Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has every reason to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure as the Governor of Rivers State. From every political calculation and calibration, the unequivocal conclusion is that he is a man of the people who emblematizes the Divine injunction that “Power comes from God alone.”
Throwback to 2015: Governor Nyesom Wike, then a Minister of Education, found himself in the eye of a raging political storm, contrived and fermented by treacherous forces, who betrayed a political vision and threatened to completely overturn and dismantle a well nurtured political agenda to achieve their own selfish power grabbing ambitions.
Pitted against the backdrop of a manipulated and deviously translated zonal power sharing arrangement and confronted by the real threat of political annihilation in the face of a viscous opposition that will stop at nothing to secure victory, Governor Wike found himself literally and practically isolated and surrounded as the last man standing and the only hope for the redemption and protection of the political soul of Rivers State.
However, he was greatly loved, admired and adored by the people of Rivers State as their champion. Nyesom Wike took on the opposition, both within and externally, battled them to a standstill, defeated them on all fronts and won the election convincingly. Governor Nyesom Wike ascended the throne, carrying the hopes and aspirations of Rivers people on his broad shoulders.
Fast forward to 2019: The viscious, acrimonious opposition, now emboldened with Federal might and empowered with the added authority of directing their second term campaign, deployed the full weight of both mercenary and compromised military might to the political battlefield. Traditional war songs reigned and echoed ominously at the venues of every campaign stomp and the poisoned manifesto rhetoric reeked of bitterness, inciting anger, unbridled hatred and imageries of political purgatory worse than Dante’s inferno, in the event of political defeat.
But Governor Wike was fully prepared and ready for them and believing in his superior strategic plans and greatly buoyed by the resilient will of the people, the tide would once again turn to victory in the quite remarkable life of this political Colossus. The opposition had already perfected their machinery or so they thought, to arrest and detain top people, cause disruptions of the electoral process instigate unrest to nullify voting in certain areas, abduct and hold electoral officials hostage replacing them with compromised lackeys and aid the snatching of election materials by unknown persons. All these were in their handbook of practical guidelines on Election Day and were implemented to the letter.
The last straw was in the Federal High Court, Abuja where they had all hoped that on March 8th, the day before the governorship and state assembly elections, the Court would give judgment in their favour, in a suit seeking to disqualify Governor Wike from contesting the March 9th election.
At the end of the elections however, 37 innocent Rivers people had been killed in Abonnema alone. Many more had been maimed and wounded across the state and at least 187 people had been arrested by soldiers, and detained. The harassment was unparalleled, but the people stood firm behind Wike, especially the heroic courageous women of Okirika and Ogu, who formed a human shield to prevent the military from hijacking their ballot boxes and their votes.
Indeed, as destiny would have it, the Divine hand of fate, had once again already played another master stroke and the monumental miscalculation and failure of the opposition, which had already taken place even before the first ballot was cast, can be summed up in the following Biblical verses:
Exodus 23 vs 27: I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
Deuteronomy 28:7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.
Isaiah 19:3-4: Then our enemies (the Egyptians) shall fight themselves rather than fighting us. I will confuse their strategy and they will tremble and fail, they will consult each others demonic powers to no avail”
So, Governor Ezenwo Wike has a plethora of reasons to celebrate the first anniversary of his second tenure in office, but in typical charismatic, all action fashion, the Rivers Governor, who was Christianed as “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, simply rolled up his sleeves and knuckled down to the business of delivering the dividends of democracy to the good people of Rivers State.
At the end of the first year of his second tenure, the gains of the first term were solidly consolidated upon, but addressing Rivers people in a statewide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office, Governor honestly confessed that normally, the State should be celebrating this important milestone with the commissioning of completed projects and correlated social activities, but these are abnormal times and moments like this call for subdued feelings and thankful prayers to God for His abundant grace and mercy upon the State and on the lives of Rivers people.
That preamble set the tone for the summary of the achievements and engagements of the Governor Wike administration in the first year of his second term and starting with the solemn declaration that, every life matters; and every Rivers life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families, but also to all of humanity. The Governor confirmed that as at May 29, 2020, Rivers State had painfully lost 12 persons, and probably more, to the death pangs of the deadly coronavirus pandemic which has ravaged the entire world with devastating effect for over six months now.
The scorecard on the last one year has however been replete with outstanding achievements, ground breaking events and the initiation of legacy projects which have not only transformed the landscape of the state impressively but also ensured the comprehensive sustenance of the well-being of the people in line with the development blue-print released for the second term in office, which reiterated the commitment and determination of the administration to work and serve Rivers people as if it was still the administration’s first term.
A summary reveals that virtually every area and sector has been positively impacted upon in the last year. The urban renewal programme in the capital city have progressed at an amazing place as the restoration works, including underground drains, sidewalks, green areas and street lights on most of the roads in both the old and new Government Reservation Areas are at very advanced stages of completion.
The construction of the three multi-billion-naira flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-odo and Rumuogba, all progressing simultaneously, is an architectural wonder to behold and are expected to be delivered within schedule by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited and this is even as work on the construction of the 4th flyover bridge across GRA junction and accompanying dualization of Ezimgbu (Mummy B) road are also underway.
The dualization of several critical roads across the state, including Tombia Extension, GRA to link Ikwerre road, Kira Sapkenwa Bori Kono, straddling three Local Government Areas in Ogoni heartland are progressing satisfactorily with some having reached 92 per cent completion, all to be delivered on schedule. This is in addition to the construction of Oyigbo (Mbano camp) to Iriebe, linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the State, which has already been completed.
Still on infrastructure delivery, the Alesa – Agbonchia – Oyigbo road linking Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State; and the Rumuakunde and Isioudu communities roads in Emohua Local Government Areas of the State, as well as the 2nd phase of Isiokpo community internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Areas has been completed, while construction works on the 16.85 kilometers Rumuji Ibaa Isiokpo road in Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas have reached 90 percent completion level, and the dualization of the 23 kilometers Omoku Egbema road in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area has progressed beyond 50 per cent.
The Odufor/Akpoku/Umuoye road in Etche Local Government Area, spanning 21.3 kilometers has crossed 70 percent construction level, while the Aker-base road in Obio/Akpor Local Government, the Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke road, the Odiokwu internal road network in Ahoada West Area as well as the Abonnema ring road in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, and the Sime Eteo Nonwa road connecting Tai and Eleme Local Government Areas, have all progressed to between 80 and 85 percent completion.
The administration in the last one year, accelerated work on the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas of the State with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni Andoni Opobo (Unity) road the commitment to deliver on the promise to complete these landmark projects and actualize the age-long yearnings of the indigenes and residents of these local government areas to connect and access the rest of the State by tarred road, has been the prime motivating factor driving the zeal and energy to complete these projects and bring joy to the people. In fact, the people of the Ancient Opobo Kingdom drove home for the first time last year.
Apart from roads, significant progress was also made in the delivery of Health Care and Education Infrastructure and Services. The mother and child hospital is virtually completed, fully furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning. Also completed is the Comprehensive Health Centre at Odiokwu in Ahoada West Local Government Area.
Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (popularly known as BMH) was upgraded, completely equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, which is not only reckoned as one the best in the country, but has led to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Also, the furnishing and equipping of the regional referral hospitals in Degema and Bori in Degema and Khana Local Government Areas respectively, which commenced in the first year of the second term is progressing smoothly, while structural work is continuing on the ones located in Omoku and Okehi in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Etche Local Government areas.
In the area of Education, the strategic intervention of the administration in the restoration, upgrade and expansion of secondary schools across the State, commenced in the first term, continues to deliver remarkable results and improvements in the quality of public education system, as funds have already been released for the comprehensive restoration and upgrade of scores of dilapidated secondary schools across the State, including: renowned schools like Enitonna High School and Government Comprehensive High School, Borikiri in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.
Renovation and upgrading of Obama High School, Degema and Model Secondary School, Tombia, all in Degema Local Government Area, as well as Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, the famous Kalabari National College, Buguma in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government Area, and Community Secondary Schoo, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area, have all been more than 85 per cent completed.
On the international front, the construction of students hostels for the state of the art, visionary Real Madrid Football Academy is progressing with admirable speed and consistency and the academy will soon open its doors for simultaneous academic and football and related training and mentoring programmes.
In the area of Agriculture and in line with the administration’s promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco cassava processing plant, with guaranteed off-taker opportunities for over 3000 local cassava farmers, and inspiring capacity to stimulate the cassava revolution in the State and related industries and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for our people is coming on stream.
Indeed the last one year of the second tenure has been hallmarked with a commitment to the promise on inauguration day to provide first-class socio-economic infrastructure and keep the State and businesses safe, secure, achieved through hard work and the accomplishment of more with less resources and a year cut short so dramatically by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant debilitating consequences.
This progressive trajectory will definitely continue into the second year and while it is already clear that it is not going to be easy given the very poor state of the national economy and the spin-off effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the zeal and dedication to do more and recommit to work harder and deliver greater development to Rivers people is already evident in the work going on all over the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike himself puts it succinctly: “As a government, we welcome constructive and frank criticisms devoid of politics and mischievousness, because they serve to make us better performers. At any rate, this is a time for governance, not for politics, and we welcome everyone onboard to enable us to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments and good jobs; to build a State of shared prosperity; a place of boundless opportunity for all residents; and a State we can truly call our native home, our pride, our heritage, while looking into the future with optimism.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness. And so, as we look forward to the next twelve months, all I can say is that we are inspired by your continuous support and prayers to believe that our best days are ahead of us, and working together, we will surely do more to move Rivers State forward.”
Paulinus Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.