History will be made today in Rivers State as the Governor-elect, Chief Barrister Nyesom Wike will be sworn-in as the sixth democratically-elected governor of the state.
Records show that Wike will assume the mantle of leadership in the state after the administrations of Chief Milford Okilo, Chief Rufus Ada-George, Dr. Peter Odili, Sir Celestine Omehia and Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in that order.
But the inauguration of Wike of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to succeed Amaechi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the state Chief executive followed his victory at the April 11, 2015, governorship election in which he polled 1,029,102 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who garnered 124,846 votes to finish second in the score list.
As Rivers people bid Amaechi farewell, Wike along with the Deputy Governor-elect, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, will be inaugurated and sworn-in at a colourful ceremony at the Liberation Stadium, Elekahia.
Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiru, acting on the directive of the Federal Government, will administer the oath of office and allegiance on Wike and Banigo, following the contentious issue of the Chief Judge of Rivers State now pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Tide learnt that the inauguration is coming about 48 days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared both Wike and Banigo as winners of the April 11 governorship in the state.
Although, Wike may not be new to the workings of Rivers Government House, having been Chief of Staff to Amaechi, there are high expectations on the new occupant of Rivers Brick House.
Top on the list of the people’s expectations are payment of outstanding salaries of Rivers workers and entitlements of the retirees, completion of abandoned and or on-going development projects, economic turn around of the state, creation of employment opportunities to engage the teeming unemployed, opening of the courts, immediate repairs of deplorable road networks and cracking the insecurity nut in the state.
At several fora especially since his electoral victory, Wike, a former Minister of State for Education, said he was not unmindful of the expectations of Rivers people and the huge challenges thereof, but promised to give his best in service and make a difference in governance.
Last Tuesday, Wike, while making a remark at a public lecture lined up to usher in his inauguration as state Chief executive, said he would not personalize government but run a populist-oriented governance in which Rivers people will be key partakers in the polity.
He said his new Rivers vision was predicated on the need to give a new impetus and meaning to service and governance.
He, therefore, solicited the co-opeation and support of Rivers Stakeholders in restoring the lost glory of the state.
Also at a pre-inauguration variety night in Port Harcourt, yesterday the Rivers State governor-elect, assured the people of the state that his administration will restore security across the state.
He said that the right environment will be created for the people of the state to engage in different businesses and also relax after work, without fear of being molested by criminals.
Speaking at the pre-inauguration variety night at Port Harcourt Polo Club, Wike said that security was central to the development of any society.
He said: “We have had a wonderful variety night with the right dose of comedy, music and cultural displays. Earlier in the day, we were at the Sharks Stadium for a novelty football match.
“We need more of these recreational activities going forward. This can only be possible with adequate security. I want to use this opportunity to assure the good people of Rivers State that under the incoming administration, security of lives and property will be our watchword.”
He denied allegation by the outgoing Governor RotimiAmaechi that he was involved in extra-judicial killings during the last elections.
He said that the allegation was malicious and merely concocted by the outgoing governor, who he said was finding it difficult to accept the will of the people.
Wike said that during and after the elections, he respected all electoral guidelines as he had always done since he joined politics.
The governor-elect regretted that up till Wednesday, the outgoing governor and his associates were still shopping for an illegal injunction to stop his inauguration. He said that their latest failure at a Federal High Court in Lagos shows that the outgoing governor was not tired of impunity.
Chairman of the Wike inauguration committee, Mr Austin Opara, said that the night was organised by committee for the people to relax ahead of the inauguration.
First class comedians, choral groups, musicians and the Rivers State Cultural troupe entertained guests at the variety night.
Despite the fact that the APC and Amaechi are known to be challenging the outcome of the governorship election in the state, Rivers PDP has expressed dissatisfaction that Amaechi’s administration has made spirited but abortive efforts at securing ex-parte injunction to stop the inauguration of Wike’s new government.
An itinerary released by the inauguration committee showed that Wike, upon arrival at the swearing –in venue, will go round the stadium in a motorcade to greet the crowd, and also give his acceptance speech the content of which would reveal the thrust of his administration before proceeding to inspect a guard of honour at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Samuel Eleonu/Margaret Ogwama