Wike’s Empowerment Programmes: Putting Smiles On People’s Faces

509
Governor Wike (middle), acknowledging cheers, during the inspection of construction work at the Mile One Market in Port Harcourt

The real definition of good governance is found in the ability of government to make meaningful impact on the lives of the citizenry through the provision of their social and economic needs. In other words, the fundamental obligation of a responsive government is centred on gaining public confidence through effective service delivery and not by extraneous political influence.
A cursory look at the administration of Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as governor of Rivers State for the past three and half years indicates that the governor has worked hard to fulfill the social contract he signed with the people of Rivers State.
Realising the importance of social welfare services in the state, the governor accorded priority attention to the provision of critical social infrastructure to promote peace, leisure and active social participation of the citizenry.
One of such frantic efforts by the governor was the building of a state of the art resort and hospitality centre, known as Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.
It would be recalled that the site reclaimed for the construction of the world class pleasure park was once a den for criminal activities.
Governor Wike, during the formal commissioning of the pleasure park, declared that the objective of the project was to promote peace and leisure among the people of Rivers State.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration to foster peaceful co-existence among the people of the state. Apart from providing a place of relaxation for the teeming residents of Rivers State, the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park also provides employment opportunities for the people.
A visit to the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park recently revealed a beehive of activities, with children and adults having fun.
Some fun seekers who spoke with our Correspondent commended Governor Wike for building the pleasure park to serve the hospitality need of the people.
“Before now, most people sought fun outside the state in places like Calabar, because of the absence of social infrastructural facilities. It is quite interesting to see this class of relaxation centre in Port Harcourt; thanks to Governor Wike,” declared, Mr Jane Okonta, who spoke with The Tide at the Pleasure Park.
Another respondent, Mr Alfred Kedee, also commended the governor for building the Pleasure Park and urged him to extend some of the facilities to the rural areas to serve the hospitality needs of the rural people.
As part of its policy thrusts of service to God and humanity, Governor Wike also extended his social services gesture to the religious circle through the building of an Ecumencial Centre for Christians in Rivers State.
The centre which has since been commissioned for use is managed by the Rivers State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Speaking with The Tide during a visit to the centre, the chairman of the Board of the Ecumencial Centre, Barrister Dan Obinna, said the project was part of the electioneering promises of Governor Wike, which has been fulfilled.
The cleric said the Rivers State Chapter of CAN would remain grateful to the governor for fulfilling his promise, and assured that the facilities would be put into judicious use.
“We in CAN are highly appreciative of Governor Wike’s gesture of providing a conducive worship centre for Christians in the State. What we owe the state is to pray for peace and stability among the people”.
Another welfarist policy of the Wike-led administration which has continued to receive commendation from the people of the state is the interest – free loan scheme, designed to promote entrepreneurship in the state.
The loan scheme, which is billed to commence in earnest from the first quarter of 2019, is targeted at empowering entrepreneurs who are involved in legitimate enterprise and business activities in the state. Modalities have been provided to ensure that the loan got to the target beneficiaries.
Wike’s social engagement policies also rubbed off positively on traders of the Fruits Garden Market at D/Line in Port Harcourt which was recently gutted by fire.
Apart from awarding the contract for the reconstruction of the market, the governor also compensated the traders with N400,000 each.
Some beneficiaries of the governor’s largesse are overwhelmed by Wike’s concern about their plight.
One of the beneficiaries who spoke with The Tide, said the governor’s gesture had rekindled hope as the money will be used to “start life again”.
The respondent who spoke anonymously commended the governor for his timely intervention to reconstruct the burnt market, and pledged the support of the traders to his administration.
Similarly, Governor Wike has also rebuilt the second phase of Rumunwoji Market, popularly known as Mile 1 market, which was also gutted by fire during the last administration.
With equal ounce of indebtedness, traders at the Rumunwoji Market have vowed to continually lend their support to the government of Governor Wike for alleviating their plights.
As part of measures to enhance the welfare of workers in Rivers State, Governor Wike has assured to address some niggling issues affecting the workforce of the state, such as, the controversial contributory pension scheme and payment of retirees financial entitlements.
Already, the governor has committed the Rivers State House of Assembly to look into the reversal of the contributory pension scheme, while assuring that all allowances owed workers in the state would be paid.
The governor also graciously announced the approval of loans for Rivers State Civil Servants below salary grade level 14. The loan is for the lower cadres of civil servants to leverage upon to support their livelihood.
The Wike administration has also initiated review of policies and redefinition of goals to address citizens’ needs.
Recently, a new employment policy was introduced by the State Ggvernment to boost employment generation in the state.
The State Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Employment Generation, Dr Leloonu Nwibusa, recently disclosed that an 11 member committee comprising of stakeholders and experts in public and private sector has been inaugurated to drive the initiative.
Dr Nwibubasa, who assured the commitment of the Wike administration towards economic empowerment in Rivers State, also urged corporate bodies operating in Rivers State to be committed to employment generation in the state through effective synergy with government.
Another area in which the Wike led administration has excelled is the boosting of investment opportunities in the state. Contrary to the claims of the governor’s political foes that the state is not conducive for thriving economic activities, the Government has consistently proven critics wrong by hosting several national events in the state.
A cultural ambassador, Chief Mike Amaechree, who spoke with The Tide, noted that Rivers State was becoming the tourism hub of the country, as a large number of events are attracted to the state by the government within the past three and half years.
He described Rivers State as Nigeria’s investment hub and urged the citizens of the state to work collectively towards putting the state on its right pedestal in the comity of states.
Another amazing political capital of Governor Wike is his intense grassroots involvement which has continued to endear him to the people. His soaring political profile in the state is believed to be intricately linked with his populist political philosophy which had earned him the unwavering support of his adherents.

Taneh Beemene