Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has unveiled the Golden Jubilee Logo for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state.
He declared that the state government would execute a number of landmark projects throughout 2017 to mark the golden jubilee, advance the promise of economic independence and improve access to peace, unity and prosperity for Rivers people.
The governor, who spoke yesterday at the Dr. Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, said the creation of the state marked the liberation of the Rivers people from the forces of oppression and domination.
Speaking at the event attended by the first Military Administrator of the state and Amayanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, political, traditional, women, youth and business leaders of the state, Wike said the golden jubilee celebration has a special and historic significance to the existence of Rivers people and their journey to greatness.
His words: “Before its creation, our people, including our brothers from Bayelsa State, existed as second class citizens in their own country – oppressed, exploited dehumanised and denied even the most basic opportunities of life.
“Every Rivers person was therefore relieved when General Yakubu Gowon on May 27, 1967, dismantled the regional geo-political fortresses of majority domination and pronounced the creation of Rivers State, which unchained and restored our rights to preside over our own affairs and pursue our development aspirations within a united Nigeria.”
He said over the last 50 years, Rivers State has made significant progress, pointing out that the golden jubilee celebration inspires a new direction to build a prosperous state that all Rivers people can be proud of.
“It is in this spirit that we have initiated the celebration of the golden jubilee of our creation and existence as a state to express our joy and thank God for boundless blessings upon us as a people. We want our people to use this occasion of our golden jubilee to unite and together reflect on the tortuous and eventful journey and project into the future with hope and determination,” Wike said.
He added that although the state government is leading the celebrations, the milestone belongs to all Rivers people.
The governor called on the corporate community and individuals to partner with the Golden Jubilee Committee to make the celebration a success.
In his welcome address, Alternate Chairman of the Golden Jubilee Committee, Chief Onueze Okocha, said Rivers people wouldcelebrate in a very big way as of the 12 states created in 1967, Rivers State is one of the two states still standing.
Chairman of the Rivers State Golden Jubilee Committee, Chief Ferdinand Alabrabra said the people of the state were eager to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. He said that January is appropriate to commence the sensitisation for the celebration that will hold in May, 2017.
The event was marked by the blessing of the logo by the Archbishop of the Anglican Province of the Niger Delta, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey; solo rendition by Mrs IB Osuamkpe, separate song renditions by school children, 50 youths and the Glorious Elders Choir.
Addressing a world press conference at the same venue later, Chairman of the Golden Jubilee Committee, Chief Ferdinand Alabrabra, said the committee was planning a month-long celebration that would involve all sectors of the state.
“Rivers State has a proud and illustrious history, and our people are known for their cosmopolitan outlook and resilient spirit. Throughout this celebration, the rich cultural tapestry of Rivers State will be on display. The colourful canoe regatta, beauty pageants and many other cultural activities during the celebration will serve as attractive invitation to investors to come and explore the potentials for growth in the state’s tourism and hospitality sector,” Alabraba said.
He also noted that the state was created as a separate political and administrative unit within the federation after a long and furious debate. “Reasoned dialogue is therefore an essential part of the social life of our people. Public lectures and dialogues on the past, present and future direction of the state will be one of the highlights of the celebration,” he said.
He also said in the course of the celebrations, the state would unveil a template for the development of the state for the next 25 years.
He emphasised that the celebrations was not restricted to any political party, class or section of the state.
“This is a celebration for the entire Rivers people both at home and in the Diaspora. It is not political. It is open to all Rivers people irrespective of political party, class or creed.
“We are celebrating Rivers State from May 27, 1967 to 2017 and all achievements and activities of the state will be fully documented for the world to see. No aspect will be left out,” he emphasised.
Alabraba, who disclosed that the bulk of the funding for the celebrations would come from the private sector, said there would be awards of honour and recognition to deserving persons and organisations.
“Finally, the central purpose of the Golden Jubilee is to strengthen the bonds of history and brotherhood of all the people of Rivers State. We therefore enjoin all Rivers people both in the homeland and in the diaspora to join in the celebration wherever they are,” he said.