On November 6, 2016, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, started one of the most ambitious drives to jump-start the economy of two major riverine local government areas —Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro.
On this day, he flagged off the completion process for the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road. This all-important road was started by former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili, but was abandoned by the immediate past failed Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
It was disheartening because Amaechi was governor at a time that Rivers State received between N25billion to N30billion monthly from the Federation Account.
It was more painful because the Works Commissioner of the failed Amaechi administration, Dakuku Peterside, hails from Opobo town. That administration squandered Rivers money, but left the riverine communities cut off from the rest of Rivers State. Their economy was in a shambles.
Governor Wike said that the decision to complete this major road with several bridges was to create land access to the two major riverine local government areas.
Flagging off the completion of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road, Governor Wike assured the people that they will drive into their communities before the end of his first term. As the days progressed, he said that they would drive into Opobo by Christmas of 2018.
He said: “This road is a major economic intervention for the riverine communities of Opobo and Andoni Local Government Areas. It also cuts across Khana Local Government Area.
“This project is a major empowerment scheme for the people of these three local government areas. Our people in the riverine communities can now drive home.
“I am happy that the 2015 APC Governorship candidate who was a Works Commissioner, but refused to construct the road to his home local government area, will now drive home”.
The governor has always kept his promises. In line with his promise, the people of Opobo Kingdom are now driving into Opobo town with their vehicles.
This is the first time this is happening since 1870 when the Ancient Opobo Kingdom was established. Governor Wike has made his by opening up this historic town to the rest of the world.
The Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, was one of the first persons to drive into the Ancient town in a vehicle. When he made that historic journey, the pictures of him alighting from his vehicle trended on social media for days on end.
It was on November 15, 2018 that the Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom drove his vehicle into Opobo Town. The Chief Press Secretary to Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Mr Meshack Jaja, announced this joyful development in a statement.
He wrote: “And the King drove down to the palace gateway. His Royal Majesty, Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Jeki V, Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom and Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, today drove his car into Opobo Kingdom; to the Gateway to King Jaja’s Palace”.
The Amanyanabo of Opobo and Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, expressed happiness that Opobo people can now drive into Opobo Town in line with the pledge by Governor Wike.
He said: “I am happy that we can now drive into Opobo Town. I had the the honour to drive into Opobo Town with our vehicles. I was very elated. I was the first monarch to drive into Opobo Town. I believe that every Opobo man or woman is very happy “.
The monarch urged Governor Wike, the Rivers State governor, to drive into Opobo Town this Christmas as the first governor to do so in the history of the town.
King Jaja said Governor Wike has changed the face of Rivers State through key projects that are located in all the 23 local government areas of the state.
Wife of Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, Queen Prudence Douglas Jaja, said it was a dream- come-true for her to drive into Opobo Town. She said that she never imagined she would do that in her life-time.
“We truly thank the Rivers State Governor. We are really happy with him because we have never had it this nice,” she said.
Denis Finebone, Diri Benjamin, Gabriel Jaja and Ammonia Jaja who are indigenes of Opobo Kingdom expressed gratitude to the Rivers State Governor for ensuring that they drive into Opobo Town. They noted that they will reward the Governor with their votes.
Also speaking, John Jaja, Queen Cookey and Livingstone Jaja said that they were glad to be part of the history that vehicles can now drive into the Ancient Island of Opobo.
This road transcends political affiliation and posturing. Rivers APC principal liar and sacked Publicity Secretary, Mr Chris Finebone, took to Facebook to celebrate the road. He was sighted on the passenger seat of his car, singing hosanna as he drove triumphantly into Opobo. For the first time in many years, Chris Finebone told the truth.
Finebone who posted on his verified Facebook Page wrote on December 8, 2018: “Driving into Opobo Town this morning …#FirstTimeEver”.
His testimony on the success of Governor Wike in the development of riverine communities underscores the commitment of the Governor to state-wide development. In all the 23 local government areas of Rivers State, Governor Wike has executed key projects. This is the era when promises are kept.
For the people of Opobo-Nkoro, the Unity Road remains a vital source of economic opportunities. The road will kick-start multiple economic activities, especially small and medium-scale enterprises.
The fact that the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road links the all-important Sakpenwa-Bori Road makes access to Port Harcourt easier for businesses in the two local government areas.
For Governor Wike, the main goal is to improve the living condition of Rivers people, enhance their security and transform their environment.
For Opobo Kingdom, Governor Wike has delivered on the reconstruction of the General Hospital, Opobo. The governor has also reconstructed several basic schools in the town and reclaimed lands for the area.
To Governor Wike, governance is about the people. Instead of needless bragging, he reaches out to the people through vital projects. With the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road, Governor Wike has written his name in gold in the hearts of Opobo people.
Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant on Electronic Media to the Governor.