Rivers State Governor,
Chief (Barrister) Ezenwo Nyesom Wike recently said that his administration would not politicise the strategic development interest of the state but would remain committed to the transformation of all sectors of the State Economy.
Chief Wike who stated this during the commissioning of a 3.6 kilometres interlock road network constructed by Orleans Invest West Africa Limited in Ogu, headquarters of Ogu/Bolo Local Government, urged other companies in Rivers State to partner with the government in the development of the state, and commended management of the company for constructing the road for the community.
The governor was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Kenneth Kobani.
As a matter of fact, the co-operation or partnership of companies and government in the development of Rivers State needs to be re-examined to adapt to new competitive strategies and conditions. Globally, there is the new dimension of competition in development which is the predictable result of high growth. The emergence of major companies onto world markets is a breeding ground for developmental competition. This is the reason company and government can now partner to produce or achieve a large-scale growth rates and competitive environments world-wide. On the horizon, and indeed emerging now in many economies, are the companies and governments coming together or pulling their resoruces to develop major giant projects for countries, to develop major giant projects for countries, states or communities.
For example, the very large Salim Group of Indonesia took centre stage throughout the region, using often their Hon Kong subsidiary holding company, First Pacific. Li Ka-Shing of Hong Kong through Hutchison Whampoa has made a major acquisation in Canada of a petroleum company, along with considerable real estate investments there. the CP Group of Thailand are the largest foreign investments in China by most accounts while Robert Kuok of Malaysia and Hong Kong has extended his hotel and media interests world-wide.
All these were part of effective networks of relations throughout the region that brought recent development and high growth in economy and environements, and also made for a focus on cash flow as a key operating measure. . Former President Jiang Zemin of China transformed the country through a striving for consolidated economic reform and political stability.
A strong, stable Rivers State will exert considerable infleunce on world political eqiulibrium. official declarations and actions by Governor Wike since his inauguration on May 29 have clearly shown that his administration intends to return the state to a position of power in the national and international arena, that is, to drastically reduce poverty, insecurity, to avoid unilateral dependence on federal assistance and to strengthen the state’s image of investors safe haven and economic hub of the nation.
The support of multinational companies and banks operating in Rivers State will greatly foster the future development of the state, especially at rural communities via the Corporate Social Responsiblties CSR of such organizations. Their Community Relation Affairs departments must ensure that the companies successfully cope with the challenges arising from the social and economic development of their host communities for smooth and uninterrupted operation. If companies keep to their agreements or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government or and their host communities, it will ensure continuity and pave way for good relationship as well as create employment.
Compliance to laid down agreements will also bring social tensions under control and sustain economic growth. Within the short period on board, the Wike-led government has signed agreements with several companies for the execution of one project or another. So it is with other governments. Recently, a Canada-based science company, NHZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria’s Traveri Group for a renewable energy project to tackle power challenges in Nigeria.
The project would commence on a pilot scale in Enugu and Nararawa States, said the International President of NHZ, Mr Robert Leth in Abuja. According to Leth, the Company had entered into agreements with the governments of the two states and the project would be funded by accessing 185 billion euros from European Union Fund.
Sometimes the implementation of these agreements becomes a problems as some companies renege on the terms agreed upon. Probably as a result of youth disturbances, which could disrupt work on such projects. It was against this backdrop that the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Senator George Thompson Sekibo during the commissioning of the project at Ogu, told the people to sustain the peace in the community to attract more development projects to the area.
He charged youths in the area to resolve their grievances through dialogue while other companies should emulate Orleans Invest in carrying out their corporate social responsibilities. Orleans Invest did not only construct a new layout township road for the Ogu people but also a new market and an ultra-modern palace for the Amanyanabo of Ogu, Nicholas Ibiebele Nimenibo. This is quite commendable of the company.
Playing the politics of bitterness and rancour during the immediate past dispensation in Rivers State was one of the setback witnessed as it caused social disruption, political tension and slowed down economic growth. In a desperate bid to retain power, the immediate past leadership adopted what was often termed an impunitives attitude and disregard for society, and became potentially aggressive towards its past and present political friends and mentors. This led to the neglect or abandonment of several development projects attempted by previous governments in the state, which created the foreboding scenario that dragged the state into a quagmire of static and tension. As the state transforms from being the warmongering tiger much feared by the people into being the pampered domestic cat, we call on multinational and other companies operating in the state to join forces with the government to achieve rapid infrastructural and human capacity development.
In response to this call, the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC) on Wednesday, 15th July, 2015 delivered some projects it executed in Okrika to the host communities. The projects commissioned included electricity transformers, water boreholes, schools classroom blocks.
The is another laudable stride in the development of the area, coupled with the rehabilitation of the Eleme-Okrika refinery road which had been in a very deplorable condition for many years. Big thanks to Governor Wike.
It is very clear that these tangible assets and access would increase hundredfolds and demonstrate the real development of the state’s economy and the social status of the people in the area. For the time being, it is believed that about a thousand companies from far and near are located in the state, and the fact that they are working with us, and that they are doing business with us, means only one thing: we are on the right track.
But the question now is; what interests have the oil companies shown in the development of their host communities over the years? How much attention have they given to the payment of compensation to communities affected by the hazards of their operations or activities in terms of oil spills and gas emissions? The geographical location of such people should not be taken for a ride because their lives are in danger.
This, therefore, demands for the re-negotiation of the natural agreements on the exploitation and exploration of the resources in our land. All these have been going through a wait-and-see phase over several decades. Neither the governments directly concerned, nor the Elites of the country and the ordinary citizens are happy about this standby situation. But in the light of these difficulties, no signs have indciated attempteds by the companies concerned to settle the issues once and for all.
No one can foresee the future and it is true that this kind of future is not easily foreseeable, it is safer to begin now to secure our destiny and our future, considering the geographical position of those in the oil-bearing states of the country, particularly, Rivers State. The intention and attempt by the Wike-led administration to turn the state into a modern one might be seen by his critics as utopia but with time, the subject of his economic and other policies will prove to be very realistic, with the collaboration of companies and well-meaning groups and individuals. Although the revenue accumulated, especially in the boom years of the state had been squandered before the emergence of this government thereby making it difficult to finance important public works, schools, hospitals, water and other investments in the meantime. Rivers people will have cause to smile in the nearest future. This is the prayer and hope of the people.
Without counting the millions of citizens, including workers on government payroll, the present government has so far shown itself to be inflexible when defending its political philosophy, defying even its opponents attacks and criticisms. But above all, having taken-off on a difficult situation, the government has substantial interests and zeal to put smiles on the faces of Rivers people, so all should give it a chance and support it whole-heartedly. For several years, Rivers State has been living in a kind of state of siege, which has been lifted.