A Toast To ‘Mr Projects’ @ 51

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A grassroots politician, lawyer and astute administrator, Wike’s rise to stardom was not by happenstance. He worked for it.
The way and manner Wike navigated his way to the Brick House in 2015, dusting a truck of other political juggernauts to emerge as the fifth executive governor of Rivers State, and his subsequent footprint in the nation’s body polity bear eloquent testimony to his status as a political general of immeasurable hue. He is, indeed, a personage you ignore at your own peril.
Born on December 13, 1967 to the family of Reverend and Mrs Nlemanya Wike of Rumuepirikom Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Governor Wike holds degrees in Political and Administrative Studies as well as in Law from the University of Port Harcourt and Rivers State University of Science and Technology, now Rivers State University, respectively.
After a brief legal practice in Port Harcourt, Wike ventured into the murky water of politics where he makes his mark as a consummate politician. Twice, he was elected the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; first from 1999 to 2002 and later from 2004 to 2007.
As a council chairman, Wike redefined local government administration with iconic projects that stood him out among his contemporaries. The pioneering role he played in the area of state security and primary health care earned him the Best Performing Council Chairman in Rivers State. This feat also contributed to his election as the deputy chairman and later national chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Until 2013 when politics threw spanner in his friendship with the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Wike was a known political ally of the former governor. He was, indeed, Amaechi’s political foot soldier and last man standing during the latter’s political travail in 2007.
Expectedly, Wike became the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt during Amaechi’s first term as governor. He was also the Director-General of Amaechi’s re-election campaign organisation.
Following former President Goodluck Jonathan’s election in 2011, Wike was appointed the Minister of State for Education on July 11, 2011 by Jonathan. He, afterward, became the nation’s Supervising Minister of Education following a cabinet shake-up on September 12, 2013.
Within the period he presided over the nation’s education, Wike instituted some fundamental programmes that sold him out as a man with great passion for not just education, but also for the downtrodden.
The creation of access to quality education for about nine million almajiri children in Northern Nigeria, construction of basic education and vocational training schools in the South and the creation of special girl-child education schools for less privileged children in 16 states of the federation are some of Wike’s enduring legacies as a minister.
In 2014, the Rumuepirikom-born politician did the unusual and the unexpected. He left what many considered as certainty for uncertainty. He jolted the nation with his resignation from the federal cabinet to enable him jostle for governorship of his state; not minding the odds against him.
After a awesome gubernatorial election, punctuated by months of unprecedented political intrigues, horse-trading, unfavourable political permutations and bitter campaign, Wike emerged victorious, thus succeeding another Ikwerre man in the Brick House. The combination of Amaechi’s incumbency factor, bitter ethnic campaign and upland/riverine dichotomy which many thought would be Wike’s albatross were not sufficient to stop Wike.
And since he assumed office on May 29, 2015, Governor Wike has redefined governance in Rivers State. Besides being a good manager of human and material resources, Wike has turned the State into a huge construction site, with all sectors of the state economy receiving excellent touch.
In the last three and half years in the saddle, the approval rating of Governor Wike has soared up; courtesy of his developmental strides in the area of education, healthcare delivery, prompt payment of workers’ salaries, reformation of the state judicial system, judicious management of the state resources, improved economy and above all physical infrastructures which earned him the appellation of ‘Mr Projects’ from no less a personality than the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Many reputable institutions and corporate bodies have also recognised and rewarded the giant strides recorded by Governor Wike in the last three and half years.
At the last count, the Rivers State governor has received over eight outstanding awards for his developmental strides in the State. These include The Sun Newspapers’ Governor of the Year Award, for two consecutive times, 2016 and 2017; New Telegraph 2017 Man of the Year Award; Authority Newspaper Governor of the Year Award, the United Nation’s Global Human Settlement Contribution Award conferred on him in the far-away United States of America, and Power of Sports (POS-Africa) Award from the umbrella body of world sports writers association otherwise known as Association of International Sports Press (AIPS).
While conferring The Sun Newspaper 2016 award on Wike, the newspaper’s Managing Director, Eric Osagie said, The Sun Governor of the Year Award “is bestowed annually on State governors whose quality leadership, achievements and priceless contributions to national development have generated dividends of democracy as well as inspired hope for a better Nigeria”.
Not a few eminent Nigerians have applauded Wike’s stewardship. Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha sometimes last year, described Wike as a blessing to the people of Rivers State.
According to him, “I have first-hand experience of the State, having been groomed in Port Harcourt.
“I am impressed by the profound work he is doing to move the State ahead. I know the extent of work done so far because I grew up here in Port Harcourt at Captain Amangala Street.
“The governor has obliterated the upland and riverine dichotomy. He has united the people of Rivers State through projects and politics of inclusion”.
In March last year, former President Goodluck Jonathan, while inspecting some key projects executed by the Wike administration, described Wike as “worthy representative of the Peoples Democratic Party”.
The ex-president noted that Wike’s performance has become the common story across the country. He expressed satisfaction with the quality of transformation being witnessed in Rivers State under Wike.
Former Abia State governor, now a senator, Chief Theodore Orji, who was also amazed by the delivery of developmental projects by the Wike administration, described the transformation taking place in the State as a wonderful outcome of voting a prepared leader.
Also during a visit to Rivers State last year, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose could not hide his feelings when he declared Rivers State as a construction site.
Accompanying Governor Wike on project inspection during the visit, Fayose asserted that Governor Wike has done exemplarily well.
“Everywhere in Rivers State is a construction site. And these are legacy projects that you can’t ignore too soon. The difference is very clear. The average man can feel the projects’, he said.
The Rivers State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bro Felix Obuah, sometimes in May last year, summed it up that apart from the pioneer administration of Alfred Diette-Spiff, no regime has bequeathed as much legacy projects to Rivers people as Wike’s government.
Wike’s critics may, however, be allergic to Obuah’s assertion, but there is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Wike has made a huge mark in the development of the State. And whenever the history of Rivers State is written, the name of Nyesom Ezenwo Wike will surely occupy a good space.
Today, the Rumuepirikom-born politician who has dominated political discourse in Rivers State in the last three and half years is 51. While Governor Wike continues to savour the birthday euphoria and felicitations from many Nigerians, it is traditional to wish the man of the moment and the torch bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party a cheerful 51 happy birthday.