FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, November 11, 2022
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FORWARDED BY: CHIGACHI EKE

RIVERS 2023: SIM AND NEW RIVERS VISION

Introduction

he Sim People's Network, SPN, is a grassroots movement with strong presence in the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of Rivers State. Our aim is to galvanise state-wide support for the elections of Amaopusenibo Siminialayi (Sim) Joseph Fubara and Professor Ngozi Odu, as the Executive Governor and Deputy Governor of Rivers State under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2023.

We are also working for the elections of other PDP candidates across the state. The deepening of democracy in Rivers is of utmost concern to us having timely answered the call for the consolidation of New Rivers Vision made by our leader and pragmatic Governor of Rivers State, Chief (Barr) Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, POS Africa.

Membership of SPN is open to every Nigerian resident in Rivers State. Our inclusiveness convinces Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Beroms, Tivs, Binis, Fulanis, etc, to identify with us. This makes the SPN a true Pan-Rivers organization. Indeed, our envisaged Rivers under Sim's stewardship is one where none would suffer harm on account of his origin, identity or religion.

Our pro-unity means we are one. Come on board. Talk to us. The SPN does not claim monopoly on ideas. Your idea could change the course of 2023. Avail yourself of the big opportunity put your way by our network. Join us in the realization of a new Rivers as envisaged by our great party.

Sim Honours Spiff and Rivers First Eleven

Navy Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, first military governor of Rivers State, 1967-1975, built the war-ravaged state from scratch. He achieved the impossible due to two factors working for him. Firstly, he aligned his post-war Rivers Five-Year Development Plan with General Yakubu Gowon's National Five-Year Development Plan of the same period. This plan influenced his cabinet to work with a sense of urgency. And secondly, he picked great minds totally committed to the survival of the young state as his commissioners.

In 1971 General Gowon pronounced Spiff's cabinet, famously known as Rivers First Eleven, the overall best in Nigeria. It included Dr Lawrence Baraebibai Ekpebu, Commissioner for Finance; Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, Commissioner for Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources; Mr. K.B. Tsaro-Wiwa, Commissioner for Education; Mr. N. Nwanodi, Commissioner for Health, and Dr. N. B. Graham-Douglas, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.

Others were Chief E. J. A. Origi, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade and Industry; Mr. O. Ngei, Commissioner for Works, Lands and Transport; Chief S. F. Kombo-Igbeta, Commissioner for Establishment; Dr. Obi Wali, Commissioner for Rehabilitation; Dr. W.T. Wakama, Commissioner for Local Government and Information; Professor Isaac Dema, Chairman, Public Service Commission, and Mr. W. P. Daniel-Kalio, Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service. Today, Sim, the PDP and good people of Rivers join Governor Wike in paying homage to these great men.

Sim and New Rivers Vision

Considering that His Excellency, Governor Wike, massively built developmental projects in the three senatorial districts, the New Rivers Vision favours moving the state into production mode. Sim's stewardship will be a continuation of the pro-populi government of the revered Mr. Projects, whose infrastructural trajectory bears close similarity with that of Commander Spiff.

From 2023 the New Rivers Vision will concern itself with human capacity development and creating the right economic condition for Rivers people to, at least, profitably own and operate one-room industries that helped Asian Tigers to their feet. The Sim mandate will focus on:

(a)Education: With your vote and support, Sim will give scholarships, up to doctorate, to Rivers students willing to study internal medicine, artificial intelligence, actuarial science and robotics. These emerging disciplines shape developments in science and technology, according to Professor Turner Isoun.

(b) Agriculture: The World Bank did a study in 1959 stating that old Rivers could feed Africa with wetland rice. This study was abandoned but the Sim stewardship will implement it by establishing farm settlements and mechanised rice farming.

In northern Nigeria small money buys a basket of food but in Rivers a basket of money buys you small food. This is because Rivers is not into commercial farming. The New Rivers Vision will build feed mills to sustain animal husbandry and aqua culture to improve the protein intake of Rivers children.

(c) Pensioners/Civil Servants: A system man, Sim will implement the Rivers Pension Reform (amendment) Law No. 4 of 2022 signed by Governor Wike. Same attention will be brought to bear in the payment of civil servants' salaries, emoluments and entitlements. His firm promise to civil servants is their full welfare package.

(d) Women and Youths: The suffering Rivers woman has a special place in Sim's heart. Working with the beautiful Professor Odu as his deputy, with your blessing, his government will enforce the Rivers State Prohibition of the Curtailment of Women's Right to Share in Family Property Law No. 2 of 2022. Our youths will be empowered to become business owners. Sim is interested in building low-cost houses for allocation to Rivers youths as a way of propping them up as aspiring entrepreneurs.

(e)Industries: The New Rivers Vision will create wealth from the sea with trawlers for deep sea fishing and scheduled cargo/passenger ships to pick passengers from Port Harcourt-Apapa-Accra-Banjul-Liverpool. Elder Dempster plied this route before the civil war scuttled it.

Industrial parks in the senatorial districts will decongest Port Harcourt while bringing job opportunities to rural Rivers. In "The Twelve Day Revolution," Isaac Jasper Boro, recorded that the Niger Delta is full of silicon used in manufacturing solar energy panels. Our ocean floor is also rich in cobalt used in making car batteries. Rivers under the Sim government will produce Made in Rivers car batteries from cobalt mined on the ocean floor by our geology students and their professors.

Profit from such industrial enterprise will then be rechanneled to funding our Rivers State University and Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (see Ajie Osinclair Osiagor's "University Funding: Adapting from Teaching to Production." Business Day, 2nd September 2022 and The Guardian, 5th September 2022). Sim welcomes new ideas when he sees one.

(f)Banking: Commander Spiff established the Rivers-owned Pan African Bank, PAB, to provide credit facilities for Rivers people. Before the civil war Barclay's Bank, Wema Bank, African Continental Bank, First Bank, etc, were not liberal advancing loans to Rivers people to start businesses. Incorporated on 26th June 1970, the PAB changed the narrative when it opened doors for business on 28th April 1971 before going moribund.

Rivers people will have their beloved PAB back in business in a Rivers led by Sim. The new PAB will have branches in the Diaspora to assist our local exporters and importers. Through the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, PHCCIMA, and Shippers Council, it will educate Rivers people on what it takes to be an importer/exporter. Knowledge is power.

(g) Energy: Sim understands industrialising Rivers is contingent on cheap and steady electricity. Nigeria has 27 thermal electricity generating plants using gas produced and piped from the Niger Delta. In addition, it has five hydro electricity plants in Kainji, Shiroro, Jeba, Zamfara and the Mambilla highlands.

Our argument is that since Rivers has abundant rivers for hydro electricity and natural gas for firing thermal plants, energy crisis should be the least of our problems. Sim will reverse the porous electricity supply that makes production a costly venture in Rivers.

With your vote, he will build three thermal plants capable of securing Rivers energy needs till 2053. His energy blue print covers electricity generation, transmission and distribution. Who will stop him from building a state-owned refinery in a Nigeria where private citizens are licensed to build refineries? He understands the times. Adapting to production is strength.

Conclusion

Sim comes with clean hands asking for your vote to serve. In him is a brotherly heart without bitterness as he has no political scores to settle with anyone. As one who espouses the finest principles of leadership, he is a peace maker. None can associate him with killing Rivers youths or Nigerians resident in Rivers.

Creative, humble, honest and industrious, gentle Sim has deep empathy for the suffering of others. His attributes and temperance are universally cherished in any leader with deep reverence for God. Sharpened by the right attitude and learning, his great character convinced the PDP to make him its flag bearer.

Emeka Jonathan is President-General of Sim People's Network, SPN. He writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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