RIVERS Stateg, Nyesom Wike has stated that next year’s 50th anniversary of the state is a celebration of the liberation of Rivers people from the forces of deprivation, oppression and domination. Inaugurating the Rivers State Golden Jubilee Celebrations Committee at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Thursday, Governor Wike said: “Many of us who are now enjoying the fruits of liberty may not truly appreciate what it meant to be dominated, dispossessed, deprived, exploited and oppressed in your own land by the dominant social and political tendencies of the time. “Before Rivers State was created, our people could not find schools in their neighbourhood, hospitals to treat the sick, universities to educate their children, decent jobs to earn income and good roads to their communities.” The governor noted that since the creation of Rivers State on May 27, 1967 , the state has attained greater heights and surmounted development challenges. He said: “For 50 years we have lived and toiled together in pursuit of the vision of our founding fathers who put in and sacrificed everything, including their lives, to ensure the creation of this beautiful State we all love and proud of, indigenes and non-indigenes alike.” The governor noted that the most important of the creation of Rivers State was that the people of the state were now masters of their own destiny. “Although we are not where we should be within the matrix of where we want to be, we still have a lot to celebrate and thank God for the 50 years of our existence as a state and as a people with a common destiny. “Besides, after 50 unbroken years on a journey, it is proper for us to take a little moment to retrospect on the progress already made, examine our prospects and set our eyes on the next era of the march to progress with optimism.” He added that the committee was expected to organise and galvanise Rivers people to collectively, elaborately, and fittingly mark the first 50 years of the creation of the state. The terms of reference of the committee, which has 151 distinguished, Rivers men and women as members, include to prepare the budget and logistics required and raise funds for the celebrations; identify, seek support and collaboration with corporate organizations and responsible individuals for a successful celebration; determine categories of award and recommend persons from within and outside the state to be honoured for outstanding career achievements and or contributions to the development of Rivers State and Nigeria; and to make such other recommendation(s) the Committee may consider appropriate to ensure a hitch-free and memorable celebration. The committee has Chief Ferdinand Anabrabra as chairman, Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN) as alternate chairman, and Dr Jacob Beredugo as secretary. Responding, Chief Anabrabra stated that the creation of the state had served its purpose, attracting development to the people of the state. He said that 50 years in the life of the state was a significant milestone which ought to be celebrated, as he praised the governor for saving the state from the precipice in 2015. Earlier, Secretary to the State Government, Chief Kenneth Kobani said that the celebration would form the basis for the future development of the state in the course of the next 50 years. The committee is to submit an initial report and recommendations to the State Executive Council for consideration within two months from date of inauguration.