On March 5, 2017, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, made a solemn pledge that sent the entire Etche Ethnic Nationality into wild jubilation. The annoucement by Governor Wike that he would construct the Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road is similar to the Biblical story narrated in Mark 10: 46 – 52 where blind Bartimaeus received his sight.
The Bible stated that several onlookers rebuked Bartimaeus, charging him to shut his mouth. The more they threatened Bartimaeus, the more he shouted. His persistence paid off. Jesus healed him.
That beautiful day, as Governor Wike addressed Etche people during a rerun campaign event, some youths kept shouting that they needed the Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road. Elders were sent to placate them, but they were consistent in their demand.
Governor Wike approached the youths and one of them said something heart-rending. He said that the Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road had not been constructed because they had no prominent person to speak on their behalf. To this, Governor Wike replied: “Don’t you have me?” The youths agreed that they have the governor.
The governor assured them that he would make their dream a reality. He told them to go home with the confidence that their development has started.
The Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road is critical to the economic growth of the area. Governor Wike decided on that road, right there on the field because governance is strictly about the people. It was not planned. It was a spontaneous act of development.
Fast forward to 28th February, 2018. Governor Wike fulfilled his promise to the neglected Etche communities. He flagged off the construction of Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road, paid relevant fees to the contractors and the road will be delivered in nine months.
Speaking during the flag-off of the construction of Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye Road, Governor Wike said: “We are not here to give excuses, because excuses are not necessary. This tells the Etche people who is their brother? Under this administration, an Etche man became a High Court judge and an Etche man was appointed a Vice Chancellor of a university.
“Etche is key and very important to Rivers State and it must be at par with others. Etche was relegated in the past, but we are working to lift Eitche. We will continue to support and develop Etche”.
Governor Wike represents a new breed. He keeps his promise to the neglected communities of the State. He promotes integrity in governance, the ingredient lacking in today’s ruling All Progressives Party (APC).
Since December 2017, Governor Wike has started another round of projects. These projects are targeted at fulfilling specific pledges to neglected communities.
These key projects include: Cinemas and restaurants at the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, Ahoada-Odienereyi-Ihugbogo-Odieke Road in Ahoada East Local Government Area, Shore Protection Project in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Isiokpo Internal Roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Community Secondary School in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Government Secondary School, Okarki in Ahoada West Local Government Area and Western Ahoada County High School in Ahoada East Local Government Area.
Others include: Government Secondary School, Abua; Umuihechi-Omuoko-Omokiri Road in Aluu Town of Ikwerre Local Government Area; Eleme-Oyigbo Road, Oyigbo Market Road by Afam Junction in Oyigbo Local Government Area; reconstruction of Egbelu Street at Mgbuosimini; construction of link roads at Rumuodara, Obio Akpor Local Government Area; construction of Rumuepirikom Internal Roads and the construction of Isiodu roads in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor has also flagged off the reconstruction of Bonny National Grammar School and the execution of Rivers State Government-European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Water and Sanitation projects in two local government areas.
The governor has maintained that reaching out to communities across the State forms the basis of his politics. He explained that his target was to cover as much ground as possible within his first term. The essence being that every section of the State must be carried along.
One of such areas is Omuma Local Government Area. Until the current roll-out of projects, Omuma Local Government Area did not have the benefit of a major road project. Aside the construction of facilities at five basic schools in the area and the General Hospital, Eberi, the Omuma people prayed for a major road project.
The commencement of the construction of Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke- Umunju-Umuellechi-Eberi Road in Omuma LGA by the Rivers State Governor will improve the fortunes of seven communities.
The 16.2 kilometre road will transform the economy of the area and create employment opportunities for about 350 youths. At least, 5000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs have been created since this phase of projects delivery.
At each flag-off programme, Governor Wike liaised with community leaders and contractors to create employment opportunities for youths. The job creation component ranges between 250 and to 600 youths per project. The governor has insisted that host communities must be the key beneficiaries of such job offers.
There is the direct empowerment component for small and medium-sized enterprises in projects benefiting communities. Contractors are under strict instructions to award sub-contracts to local businessmen to supply sand, chipping and other basic materials needed for construction.
Governor Wike remains committed to the monitoring of works at different project sites to ensure that the State gets value for its money. This is in addition to different strata of supervision instituted by the administration at the levels of benefiting communities and the ministries.
Each time Governor Wike embarks on project inspection, thousands of Rivers people troop out to celebrate the renewal of Rivers State under his leadership. They appreciate that after the disastrous outing of the last administration, the State has now become a huge construction site.
Governor Wike’s style of politics is projects-based, making the people happy by rolling out projects that benefit them.
It’s all about the people. The administration is structured in a way to keep delivering on a continuous basis, ensuring that no section is left unattended to. That is why on a daily basis, the confidence of Rivers people remains entrenched in the ability of Governor Wike to deliver.
Commenting on the roll-out of projects by Governor Wike, Director, Leadership Group, Mr Michael Okpere, commended the governor for turning the State into a major construction site.
He said: “These projects generate employment, they generate revenue and create opportunities for the people”.
Senator representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu, said that the projects inspection have revealed a high level management of resources by Governor Wike.
He said: “I see high level management of resources. I see diligence. I see a man who is after the utility of these projects. If we have been doing this kind of well articulated projects in the past, the State would have moved far beyond the level we are today.
“I was a Finance Commissioner, I didnt see this level of coordination. Even though there was vision, but coordination is very important. I see the perfect liaison between coordination and vision”.
Former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo said that the projects being executed by Governor Wike touch the core of the existence of Rivers people.
He said: “You keep seeing new things. Having worked in this State all these years, I see the projects that we visit are projects that touch the core of the Rivers man. I am most impressed.
“All I can say is that we have finally seen a man who is doing what the Rivers people want. Let us all stand behind him , give him support, give him peace , so he can continue to do what he is doing. These are beautiful projects and we thank God for what Governor Wike is doing for us”.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant on Electronic Media to Rivers State Governor.