For two years running, the Nigerian Guild of Editors held their Annual General Conference in Rivers State. They were opportuned to see the different stages of the Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge first hand.
The Guild of Editors were opportuned to witness significantly, the progression of this major interchange, abandoned at less than 20 percent completion by the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi administration.
On July 30, 2016, Governor Wike led the Guild of Editors to inspect work on the Woji-Elelenwo Bridge. At this time, though the contractor had worked under the supervision of Governor Wike for over nine months, the bridge was yet to get halfway. From the point where the contractor had reached at the time, Governor Wike and the editors looked across the river into the virgin land and houses on the other side. It appeared as if the project will never be completed.
When the editors returned in 2017, Governor Wike had funded and supervised the project to the level that the main structure of the bridge was across the river. Though the road was yet to be constructed on the other side as the administration was still sorting out the issues of compensation.
Aside the Nigerian Guild of Editors, another group that witnessed the progression of the Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge was the Nigerian Bar Association. During their 56th Annual General Conference held in Port Harcourt in August 2016, Governor Wike took them on a tour of projects. The Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge was one of the projects that was visited.
All through the last quarter of 2015, Governor Wike consolidated the process for the completion of the multi-million naira project.
Hundreds of lawyers on that team marvelled at the commitment of the Rivers State Governor to deliver a project of that magnitude. At the end of this particular inspection, young lawyers could not hide their appreciation as they overwhelmingly celebrated the Rivers State Governor.
Still on that stretch is the Abuluoma-Woji Bridge which was abandoned by the previous administration at 30 percent, but completed by Governor Wike. Both projects overwhelmed the immediate past administration.
The reason why the Amaechi administration fled the site was obvious. The project required commitment, strict supervision, dedicated funding and patience. That administration lacked all these qualities.
The Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge was awarded by the Amaechi administration in 2009 at N3billion. The same administration revalued the road to N11billion. It refused to fund the project after three years of inconsistency. As a result, the contractor fled the site. Nothing much was done, even though the Inter-Change was critical to free flow of traffic.
Governor Wike personally supervised the paving of the new road which links Woji-Elelenwo with Akpajo in Eleme Local Government Area. The governor discussed with the contractors at different times, insisting on the best for Rivers people.
From 2015 to 2018, the Wike administration worked round the clock to deliver this all-important project. The project is now an architectural masterpiece. A beauty to behold and a golden manifestation of quality projects delivery. It is furnished with street lights, flyover, under-pass, 750 meter bridge and a link road.
On June 8, 2018, the Rivers State Government delivered this brand new road to the good people of the state. It was a celebration of performance as men of goodwill gathered irrespective of party affiliation.
Expectedly, the people of both communities trooped out in celebration of this outstanding gift. They sang and danced, praising the commitment of Governor Wike to their welfare and progress. Even though the commissioning ceremony was held in the night, they lined the streets to chant pro-Wike songs.
The Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge was commissioned by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara. He was overwhelmed by what he saw. His joy was written on his face. The relevance of the project transcended party politics. He saw first the hard work of a leader committed to the welfare of Rivers people.
This spurred Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara to make very profound declarations. He described the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap, who has diligently transformed Rivers State.
He said: “This governor is a consummation of excellence. He is a representative of a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap. A refiner’s fire separates impurities from the gold and leaves the gold intact .
“Refiner’s fire brings out the best. A fuller’s soup removes dirts and leaves the cloth sparkling clean. I am exceedingly proud of what Governor Wike has done “
He congratulated the people of Rivers State for having Wike who is thriving in excellence as their governor.
The Speaker noted that though he belongs to the APC, as a parliamentarian, the entire country is his constituency. He noted that only tribalists are restricted to their tribes and political parties.
According to him, democracy has no place for tribalists, because they don’t value performance.
“I wonder why someone will look at this project and say nothing exists. If that is the case, the person is a tribalist. As citizens, we celebrate excellence and we must celebrate Governor Wike”, the Speaker said.
Rt Hon Dogara said that in some other states, projects of the nature of Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway would be celebrated for weeks.
He noted that in view of the developmental nature of the major projects outlined by Governor Wike, President Muhammadu Buhari would honour the invitation of Rivers State Government to perform the commissioning.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives stated that the people of Rivers State knew what they did concerning Governor Wike in the past and they know what they are to do concerning him, moving forward.
At the commissioning ceremony, Governor Wike explained why he invited the Speaker of the House of Representatives, an APC leader, to commission this massive project.
“I don’t want to invite my party person to commission this project. If I do, they will say I am playing tricks. That is why I invited a leader from another party to commission it. We are committed to the welfare of Rivers people”, he said.
Governor Wike said that though the road was awarded in 2009, the previous administration failed to fund it, leading to its abandonment in 2012.
“This project is very useful. That is why we chose to complete it. There was no road here at the time we came. We completed the road and the bridge. We have paid the contractor up to 95 percent.
“This road is an alternative route to Trans-Amadi-Slaughter Road. Ordinarily, we would have tolled it, but due to our love for the people, we will not toll it”, Governor Wike said.
The commissioning of Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway and Bridge signals another golden delivery by Nigeria’s best performing governor. It is a clear case of placing the people’s interest above ego and partisan consideration.
Like the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, noted whilst commissioning Abacha Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State is lucky to have Governor Wike because of his love for the people. He emphasised that this love has translated into meaningful projects.
Rivers State is now the cynosure of all eyes because of a performing governor. Meanwhile, the third year anniversary of the administration of Governor Wike is yet to reach the halfway line. The projects are talking, while we keep our peace.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.