Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has honoured 162 distinguished Nigerians for their inspirational achievements, impactful life and contributions to the progress of the state in particular and the nation in general.
Among those honoured are eight state governors, nine former governors of other states, lawyers and others who have demonstrated a high level of loyalty to the nation, excellence in public service, commitment to equity, equality and justice in the country and love for the government and the people of Rivers State.
Governor Wike presented the awards to the awardees during the State Honours and Awards ceremony 2022 which held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt on Saturday night.
The award were in four categories, namely: the Grand Service Star of Rivers State, GSSRS, the Distinguished Service State of Rivers State, DSSRS; the Governor’s Medal of Service, GMS, and the Rivers State Merit Award, RSMA.
Those conferred with Rivers’ most prestigious award, the Grand Service Star of Rivers State, GSSRS, are governors Samuel Ortom (Benue); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa) and David Umahi (Ebonyi).
Others include former governors, Olabode George, Jonah Jang, Donald Duke, Ayodele Fayose, Ibrahim Idris, Olusegun Mimiko, Theodore Orji, Dr Ibrahim Dankwanbo and Adams Oshiomhole.
110 distinguished personalities were conferred with the Distinguished Service State of Rivers State, DSSRS.
They include wives of the governors of Rivers and Oyo, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike and Mrs. Tamunominini Makinde; Mrs. Onari Donald Duke, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
Rivers State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Simeon Amadi; Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN; Senator Olaka Nwogu, Sir Siminilayi Fubara; Prof. Ngozi Odu; Chief Dan Orbih; His Majesty, Dr. Dandeson Douglas Jaja; Prof. Jerry Gana; Emmauel Ukala, SAN, Chief Nnaemeka Ngige, SAN, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN among others.
Similarly, 33 personalities were presented with the Governor’s Medal of Service, GMS, and two others, Mr. Oruwuru Pere Shedrack and Mrs. Patience Nwogu, with the Rivers State Merit Award, RSMA.
In his remarks, Governor Wike, who explained that the State honours and awards were solely the initiative of former governor, Dr. Peter Odili, remarked that everyone bestowed with an award on Saturday night had distinguished themselves by their good character, personal achievements and positive contributions to society.
The governor stated that the eight governors and former governors honoured by the state were selected from different political parties because of their love for the growth and development of Rivers State.
He said: “I want to say to all of you that Ortom, Seyi, Ugwuanyi, Ikpeazu, Fintiri (you are not with us, you are with your uncle), in terms of principle, these young men are the people you can trust any day any time.
“Bala Mohammed is a G-1, on his own, one man riot squad. But you can trust him. Fintiri, is my friend, he is our friend. It doesn’t matter the differences. He wants his brother to be president. But we still keep our relationship and that is the way it is supposed to be.
“I fought Umahi to the last. He never slept. But I don’t know how God is trying to help him. Most of you remember I was the one who fought Oshiomhole. Sorry that I fought you. Until you get information you have never had before, Oshio Baba sorry. But I did it for the interest of my party.”
The governor said the honours advisory committee had nominated an array of Senior Advocates of Nigeria who had been at the forefront of Rivers State numerous legal battles with the federal government and other states.
He said their professional services, sacrifice and contributions were central to the state government successes in the various courts and the consequential economic benefits Rivers people now enjoy.
The governor said he would refrain from naming the lawyers and commending them publicly because similar gesture extended to President Muhammadu Buhari had elicited unwarranted acrimony in the Niger Delta.
He said: “Human beings instead of them to say I appreciate you, they become envious. Because I say Buhari thank you, I am having problems today. That is the country we are in. I am not a fan of Buhari.
“When a man has done well say he has done well in this area. If he has not done well you say so. I have no apologies to anybody. If Buhari did not release the money from 1999 which my party did not even release, I wouldn’t have been doing what I am doing. I say it and I don’t give a damn to anybody. I don’t care.
“I got the money, I am not a fan of Buhari. He has not done well in many areas, but this one he has done well. My party members may not be happy. But they should not be angry, because this one, he did well.
“He gave me money and I used the money to do something for people in Rivers State. This money was there. Nobody paid us. I hear somebody saying that his three kilometre road would do my 15 flyovers. No problem. Do the three kilometres first. Tell Nigerians you are doing three kilometres.”
The governor said he has advised governors of Ebonyi and Kogi States not to waste their money in supporting any governorship candidate in the state, because the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will win all elective positions in the 2023 general elections.
“In my state we know who is going to be our successor. I want to advise you, if you’re spending money on anybody stop. Here we have a successor. It is not by my power, but it is by what we have done in this state. It’s not that I want to impose a successor. It is not true.”
The Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said Governor Wike had demonstrated that he was a true patriot and nationalist by honouring Nigerians from the six geopolitical zones, irrespective of their religious and political persuasion.
“Today, in Nigeria as we march towards 2023, we are not looking at political parties, we are not looking at ethnicity, but we are looking at how we can salvage our country Nigeria, and make it greater than where we are today. I thank you (Wike) for charting this course and I believe that moving forward from here, that all of us who are here tonight will be a catalyst to how we can make Nigeria greater, economically, politically, socially, security wise, we will make it greater.”
Similarly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who spoke on behalf of the awardees, said Governor Wike had taken governance to the next level.
“You have indeed demonstrated what it takes to be accommodative, what it takes to be a bridge builder, a builder of bridges across the Niger. You have established a bridge, we are happy crossing over to come around for the purpose of identifying with you in the expression of excellence attributed to the service of the nation, Rivers State.”
Chairman of the Rivers State Honours advisory committee, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, said the law empowered the governor to confer honour on those who have contributed to the growth and development of the state.