Rivers At 45! … Any Reason To Celebrate?
To properly evaluate how well or how poorly Rivers State has faired in the past 45 years such analysis, must, of necessity, underscore the hopes, dreams and ideals that informed the clamour and rigorous agitation for state creation by the founding fathers. It must also ascertain, how well, such dreams have been met.
But more than that, knowing that society is dynamic with change as the only rigid constant, it would be naïve on the part of the writer to limit such literature to dreams about half-a-decade ago, when, the Nigerian nation depended mainly on agriculture and other mineral resources for her economic mainstay, when crude oil only just found was gradually emerging as a major revenue base and out of touch from the areas of production.
Therefore, the evaluation must cover not just the dreams of the founding fathers and the foundation already laid, but more importantly, the conscious efforts made or being made by successive governments, since Alfred Diete-Spiff to Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. What infrastructures are being put in place, in anticipation of future growth and development? What efforts are in place to open-up, not just Port Harcourt, the state capital but other rural areas by way of roads, electricity supply, potable drinking water, primary schools, health services, transportation, human capacity development and indeed job creation.
Since no meaningful development can take place in an insecure clime, what is the security situation like? What efforts to prevent intra and inter-communal strife, youth unrest and guarantee social integration of all, if for nothing else to erect an all-inclusive polity where, every stake-holder not only believes in, but also demonstrates a sense of participation in the Rivers project.
Interestingly, Rivers State is no longer what the founders perceived it must be. Not only has the population increased beyond understanding, Port Harcourt, the state capital is today, home to the largest expatriate community in Nigeria, political capital of the oil producing Niger Delta region and indeed the fastest growing commercial city in Nigeria.
Created from the then Eastern Region of Nigeria by Decree No. 19 of 1967, the territory was initially referred to as Oil Rivers Protectorate, due to its vintage role in the palm oil trades of the last two centuries.
From palm oil it is crude oil today and easily goes as the hub of the hydro-carbon industry, accounting for a huge part of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, by being responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the total off-shore oil production activities in Nigeria and 100 per cent of the Liquefied Natural Gas which Nigeria exports.
What is government doing to address the real and apparent dangers of population explosion? What legacies, does the Rotimi Amaechi administration hope to bequeath for posterity after two terms of eight-years in the saddle?
The Tide Deputy Business Editor, Ibelema Jumbo takes a hard look at the Greater Port Harcourt City Development, the prejudices against the implementation of the development plan, the challenges and the modest success thus far recorded while the Group News Editor, Nelson Chukudi and his team of reporters and correspondents assess various on-going and completed projects under the Amaechi era.
Since, as the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-73) said in a piece on Liberty 1859… “The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it,” what has government done to build capacity and empower the people, through job creation and other basic initiatives? Apart from dependence on monthly federal allocations, what is the state doing to generate revenue and investment to provide employment for its teeming unemployed youth and ensure food. sufficiency?
Our special correspondent, Felix Okogbule takes a look at Agriculture, the prospects of the state’s Songhai Farm initiative, the automatic employment of graduates of the state’s School of Nursing, on-going recruitment of 10,000 teachers and the engagement of medical doctors to man the various health institutions as avenues of job creation. Another is the award of contracts to indigenous contractors for the construction and equipment of health centres and model primary and secondary schools, not to mention countless other road projects.
Feature Writer Arnold Alalibo takes a cursory look at power-generation and the frustrations of the state in distributing the amount of power generated, while our Health Correspondent Tonye Nria-Dappa lists the achievements and challenges of the health sector.
This year’s anniversary, serves as a turning-point, away from the familiar self-praise, as The Tide’s Special Edition also identifies Weak-Links in government, raises questions about the fate of the Mono-rail and presents views of Rivers people assembled through random interviews. Its “a Vox Pop worth the while”, was how the Group Features Editor, Thomas Abbey described the work, upon submission.
Another significance was injected into the state’s annual observance of May 27, since 2008. It doubles as the birthday of the serving governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The import of this is that the administration is now judged not annually, but bi-annually; the date Amaechi took office and his own birthday, which coincides with the creation of the state and indeed children’s day.
Apart from serving as a constant reminder of his childhood, and the need to save other children from same, the occasions provide at such times, stake-holders a second privilege of appraising the governor’s activities, his works, words and plans for the future. And far beyond the usual, the people use such moments to challenge their governor to do more, knowing that each moment must present something new, whether a garden patch, a new road, another health centre delivered or a secondary school commissioned.
For this, the governor must as a necessity be on his toes, pursueing set targets and meeting same, ensuring proper supervision of members of his team and working to make certain that weaklinks are strengthened, for the overall success of his administration.
This year The Tide popped the question: Should Amaechi leave office today, what would he be remembered by. Again, the Group Features Editor, Thomas Abbey sent out his foot-soldiers and the outcome, as usual, was worth the while.
… The Birthday Girl
Charity begins at home not abroad, so while, The Tide family wishes Governor Ameachi Happy Birthday, it was considered also very paramount that another birthday girl deserves a toast. Our own commissioner, Mrs Ibim Semenitari shares same birthday as Amaechi and Rivers State, so we asked the Woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, to source materials to propose a birthday toast only as a mother would. Its presented by the Editor.
Our Soccer Teams All that should not have been enough without the one thing that today unites the youth of the world, as it does Nigerians – soccer.
This year’s take on sports, especially soccer, is indeed a lamentation over the fluctuating fortunes of the state’s soccer teams Sharks and Dolphins, all of Port Harcourt. Are they part of the Weaklinks of the Ameachi administration? Our Sports Editor, Gabriel Nwanetanya fell-short of saying so.
All these and more are served hot in this special edition commemorating Children’s Day and the creation of Rivers State. Taste it.
Soye Wilson Jamabo