From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said no government should use COVID-19 as an excuse not to invest in infrastructural development that can foster economic development and prosperity.
Governor Wike made the remark during a facility tour of the ultramodern Government House Hospital and Administrative Building in Port Harcourt by the Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
Wike said Rivers State would not join the league of states that hide under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic to deny their people basic infrastructure like roads.
‘COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for any government. COVID-19 is a bad thing, but it has come. It will go whether we like it or not. But people will also be alive. Infrastructure must be provided, so you can’t say because of COVID-19 nothing will be done.
‘At the time COVID-19 ends, what will the people be facing? Lack of basic infrastructure. So, because of COVID-19, I am not going to be doing anything? I am not a party to that. I will continue to work whether there is COVID-19 or not.’
Governor Wike explained his administration has conscientiously been investing in high-quality infrastructure that has positive economic value that can stimulate job creation, boost foreign direct investment in the State.
He stated that in the midst of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the State government had approved two additional flyovers at the cost of N 12.4 billion to Julius Berger.
According to him, investment in these projects has been made possible because of the government’s judicious application of State resources to meet the pressing needs of the people.
‘You manage whatever you have for the interest of the people. Infrastructure brings investments. Part of the problem we have in this country today is the decay of infrastructure. We don’t have it and that also affects investment inflow. So, when these roads are there, you will see people will come in. You don’t expect a private investor to begin to do the road for you. It is not possible.
‘You want to do agriculture, there is no road. How can we do agriculture when there is no road. How will the produce be brought to the city, to the market? So, you must provide these basic infrastructure for investment inflow and that is what we are doing.’
Governor Wike applauded Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for visiting Rivers State to assess what his administration is doing to improve the quality of life of the people. He said such bi-partisan collaboration was required for the country to move forward.
Senator Kalu after inspection of the Government House Hospital and Administrative Building, said Governor Wike’s deliberate investment in crucial infrastructural is commendable.
‘All the facilities I have seen here is first class. This is what I can’t even see in Europe. The hospital I have seen, the doctors’ room, the conference centre is something else. I must commend Governor Wike. You see I am a bipartisan person. We need to commend anybody who has done a good job. He is PDP, I am APC,’ he said.
The Senate Chief Whip implored the Federal, State and Local authorities to urgently consider it worthwhile to emulate the Rivers State government by investing in an ultramodern hospital like the one built by the Wike’s administration. According to him, this would help to curtail the huge foreign exchange expended on medical tourism.
‘I advise every other State governor or the local authorities and national authorities to build hospitals like this. If you know how much we spend on medical tourism, you will pity this country,’ he said.
He further added: ‘We are not talking about party, I am talking about conscience and what I have seen. This is fantastic. I have never seen any private hospital in Nigeria or government-owned hospital like I have seen in Government House.’