 9 of High Court Rivers in reference to Suit No: PCH/1696/2019 between Government of Rivers State of Nigeria vs. Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara & 5 Ors and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. & 2 Ors.
Thank you and may God continue to bless and prosper Rivers State.

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Anniversary Special

Nigerian Entertainment @59 …So Far, So Good



Kudos and more rewarding years ahead to the good people of Nigeria as  the country marks 59 years of independence and freedom from domination by the British colonial over lords. In the past 59 eventful years the entertainment industry had remained a dependable partner in the nation’s quest for economic rejuvenation, as the industry accounted for over 1.4 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic product (GDP) in 2013 and the figure is fast growing.

Apart from generating income for the country, the entertainment sector also provides employment to the teaming population of Nigerians as well as show cases the cultural heritage of the country and also rebranding of the nation’s image abroad. The unprecedented growth of the industry from obscurity to international limelight is evident in the achievements of stake holders in the various organs of entertainment vis-a-viz, movie, music, comedy, tourism and hospitality.

Movie: From the 1957 ‘Fincho’, 1980 ‘Kadara’, 1992 Living in Bondage, 2012 Keeping Faith to the 2014 October 1, the Nigerian film industry has come a very long way as it had witnessed the good, the bad and the urgly, but has continued to thrive in the face of the daunting challenges.

In 1957 ‘Fincho’ became the first Nigerian film to be shot in clolour following Nigeria’s independence in October 1, 1960. In 1972 the independence Decree of General Yakubu Gowon’s regime made possible the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinemas from their foreign owners to Nigerians, resulting in more Nigerians actively participating in Nigeria’s film growth.

In 1992, the release of the classic movie “Living in Bondage’ Kicked off a new era in the Nigerian film industry. This era produced movies that are still referred to as classics. It produced actors that were and still household names in Nigeria.

In the mid 2000s the home video experienced a major deadline with factors such as piracy and film rental shops playing a major role. In 2004 a new cinema era began with the launch of series of modern cinema houses by silver bird group. The new wave film to be shown at a modern cinema was Kunle Afolayan’s 2006’ Irapada’ which screened at the silver bird galleria.

Ever since then, high and small budget movies like ‘Ije’, surulere’, the Figurinel. The CEO, 90 days, Half of a yellow Sun, The Meeting, October 1 and the Arbitrator have been screened at different cinemas in Nigeria. With the launch of silver bird cinemas, other cinema houses like Ozone, filmhouse and Genesis Deluxe were also launched and are playing important roles in the evolution of the Nigerian film industry.

The Nigerian film industry has become more profitable with movie like the wedding party grossing over 405 million naira in just two months and ‘A Trip to Jamaica “earning a Guinness book of world record spot for its box office success. The industry has also created quality TV series such as ‘Hush’, ‘Sons Of Caliphate’ and ‘The Governor’ among others.

Over the years, the web platform like iroko TV, Ibaka TV and cix TV provide paid for Nigerian films on demand at affordable charges pay TV entertainment platforms like Africa magic have also invested in the Nigerian film industry creating shows and empowering the youths.

The Nigerian film industry has established itself as a major cultural and socio economic force in Nigeria and the rest of the world. Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry revenue witnessed a 25.5 percent growth. This amounted to $3.8 billion with $605 million of the estimated $764 million rise said to be attributed to internet access, according to a recent report.

Music: The development of modern music and dance had their origin and foundation in the traditions of various communities in Nigeria. Who are known to have their own music and dance forms which they use in entertaining themselves and important quests. Every event attracts its own form of music in the traditional setting.

The Nigerian music industry is proud to storm the world stage by identifying its relevance and essence. The music fact of entertainment has waxed relatively strong, expanding year after year, turning in billions of naira  to the economy. There is no gainsaying the fact that music is part of our everyday life and more or less an integral part of visual and audio media productions including sound tracks in both local and foreign movies.

With an apparently inexhaustible stream talents and capacity to innovate, the Nigerian music industry is one that can neither be hindered by economic depression nor lack of relevance.

The industry has the necessary resources to rule the airwaves of not only Nigeria, but also the length and breath of Africa and the world at large. It is note worthy that the number of stakeholders in Nigerian music business is ever increasing, they include the musicians, producers, promoters, manager distributors and marketers.

In the past six years, the growing number of new production studios and artistes springing up has paved way for a more vibrant and self sustaining industry. A lot of Nigerian artistes are already enjoying corporate sponsorship for their unique talents and achievements some have recorded land mark album sales sometimes running into hundreds of thousand copies.

Others have won prestigious awards in international contests and events hence attracting more and more investments from very many sources. The investments have no doubt aided production of world class quality music as a result of innovations in sounds, rhythms and recording techniques.

Nigerian musicians have developed a vast spectrum of music genres blending hip hop, rap, rhythm and blues reggae gospel etc with traditional Nigerian beats and instruments. Some of the popular names include 2face idibia, P-Square, Davido, Timaya, Tiwa savage, Wiziki, D’banj, Don Jazzy, M.I., Bracket and Olamide others are KCee, Asa, Skales Mc Galaxy, Yemi Alade, patoranking, Tekno, Phyno, Flavour etc

A good number of them have also made name in gospel music such as Chris Morgan, Frank Edward, Panam Percy Paul, Yinka Ayefele and Sinach among others.

STAND UP COMMEDY: Stand up comedians have come to compete in Nigeria’s entertainment landscape, they distill humour and jokes inspired by everyday life experience of Nigerians to a wide variety of audience through direct stage shows or recorded VCD/DVD in English or Nigerian pidgin.

Among the most popular of these highly talented comedians are ‘1 go dye’, Bovi, Seyi Law Lepacious Bose, Funny Bone, Klint d’ drunk, Basket mouth, Helen Panel, Chi Girl etc.

TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY:- Some of the diverse cultural features of the country are the manifestations of the socio cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups that have inhabited the land for ages. Some of the cultural events with tourism potentials which have attracted several international recognitions and revenue to the country, some of these tourists events include the Grand Dubar festival, the famous Arugungu fishing festival (Ondo State), Olojo festival (Ile Ife), the Oshun festival (Oshogbo), Atilogu dances and the new yam festivals from the east as well as the Abuja, calabar and Rivers State carnivals among others.

The natural tourist sites include Sukur landscape (Adamawa State) Zuma Rock (Niger State), Olumo Rock (Abeokuta), Kuru falls in Jos, Shere hills (Jos), Abokin Waterfalls, Gurara waterfalls, Erin Ijesha water falls, Mambulla plateau (Taraba State).

Idanre and Oka hills Ondo State, others are Obudu cattle ranch, Oguta Lake Imo State, Ikogosi Springs Ekiti State, Lekki Beach Lagos, Mayegum Beach Lagos and the whispering Palm resort Lagos as well as other tourists destinations across the country.

In hospitality Nigeria parades world class hotels and other outlets located in different parts of the country which ranges from first, second and third classes according to international standard and specification. The sector is regulated by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).

Hotels serve as avenue for revemae generation to the economy and support for the entertainment industry by providing opportunity and platform for music and movie stars to do stage performance and lodging. Some of the top hotels in the country are transcop hotel Abuja, Eko hotel and seraton hotels lagos, Ham dala hotel, hotel presidential, Enugu and Rivers States, premiere hotel Ibadan etc.

The Nigerian entertainment clan over the past 59 years has evolved and still gaining more grounds in the global entertainment anclave, we can beat our chest and say ‘so far so good’ as the beat goes on.


Jacob Obinna

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