Never again will we allow projects meant for the people to be abandoned just because we did not award it. I will never do any project that will be abandoned. No part of the state will be neglected in the infrastructure renewal programme of my administration – Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON.
Today marks the second anniversary of the NEW Rivers Vision in the state and, for its initiator, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, whose initials apparently formed the above acronym, the celebration would most likely be driven by a personal gusto, being widely adjudged to have accomplished so much in so short a period.
Wike assumed office at a time when everything seemed to have come to a screeching halt in Rivers State. His immediate predecessor and now Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, had long vowed not to hand the reins of state over to another Ikwerre man. The erstwhile governor was also reported to have declared that the state was insolvent while stopping just short of swearing that Wike wouldn’t be able to pay civil servants. The other arms of government, the Legislature and Judiciary, had technically been under lock and key on account of a wrangling over the appointment of a substantive Chief Judge for the state. Meanwhile, Government House was reportedly being plundered just as stench-oozing refuse heaps enjoyed ubiquity on major streets and road medians, especially in Port Harcourt. But rather than be unsettled by this ugly turn of events, the state’s new helmsman embarked on what only a naturally gifted leader would opt for in the circumstances; he literally rolled up his shirt sleeves and set to work.
First, Wike announced the re-opening of courts in the state and the appointment of Justice Daisy Okocha (now retired) as the new acting Chief Judge of Rivers State. This was to the relief of practising lawyers in the state most of whom became practically jobless while the spat lasted. Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo was the governor’s pick for acting President, Customary Court of Appeal; both judges being the most senior at the time. Rivers State House of Assembly also had its doors re-opened for lawmakers, having long been locked up while legislative duties were performed from somewhere inside the Government House.
Next was the recall of waste contractors and the payment of over N2 billion owed them by the out gone Amaechi administration. The Road Maintenance Agency took off about this time and is now said to be reworking and retouching key roads totalling about 33 kilometers under its Operation Zero Pothole scheme. These roads include Chief Andrew Uchendu Drive in GRA, Industry Road, Rumuola Road, Okporo Road, Nwaja by Elekahia Road, Ohiamini Road, Adelabu Street and Ojoto Street.
To mark his First 100 Days in office, Governor Wike built and commissioned a number of projects, chief among which are the 50 medium-income flats at Iriebe, Iloabuchi-Eagle Island Link Road, Abonnema-Obonoma Link Road and the NBA Port Harcourt Law Office.
Previous administrations in the state had often abandoned or delayed projects execution using the rains as a ready excuse; but Wike has since proved the flimsiness of such excuse as his projects execution has been all season and without quality compromise. This means that, going forward, Rivers people will no longer be amenable to such deceit by any politician. Again, the incumbent governor seems to possess this knack for ensuring project payment while also insisting on a timeline for every contract. While on project monitoring rounds, it is common to hear him speak in this manner: “We will pay you on Wednesday and we expect that you complete the road work in three weeks. We don’t want to hear another excuse. You have said that you abandoned work due to lack of payment. We shall make money available”.
In addition to being a shrewd politician, Wike has been able to demonstrate another admirable leadership acumen by his involvement of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals, Port Harcourt Refineries, Intels and three other high profile firms operating in Eleme LGA to join the state in raising N3 billion for the rehabilitation of the six kilometer bad portion of the Eleme Junction-Onne Park section of East-West Road.
Governor Wike’s project tours are usually greeted by mammoth crowds of obviously appreciative residents some of whose emotions are readily betrayed by their teary eyes. They often surge to hail a man who has visited to fulfill his campaign promise of uplifting the quality of life in their long forgotten area of town. From Borokiri Road in Old Port Harcourt Township to Rumuwoji (Mile 1) Market Phase 2 ground breaking, Mile 1 Flyover Park, Abonnema Wharf Road, Woji-Elelenwo Road, Woji-Trans Amadi Road, Onne Seaport Access Road and Abuloma-Woji Road, it is the same experience.
Other major roads and bridges that were recently commissioned and those nearing completion under the present state administration include Kpopie-Bodo Road in Gokana LGA, Second Nkpogu Bridge in Trans Amadi, Sakpenwa-Bori Road, Igwuruta-Etche Road and Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
The N150 million ATC Jetty at Okrika has since been completed by the Wike government after years of abandonment while reconstruction work is in progress at the Bonny/Bille Jetty on Creek Road as part of measures to boost marine transportation in the state.
Aside from his numerous road projects, Governor Wike has also breathed life into other sectors of the state’s socio-economic space. To be sure, upon the conclusion of a biometric exercise to ascertain the actual number of persons on the state’s monthly pay roll, the payment of civil servants salaries now appears breezy at a time when some states are paying only half salaries or even not paying at all. He had, on assumption, ensured the immediate clearing of two months backlog of workers’ salaries and three months pension arrears inherited from the Amaechi government.
Wike has released funds for the smooth running of tertiary institutions in the state and upgrade of facilities to meet course accreditation requirements. One of his pet projects had been the completion and equipment of the Nabo Graham-Douglas Law Centre and e-Library at the Rivers State University, himself being an alumnus of that faculty. Other notable accomplishments in the education sector include the rehabilitation of select schools across the state, namely Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori; Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema; and Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta. The administration is also credited with the procurement and distribution of practical examination materials and equipment to public secondary schools in the state for WAEC and NECO examinations.
Elsewhere, Bori Zonal Hospital and Elele-Alimini General Hospital are among health institutions that are currently being upgraded to provide better services to the people. Even the floodings at St. John’s Campus and First Bank Bus Stops on Aba Road which had defied all remedial efforts by past regimes, appear to have been finally tackled by this government.
Even in sports, the merger of the state’s two darling teams, Sharks FC and Dolphins FC, into today’s Rivers United Football Club is yet another demonstration of sound economic reasoning which began to yield dividends almost immediately.
Security has also attracted enormous attention from the Wike administration. As a state that hosts many multinational oil firms and their sensitive facilities, it goes without saying that there is the need for zero tolerance for crime. To this end, therefore, the state had always been very supportive of the security agencies, especially helping to provide their transportation and logistics requirements. It has reportedly donated a total of 84 patrol vehicles to these agencies with 64 of the vehicles fully fitted with communication gadgets.
Also, the state government recently inaugurated an Amnesty committee to ensure the retrieval of arms from any repentant cultist who was willing and ready to surrender his weapons. Related to this is the amendment of the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Law No. 3 of 2009 to include additional penalties like the confiscation of assets derived from kidnapping and other crimes. In order to practically demonstrate his resolve to chase out criminals from the state, Governor Wike had personally supervised demolition of the home and hide-out of a notorious cultist and kidnapper in the state.
In the weeks leading to the celebration of the Golden Jubilee anniversary in the state, a number of projects were initiated while others were commissioned. Notable among these are the flag-off of Bakana land reclamation in Degema LGA; flag-off of Oyigbo-Mbano Camp-Iriebe Road reconstruction; commissioning of rehabilitated Brick House building in Government House; commissioning of Port Harcourt Pleasure Park and the Ecumenical Centre on Abonnema Wharf Road.
Finally, it is already obvious that the NEW Rivers Vision is a blue print designed to benefit Rivers people, going strictly by the extent of this administration’s accomplishments in just two years. In fact, prominent Nigerians from across the country, some of whom partook in the commissioning of these projects, did pay glowing tributes to the Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. But none seems to have captured the mood better than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who recently dubbed him ‘Mr. Projects.’