By Amieyeofori Ibim
Few weeks ago, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim invited journalists to his office to intimate Rivers people about the readiness of his Ministry to commence the second phase of its advocacy campaign programme hashtagged #OurStateOurResponsibility.
The initiative is aimed at mobilising people living and doing business in Rivers State to promote the giant strides recorded by the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s administration, showcase the proud heritage of the Rivers people known for their traditional hospitality and to change the negative narrative about the State. It was first launched on July 13, 2019.
Observers allude to the fact that Rivers State under Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, in the last six years, has witnessed unprecedented developments in areas of landmark projects and social re-engineering that have brought about tremendous positive impact in every facet of life.
In executing the first phase of the campaign, the Ministry took the advocacy to the doorsteps of different media organisations, traditional rulers, various professional bodies and associations, including faith-based organisations with a clear mission to etch into the psyche of everyone living and doing business in Rivers State to know that the State belongs to them all and therefore the responsibility to uphold virtues that only portray the State in good light and to counter evil political, religious and ethnic bigots whose stock in trade is to demarket the State.
Two years down the line, reports have indicated overwhelming and massive buy-in by citizens from all walks of life resident in the State. Indeed, people from all facets of society including non-indigenes residing and or doing business in the State readily embraced and owned the message of #OurStateOurResponsibility.
The campaign received such high level of acceptance by the public as the Ministry leveraged on the glaring unprecedented achievements of the State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who has shown unparalleled commitment to religiously execute his deliberately mapped out NEW Rivers Vision blueprint launched shortly after he assumed office as Governor on May 29, 2015.
This motivated the Ministry to thinker on a second phase of the campaign, this time, aimed at evolving further steps to impress the message in the hearts of the citizens with deliberate intention to ensure that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers project and to portray the State in its true positive status as the most hospital in Nigeria. The second phase of #OurStateOurResponsibility was launched on September 1, 2021.
Rolling out the various segments of the second phase, Nsirim told the media that the advocacy campaign would stretch beyond solidarity campaign to engage residents of the State on essay writing, theme song, skits and short film competitions which would attract cash prizes.
“As an incentive, the Ministry of Information and Communications has earmarked cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners of the essay competition. There would also be consolation prizes for the fourth, fifth and sixth placed participants. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners would also be presented with memorable plaques for their efforts on October 4, 2021,” he told newsmen.
The Commissioner disclosed that the Ministry would also call for entries from members of the public, including members of the Port Harcourt chapter of the Advertisers Practitioners Council for the team song selection, skits and short film competitions centred around the hash tag to further create more awareness that would give greater visibility to the advocacy campaign.
The essay competition is between people within ages 16 to 25 years. According to the Commissioner, the reason for this is to inculcate in the minds of the young ones the idea and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the advocacy.
“Apart from the monetary incentives that would accompany the best of each category, the works would receive reviews on the media platforms of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, plaques would also be presented to the winners. Moreover, winners of the various categories would become Ambassadors of the Ministry of Information and Communications and would be specially invited in all activities of the Ministry for the quarter (three months) of their reign,” says Nsirim.
The spokesman of the Rivers State Government did not end the conveyance of the message within the confines of his office. He took a step further to engage the various State owned media organisations on a live radio and television programmes as a another avenue to elicit public conversation in advancing the advocacy to the public.
At the Radio Rivers, Nsirim was equivocal on the justification for the advocacy campaign. He told millions of listeners that the ingenuity of Governor Wike has brought about rapid infrastructural development of Rivers State hence the need to sell the good product.
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 one man who has come to really serve his people,” he said.
Nsirim recounted the numerous infrastructural development initiatives of the State Government in the various sectors, including education, healthcare delivery, agriculture, roads and bridges, security, Sports amongst others, saying that the State Government is carrying out a silent revolution.
“This Government is carrying out a holistic agenda for our people, and like I tell people, Governor Nyesom Wike is a visionary leader. He is building for tomorrow.
“He is building all the sectors of the economy for people to enjoy. Rivers State is supposed to be a haven of sort, and that is what Governor Wike is trying to do in redefining governance here.
“There is no local government in Rivers State that is not feeling the impact of this administration. Rivers State government under Governor Wike is to ensure that the interest of Rivers people is protected,” Nsirim emphasised.
He said Wike has become the beautiful bride because the facts on ground had distinguished him from the crowd as a man carrying out a revolution in governance in Nigeria. “All the media houses have come to recognise that and have given him awards.”
As guest to the Garden City radio station live programme, Nsirim told the numerous listeners that the Chief Executive of the State, Governor Wike’s vision is to place Nigeria on the path of true federalism. “The point I would want every Rivers person to understand first is, today, we have a Governor Wike, a visionary leader beyond Rivers state and beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“What you have seen with the VAT issue just clearly shows that we have a man at this time in history who has taken it upon himself to right the wrongs and place Nigeria on the path of true federalism.
Bolstered by the unprecedented achievements of Governor Wike which has made it easier for the #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign message to be sold, the Information and Communications Commissioner mocked the leadership of the opposition in the State which had earlier expressed scepticism on the success of the Wike’s government.
“Remember and I like making this point because people need to know where we are coming from. In 2015, this man was told they would see where he would see money to pay salaries and do projects
“He inherited four months’ unpaid salaries. He inherited five months’ pension arrears. This was the only administration in Nigeria that did not get a handover note from the previous administration, but look at where we are. We are in a place of glory,” he said.
Nsirim described the rapid development witnessed in the State currently as a golden era. “I also make the point that because Governor Wike is a people-oriented Governor, even the less privileged feels the impact of his administration. The Rehabilitation Centre we have at Iriebe today is the best in the country.
The Commissioner insisted that the Governor remained committed to his ultimate desire to make Rivers State the destination of choice.
Playing guest to the Rivers State Television on a live programme, Nsirim said categorically that Governor Nyesom Wike has made Rivers people proud by showing the roadmap for development and governance in Nigeria.
“That’s why it pays to have a patriotic leader at the helm of affairs. All the places we have gone to receive awards as best Governor, the story is the same. Wike has made Rivers people proud, that’s why I am proud working with him.
“You don’t need a lot of advertising, when you have a good product. Wike has become the face of democracy in Nigeria, so, you don’t need to struggle to convince people to rally around you.
“The facts on ground in the areas of infrastructure network, education, Sports, security, human capital development amongst others, speak for themselves.
“These are things you thought would never be possible. But one man who has vision, political will and the interest of Rivers people has come to redefine governance in Rivers State and Nigeria,” the Information Commissioner remarked.
Nsirim is optimistic that the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign will achieve it’s set goal of enlisting effective citizens participation in governance in the State.
Amieyeofori Ibim is the Special Assistant, Media, to the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.