Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The promotion of the culture, tradition and art in Rivers State received a boost on Saturday as the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, formally unveiled a new Cultural Centre, adjudged the best in Africa.
The project, which was inaugurated by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, according to the state government, is a facility for the promotion of culture, arts and tradition.
Speaking at the ceremony in the heart of Old Port Harcourt Township, Wike renamed the edifice after the evergreen music Icon, Rex Lawson.
He noted that the new name is to immortalise the legendary musician whose music promoted Rivers State and brought joy to the people.
Wike said the cultural centre was abandoned by the immediate past administration, but his administration resolved to complete the project because of its importance to the state.
â€œWe did not re-award the contract. We negotiated with the contractor that abandoned the job, paid him and ensured that this superlative edifice was delivered.
â€œThere will be urban renewal around this neighbourhood where the centre is located. We have reconstructed Creek Road and we will develop other facilities to beautify this areaâ€, he said.
He stated that the State Government would lease the facility out for private management as a means of sustaining it. He said similar facilities were destroyed by civil servants.
â€œFor the opportunity given to me by Rivers State, there is nothing that I cannot do for the state. I will pay the state back in a big wayâ€, he said.
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, commended Wike for the Centre. He stated that the Ebonyi state government would replicate same in Abakiliki and praised the governor for serving Rivers people diligently.
Inaugurating the project, the Ooni of Ife lauded Wike for promoting culture, tourism and tradition through the Rex Lawson Cultural Centre. He praised Wike for working for the ordinary people, a situation which has made him very close to the people.
He stated that he is proud to be associated with Wike because of the governor’s love for Rivers people and urged other governors to emulate him.
The monarch appealed to the Nigerian leaders to set aside politics of bitterness and destruction and focus on service to the people.
Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Tonye Oniyide, said the Centre is the best on the continent and has state-of-the-art facilities.
After the ceremony, Wike, Umahi, the Ooni of Ife, selected guests watched cultural dances, comedy and music performance at the centre.