In dealing with the history of the Rivers State under the circumstances of this lecture, one can only reasonably concern himself mainly with the movements culminating in the creation of the State, and not necessarily with detailed facts of history of each ethnic group constituting the Rivers State. In any case, a cursory glance at the scope of the Rivers State, its topography and the characteristics of its peoples, would appear requisite, in order to give a clearer view on the subject matter.
1. Scope of the Rivers State: The Rivers State, before 1973, comprised five administrative Divisions, namely, Ahoada, Brass, Degema, Ogoni and Port Harcourt Divisions, The Andonis, the Opobos and the Western Ijaws, should rightly have come within the ambit of the Rivers State, being purely riverine peoples, and mostly of the Ijaw tribe, but they were excluded for the following reasons: –
The Western Ijaws were excluded on the pretext that the Rivers Province including them would prove too unwieldy to administer then. The Opobos, with the Andonis already in the Opobo Division, opted out of the Rivers Province when it was created, for fear of losing prestige as a divisional headquarters.
2. Topography of the Rivers State: The Ahoada and Ogoni Divisions of the Rivers State consist more of compact land mass suited for agrarian pursuits, although small scale fishing is carried out: whereas the Brass and Degema Divisions consist of land interspersed by a labyrinth of innumerable creeks and channels. The Degema Division as well as the southern portions of the Brass Division, consists mainly of mangrove forests and swamps, suited for piscatory pursuits. Communication in the two latter Divisions is an herculean task, thus retarding the requisite rapid and contemporaneous progress and development of the people, who, by nature, are hardy and most enterprising. The Port Harcourt Division forms the capital area of the State, the inhabitants of which are mainly civil servants, traders, contractors, artisans, technicians, businessmen, and free women, excepting the Diobu people who engage mainly in farming, trading and fishing on a small scale.
3. Characteristics of the Rivers People: The Rivers peoples are by nature most accommodating, friendly and hospitable, sustaining an open door policy towards all corners from other ethnic groups. On the return home of most of them after their gruesome battle against the waves, fishing, and from their farms, they recline in various cultural displays and amusement, devoid of malice against anybody. They sing and dance in great merriment for most part of the day. They are known to protect the cause of strangers in their midst more than they do for their compatriots. They arc great mixers, and their anger is comparatively short lived. Their very nature is thus conducive to the much desired unity in Nigeria. Thus, when the Rivers State Government makes friendly approaches to other States in the Federation, they are not exhibiting an unaccustomed effort to catch flies as with honey, but rather, they are expressing in concrete form, their true nature. But if their beneficiaries by any means bite the finger that feeds them, they can plunge into dreadful, frantic, and devastating rage, which cools off in comparatively short period.
4. Origins of, and Trends Towards, the Creating of the Rivers State: This period may aptly be described as a period of pregnancy, consisting of the motivations which urged the people to clamour for a Rivers State. The people of the Rivers State (particularly in the riverine areas, such as Bonny and Brass,) had, from the advent of Missionaries and European traders in the 15th century, exhibited the inherent desire for self determination. This is borne out by the facts of the Akassa raid, and the opposition of King Jaja of Opobo against European intrusion into the trade and affairs of the people, as well as the importation of European workers to Bonny by King Pepple of Bonny, under his employment to build up Bonny to become as respectable as England. The people then were compelled to submit to European hegemony by sheer force of superior arms. From this period of smothered resistance, the people became pregnant with a fervent zeal for self determination. The British realising this attitude of mind of the Rivers people, undertook, in the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, in the 19th Century to conclude treaties of friendship and mutual protection with several maritime clans such as Bonny, Kalabari, Brass and Okrika.
5. Motivations in Broad Outline; These were: –
(i) The desire for equality of opportunity to all Nigerians at all levels.
(ii) The desire for special treatment of the physical handicaps of the Niger Delta area; and
(iii) The desire for continuity of the cultural traits and history of the Rivers
6. Inequality, of Opportunity at all levels
(i) The trend of nationalism in Nigeria in the thirties of this century as well as constitutional structures tended to fuse minority elements, in spite of their age and pronounced identity, into majority neighbours-e.g. Billes fused into Kalabari at the clan level; Elemes into Ahoada at the Divisional level, Ijaws, Ogonis and Ikwcrres into Ibo at the Provincial level, and the bottle-necks at Enugu, Ibadan and Kaduna, for groups of Provinces where all minorities were completely emasculated.
(ii) Priorities for determining the distribution of national and public facilities took cognizance more of the needs of majority groups than minorities, in regard to structures and systems in operation.
(iii) Political slogans, thinking, and formations tended to follow and justify the imbalance indicated above—and all in the name of democracy!
(iv) Journalism found ready market among the majority groups in Nigeria for championing their cause.
(v) Religion cashed in on this imbalance in favour of majority groups, thus back-pedalling from the rightful cause of justice and equity for which the church is an advocate.
Towns/Areas in Rivers State
- Abua & Odual (2)
- Ahoada East (7)
- Ahoada West (3)
- Akuku Toru (5)
- Andoni (6)
- Asari-Toru (2)
- Bonny (5)
- Degema (1)
- Eleme (1)
- Emohua (3)
- Etche (3)
- Gokana (3)
- Ikwerre (2)
- Khana (2)
- Obio-Akpor (3)
- Ogba & Egbema & Ndoni (1)
- Ogu & Bolo (3)
- Okrika (3)
- Omuma (1)
- Oyigbo (2)
- Port-Harcourt (49)
7. Niger Delta Physical Handicaps:
(i) Facilities for human services in maritime areas of the Niger Delta – by Government officials and private functionaries alike – were virtually not provided.
(ii) Scientific studies and reports about the difference in the physical configuration of the Niger Delta from the rest of the country were not undertaken since these did not concern majority groups in the country.
(iii). The result from the handicaps above was utter neglect, backwardness, and’ poverty of the Riversman.
(iv) This condition was worsened by international traders based in the riverine areas, by shifting economic middlemanship from the Riversman to majority groups in the hinterland where physical facilities, studies and thriving populations created great outlets and markets for imported goods.
(v) The above occasioned drift of populations from the coastal areas to the hinterland, thus causing great physical handicap to the Rivers people.
8. Cultural and Historical Problems:
(1) New fortunes and improved political status of the majority groups attracted the association of separate Rivers Groups to them, and this aggravated the inherent lack of cohesion among Rivers elements, and threatened their culture.
(ii) Lack of comparable honourable history among some groups excited envy which threatened the existence of many traditional relics in the Rivers area by way of reprisals by nearest majority neighbours.
(iii) Dearth of organisations beyond the clan level enhanced the natural isolationist tendency among Rivers people and prevented collective bargaining among them.
(iv) Lack of recognition of common purpose among Rivers people thwarted the evolution of common platforms for thinking together and acting together.
(v) Education for food being the prime ambition of Riversmen, people addicted to enslaving themselves to paymasters were produced instead of, lake their forbears, self-employed persons who would serve God and humanity with unfettered will.
9. Period of Travail:
The Rivers people had long been pregnant with the urge to assert themselves as a people capable of administering their own affairs in the way best suited to them, as has already been indicated above. The forties of this century constituted a period of travail, preparatory to the birth of the child conceived in the womb. A number of leading personalities of Rivers origin played their part on the stage of the ensuing drama, and certain circumstances gave the impetus to the activities of the personalities concerned.
It was known that in 1941, Mr. Harold J. R. Wilcox (now Chief Biriye), fresh from King’s College, Lagos, drove into his father, late Mr. R. T. E. Wilcox (later Chief and Magistrate) the reality of the fact that only a separate province for the various communities traditionally styled by our Ibo neighbours as Rivers people, would induce a government based in Lagos to provide relevant facilities for the people. He also suggested to his father the need for the organisation of a body for these communities to press for creation of a Rivers Province.
Meanwhile, the Ibo and the Ibibio State Unions had been formed to cater for the well being of their peoples; their returnee graduates from the United States of America made an irresistible impact upon their peop1e. That was the era of tribal irredentism. Thus in 1942, at Aba, a giant and a highly educated political leader from a neighbouring majority tribe addressed a mass rally of his people, infusing into their minds the ambition to dominate other ethnic groups, and outlined plans for the achievement of this ambition. Some Rivers elements present at that rally caught the hint and became gauled forthwith. All these served as impetus to prop up initiatives to form an organised body to fight for the rights of the Rivers people.
Thus on the 18th November, 1943, late Chief R. T. E. Wilcox, then a Government Supervising Teacher, with other Rivers indigenes invited Chiefs and people of the Rivers area to a meeting at the old Enitonna High School Hall, Port Harcourt at which he briefed the gathering on the issues involved. There and then the house resolved on the formation of the Ijaw Rivers Peoples’ League. The communities initially concerned with this movement were those of the Brass and Degema Divisions as well as Western Ijaws and those of Opobo town. The Ndokis enlisted as members of the League later. The designation of the League was adopted to afford the communities in Ahoada and Ogoni Divisions an open door to come in when they chose to do so.
Mr. (later Chief and Magistrate) R. T. E. Wilcox, President-General; Mr. E. D. Wolsele (now Chief Opu-Ogulaya), Deputy President; Messrs B. M. T. Epelle, and Abassa from Western Ijaw, Vice-Presidents; Messrs S. D. Akanibo, Principal Secretary and Andrew Ogudire his assistant; D. B. Iwarimie Jaja, Organizing Secretary; C. Egi of Brass, as Field Secretary; Hamilton B. Thom-Manuel, as Treasurer; late Mr. D. Achebbs (later Chief), as Financial Secretary; and Mr. W. W. Peters (now Chief Inyeinengi Daka), as Publicity Secretary.
In March, 1944, barely four months after the birth of the League, our Colonial paymasters transferred the President-General to Ijebu in the West, in order to cripple the movement. In April, 1944, Mr. E. D. Wolseley (Chief Opu-Ogulaya), was elected President-General, with the addition of Bishop Davies Manuel and one Mr. Hart of Bonny as Vice Presidents. Delegations of the League, led by influential members toured the maritime areas of the State stimulating the consciousness of the masses towards self determination. The League was financed from contributions by Clan Unions which constituted the membership of the League, as well as donations by individual members of the League and well-wishers. Prominent citizens of the Rivers area, such as Chief the Hon. Henry Buowari Brown of Bonny, later member of the Legislative Council of Nigeria, and Mr. Francis Alagoa later His Highness Chief F. Alagoa the Mingi X of Nembe, were inducted as Patrons, on payment of a hundred Naira or part thereof, and given special honoured seats on the dais during conference meetings of the League.
10. Parliamentary, Pressure: Pressure for a Rivers Province was generated in the old Legislative Council in Lagos by the late Rt. Rev. B. T. Dimieari, member in the Legislative Council from 1944 to 1946. He was supported by Chief the Hon. Obaseki, Prime Minister of Benin. The Hansards of 1946 are replete with speeches of these two legislators on the issue. The Ijaw State Union in Lagos also sustained pressure for a Rivers State. In 1947, the President-General, Mr. B. D. Wolseley (Chief Opu-Ogulaya) led a delegation of the League, including a traditional ruler, Chief S. I. Adoki of Okrika, which interviewed the Chief Secretary to the Colonial Government of Nigeria, pressing for the creation of the Rivers Province.
As a result of these pressures, the Governor of Nigeria, Sir Arthur Richards, toured the old Owerri Province, visiting some of the places proposed for the Rivers Province, in 1947. Subsequently the Rivers Province was constituted with Head quarters at Port Harcourt, with effect from April, 1947, sending the Headquarters of Owerri Province to Umuahia. The first Resident of the Province was Mr. Chubb who could from then make his representations to the Legislative Council in Lagos for attention to the maritime and amphibious problems of the new Province. This was the first capital success achieved by the League and its assessors.
11 Period of Victimization: The next period was that of a chain of victimisation strung around the neck of the new President-General by the Colonial Masters. The Government became highly apprehensive of the growing influence of the League and so resorted to debased tactics once more. In 1949, Mr. H. W. Newington, then of Chiefs District Officer, Degema, made an unproductive attempt to placate the President- General at Okrika with offer of an appointment as Sole Judge in Okrika, if he would abandon the cause of the League. In August of the same year, at the instance of the Resident of the Rivers Province, Messrs Newington and H. N. Harcourt, then District Officer, Port Harcourt came to the hall of the old Enitonna High School, Port Harcourt, and watched the Presidential address delivered to the Conference of the League, seeking for pretext to entangle the President-General.
Later in the year, the President-General was caused to be arrested by a police constable from Degema under a most flimsy excuse, but later released at the intervention of Barrister O. C. Nonyelu, Counsel for the Okrika Progress Union.
In December, 1949, after the usual Niger Delta Archdeaconry transfer of teachers had been concluded, the expatriate Diocesan Bishop of the Niger Diocese at Onitsha was acquainted with the activities of the President-General, and so, like his predecessor, he was ordered to be transferred to Okigwe Division in 1950. Thus after presiding over a meeting of the League in May, 1950, while on holiday, no other President-General was appointed, and the League consequently dosed off for a period, only to emerge subsequently as the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference.
Before this, in 1951, a new body called the Ijaw Union was formed with Mr. Harold J. R. Wilcox (now Chief Biriye) as Secretary, and late Mr H. B. Thom-Manuel as President. This body kept the Ijaw elements in Port Harcourt together, and sought for fair representation for them in the Port Harcourt Municipal Council.
This union divided and died out when its members, owing to growing party loyalties declined to claim direct representation on the delegations going to the 1953 London Conference called by the Colonial Secretary to review the Macpherson Constitution. The leaders of this defunct body assumed another name and petitioned Sir John Macpherson, through Major J. C. C. Allen, then Resident of the Rivers Province, calling for a direct seat at the 1953 London Conference to press for a separate Rivers State. Nine people signed the petition including Mr H. J. R. Wilcox (now Chief Biriye), Mr Mac Karibo and Chief A. P. Asisi-Abbey. At the call of the Lt.-Governor at Enugu, Mr H. J. R. Wilcox (Chief Biriye) and Chief A. P. Asisi-Abbey went to Enugu and defended their petition before Sir Clement Pleace, the Lt. -Governor who communicated their deliberations to Sir. John in Lagos. The outcome of this pressure on Government by this non-descript group was that Government arranged for Chief D. Davis-Manuel of Abonnema nominated by that body to go to London and join the Nigerian team as adviser to the Eyo Ita’s Government bench delegation.
About July, 1953, a new body made its debut in Roxy Hall, Port Harcourt, which was called the Council of Rivers Chiefs, with Chief Ben-Wari of Bassambiri, Nembe, as first President, and Chief D. Davis-Manuel as his Vice President.
Mr. Isaac T. T. Pepple was a paid Secretary. Mr. H. J. R. Wilcox (Chief Biriye) was in the working committee. The petition carried to London by Chief Davis- Manuel called for a Rivers State. For the resumed conference of 1954, the Council of Rivers Chiefs delegated Chief Asisi-Abbey and Mr. H. J. R. Wicox to Sir John
Macpherson in-Lagos with a petition urging the issue of a separate Rivers State to be scheduled on the agenda of the resumed conference in 1954.
12. Constitutional Changes:
(1) The Ibadan conference of 1950 ushered in the Macpherson Constitution of 1951, which created regional bottlenecks for groups of Provinces. The new Rivers Province thus had to process its programmes through Enugu, a process which made it virtually difficult for the Rivers people to get attention for their priorities, vis-a-vis the problems of majority groups
(ii) Rivers people were in no control of the Rivers Province, politically, economically and socially. Port Harcourt, the only developing town in the new province was populated predominantly by a majority tribal group.
(iii) By this time the Ijaw Rivers Peoples League was phasing out, since its original leaders had been removed from the sphere. of operations, by their paymasters.
13. Action Group and Rivers State Issue: On Easter Monday in 1954, Mr. Harold J. R. Wilcox held a meeting with Mr. Alfred Rewane, Political Secretary to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, President and Leader of the Action Group, at Mr. F. D. Stowe’s house, Port Harcourt, and the matter of proffering Action Group support for the Rivers State issue was thrashed out. As a result, the Action Group was introduced in the Rivers Province with Mr. Harold Wilcox as Principal Organising Secretary, and Mr. Kenneth Dappa of Bakana as Organising Secretary in the Federal Election of 1954, Chief N. G. Yellowe, one of the members, succeeded as an Action Group candidate for Degema Division. The Rivers State was the election issue for the Action Group in the Rivers Province.
Subsequently, the Action Group extended the Rivers State boundary to include the old Calabar and the old Ogoja Provinces to constitute a COR State. This created a rift in the rank of the members, and Mr. H. Wilcox resigned from the party in January, 1955, but took to organizing Rivers people in support of a Rivers State. Other party members from Degema Division openly supported the C.O.R. State concept.
14. Other Bodies which supported the Rivers State:
Some Rivers University Student Bodies from the University of Ibadan in 1954 and those in the United Kingdom, among whom were Mr. S. F. Kombo, (now Chief Igbeta), and Mr. Reginald Kemmer (now Chief Agiobu Kemmer) played prominent part in their various locations in favour of a Rivers State. N.C.N.C. members of Rivers origin in Lagos, led by Mr. Eric Bob Manuel started off a Rivers State movement in Lagos.
15. Rivers State Congress:
A Rivers State Congress was formed in 1955 with Mr. (later Chief) John A. Nsirim of Isiokpo as President, and Mr. H. J. R. Wilcox as Secretary. –Barrister (later Chief) Inko-Tariah later succeeded Mr. Nsirim as President. This body succeeded in preventing the Eastern Regional Government from abolishing Comey Subsidy grants in 1955, thus preserving a traditional relic of Rivers Chieftaincy and history. This body retained the services of Sir Dinglc Foot, Mr R. K. Handoo, and Mr Graham Page, a British Member of Parliament in that encounter. The Congress was granted a direct seat at the Eastern Nigeria Summit Conference at Enugu in 1956, where the matter for a Rivers State was pressed. This conference was called to sift matters for the agenda of the Eastern delegation for the Nigerian Constitutional Conference to be held in London later that year.
16. Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference:
On July 4, 1956, a common urge for a Rivers State caused chiefs and people, irrespective- of partisanship to get together and form the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference. The motion was moved by Mr P. G. Warmate (now Chief), Francis Alagoa of Nembe and Mr H. J. R. Biriye (formerly Wilcox) were elected Chairman and Principal Secretary respectively. Mr. J. O. Barnes was appointed Secretary. In 1957, this body was permitted by the Colonial Office to send a delegation of Rivers Chiefs to London to discuss the treaties between the British Crown and Rivers Communities. The three eminent lawyers for the Corney Subsidy tussle were still retained throughout the Constitutional battles. The Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference was also accorded a distinct seat out of two seats intended for Chiefs of former Eastern Nigeria at the Constitutional Conference held in London in 1957. Mr Harold J. R. Dappa-Biriye was appointed by the Conference to represent them for these two separate seats. The principal theme of his mandate was pressure for a Rivers State.
One direct outcome of the delegate’s performance was the high-lighting of permanent minority problems in Nigeria, and consequent appointment in 1957 of the Henry Willink Commission of Enquiry into Nigerian Minority Problems.
An outcome of this commission was the constitutional provision for a Niger Delta Special Area and the setting up of a Development Board for the area.
Another result was participation in creating a House of Chiefs in former Eastern Nigeria, and the attainment of five out of the eight traditional First Class Chieftaincies in that territory in favour of minority groups of the Region On September 1,1965. a conference of this body was held, presided over by Chief E. D. W. Opu-Ogulaya at which a resolution calling for creation of a Rivers State was passed and signed by the Chairman and forwarded to the Federal Parliament.
17. Niger Delta Congress:
As the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference, being a non-partisan umbrella, could not field candidates for the 1959 Federal election that preceded Nigeria’s Independence, the body authorised the formation of a political party to contest the issue of a Rivers State at that election. Thus the N. D. C. was born. Mr. Harold J. R. Biriye was appointed President and Leader of the party. Mr. J. A. Jamabo was appointed Secretary, and Mr F. F. Alaputa its Treasurer. The leaders went up to Kaduna in August, 1959, and contracted an alliance with the Northern Peoples Congress in the ensuing election, Mr. M. O. Okilo was returned as its successful candidate for Brass Division. He soon became the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. –
18 The Niger Delta Development Board:
The late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa brought in Nedeco experts to study and report on possibilities for physical development of the Niger Delta Special Area in 1959/60.
The board was set up in 1961 for an initial period of ten years, Chief I. S. Anthony was its Chairman and Mr. A. Zuofa its Secretary. It produced some reports before the Nigerian crisis.
During 1963 Constitutional Conference in Lagos for a Republican Status N. D. C. delegates prevented the abolition of the Niger Delta Development Board.
Those who attended were Messrs Harold J. R. Biriye, C. D. Clement and S. A. Opusunju of Opobo.
19. The Boro Episode:
Early in the Military regime, late Mr Isaac Boro declared a Niger Delta State, which incident was contained by the Nigeria Police and the culprits brought to book. Some Rivers Leaders like Chief Harold I. R. Dappa Biriye who had assumed the Chieftaincy title of his late father, and Dr I. J. Fiberesima (later Chief) were questioned by the police for the incident, and the former kept under house arrest from February, 1966 till the first military regime faded out.
20. Second Military, Regime:
Rivers delegates to the Enugu Consultative Assembly in August, 1966, reopened the cry for a Rivers State and for other States as a basis for further association in Nigeria. The delegates included Chief H. Dappa-Biriye, Mr W. O. Briggs and Dr W. T. Wakama. On September, 10, 1966, Rivers Leaders of Thought delegated Chiefs H. J. R. Biriye, B. J. Oriji and Mr. Wenike Briggs to the Head of State General Yakubu Gowon in Lagos to press for States in Nigeria, the Rivers State being one. Signatories to the petition carried along included Mr. I. Nwanodi, Mr. Edward Kobani, Dr Fiberesima and Mr. Graham Otoko of Andoni.
The delegates applied mature diplomacy, artifice and strategy. Chief Oriji was deployed back to console the home front. Mr. Wenike Briggs stood firmer with the Corists. Chief H. I. R. Dappa-Biriye dug into military and civilian entrenchments in Lagos. The West and the North, and surfaced with the Rivers State flag.
21. Birth of the Rivers State:
On May 27, 1967, General Gowon announced the creation of twelve States in Nigeria including the Rivers State. In his relevant speech he paid glowing tributes to minority pressure for creation of States in Nigeria.
In June, 1967, the first Nigerian mission to the United Nations Assembly in New York on the Middle-East crisis was a five-man delegation which consisted of three Nigerians from former Minority areas: Chief Anthony Enahoro from the Mid-West, Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye from the Rivers, and Mr. Michael Ani, from the South-Eastern State. The other two persons were Chief Akin Olugbade from the West, and Alhaji Au Monguno from the North.
Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff was appointed Military Governor of Rivers State in May, 1967, who, under directive from the Head of State, set up a nucleus of public administration in the territory. Owing to belligerent mood in the area the Military Governor of the State operated an absentee government from 24 Queens Drive, Lagos, using an Advisory Council which included Professor I. S. Dema who could not attend from Ghana; Dr. Melford Graham-Douglas, Mr. S. Eke-Spiff, Mr. A. Zuofa, Mr. K. B. Tsaro-Wiwa, Mr. O. Nduka (these last two resigned) and Mr. S. Uzor. After Bonny had been liberated on July 25, 1967, an administration was started there using Mr. K. B. Tsaro-Wiwa as Administrator. When Port Harcourt was liberated on May 18, 1968, the Military Governor shifted base from Lagos to the State by mid year. At the end of the year, he appointed a ten-man Executive Council, including himself as ex-officio Chairman, the General Officer Commanding, the Commissioner of Police and seven civil Commissioners.
The Rivers State Government in action has remained stable and viable from the outset, and has created ample public organs for its services: – The courts of Justice the Civil Service, Boards, Corporations and State-owned companies:
Cultural Councils, the College of Science and Technology, the Advanced Teacher Training College, and other educational institutions.
The Rivers State Government and Religious bodies in the State are working harmoniously and in mutual confidence. The Rivers State Government and traditional authority in the State are hands in gloves. The Government has created incentives to stimulate and promote the private sector in all recognizable occupations.
It has launched a Four-Year-Development Plan to overcome the physical handicaps of the Rivers area. The Rivers State is represented at the Supreme Military Council and the Federal Executive Council directly by Rivers people. Places are open for competent Rivers elements in other public organs at the Federal and national level.
Taking stock of results of the protracted efforts by the Rivers pioneers and various actors on the stage, decade after decade, it can be said with confidence and satisfaction that most of the mischiefs which motivated organization and action on our part, have been cured. Equality of opportunity for all Nigerians at all levels has been guaranteed by the creation of 12 States, and in the Rivers State, by creating 18 Administrative Divisions.
The physical handicaps of the Rivers area have been contained by the Development Plan of the Rivers State Government and those of various Rivers Communities. Rivers traditional traits and historical heritage have prospects of being re-conditioned for service in Society.
The Administrative and Economic viability of this State has been proved beyond every shadow of doubt. The moral quality of Rivers people and their leaders has been esteemed by all valuers as very high. The attainment of Statehood by Rivers people is both quantitative and qualitative not only because of the eminence of the target, but also because of the difficulties our leaders traversed to attain it.
Behind many good deeds of great men and women, the faithful wives of our pioneers and actors on the stage from decade to decade deserve deep commendation. To God we must all give glory for the Rivers State, realising that:— “Except the Lord builds the house their labour is but lost that build it”.
By CHIEF E. D. W. OPUOGULAYA, J.P,