Being a text of the 2016 Budget presented to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to the State House of Assembly on Friday, December 18, 2015. Exerpts.
It is my pleasure to
present to this Honourable Assembly the Budget of our administration for the 2016 fiscal year.
Mr. Speaker, recall that we inherited a State that was stuck in social and economic problems and practically dysfunctional. However, we immediately set out to fix the State and deliver on our promises in line with our mission and vision for a new Rivers State within the framework of the 2015 budget.
In the past six months, we have tackled the myriads of challenges head on and made significant progress on all fronts. For example, we have cleared the backlog of salary arrears owed to civil servants and pensioners without any bailout from the Federal Government. We have reconstructed several roads in Port Harcourt through the operation zero pothole programme. We remobilized contractors to continue with the construction of several major roads abandoned by the previous government. Today, we are happy to report the completion of some of these roads while others have reached advanced stages of completion.
The Faculty of Law complex we recently completed at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology is ranked as the best in West Africa. Our law students are today learning in a very conducive faculty building. Besides this, we have kick-started our secondary schools rehabilitation programme. The first phase of this programme is expected to deliver eleven first generation schools across the three senatorial districts.
5. Arguably, we are making progress and things are getting better for our State. Indeed, but for the low finances, we would have registered greater achievements. Nonetheless, we are satisfied with our efforts so far. We have started well. Yes, we are on track to deliver on our mandate and realize God’s promise for a peaceful, secure and prosperous Rivers State.
So, today, we are here to consolidate on our gains and take Rivers State to the next level with the 2016 budget estimates within the framework of effective mobilization and allocation of public resources to priority sectors of our development needs. , such as road infrastructure, security, healthcare, education, agriculture and youth empowerment.
The 2016 Economic Outlook Of Rivers State
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the poor state of Nigeria’s economy. Rivers State, like every other State of the federation, still depends on federal allocation for most of its development revenues. We are therefore going to be affected by the shocks generated by the drastic fall in revenue accruable to the Federation Account and the macroeconomic distortions of the degraded naira and corresponding inflationary pressures.
While we appreciate the efforts and measures taken by the Federal Government to improve the nation’s economy, it is obvious that concrete progress will take beyond 2016 to manifest. This means that we must be realistic in our expectations about the State’s economic outlook, even as we try to be cautiously optimistic.
Against the background of the gloomy economic outlook therefore, we have decided to fix the base line of our 2016 budget projections on an oil price of 35 USD per barrel as against the 38 USD price fixed by the Federal Government. This leaves us with some difference and comfort zone of 3 USD con8 thereby leaving it may be difficult for us to find sufficient resources to o meet our revenue projections for 2016, even as the baseline is anchored on an oil price of 35 USD, barrel with a comfort zone of not less than 3 USD.
Reflecting and guided by this situation, we intend to be as realistic as possible with our revenue projections for 2016. Basically, we intend to introduce necessary reforms to bolster internally generated revenue (IGR) by blocking leakages and expanding the State’s revenue base to the informal sectors of our economy. Furthermore, we also intend to make provisions for a buffer fund from loans and grants from our development partners to fund possible deficits and distortions on our development agenda. However, because this is a fallback measure, we would draw down on such facility only when it becomes economically expedient to do so.
Review Of The 2015 Budget
Mr. Speaker, Hon members, it may be appropriate at this juncture to review the 2015 budget estimate to enable us more effectively contemplate the 2016 budget estimate with the revenue component.
We had approved total revenue of N338, 768,000,000 for 2015, made up of FAAC revenue receipt of N220, 920,000.00, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N98, 228,000,000.00 and other revenue receipts of N19, 620,000,000.00.
Out of this sum total receipts as at September 2015 stood at N94, 581,602,043 representing 43.86% of the actual receipt on total appropriation and 21.72% on actual receipt on the total appropriation for the year 2015.
Similarly, out of the approved capital FAAC of N220, 920,000,000, only N94, 173,958,240 representing 56.14% of the approved FAAC and 24.55% of the total revenue estimate was realized in the course of the year. Furthermore, the total recurrent expenditure as approved for 2015 stood at 119,453,030,710 with actual expenditure of N85, 842,712,665 representing 25.34% of the approved sum for the 2015.
Further breakdown shows that salaries had N60, 973,112,996, which represented 51.04% of total recurrent expenditure while the overhead expenditure had N24, 206,996,358 representing 20.26% of the total recurrent expenditure for 2015, with the actual release of N3, 853,275,679 representing 1.13% of the actual overhead release as compared to the total appropriation for 2015.
Other items had N34, 272,951,356 with actual expenditure standing at N21, 019,682,284 representing 6.20% of the actual in terms of the total expenditure for 2015.
Also, a total of N219, 314,969,290, was approved for capital expenditure for 2015 with actual expenditure of N127, 535,902,006 representing 37.65% of the actual expenditure on the total capital appropriation for 2015. Further analysis revealed that N29, 240,775,000 was approved for the administrative sector with actual release put at N34, 466,919,707 representing 10.17% for the year 2015.
A total of N73, 808,694,480 was proposed for the Economic sector with actual expenditure of N32, 822,514,307 representing 9.69%. Law and Justice had N770, 000,000 proposed for 2015 while only N1, 588,000,000 representing a 0.47% increase above the approved sum was expended. The Social Sector had N38, 197,500,000 with an actual release of N11, 535,633,503 representing 3.41% for the year 2015. The Special Heads had N77, 294,999,810 with actual expenditure standing at N5, 168, 143, 029 representing 1.53% while others had as approved N48, 423, 413, 785 with the actual expenditure of N419, 546, 913.18 representing 12.38%.
Mr. Speaker, the 2015 budget performed far below projections. While the downward fall of the economy was the major factor responsible for the poor performance, a secondary factor was the near total failure of the previous administration to implement the budget as passed. Rather, available funds were diverted to political and other unproductive ends. Having lost five months, the implementation of the 2015 budget actually stared when we came in with our development agenda.
In the course of the year a further sum of N104, 287,285,108.00 was approved as supplementary budget, bringing the total appropriation for 2015 to N443, 055,285,108.00
The 2016 Budget Estimates
Mr. Speaker, in 2016, we are proposing a budget of consolidation. The policy thrust is to strengthen the foundation, consolidate the gains already achieved and take Rivers State to the next level of development. To this end, the 2016 budget shall be tailored to meet the following policy goals:
Effective mobilization, equitable allocation and prudent management of public finances;
Building a modern, productive, diversified and competitive economy to create jobs and empower our people;
Completing all ongoing basic infrastructure projects and initiating new ones, where necessary; and
Delivering more and better public services with little resources
Mr. Speaker, because we have already taken-off, what we shall do throughout 2016 is to continue on the fast lane to complete all ongoing roads and other projects, initiate and build new roads and other development projects, enhance our security system to make Rivers State safe and secure, diversify our economy through agriculture and industrialization and invest in the future of our youth through human capital development and job creation.
However, while our transformation agenda and commitment remains constant, we have taken the state of the economy into account in our revenue projections. Accordingly, we are constrained to keep our projections within realistic limits. To this end, we propose a Budget Estimate of N307, 000,000,000.00 (three hundred and seven billion naira) only, for the 2016 financial year.
Funding of the 2016 Budget
We expect the 2016 budget to be funded from the traditional sources, including Statutory Allocation from the Federation Account, Derivation proceeds, Value Added Tax (VAT) and IGR. We are projecting N115, 000,000,000.00 (one hundred and fifteen billion naira) from the Federal Accounts Allocation (FAAC) including derivation and VAT. We also expect to generate N120, 000,000,000.00 (one hundred and twenty billion) from IGR; while N72, 000,000,000.000 (Seventy-two billion naira) will come from other sources..
Our ambitious revenue target from IGR is underpinned by necessary changes we will introduce to improve the administration of tax. The State Internal Revenue Board has been mandated to implement measures to expand the State’s revenue base, block tax leakages and improve revenue collection.
It is also pertinent to note that part of the development budget will be funded with projects specific loans from our domestic and external development partners.
The breakdown of the budget shows that a total of N120, 000,000,000 (one hundred and twenty billion) is proposed for recurrent expenditure. Out of which the sum of N55, 000,000,000.00 is earmarked for salaries, N18, 114,178,637.00 for the payment of pensions and gratuities, while overhead costs is expected to gulp N14, 524,179,815.00.
27. The total projected capital expenditure for 2016 is N187, 000,000.00 (one hundred and eighty-seven billion naira), which gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 60:40. In terms of sectoral allocation, the figure shows that 15.5 per cent or N29, 042,275,000.00 is allocated to the administrative sector; 29.1 per cent tor N76, 326,194,480.00 is allocated to the economic sector, 0.41 per cent or N770, 000,000.00 is allocated to the Law and Justice sector; and 28.4 per cent or N53, 207,500,000.00 is allocated to the social sector.
The reasonable increase in the capital expenditure is in furtherance of our priority to progressively shift more resources from recurrent purposes to development expenditure in line with our abiding determination to promote economic growth and diversification, human capital development, the provision of physical infrastructure and improving the well being of our people.
Mr. Speaker, we recognize the enormous developmental challenges facing the State, including the high poverty and unemployment rate, low agricultural and industrial productivity, inadequate social and economic infrastructure, large-scale fiscal inefficiencies and growing insecurity. However, we are totally committed to tackling these challenges, restoring hope and securing a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Therefore, we will through the 2016 budget continue to address the critical sectors of our development plan for the State. Accordingly, the 2016 budget is intended to prioritize security, infrastructure provision, education, healthcare, energy security and socio-economic empowerment.
We need to secure our State and make it safe for our people and investors in order to achieve our economic and development objectives of generating more revenue, creating quality jobs and enhancing peoples’ living standards. The rising incidents of kidnapping and other violent crimes across the State and the general sense of insecurity across the nation impels the need for us to more decisive in tackling insecurity and criminality. To counter the security challenges, the Government is committed to significantly increasing resources to support the capacity of the security agencies in the areas of logistics, intelligence gathering, quick response and motivation. Accordingly, we have provided N15 billion naira to the security sub-sector in the budget.
Provision of infrastructure
As we all know the provision of transport infrastructure is critical to the socio-economic advancement of any nation. Accordingly, in 2016 we intend to complete all on-going road projects and kick-start the construction of the Trans-Kalabari road network, the dualization of Ahoada – Omoku road as well as Bori Sapkenwa road. We shall also continue with the construction of inner city roads in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and the headquarters of other local government areas. Accordingly, over 53 billion naira is provided for the infrastructure development sub-sector.
Furthermore, given the scarcity of public resources and the huge gap in the State’s infrastructure needs, we will use the public private partnership arrangement to mobilize private sector resource for infrastructure development, especially in the areas of roads construction, power generation, education, healthcare and other viable projects.
Development of Agriculture
We continue to appreciate the strategic role of agricultural productivity for achieving the transformation of our economy. We shall therefore continue to invest reasonable resources and efforts toward enhancing agriculture and its value chain. Furthermore, we shall continue to encourage and support our youth with land, capital and capacity to take to agri-business as a profitable commercial venture to reduce unemployment and poverty.
Provision of quality education
As a State we have made tremendous progress on access to education at all levels. However, a lot still needs to be done on the quality and relevance of education, especially given how young school-leavers are finding it difficult to find jobs. We are therefore scaling up resources to enhance the quality of our education at all levels. We will give priority attention to vocational and entrepreneurial education to provide life-long skills and interest in small businesses for our youth, women and persons with disability to be gainfully employed and self-sustaining.
Furthermore, we intend to complete the rehabilitation of more secondary schools and pilot the re-introduction of boarding facilities in public secondary education. We also intend to ensure the formal upgrading of the Rivers State College of Arts and Science to a polytechnic status as well as ensure the takeoff of the Faculty of medical sciences in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
Provision of Healthcare
In the same vein we intend improve the healthcare delivery system in the State with a view to drastically reducing infant and maternal mortality, promoting healthy life-styles, providing social safety nets for vulnerable people, and building a healthy and productive population for sustained economic growth. To this end, we have concluded arrangements to upgrade healthcare centres throughout the State with state of the art infrastructure, facilities and equipment. We also intend to provide special interventions for the training and re-training of doctors, clinical officers and nurses’ internship, and the elimination of malaria and control of HIV/AIDs
We believe that inclusive growth is only possible with the empowerment of our people to participate and take commanding heights in State and nation’s economic opportunities on offer. To achieve this goal, we will continue with implementing viable measures to support and improve the capacity of Rivers men and women to engage in viable business activities. Part of the measures is to ensure that Rivers people are accorded priority consideration in the award of government contracts.
Furthermore, apart from improving the environment for SMEs to flourish, we shall ensure that companies handling major government funded projects concede all sub-contracts to indigenous contractors.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the fact that while we are seriously committed, our capacity to deliver on our promises is constrained largely by inadequate resources. However, we remain undaunted and will not be overwhelmed by the challenges.
The 2016 budgets remains one of the basic mechanisms we intend to effectively utilize to consolidate on our agenda for moving Rivers State forward. All that we ask for is your patience, continuous understanding and cooperation. We are not here to fail and we shall not fail to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.
Before I lay the 2016 proposals before this Honourable House, let me on behalf of the people of Rivers State express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Speaker and Distinguished members for their relentless support towards our administration from the beginning to this moment. We count that this wonderful partnership between us will continue to work harder in 2016 to deliver for the people of Rivers State.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, may I with your kind permission lay before this highly respect Houser, the 2016 Budget proposal for consideration and passage into law.
Thank you all and may God continue to bless Rivers State.
RSG’ll Not Tolerate FIRS’ Attempt To Undermine Our Authority-Wike
Being a text of the State wide Broadcast by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Monday, September 6, 2021. Excerpts.
My dear people of Riv
As we all know, following the recent judgement of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the constitutional right and authority of State Governments to impose, collect and utilize value added taxes (VAT) within their respective territorial jurisdictions, the Rivers State Government enacted the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 to regulate the effective administration of VAT in Rivers State.
As expected, the Federal Government, through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), disagreed and filed an appeal coupled with a request for stay-of-execution of the judgment before the Federal High Court.
While the appeal was pending and without any stay-of-execution of the subsisting judgement, the FIRS went about to bully corporate bodies and business entities from paying the VAT to the Rivers State Government even when they knew that an appeal does not serve as a stay neither was there anything to stay in a declaratory judgement.
As a mere agency of the Federal Government without any political authority, the effrontery and impunity exhibited by the FIRS against the Rivers State Government was ill-advised and highly provocative.
However, being a government that believes in the rule of law, we decided on our own to suspend the enforcement of the Rivers State VAT Law 2021 pending the outcome of the FIRS’s application for stay-of-execution.
Today, the FIRS has failed in its attempt to frustrate the enforcement of the State’s Law on VAT with the Federal High Court’s dismissal of its application for stay-of-execution of the judgement.
It is important to reiterate the fact that we did no wrong in exercising our legal right under our constitutional democracy to stop the continuing breach, denial and curtailment of the constitutional right of States to lawfully impose and collect value added and other related taxes within jurisdiction to the exclusion of the Federal Government.
And in doing so, our singular and progressive objective was to contribute to the advancement of fiscal federalism by enabling the federating States to explore and exploit their potential and capacity for generating greater internal revenues with which to fund their development goals and reduce the outdated over-reliance on pitiable Federal allocation and other handouts.
Naturally, some States with presently low economic activities and ethically restrictive social policies with economic implications may be adversely affected for now.
But, this is not our own making. Like the right to derivation, this is also a constitutional prescription, which we all swore as political leaders to respect and defend as the supreme law of the land.
Above all, fiscal federalism remains the right path to economic self-reliance and sustainability for all our States and the benefits derivable from this case by all the States in the long run far outweigh the immediate revenue loss that some States may presently suffer.
All that is required is for all of us to wear our thinking caps as elected Governors to collectively fight for the greater devolution of resources, responsibilities and powers to the federating States.
It is therefore very unfortunate that some State Governors led by that of Katsina State are vainly conspiring to truncate this progressive reality in favour of the inequitable status quo so that the Federal Government can continue to rob Peter to pay Paul as the nation’s self-imposed tax master-general.
For us in Rivers State, we will continue to ensure and project our constitutional rights to access all possible resources we can take hold both within and outside our geographical boundaries to advance the progress of our State.
And with today’s judgement, the way is now clear for the administration and enforcement of the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 across the entire State until otherwise decided and set aside by the Superior Courts.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Rivers State Revenue Service (RSRS) to ensure the full and total implementation and enforcement of this law against all corporate bodies, business entities and individuals with immediate effect.
All corporate bodies, business entities and individuals are advised to willingly, truthfully and promptly comply with their tax obligations under this law to avoid the full weight of the stipulated sanctions, including having their business premises sealed-up.
Let me warn that the Rivers State Government is fully in charge of the State and will not tolerate any further attempt by the FIRS to sabotage or undermine our authority to freely administer our tax and other related laws in our own State. Those who play with fire risk having their fingers burnt. Enough of the shenanigans.
I wish to further assure every resident that we shall as usual make effective use of the expected proceeds from this tax to accelerate the development of our State and improve the wellbeing of everyone.
Fellow citizens, let me also draw your attention to the alarming rate of transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic in our State.
The daily figures released by the NCDC show that both the transmission and death rates in the last two weeks have consistently been on a rising spiral because residents and visitors to the State have largely abandoned their responsibility to comply with the existing COVID-19 Protocols.
Clearly, we are headed for a serious health disaster of profound consequences if residents and visitors continue to behave as if the pandemic no longer exists or impotent in Rivers State.
This is a big lie and we cannot afford to continue to close our eyes to the dangers such irresponsible behaviour poses to the health, lives and livelihood of everyone.
Accordingly, I wish to remind residents of the subsisting protocols on regular washing of hands and use of alcohol-based sanitizer; maintaining social distancing; wearing of face masks at all public places, including transport vehicles and going for immediate testing and treatment whenever you notice any of the symptoms.
Furthermore, it has been proven that vaccinations are saving lives here and across the world and those refusing to take the vaccines for no certified medical reasons should know that they are endangering the rest of the citizens.
I therefore appeal to all residents to help protect yourself, your loved ones and the rest of the citizens by getting your jab at the designated health centres in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State as they become available.
I also appeal to religious leaders and churches to convince and encourage their followers and members to please go out and take the vaccines and comply with the covid-19 protocols in addition.
Although it remains our desire to keep the State open and allow citizens to go about their social, religious and economic activities unimpeded.
But we may be constrained to re-impose the suspended COVID-19 lockdown measures across the State if the transmission of the disease continues to increase beyond tolerable limits.
Finally, we wish to reiterate that the ongoing demolition of shanties was borne out of the compelling need to safeguard lives and property across the State.
Our objective, which is gradually achieving is to deny the criminals these sanctuaries and hideouts from which they embark on their criminal activities and safely return to.
We therefore refuse to be blackmailed by those unpatriotic elements who are trying to stir false ethnic, religious or tribal sentiments around our patriotic commitment to advance the safety and security of residents.
Furthermore, we refuse to be intimidated by such baseless pranks. Rather, we will not rest until we clear the State of all shanties wherever they are located and restore sanity to our environment and achieve a better sense of comfort and security for everyone.
Once again, thank you all for your support, prayer and understanding as we continue to work together to advance our collective security, peace and progress.
Thank you and may God bless Rivers State.
Wike, Face Of Nigeria’s Democracy – Nsirim
This is a text of a media briefing by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim on the second phase of the advocacy campaign of #OurStateOurResponsibility message in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Excerpts.
I most heartily welcome you all to this media briefing aimed at bringing you up to speed on the advocacy campaign with hash tag #OurStateOurReponsibility.
You may recall that on the 31st of July, 2019, the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications commenced an advocacy initiative with the hash tag #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign aimed at mobilising those living and doing business in the State to join hands with the government to change the negative narratives about our dear State.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the giant strides of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and showcasing the proud heritage of a people known for their traditional hospitality.
Two years after we rolled out the advocacy campaign, it is gratifying to note and appreciate the overwhelming and massive buy-in by people from all walks of life resident in Rivers State. We are glad to report that indeed the people of Rivers State, including non-indigenes who reside and do business here, proudly received and took ownership of the message of the advocacy campaign.
Thus, having noted the high level of reception of the message of the campaign, the Ministry is now ready to launch into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which aims at taking further steps to plant the message in the hearts of our citizens, both young and old, with the overall aim of ensuring that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers State project and portraying the State in its true positive status as the most hospitable in Nigeria.
To this end, the State Ministry of Information and Communications is entering into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which would involve input from members of the public in line with our philosophy of ensuring a further buy-in from all stakeholders.The second phase of the advocacy campaign would stretch beyond solidarity campaign to engage residents of the State on essay writing, theme song, skits and short film competitions which would attract cash prizes.
The essay competition which would centre on the #OurStateOurResponsibility is aimed at inculcating in the minds of our young ones the ideas and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the advocacy. It would be open for youths between the ages of 16 – 25 years. They would be required to write an essay of between 250 – 500 words, in their own handwriting, which they would scan and forward to this email address: email@example.com within two weeks from Thursday, 2nd September, 2021. The deadline for the submission of the essays is on Wednesday, 15th September, 2021.
To ensure originality and transparency of the exercise, twenty three best scripts would be selected by judges and the chosen participants would be required to appear physically for a second round of essay writing at the Ministry of Information and Communications on Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021.
As an incentive, the Ministry of Information and Communications has earmarked cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners of the essay competition, while the best essay would attract a Fifty Thousand Naira cash prize, the second and third placed winners would smile home with Thirty Thousand Naira and Twenty Thousand Naira respectively. There would also be consolation prizes for the fourth, fifth and sixth placed participants. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners would also be presented with memorable plaques for their efforts on October 4, 2021.
In furtherance to creating more awareness that will give greater visibility to the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, the Ministry would also call for entries from members of the public, including members of the Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Port Harcourt Chapter, for the theme song selection, skit competition and a short film competition, centred around the hash tag.
While the skit is not expected to go beyond sixty seconds, the theme song would be between three to five minutes long and would be judged based on the lyrics, creativity, rhythm and originality of the work.
Apart from the monetary incentives that would accompany the best of each category, the works would receive reviews on the media platforms of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, plaques would also be presented to the winners. Moreover, winners of the various categories would become Ambassadors of the Ministry of Information and Communications and would be specially invited in all activities of the Ministry for the quarter (three months) of their reign.
Gentlemen of the Press, you would recall that when we first embarked on this advocacy campaign which took us round on visits to different media organisations, traditional rulers, various professional bodies and associations, including faith-based organizations, our mission was clear. It was focused on etching into the psyche of all those living and doing business in the State to know that Rivers State belongs to them and therefore the need for them to uphold the virtues that portray the State in good light and counter the evil political, religious and ethnic bigots whose stock in trade is to run the State down.
As you can attest, the performance of His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his six years of governance of the State has been remarkable in so many positive ways. The avalanche of projects commissioned and flaggedoff in the last two months gives credence to the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike remains the hope of Nigerians that democracy can actually work to favour the common man.
When we started this advocacy campaign, we promised it was going to endure for a long time. We were clear of the direction we were headed and we are glad to say that it has been worth the effort.
It is our fervent hope that this second phase would bring even greater success as the Ministry is poised to let the world know the truth about Rivers State and for our people to tell our story in a way that would counter the mischief of a few who are overwhelmed by the achievements recorded by the present administration ably led by Nigeria’s face of democracy Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
I thank you for your attention.
Delivering Quality Projects, Soul Of My Administration-Wike
Being a text of Governor Nyesom Wike’s address at the presentation of the six years progress report to mark the 2nd year of his second tenure on Monday, July 12, 2021.
As you know, our government was first inaugurated on the 29th of May 2015 with a four years’ mandate. When it ended, we sought for and got a renewal in 2019 to continue in office for a second and final term.
The 29th of May 2021 therefore marked two historic milestones in our government. First, it marked the 2nd anniversary of our second term in office and second, it also meant that we have been in office for six consecutive years.
First of all, I wish to thank God Almighty for the grace to lead our State for the last six years and the strength, wisdom and enablement to deliver our vision of progress and transformation to the good people of Rivers State in the midst of very daunting challenges.
For us, our duty is to govern, and govern well. But it is for the people to judge whether we have done well or not taking all the circumstances into consideration.
That is why we have gathered our people to, yet again,present to you our account of stewardship for the last six years.
Let me therefore welcome and thank you all for honouring our invitation to this important accountability event as I proceed with my presentation.
Precisely six weeks ago, we kick-started the celebration of the second anniversary of our second term in office with the flagging-off and commissioning of new and completed projects.
For 40 days, we traversed the length and breadth of the State to either commission or flag-off various development projects cutting across different socio-economic sectors, including roads, bridges, education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, sports and rural development.
The entire nation was witness to this phenomenal harvest of projects in Rivers State as the sounds and sights of the happy and grateful beneficiary institutions, communities and people were beamed on live telecasts.
You may wish to recall that this is rather the third phase of the series of project commissioning events that our government has carried out since late December 2020.
Before you, or shortly to be distributed to you, is a compendium of 536 pages, which captures the fundamental achievements of our administration in the last six years in road infrastructure, rural development, economic progress, education, healthcare, housing, administration of justice, security,agriculture, social welfare, sports,as well as culture and tourism.
Going through this compendium, you will see, with facts and evidence,the claims and assertions on what we have delivered in practical terms to advance the progress of our State and well being of our people in the last six years.
From the very beginning, we stated that the mission of our administration was to mobilize and deploy all available resources to build a State that works for everyone; a State that every Rivers person and residents can all be proud of and be happy to live and raise their children.
We reaffirmed this commitment during our second inauguration and further pledged to continue to build on the foundations already laid to make our State a land of peace, justice and development.
We promised to continue to grow our economy, expand our revenue base and create viable economic opportunities for everyone to explore for the benefit of everyone and to the exclusion of no one.
We promised to continue to deliver on our equitable development agenda that guarantees the spread of public goods and services, including quality socio-economic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, health and education facilities to all parts of the State.
We also promised to continue to advance the progress of our rural communities with modern internal roads and other social amenities to spur their economic viability and stem the rural-urban drift.
We also promised to deliver some specific important roads and projects, including the long awaited trans-Kalabari road and the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo unity road.
We further promised to continue to transform and elevate the infrastructural status of our capital city, Port Harcourt and the adjourning territories with our urban renewal programme and make Rivers State one of the preferred business and leisure destinations in Africa.
We also promised to continue with our responsibility to build a virile judicial system, support the security agencies to protect lives and property and make Rivers State more safe, convenient and welcoming for residents, investors and tourists.
It is six years into our journey of renewal, transformation and consolidation; a journey to build a new Rivers State with a better life and future for the present and generations unborn, and we are very proud with what we have so far accomplished.
Recall that we came into office at a time the national economy was and is still in turmoil with much reduced revenues accruing to the State governments.
You also know that we inherited a State with visibly decrepit infrastructure, litany of abandoned projects coupled with a hopeless economic and security situation as businesses were closing shops in their numbers.
Everyone knew that Rivers State, prior to our administration in 2015,was asphyxiated and in urgent need for the restorative oxygen of rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal.
But with determination, commitment to purpose and prudent management of available resources, we have drastically changed the development trajectory of the State for the better with many more progress to be delivered before we exit the stage for the next government.
Most of you, if not all, will agree with us that fulfilling promises and delivering quality projects is the mind, body and soul of our administration.
From the economy to the provision of roads, security, and administration of justice to the provision of education, healthcare, housing, rural development, and in the advancement of sports, social welfare, culture, recreation and tourism, the constant, consistent and recurrent narratives of the last six years under our watch have been unprecedented delivery of projects, transformation and progress.
Our economy has not just recovered from regression; it has grown and far more robust, stronger and generating greater revenues for government now than when we came in six years ago.
Although the long failing national economy continues to be drag on our own growth prospects and projections, the fiscal policies and measures we have put in place have and will continue to sustain and increase our economy to create more opportunities for business, jobs and empowerment.
The Rivers Cassava Processing Company alone is a game changer in the long-subdued potential of making Rivers State the foremost hub in cassava production in Nigeria. We will leverage on this facility as well as the cassava value chain to create wealth, income and jobs for our teaming youths who are willing to take to the business of agriculture.
Our performance in the provision of quality infrastructure, especially roads, has generally been described as phenomenal with the echoes being felt, heard and commended everywhere across the nation.
With over a thousand kilometres of Trunk-A roads already delivered, no government has increased and improved the State’s road networks and connected as many communities to the State capital and other parts of the State with good quality roads as we have done in the last six years.
We will be happy to be contradicted, if any, but it is rather humbling to say that, not even the Federal Government, has embarked on the simultaneous construction of ten arterial flyovers, with three already commissioned, and the others at various stages of completion,to improve connectivity and traffic flow within a record period of two years as our administration has done.
Today, we have efficiently reconstructed and regenerated the entire road networks at the Old Government Reservation Area, Amadi Flats and substantial parts of new Government Reservation Area in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas to further improve connectivity, restore environmental sanity and enhance the socio-economic conditions of the population that live and do business in these areas.
It is historic that the ancient coastal community of Opobo has been connected to the rest of the State and the country by a tarred road and we are as excited as the good people of Opobo for being the government that ensured this glorious reality in the infrastructure and socio-economic lives of this important and famous community after one and half century of existence, 61 years after Nigeria’s independence and 54 years after the creation of Rivers State.
Again, with us, the construction of phase one of the trans-Kalabari road is underway while the remaining portions of the Ogoni-Andoni would soon be completed to connect the coastal communities of Ngo, Ikuru and other towns along that way after decades of impossibility by the previous governments.
As at the last count, we have turned and transformed not less than 18 major single lane roads, including Igwuruta – Chokocho road, Saapkenwa – Bori road, Tam David West Boulevard, Rumuokwurishi – Eneka – Igwuruta road, Reumepirikom – Rumuolumeni road, Rebisi – Trans-Amadi – Oginigba road, Justice Iche Nduroad, Eagle Island – Illoabuchi road, Elelenwo – Akpajo road, Birabi road, Emeyal road, Tombia road, Forces Avenue, Olumeni road, Abacha road, and Harley street to dual carriage ways with street lights, pedestrian walkways and covered drains, while the dualization of, Ahoada – Omoku, and Egbema Omoku roads is also underway.
Even now, a lot of roads connecting and interconnecting several more communities across the State, including Phase one of the Ahoada – Omoku dual carriage way, the Bori – Kono dual carriage way, the Eastern bypass – Ogbum-nu-Abali dual carriage way, the Ezimgbu dual carriage way, the Tombia Extention dualization, the Woji – Aleto – Alesa road and the Wakama – Ogu – Bolo road, are underway. These roads and many more would be delivered to further expand the State’s existing road networks in the next one year.
Similarly, we have continued to step-up investments in the provision of internal roads, jetties, land reclamation, water and shore protection as part of our new development deal for the rural areas across Rivers State.
Elele-Alimini, Isiokpo, Rumuche, Okochiri, Amadi-Ama, Omoku, Odiokwu Bolo and some others now have a new lease of social and economic life with the internal roads we have provided, while those for Ogbakiri, Omerelu, Okochiri phase 2, Omagwa and Igwuruta are also already underway.
The reconstructed Bonny/Bille Waterside and the Okrika, Isaka and Witt and Bush Jetties are some of our interventions in the transport sector serving the social, economic and commuting interests of our people in the riverine communities.
Furthermore, we have reclaimed vast swathes of sand-filled land for some of the coastal communities, including Abalama, Bakana, and Kulato advance their development, just as, we have also started the sand filling of 55 and 42 hectares of reclaimed land for Abonnema/Obonnoma and Okrika communities respectively to drive the growth and expansion of these ancient and major communities. Last week Saturday, we further committed the government to sand-fill 25 hectares of land for Ogu community.
Also, construction has resumed on the shore protection works at Aze-Azaga, Isukwa, Owikwu, Obiofu and Utu communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area to prevent the continuous erosion of their shorelines.
The justice sector is another important area that has received special and consistent attention from our government. In the last six years, we have built, furnished and equipped both State and Federal Courts, provided life-long accommodation for all State Judges and enhanced their movements and comfort with new official vehicles as well as built official residences for judges of all Federal Courts in the State.
The new Rivers State High Court complex, the new Federal High Court, the New National Industrial Court, the new Court of Appeal complex, and the new judges’ quarters for the State and Federal Courts all testify to what we have structurally achieved for both the State and Federal Judiciaries in Rivers State.
We have also automated the case management system, ensured the employment of more Judges and Magistrates and sustained the administrative and financial autonomy of the State’s judiciary.
Contrary to the chaos we inherited, there is no doubt that the justice system in Rivers State has been restored and what we have now is a system that meets international standards; a judiciary that is working well in advancing the administration of justice and contributing to the socio-economic progress of our State.
Our development agenda also prioritizes the provision and access to quality education and healthcare.This is why funding for education and healthcare delivery have always been next in quantum only to road infrastructure in our annual capital budgets, since 2015.
With the increased funding we have provided over 1200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. We have also reconstructed, furnished and equipped several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved interconnecting road networks.
We have continued to implement our free primary and secondary education policy with the payment of WASCE, NECO and JAMB examination fees in public secondary schools as well as stopped the collection of illegal levies by school administrators.
As a result of the concrete and targeted interventions, the education system is becoming more and more effective and qualitative in the State with enrollment and transition rates of over 98 per cent, while over 80 per cent have consistently recorded 5 credits and above pass rates, including Mathematics and English in WASCE since 2015.
At the tertiary level, we have elevated the structural quality of our tertiary institutions with new faculty, administrative and other buildings, strengthened the governance systems and enhanced staff welfare with the new salary structure.
Apart from the College of Medical Sciences, we have also implemented a multi-campus structure for the Rivers State University with the establishment of new campuses at Emohua, Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas,thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the University and providing more access to quality tertiary education for our children.
Equally worthy of note is the approval we have received and our commitment to deliver the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School in the next six months to advance legal education in the State. I wish to reassure you that the Port Harcourt Campus will be the best Law School campus in Nigeria.
In the health sector, we are also very pleased with the progress we have made so far. In the last six years, we have built some new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities, renovated some existing primary health centres and general hospitals, commissioned the 132-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, built the senior doctors quarters and rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, while a junior doctors quarters is also under construction.
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