May 29th, 2015 marked a new beginning in the political history and development agenda of Rivers State following the inauguration of His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as governor of the State.
Wike’s administration anchored on the New Rivers Vision, no doubt, had a well-planned agenda of reviving Rivers State which was damaged beyond measures by the immediate past APC administration in the state led by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
As the Bible Book of Proverbs Chapter 29, verse 2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
Governor Wike, during his inauguration, rolled out measures to wipe out the tears of the people of Rivers State who have been under political bondage for years, like the Israelites in the hands of Pharaoh.
First, Wike began with the reopening of the courts closed for two years and the Rivers State House of Assembly as well as granted them autonomy.
In fact, on the very first day of his inauguration, Governor Wike launched the “Operation Zero Potholes Programme” with well acclaimed construction giants, Julius Berger and CCECC handling the projects. This is geared towards addressing the infrastructural decay across the suburbs of Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre local government areas.
Again, Governor Wike went ahead to clear four months civil servants salary arrears and six months pension arrears owed by the immediate past administration. This, he has maintained since assumption of office and has remained one of the few governors in the country that is up to date in terms of payment of salaries and pensions.
To fulfil his pledge to Rivers people during the campaigns, Governor Wike has spread developmental projects to the three senatorial districts of the State making projects delivery the watchword of his administration.
For instance, Governor Wike has, over the period, embarked on massive construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads and other critical infrastructure in the state.
Over 200 roads in the urban centres of Port Harcourt and Obio / Akpor local government areas and in the adjoining local government areas of Oyigbo, Eleme, Ikwerre, Etche have been delivered, and several others under construction.
Of immense importance is the fact that some of these roads fitted with street lights have repositioned the state to a vibrant economy, empower the people and set the state on the part of growth.
Also in the health sector, several feats have been recorded in line with his desire to reposition the sector to serve the people better than ever before.
Seventeen General Hospitals spread across the three Senatorial Districts of the state are being completely rehabilitated. They include General Hospital Omoku, General Hospital Nchia, General Hospital, Abua, General Hospital Isiokpo, General Hospital Abonnema, General Hospital Okirika, General Hospital Opobo, General Hospital Bodo, General Hospital Ngo, General Hospital Buguma, Psychiatric Hospital, Rumuigbo, General Hospital Emohua and General Hospital Eberi.
Also, a loan scheme of Five Hundred Million Naira was provided to 37 private hospitals to upgrade their facilities and improve service delivery to ensure that more residents of the state have access to quality healthcare. Worthy of note is the fact that this noble gesture was extended to seven non-indigenes as a demonstration of his position that all those living and doing business in the State are part and parcel of the New Rivers Vision.
The education sector is not left out within the period under review. The governor in his love and passion for education, reintroduced model boarding schools with eleven prominent schools across the state been earmarked for total rehabilitation to serve as pilot study for the scheme.
Presently, work is ongoing in three secondary schools across the three Senatorial Districts of the state; namely Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori and Government Girl Secondary School, Rumuokwuta.
Taking into cognizance the fact that no meaningful development can strive in an atmosphere devoid of peace and stability, Governor Wike has invested heavily in the state’s security architecture. Over 150 patrol vans and more than 50 Armoured Personnel Carriers and gunboats have been bought and rehabilitated and distributed to security agencies, in addition to funding on a monthly basis.
He further initiated the Amnesty Programme to foster peace and stabilise the security sector. Though the opposition saw the Amnesty Programme as politically motivated, the programme, no doubt, was a huge success as hundreds of cultists and militants embraced peace.
Without contradiction, Rivers State at present, is one of the most peaceful states in the country despite the negative propaganda sponsored by the opposition to portray the state in bad light.
The developmental efforts of Governor Wike, indeed, transcend political lines as both party men and those in the opposition embrace the narratives of his unprecedented development and even call on other governors to emulate him.
Governor Wike has also completed the ultra-modern NBA Law Centre, remodelled the first phase of the Alfred Diete Spiff Civic Centre, while work on the new Federal High Court Complex in Port Harcourt, constructed by the state government, has reached advanced stage.
The second phase of the Alfred Diete Spiff Civic Centre which houses all the sporting facilities with international standard is also on-going. This, when completed, will no doubt engage the youth in sporting activities and reposition their minds off from negative ventures.
Today, the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, noted as the first of its kind in West Africa generating foreign exchange for the state government as well as boost tourism, is nearing completion.
The Rivers State Christian Ecumenical Centre promised Christians during his electioneering campaign as a centre to promote unity among Christians and provide a platform for inter-denominational church services, has also been built.
Without mincing words, Governor Wike has, indeed, ensured that the people of Rivers State do not regret voting for a leader who has the interest of his people at heart.
The developmental stride of the present administration in the State, within two years, speaks volumes of the change of infrastructure in the State.
With this unprecedented project execution which has also earned Wike “Mr. Project,” coupled with the celebration of the State’s Golden Jubilee on May 27, 2017, Rivers people expect Governor Wike to sustain his development programme in the State.
Ibim Walson Asako writes from Radio Rivers, Port Harcourt.
Ibim Walson Asako