Yesterday, Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike’s landmark achievements got an international recognition in far away New York, United States of America.”The Best Governor, Grassroots Development In Nigeria Award’ conferred on the Rivers State Governor by the United Kingdom based Africa Leadership International Magazine bears eloquent testimony to Wike’s uncommon development strides in Rivers State in the last 16 months of his administration.
Like a proverbial gold fish that has no hiding place, Wike’s stewardship in the last few months has caught the fancy and admiration of many Nigerians including members of the opposition parties.
Yesterday’s international recognition was therefore the icing on the cake of a man who has been variously described as an actualiser, ‘talk-and-do governor’ and a grassroot politician.
In the last 16 months of his stewardship as the Rivers State governor, Wike has left no one in doubt that he is a good testament to good governance especially the judicious application of lean resources. Besides his direct connection and interface with the ordinary people on the streets which makes him a man of the people, the Rumuepirikom-born politician has positively touched the lives of Rivers people through his uncommon transformation of the State.
What perhaps made Wike’s achievements more noticeable and outstanding was the state of hopelessness Rivers State had become before the present administration came on board. Besides the State’s economy that was in shambles, and a comatose social infrastructure, poverty was also pervasive. No thanks to a litany of abandoned and unexecuted projects, backlog of workers’ salary arrears, the captive state of the State’s legislature and judiciary for an unprecedented period of over one and half years and a huge debt left by the immediate past administration in the State.
In spite of the parlous state of affairs he inherited and the paucity of funds occasioned by the dwindling federal allocations to the State, Governor Wike has continued to keep his promises to the electorate. Today, Rivers State has regained its status and commanding heights among other States in the country. Hope, the common elixir, is also gradually returning to Rivers people.
One area that obviously keeps Wike ahead of other governors is ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE.
In spite of the near empty treasury and a huge debt inherited from his predecessor, the governor has turned Rivers State into a huge construction site. Besides the Operation Zero Pothole progamme which has seen to the delivery of more than 130 roads in Obio/Akpor, Eleme, Port Harcourt and Oyigbo, the Works Ministry under the Wike administration has delivered 150 kilomeres of roads in the last 15 months. The more than 100 roads are spread across six local government areas, while many more will soon follow. Most of these were strategic roads and bridges that were abandoned by the previous administration but which are of huge benefit to Rivers people.
Within the first seven months in office, Wike’s administration completed two federal roads that are critical to economic development of the State, namely: the NPA Industry Road and the Eleme-Onne junction section of the East-West Road.
The Igwuruta-Chokocho-Okehi highway which is another federal road is near completion and expected to be commissioned before the end of this month. The 6.6 kilometre highway serves as a link to two local government areas of Ikwerre and Etche, but had been abandoned for decades.
The State roads are not left out. The Iloabuchi-Eagle Island Link road that was abandoned by the last administration was completed and commissioned in January, this year. The road serves as a major link between Mile One in Diobu area of Port Harcourt and Eagle-Island, and also connects other parts of the State such as Agip, Ada George and Rumueme. It has since decongested traffic on Ikwerre Road.
Same goes for Abuloma-Woji Link road. The road which is worth N13 billion was also completed and commissioned by Governor Wike in January, this year.
Other abandoned road projects completed and commissioned by Wike’s administration include Oyigbo Market Road, Abonnema-Obonoma Link Road with a new bridge, first phase of the NLNG-Nkpogu Road and the first phase of Odili Woji-Akpajo Link road. The second phase of both the NLNG – Nkpogu Road and Odili-Woji-Akpajo Link road is currently undergoing construction and expected to be completed soon.
Meanwhile, the dualisation of 16 km Sakpenwa-Bori-Kono Road which straddles three local government areas of the State is on-going. Ditto for the East/West-Airport (Prof Tam David West) Boulevard; the Igwuruta-Etche Road, the Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout Road, Elelenwo-Akpajo Road, Rukpokwu-Eneka Road, Rumualogu-Alakahia Road, Rumuolumeni-Iwofe Road, Elioparanwo Road, Elimgbu Road, Nkpolu-Rumuigbo Road, Rumuagholu-Oroigwe Road, Ozuoba-Rumuosi Road, Ozuoba-Rumuokparali-Choba Road, Igbogo-Choba Road, Ogoni/Andoni/Opobo Unity Road, the Kalabari Link road and Nkpogu-Trans Amadi Link Bridge, Woji-Elelenwo bridges, among others.
Contrary to allegation by a frontline member of the opposition party in the State, Senator Magnus Abe that the Sakpenwa-Bori Road does not meet international standard, the road, according to Governor Wike is being constructed by the CCECC, an internationally recognised company that executed the Abuja-Kaduna Light Rail Project. The road which traverses three local government areas in Ogoniland and also leads to Opobo-Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas, when completed, would boost economic activities in the State as well as assuage the sufferings of users.
Meanwhile, work has commenced on the completion of the Kpopie-Bodo City Road which was allegedly abandoned by Senator Magnus Abe after allegedly collecting over N4 billion from the immediate past administration in the State .Other strategic areas that have received attention of the State government in the last 16 months are the Kalabari Land Reclamation that is meant to rejig rural development, the Marine Jetty at Okrika that facilitates marine transportation and economic activities in the area and the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.
The construction of the on going multi-million naira Pleasure Park in Rumuola by a construction giant, Julius Berger Plc, was initiated by Wike to provide Nigerians, especially citizens and residents of Rivers State with a world class recreation facility. It is scheduled to be completed in December, this year.
Education is another sector that has received a boost under Wike’s administration. The governor’s passion for quality education has led to the completion of the Model Primary School at Rumuodomaya, the Law Faculty Complex of the State-owned University of Science and Technology (RSUST); the establishment of College of Medical Science at RSUST, procurement of science equipment and examination materials for senior secondary students in 247 schools in the State, and the payment of outstanding debt owed Ambassador Nne Kurubo Model School, Eleme by the last administration, among others.
Meanwhile, the Wike-led government, in a bid to develop a world class educational system in the State, is currently undertaking an upgrade of 11 old secondary schools in three senatorial districts in the State. The upgrading is meant to restore full boarding system that ceased in the 1980s. Work has since commenced at Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta and Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori which are among the pilot schools selected for the re-introduction of boarding school system in the State.
Governor Wike hinted of the vision behind the remodeling of the 11 schools and the re-introduction of boarding system in the State.
“Our people deserve the best. Therefore, we’ll give them the best education. We are developing a boarding school system that will produce students who can compete globally,” the governor said.
At the same time, the Wike-led administration is about to commence the rehabilitation of technical schools in the State.
According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical Education Matters, Prof. Israel Owate, the rehabilitation of technical schools such as the Government Technical School in Trans-Amadi, Government Craft Centre on Aba Road and the newly established School for Craft and Vocational Training at Port Harcourt Primary School in Old GRA would soon take off.
The decision of the State government to revive these schools is in fulfillment of Governor Wike’s promise to rejig technical education in the State, as well as arrest the dwindling level of technical manpower in the State and Nigeria in general.
Governor Wike also facilitated the upgrading of the Rivers State College of Arts and Science to a polytechnic via the executive bill he sent to the State House of Assembly. The bill has since been passed and the college is now a full-fledged polytechnic.
Water Supply. This is another sector that has received a revival pill under Wike’s administration which inherited only two percent functional water supply facilities in the State. To change this trend, this government set a target to increase functional water supply in the State by 80 percent, and has massively invested in it.
The State government started with the construction of five water schemes in five local government areas of the State, while also upgraded some of the existing ones.
Also recently, the Wike administration commissioned a 50 km network reticulation water project located at Alasa and Agbonicha booster stations to boost-water supply in the areas. In the same vein, the rehabilitation of water scheme in Okrika Aleto is on top gear.
The State government has also entered into partnership with the European Union, UNICEF and other agencies for the provision of potable water in Opobo town, Kalaibiama and Nkoro in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, and in Abonnema, Kula and Abissa in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
Health. In the area of health, Wike has left no one in doubt that health is wealth. He has established a framework for equipping major General Hospitals in the State. His government has awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of General Hospitals in Abonnema, Ahoada, Ikwerre and Isiokpo, while the health centres across the State are also receiving government attention.
Under Wike, the new phase of the Integrated Medical Industries (IMI) is near completion with all the necessary facilities and equipment fabricated by manufacturers in Europe.
According to the governor, the IMI project when completed, would create 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in the State, as well as conserve foreign exchange and stop the importation of some key medical consumables.
The new phase of the medical company is expected to be the biggest in the country with the capacity to produce one billion syringes and other vital medical equipment that will stem the tide of importation and give Nigerians access to high quality medical services.
As part of efforts to boost health service delivery in the State, Governor Wike recently inaugurated the Rivers State Private Hospitals Intervention Scheme. The scheme is to assist private hospitals to provide, quality healthcare for the people of the State. The first phase has 25 private hospitals owned by non-indigenes as beneficiaries.
Security: Being his primary responsibility to the people of Rivers State, Governor Wike does not take the issue of security lightly. Although there was heightened sense of fear and anxiety in the State, occasioned by high wave of kidnapping, cultism, armed robbery and assassination prior to the present administration, the trend has considerably changed since Wike took over the affairs of the State, last year.
Besides assisting the security agencies in tackling crimes and other related activities, through provision of operational vehicles fitted with modern communication equipment for the police, the State government has also taken the war against crimes to the criminals’ den
Recently, the State government took the war against kidnapping, cultism and other crimes to a new level by demolishing property allegedly owned by some kidnappers. Governor Wike also offered amnesty to kidnappers and cultists who would submit their arms to security agencies and commit themselves to honest living.
To give legal backing to the fight against cultism in the State, the governor sent an executive bill to the House of Assembly. The bill which sought an amendment of the Rivers State Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition) Law of 2004, has since been passed into law, and will serve as a legal instrument to ensure that culprits, apart from being subjected to the prescribed penalty of jail terms, will also forfeit to government, all their properties acquired through acts of kidnapping.
Today, Rivers State is safe both for social and economic activities. Night life is booming in Port Harcourt and its environs, while economic activities have been at a peak, resulting in the rise of internally generated revenue of N5 million under the immediate past administration to the present N10 billion per month.
Several events that took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital in the last few weeks, such as the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) Conference, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention, under peaceful atmosphere and without a record of kidnapping, murder or assassination have confirmed Governor Wike’s remarks that the tagging of Rivers State as insecure and unsafe for economic and political activities by the opposition is a farcical political contraption.
Workers’ Welfare: At the time Governor Wike assumed office, the State civil servants were being owed three months salary arrears. Within the first one month of his administration, Governor Wike cleared the backlog of the arrears. His government is also up-to-date in payment of salary.
It was in appreciation of the governor’s love for the State civil service that thousands of civil servants in the State staged a rally on Thursday, January 28, 2016 in Port Harcourt, to celebrate Wike’s electoral victory at the Supreme Court.
Governor Wike has also succeeded in other sectors, such as housing where his government has completed over 50 units of two and three bedroom flats at the Iriebe Housing Estate; Judiciary where he initiated the construction of the on-going new ultra modern Law Centre for the NBA at the cost N498 million, as well as the re-construction of the Federal High Court.
Wike’s achievements in the last 16 months have attracted wide applause from many prominent Nigerians, including some key opposition members in the country who visited the State to witness, first-hand, the definition of good governance.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while giving testimony after inspecting some projects embarked upon by Wike’s administration, recently said, “Any person from any part of Nigeria can come here and reside with access to the good things of life. I have seen street lights, good roads and vibrant economic activities everywhere with new houses springing up. Government is working here.”
The Deputy Senate President was not done yet. He added that “Governor Wike has restored faith in government as far as Rivers State is concerned. In other places, people are losing faith in government. Here in Rivers State, you can see the dividends for the votes cast for the PDP.
“I believe that once other States emulate what is happening in Rivers State, Nigeria will be better.”
Hundreds of lawyers, who were in Port Harcourt towards the end of last month for their national convention also testified to good governance in Rivers State. The lawyers under the auspices of NBA, took the time off to inspect some of the projects executed by the Wike government, such as the NBA Law Centre, Federal High Court, Dr.Nebo Gram-Douglas Faculty of Law at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Pleasure Park, second Nkpogu Bridge, Elelenwo Akpajo Road and the second Woji-Akpajo Bridge. They commended Governor Wike for the pro-people projects and particularly for executing projects that promote legal practice in the country.
Key members of the opposition party are not left out in the commendation of Governor Wike’s stewardship. A frontline leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal could not hide his feelings after commissioning some of the projects completed by Wike’s administration. While unveiling the refurbished and expanded Okrika (ATC) Land Jetty in Okrika town, Tambuwal who was the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, described Governor Wike as a man of the people.
“I see that Governor Wike is a man of the people who is committed to the development of the State,” Tambuwal said.
The Best Governor Award conferred on Wike in far away New York, yesterday, is a confirmation that the vote of confidence recently passed on the Rivers State governor by over 300 frontline editors from all mainstream and online media organisations across Nigeria was not in error.
The editors who were obviously held spell bound by the level of unprecedented infrastructural development they saw in the State, and the level of security measures put in place, came to the conclusion that Rivers State is a safe haven, contrary to the salad of lies and half-truth being dished out by members of the opposition party in the State.
“Based on careful observation of the state of affairs in Rivers State, the Guild commended the government and people of the State for the level of security and infrastructural development, as well as for the step being taken to promote agriculture in the State,” the NGE stated in a communiqué.
Given several commendations the governor has received in a couple of months from various stakeholders including a vote of confidence recently passed on him by 29 political parties in the State, there is no doubt that Wike is not just a leader of the opposition party in the country, he is a testament to good governance and of course, a shinning advertisement for his Peoples Democratic Party.
The “Best Governor, Grassroots Development in Nigeria Award conferred on him, yesterday in New York, United States is, therefore, a well deserved honour that should be celebrated by all Rivers people.