Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, was established in 1902 and named (by the Governor-General, Lord Frederick Lugard), after Lewis Vernon Harcourt, who was at the time ‘Secretary of State for the Colonies.’ Since its creation over 100 hundred years ago, different personalities, at different times, and under different circumstances have contributed to shaping Port Harcourt city into what it is today. Here are 6 personalities who have contributed to shaping Port Harcourt.
Chief Jonas Happy Elemuwa Nwuke
Maybe, only a few have actually heard about Chief Jonas. According to records, he was “The first black provincial commissioner for Port Harcourt whose significant contributions to the development of the city include the development of the Trans Amadi Industrial layout. He it was who lowered the Union Jack when the British left in 1960.”
Chief Jonas was from Okomoko, Etche, in Rivers State; according to Nigerianwiki.com, he was a “pharmacist-turned-politician who was the first indigenous Provincial Commissioner for Port Harcourt Province, Parliamentary Secretary for Internal Affairs of Eastern Nigeria under the premiership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Minister of State for Works in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria during the premiership of Dr. M. I. Okpara.”
First Military Governor of Old Rivers State, now the Amanyabo of Twon brass in Bayelsa State. HRM Spiff is acclaimed the “most visionary first military governor of old Rivers state…for setting the pace and pathway for development in Port Harcourt.” More specifically, he built the current Podium block and Rivers State Government Secretariat that no state government in Nigeria has been able to match today.
Notably, he was only a 25 years old Naval Lieutenant Commander when he became the first military governor of Old Rivers State in 1967.
As recent as June 2012, he chaired the launching of the first Port Harcourt Cancer Center.
Melford Obiene Okilo was the first elected Governor of Rivers State (1979-1983). He was responsible for setting up the Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt.
AIG Fidelis Oyakhilome
He was a former Military Governor of Rivers State (January 1984 – August 1986). During his tenure in office he established the Rivers State School of Basic Studies (SBS), which is today the Rivers State College of Arts and Science (RivCas), located at Rumuola, Port Harcourt. AIG Fidelis Oyakhilome established the ‘School To Land Programme’ to promote agricultural outputs in the city of Port Harcourt.
In 1992 Rufus Ada George became the seconding (elected) Governor of Rivers State. He lasted only 22 months in office (January 1992 – November 1993). But during that time he contributed in elevating the outlook of Port Harcourt. The popular ‘Ada George Road’ linking NTA road, Mgbuoba to Mile 3 (Ikwerre road) was named after him for his efforts in expanding the city.
A renowned politicican and writer and former Senator, from Rumuigbo, in Obio/Akpo, Dr. Obi Wali was one of the founding fathers of Rivers State, serving as ‘Commissioner of Education’ in the Old Rivers State. He one time championed the course for the creation of Port Harcourt State out of the Old Rivers State. His life was cut short under mysterious circumstances in 1993.
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