The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, last week handed over a new Federal High Court complex to chief judge of the court, further confirming why his people call him â€˜Mr. Projectâ€™. Davidson Iriekpen writes
The occasion was one of the greatest gatherings of lawyers in the state. From all over the state and beyond, they had come to witness history. To many of them, it was unbelievable that such a magnificent and gigantic project would be conceived and executed at a time when most states are unable to meet their constitutional obligations like paying workersâ€™ salaries and contractorsâ€™ debts, let alone have extra resources for infrastructure and other capital development projects.
Those were the feelings last week when the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike handed over the new Port Harcourt Federal High Court complex constructed by his administration to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta. The complex, which is clearly a federal project, has six courtrooms, exquisite judges chambers, 12 holding cells, changing rooms for lawyers, exhibits rooms and a wide parking lot.
Speaking before handing over the court complex to Justice Auta, Wike stated that his administration has resolved to strengthen the judicial system as a way of promoting good governance and making the state a regional judicial hub. He added that even though the country is facing financial crisis, it wonâ€™t stop the state government from embarking on projects which would make life comfortable for the people of the state, whether they are state or federal.
He said: “We therefore resolved not only to complete all stalled court projects but also, to initiate new ones to meet the increasing demand for judicial services by our people. In a country such as ours, where the justice delivery system is pretentiously federal but manifestly unitary, our quest for having the most modern and advanced court houses and justice system cannot be completely achieved if we limit our judicial transformation agenda only to state courts. This is part of the reason behind our inclusive and non-discriminatory policy thrust of providing modern court buildings and necessary operational support to federal courts at enormous financial cost to Rivers taxpayers.”
Wike emphasised: “Let it also be known that we have built this courthouse to serve and advance the public interest and not to satisfy any other self-promotion motives. Accordingly, we have fulfilled our duty as leaders who mean well for our country and its progress. All that we ask in return is for the federal government to provide for the regular care and maintenance of this building so that its functionality is preserved for the use of the present and future generations.”
Responding to the rare display of magnanimity, a very surprised Justice Auta stated that the court complex in Port Harcourt was outstanding and the best to be constructed by a state government. He commended the governor for his commitment to the provision of the relevant infrastructure, pointing out that the court would dispense justice according to the law.
On his part, Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyaye-Laminkara expressed happiness that the state government was providing facilities to increase access to justice. Also, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Emmanuel Aguma (SAN) said all that the Wike administration has done in the last two years is to open courts and create access to justice. Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Onueze Okocha said the handover of the Federal High Court complex is an addition to the testimonials of performance for Wike.
The above is an example of the accolades Wike has been receiving since he was sworn into office. For two years now, the state has virtually become one giant construction site. From as little as the Operation Zero Potholes on Rivers Roads, which he launched immediately he was inaugurated, the governor has long turned the state to construction hub with projects in every nook and cranny of the state. While many of these projects have long been inaugurated, more are coming up. Today, there is no local government in the state where his footprints have not been felt to the extent that he has been nicknamed â€˜Mr. Project.â€™
Not only has the governor improved state infrastructure, he has also extended same to federal projects for as long as they improve the comfort of the people.
Wikeâ€™s performance since his inauguration on May 29, 2015 has been attested to by all and sundry including those from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the federal level. Recently, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, set aside partisan politics to hail the governor for his hard work, after seeing the magnitude of the projects ongoing in Port Harcourt during a state visit.
Before then, there was Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, the APC Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governorsâ€™ Forum (NGF) who, after a visit to the state, paid fulsome compliments to Wike after seeing for himself the massive projects the governor was embarking on. He said: â€œIt is quite commendable that Governor Wike has managed to come up with some programmes for the betterment of the people of Rivers State. This is in spite of the economic crisis in our hands which we are all trying to manage.â€
Last week, as part of his second year anniversary, the all important Second Nkpogu Bridge in Port Harcourt was inaugurated by former President Goodluck Jonathan, who acknowledged that the governor â€œhas performed wonderfully well. Wike has shown so much commitment to infrastructural development. The whole of Rivers State is now a construction yard.”
He has also on several occasions received accolades from his peers, PDP chieftains and professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), journalists, doctors and engineers. Penultimate week, Governor Ayodele Fayose was in the state where he expressed surprise over the magnitude of projects being embarked on by Wike.
He said: â€œAnd these are legacy projects that you can’t forget too soon. The difference is very clear. The average man can feel the projects. These are projects touching the average man. What I saw today is heartwarming. I feel the governor has done well and he deserves commendation. The body language of the people show a lot of appreciation for this dynamic leadership.â€
Before then, Wike had inaugurated the dredging, sand filling and reclamation of Bakana and Abalama coastal towns as part of the regeneration of riverine towns. At the event, the President of Azikel Group, Dr. Eruani Azibapu Godbless, promised to ensure that oceanic tidal and massive wave energy effect that had resulted in the loss of these communitiesâ€™ land would be regained.
On completion, 39 hectares are to be reclaimed in both communities, within the nine-month period. He pleaded for the participation and support of the critical stakeholdersâ€™ women and the youths that would be engaged in the course of this project; these projects would bring both human and infrastructural development to the state.
While speaking at the flag-off, the governor called on stakeholders to give the desired support to the contractors that have shown competence by mobilising to site, even as he assured the company of adequate security and co-operation towards the completion of the project. The Chief of Bakana, who celebrated the governor for the project, called him â€˜Mr. Projectâ€™ for the massive economic programme across the state; and shared optimism that the project would be completed on schedule as the contracting firm has been mobilised to site. He thanked the governor and celebrated him for fulfilling his promise to bring succour to communities that have suffered coastal challenges by ensuring the dredging, sand-filling, reclamation and regeneration of affected communities.
Due to his hard work, the Andoni Kingdom recently conferred on Wike the Oro-ata 1 of the kingdom by His Royal Majesty, King Job Williams Ojuruket Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngo land. He said the title of Oro-ata, which is translated as â€˜a person who does good to mankindâ€™, could not have come at a better time when the entire Rivers people are in jubilation, in recognition of the governorâ€™s contributions to the development of the state.