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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Kalabari Governorship: A Clarion Call

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By George Tolofari


Rivers, one of the 36 states in Nigeria, was created on 27th May, 1967, out of the old Eastern regional structure. It is located in the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria and made up of both wet land and dry land and endowed with natural resources. The state is home to many ethnic groups such as the Ikwerres, Ogonis, Kalabaris, Ibanis (Bonny/Opobo), Wakirike, Ogba, Ekpeye, Abua, Nkoro speaking tribes, etc. The state is noted for its linguistic diversity with about 28 indigenous languages being said to be spoken across Rivers State.

The economy of Rivers State is dominated by the state’s booming petroleum industry from where it derived the acronym “The Treasure Base of the Nation’’. Although the rise of the oil industry has led to increased revenue for the state government, mismanagement, maladministration, greed and corruption on the part of government, its officials and politicians have prevented the state from rapid development and meaningfully tackling poverty which has led to other vices in the state.

During the 2000s, Rivers State saw a rise in the number of cult killings and gangsterism in the state. The activities of gangsters and criminal groups sponsored by government officials to hunt down perceived opposition members especially during elections has led to bloodshed, kidnappings, maiming and desecration of the land.

Although Rivers State is predominantly a Christian state with about 95% of her over 6.5million population as practicing Christians, yet the impact of the churches and Christianity has not been felt at the seat of power and governance in the state. It has not translated to better economic fortunes and reduction in poverty alleviation due to very obvious reasons as stated above. In 2019, the Governor of Rivers State declared Rivers State a Christian state which obviously confirms the truth but actions of both the government and occurrences in the state are still a far cry of what a truly godly Christian state should be.

The Three Major Ethnic Groups in Rivers State

Rivers State is known to have three major ethnic groups which are Ikwerre, Ogoni and Kalabari. The Ikwerres and Ogonis are strong people who thrive in farming and trading due to the vast array of dry land they inherited from mother nature, but the Kalabaris are not so because they are surrounded by seas and rivers. Among the three major ethnic groups, only the Kalabaris can be well defined as a Riverine ijaw people due to the peculiarity of their environment and this was acknowledged in the Willink Commission report which defined the riverine people as a distinct group in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria. Although the Ogonis and a few minority tribes in Rivers state also have rivers in their domains, their topography is mainly covered with dry land.

The chiefs and elite in the riverine area were very civilized, well educated and powerful because of their early trade contacts with the Portuguese and other Europeans that first came to the area now called Nigeria in the 17th to 18th century.

The Struggle for the Creation of Rivers State

In her article to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of Rivers State, Ella Prest, a Public Administrator and close associate of some of the key players in the struggle for the creation of Rivers State shared very interesting perspectives from history and the archives;

“The anxiety about possible neglect of their area and the fear of marginalization compelled chiefs and people of the rivers area to form various political and pressure groups like the Ijaw Rivers Peoples’ League established on the 18th November, 1943, Ijaw Union, C.O.R State – Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers State, supported by Action Group Party. Chief Harold Dappa Biriye (Ibani) from Bonny as Secretary and Chief Thom Manuel (Kalabari) from Abonnema as President, Rivers State Congress (RSC)/Niger Delta Congress, supported by the Northern People’s Congress Party led by Chief Melford Okilo (Izon) from Yenagoa and Chief Harold Dappa Biriye (Ibani) from Bonny, and finally Rivers Chiefs and People’s Conference (R.C.P.C.) which embraced all the sections of the Riverine Area, initiated and led by Chief P.G. Warmate of N.C.N.C, the ruling party in the then Eastern Region where the Rivers people domiciled. The R.C.P.C. eventually served as the umbrella party for all Rivers people irrespective of their political beliefs and differences in the struggle for the creation of Rivers State. Chief Ordor, N.C.N.C. from Etche was also in attendance. Chief P.G. Warmate moved a motion, seconded by Chief D.S. Oribo which gave birth to the formation of the Rivers Chiefs and People’s Conference on 4th July, 1956, at the Rex Cinema Hall in Harbour Road, Port Harcourt. Chief P.G. Warmate further moved and was seconded by Chief D.S. Oribo for the nomination of His Royal Majesty, Francis Alagoa – Mingi X of Nembe, as the Protem Chairman and Chief Harold Dappa Biriye as Protem Secretary”.

“This became the first effective political platform for the creation of Rivers State. It was also as a result of the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference (R.C.P.C.) that the Eastern Regional Government accorded a distinct seat out of two seats intended for chiefs of former Eastern Nigeria at the Constitutional Conference in London in 1957. Chief Dappa Biriye being the Protem Secretary of the Chiefs and Peoples’ Conference (R.C.P.C.), was nominated to represent the R.C.P.C. in London in 1957 for the Nigerian Constitutional Conference and other events in 1958. Chief  P.G. Warmate, a top member of the N.C.N.C., the ruling party of Eastern Nigeria was responsible for the formation and eventual acceptance of R.C.P.C. by the then Eastern Regional Government. The Rivers Chiefs and Peoples’ Conference, (R.C.P.C.) became the first effective political platform for the creation of Rivers State. (Ref. Nigerian Tide of August 13th, 1999. Focus – 9) also refer to Chief E.D.W. Opuogulaya’s book – History of the Creation of the Rivers State of Nigeria. Chief Harold Dappa Biriye personally remarked on this issue on 24th November, 1991 at the inaugural special meeting of Leaders of thought from the former Degema Division where he stated that P.G. Warmate was responsible for the formation of (R.C.P.C.), which was the effective political platform for the struggle and creation of Rivers State”.

“At the time of the initial struggle, the Rivers People made several petitions and demands for State creation. These were rejected on the floor of the Federal Parliament. The reason given was that Rivers State was not viable to create in spite of the full commercial activities going on and the abundant resources of the area. Chief Melford Okilo, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, wept openly when these decisions were taken. Chief Okilo was one of the primary activists in the struggle for the creation of the Rivers State”.

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“Time will fail me to highlight the role played by Isaac Adaka Boro and his fellow undergraduate freedom fighters from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who at that time declared war on the Federal Government demanding a Niger Delta Republic, without which the Rivers People will no longer support the Federal Government in the civil war. The rebellion lasted only 12 days as he and other undergraduates who took up arms across the state were arrested and arraigned for treason. They were defended by Chief G.K.J. Amachree, QC. This rebellion constituted one of the major pressures on the Federal Government for the eventual creation of Rivers State and on the 27th of May, 1967, Gen. Yakubu Gowon immediately after the civil war, turned Nigeria into a 12 State nation including Rivers State”.

How the Governorship Has Fared Since the Creation of Rivers State

“When Rivers State was created, Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Papapreye Diete Spiff, a Rivers man then (but now the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass), from Nembe in present day Bayelsa State was appointed by the Federal Military Government as Governor of Rivers State. It was however not immediately possible to move to Port Harcourt the Rivers State Capital due to the ravages of war in the Eastern Region. It was therefore, a government in exile, run from No. 24 Queens Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, the then Federal Capital of Nigeria. So prominent Rivers indigenes like Chief G.K.J Amachree (Kalabari), from Buguma, contributed most of the resources needed, including his office, to co-ordinate the Rivers State Military Governor’s Office in Ikoyi, Lagos and Port Harcourt the State capital, until 1st September, 1968. While the Military Governor’s office was still in Lagos, Chief Dr. Melford Graham-Douglas (Kalabari), from Abonnema, was made the first Administrator by the Government. Mr Ken Sarowiwa, (Ogoni) from Khana, was appointed the Administrator for Bonny, and Captain Elechi Amadi, (Ikwerre) from Aluu, was also appointed the Administrator for Port Harcourt, until 1968 when The Military Governor took up office in Port Harcourt, Capital of Rivers State”.

“Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, a visioneer, made Port Harcourt one of the best state Capitals in Nigeria, with most of the infrastructure necessary for governance and development. Under Alfred Diete Spiff, the state had the best Secretariat, High Court, PABOD SUPPLY, Rivers State Transport Corporation, Rivbank Insurance, Risonpalm, 2 Five Star Hotels and Catering Rest Houses in every local government area. Governor Spiff gave several scholarships to Rivers indigenes for higher education and vocational training to study Hotel Management, Catering, Driving, Building and Construction etc. He established schools for gifted Rivers children. He built 30 bed hospitals in all the Local Government Head Quarters, a University of Science and Technology, constructed new school buildings, repaired old ones and built canals in the riverine areas for ease of movement in the creeks, and good roads to connect the towns on the mainland and in Port Harcourt”.

“The Pan African Bank established by Chief G.K.J Amachree financed all these projects. The bank boosted the economy of Rivers State and brought a new lease of life to the people that were ravaged by the civil war, thereby providing the much needed development. The various construction works created jobs for the indigenes in the state. This created the Middle Class who were able to send their children to good schools and universities across Nigeria and Overseas. This progress was also made possible because of the full cooperation of the State Governor who was patriotic and anxious to develop the State. The Military Governor was also given full support by all Rivers People in spite of the challenges of the Upland and Riverine politics and the presence of the different political groups in the State” (Ella Prest, The Struggle for the Creation of Rivers State, 2017).

Since after Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Diete Spiff, Rivers State has had several Military Administrators who were appointed by the then Federal Military Government till when Bayelsa was carved out of Old Rivers State on 1st October 1996 by the Gen. Sani Abacha-led Government. The last elected Governor of Old Rivers State was Chief Rufus Ada George (Jan. 1992 – Nov. 1993).

In 1999, the Federal Military Government returned the country back to civilian rule where Group Capt. Sam Ewang, being the Governor then, handed over to a new democratically elected civilian government in Rivers State. Since 1999 till date, we have had Governors emerge from the Upland part of the state, in the persons of Sir Dr Peter Odili (May 1999 – May 2007), Celestine Omehia (May 2007 – Oct. 2007), Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Oct. 2007 – May 2015), Nyesom Wike (May 2015 till date).

Giant Strides of the Kalabaris in the Development of Rivers State

“At this juncture, it would be worthy to mention the contributions of an illustrious Kalabari Chief who distinguished himself in excellent service both at home and abroad. He was Chief Godfrey Kio Jaja Amachree, QC, from Buguma. He became the first Solicitor General in 1958, and by the time the colonial administration’s Legal Department was transformed into the Ministry of Justice, he also became the first Permanent Secretary. Chief G.K.J. Amachree was among the first Nigerian lawyers to be admitted to the Inner Bar in Britain as a Queens Counsel at the age of 43 and Chief G.K.J Amachree was also the First Black under- Secretary general to the United Nations. He was the first Nigerian to own a Private Jet. He was also a key figure in the struggle for the creation of Rivers State. He was the wealthiest Rivers man who used his wealth to create wealth for Rivers people by the establishment of the Rivers State Pan African Bank Ltd, and became its first Chairman. With the assistance from the Pan African Bank, contractors, traders and businesses emerged. This generated commercial activities and created a new Middle Class and C.E.O’s in the newly created Rivers State because of the availability of finance from the bank to these groups. He also brought Delta air Charter to solve air transportation problems in the State. Indeed, he should be described as the father of Rivers State. His behind the scenes contribution to the creation of the State and development of Rivers State was second to none. Also Chief W.O. Briggs, (Kalabari) from Abonnema, was the first Federal Minister of Education from Rivers area. He was also reappointed as Federal Minister of Trade in 1971”.

“When Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff took up office in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, he was supported at different times by two able Heads of Service, Chief Daniel Kalio (Okrika) and Chief W.S. Tienabeso (Kalabari) from Buguma and other patriotic Commissioners, including Prof. Isaac Dema, from Abua as Chairman, Civil Service Commission, and Super Permanent Secretaries of Rivers origin who were transferred from other Federal/State Public services to serve in Port Harcourt. A special mention must also be made of Chief Dr. Napoleon Graham-Douglas (Kalabari), who was the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice who produced the document on Abandoned Property Law that enabled Rivers State indigenes to own landed properties in Port Harcourt and other parts of the Rivers State. This singular act fulfilled one of the aspirations of all Rivers people as owners of their land. His Law firm was destroyed during the Nigerian civil war. Chief Eke Spiff from Nembe, the Permanent Secretary for Land and Housing Port Harcourt with Chief C.T. Horsfall from Kalabari, the Surveyor General, in the same Ministry, should all be commended for preserving the State lands for good use by the Government and the Rivers people”. (Ella Prest, The Struggle for the Creation of Rivers State, 2017)

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Despite the huge contributions of the Kalabaris both in the creation and development of Rivers State, only the Ikwerres amongst the three major ethnic groups have produced governors of the state since the creation of Rivers State 55 years ago. This development has further reinforced the anxiety of possible fear of marginalization which prompted the founding fathers of the state to push for the creation of Rivers State.

That is why the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the interest of equity, justice and fairness has been clamouring for power shift to the riverine ijaw since 2015 when it fielded first, Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, as its flag bearer. The APC again in 2019 gave its ticket to another riverine ijaw candidate in the person of Arc. Tonye Dele Cole, this time a Kalabari son. In 2023, the All Progressives Congress (APC) still acknowledging this injustice against the Riverine Ijaws and the Kalabaris, decided to right this wrong by giving her ticket again to Arc. Tonye Dele Cole. It is important to note that Tonye Cole was unable to run in 2019 due to litigations that resulted in INEC excluding Rivers APC from the ballot in ALL elections that year, which were no fault of his. It is, therefore, my belief that this is the best time for the Kalabaris from the riverine Ijaw extraction, through Arc. Tonye Dele Cole, under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, is supported by all well meaning sons and daughters of Rivers state, irrespective of party affiliation, including other Nigerians, living and doing business in Rivers State, to emerge as the next Governor of our dear oil rich Rivers state. No one tribe or ethnicity can make itself Governor. We need the support and cooperation of everyone, every tribe and region to actualize this dream. But the BIG QUESTION to ask is, how ready or prepared are the Kalabaris to actualize this elusive dream?

What the Kalabaris Must Do Now to Win the Governorship

Firstly, they would need to come together as a people, close ranks irrespective of party affiliation and pursue this as their project. They should think of what a Kalabari riverine Ijaw Governor can do to the development of the kingdom and other riverine communities in conjunction with other regions of Rivers State.

Secondly, it shouldn’t be about who, but about us as a people and who, under what party stands the best possible chance to bring about a Kalabari Governorship to Kalabari (kingdom) land. They must hunger for it and show the rest of the state and ethnic nationalities they truly desire it before they can get the overwhelming support from others. I say so because I know that at least (3) other Kalabari sons have emerged Governorship candidates in other smaller parties, most without structures in the 23 LGAs in the state. This will divide the Kalabaris and their votes and give an edge to any Governorship candidate that will come from outside of the Kalabari kingdom.

Today, we’re seeing the tsunami happening in Opobo Kingdom where sons and daughters of the kingdom are resigning in droves from other political parties to join hands with their own; Sim Fubara, and the PDP. To them, it goes beyond party affiliation, it’s a community agenda. It’s a matter of our own, he’s our brother. Let’s support him first, win or lose. That’s the spirit!

Where is the true spirit of the KALABARI KOBIRI which our fore fathers told us about? Let the KALABARI SE-KOBIRI rise to the occasion NOW and galvanize the needed support for her own without fear or favour. The Kalabaris must not forget that if they miss this opportunity in 2023, they will have to wait for another 8 years to slug it out with the Ogonis and other tribes in the state. What is the guarantee of the Kalabaris getting it then? I challenge the Kalabari elites and youths in all the three Kalabari LGAs and their communities to put selfishness aside, because there is no position you will be offered in the state that can be better compared to the office of the Governor of Rivers State. There is no better time when the Kalabaris have been well positioned and prepared for the governorship than now.

When the Ikwerres clamored for this position in 2007, we saw the unity of purpose amongst them. They closed ranks and worked together to actualize it. Then it didn’t matter to them who the candidate would be, let it just be an Ikwerre son and they were satisfied. That resolve has created opportunities for two other of their sons to emerge Governors today. Let’s also take a leaf from what happened recently at the 2022 Presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), where the Hausa/Fulani (in the case of the PDP) and the Yorubas (in the case of the APC) united and projected their ethnic nationalities rather than losing out to clinch the tickets of the two frontline political parties in the country.

A Special Appeal

In conclusion, I make this fervent appeal today in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, that all ethnic nationalities in the state should support this Kalabari governorship project in 2023, so that after eight (8) years of Kalabari rule, by His grace, the Governorship will naturally move to the Ogonis as the other major ethnic nationality still clamouring for the position in Rivers State. Outside these 3 major ethnic groups in Rivers State, we still have other minor tribes like my Ibani tribe of Bonny, who haven’t had a shot at the Governorship. They too should be given opportunities to govern because we’re all one Rivers people.

I, therefore, call on the founding fathers of Rivers State, elites, opinion leaders, elder statement, traditional rulers, youths and all men and women of good conscience to support the Kalabari aspiration for Governor in 2023 and thereafter, the Kalabaris and the rest of Rivers people can then mobilize and support the Ogonis which is another major tribe in the state as was done for the Ikwerres.

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As it stands today, if PDP wins the governorship in 2023 with Sim Fubara (Rivers South East) and Dr. Mrs Ngozi Ordu, Deputy Governor (Rivers West), the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly may automatically go to Rivers East leaving out the Ogonis and Kalabaris out of the equation for another 4-8 years in the sharing of the three top political positions in the State. Therefore, the best option for the Ogonis now is to rally round their Kalabari brothers in APC who are best positioned for the Governorship seat as it stands today.

We believe that men of good conscience still exist in Rivers State, men like Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Victor Odili (Onwa), Sir Dr. Peter Odili, O.C.J. Okocha, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, Dr. Dawari George, Elemchukwu Ogbowu, Dr. Austin Opara, Magnus Abe, Kingsley Chindah, Dakuku Peterside, Sen. George Sekibo, Alhaji Asari Dokubo, Chief A.K. Horsfall, Dame (Dr) Patience Jonathan, Dr. Seinye O.B. Lulu Briggs, Mr Atedo Peterside, Dr Ifie Sekibo, Sen. Barry Mpigi, Chief  Kenneth Kobani, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Dr. Doris Fisher, Chief  Boma Iyaye, Amb. Maureen Tamuno, Amb. Oji Ngofa, Chief Emeka Bekee, Sen. Lee Maeba, Hon. Odi Odum, Engr. Sampson Ngeregbara, Sen. Andrew Uchendu, Balolo Sam Sam Jaja,  HRM, King Dandeson Jaja, HRM. King Kroma Eleki, HRM. King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple, HRM. King Sergeant Awuse, HRM. King Ateke Tom, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, Amaopusenibo Joel Tolofari, Kingsley Wali, Dr. Chidi Julius Lloyd, George Feyii, Victor Giadom, Hon. Fredrick Julius Tolofari, Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs, Azubuike Wanjoku, Amaopusenibo Fubara Hart, Chibuike Ikenga, Dr. Joeba West, Prince Uche Secondus, Amaopusenibo Nelson Ben Irimagha, Senator Bernard Birabi, Dr Gabriel Pidomson, Chief Allwell Oyesoh, Barr. Ledum Mitee, Chief Celestine Akpobari, Chief Ezemoye Ezekiel Amadi, Dr. John Gbazia, Amb. Desmond Akawor, Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Daniel Amachree, Eng. Maine David West, Prof. Jasper Jumbo, Sen. Olaka Wogu, Warisenibo Joel Tolofari, Hon. Igo Aguma, Hilda Dokubo, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Joy Nunieh, Ibiba Omotosho, Hon. Marcus Nle Eji, Chief Ejor Ngowa Ejor, Prof. Ndowa Lale, Chief Sara Igbe, Bro. Felix Obuah, Prof. Nimi Briggs, Hon. Adonye Dappa Wilcox, Engr. Tein Jackrich, Hon. Omuso Gordon Abbey, Hon. Maxwell Akwe, Prof. Owunari Georgewill, Sir G.T.G. Toby, Prof. Barineme Fakae, Prof. Roseline Konya, Arc. Eniye Braide, Hon. Clinton Tams Tolofari, Dame Aleruchi Cookeygam, Hon. Asita O. Asita, Hon. Edward Ebenezer Pepple, Dr Sokonte Davies, Ojukaye Flag Amachree, Hon. Tonye Osoboye Long-John, Alabo Rev. Francis Ebenezer Ada, Chief Ibinabo Michael West, Mina Tende, Marvin Yobana, Ikunyi Owaji, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Amaopusenibo Larry Allison, Beatrice Itubo, Amaopusenibo Larry Pepple, Tekena Iyagba, Amb. Sobomabo Jackreece, Doctor Farah Dagogo, Chief Gani Tobha, Chief David Briggs, Amasenibo Israel Waribo Pepple, Gregory Nwidam, Celestine Akpobari, Dr. Emi Membere Otaji, Eugene Abels, and so many others too numerous to mention will agree that a Kalabari Governor at this time will foster and strengthen the bond of unity amongst Rivers people.

Meet the Man

For the good of Rivers State and to preserve the future of our children, the APC is presenting a candidate of sterling qualities: a man with enviable track record in leadership, mentorship, capacity building and project management.

To some, he is a pastor; to others, he is an industrial celebrity, and to many more a life coach.

At a time when men of vacant acumen have made cash crop of our political system; when the dividends of education is perceived as disdainful; the dividends of legitimacy is uncertain and unsatisfactory, and professionalism is resented; an era when reason is defrayed by gastric promptings; a land where brazen poverty has necessitated survival by any means, with variations of amoral enterprises within each – to whom would society turn, and to what statue of a person may we direct our children?

Here is a man of trans-sectoral laurels and dynamism, transformational persuasion, and an astute administrator – a man of high moral standing, a perfect role model for the younger generation.

May we present to you, the man Tonye Patrick Cole.

Profile of Pastor Arc. Tonye Cole mni.

Tonye Patrick Cole was born on the 11th of January 1967 in Port Harcourt, Rivers Sate. He attended All Saints Church School, Ibadan and Corona School Victoria Island, Lagos, then, King’s College Lagos and King’s School Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. He also attended University of Lagos, graduating with B.Es/B.Arch merit honours in Architecture 1990. Furthermore, he is an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Harvard Business School’s Advance Management Program (AMP186), and Fellow, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford. His National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was in Osun State.

Tonye Cole is co-founder of Sahara Group, an energy conglomerate founded in 1996. He has been involved in various National assignments include Governing Council, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping. Honorary Senior Adviser on Energy, Rivers State Government (2009-2011). Member, Nigerian Development Forum (NDF) 2007. Member, National Committee on Job Creation (NCJC) 2010. Chairman, Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority (2013-2016). Chairman, Presidential Council Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2017. Advisory Board, The Nigeria Blueprint: Imagine the Future 2021, chaired by Vice President HE Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, GCFR.

His international assignments include Member, World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Advisory Council on Energy. Advisory Board Member, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) Private Sector Advisory Group 2014-2018. Member, WEF Pact Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) 2017-2018. Advisory Council Member, World Bank Group’s Expert Advisory Council on Citizen Engagement 2018.

He has been recognised as Oil & Gas Council Lifetime Achievement and Executive of The Year Award, 2017. Forbes/Ebonylife TV Best of Africa Award, 2013. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Finalist, 2011. Thisday Award As ‘Young Global Champions in Oil and Gas’, 2010. Role Model Award by ‘We Are the Future of Our Nation’, 2009. University of Lagos Alumni Association Merit Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions and Commitment to National Development’, 2007.

Tonye Cole is a philanthropist whose activities include Chairman, Enactus Nigeria. Founder, The Nehemiah Youth Empowerment Initiative. Founder, Nehemiah Leadership Institute. Founder, Behavioural Health Institute. Founder, The REACH Nigeria Foundation. Founder, Rivers Professional Forum. Board Member, Slum2School Foundation. He is also a motivational speaker, ordained minister, and published author.

He is married to Dr. Sylvia Cole and has three children.


Nigerian Tide of August 13th, 1999

https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/05/09/struggle-for-the-creation-of-rivers-state/ by Ella Prest

Chief E.D.W. Opuogulaya. History of the Creation of Rivers State of Nigeria

Kroma Amabibi Eleki (2019). Destined to Rule, Mind-Quest Publishers, Port Harcourt.

Additional materials by Joe Princewill and Douglas Dodiyi Manuel.

Hon. George Tolofari is the Co-ordinator, Progressives Aspirants Forum

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