As Ikwerre Roll out Drums for Wike

Nyesom Wike

Tomorrow, the people of Ikwerre ethnic nationality in Rivers State will roll out the drums to honour one of their illustrious sons, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at an elaborate ceremony for his good deeds in the state, Davidson Iriekpen writes

A prominent chieftain in the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, last week publicly commended the state Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, for taking concrete measures to resolve the challenges facing the state.

Abe, who spoke during a funeral service in honour of the late Mrs. Fyna Oby Atuzie-Boms, wife of former Attorney General of the state, Mr. Worgu Boms in Port Harcourt, said while some people were looking for the causes of Rivers political challenges, Wike is seeking solutions.

He said: “I want to stand here today to confirm that you are trying. I want to remember the broadcast you made where you said we should all come together and you were going to enter a nolle prosequi in respect of our younger brother, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.

“I also want to recollect all the efforts you have made, not just in words, but in action to end the bitterness and division that have characterised the politics of Rivers State. I want to say here today that some people are busy looking for who is causing the problem. But you are trying to look for solutions. I think we should align with those who are looking for solutions and leave those who are looking for causes.”

This is how many people in Rivers State feel today about Wike – that he has done well. If the above endorsement could come from an incorruptible member of the opposition, and from a different ethnic nationality, what do anybody expect from his people in Ikwerre?

This is why tomorrow, they will roll the drums at an elaborate ceremony to celebrate and honour the governor not only for all he has done in the over four years that he been in the charge of the state, but when he was Minister of Education and local government chairman.

To them, if any governor deserves such elaborate ceremony like this in Nigeria, it is Wike. Since he mounted the saddle, Rivers State has not remained the same. The lost glory has been restored.

This is why many have described the proposed event as a handshake from Ikwerre people. In their culture, a handshake is often handed to heroes and people who just did something big or unusual. In that case, what unusual has Wike done to deserve a bouquet of handshake from his people spread across Emohua, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of Rivers State?

One very good attribute of the governor is his ability to resist the temptation of being distracted. Despite the politics of bitterness by members of the opposition, Wike is unconcerned. His major focus is development.

First of all, Wike has won almost all major awards there are to win in Nigeria in the course of governing Rivers State. Many organisations related to how he rescued Rivers State from total collapse in 2015 and gradually returned the state to a contending force in the comity of states in Nigeria. In the process, organisations outside Ikwerre land lined up to recognise him.

The governor won The Sun Man of the Year Award back to back, a feat never accomplished before then by any governor. He also was declared Man of the Year 2017 by Silverbird Group. The highly influential and respected BusinessDay, Nigeria’s biggest business newspaper, named him Best Governor 2018. The Badminton Confederation of Africa also named him for the ‘Distinguished Service to Sports in Africa’ and the AIPS conferred on him, the title of Power of Sports in Africa in Brussels. He thinks sports and eats sports. From badminton to wrestling to football, Wike is king. The UN honour of Global Human Settlement Outstanding Award in New York is an acknowledgement that cement, sand and chippings run in his veins like a virus. Infrastructure is his middle name. Many more awards were given to him. These groups are not Ikwerre and they could not have been all wrong.

While being governor is one thing and making lasting impact is another, Wike has done nothing since he was elected governor than developing the state, freeing it from burdens of crisis of governance, freeing the state from underdevelopment that he met into a state that is ready for investment.

He restored the Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout for businesses and the organised private sector (OPS) including the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce (PHCCIMA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Rivers Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum (REIF) have since hailed him for the transformation of the Trans-Amadi and the restoration of businesses especially by wading into tax issues and halting the rough implementation of tax policies.

Looking at Rivers State sectorally, one would find that Wike has made the Ikwerre people proud with his performance. He restored security to attract investments back. He has donated several vehicles and armoured boats to the Nigerian Police and the armed forces.

Perhaps, Wike’s greatest area of striking and sterling development action could be roads. The making of the Sakpenwa-Bori Road represents the biggest intervention in roads in Ogoni area of the state and the governor has even promised to extend it to further destinations in the Ogoni ethnic area.

Wike will also go down in history as the governor that created a road for the first time to Opobo. This has been a dream for many past governors starting with Dr. Peter Odili but Wike got it accomplished.

There are other uncountable road projects such that each year during his anniversaries, it took weeks to commission road and other projects. There is also the Obuama Bridge, the Sani Abacha Road, the Peter Odili Road, the Akpajo Road that has made trips to Eleme and Onne very short. There are roads to the ports to ease port transactions and help in restoring activities in eastern ports.

Wike transformed Borokiri area of Port Harcourt to what it is today. He established the Pleasure Park in the heart of Port Harcourt to boost tourism industry and spike leisure especially for younger ones. Leisure apart, the effort has driven away robbers and turned the former robbers’ den to wonderland. The governor also built the Cultural Centre in the town area of Port Harcourt into a world class centre.

He touched the town section of the Garden City by rebuilding Creek Road which he renamed Patience Jonathan Road to resonate with the love of the people. He built the Nembe-Bonny Bille Jetty. Jetties are dear to the riverine people. Internal roads in Amadi-Ama, Okochiri in Okrika, Omoku, Isiokpo and Elele Alimini have been commissioned.

Many have not stopped talking about Kpobie Road in Ogoni area. He built the NYSC Orientation Camp in Tai, another Ogoni town. BMGS Bori and other secondary schools especially in Kalabari, Ogoni, Orashi region, Etche, among others have been inaugurated. He placed the tertiary institutions on A – rate attention.

From the forgoing, it is clear that those accusing Wike of not developing the state evenly are totally mistaken. He has spread the projects to all ethnic groups, just in one term. He is moving into the second term and would do more for the entire state.

The governor was elected on a pan-Rivers platform at a time the opposition whipped up sectional sentiments in what they termed upland and riverine rotation. He offered the state a united platform and the people of state embraced this wholeheartedly. His governance style has thus moved on this fulcrum. This approach has allowed people with talent and skills from all sections to find space and expression in the new Rivers vision.

On the other hand, there has been no governor that did not concentrate in the state capital. If President Muhammadu Buhari had been an indigene of Abuja, he too would have been accused of the same offence. State capitals have that appeal and they serve as the point of reference of any state’s development index.

It must be said that Rivers State seems to be a city state with Port Harcourt as the capital. All ethnic groups in Rivers State lay claim to live in Port Harcourt and her neighbour, Obio/Akpor LGA has physically merged with Port Harcourt that the boundary lines are invisible to strangers. Every important Rivers man has his house first in this larger Port Harcourt before his village.

In terms of development point of call, it is believed that if you get Port Harcourt right, you have got Rivers right. It is the point from where actions and developments spread to all other local council areas and other ethnic areas.

Wike has given huge attention to the economy and infrastructural development of Rivers State. He has not allowed himself to be distracted one moment, focusing on developing the state. Where many other states run to Abuja for alignments, he has stayed focused to apply every kobo, every energy, every moment to the development and good governance of the state. Each time he has been confronted with dual loyalty, Wike has always erred on the side of Rivers.

He has accepted pain and tribulation for the state. He has sacrificed everything personal just for the sake of his people. He defended the state and the Niger Delta against aggression and intimidation. He deserves the handshake of his people.

Now, he has sanitised the state capital to return the normal flow of traffic and keep traders off the roads. He has flagged off three flyovers at the cost of N21bn in the state capital. He has taken on health infrastructure with successes in the mother and child hospital, Rivers State University Medical College and Teaching Hospital, various zonal and general hospitals and health centres.

To the people, Wike certainly deserves whatever level of award they have decided to bestow on him.