Chief Nyesom Wike, from Rumuepirikom in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State is the sixth civilian governor of Rivers State. With grassroots experience in politics, he was two-term Local government area chairman from 1999-2001 and 2003-2006, and chief of staff to Government House, 2007-2011. Wike was appointed minister of state for education on July 14, 2011, and later acting minister of education until April 11, 2015 when he was elected governor of the state.
Wike’s footprints cut across all sectors. In the road infrastructure sector, he constructed no fewer than 150 roads, some inherited from the previous administration while many were initiated by his government. Some have been completed and commissioned, some awaiting commissioning while some are still ongoing. By investing about 70 percent of the State Capital Expenditure on road development, Wike has connected the entire state by completing all major roads inherited from past administrations with a view to improving the road network in urban/residential neighbourhoods and expand existing ones in the highly urbanised Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Specifically, between 2015 and now, Wike has constructed many internal roads in communities across the 23 local government areas. These include Abonnema Town, Amadi-Ama, Elele Alimini Phases 1 and 2, with Phase 1 completed, Isiokpo Phases 1 and 2, with Phase 1 completed, Omoku, Okochiri, Ozuboko, Atali, Eneka, Odiokwu (ongoing) and a litany of urban neighbourhood roads designed to give facelift to Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. The neighbourhood roads include those in Ogbu-Nu-Abali, Diobu, Port Harcourt Township and Borokiri, Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRAs), Trans Amadi Industrial Layout and adjoining communities, Rumuapirikom, Woji, and Abuloma. Others are Eliogbolo, Rukpakurusi, Eliohani, Oroigwe, Elimgbu, Elekahia, Rumuodara, Rumuomasi, Rumuakalagbor, Rumuodaolu, Rumugholu, Ogbogoro, Ozuoba, Rumuosi, Alakahia, Mgbodo-Aluu, Obigbo, and Rukpokwu, among others.
Wike also dualised a number of roads in the state, some inherited from previous governments while some were initiated by this government. Such roads include the Saakpenwa-Bori Road which connects Tai, Gokana, Khana, Opobo-Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas to the heart of the state capital the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road started by the Odili administration. As at last count, Opobo and Ikuru people can now travel by road to their communities, a journey hitherto done by boat in difficult terrains while the lap to Ngo, headquarters of Andoni LGA is nearing completion. He has also completed the Woji-Elelenwo Dual Carriageway, connecting Port Harcourt to Obio/Akpor and Eleme Local Government Areas with two major bridges measuring 750 metres, an under-pass and a flyover. It was awarded by the previous administration in 2009 but abandoned more than halfway in 2012 due mainly to funding constraints. The road is an alternative route to Trans-Amadi-Slaughter Road. Besides that, Wike further completed the all-important 8.4kilometre Garrison-Trans-Amadi-Slaughter-Woji-Elelenwo Road also awarded in 2009 by the previous administration but abandoned midway in 2013 due to poor funding. Fitted with 16 telecommunication ducts on two sides of the dual-carriageway, the road has six bridges and seven exquisitely designed roundabouts with delicately placed walkways and gardens.
In addition, he completed the 12.2kilometre Obiri-Ikwerre-Airport Dual Carriageway, linking Obio/Akpor with Ikwerre Local Government Area and the critical International Airport as an alternative route began but abandoned by the previous government. He also completed the 16 kilometre Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road and Chokocho-Igbo-Etche-Rumuokurushi Road, both linking many agrarian communities. He completed Igwuruta-Eneka-Rumuokwurusi dual carriageway, started but abandoned by the previous administration. Wike further completed the Federal Government-owned Igwurura-Chokocho Road, also linking many agrarian communities and abandoned for 20 years, within seven months in 2016. The Projects’ Master also completed the 1.672kilometre Abuloma-Woji dual carriageway, with a bridge measuring 207.5metres long and 20 meters width with a total of 63 beams awarded by the previous administration and abandoned due to poor funding. He completed Iwofe-Rumuolumeni dual carriageway, awarded by the previous administration but also abandoned due to poor funding. He completed the reconstruction and dualisation of Creek Road, which was awarded by the previous administration but abandoned due to funding constraints.
Mr Projects also initiated and completed the 22.3kilometre Airport-Ipo-Omademe-Ozuoha Road in Ikwerre Local Government Area that links many agrarian communities as well as two Nkpogu bridges abandoned by the previous administration in 2014. He completed the critical Eagle Island Road/bridge, which links Port Harcourt to Obio/Akpor, and takes traffic off the major Ikwerre Road but abandoned by the previous government. He awarded the dualisation of Elelenwo Road, also abandoned by the previous administration, which is now nearing completion.
Wike has in the last four years kept his promise to Rivers people on road infrastructure, with high level of connectivity, which has boosted Rivers economy. And he is not done yet!
In education sector, Wike inherited the foundation laid by the previous administration but embarked on the revival of descript infrastructure with a view to expanding access to quality education. To achieve set goal, he increased budgetary allocation to the sector, strengthened implementation of Universal Basic Education (UBE), rehabilitated and equipped schools and improved infrastructure in tertiary schools.
The result of this is the reconstruction of 175 primary schools, including classroom blocks, landscaping and provision of water, toilet facilities and power generators. As part of its components, Wike supplied furniture and equipment to over 100 primary and junior secondary schools; supplied sports and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment to a record number of primary and junior secondary schools; provided training to basic education teachers across the state; and completed the construction of the headquarters building of the state Universal Basic Education Board. Aside upgrading 11 junior secondary schools to senior secondary schools, Wike cleared all salaries owed to teachers and security contractors in the state’s secondary schools, and ensured regular payment of salaries to secondary school teachers, pensioners and other staff. He also subsidised registration fees for Rivers State students undertaking the West African School Certificate Examination (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) examinations and sustained provision of science equipment, chemicals, materials and consumables to all secondary schools for WASSCE and NECO examinations.
Wike further reconstructed 13 secondary schools, out of which six have been completed, furnished and equipped with teachers’ science and arts laboratories, sports and recreational facilities; dedicated water supply and power generator for regular electricity; perimeter fencing and gate for improved security; new hostel blocks and assembly halls. These schools include, Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta; Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori; Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema; Government Secondary School, Ogu; Government Secondary School, Onne; Bonny National Grammar School, Bonny; Community Secondary School, Bille (still ongoing); Government Secondary School, Okarki (still ongoing); Western Ahoada County High School, Ahoada (still ongoing); Government Secondary School, Abua (still ongoing); Community Secondary School, Ubima (still ongoing); Model Primary School, Mgbuosimini, Rumueme; and Model Primary School, Abara-Etche.
In the tertiary sub-sector, Wike changed the name from Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) to Rivers State University (RSU) and embarked on improving the infrastructure at the institution. He also improved funding to the university which led to the accreditation of all programmes earlier denied accreditation, and has given approval for the recruitment of new staff at the institution. In addition, Mr Projects delivered new Faculty of Law Building, Faculty of Management Sciences Building, Faculty of Science and Technical Education Building, College of Medical Sciences Building, and such facilities in other tertiary institutions. He further released N200million funding interventions each for Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt; Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori; and Ignatius Ajuru University, Rumuolumeni. Wike is now upgrading facilities at Rivers State School of Nursing and Midwifery while scholarship programme with the PAMO University of Medical Sciences to train 100 students of Rivers State origin for the next five years is on course.
Within the period under review, the governor has revived education at all levels, setting it on the path of growth. It has formed the foundation of the empowerment of Rivers people with the required resources to make profound progress and excel.
Since May 29, 2015, Wike has strived to revitalise the primary healthcare system; improve the secondary health infrastructure and fortified the tertiary health sub-sector, including the establishment of a medical school in the state’s university to enhance training of health personnel for the state. He has upgraded the Schools of Health Science and Technology and that of Nursing and Midwifery, and is partnering with the private sector to manage secondary health facilities and ensure efficient healthcare delivery in the state.
To give zest to government’s policy objective, Wike renovated 17 existing primary healthcare centres and built three new primary healthcare centres at Bille, Mgbuosimini and Ogbakiri communities. He strengthened secondary healthcare sub-sector with the reconstruction of 12 existing but completely abandoned general hospitals. These include Abua General Hospital in Abua/Odual; Nchia General Hospital in Eleme; Isiokpo General Hospital in Ikwerre; Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Rumuigbo in Obio/Akpor; Abonnema General Hospital in Akuku-Toru; Bodo General Hospital in Gokana; Opobo General Hospital in Opobo/Nkoro; Ngo General Hospital in Andoni; Emohua General Hospital in Emohua; Buguma General Hospital in Asari-Toru; Eberi General Hospital in Omuma; and Okrika General Hospital in Okrika.
To further bring his dream alive, Wike embarked on completion of four zonal hospitals inherited from the previous administration while initiating the construction of additional zonal hospital at Omoku. Work is still ongoing on all. Besides, he completed the Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt; constructed 22 nos. of 3-bedromm Doctors’ Residential Quarters at Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital; introduced N500million interest-free Private Hospitals Support Loan Fund; while also working to complete the zonal hospitals in Bori and Degema.
In the tertiary healthcare sub-sector, Wike embarked on the upgrade of Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital to Teaching Hospital for the Rivers State University. To make it functional and compete favourably with others across the country, he procured and installed new equipment and facilities worth $6 million in the hospital. Wike’s exceptional performance in the health sector is also evidenced by improved quality of healthcare in the state and deliberate approval of counterpart funds for other health-improvement and related policies and programmes by donor agencies, international support organisations and the Federal Government, designed to touch the lives of Rivers people.
On assumption of office four years ago, Wike reopened the state House of Assembly, shut down by the previous administration following protracted Executive-Legislature distrust and crisis. In fact, the crisis, in 2013, led to botched attempts to impeach some principal officers of the Assembly, and serious free-for-all on the floor of the House, leading to breakdown of law and order in the arm of government that actually makes the law for the smooth conduct of affairs in a decent society. Consequently, over the last four years, Wike has provided the enabling environment for the legislators to perform their constitutional duties without any interference, thereby ensuring uninterrupted Executive-Legislature relationship. This has also enabled the legislators to pass record number of bills for the effective conduct of government affairs and good governance.
Similarly, Wike, on May 29, 2015, reopened the gates of the Judiciary shut by the previous administration for almost two years, to staff, litigants and Rivers people with one need or the other in the courts. The action, apart from creating floodgates of avenues for congesting police cells and prisons, and saturating the state with criminals, it also denied the innocent access to justice, and therefore, made the dispensation of justice cumbersome and overwhelming to judiciary officers, especially magistrates and judges from 2015 through 2017.
As a lawyer who knows the grave implications of shutting the people out of justice, Wike worked assiduously hard to create congenial atmosphere for Judiciary officers and staff to dispense justice to all who need it. Besides, he ensured that the Judiciary was truly independent, and also made sure that adequate funding was provided to its leadership to perform optimally. His appointment of top Judiciary officers has followed due process, anchored on seniority and merit, thereby fostering harmony and peace in that arm of government. And for the last four years, the governor has practically supported and or hosted lawyers, judges and magistrates’ quarterly or annual activities in the state, and across the country, just as he has hosted or supported some other professional groups and international organisations as part of efforts to tell the world that the state is safe and secure to host investors, tourists and others who may wish to explore the potentials of the natural endowments of the state. One of such groups the government has hosted back-to-back is the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), which has facilitated many media-organised awards to the governor since 2016.
In addition, the governor embarked on religious implementation of policies to guarantee upgrade of infrastructure to boost the Judiciary’s efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, he completed work on the Magistrate Court complex commenced but abandoned by the previous administration. He also relocated the NBA House from the court complex to opposite Port Harcourt City Council Secretariat, and gave lawyers a befitting edifice there. Wike rebuilt Federal Government-owned Federal High Court complex to give judges and litigants 21st Century architecture and work environment. He further built an imposing structure for Federal Government-owned National Industrial Court on Bank Road, remodelled and rehabilitated Federal Government-owned Court of Appeal on Moscow Road. The governor is now putting finishing touches to a cluster of modern quarters for judges in the state.
Since the primary purpose of government is the protection of the lives and property of citizens, Wike, in appreciation of that fact, has for the last four years invested heavily in efforts to fortify the security architecture of the state and support security agencies, including military and para-military institutions to perform their assigned, legitimate roles, seamlessly. In this light, the governor has procured no fewer than 150 patrol vans, communication gadgets, protective vests, among others, for the federal security agencies to guarantee law and order, peace and security in the state.
In addition, he set up the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency in 2018 to complement the efforts of the police, and prepare the state for the implementation of impending policy on state police while boosting community policing. But the governor’s desire to address the security lapses in some parts of the state through the agency has met with stiff resistance from the police and military high commands, even though other states, such as Lagos, Borno, Plateau, Anambra, Nasarawa, among others, have theirs up and running without any qualms.
On tourism, Wike built the Pleasure Park to provide relief to Rivers people and residents, who have for years yearned for tourist attractions and recreational centres to rekindle bonds of friendship, love, and build confidence and promote peace amongst the people, while easing stress arising from hostile policies that unleash economic hardship, and emotional traumas driven by poor environmental and unwanted physical attacks. His road projects have also factored the need to accommodate environmentally-friendly aesthetics and beautifications for tourists and residents.
In four years, Wike invested in a number of projects in other sectors. He built more than 50 housing units for civil servants in the first phase. He also built many other projects, such as jetties to boost marine transport. He procured buses to increase the state’s fleet in road transport. He rebuilt the Produce House on Moscow Road, and is working hard to complete construction of new secretariat for Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). He rebuilt Rumuokoro Market and Park, and is intensifying efforts to complete construction of Mile 1 Market (Phase 2) in Diobu and Fruit Garden Market in D/Line, all in Port Harcourt. The governor completed the reconstruction, remodelling and equipped to world standard the Rex Lawson Cultural Centre, awarded by the previous government but also abandoned midway.
Wike also invested in empowerment of traders, small businesses and young entrepreneurs, as well as civil servants. For instance, he released the sum of N2billion as grant to over 20,000 small business owners to invest and grow their businesses in 2016. This year, he released N200million monthly revolving interest-free loan for youths to start their small businesses. He also gave N500million grants to empower 10,000 women across the state to invest in their small businesses. And just recently, he released N100million revolving interest-free loan for civil servants to take care of their immediate needs. These efforts are meant to bridge social gaps that undermine peace and trigger violence in families and communities.