Our attention has been drawn to the Editorial of Daily Independent Newspaper, on November 5, 2020, titled: “Oyigbo, Governor Wike And Blood Of The Innocent.”
Beyond dismissing it as the now fashionable campaign by all manner of relevance seeking commentators and publications, professional courtesy however demands that the usual misleading and highly opinionated allegations associated with such enterprises, be addressed for record purposes.
First of all, we note with a huge sense of disappointment, that the photograph which accompanied the story and was wrongly captioned Wike, is in fact not the photograph of the Rivers State Governor and this, sadly, is not just a glaring reflection of professional laziness by a publication of the seeming pedigree of Daily Independent, it is also an unfortunate reaffirmation of the bastardization, which the basic norms and ethics of our noble Journalism profession has progressively been subjected to over the years.
Against this backdrop therefore, it follows logically that if a highly regarded publication like Daily Independent does not even know what Governor Nyesom Wike, a prominent Nigerian Governor, looks like, then whatever story associated with that ignorance must have been crafted and penned with half-baked or outrightly ignorant references.
This conclusion is succinctly buttressed in the very first lines of the Editorial which reads thus: “Unconfirmed reports of brutality and killings in Oyigbo community of Rivers State following siege by the military should ordinarily come across as shattering.”
Without trying to undermine the morphology and snytactic capacity of whoever heads the Editorial Board of Daily Independent Newspaper, simple common sense is bound to wonder how the “unconfirmed” reports of very sensitive information like ‘brutality’ and ‘killings’ will be ‘shattering’ to a top Newspaper like Daily Independent, whose primary professional responsibility should be investigative journalism, and in this instance, to inform and educate the general public.
The fact that the Editorial then proceeds, on the basis of this “unconfirmed reports” in Oyigbo, to reel out a lengthy and utterly warped profiling of Governor Nyesom Wike’s personality as well as the pragmatic responses to the recent events in that community, leaves much room for the interrogation of Editorial integrity and objectivity.
Be that as it may, it will only be proper and magnanimous for us to recognize and accept the praise and commendations which the Editorial rightly expressed in its appreciation of Governor Nyesom Wike’s firm, pragmatic, committed response to the carnage that was visited on Oyigbo by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), as well as the warm, compassionate, humane and empathetic embrace of the Rivers State Government to the hapless and bereaved widows and children of the slain soldiers and policemen, whose lives were cut short in their prime.
While it is easy to pontificate from wherever this Editorial was crafted, one apparent disconnect which bedevils many commentators, is the pedestrian assumption that governance must always accommodate the reactive restraint of pandering to the whims and caprices of agents of destruction and destabilisation like IPOB, at the expense of endangering the lives and property of innocent citizens in the long run.
With the benefit of hindsight however, one can excuse the Editorial on the ground that it must have been written before the real profiling of IPOB in Oyigbo, which it referred to as “the ill-advised profiling of indigenous community,” was brought to the public domain by comprehensive and intensive intelligence, in Governor Nyesom Wike’s widely reported state wide broadcast and meetings with the leaders of the non-indigenes and which, quite irreversibly, led to the imposition of the 24-hour curfew, which too has since been reviewed and relaxed by the State Security Council.
We also take considerable exception in the expression contained in the Editorial that: “It is obvious the Governor’s apparent determination to engage in confrontation with members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of IPOB beclouded his sense of judgment at the peril of overwhelming majority of community dwellers who may not share the ideology of Biafra (IPOB) or approve of the tactics of the secessionist group.”
Let us state categorically that nothing ever beclouds the judgment of a proactive, fearless, administratively astute, strategically brilliant and politically conscious leader like Governor Nyesom Wike.
Those who read and listened to his state-wide broadcast will know that IPOB had already been designated an outlawed terrorist group, even rejected by the South Eastern Governors where it claims to derive its illegal separatist mandate.
What happened in Oyigbo was not the first time IPOB had bared its destructive fangs in the community, but it crossed the red line this time, by hiding under the guise of #EndSARS protests, to kill four policemen and six soldiers, burn down all the Court buildings and police stations and threaten the lives of other innocent Nigerians and bonafide residents in the community.
If the curfew had not been imposed comprehensively and in the nick of time, it would have exploded into a full blown ethnic war in the community and across Rivers State.
That said, it is now left for you to judge if the unavoidable yet necessary inconveniences of a few days of temporary curfew was not worth the immediate removal and cessation of the threats and dangerous activities of a terrorist group and the futuristic preservation and security of lives and property in Oyigbo.
Let us place on record, for the avoidance of doubt, that the IPOB attack was against the twin institutions of the state government/Police and the Nigerian Army. Governor Nyesom Wike responded as the head of the state government by reinforcing the proscription of IPOB and its activities in the state through a legitimate Executive Order and imposing a curfew on the community to save lives and secure property, after the first carnage unleashed by IPOB.
Unfortunately for IPOB however, its second attack was against the Nigerian Army, which constitutionally reports only to the Chief of Army Staff and the President of Nigeria. Not only was it confirmed that the IPOB hoodlums killed some soldiers, it was also reported that they stole some military rifles too and the leadership of the Nigerian Army, acting independently, instructed and directed the response and recovery operation of its stolen arms on its own mandate and authority.
Ironically, the Editorial exhibited intellectual laziness by failing to see that its own poignant examples of Odi and Zaki-Biam only exposed the fact that Governor Wike is indeed a good student of history and it was rather the IPOB that exhibited a crass ignorance of history for which they not only placed the lives of innocent indigenes and residents in Oyigbo in danger, but may also have paid a heavy price of their own too, according to the “unconfirmed reports” that has ‘shattered’ the Daily Independent Editorial Board.
Let us also place on record again, that Rivers State was the most peaceful and best organised state, amongst all the flashpoint states and in spite of the various social media provocation, during the #EndSARS protests, until IPOB and its hoodlums hijacked the peacefulness of the process.
Governor Wike supervised the protests successfully not only by his astute management of sensitive information, excellent collaboration with security agencies and direct participation and identification with the protesters, but also for the simple fact that he had already anticipated a day like #EndSARS long ago and cried out early, but no one listened to him then.
Now, again with IPOB, Governor Wike has also taken the courageous step as arguably the only Governor in Nigeria, who has reinforced the proscription of an already designated terrorist group, whether in the North or South of the country and this, in conjunction with initial curfew which has now been relaxed, has again demonstrated the extent to which he has kept faith with his primary responsibility to protect the innocent civilian population of Rivers indigenes and residents, from unwarranted intimidation, brutality and possible deaths from the agents of destruction and carnage.
One would therefore have expected the Daily Independent Editorial, whose caption does not even reflect the primary agent, instigator and perpetrator of the shedding of the innocent blood of 10 soldiers and policemen and the burning of Courts and police stations, to blame the necessary culprit in this matter, and it is this constant unprofessionalism in our Journalism, which also deliberately refuses to call out and chastise the real troublemakers in our society, that worries all discerning Nigerians.
We are not sure the Editors of Daily Independent saw the faces of three-month and six-month babies that lost their fathers to the barbaric act of IPOB at Oyigbo.
What will be the fate of these babies and the widows that will suffer to raise them? Yellow journalism did not think this is important.
What a sad development at a time when well-meaning people are lamenting that these innocent babies will face a turbulent future.
To be sure, calm, peace and normalcy have returned to Oyigbo community with the relaxation of the curfew and the reinforcement of the proscription of IPOB, which no doubt, has sent a clear warning to its leaders and members that they are no longer welcome in Rivers State and there is no place for them in Oyigbo, Ikoku or indeed anywhere in the state, in that outlawed, terrorist nomenclature.
Governor Nyesom Wike deserves praise for living up to his leadership responsibilities and Nigeria would indeed be a better place with leaders like him setting the standard and constantly raising the bar for firm, proactive, fearless and courageous leadership, which always puts the welfare and interest of the people first and above everything else.
Nsirim is Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications.
We Have Funded, Completed 21 Road Projects-Fubara
Being a full text of the first 100 days in office broadcast of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State on Wednesday, September 6, 2023.
My fellow people of Rivers State.
It is my pleasure to formally mark the first 100 days of our government in office, a compelling milestone for us to reflect on the activities and achievements of the Government so far since we took the oath of office on the 29th of May 2023.
In my inaugural speech, we promised to consolidate and continue the new Rivers Vision by committing to sustaining the momentum of development set by our immediate past Governor, and now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, *His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike*.
We also called on our people to work with me to implement our blueprint on security, infrastructure, education, healthcare, economic growth, job creation, and many more, and take our lovely State to greater heights of sustainable progress and human security.
Now, after 100 days, I am proud and humbled to report that we have not wavered from this course. Taking one step at a time, we have kept our eyes focused on this goal, made steady gains, and delivered on every one of the bold promises we made on the campaign trail despite the economic challenges of the times.
As a government, our priority is to secure the lives and property of our people and we have kept faith in this responsibility by working with the security agencies to keep Rivers State relatively peaceful, safe, and secure for lives, businesses, and property.
We are up to date in the payment of salaries and pensions to civil servants. We have also continued to gradually clear the backlogs of gratuities to beneficiaries and restore water in the State Secretariat complex.
On 17 July 2023, we flagged off the construction of the single largest infrastructure project by a State Government in this country – the Port Harcourt Ring Road project as part of our comprehensive infrastructure development master plan for the State.
The 50.15 km dual carriage ring road, when completed in a record three years, will connect and strengthen economic progress and integration in not less than six local government areas and open a vast gateway for new local and foreign direct investments in real estate, agriculture, hospitality, and industrial ventures into the State, transform the communities on and around its alignments, into thriving cities and create jobs and economic opportunities for so many of our citizens.
Since we took over, the wheels of progress have never stopped turning in our State. After 100 days, we have funded, completed, and delivered 21 road projects the many we inherited from the previous administration, and added approximately 68 kilometres to the State’s Road network.
Consequently, the following completed road projects across eight Local Government Areas of the State will be commissioned from tomorrow 7th September 2023 as part of activities to mark our 100 days in office:
• Oyigbo – Okoloama Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area;
• Alode – Onne Road in Eleme Local Government Area;
• Botem-Gbene – nu-Horo road in Tai Local Government Area;
• Mgbuodohia internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Ogbo – Ihugbogo in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Odiemudie Road in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Omoku – Aligwu – Kreigani Road in Ogba/Egbma/Ndoni Local Government Area;
• Eneka internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Ogbakiri internal Roads in Emohua Local Government Area; and
• Omagwa internal Roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Furthermore, having prioritized road construction as part of our strategy to accelerate socio-economic growth and development, we have awarded contracts and concluded plans to flag-off the construction of the following roads spread across five local government areas of the State as part of our 100 days in office activities:
• Omuakali – Eberi Road in Omuma Local Government Area;
• Aleto-Ebubu-Eteo road in Eleme Local Government Area
• Igbu-Ehuda internal Roads in Ahoada East Local Government Area;
• Elelenwo internal Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Bori City internal Roads in Khana Local Government Area; and
• Emohua – Ogbakiri Road in Emohua Local Government Area.
To improve the quality of basic education we have in the last 100 days completed the acquisition of over a million copies of relevant educational resource materials, including basic textbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, to be distributed to all primary and secondary schools across the State to enrich their libraries and improve the standards of teaching and learning experience in our school system.
Also, besides paying WAEC and NECO fees for students in all public schools, we have within this timeline, completed the reconstruction and furnishing of six secondary schools with 124 classrooms, modern furniture, science laboratories, ICT, library, administrative block, assembly halls, dormitories and staff quarters spread across six local government areas of the State: These are:
• Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Eneka, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Emohua, Emohua Local Government Area;
• Government Secondary School, Okehi, Etche Local Government Area;
• Comprehensive Secondary School, Alesa-Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area; and
• Government Secondary School, Ataba, Andoni Local Government Area.
As promised, we have started implementing our agenda to improve access to quality healthcare delivery in the State. In the last 100 days, we have given a marching order to the Primary Healthcare Management Board to step up efforts to revamp and ensure effective access to primary healthcare services in all our communities.
In response, the Board has renovated not less than ten primary healthcare centres across the three senatorial districts of the State located at Elekahia, Rumuodomaya, Okehi, Oyigbo, Gokana, Opobo, Ahoada, Mina-ama, Okwuzi, and Okochiri communities.
On our part, we have completed the reconstruction, upgrading, and equipping of two secondary healthcare hospitals: the Kelsey Harrison Memorial Hospital and the Dental, Maxillofacial, ENT, and Ophthalmology Hospital, to further strengthen the State’s capacity for the provision of affordable and quality healthcare services to all residents.
These important hospitals with a combined 150-bed spaces and state-of-the-art equipment are due to reopen their doors to provide quality healthcare services to the public soon after they are inaugurated in a few days.
Additionally, the Dental, Maxillofacial, ENT, and Ophthalmology hospital has been designated as an annex of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital and used for medical research and the training of medical students at Rivers State University.
Under the Ministry of Special Projects, we have delivered the 10,000-seating capacity convocation arena for the University of Port Harcourt.
This is one-of-a-kind physical edifice that will provide academic and social services to the University community and the public, which aligns with our commitment to support all federal institutions in the State as much as we can to enable them to deliver effective and efficient services to our people, who are the primary beneficiaries of their services.
It is for this reason that we recently acquired and donated a firefighting truck for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to enhance and restore to operations of international flights at the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Over these first 100 days, we have taken quality steps to advance the well-being of our people in the face of the economic hardship caused the sudden withdrawal of fuel subsidies, unemployment, and rising inflation.
We are happy to note the palliatory effect of the free bus transport scheme we have put in place since July to cushion the high cost of living for ordinary citizens. I assure you of our intention to sustain these and other mitigating measures, including the distribution of food to the vulnerable population, for a considerable time.
I also wish to inform residents that we have since set up an intergovernmental flood management committee with the responsibility to respond proactively to the looming flooding that may affect the inhabitants of the lowlands and flood plains of our State as predicted by the National Emergency Management Agency.
With the launching of the flood mitigation road map, I can assure all residents that we are on red alert to respond to any imminent flood challenge in the State and provide safety and relief to those who will be affected.
I, therefore, appeal to corporate bodies, well-meaning individuals, and non-governmental organizations to be ready to materially support the Committee to succeed in this critical assignment to rescue our vulnerable people.
To stimulate economic growth, enhance job creation, and reduce poverty we have concluded plans to create a four billion (¦ 4,000,000,000.00) naira Enterprise Fund in partnership with the Bank of Industry to facilitate the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the State.
With this Fund, owners and intending MSME entrepreneurs will have ready access to credit to fund or start their enterprises at single-digit interest rates with a maximum of a five-year repayment period.
In addition, we are also making efforts to establish the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund to help create an enterprise culture and stimulate sustainable interest in entrepreneurial activities among our youths to advance self-employment and job creation.
We have concluded plans to establish the State’s Investment Promotion Agency to advance local and foreign investments and the industrialization of the State.
For us, as we move to the next 100 days and beyond, there is nothing more compelling to our government than to continue to focus on protecting our people, growing our economy to provide a high standard of living, investing in human capital development to uplift the youths, and building our infrastructure to attract investments and create jobs.
As we can see, we have already accomplished a lot in our first 100 days and we are determined to achieve much more in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
I thank every citizen, including our traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, men, women and youths the business community, civil society organizations, professional groups, and the religious community for your support, cooperation, and prayers, which have sustained us through the last 100 days of our administration.
I thank the security agencies for their commitment and sacrifice to protecting lives and keeping Rivers State safe and secure for everyone. I assure you we will not relent in our commitment to support you in discharging your security responsibilities to our State and the nation.
I also thank the State House of Assembly for their cooperation and support in passing the supplementary appropriation law, which enabled us to secure the funds for the Port Harcourt Ring Road project.
Finally, we recommit to working with all stakeholders to transform our State and advance the well-being of our people with good governance and responsive leadership.
Thank you and may God bless our dear State.
Fubara’s First 100 Days: quando principium est bonum
Fifth Columnists And Battle For The Soul Of NDDC
Desperation drives irrational thoughts and actions, even as some analysts see it as the raw material of drastic change. One thing is certain though, never underestimate the desperation of people bound by a common ulterior motive as they will stop at nothing to achieve their aim.
It is sad and heart rending to observe the desperation being exhibited by some acclaimed elders from the Niger Delta region, apparently in a morbid quest to destroy the hard-earned reputation and character of a shining light in a most wicked attempt to take control of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
In a stretch of a miserable link associating the futile plot for the balkanisation of the Commission to the highest political leadership of the South-South region, it becomes gloomy for the region to be subjected to the whims and caprices of one man who has arrogated supreme powers to himself just because providence has placed him in a position of leadership in the South-South region.
In the last two weeks, the news media has been awash with reports of a purported petition to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by a self-styled group under the aegis of the Niger Delta Elders for Good Governance (NDEGG), calling for the removal of Chief Samuel Ogbuku ( PhD) current Managing Director of the NDDC.
The presumed leader of the pseudo group which has no known address, His Royal Highness, Chief Donald Ewere, in the said petition spewed inanities and absolute falsehood against Dr Ogbuku, thinking in their deceitful minds that the Presidency will be swayed by their untruth.
In a failed effort to dent the image of Dr Ogbuku, the group went as far as trampling on his goodwill and reputation to prove that he is a corrupt and bad person. The petitioner threw caution to the wind in a bid to so deceive and outlandishly alleged that Dr Ogbuku has mismanaged the sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Billion (N350billion) Naira.
Chief Ogbuku only assumed duties as the Managing Director of the NDDC, on January 5th, 2023, he has barely been in office for about seven months. The records at the commission shows that the Commission has not received such amount as claimed by the group.
By speculating that there is a rift between the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume and the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamala, over the position of the Managing Director of the commission, the group is only attempting to sow a seed of discord between the government functionaries.
Over the years, Senator Akpabio has been embroiled in the affairs of the NDDC in a negative way. Senator George Akume may be taking the wrong step if he aligns with Senator Akpabio to fight against the reappointment of Dr Ogbuku into the incoming Board of the NDDC. The ground swell of opinion holds that the current MD is doing extremely well and should be allowed to continue as the Managing Director of the commission.
To every discerning mind, it is trite law that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, reserved the right to appoint persons that will work with him, there is a clear divide between the functions of the Executive and Legislative arms.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu can never abdicate his responsibility by according the Senate President the right to absolutely decide who gets appointments in the South-South region as canvassed by the group being the number three citizen and leader of the Niger Delta region even as the Constitution is very clear on the powers of the President of the country.
It is a height of disrespect to the office of the Present of the Federation for the leadership of the group to assume the function of Mr. President and presume an anger and frustration against President Tinubu for ignoring their call for the removal of Dr Samuel Ogbuku and institute an interim government which the people of the region has consistently rejected.
By: Nsoyoh Okokon
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