After a long wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to pick ministers for his second term in office, he eventually did so with the presentation for screening by the Senate, a complement of 43 nominees, comprising 36 men and seven women; none of whom was less than 35 years of age. The list indicated that 11 of the previous ministers were returning, while 32 new ones are coming on board. Five states had two nominees each and the rest were availed just one nominee each. Expectedly, the list attracted mixed reactions from Nigerians and foreigners alike as some of its features were simply inexplicable even by the most intrepid political pundits in the country.
For the Rivers State, the story was not different as the sole nominee – Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, did not attract less concern – both for his supporters and those who had crossed his path with bitter experiences in the past along his political trajectory, as one of the most privileged Nigerians to occupy public office serially, at both state and national levels. It was therefore not difficult for questions to arise over what the Rivers State will face in Buhari’s second term, with Amaechi as the minister representing the state.
Concern over Amaechi’s proclivities as minister in Buhari’ second term could not have been raised better than by the Senate Minority Leader – the erudite Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe, (representing Abia East) who during the ministerial screening last week, and in very clear terms, advised the former that as Minister he is to serve the entire country “including Rivers State”. Abaribe went on to appeal to the nominee that as Minister from and representing the Rivers State, Amaechi should see himself as a critical stakeholder in the entrenchment and sustenance of peace and progress in the state. To round off his message to Amaechi, Abaribe urged him not to forget the revitalisation of the Eastern Corridor of the country’s railway system which starts from Port Harcourt and runs across the South East and all through to the North East of the country.
The circumstance under which the Senator from Abia State was constrained to lecture a ministerial nominee from Rivers State on the benefits of peace in the latter’s own state, may seem out of place.
However, at the risk of sounding immodest but with no pun intended, it can be stated here that Amaechi had by his acts of commission and omission in the past, wittingly earned for himself the odious image of an incubus, that is determined to destroy whatever he fails to control in the state.
This self-serving agenda of his, manifested at least in several areas of interface between the Federal Ministry of Transportation which he served as its head in the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari, and is likely to be re-posted there for the second term. While the universal homily holds that “Charity begins at home”, Amaechi seemed to have reversed it with a mindset of “Charity begins abroad and dies at home”.
As an individual who the good people of Rivers State honoured specially with the rare privilege of serving unprecedentedly as Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly for two terms of eight years, and as governor for another two terms of eight years, the least to be expected from him was to lead in the transformation of the state to the next level in development, by utilising any opportunity he finds at his disposal, beyond his tenures in the previous elevated public offices. To accentuate his humongous indebtedness to the state was that even his elevation to the office of Minister, was facilitated during his tenure as governor of the Rivers State.
However, rather than meet public expectation with respect to building up the state as a partner in progress with the succeeding administration of Nyesom Wike, he elected to operate as a reducing agent as far as any of the goodies from the federal government that was designated for the Rivers State is concerned. A stock taking exercise on the ‘contributions’ to Rivers State by Amaechi as Minister of Transportation during Buhari’s first term will not exclude the avoidable collapse of the two major seaports of Port Harcourt and Onne, the blight of the Eastern Railway Corridor and the shenanigans surrounding the remodelling of the Port Harcourt Airport – all under his ministry.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing, Amaechi’s re-appointment by Buhari as minister representing Rivers State in the second term in office, does not just elicit concern, but is seen by many as essentially ominous, thereby putting the federal government on the block to assuage the fears around such a dispensation, within the state and elsewhere. It is not out of place to appreciate that even Abaribe’s Senate floor appeal to Amaechi, not to forget the revival of the Eastern Corridor of the country’s railway system, is associated remotely or otherwise, with this fear.
Yet, Amaechi does not need to carry, and has nothing to benefit from carrying continuously, the toga of a vindictive spoilsport in Buhari’s second term. All he has to do is to be friendly to the government and people of the Rivers State. In fact, by so doing, he will not only atone for his sins against the state, but also prove most eloquently, that President Buhari does not harbour any malevolent agenda for the state, in his second term.
Stem Killings Of Nigerians By Boko Haram, Bandits, Wike Tasks Buhari …Pledges RSG’s Support To Members, Families Of Legionnaires …As President, VP, Service Chiefs Honour Fallen, Living Military Heroes
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has called on President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to redouble efforts in fulfilling his cardinal electoral promise of securing the country.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari, last Saturday, led the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, members of National Assembly, service chiefs and members of the diplomatic corps to honour the nation’s fallen and living military heroes.
Speaking during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Ceremony in Port Harcourt, last Saturday, Wike said Nigeria was at the crossroads and everyone was wary about the prolonged Boko Haram insurgency in parts of the country.
According to governor, there were also the unbridled killings by bandits and the increasing insecurity in most parts of the country with members of the Armed Forces made to pay the price of containing the internal wars continuously.
“We acknowledge that some progress has been made in the fight against the insurgents. However, the generality of Nigerians believe that the progress made can’t be good enough insofar as Boko Haram, its affiliates and bandits are still active in the North-East, North-West and some other parts of the country, killing, maiming and kidnapping helpless people, including school children, and destroying and displacing hapless communities.
“We, therefore, call on Mr President to redouble his efforts and fulfil his cardinal electoral promise to secure the country and ensure that Nigerians feel safe and remain safe and secure wherever they are in their own country.”
Wike pointed to the need for the Federal Government to take as top priority, the equipping of the nation’s Armed Forces appropriately.
This, he noted, would motivate men and officers of the military to be well poised to accomplish the noble task of securing the country, and ensure that Nigerians feel safe within their various communities.
“We also count on our Armed Forces to quickly end the raging insurgency and restore peace and hope to all our distressed people and communities who bear the physical, emotional and psychological scars of war and destruction.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that officers and men of the Armed Forces were enduring symbols of national unity.
He said, Nigerians were proud of them for their principled loyalty to the nation, including their capacity and commitment to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity, democracy and constitutional freedoms of the citizenry.
“It is also significant to appreciate that, for several families across the nation and communities, today’s remembrance ceremony is a very painful reminder of the loved ones that they lost years, months and even barely weeks ago.
“Perhaps, granting consent for a loved one to enlist into the Armed Forces knowing that he or she may die in the service remains one of the toughest decisions any parent, guardian or spouse can make.
“But they did and gave their loved ones to the service of the nation; for the love of our nation; and for the peace and security of their people.
“What they did is, therefore, a great and inspiring lesson in courage and selflessness, for which we owe them all the possible debt of gratitude, respect and honour.”
Wike stated that Nigeria has been at war for over 10 years, and that has kept the Armed Forces seriously engaged in offensive combat against terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), and bandits.
These terrorist groups, Wike remarked, are fanatically bent on destroying Nigeria in vain pursuit of their devilish social, economic and religions agendas.
Wike said, in all these wars and violent conflicts, whether within or outside the nation’s shores, members of the Nigerian Armed Forces are and have been the primary victims.
“While most survived to tell their stories about the horrors of war and conflicts; some inevitably paid the ultimate price, while some others survived with horrific bodily wounds and scares.”
Wike, therefore, pledged that the Rivers State Government would continue to identify with them and support their families to cushion their pains.
He donated N50million as support fund that would help widows of the fallen heroes to have something to do to eke out a living.
In his speech, Rivers State Chairman of Nigerian Legion, ACG Justice Chichi said the Nigerian Legion has received all the financial donations made on the day of emblem launch for the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration.
He described the support from the governor and the Rivers State Government towards the success of the event and their welfare as extraordinary show of kindness.
Earlier, at the Isaac Adaka Boro Park, Wike had inspected the guard of honour mounted by men of the security agencies, and later laid the wreath at the feet of the Unknown Soldier.
Some of those who also laid wreaths included the Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo; Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani; and Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi; with the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Sani Mohammed, leading other military commanders to lay wreaths.
Wike also released pigeons as a mark of peace for the event.
There were prayers said by military chaplains and imam for the personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the ex-servicemen.
A 21-gun salute was shot in honour of deceased ex-servicemen.
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari, last Saturday, led the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, members of National Assembly, service chiefs and members of the diplomatic corps to honour the nation’s fallen and living military heroes.
The event, which involved laying of wreaths at the National Arcade in Abuja, was the climax of the main activities lined up to celebrate the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration (AFRDC).
First to lay the wreath was the president, followed by the vice president, the Senate president, speaker, House of Representatives and Chief Justice of Nigeria.
In another order, the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) and his Federal Capital Territory (FCT) counterpart, Malam Mohammed Bello, laid the wreaths.
Thereafter, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army, Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao; and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, performed the exercise.
Other dignitaries, who also performed the wreath-laying ceremony, are members of the diplomatic corps and their representatives as well as Nigerian Legion and widows of late officer/soldiers represented by Hajia Aisha Lemu.
Buhari, thereafter, signed the anniversary register, and released the ceremonial pigeon as a symbol of national peace.
The celebration started with series of activities including Jumma’at prayer on January 7, at National Mosque and Interdenominational Christian service on January 9.
The AFRDC is celebrated globally to recognise and appreciate the sacrifices made by their citizens for the cause of peace.
In Nigeria, January 15 is set aside annually to honour fallen heroes who laid down their lives in service to humanity during the first and second world wars, Nigerian Civil War, peace support and various internal security operations.
The event is also used to honour veterans still alive and as a medium for soliciting financial, moral and material support for the families of the fallen heroes.
Illegal Bunkering: Police Probe Rumuji DPO
The Rivers State Police Command says it has constituted a panel to investigate the alleged involvement of the divisional police officer (DPO), Rumuji Police Division in illegal bunkering activities in the area.
The investigation is coming barely 72 hours after the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, was accompanied by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Friday Eboka, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Dr Chidi Llyod and other security agents, to Ibaa to clamp down on illegal bunkering sites in the area.
The state governor had directed the commissioner of police to transfer the DPO and investigate his involvement in the illegal bunkering following numerous accusing fingers on him.
A press statement, yesterday by its acting spokesperson, DSP Grace Iringe-Koko, said, “The command received with concern, the news making the rounds that a Divisional Police Officer in the state, is involved in illegal bunkering activities.
“Accordingly, the officer was immediately redeployed and a panel headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, inaugurated to investigate the matter,” adding that “the outcome of the investigation shall be made public and the officer punished appropriately, if the allegations are confirmed”.
However, the statement did not name the affected DPO alleged to have been involved in the act, including the name of the ACP in-charge of the investigating panel.
But the statement said “the Commissioner of Police, Mr Eboka Friday has reiterated the commitment of the command to support the state government in its war against illegal oil bunkering” and assured the public that the command would not spare any indicted person or persons in the state, no matter how highly placed he or she may be.
“He is using this medium too to call on any one with useful information not to hesitate in passing it to the security agencies or the local government chairmen.
“Once again, the command wishes the good people and residents of Rivers State, a prosperous and peaceful New Year”, the statement said.
By: Akujobi Amadi
Five Rivers LG Bosses Honour Fallen Heroes, Give Hope To Families
No fewer than five local government councils in Rivers State have honoured the sacrifices of fallen military heroes and raised the hopes of their widows and surviving family members of better days ahead.
The LGAs include Ikwerre, Degema, Akuku-Toru, Tai, and Andoni where tangible commitments were made to the families of fallen heroes and members of the Legionnaires.
In Ikwerre Local Government Area, the Chairman, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike declared war against oil thieves and vandals over worsening situation of soot in Ikwerre LGA.
Nwanosike declared the war, last Saturday while speaking during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at the Ikwerre Council Secretariat, Isiokpo.
According to him, “When I say that we are in a war situation, you know we are in a war against oil thieves and vandals.
“So, if you don’t know as a government official, know that Rivers State Government and Ikwerre Local Government are at war with oil thieves and vandals because they are the enemies that are eating us up now”.
Nwanosike called on the entire people of the LGA to join in the fight against oil thieves and vandals, urging them not to trivialise the efforts of the state and local governments over the fight.
He lampooned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government for failing to keep to its promises to Nigerians.
The Ikwerre Council chairman said, “And they are also aware that the Federal Government, through the Vice President of this nation, visited the Niger Delta severally, even in the first term and part of their second term, to promise the people of Niger Delta that they are bringing a technology called modular refinery that will end the issue of vandalisation of oil installations that has taken over our environment. Since the Federal Government has failed, like they have failed all the promises they had made to Nigerians that brought them to power.
“They have failed on the issue of restructuring. They have failed on the issue of infrastructure. They have failed on fighting insecurity. They have failed on fight against corruption. They have failed in making our lives and our properties safe. They have failed in improving our welfare.
“So, since they have been failing, and we have been calling on them all these while to come to fulfil the promises they made to the people of Niger Delta over modular refinery, the Government of Rivers State, led by the people’s face of democracy, Chief Nyesom Wike, declared the fight to save the people of Rivers State, those who live and do business here. Because this air that we breathe, you have no equipment to stop the air from coming”.
He attributed the recent mysterious deaths in the various communities of the LGA to soot due to illegal oil refining.
Nwanosike vowed to battle with those responsible for the soot, saying that, “We hear all the threats they have been making. We have their names, we know their houses, their relatives, and we know those that even buy their products from them”.
He stated that the security agents would continue to declare them wanted, and advised them to make themselves available to the state government or security agencies so as to prove their innocence.
“Nobody, no matter how highly placed is exempted from this fight. If you like, be the chairman of our party in the state or the chairman of our party in this local government or the chairman of our party in the ward or anybody, whether you are a security agent, you are a traditional ruler, as long as we identify that you have link to these activities, you will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Nigeria.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned to see that we restore our environment”, the Nwanosike assured.
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the bold step he has taken in the fight against oil bunkering activities, saying that the people of Ikwerre LGA would support him.
Nwanosike assured the living and dead military heroes and their families that Ikwerre LGA would not forget their sacrifices, and continue to do its best to support them by improving their lives and welfare.
He noted that the council has redeemed its N1million pledge to the legionnaires, and promised the Ikwerre LGA Chapter another N1million to be used in running its offices and activities.
The Ikwerre Council boss also magnanimously gave 13 Back-to-School programme slots for WAEC and JAMB registration to the children of the fallen heroes across the 13 Wards of the LGA.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Nigerian Legion, Ikwerre LGA Chapter, Major Anthony Ichem (rtd), commended Nwanosike for his magnanimity towards the legionnaires and fulfilment of all his promises to them, while assuring of their contributions in making the LGA more safe and habitable.
He, however, urged the council chairman to furnish the office he provided for them at the Ikwerre LGA Secretariat.
Highlights of the event include the laying of wreaths and parades.
Similarly, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael Williams, has appealed to public spirited individuals in the society to support the welfare of serving, retired and fallen military heroes in the country.
Speaking at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, which took place at the council headquarters in Degema, the chairman stated that by remembering the sacrifices of men of the Armed Forces, it would motivate those in active service to know that their efforts were well acknowledged, and would also encourage families of fallen heroes to know that the nation honours and remembers their loved ones.
“The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is a special day set aside to celebrate, honour and remember our heroes that risked their lives for us to be safe.
“Although some of them have passed on, yet some others are still here with us, either on retirement or in active service to the nation.
“Occasions like this therefore gives us an opportunity to remember and appreciate their gallantry and selfless sacrifice, and for those fallen heroes, it is incumbent on us to remember their widows, children and loved ones they left behind, and give them the little support we can, to encourage them, as well as motivate those still in service,” he said.
The council boss, who donated the sum of N1million to the Legionnaires in Degema LGA, also motivated other principal officers of his administration, councillors and other stakeholders to make compassionate donations towards the welfare of the ex-servicemen in the LGA.
He encouraged the Legionnaires to continue to believe in the country they sacrificed to keep united and make judicious use of whatever is given to them, adding that their sacrifices would not go in vain.
He added that his administration, just like that of Governor Nyesom Wike, believes in the unity of Nigeria, and would continue to support the security operatives, who put their lives in the line to secure the territorial integrity of the country.
Earlier, Chairman of the Legionnaires in DELGA, Soye Duke, had in his address, commended the council chairman for his massive support to the Legionnaires, both at the state and LGA levels.
Duke, who is also the chief security officer (CSO) to the council chairman, also thanked Williams for his compassionate disposition towards the Legion, adding that they had never been so cared for in the past.
He bemoaned the lackadaisical and non-chalant attitude of Nigeria towards men of the Armed Forces, who sacrificed their all for the peace and security of the nation, calling for an attitudinal change in that regard.
“To tell ourselves the bitter truth, it does appear that this is the only period we talk about the sacrifice made by these fallen heroes, who laid down their lives for all of us.
“It is rather unfortunate that these great heroes, being referred to as fallen heroes and the veterans; these gentlemen who actually paid the ultimate price, are not genuinely respected and appreciated.
“It is sad and painful that the same society they died for have suddenly turned against them at a time like this.
“It is with this regret in our hearts that we are appealing to the general public to change their perception about the veterans, fallen heroes and their dependents, because these groups of gentlemen need your care, love and support,” Duke stated.
Highpoint of the ceremony was laying of wreath by the council chairman, alongside heads of other military and paramilitary agencies in the LGA.
The event was well attended by dignitaries and stakeholders, Commander of 103 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Major Ayuba; Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, CP Friday Eboka; represented by the Police Area Commander, ACP Lawal Adamu Shinkafi; and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Degema, SP Hamza.
Others include; representatives from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS); Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS); Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC); Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); Legionnaires, as well as widows of ex-servicemen.
The rest were, Head of Local Government Administration (HLGA) in DELGA, directors in the various ministries/departments and traditional rulers and chiefs of the Degema Traditional Rulers Council.
Also in attendance were, the Vice Chairman of DELGA, Mrs. Maureen Harry; Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in DELGA, Disciple Peter Abbey, as well as top functionaries and other appointees of the administration.
In the same vein, the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area Chairman, Hon Rowland Sekibo expressed solidarity and appreciation for the meritorious services and sacrifices made by the Nigerian military and the nation’s fallen heroes who paid the supreme price so that the country may remain united.
Sekibo honoured the fallen heroes when he performed the wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph, with a 21 gun salute in commemoration of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in the council secretariat, Abonnema.
While acknowledging the sacrifices made by members of the military in defence of the nation, Sekibo decried the deplorable condition of servicemen across the nation.
The council boss reiterated his administration’s commitment to the welfare of security personnel serving in the LGA, and pledged to support the Legion with monthly stipends for 30 legionnaires.
He also promised to provide prosthetics for the disabled ex-servicemen as part of the council’s contribution and appreciation for the selfless services rendered to the nation.
“There’s nothing one can give that can measure up to the sacrifices made by our military in the service of humanity and the nation. We are, therefore, inclined to partner with the Nigerian Legion, AKULGA chapter in alleviating the miserable condition ex-servicemen find themselves after giving so much in the service of the nation”, he said.
It would be recalled that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration is a day of sober reflection held annually on January 15 in honour of members of the Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation.
Also, the Chairman of Tai Local Government Council, Sir Mbakpone Okpe donated the sum of N1million for the welfare development of retired officers of the Nigeria military in the LGA.
The chairman made the donation while performing the wreaths laying in remembrance of the fallen Nigeria Armed Forces officers in Saakpenwa, the Tai Local Government Headquarters, last Saturday.
Okpe explained that his administration was providing monthly stipends to members of the Nigeria Legion in the LGA because their tremendous contribution to the security of the country cannot be underestimated.
The chairman also asked that the data of the wives of the fallen heroes (widows) be collated so that the council can also provide little stipends to support their monthly welfare needs.
Okpe used the medium to announce a bounty of N1million to any individual who can provide useful information on sites where crude oil was illegally refined within the LGA.
The Tai Council boss explained that his administration has carried out surveillance on every nook and crannies of the LGA but could not find any forest where crude oil was illegally refined.
He said that to satisfy his curiosity, he has directed that anyone who can identify persons, communities and forests where such illegal activities were going on should report to his office at Saakpenwa and claim the N1million bounty.
However, the chairman warned that people who want to present or have such sensitive information should ensure that it was true and verifiable, and not aimed at getting back at individuals who may not be in good terms with them.
In the same token, the Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Barrister Erastus Awortu, has assured the Legionnaires and families of fallen military heroes of the council’s support at all times as their supreme sacrifices for the unity and survival of the nation will not be in vain.
Awortu also assured the Legionnaires that his administration would ensure their inclusion in the council policies and programmes, especially as it concerns the security architecture of the LGA, where their wealth of experience and expertise would be much needed.
The chairman made the pledge, last Saturday, during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at Ngo, headquarters of the LGA.
He said the services off the Legionnaires were needed now more than ever before because of the daunting security challenges facing the area, especially as it relates to the activities of artisanal refinery operators, and charged them to work in concert with the council authorities to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the crime.
In his speech, the chairman of Nigeria Legion, Andoni Chapter, Andoni LGA, called on all to reflect on the essence of the day and their responsibilities to honour and remember the nation’s gallant fallen heroes who died in active service so that we may live.
He further called on all government agencies, captains of industry and corporate bodies to remember the families of military fallen heroes and veterans living in these harsh economic times.
To this end, he pleaded with the Andoni council boss, to consider the welfare of Legionnaires and their loved ones.
The programme came to a climax with the inspection of the guard of honour for the 2022 the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration and the laying of wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the council Chairman, Barrister Erastus Awortu.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
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