When news first made the rounds that our action Governor, Barrister (Chief) Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, CON, GSSRS, was hosting the Nigerian Guild of Editors back to back (he had hosted them in 2016), it was to say the least shocking. That is because no governor had ever hosted the Guild back to back. In 2015, the Bayelsa State governor indicated interest to take up sole sponsorship of the conference. Arrangements are probably still in the pipeline.
The hosting of the Guild was a welcome development for many reasons. Given the state of the economy, how many states are viable enough to host over 300 editors? How many are even willing to do so without stringent conditions attached?
Another good reason for the hosting of the conference by Governor Wike was that there were lots of ongoing projects, which the editors inspected, in 2016, many of which have now been completed. What an opportunity for editors not resident in Port Harcourt to see and confirm that projects in the state are actually completed and not left as white elephant projects.
The third reason is the confirmation of Port Harcourt as a safe haven for both tourism and business. His Excellency had asked a pertinent question and that was, whether Port Harcourt was safe for business? He got an affirmative answer. The city is indeed safe; for the editors came, saw and conquered and they were in turn conquered. There was no reported case of security breach throughout the four-day event.
Another echo from the conference was the inspection of many completed projects. Take, for example, the Pleasure Park. This park is amazing and indeed a pleasure for many families and children. It has become the home of families during holidays and festive periods.
Other projects inspected by the senior members of the pen profession included the Elelenwo/Woji/Akpajo bridge already in use by motorists and the Ecumenical Centre hitherto encumbered by an abandoned cinema house overtaken by weeds and reptiles. Besides the aforementioned projects, the renovated Brick House is splendour to behold. It is retention of the old and new, displaying great architectural expertise and prowess.
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) complex has since been completed and in use. A former eyesore called the Produce House has been transformed like Cinderella into a beautiful princess. Only this time there is no chiming of bells at midnight to return it to the old form.
The sand filling at Oro Abali/Ogbumnabali is quite a sight to witness at night, with lights streaming on the glassy beauty of the sand, which reminds one of the beauties of seaside or waterfront houses in countries outside Nigeria. They are well planned to maximize the beauty of the water against the backdrop of beautiful structures.
The Port Harcourt Zoo is not left out of the prying eyes of the governor. The garbage heaps and scrapped sand that was the bane of the zoo and Slaughter Road through Trans Amadi has been demolished. Now, there is a passageway from Mothercat junction down to the Slaughter and zoo.
The administration of Governor Wike is ensuring that all sectors in the state wears a new look. In the education sector, schools are renovated across various local government areas of the state. Some of the rehabilitated schools include Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori, Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokuta, etc.
Road projects are not left out. The Rumuokrushi/Eneka/Igwuruta, the Chokocho/Umuechem/Ozuzu and Chokocho/Igwuruta Roads have been dualised, rehabilitated or constructed. The second Nkpogu bridge has been constructed as well.
Also undergoing construction or completed road/bridge projects include, Abuloma/Woji bridge, Akpajo/Woji Road bridge, Elioparanwo Road, dualisation of the Bori/Kono Road, Kpopie Bodo Road and Prof. Tam David-West (Obiri Ikwerre Airport) Road. Others are Celestine Omehia (SARS) Road, Atali Elimgbu Roads and Ulakwo/Afari Nihi Road in Etche. In Abua, the governor has constructed the Abua-Emouhia-Iyak-Elok-Egbolom Access Road.
Furthermore, projects undergoing construction are Edeoha/Ikata/Ochugba, Abonnema Ring Road phase 2 and Eliozu/Rumunduru/Oroigwe/Elimgbu Road. The Rumuagholu Airport Nkpolu East/West Road, Ozuoba/Rumuaparaeli/Choba and Aluu Roads are being reconstructed.
Roads like Trans Amadi Road by Nwaja bridge, Igbogo-Choba, Ozuoba-Rumuomasi, Epirikom-Rumuolumeni, Peter Odili, Borikiri New Road area and Ogbumnabali within Port Harcourt metropolis are witnessing massive rehabilitation or construction.
The Diobu axis in Port Harcourt is equally captured in the Wike’s administration’s drive for good and motorable roads in the Garden City. Roads along Nnokam, Chief Amadi, Elechi Street Odioma, Ekwe Street, Wokoma Lane, Ojoto, Adelabu, Abel Jumbo, Abonnema Wharf, Anokwuru, Abakiliki Street, Ataba, Lumumba, Elechi Beach and Joinkrama have been reconstructed.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation work is ongoing along Agip gate to Eagle Island, Iloabuchi link road junction and Wike and Industry Road as well as Rumuji/Ibaa/Obele/Isiokpo Road. From the foregoing, virtually all the local government areas have something going on.
The health sector has also got a fair share of development by the current administration. The Neuropsychiatric Hospital at Rumuigbo is already wearing a new look with state-of-the-art equipment. This goes as well for the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) and the Mother and Child Hospital, all in Port Harcourt.
The General Hospitals in the local government areas like Abonnema, Okrika, Abua, Bodo, Isiokpo, Emohua, Eleme, Omuma, Ngo, Opobo and the zonal hospitals in Bori, Degema, Ahoada and Etche are receiving facelift after being abandoned for many years.
The most thrilling of all is the construction of the doctors’ quarters at the BMSH. This is a highly commendable feat. Fire had gutted some of the buildings accommodating doctors in the hospital. Similarly, judges are also enjoying some largesse as the state government does renovation work on their official residences.
Most of the aforesaid projects have been commissioned while others are at various stages of completion. It took the hosting of the Guild of Editors to avail us the knowledge of ongoing projects in the state. Rivers’ people have to appreciate the Governor for his developmental strides which aptly earned him the sobriquet: “Mr. Project” For it is only such conference like the All Nigerian Editors would afford everyone the luxury of acquainting with the laudable achievements of the Governor.
“A prophet” they say “is not known in his own city”. Wike has performed very well and therefore should be recognized by all Rivers people. For this, I say a big thank you to our Governor for hosting the Nigerian Guild of Editors last month and making Rivers State proud by embarking on projects that are relevant to the lives of the people and the development of the state.