From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, recently presented his account of stewardship for the past six years to the people of the state and others during an event at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, the state capital, attended by people from all walks of life.
The governor’s scorecard presentation was the culmination of a 40-day projects inauguration and kick-off across the state.
After the event, Rivers people and residents testified that the six years of Wike’s administration, which started on May 29, 2015, have been eventful. They noted that there has not been a dull moment, as the governor has been flagging off and inaugurating signature projects that would create a lasting business environment and improve the state’s economy.
When Daily Sun interacted with some indigenes of Rivers State and those doing business in the state, they said an important record of Wike’s administration was the distribution of projects to all nooks and crannies of the state.
They said Wike, through the litany of projects spread across the 23 local government areas of the state, removed the age-long riverine/upland dichotomy, which caused resentment among the various ethnic groups.
They told the reporter that the governor was wrongly misunderstood that he concentrated development on Port Harcourt until they started seeing projects being flagged off and inaugurated in the various local governments.
According to Rivers residents, Governor Wike has migrated from “Mr. Project” to “Mr. Quality Project.” They said this is proven by the standard of projects executed and the calibre of construction companies carrying out these jobs.
Speaking on this, Chief Omubo Harry, a traditional ruler in Kalabariland, doffed his hat for the governor. Chief Harry said: “Looking at his (Wike) six years in office, actually, he has tried. They call him “Mr. Quality Project”, and now we are seeing that he is trying. Bu, we want decentralisation of projects, so that local governments can develop and create jobs to boost the economy.
“Flyovers in Port Harcourt are very good, at least to decongest traffic in the state capital.
“Recently, I was present at the flag-off of Trans-Kalabari Road to enable the riverine areas to taste a little bit of the governance. We also know the Opobo/Nkoro Road, which is a step in a good direction and commendable.
“When you talk about the riverine areas, we also know about the recent flag-off of some kilometres of sandfilling in Abonnema and Obonoma and so on and so forth”.
Harry, who is the national leader of South-South Chiefs and Elders Network, noted the balancing of governance by the Wike-led administration: “With what the governor is doing now, I would say he is balancing governance both to the riverine and upland. We are saying that he is also bending towards the riverine area by flagging off the Trans-Kalabari link road phase one.
“We pray that, during his tenure, let the Trans-Kalabari project come to pass. While he has tried to build bridges and other projects, he should also look into the economic situation that would create jobs by coming to Degema, Ahoada, Bori to set up one service industry or the other.”
Meanwhile, chairman on the occasion, Onueze C. J. Okocha, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said it was for the doubters and believers that accounts of stewardship were given by Wike to enumerate how well he has delivered on his mandate to the state.
According to Okocha, while the focus may be on the projects used to celebrate the second year of the second tenure, Wike has actually sustained his tempo of performance since 2015.
Okocha said: “When we went to Opobo on July 3 to commission the road, the governor took pains to explain that the project was conceived by the government headed by Dr. Peter Odili. He also said the government that succeeded Odili did a few things to redesign the project. While he came and now saw to the completion of the project, the road upon which we drove from Port Harcourt to Opobo town, beautiful solid road.
Daily Sun learnt that Odili designed the road and even paid some money for the commencement of the project.
Okocha continued: “But, here is somebody who has seen it fit not to condemn the project, but to complete the project. Here is somebody who has not listened to those who said, ‘Is it not that one? We took it to 95 per cent. That one, we started it.’
“Does it matter? Government is a continuum, as we like to say. And if any government comes and completes projects that benefit the people, it is only befitting that we must commend and congratulate him for a job well done.
“So, this governor has done tremendously very well. We must commend him and pray that he continues with this strides. Election is coming, but while we are politicking behind the scenes, let us deliver good governance to the people of Rivers State and all the people who reside in Rivers State.”
Meanwhile, Wike stated that his administration inherited a state with decayed infrastructure and numerous abandoned projects on May 29, 2015, and when the nation’s economy dropped.
He said, with commitment, purpose and prudent management of resources, his administration has drastically changed the development trajectory of the state for the better.
He said: “Recall that we came into office at a time the national economy was and is still in turmoil with much reduced revenues accruing to the state governments.
“You also know that we inherited a state with visibly decrepit infrastructure, litany of abandoned projects, coupled with a hopeless economic and security situation, as businesses were closing shop in their numbers. Everyone knew that Rivers State, prior to our administration in 2015, was asphyxiated and in urgent need for the restorative oxygen of rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal.
“But with determination, commitment to purpose and prudent management of available resources, we have drastically changed the development trajectory of the state for the better with many more progress to be delivered before we exit the stage for the next government.
“Most of you, if not all, will agree with us that fulfilling promises and delivering quality projects is the mind, body and soul of our administration.”
The governor said the new Rivers Cassava Processing Company, alongside cassava value chain, will be used to create wealth, income and jobs for Rivers’ teeming youths who are willing to take to the business of agriculture.
He explained that, since 2015, his administration has delivered over a thousand kilometres of Trunk A roads, embarked on construction of the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road, simultaneous construction of 10 arterial flyovers, with three already launched, and connected the ancient coastal community of Opobo to the rest of the state and the country by a tarred road.
The administration, according to him, has also transformed more than 18 major lanes to dual carriageways with streetlights, walkways and covered drains, while the dualisation of Ahoada-Omoku and Egbema Omoku roads is also underway.
The governor said his government had reclaimed vast swathes of sand-filled land for some of the coastal communities, including Abalama, Bakana and Kula, to advance their development and also started the sand-filling of 55 and 42 hectares of reclaimed land for Abonnema/Obonnoma and Okrika communities, respectively.
In the education sector, the governor said his administration has provided over 1,200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. In addition to reconstruction, furnishing and equipping of several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved road networks.
“As a result of the concrete and targeted interventions, the education system is becoming more and more effective and qualitative in the state, with enrolment and transition rates of over 98 per cent, while over 80 per cent have consistently recorded five credits and above pass rates, including Mathematics and English, in WASCE since 2015.”
In the health sector, Wike said his government has inaugurated the 132-bed Mother and Child Specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, renovated primary health centres and general hospitals, and built new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities.
The father of the day, Odili, who unveiled the 536-page compendium containing records of Wike’s achievements in office, said he was satisfied with the record of his political son in office.
The Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said Wike has acted wisely and in the corporate interest of the state in the past six years.
Ibani remarked that having been a lawmaker under three governors, he has never seen a governor with so much passion to develop Rivers state like Wike. He further said that the state Assembly will continue to collaborate with the executive to move the state forward.
In his welcome address, the chairman of the Anniversary Committee, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, said the state has witnessed tremendous infrastructural development under Wike, with a success record that surpasses any achievement made by past administrations in the state.
Danagogo, who is also the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, pointed to the fact that posterity will see the indelible marks of the infrastructural revolution championed by a visionary leader.
In her speech, the Chairperson of the Sub-committee on Presentation of Scorecard and Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Mrs. Inime Chinwenwo-Aguma, noted the consistency with which Wike has run an administration that has remained responsive to the needs of the people and the state, at large.
Mrs. Chinwenwo-Aguma noted: “It is profound to note that a cursory look at your campaign promises showed that you have run a government responsive to the promises to the people.”
She said that despite the economic downturn in the world, the governor carried out governance and executed projects with precision.