The second term of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is fundamentally the making of God and the endorsement of Rivers people. It is a collaboration made in heaven, a destiny attained because God gave life to the voice of Rivers people.
The people sacrificed their lives. They paid the ultimate price to ensure a continuation of the Wike era. Most of these heroes we may never know. They have no media of expression, but they insisted on their voices being heard.
Rivers State became the highpoint of the nation’s 2019 elections, the centre of the will of the people. According to United States Consul-General in Nigeria, John Bray: “As I come from a democratic country, I am very proud of the Rivers people. During the last difficult elections, the people won. So, I raise my glass to you the people of Rivers.”
Since taking the oath of office on May 29, 2019, Governor Wike has dedicated his second term to serving Rivers people. He has committed himself to improving the lives of less privileged Rivers people, ensuring that they feel the impact of government.
At the second term inauguration, Governor Wike pledged: “I stand here today with a humble spirit, conscious of the enormous responsibility that you have again entrusted in us and confident in our potential and, with God on our side, we will surely discharge our mandate to the benefit of all and leave our dear Rivers State better off than when we started four years ago.”
In line with his pledge, Governor Wike commenced his second term with total commitment to lift the living standard of Rivers people. Since May 29, he has been committed to touching the lives of Rivers people in positive ways.
Abolition of fees/education levies
In a bid to create access to quality education, Wike announced the total abolition of all forms of fees and levies in public primary and secondary schools across the state. He directed state-owned primary and secondary schools to stop collecting fees and levies from pupils, with immediate effect.
Governor Wike stated that, henceforth, the state government would be sending direct allocations to all primary and secondary schools’ management for their operations. He said: “From today, henceforth, no child, either in primary and secondary school, should pay fees and levies in any school across the state.
“The monies you collect from these children are just used for your personal purposes. If I hear that any school head collects any fees or levies, be they examination, NECO or WAEC fees, that school head would be sanctioned.
“We shall not only dismiss the school head who collects fees or levies, we will prosecute the person involved. Government will work out grants that will be sent to the schools for their regular management and operations.”
Bankrolling UTME fees
Governor Wike approved that the state government would, henceforth, bankroll the form fees for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for all indigenes and non-indigenes in the state.
He said the gesture of the Rivers State government would commence with the 2020 UTME to be conducted by JAMB.
Governor Wike said the Rivers State government was committed to ensuring that underprivileged students were not denied the opportunity to sit for the examination.
He said: “From 2020, UTME forms for indigenes and non-indigenes will be paid for by the Rivers State government. It is important for us to ensure that children of the less privileged don’t bear this burden.
“This offer is to ensure that no qualified candidate is denied the opportunity to write the UTME. For some parents, the fee is nothing, but there are families that cannot afford the fees.”
Payment of NYSC corps members’ allowances from July 2019
Governor Wike approved the immediate payment of monthly allowances to corps members serving in the state, with effect from July 2019. The immediate past APC administration in Rivers State stopped the payment of allowances to corps members serving in the state.
The governor spoke at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Permanent Orientation Camp, in Nonwa, Tai Local Government Area, during an interaction with corps members.
He said: “As from July 2019, the state government will begin the payment of allowances to corps members. The state coordinator should send the list and account numbers to the office of the Secretary to the State Government.
“Recall that the allowances were stopped by the immediate past administration. If I had started payment before the elections, they would have said I was playing politics. Now I am no longer seeking another term.”
Governor Wike also directed the resumption of the posting of some professionals to ministries with shortage of manpower.
He donated an official Prado SUV to the state coordinator of NYSC, a transformer to power the camp, and the furnishing of the hostels constructed by the Rivers State government. He directed the immediate construction of the road to the camp.
Governor Wike inspected the 5,000-capacity auditorium being constructed at the Permanent Orientation Camp by his administration.
Revalidation of private schools to promote quality education
In a move to ensure that only standard schools operate in the state, Governor Wike directed all private schools in the state to apply for 2019 operational approval.
Speaking at a meeting with all private school proprietors in Rivers State at Government House, Port Harcourt, he said: “All the schools must apply for operational approval within the next two weeks. We will set up committees that will recommend the approval of schools. All the schools in the state must be of the required standard.”
The governor said his second term was committed to improving the right standards in the education sector for the good of Rivers people.
“The governor’s office will review all the approval of schools. All the existing approvals by the Ministry of Education have been cancelled. For this process, there will be no room for bribery and corruption,” he said.
Governor Wike inaugurated three committees on senatorial basis to carry out the review.
Abolition of payment of user fees for HIV/AIDS treatment and free antenatal care in government hospitals
One of the highpoints of the second term of Governor Wike is the abolition of payments of user fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS who want to access treatment at state-owned health facilities.
Governor Wike said the state government would take over the payment of the user fees to encourage more Rivers people to seek treatment for HIV/AIDS. He spoke during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, under the auspices of the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, at Government House.
Governor Wike said: “We will stop all fees collected as user fees for persons under the HIV/AIDS Treatment Programme. This is our contribution to the partnership with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We will take over the payment of the HIV/AIDS user fees for public health facilities in the state.
“The Deputy Governor will be in charge of the programme, since she is a medical doctor. We are committed to working with the United States government to ensure we tackle this disease.”
He said the Rivers State government would support the efforts of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in the programme against HIV/AIDS: “The Rivers State government will take all necessary measures to assist the centre in this current push across the state.
“All the necessary support will be extended to the agency as they work in different locations of Rivers State.”
The administration has also bankrolled all antenatal charges at government hospitals in the state. This is aimed at further reducing child and maternal mortality across the state.
These two key policies are already in operation as the Rivers State government kicked off the waiver of user fees and antenatal charges at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, on July 11, 2019.
Payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme
In fulfillment of his pledge, Wike, after signing into law the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No. 4 of 2019), approved commencement of the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Head of Service of Rivers State, Mr. Rufus Godwin, in an interview, said 800 pensioners, under the scheme who had completed their biometrics have been paid.
Governor Wike said the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (2019) will help in resolving the challenges of the Contributory Pension Scheme.
He said the state government was committed to ensuring that civil servants and pensioners were catered for, with the challenges they faced completely addressed.
International partnerships to create employment
Early in his second term, Governor Wike is building international partnerships to create mass employment through commercial agriculture.
He said: “We will continue to solicit targeted development interventions in Rivers State from the European Union missions.
“Increase your unconditional development grants to Rivers State, and deploy same to fund programmes, projects and services that will sustainably advance the socio-economic wellbeing of our people and communities; and encourage European companies and investors to come over to Rivers State in particular and the Niger Delta in general, and invest in commercial agriculture, manufacturing, maritime services, oil and gas exploration, quality healthcare delivery, quality education, especially in science and technology, roads and transport infrastructure, affordable housing, water provision and effective waste disposal systems.”
He said though there were security challenges in Rivers State and the Niger Delta in general, the region was relatively peaceful, well governed and with a crime rate lower than the national average.
He said: “Rivers State is effectively being governed. Law and order is in place; people are freely going about with their social and economic activities; the entire state is largely peaceful; and the crime rate is relatively low on the national average.
“This is also true with the other Niger Delta states, as none is under a state of pervasive insecurity or violence as we have in some other parts of the country.
“As a government, our desire and resolve is to ensure that Rivers State is sustainably peaceful, secure and safe for citizens and visitors to reside, do business and have fun. And we have done a lot in the last four years of our administration to advance the security and wellbeing of the state and our citizens through personal initiatives as well as through the national security institutions.”
He outlined all the key support and investments of the Rivers State government under his leadership in the promotion of peace and security, but pointed out that state governors, though called chief security officers, were constrained constitutionally in the administration of the security architecture of their respective states.
He said: “State governors face legal, administrative and political constraints when dealing with internal security issues. Although we are held out as the chief security officers of our states, in reality, we do not have even the slightest of legal and administrative control over security personnel, deployments and operations in our states.
“And if that was not frustrating enough, we also suffer from the politicisation of security agencies and operations, which was taken to absurd levels when the Federal Government prevented us, that is, the Rivers State government, from operationalising the Neighbourhood Watch Corps established by law to provide intelligence and other necessary security support and services to the formal security agencies in our communities, despite allowing some other states of the same political party with the Federal Government to have there own internal security outfits. With such and other effective drawbacks, there is a limit to what any state governor can do to ensure all-round security in his state even with the best of intentions, efforts and inputs.”
Kick-starting employment at Rivers State University and Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic
Already, the state government has commenced the process of employment into the Rivers State University and Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic. Similarly, other employment processes into other areas of need are underway.
Returning Port Harcourt to its Garden City status
This is a major focus of the second term of Governor Wike. He is working round the clock to stop street trading, roadside mechanic workshops and uncontrolled siting of car sales points.
Governor Wike met with artisans and traders, where he outlined the direction of his administration in this regard. He gave the artisans and traders an ultimatum, which has been extended.
Promotion of peaceful economic environment
Through very positive engagements, Governor Wike is developing a wonderful economic environment to encourage private investors to function in the state.
He has engaged with stakeholder communities, oil companies and security services to ensure peace in the operational environment.
Governor Wike said under no circumstances should communities take the law into their hands by preventing oil-production companies from working.