By Paulinus Nsirim
The Rivers State Government, on Monday, September 27, 2021, approved the sum of N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira) loan from Zenith Bank of Nigeria, for the funding of the Oyigbo-Afam Road, Chokocho-Igbodo Road, the Rumukwurushi-Elimgbu flyover in Port Harcourt and other projects.
Approval for the loan was given during the State Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
In keeping with his unflinching insistence on following due process in the utilization of public funds, Governor Nyesom Wike has already settled the repayment schedule for the facility by stating categorically that the loan would be repaid within eighteen months, from the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
It is indeed heartwarming that at a time when Nigerians are expressing collective dissatisfaction and futuristic fears with the spate of monumental borrowings that are mounting into a huge and frightening national debt profile, without commensurate developmental indices to justify the action, Governor Wike is exhibiting astute financial management and administrative acumen by matching borrowing with the delivery of critical infrastructure for the long term benefits of Rivers people.
A clear example of using funds to provide critical infrastructure is the Oyigbo-Afam Road and Chokocho-Igbodo Road.
These roads have been agonizing and tortuous stretches of nightmare not only for users and commuters but indeed for the economic and commercial fortunes of these areas and the state.
The roads remain the major connecting artery for the substantial volume of commercial movement and activities between Abia, Imo and Rivers States.
We even recall with a subtle sense of irony, the recent unfortunate action and utterances of the member of the House of Representatives, who claimed with the flimsy excuse, that the bad state of the Oyigbo road was the major reason he defected to another political party.
It is no longer news that our political space is filled with charlatans and fickle minded politicians without any integrity and we wonder how that politician would be feeling, now that Governor Wike has set down a definite plan to fix and deliver the Oyigbo-Afam Road before the end of his tenure.
What is even more satisfying is the fact that, while some other Governments and leaders are borrowing heavily with the wicked intent of passing the huge debt to the incoming administrations, Governor Wike has already made it clear that servicing and repayment plan for the loan is firmly tied with IGR of the state, a brave and strategic decision which can only be embraced by a Governor who is fully confident that his state will generate the requisite revenue to offset the loan within the moratorium period.
For the avoidance of doubt and in fulfillment of the demands of transparency, this loan has a repayment period of 18 months, with effect from October 2021 and to be completed in April 2023, from the State’s IGR. The repayment structure and schedule is N1, 547, 874, 350.66 monthly for the period under review for the projects to be executed.
Simply put, Governor Wike has made it clear and left no one in doubt from the onset, that repayment of this loan would be completed even before the end of the tenure of his administration. This is indeed impressive leadership and astute administration at its finest.
Governance, by a contextual definition, is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) and it has often been noted in international development, that good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions, including governments, conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way.
According to the United Nations, Good Governance is measured by the eight factors, viz: Participation, Rule of Law, Transparency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability.
It is thus against the backdrop of the United Nations assessment of Good governance, that we must appreciate the fact that the projects to be funded with this N25 billion loan, in addition to the Chokocho-Igbodo Road in Etche Local Government Area, the Oyigbo-Afam Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area, also include, the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School at Rumueme, Port Harcourt, the construction of new Magistrate courts, construction of Judicial Institute for training of judicial officers in the State that would enhance justice delivery and the Rumuokwurusi-Elimgbu flyover, which would be the tenth flyover that will be constructed by the Governor Wike’s administration.
Of course, these wide range of the projects, in addition to the plethora of projects that have already been delivered by the Governor Wike administration, are all people oriented and they are intended to further enhance development in all the nooks and crannies of the State, in line with the Governor’s avowed commitment to ensure that all projects that are initiated by the government are completed before the end of his tenure.
Those who have followed Governor Wike’s administrative trajectory objectively and dispassionately, since he assumed office in May 2015, are already well aware of his avowed pledge and commitment, both in actions and comments in the last six years, that he is very determined to ensure that he will not leave any debt behind for the incoming administration in the state.
He has also kept faith with his pledge to Rivers people of his commitment not to leave any abandoned project behind for the next administration, as well as his promise to make sure that he delivers legacy projects to every local government area in the state.
The Oyigbo-Afam Road, Chokocho-Igbodo Road, just like the dualized Bori-Sakpenwa-Kono highway and the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity road, is therefore not just a project that will be done for the sake of political publicity and grandstanding, but in fact a project that will touch and impact on the lives of the people positively, just like the others already delivered are doing.
Most importantly however is the fact that these will serve as major projects of the Wike administration to consolidate the promise which our dear “Mr. Quality Projects” made to Rivers People at the beginning of his tenure, that he will make sure that even development across the length of breadth of Rivers State is and will be the hallmark of Governor Wike’s leadership style.
Governor Wike is indeed touching lives and finishing strong, as his administration continues to deliver quality Projects and good governance to Rivers people.
This will be the standard until he hands over on May 29, 2023.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State