From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has pledged the resolve of his administration to create a more robust business environment that would stimulate economic growth, empowerment and create tangible jobs for Rivers people in 2021.
Also, the state government has announced temporary closure of popular Creek Road and Bille, Bonny and Nembe jetties from January 5 to 9, 2021.
The statement issued by Mr. Kelvin Ebiri, the Special Assistant (Media) to Governor Nyesom Wike, said the closure was to enable the state government carry out extensive sanitation of the affected areas.
Law enforcement agents have been ordered to effective strict compliance and arrest defaulting traders and boat operators.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike in his new year broadcast to Rivers people, yesterday, said having laid the development foundation for the state, there should be concerted efforts in 2021 in building Rivers into the desired dream.
According to the governor, his administration’s agenda for the state has been clear from the beginning, with pragmatic approach adopted in addressing the critical concerns of the people.
Wike said such concerns had included the sustenance of peace and security, education, affordable healthcare, fixing the infrastructural deficit and driving better economic growth, as well as social progress for the State.
“Today, we express our gratitude to God and our people not only for the opportunity to serve, but also for the achievements we have recorded, which now form the foundations for our drive towards greater levels of development, economic growth, better life and secured future for our people.
“But, we also concede to the fact that there’s much more to be done to realize the Rivers State of our dreams: a progressive State with fabulous infrastructures, quality education, affordable healthcare and boundless economic opportunities for all who live in it.
“We will, therefore, continue in 2021 to focus on the fundamental task of creating a new Rivers State through prudent, efficient and transparent management of available resources.
“Essentially, we shall continue to upgrade and expand educational infrastructure and services across all levels of the education system.
“There is no better guarantee for the future progress of our State and the nation than to ensure that every child has the realistic access to the transformational light of education and skills acquisition.
“We shall also continue to prioritize healthcare delivery and ensure that everyone has access to affordable primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services”, he declared.
The governor noted that 2020 was a challenging year, made worse by a mismanaged national economy in recession, coronavirus pandemic, escalated insecurity, corruption and socio-political tensions.
He said these made life horrible for millions of struggling families and ordinary Nigerians in the face of dwindling revenues, rising inflation, poverty and unemployment.
Nevertheless, he said the state reasonably advanced its development agenda and efforts at building a financially responsible and socially equitable State.
“Accordingly, 2020 also proved to be a very busy and eventful year for our State, especially in project execution and delivery of social services to our people.
“As customary, we initiated and completed a record number of development projects with tremendous socio-economic impact while several others, including the multi-billion naira flyovers, received reasonable funding and construction attention in 2020”, he highlighted.
Governor Wike also announced the line up of some completed projects billed for inauguration beginning from the January 4, 2021, which include the Mother and Child Hospital, the Real Madrid Academy new buildings, and the Okoro-Nu-Odo flyover.
Others, according to him, are the Saakpenwa-Bori dual carriage way, the Abonnema ring road, the 10 kilometre Bolo internal roads, and the Eteo–Sime– Nowan–Kira.
“We also wish to restate our commitment to recruit 5,000 youths into the State’s public service in 2021 to reduce the unemployment rate and give the beneficiaries a new ease of life”, he stated.
The governor noted that there was a second wave of the coronavirus experienced in the state and issued a warning to those who continue to disregard adherence to COVID-19 protocols of the danger they cause other law-abiding residents.
“It is necessary to remind everyone of our responsibility to adhere strictly to the existing protocols on compulsory wearing of face masks, maintenance of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and the regular use of hand sanitizers, so that we can reasonably prevent the rate of transmission and avoid needless deaths from the disease”, Wike urged.
The governor expressed government’s dismay with the continuing flouting of the ban on trading, the creation of illegal motor parks, taxi ranks and mechanic workplaces, as well as the erection of illegal kiosks along the streets and other public spaces.
“Apart from constituting public nuisance, these activities and structures obstruct traffic flow and pose serious threats to public safety and security to the extent no responsible government can tolerate.
“With the grace period over, therefore, we have no other option than to order immediate clampdown and put a final stop to these illegal operations from the 4th of January 2021”, he declared.