The rapid degeneration of infrastructure across the country has led to the need for regional and inter-regional platforms to galvanize development and promote unity.
The need for these platforms has become more urgent following the failure of the APC Federal Government to deliver on her numerous promises. Needless to state that the South-South and South-East Regions have been worse hit by the embarrassing failure of the APC Federal Government to judiciously use the resources of the country for the benefit of her people.
As a leader with deep knowledge of the development process, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike resolved to work with other governors to change the ugly narrative foisted on the nation by an uninspiring leadership.
Rather than grumble over the development deficits which the APC Federal Government has deliberately refused to address, Governor Wike has decided to leave his comfort zone to interact with brother-governors for the purpose of initiating processes that will help in resolving the development challenges staring everyone in the face.
One of the vehicles for achieving the needed platforms for the development of the South-South and South-East Regions is the initiation of inter-state visits. As an astute politician and grounded administrator, Governor Wike knows the relevance of personal interaction in confidence building and the generation of platforms for development, especially amongst deprived peoples.
He did not invite any of the brother-governor over to Port Harcourt for the exchange of ideas. He chose to meet them at their respective states. He showed them respect, fraternal love and friendship.
The engagements over the week have focused on politics, development, cooperation, peer review, cultural affinity, grooming support base for common good and pooling together of resources to engender inter-regional development.
The inter-state visits started at Bayelsa State on October 5, moved over to Abia State on October 6, then to Enugu State on October 7 and Cross River on October 11. In between, Governor Wike participated in the South-South and South-East Governors Forum Meeting at Owerri on October 8 and the Southern Governors Meeting on October 23, 2017.
This was a home-coming of sorts for Governor Wike. Bayelsa State was created out of Rivers State. The State shares common ancestry with Rivers State. Both States have similar development and political challenges.
As states that share border and culture,
Governor Wike and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Seriake Dickson agreed to deepen cooperation to enhance rapid development .
Addressing journalists after the closed door meeting, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike stated that the two states will work together to enhance development.
He said: “We will work together, we will partner together economically, politically and otherwise to develop our two states.”
The governor said that the spirit of regional cooperation will be strengthened, pointing out that new areas of cooperation will be created amongst the two states.
“This cooperation will be taken further to cover the South-South Governors Forum. We are working out fresh modalities for the growth of our states”, he said.
Governor Wike expressed happiness that he visited Bayelsa State to promote inter-state friendship, pointing out that the friendship will continue to grow.
Also speaking, Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson said that they agreed to intensify consultations in the interest of the people of the two states.
He said: “We have agreed to intensify these consultations in the interest of our people and in the interest of the Niger Delta region.
“We have started the process of consultation and interactions which we intend to move forward and deepen.
Governor Seriake Dickson said the people of Bayelsa and Rivers States are from common ancestry, hence the need to work together.
He commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides in Rivers State.
This visit brought to the fore the urgent need for collaboration in the tackling of infrastructural deficit, especially the abandoned Federal Road connecting the two states.
Rural development featured in the frank deliberations at Abia State. Governor Wike was the Special Guest during the commissioning of the state’s construction equipment.
While commissioning the construction equipment procured by the Abia State Government, Governor Wike commended the Abia State Governor for his commitment to rural infrastructure.
He urged the Abia people to continue to support Governor Ikpeazu for greater achievements.
He announced that the Rivers State Government will work with the Abia State Government to reconstruct the Oyigbo to Aba Federal Highway.
In his remarks, Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu said that the construction equipment commissioned by Governor Wike will be used to revolutionise infrastructure in the state.
He said that the earth moving equipment will serve the rural communities of the state.
He praised Governor Wike for his commitment to development and good governance.
“I count Governor Wike as a special blessing, not only to our people, but to human kind. I thank God for the kind of courage that he has blessed Wike with. Today, he has come here. I pray that the blessing of Rivers State will follow Abia,” Dr Ikpeazu said.
The Visit to Enugu was dedicated to the renewal of inter-regional ties for the cross fertilisation of ideas.
Governor Wike stated that he will continue to be an advocate of regional and inter-regional cooperation for the purpose of enhancing development in the country.
He maintained that it is vital for governors to meet on different platforms to share ideas, proposals and peer review each other for the good of the governed.
The governor stressed that regional cooperation is vital to the deepening of the nation’s democracy and the needed force to propel development at the level of the states.
He said: “You Know this is my brother governor. I am here on a visit for us to compare notes for the development of our respective states.
“I have come around for him to brief me of some things he is doing for us to make the desired progress.
“For PDP governors , we believe that we should work together and see that we improve the lives of our people”.
Cross River State
The two governors agreed in Cross River State to promote the tenets of peer review for the purpose of achieving more for the people.
Governor Wike declared that the peer review of projects and programmes between South-South and South-East States will lead to the faster development of the two regions.
According to him, peer review exposes governors to different techniques of achieving development for the good of their people.
He said: “We are all from one zone and from the PDP. From time to time, we encourage ourselves by visits to exchange ideas and to see how we can move the region forward.
“We also belong to the South-South and South-East Governors Forum where we agreed to work together economically and politically in order to enhance inter-regional development.”
Governor Wike expressed happiness with the quality of projects in Cross River State. He urged the governor to sustain his tempo of projects delivery.
In his remarks, Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade expressed happiness that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors are united and are working together.
He said: “We are happy that as a party we are quite united. we are working together. As a zone, South-South and South-East, we have come together and we have a working relationship.
“I am happy that my friend has visited as a fellow PDP Governor. I am also happy that he has taken a look at our projects”.
South-South And South-east Governors Interaction
This forum was convened by the eleven governors of the two regions to build peace cooperation unity and integration to entrench development.
The Forum’s major objective is to reverse the under-development of the South-South and South-East Regions, occasioned by the neglect of the area by successive governments.
Governor Wike as an influential leader in the country, has been instrumental to the nurturing of this group that is committed to the empowerment of the people through peace, cooperation and development.
At the Owerri meeting of the forum, Governor Wike in a goodwill message said that unity is vital to the development of the two regions.
Governor Wike said that it is good and pleasant for the people of the two regions to work in unity for the good of their people .
He said: “God will lead the South-South and South-East people to work together. As suggested in the Bible, we will work in unity for the growth of Nigeria.”
Aside the South-South and South-East Regions, Governor Wike has taken his message of development to other regions of the country.
On Monday, October 23, 2017, he joined other Southern Governors, irrespective of their political affiliation to chart the course of the South-South, South-East and South-West Development. He has engaged with the Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishiaku and that of Gombe State, Dankwambo in a bid to forge grounds of common development.
In the face of the failure of the APC Federal Government to deliver, Governor Wike’s initiative of encouraging partnership amongst Governors becomes essential to drive the required development across the country. This is necessary for the empowerment of the less privileged in our society.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.