– By Amieyeofori Ibim

“As youths, all hands must be on deck to protect our dear Rivers State in all ramifications. We should be good ambassadors in defending the interest of our State, in ensuring healthy environment and shunning anti-social behaviour that are detrimental to the effects of Government in building a virile State.” – 18 years old Miss. Sophia Awajibenem Eyitemi Oyibo.

“Our dear Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is bequeathing a great State to us, the youths. The best we can do to appreciate him is to protect the various infrastructure that is being built and spread the news that Rivers State is safe for business so that we too can get job opportunities that come with investments.” – 21years old Mr. Anyiam Christian Kelechukwu.

“This campaign is worthwhile because it is not only the Governor and the leaders that are living in this State. The State belongs to all those who live, work, school and do business here. We most join hands to make the State better place and not pull it down.” – 17 years old Miss. Paago Ziga Praise.

These are excerpts from well articulated and patriotism inspired essays of the first, second and third positions winners of the just concluded first leg of the second phase advocacy campaign initiated by the Pastor Paulinus Nsirim led Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, hash tagged #OurStateOurResponsibility. The essay competition was limited to teenagers and youths between the ages of 16 and 25 years. It had the theme: “Rivers State, our State our responsibility.”

The date was Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Venue was the conference room of the State Ministry of Information and Communications where attendant speeches of patriotism and commendations were lavished on the untiring efforts of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike towards placing the State on a fast lane of socio-economic development.

The excitement expressed by participants, their parents, members of the media and other guests at the ceremony, was clear indications of the gains being recorded by the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign.

The second phase of the advocacy campaign initiative is targeted at to deliberately enlisting citizens’ conscious participation in the Governor Wike’s NEW Rivers Vision of project to make Rivers State investors’ destination of choice and the need for citizens to shun detractors whose stock in trade is to demarket Rivers State.

As an incentive, the Ministry gave out cash prizes of N60,000.00, N40,000.00 and N30,000.00 to the first, second and third positions winners while three other winners received consolation prizes of N10,000.00 each. In addition, plaques were presented to the first three winners. The overall winner Miss. Sophia Awajibenem Oyibo became honorary Commissioner for Information and Communications for 30 minutes and will be the face of the Ministry for three months.

In an emotion laden speech, the first position winner of the competition, 18 years old Miss. Sophia Awajibenem Oyibo told the gathering that her participation was influenced by one of the numerous radio jingles of Boma Erekeosima, a renowned journalist and broadcaster of blessed memory, “Love Rivers State or leave her alone. Don’t pull her down. Think what you can for her. Engage yourself in meaningful activities. No room for gossips. Do something meaningful.”

She recalled the zest and love her father had demonstrated in rendering service to Rivers State as a civil servant. “It is not true that civil servants are nonchalant in their service to the State. Civil servants carry out their duties to Rivers State with utmost priority. It made me to also love Rivers State.

“The Government is doing its very best to build a great future for us youths. Governor Wike has done very well and we should commend him and encourage him to do more,” she said.

Lending credence to the Information and Communications Commissioner, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim’s repeated call on citizens to shun those who demarket the State, Miss Sophia said the culture of pulling down Rivers State must not by encouraged to persist by anyone.

“This State belongs to all of us. It must not be destroyed because of personal interest. We owe it the responsibility to build and not to destroy. We should be able to tell ourselves and outsiders when we see good things happening in Rivers State because the prosperity of this State is our priority. Governor Wike is doing well and we should be able to say so all the time,” she said while addressing the media as honorary Commissioner.

Elated by the initiative of the Ministry, father of the third prize winner, Mr. Vizor Imabel Paago expressed delight for the initiative. He described it as a right move that would swiftly change the negative narrative of the State.

Mr. Paago who is a director in the Board of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, announced that he had secured the mandate of the governing council of the Institute to partner with the Ministry of Information and Communications by giving the six emerged winners scholarships in basic safety training at HSE levels 1and 2 as soon as the names were made available to the Institute.

Preceding the presentation of the awards, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim intimated the audience that the vision first launched on July 13, 2019 was informed by the desire to propagate effectively the unprecedented developments recorded by the Governor Wike’s administration through the execution of signature projects and social reengineering that have made remarkable positive impact in the State as against the voice of vocal minority groups that are bent on demarketing the State to scare potential investors.

Nsirim expressed satisfaction that the successful completion of the first leg of the second phase with the emergence of six winners and the overall winner who has been declared the ambassador of the campaign. “With your emergence, the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign will push now push the message further into the hearts of citizens that indeed Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has turned Rivers State to investors haven and that Rivers State is actually not a theatre of violence as being painted by detractors.”

The Commissioner described the developmental strides of Governor Wike in the last six years as unparalleled and revolutionary. “For anyone living and doing business in Rivers State, what has happened in the last six years is like a revolution. Things that they least imagined would happen in the State are already happening because of the ingenuity of Governor Wike who has come to really serve Rivers people.”

Nsirim listed the avalanche of infrastructural development initiatives of the State Government in all sectors of the State economy, including education, healthcare delivery, agriculture, roads and bridges, security infrastructure, Sports, social welfare development, human capacity development amongst others, saying “Governor Wike is carrying out a silent revolution.”

“I am proud to work with His Excellency, because this is a man who has made Rivers people proud. This Government is carrying out a holistic agenda for our people, and I like telling people that Governor Wike is a visionary leader who is committed to building for tomorrow.

“There is no local government in Rivers State that is not feeling the impact of Wike’s administration. He is building all the sectors of the economy for people to enjoy. Rivers State Government under Governor Wike is to ensure that the interest of Rivers people is protected. Rivers State is fast becoming a haven of sort. Governor Wike has redefined governance here. He has made Rivers State the development index for Nigeria,” he emphasised.
Nsirim, who vacated the seat for the secondary school leaver  for 30 minutes, said it was necessary to encourage young people, that they can become famous and earn good  reputations through hard work, honesty and  integrity and not just via ‘Big Brothers Nigeria’.

“I got feedback that made me feel very bad about the prizes we were to give the winners. People asked, why would the prizes for an intellectual competition be N50,000, N30,000 and N20,000. They said, didn’t I see how much they are getting in Big Brothers but that is a sad commentary about our country today, everything is monetised.”
Nsirim, however, said the ministry intends to inculcate the right values through the essay competition and also showcase to the world that the right values can make someone become famous and a model to others. He enjoined the youths to desire the virtues of hardwork, integrity and honesty as the hallmarks of getting to the top in society.

“Our primary objective is to use the winners of this essay competition to showcase to the world that those values of honesty, hardwork, and integrity can still earn somebody recognition and reputation in Nigeria. And that is why these six winners here are going to be ambassadors of a new Rivers State and a new Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the State Commisioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku commended the Ministry of Information and Communications for putting up such an informative and educative platform for the Nigerian Youths.

He commended the Ministry for adopting a rigorous and transparent selection process which resulted in the emergence of the winners describing it as a well deserved awards.

He commended the winners and urged everyone living and doing business in the State to keep a clean record and desist from demarketing the State.

In his speech, the State Commissioner for Youth Development, Prince Ohia Obi admonished youths to ensure they lead their lives making remarkable achievements for themselves and generations to come.

He said that wealth made without content and character is invalid, “take cognisance of the fact that any wealth without content andcharacter is invalid. To develop content is to read and apply knowledge”

“But if you have this content and do not have a good character, respect for the elderly, your content is vanity because it cannot create wealth,” Ohia said.

He expressed gratitude to the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim and the Ministry for putting up a platform through which the young ones would realise that they could be recognised and rewarded for promoting good value system.

Both Commissioners declared their ministries endorsement of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign and promised to collaborate with the Ministry of Information and Communications for the execution of the project.

Mrs. Stephanie Oyibo, mother of the overall winner, gave thanks to God for the victory of her daughter as the face of the Ministry and ambassador of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign of the Ministry.

She expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Information and Communications for evolving a channel through which the negative narrative of the State could be changed through the propagation of the numerous achievements of the State Government.

While thanking participants, parents of the winners and others who graced the ceremony, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Ibiwari Clapton Ogolo said that the essay competition which is geared towards inculcating in the youths the right societal values was the first stage of the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibity Campaign which would include, theme songs, skits and finally short films.

Master Anyaiam, Christian Kelechukwu and Miss. Paago Ziga Praise came second and third winners of the competition. Others who won consolation prizes are Jaja Tamunoimiegba Christian, 18 years old, Amarachi Chimezie, 17 years old and Orovwigho Deborah, 16 years old.

Amieyeofori Ibim,
Special Assistant, media,
Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications,
Rivers State.

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