Akpabio (middle) inaugurating Igwuruta-Chokocho Federal Road constructed by Wike. Flanked by Wike (1st right) and his deputy, Mrs. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo (1st left)

Owing to the number of projects he has initiated and inaugurated since he assumed office, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has been dubbed ‘Mr. Project’ by the people each time they catch a glimpse of him anywhere in the state, Davidson Iriekpen writes

It is not a surprise that anywhere he enters in the state, people troop out to shout ‘Mr. Project’, ‘Mr. Project’. This is the new name the people of Rivers State have given their governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. This again played out last week when he moved to Ekpeye land where he flagged off the completion of the Edeoha-Ikata-Ochigba-Ozocha Road, pledging that the area would experience unprecedented development now that peace has returned to the communities and their environs.

Performing the flag off of the construction of the road, the governor said the contract was awarded in fulfillment of his promise to the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chibodum Nwuche. He said the immediate past All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in the state had abandoned the road project because Nwuche was working with him at the time. He said that the contractor would be mobilise to site as the state government has released funds for the road project.

He said: “Though Nwuche has moved to another political party, I am bound by my promise, hence I am here to flag off the construction of the road.” The governor charged the people of the area to cooperate with the contractor by providing a peaceful environment for the contractor to deliver his work as scheduled. According to him, the road would be inaugurated among the Jubilee projects for the 50th anniversary of the state.
In his remarks, member representing Ahoada East Constituency 2, Hon. Ehie Edison, said the road would create access to 21 communities in the constituency. He noted that the people of the area are grateful that Wike has kept his promise, pledging that his support base in Ekpeye land will remain strong.

The road project is among the many that Wike has awarded or inaugurated since he assumed office as governor in 2015. Knowing how backward the state was in the area of road infrastructure and how difficult it was to move from one community to another, the governor on assumption of office, pledged to change the situation.

From May 2015, hardly would a month end without the governor either flagging off or inaugurating a new project to the admiration of the people of the state. Despite the scarce resources and the pressures from the APC-led federal government and its agencies, Wike has remained undaunted. His focus is on how to bring development to his people based on the massive support he has received from them. So far, in the last 20 months, the governor has embarked on and completed over 25 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 is unperturbed if the road projects are federal or not. He also does not consider if the area is in ‘opposition’ domain or not. To show that the projects completed are not propaganda, the governor on many occasions had invited eminent personalities across the country to inaugurate them.

For instance, the former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, was in the state recently 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 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 ready 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 kiths and kins in neighbouring communities. He pledged that whether there is economic recession or not, he “would always fulfill my campaign promises to the people of the state for the role they have played by voting for me.” He added that he has a responsibility to work for the people and that they don’t deserve excuses.

Also, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, was in the state recently to inaugurate the Igwuruta-Chokocho federal road reconstructed by Wike. 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 cut off from each other for about 20 years.
He commended the governor for being a transformational leader who has governed 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. He called on the federal government to release to states budgetary provisions for the rehabilitation of federal roads in the state.

Akpabio 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 to the benefit of his people. 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 can 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 venue for campaigns. We are committed to serving all the people of the state, irrespective of their political inclinations,” Wike said.

Other eminent Nigerians as 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 Nigerian 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 to see things for themselves and be convinced 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.
Many observers believe that with the rate Wike is going, if he continues with the pace he started, there is no doubt that he might end being the best governor Rivers State has ever had.

On many occasions, Wike has reassured the people of the state that his administration would not abandon any ongoing projects, irrespective of the economic downturn in the country. Speaking at the symposium/heroic award by the Grand Patron of Apara Committee of Friends, the governor noted that his projects execution framework has been properly laid out to accommodate all ongoing projects. He noted that his principled and consistent execution of projects have stimulated economic growth across the state. He said because the administration was well prepared, it was able to tackle projects abandoned by the immediate past administration and initiate new projects for the people. He promised that he would never disappoint the people of the state in his commitment to the development of the state.

“As a government, let me assure you that we are very well prepared for the administration of Rivers State. You will recall that the outgone administration declared publicly that Rivers State government will not be able to pay salaries after they wasted all the resources of this state playing national politics.”