Today marks the climax of a beehive of activities that have characterised the celebration of the golden jubilee of the creation of Rivers State. In the midst of the pomp and pageantry, there stands out a personality who, by the instrumentality of providence, has been saddled with the highest leadership responsibility at this period of history. He is Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Executive Governor of Rivers State.
Amongst several other indicators that give credence to the fact that Chief Nyesom Wike is a child of destiny, is the coincidence that he was born the same year, Rivers state was created by the then military rulership of Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, a lawyer, politician from Rumuepirikom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State and former Minister of Education, is the 17th and the incumbent Governor of Rivers State. He won the Rivers State governorship ticket of the PDP on December 8 2014, won the general election and on May 29, 2015 took the oath of office as the Governor of Rivers State.
Chief Nyesom Wike was Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council in Rivers State from 1999 to 2017, an office he used to redefine and exhibit his special brand of governance.
From 2003 to 2006, Wike was the National President of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), the umbrella forum through which all the 774 Local Government Chairman in Nigeria interface and interact on issues affecting the politics and policies of Nigeria.
From 2007 to 2011, he was appointed the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt. And in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as the Minister of Education, State, of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
An outstanding administrator, lawyer, leader and politician, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was born to the family of Reverend and Mrs. Nlemanya Wike of Rumuepirikom Community, Rivers State, on December 13, 1967.
Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike also holds degrees in Political and Administrative Studies. After a brief stint with private legal practice, Chief Wike was elected twice as the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. He served his two terms in office from 1999 to 2002 and 2004 to 2007.
While in office, Chief Wike also served as Deputy President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON in 2004 and was later elected the President of ALGON. He also represented Africa as a member of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Local Governments Forum.
Barrister Wike distinguished himself as the best performing local government council chairman in Rivers State. As council chairman, he embarked on iconic projects that redefined council administration and set the right example for his colleagues. As ALGON National President, Wike played a pioneering role in national security and primary healthcare, leading all local councils to commit themselves to high level grassroots development across the country.
Between October 26, 2007 and May 28, 2011, Chief Wike served as the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt and was appointed the Director-General of Governor Amaechi’s re-election Campaign Organisation. On the 11th of July, 2011, Chief Wike was appointed and sworn-in as the honourable Minister of State for Education.
Following cabinet shake-up on September 12, 2013, Chief (Barr) Wike emerged the nation’s supervising Minister of Edcuation.
As the Minister of State for Education, Chief Wike made remarkable impact in the basic education sub-sector, spear heading a nationwide reform of the nation’s education system.
The fundamental programmes that were driven by the former Minister of State for Education include the creation of access to quality education for 9 million almajiri children in Northern Nigeria through the construction of dedicated schools in affected states, construction of basic education vocational training schools for out-of-school children in Southern Nigeria and special girl-education schools for less privileged girls in 16 states of the country.
Many have described this year as a year of multiple awards for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike. At the last count, Chief Wike has received not less than seven outstanding awards. The Christian community under the umbrella of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), gave the Governor the award of ‘Apostle of Peace’. This followed the Authority Newspapers ‘Governor of the Year’ award and Daily Independent Newspaper Man of the Year’ award.
In December last year Chief Wike, amongst other notable Nigerians, was nominated for the 2016 edition of the prestigious South-South Programme Award (SSPA).
The Sun Newspapers’ ‘Governor of the Year’ award given to Chief Wike was an icy on the cake of the people’s governor. The award drew large crowd and huge accolade in far away Lagos. Among the dignitaries at the award ceremony, which has become the biggest media and entertainment event in the country were state governors from all over the federation (present and past), including Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, thewir Kastina State counterpart, Alhaji Amonu Bello Nasard, Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Aogara, members of the diplomatic corps, instable politicians and elder statesmen including former Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Balaucbe Musa and former Finance Minister Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu.
The Sun Board of Editors said it voted Governor Wike as The Sun 2016 Governor of. The Year, after rigorous debate, because of his outstanding achievement in the areas of infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture, rural development and security, among others.
Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers, Mr Eric Osagie said, “The Sun Governor of the Year’ award is one of the most prestigious in the country and Africa, as it “is bestowed annually on state governors whose quality leadership, achievements and priceless contributions to national development have generated dividends of democracy as well as inspired hope for a better Nigeria.”
The Managing Director stated that what Wike has done in office was inspirational.
“At the last count, more than 80 roads, aside bridges and jetties have been rehabilitated, reconstructed and constructed. Work is on-going on the construction of about 35 new roads spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.” He recounted
According to him, Wike’s achievements in 19 months set him apart from other governors, noting, “it is for these uncommon but silent efforts of your government to improve the quality of living among your people that The Sun has deemed it appropriate to celebrate your Excellency”.
Osajie, also, underlined what Wike’s government has done in the area of security, the listing the support to security agencies and the state’s Amnesty Programme as some of the efforts.
“Also to your credit in a move to secure Rivers State, you set up an amnesty programme that made armed militants and cult members surrender their arms. Your immense support to security agencies with funds, vehicles and equipment, in a bid to secure the state, is applauded”, he said.
He noted that owing to the confidence people have about security in Rivers State, “organisations like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Guild of Editor (NGE), The Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and Rotary International, among others, held their annual conferences in Rivers State this year”.
In appreciation of the award, Governor Wike said The Sun Governor of the Year Award would spur him to do more for the people of the state to whom he dedicated the honour. He promised not to disappoint The Sun for the choice it had made.
Reacting to the various awards given to the Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo says the emergence of Wike as the Chief executive of the State would not have come at a better time than now, contending that it was a divine arrangement for him to resolve the state from infrastructural decay, insecurity and to give governance a human face. Banigo commended the choice of Wike for several awards stressing that the achievements of the administration barely two years now were everywhere for the people, including critics to see.
At the conferment of the Peace Award on Chief Wike by the Rivers State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Dan Obinna described Governor Wike as a man of Peace. “It looked an impossible problem but today Wike has, by the grace of God, brought back relative peace to Rivers State. The amnesty programme of Rivers State moved him to international recognition,” Obinna said.
He recalled the degrees of insecurity, injustice and impunity that characterised Rivers State before the emergence of Wike as Governor. “There was no judiciary and no legislature. Our children were employed and compelled to carry arms, adding to the insecurity of the state. The church was balkanised, and set against themselves”.
“The traditional authority was properly humiliated, intimidated and cowed to a shameful submission”.
“CAN is a witness to say that all that we saw then had changed. The roads started rejoicing. Wike said to the church, that there is nothing that is too much to do for God. He started with projects that were abandoned by his predecessor.
“He disclosed that the church will remain partners with the government. He kept his promise of building an Ecumenical centre for the church in Rivers State. The church has a duty to pray, help and support a man like Wike who has done this by the fear of God,” Obinna said.
Former Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha described Wike as a blessing to the people of Rivers State, because of the enormous work done by Governor Wike, “because I have first-hand experience of the State, having been groomed in Port Harcourt.
“I am impressed by the profound work he is doing to move the state ahead. I know the extent of work done so far because I grew up here in Port Harcourt at Captain Amangala Street. The Governor has obliterated the upland and riverine dichotomy. He has united the people of Rivers State through projects and politics of inclusion”, Ihedioha said.
In recognition of his exemplary efforts in projects delivery, the Anglican Diocese of Etche in Rivers State also conferred on Governor Nyesome Wike the distinguished award for “Outstanding Leadership”.
Conferring the award on Wike, during the second session of Third Synod of the Anglican Diocese, Rt Reverend Okechukwu Nwala said that it was a demonstration of appreciation by the people of Etche ethnic nationality for the creation of access to their communities by the Wike administration. He recounted that before the leadership of Governor Wike, Etche roads were death traps and Etche ethnic nationality cut off from the rest of Rivers State.
Astonished by the array of landmark projects delivered by the Wike administration, when he visited Rivers State, Acting President Yomi Osinbajo nicknamed Governor Nyesom Wike “Mr Projects”. The Acting President made the appellation on Wike in the Government House, Port Harcourt after inspecting numerous unprecedented completed and on-going projects of the New Rivers Vision of Governor Wike.
In March this year, former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan visited and was led to inspect some key projects delivered by the Wike administration. At the end, the ex-President had this to say “Wike is a worthy representative of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He praised Wike for keeping the torch shinning by his exemplary performance, which has justified his election by the people of Rivers State.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan noted that Governor Wike’s outstanding performance has become the common story across the country, pointing out that he has been hearing about the works of the governor for sometime. He expressed satisfaction with the quality of transformation noting that the governor has lived up to his reputation.
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who was on a similar visit to Rivers State recently, declared that Governor Nyesom Wike has executed more projects in the last two years than the APC-led Federal Government.
Addressing newsmen after accompanying Governor Wike on extensive projects inspection, Senator Akpabio said Governor Wike’s excellent performance stemmed from his love for Rivers people. “Governor Wike has done more work and projects in the last two years than the federal government. That in my considered opinion”, Akpabio declared.
Former Abia State Governor and Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Theodore Orji, who was equally amazed by the delivery of projects by the Wike administration, described the ‘transformation” taking place incross Rivers State as a wonderful outcome of voting a prepared leader.
He said, after he was taken round in the company of Governor Wike on projects inspection, that all projects being executed in the state are targeted at improving the living condition of the people.
“This transformation is wonderful. You need to come to Rivers State to see things physically. It is not enough to hear the wonderful works of Governor Wike from outside. When you come to the state, you feel the work of the governor and know that transformation is going on. I have seen real development. Construction of roads, bridges, parks and hospitals. Governor Wike is indeed a transformer”, he said.
While on a visit to Rivers Stat,e Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose declared Rivers State a construction site, after accompanying Governor Wike on project inspection. “Everywhere in Rivers State in a construction site. And these are legacy projects that you can’t forget too soon. The difference is very clear. The average man can feel the projects”, he said.
Fayose asserted strongly that Governor Wike has done well, and he deserves commendation. “The body language of the people shows a lot of appreciation for this dynamic leadership”, he said.
At home here in Rivers State, the people are already overwhelmed by the unprecedented performance of Governor Wike. Former Dean of Faculty of Management Science in the now Rivers State University and expert on Business and Finance, Prof Adolphus Toby told The Tide in a recent interview that Wike has displayed ingenuity and commitment in transforming the state. “Wike is trying despite poor allocation and he has touched all sectors”, Toby said.
As the economium continued to pour on the peoples Governor, Nyesom Wike last week, added another good governance feather to his cap as Daily Times honoured him with an award among other heroes and heroines who have helped shape Nigeria’s history in different fields.
In the midst of this outstanding performance, Governor Nyesom Wike is careful to return the glory to God. He declared at a special thanksgiving service and dedication of awards bestowed on him at St Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt, recently that “God sanctioned the awards because if it’s by powers that be, Rivers State will take last.”
Wike recalled how he was surprised when he learnt about the nomination by The Sun Newspapers as Governor of the Year and few weeks later got another one from Authority Newspaper, followed by that of the Daily Independent Newspaper.
For Governor Nyesom Wike who has done so much in just two years to prosper the state, he takes very dear to heart, the Golden Jubilee Anniversary should be seen by every indigene of the state as an opportunity to work together and jettison party affiliation. He sued for unity among the people, noting that the state has come a long way, and therefore, needs to thank God.
“If you put the achievements of the various governors, there are a lot to thank God for. God has done a lot for the State, so, when people attain the age of 50, you see them celebrate let alone our State. Anybody who loves and lives in Rivers State has a lot to thank God,” Wike admonished.