By Simeon Nwakaudu
Despite the daily struggle by enemies of Rivers State to divert the attention of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike from delivering on his pledge to recreate the state, he has remained on track, emerging as Nigeria’s Governor of the Year 2016.
The story of Governor Wike’s outstanding performance in the current political dispensation is legendary in all ramifications. He has ensured that the people of Rivers State experience the benefits of voting for a focused leader, who has the interest of his people at heart. He has turned his leadership into an impregnable love story between the leader and his people. It is a traditional love story, exemplified by the African virtue of “you scratch my back and I scratch yours.”
Governor Wike has proved to be an inspirational leader, leading from the front, as he transforms Rivers State. The transformation of the state is right on track, making the state an envy of all. It is not by chance that Rivers State Governor Wike is the best performing governor in Nigeria for the year 2016. From the very beginning, he set out to make a difference. His footprints of performance are spread across the length and breadth of Rivers State. From defending democracy to reviving the economy of Rivers State through to the improvement of security down to the unprecedented massive infrastructural development in the state.
Three major national newspapers in the course of 2016 pronounced Governor Wike as Governor of the Year 2016 and Man of the Year 2016 respectively. The Sun Newspapers was the first to announce him as Governor of the Year.
According to the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Ltd., publishers of The Sun titles, Mr. Eric Osagie, the award was extended to Governor Wike on the premise of his outstanding performance in the areas of infrastructure, security, agriculture, health and education.
According to Osagie: “This award is not for sale. It is based on contributions to the development of the state. This is the most prestigious award in Nigeria.
“This category is for those who have performed. We stake our reputation on this. In recognition of the remarkable transformation that Governor Wike has brought to bear on development, The Sun Publishing Ltd. gives him the award of Governor of the Year 2016.”
Wike merits the award. He has done tremendously well, in all ramifications, including the defence of democracy. On December 12, 2016, the most significant event in the country’s democracy took place at the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Centre. Policemen and Rivers SARS invaded the collation centre, beat up electoral officials and were in the process of rigging the Senatorial District in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC). When news of this filtered into town, Governor Wike led from the front to defend democracy.
To Nigerians, this action in defence of democracy sets Governor Wike aside, as Nigeria’s Man of the Year 2016. His action served as a reality check to political criminals that Rivers people would not stand aside and watch the desecration of the democratic temple. His action has served as an inspiration to other Nigerians to stand up for democracy. They now understand that peacefully, people can stop rigging of elections, irrespective of the number of security personnel deployed by the ruling party.
Indeed, Governor Wike became outstanding because he led Rivers people to stop the use of security agents to manipulate the electoral process. This, he did, without destroying the fabric of state security. Rivers Rerun marked the beginning of a new phase in the nation’s democratic experience. It was a major departure from Edo and Ondo states where security agents were used to cow the people for the purpose of rigging.
Indeed, in 2016, there was no governor in Nigeria that delivered the number of projects that Governor Wike brought on stream for the people of Rivers State. He redefined governance, making projects delivery the centrepiece of his engagement with the people. Like he pledged during the campaigns, Governor Wike spread developmental projects to the three senatorial districts of the state.
His road infrastructure delivery programme is considered the very best in the country. More than 200 roads have been delivered across the state, with 50 other roads in the works.
Several feats have been recorded in the health sector. Seventeen hospitals are being completely rehabilitated across the state. The objective is to re-position the health sector to serve the people better. The 17 General Hospitals being rehabilitated are spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.
To ensure that more residents of Rivers State have access to quality healthcare, Rivers State governor flagged off the private hospitals loan scheme.
In education, Governor Wike has reintroduced model boarding schools. Eleven prominent schools across the state have been earmarked for total rehabilitation. At present, work is ongoing in three secondary schools. They include Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema; Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori and Government Girl, Secondary School, Rumuokwuta.
Today, the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, the first of its kind in West Africa, is nearing completion. It is a modern recreational facility that will generate foreign exchange for the state and boost tourism. Within this period, Governor Wike completed the ultra-modern NBA Law Centre, remodelled the Diete Spiff Civic Centre and is building a brand new Federal High Court Complex in Port Harcourt.
He has promoted the independence of the judiciary all through the period under review. However, he has taken pragmatic measures to improve the welfare of the judiciary. In this regard, official cars were distributed to High Court judges and magistrates recently.
At present, Rivers State is one of the most peaceful states of the federation despite the negative propaganda sponsored by the opposition. Rivers State is the preferred destination for national and international conferences. The Nigerian Guild of Editors National Convention, the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference, West African Architects Conference, International Polo Tournament, PDP National Convention and other high profile events were hosted in the state in 2016.
However, the most outstanding achievement of Governor Wike in the security sector was the successful Amnesty Programme. It led to hundreds of cultists and militants embracing peace. The state government is rehabilitating them.
Governor Wike is not a man to rest on his achievements. He has already declared 2017, as the state’s year of unprecedented roll out of projects.
On May 27, 2017, Rivers State will celebrate its Golden Jubilee. The Jubilee Governor of Rivers State has planned a budget that will revolutionise development in the state.