Many good programmes and events previously lined up in Port Harcourt have continued to suffer shifts and outright cancellations. This is because just as JAMB shifted the 2019 tertiary institutions entrance exams from March to April, so have many organisations shifted many planned events in Port Harcourt.
Many still shiver at the crisis and tensions that seized the Garden City for a couple of months over the 2019 elections. The panic began on February 16 and 23 when the presidential election took place. The next thing that happened in Rivers State was killings and general violence. On 23 February, a well-known two-time local council chairman in the state, Monwan Etete of Andoni LGA, was mowed down in broad daylight by an audacious killer-gang that walked into his home after claiming at the gate that they were being expected by the local kingpin. They not only killed him and his two relations but the man’s head is suspected to still be an issue to this moment. You know barbaric traditions still exist in some places; else, what are you doing with the head of someone you have successfully killed?
At Abonnema, fighting between bad boys and soldiers lasted for almost one day (and bodies fell down endlessly), an indication of the firepower of the bad boys that withstood the Army for hours. In Bonny, voting was not even allowed to hold on that day. Violence swept through the land all of February and March and the tension went on till April when INEC braved all odds and declared somebody a winner.
The tensions that dogged the APC internal crisis with external lanterns and the issues in court that stopped a whole national ruling party from fielding not even an ant as candidate shook the state to its foundations. The pains and moods are still not totally over, if you are one of those with an ear to the ground.
In each election case, most parts of the nation voted and moved on but the case of Rivers State was always different. Newsmen were always running round the city and the state. Some were abducted but released. The GRA section of Aba Road was on siege for over one month because INEC headquarters is located there. (We think they should shift it to the GRA or any other out-of-sight location). People and other commuters suffered daily as no road would lead through there.
The type of tension in the city was such that when the BBC Pidgin team went round Nigeria, it was in PH that they were attacked and forced to allow someone that did not meet the entry qualification (polls) to be on the podium. The BBC officials sweated profusely and looked confused when political thugs and bad boys decided many things by force.
Many do not know why the much advertised Rivers Governorship Debate at Hotel Presidential was shifted to somewhere at the Stadium Road; fear of invasion. So it was that many event centres and hotels shut out mega events that would attract huge crowds.
Now, many churches and corporations shifted or cancelled many events. This is how cities bleed economically because every cancelled or shifted event is at a huge cost. Even if you insist on hosting it, the bill from security outfits would be outrageous.
So it was that JC Records that had planned a mega gospel concert for May 23 could not meet up with arrangements because nobody was in the mood to listen to them; deals could not be sealed up, and planning became very difficult, according to the point-man in Port Harcourt. This is said to have affected May 4 date.
Now that winners and losers have emerged, the tortoise is beginning to bring its legs out of the cocoon. Event managers are beginning to restart their events and the centres would begin to boom again. The climax would be on May 29 when the inauguration of Gov Nyesom Wike would take place. With that celebration, lesser celebrants such as JC Records would follow; thus June 23rd.
The over 40 gospel artistes waiting to be unveiled would take turns to present the songs they have laboured to record. Family and friends plus church members and lovers of music would wipe away their tears and file out at The Hub, said to be the biggest and best event centre in PH, to sweep away the tension in the land and welcome peace and love plus the love of Christ.
Songs like Incredible God; Great and Mighty God, etc, would waft through the mega speakers at The Hub to bathe the troubled city and seep through to the roof of heaven, hoping to please God enough to send down the rain of love and forgiveness upon the Garden City.
According to the organisers, the artistes are ready, JC Records is ready, the songs are ready, the album containing about 40 new songs is ready, and the Garden City is ready. The rest is about organisation and preparation to serve it hot, so said Steve Emmanuel, head of JC Records in PH. The day would prove if the waiting was worth it.