Since his inauguration as
Executive Governor of Rivers State on May 29, 2015, His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has left no one in doubt that he is fully prepared for the onerous task of presiding over the affairs of the state.
This could be attested to by all his actions and pronouncements so far which underline his game plan as one who harkens to the desires of the people and acts in such a manner that carries all along the path of real development.
Given his antecedents as a former two term chairman of one of the most vibrant local government councils in the country, Obio / Akpor; then as Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, which was followed by his stint as the supervising Minister of the Ministry of Education, easily· one with most intractable social problems, the experience in governance which Chief Wike garnered within a short period is quite impressive and enviable.
Apart from being an astute grassroots politician his credentials positioned him as the most preferred candidate of his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, then in the opposition for the governance of the multi/ethnic Rivers State. It was no surprise therefore that he inherited a huge backlog of unpaid workers’ salaries, pensioners’ allowances, unfinished projects and indebtedness to sundry contractors, issues which he has been tackling with courage.
And since he started out all his actions have continued to endear him more to friends and foes alike because they are in tandem with the wishes of the people. For example, before his ascendancy to power two most vital institutions of democracy/the judiciary and the state Assembly/were non-functional following certain social political developments which bedeviled the twilight of the last administration.
However, history was quickly made as Wike’s first action was to restore the common man’s hope in the legal system by the appointment of an Acting Chief Judge to steer affairs of the state judiciary, just as he reactivated the state Assembly which for long had been in comatose. Those inmates unjustly denied justice for a long time would forever pray for the governor’s success.
Surprisingly, before the ovation which greeted those actions mellowed, the governor rekindled it by his magnanimous gesture of reinstating lecturers at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology who for merely being outspoken over the need to follow due process in decision making at the institution, especially in terms of key appointments, were sacked.
The economic relief which this action brought to the lecturers and their dependants could better be imagined. This is why Wike needs the support of us all as he treads on the paths of justice as a man of the people.
Even as the opposition has been very active in challenging his every move, the governor has remained focused and visionary in his approach to issues bedeviling the people whom be vowed to serve. This was why his disbanding of the notorious Rivers State Traffic Management Agency, TIMARIV) came as a relief even to detractors of the administration.
That the governor is prepared to lead the state could be further gleamed from his very dynamic action which even the opposition has been unable to fault. He has deftly succeeded in breaking through the political backbone of Ogonis by not only appointing their sons to sensitive positions in his cabinet, but also by honoring the hero of the Ogoni struggle, Ken Saro Wiwa. By renaming the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori, as Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, Wike has immortalized the leader of modern Ogoniland and warmed his way into the hearts of the people even those in the opposing camp.
This gesture has attracted accolades beyond the shores of Ogoniland. It is also expected in line with the yearnings of the people that the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, should be revisited by making the necessary legislation to enable it bear the befitting nomienclature, Polytechnic.
That the institution currently operates as a polytechnic, but bears the title of a college appears to be a set-back for the academic ambition of lecturers there hence the need to revisit the issue, as the benefits are far-reaching. How else could one describe Wike’s pragmatism rather than by highlighting his enthusiasm to tackle a federal project, the bad portion of the East-West road within the state that serves as the gateway for the evacuation of much needed petroleum products to other parts of the country? Though this vital six kilometer portion of the road which stretches from Eleme junction to Onne Port had been ignored by successive governments, its importance not withstanding Wike’s strategy towards fixing the road is commendable.
So far, he has successfully convinced multinationals operating there of the need to contribute towards making the road motorable in the interest of commerce and the citizens residing in the area. It is now on record that following his behest six companies doing business at the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone have consented to contributing to the N3 billion needed to rebuild that portion of the road to alleviate the hardship suffered by road users.
No government can satisfy all its constituents simultaneously and since one man’s meat is another’s poison, the repealing of the Rivers State Chieftaincy and Council of Traditional Rulers Law No. 9 of 2014 by the State Assembly obviously would not go down well with all stakeholders.
But with a sense of fairness, given the level of integrity so far displayed by the honourable members, the envisaged changes they wish to effect would be in the interest of the people of the state. Governing a multi-ethnic state like Rivers is no child’s play and Wike seems to understand this fact as he moves on.
Hence, the need for balancing and the creation of a sense of belonging among all the component parts of the state in the distribution of appointments and projects that would have direct impact on the well-being of the people cannot be glossed over.
Besides, with the new local government councils caretaker committees now in place across the state, all hands must be on deck to further deliver dividends of democracy to both friends and foes irrespective of tribe, tongue and political affiliation.
One way this could be achieved is by working closely with the security agencies to achieve much needed peace by stemming the rising trend of violent crimes in the state, without which investors would be scared. The need to create a conducive environment for small and medium businesses that drive the economy of most nations to thrive, cannot be over emphasized in the face of acute unemployment across the land.
It may also not be enough for the administration to limit itself to infrastructural development of Port Harcourt alone because no matter how much is sunk in the city its impact would still be like a handful of guinea corn in a bag of brown beans.
It is thus strongly suggested that Governor Wike should within available resources reconsider the government agencies as a way of decongesting Port Harcourt and developing other towns like Bori, Ahoada etc. In this way, the impact of the NEW VISION would be better felt by the people. It would also pave the way for him to carve a permanent niche for himself in the annals of the development of Rivers State.
Abbey is a journalist.