In an era where most governors are folding their arms and using dwindling revenue as the perfect excuse, River State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has continued to break new grounds churning out projects across the state. Davidson Iriekpen writes
One state where majority of the residents do not regret voting for their governor is Rivers State. Since he assumed office in 2015, hardly a month passes without Governor Nyesom Wike inaugurating one new project or the other to admiration of the people of the state and outsiders.
The governor’s passion for development is unequalled. At a time most of his colleagues are folding their arms and citing dwindling revenue as an excuse for lack of performance, Wike on the other hand is either inaugurating new developments projects or completing others statewide abandoned by the immediate past administration.
In the last seven months, the governor has embarked on and completed about 10 critical roads and sundry projects in the state, thereby reducing the suffering of his people. As a demonstration of his love for his people, Wike does not care if the road projects are federal or not. He also does not care if the area is ‘opposition’ area or not.
For example, last week, Wike was in the Ogoni area specifically in Bodo City, Gokana Local Government Area of the state to flag off the construction of the Kpopie-Bodo road abandoned by a former senator in the state after he allegedly collected over N4 billion from the immediate past administration.
Performing the ceremony in the presence of thousands of people who came out to laud him for the project which has seriously caused them pain and discomfort, the governor said it was unfortunate that a politician like the senator would swindle his people. He said the state government would have dragged the senator before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but pointed out that the anti-graft commission and the police would not act for political reasons.
He said: “Any politician who can embezzle funds meant for the execution of a road project in his area deserves our empathy. It is easier for him to insult me on radio, but my only reply is to complete the road he abandoned because I love Ogoni people. When we were completing several projects abandoned by the immediate past administration, instead of showing appreciation, they were insulting me on the radio.
My commitment to Rivers people is unwavering. Insults cannot stop me from developing Rivers State and completing the projects that will improve the lives of the people. Nobody can force himself on his people. I am sad that the senator used the funds meant for a road that will benefit his people to serve himself. I am happy that I have the opportunity to construct this road,” Wike said.
The governor stated that the Kpobie-Bodo road would be completed within three months with street lights and under-ground drainage. He said he would never play politics with development, because that is the covenant he entered with the people of the state.
In his address, the Caretaker Chairman of Gokana Local Government Area, Mr. Monday Dumiye, berated the senator for exposing the people to untold hardship by failing to construct the road awarded to him. He commended Wike for coming to the aid of the people by resolving to complete the road.
Technical Manager of Dantata and Sawoe, the contractor handling the Kpopie-Bodo road, assured the governor and people of the area that the road would be completed in record time. Ogoni leaders including Senator Olaka Nwogu, Chief Kenneth Kobani and Dr Fred Kpakol, traditional rulers, women groups and school children graced the occasion.
Already, the governor is dualising the Sakpwenwa-Bori road, the Birabi Memorial Grammar School, General Hospital, Bori and has rebuilt the INEC office burnt down by political thugs of the opposition in the state.
To show that the projects completed by Wike are no fluke, majority of them have been inaugurated by eminent personalities from across the country. For instance, last week, the former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, was in the state to inaugurate the reconstructed Ozuoba-Rumuosi Road in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. While commending Wike for the numerous projects he has so far embarked upon, Lamido urged governors on the platform of other political parties to emulate him and stop using economic recession as excuse for their failures.
Specifically, Lamido said the All Progressives Congress (APC) has embarrassed Nigerians both locally and internationally by failing to provide adequate leadership since taking over power at the federal level. He advised the leadership of the party at all levels to learn the art and science of leadership and projects delivery from Wike.
The former Jigawa governor said the leadership of the APC is learning on the job after their electoral victory, pointing out that they have embarrassed Nigeria internationally through their failure to work for Nigerians. He said APC cannot work for Nigerians because the party lacks the capacity for pro-people governance; adding that they only grabbed power for the sake of it and not for service.
He said: “Only PDP governors are working. We in PDP, care and we are concerned. If we are given a responsibility, we discharge it creditably. Governor Wike has done very well. I extend the gratitude of the entire PDP family to Governor Wike for his performance.”
In his remarks at the occasion, Wike explained that the Ozuoba-Rumosi Road is a direct reward to the people of Akpor Kingdom for their support. He said the community was forgotten by the previous administration, hence his resolve to reconstruct the road linking them with their kith and kin in neighbouring communities. He pledged that whether there is economic recession or not, he would always fulfill his campaign promises to the people of the state for the role they have played by voting him. He added that he has a responsibility to work for the people and that they don’t deserve excuses.
Penultimate week, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, was also in the state to inaugurate the Igwuruta-Chokocho federal road reconstructed by Wike. He commended the governor for being a transformational leader who governs his people with compassion and judicious application of resources, adding that the governor deserves the applause he is getting for the infrastructural renaissance taking place in the state.
During the inauguration of the project, thousands of people including traditional rulers, elders, clerics, women and youths from Etche and Ikwerre Local Government Areas thronged the venue of the ceremony at Chokocho in Etche Local Government Area, singing and dancing over the construction of a road that reconnected communities hitherto cut off from each other for 20 years.
Akpabio during the inauguration, said there was no reason why the federal government should continue to budget for roads annually, when such federal roads were never constructed. He insisted that financial allocations for federal roads should be released to state governments to handle the roads within their respective states.
“Where you have federal roads, the federal government may never come. As such, states will have to take their destinies in their own hands. Here is a governor who does not care if a road belongs to the federal or state government, he goes ahead to construct it to the benefit of his people. I recommend that the federal government should distribute money voted for federal roads to states. There is no need to continue to vote money for federal roads which are never constructed. These funds such be distributed to the states to construct the roads,” Akpabio said
In his address at the ceremony, Wike said the successful reconstruction of the Igwuruta-Chokocho federal road was in fulfillment of the pledge he made to the people of Etche during the campaign. He announced that his administration would also construct the Chokocho-Igbo-Etche-Rumukrusi Road to link more Etche communities. He added that his performance was a fallout of the charge that he received from Akpabio who pleaded with him never to make unfulfilled promises or disappoint his supporters.
“I will never play politics with the construction of roads in the state. I will never make promises that I will not fulfill. My pledge is my bond. Whether or not there is economic recession, we shall continue to work for the people of the state. Recall that the APC claimed that they were the ones constructing this road. But the truth is known to the people. We shall continue to construct more roads so that APC members can ply on them to access venues for campaigns. We are committed to serving all the people of the state, irrespective of their political inclinations,” Wike said.
Before now, other eminent Nigerians including the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh (SAN), former Senate President David Mark, National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, had variously inaugurated projects.
During the recently held 12th All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC) in the state, the governor had led the editors to tour 24 projects sites spread across seven local government areas of the state namely: Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Eleme, Khana, Gokana and Etche Local Government Areas for them see to things for themselves and convince them that all he was doing in the state was not propaganda. And to achieve maximum exposure of the selected projects, the tour was divided into two teams; Wike led a team, while the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Emma Okah led the second team.
The list of the projects visited include: Law Centre, Civic Centre, Federal High Court being constructed by the Rivers State Government, Garrison-Akpajo-East West Road, Second Nkpogu Bridge, Dr. Peter Odili Road, Abuluoma-Woji Road, Woji-Akpajo Road, Elelenwo-Akpajo Road, Sakpenwa-Bori Road, Rumukwurusi-Eneka Road, Igwuruta-Okehi Road, Rukpokwu-Eneka and Oroigwe Road.
Other projects visited are: Industry Road, Njamanze Road (Diobu), Eagle Island Bridge –Agip, Rumuepirikom-Rumuolumeni Road, Rumuolumeni-Elioparanwo-Ogbogoro-Ozuoba Road, Ozuoba-Rumoosi Road, Alakahia-Rumualogu Road, Nkpolu-Rumuigbo-Rumuaholu-Obiri Ikwere Road and Aluu-Rukpokwu Road.
At the pace Wike is progressing, it is clear that not even the recession can stop this indefatigable governor from achieving his set objectives of delivering democracy dividends to his people. To many analysts, it is not a surprise that Wike is determined to transform the state. His wife, Justice Suzzette Eberechi, had once testified to his passion when she told the people of the state that she was confident that her husband, based on his antecedents and passion to satisfy others, would never stop his positive development strides.
She said: “I know the man I am married to. He is a determined and focused man. He will continue to deliver in line with the promises he made to the people. I know he will live up to the expectations of the people.”
Many observers believe that with the rate Wike is progressing, if he continues with the pace he started, there is no doubt that he might end up as the best governor Rivers State has ever produced.