By Paulinus Nsirim
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike started 2021 pretty much the same way he ended 2020, by playing host to a number of State Governors and political leaders from across Nigeria, in a colourful festival of commissioning some of his legacy Projects, spread across the length and breadth of Rivers State.
The carnivalesque atmosphere and the pomp and celebration that greeted Governor Nyesom Wike and his array of special guests, coupled with a robust display of the rich cultural heritage and traditional beauty of the diverse peoples in every community and local government they visited to commission the projects, were ample testimony that Rivers people loved and were indeed well pleased with their number one citizen.
Governor Wike even took time out to show off his celebrated street credibility as a man of the people by taking some of his special guests on a long stroll along some of the commissioned roads as Rivers people hailed him, both in the day time and under the resplendent beauty of shiny street lights on warm, glorious nights lit up like the foreign cities we always read about and see only on cable television and social media.
Governor Wike himself captured the beauty of the transformed ambience aptly during the commissioning of Emeyal, Elelenwo and General Diriyah Streets, all located in the New GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt by the Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Finitri, thus: “Today, if you come here in the night you’ll think it’s one of the areas in advanced countries.”
Indeed, Governor Wike had already whetted the expectations of the entire nation in his 2021 new year message to Rivers people, following the first phase of projects inauguration, when he stated categorically that: “In the same vein, we shall continue to give focused attention to the State’s physical and economic infrastructure and ensure that we deliver fabulous roads, bridges and flyovers to connect all parts of our State to ease the movement of goods and services, enhance economic growth and accelerate the development of the State”.
The schedule for the projects to be Commissioned was robust and precise and a prestigious A-list of distinguished dignitaries drawn from across the political divide in all the geopolitical zones of the country, were scheduled to perform the commissioning ceremonies.
The marathon projects Commissioning spree had commenced on Monday, December 21, 2020, when the Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri commissioned Emeyal, Elelenwo, Ndoni and General Diriya Streets, and he only had words of praise for Governor Wike not only for his commitment to advancing the quality of life of his people with his landmark projects and making a difference that is unprecedented and hardly to be equalled, but also acknowledged Governor Wike as an irrepressible democrat who has continued to demonstrate uncommon vision and rare courage in working for the Rivers people as well as advancing the unity of Nigeria.
“It is really a rare privilege to commission landmark projects in Port Harcourt, the heart beat of the South-South. I am here on the basis that Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the irrepressible democrat who has demonstrated an uncommon vision and rare courage in working for the Rivers people and advancing the unity of our country.
“Nowhere has Governor Wike demonstrated this than in the constant and consistent liaison with his fellow Governors such as my humble self in the North. Let me assure the government and good people of Rivers State that the difference that Wike is making in Rivers State is unprecedented and can hardly be equalled,” Governor Fintiri said.
On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, the dualized Tombia Road and Amaji Street was commissioned by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, and according to the Benue Governor, associating with Governor Wike has been rewarding because, aside the fact that it helped facilitate his return to PDP and secure the party’s ticket for his second term as governor, he also got morale and financial assistance for the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) when Benue State was under attacks from herdsmen.
“There came a time when I was an outcast and my people in Benue State were outcast. Nobody cared to visit for fear of persecution. We were like the lepers in the Bible. Yet, Wike stood up and came all the way to Benue State to see how we were fairing. We had over 500,000 IDPs in camps then. It was not easy to fend for these people. Wike came with very distinguished leaders from Rivers State.
“He gave us support that we never expected more than any other support, including what others did. We appreciate it and pray that such a thing should not come to Rivers State,,” Governor Ortom declared with gratitude.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020, was the turn of Woji Road and Obagi Street Commissioned by Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde as Special Guest of Honour.
The young, dynamic Governor, who is no stranger to Rivers State, having been on ground to inaugurate the Real Madrid Football Academy, noted with satisfaction that, with the evidence of the performance of Governor Wike, it will be difficult to convince Rivers people to abandon PDP for another party
“Indeed, all right minded people like to identify with progress irrespective of their personal feeling towards the initiator. Development is a big part of our democracy and every project counts towards the overall progress of the nation. We are blessed to be leaders at this point of Nigeria’s History where there seems to be reawakening of political consciousness especially among the young people. At the next circle of election in 2023, Nigerians will show that they have learnt something from the event of this year, 2020 and that electoral decisions have consequences.”
Governor Wike also used the platform to call on the APC Progressives Governors Forum to own up to the failure of the Federal Government that promised to offer better governance that will ensure safety of lives and property of all Nigerians.
“Everything has collapsed in the country. Security has collapsed. Economy has collapsed. There is nothing working in the country. Today, all over Nigeria, there is insecurity everywhere.
The final stretch of the whirlwind phase one commissioning was the inauguration of the reconstructed Aker Base Road, Rumuolumeni, now renamed Chief Orabule Adele Road, in honour of an illustrious son of the Rumuolumeni community,on Thursday, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020, by the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
Inaugurating the project, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu described Governor Wike as a brand, an icon, and symbol of everything good and a blessing to Nigeria, adding that the decision to use concrete pavements in the road construction is with the understanding that it is the best for the topography and designed to make the road last for a long time as a legacy to the visionary administration of Governor Wike.
One of the highlights of this inauguration was the startling revelation by Governor Wike that: “They’ve Tried To Woo me out of PDP, But I Say No”, explaining further that several appeals have been made to him from some quarters to abandon the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but he had turned them down because he is a man of character.
He stressed that it is unimaginable to think that he will quit a party that continues to hold the promise of good leadership for the country, and remains the only hope for Nigerians who are also waiting to vote it into power in 2023.
“PDP is a party that Nigerians want. No matter all the intimidation, it will not work. We are men of character. When we say something we stand by whatever we have said, not for pecuniary interest. If I was that kind of governor, I know how many times people have tried to woo us, we said no. We cannot be wooed. We are here. We started with PDP and will end up with PDP.
Phase two of the commissioning commenced in earnest, after the mandatory Christmas holidays, with the scheduled inauguration of legacy Projects in Seven Local Government Areas in the State, which started on Monday, January 4th, 2021, with the 10.3km long Sime-Nonwa-Kira Road in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State, by Senator Bala Muhammed, Governor of Bauchi State.
Inaugurating the road, Governor Bala Mohammed applauded Governor Wike for delivering such quality road project that connects several communities to ease movement of rural dwellers and confessed that he feels proud to be a Nigerian anytime he sees how Governor Wike, in spite of imposing challenges, has continued to deliver democratic dividends to Rivers people.
“When I see the quality of this road and the community where it is sited; in Ogoni Land, traversing all these communities and the kind of good sermon given by the Local Government Chairman, and even the Commissioner of Works, I feel elated that I am a Nigerian.
“This is so, because here is a Nigerian, a governor who has been able to deepen leadership, bringing people of capacity on board. Even using a local contractor to bring local content. This is the kind of Nigeria we need tomorrow. People who can lead and bring people on board with quality and capacity.
“I am always happy to be associated with Governor Wike. It is not because he is the most pragmatic governor in Nigeria. It is not because he has always worn the toga of leadership. It is also not because he has always tried to satisfy his people and defied all odds. But it is because of his capacity as the face of our party, the PDP. He is the face of leadership of the governors. He has always defied all difficult terrain to be able to produce, and deliver to his people.
“That has endeared him. He is somebody who says the truth no matter whose ox is gored. We need people like that in Nigeria.”
Tuesday, January 5th 2021 was the inauguration of the 16.06km dualized Saakpenwa-Bori highway, which cuts across Tai, Khana and Gokana Local Government Areas of the State by Gov. Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State. Speaking at the commissioning, Governor Ugwuanyi acknowledged that many projects inaugurated by Governor Wike, including the Saakpenwa -Bori road were campaign promises which the Rivers Governor have been fulfilling for Rivers peoole.
“I congratulate your Excellency, Governor Wike on the accomplishment of this infrastructural milestone among many others which will undoubtedly make life more meaningful for the people of Ogoni land. I understand that this strategic road project was a campaign promise that has been truthfully fulfilled. Expectedly, it gladdens the hearts of Ogoni people and reinforces their faith in our constitutional democracy.
Senator Benneth Birabi and Leedum Mitee, Esq both noble citizens of Ogoniland described the road project as a monumental legacy that Governor Wike has bequeathed to them.
In the words of veteran journalist from the area, Blessing Wikina: “Sakpenwa-Bori-Kono road, would not just be a road. It would be a route to Opobo, Andoni, Bonny. It is our “new planet.”
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, the rehabilitatated 11.53 kilometers Eleme-Afam(Oyigbo) road, connecting Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas and performed by the former Senate Majority leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume.
Inaugurating the road, Senator Ndume who is of the APC described Governor Wike as a true nationalist who is an important voice in national affairs across parties, and always stands out as one who speaks the truth to power courageously, even as he admitted that he felt truly humbled to perform the task and be part of what Governor Wike is doing in Rivers state
“Governor Wike is my very good friend, a trusted leader, a very honest person. One thing we have in common is that, as a leader, you must stand out and speak the truth even if you’re alone and Wike is known for that. There is new hope for the state and he is Wike. Now, Rivers is not only becoming a Garden City again but it is becoming a Golden City. May God continue to give you (Wike) the strength.
“And from today, know that you’re a leader in this country. If you’re not a friend and a nationalist, I will not be here, Fayemi will not be here and many other APC Governors. You’re one of the true Nigerians that I ever know. And if we have people like you that speaks the truth to power, Nigeria would have been better off for all of you
“Honestly, let me say here that Nigeria is lucky to have not only Rivers State but Rivers people. South-South, particularly Rivers people are the great people of Nigeria. What you’re giving to this country; if Rivers is not there, Nigeria will not be there.”
Thursday, January 7th 2021, was the commissioning of Abonnema Ring Road in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, which was performed by former Senate Deputy President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Governor Wike used the platform to declare loud and clear that the non-stop inauguration of completed projects in the State has silenced critics, and members of the opposition APC.
Governor Wike also debunked the allegations that he was not empowering local contractors by naming Lubriks, O.K. Isokariari, Chrisjoe and… who handled a good number of the projects in the State.
“For us, as a party and government, whatever promises we make we must fulfil them. We are not a party that promises and fail or gives excuses. We are a party that when we make a promise, we must fulfil the promise because we owe it to the people. That is why I have told our people, we have no choice, that the only hope this country has today is the PDP.
Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while commissioning the Abonnema Ring road noted that by executing projects in the hinterland land other than the city, the Wike administration has demonstrated equity and justice to Rivers people.
He added that the lessons to be learnt from the series of projects inauguration in Rivers State by governors and other political leaders, should be for them to get inspired and replicate such development in their various States and at the national level.
“I believe it when I said that we should not be ashamed to say we are learning from our colleague (Governor Wike) on what to do. If we need help, we must seek help from whoever we can get help from and that’s the only way we can develop”.
Friday, 8th January 2021, was the commissioning of the reconstructed Forces Avenue-Olumeni-Harley Streets, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, by the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. Inaugurating the projects, Governor Tambuwal asserted that the performance of Governor Wike has justified the confidence reposed in him by Rivers people who had reelected him to serve them for a second term.
He described Governor Wike, as a bridge builder and a special gift to the country.
“Almost two years into your second term, I believe that you have justified their confidence. You have done so exceedingly well.”
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, in his comments, said that since the roads were first built by the colonial masters, no government had given them serious attention until this intervention by Governor Wike.
“You are one of the shining lights of our party because your good works speaks for itself. I don’t think another governor or governors of the other party can really compete with the governors of PDP.”
Governor Wike in his comments, carpeted the opposition party in the state and while affirming that the reason he embarked on the marathon projects commissioning across the State is to remind Nigerians that PDP offers the only hope to emancipate the country from the appalling poor governance that has characterised the APC led Government since 2015, added that the success of his development efforts has silenced the opposition and they are overwhelmed that he has surpassed their expectations.
“I told you that the only way you can silence the opposition is to do what people would see. You don’t need to join issues with them on the pages of newspapers. All of them live here. They will see the streetlights shining and the beautiful road,” he declared.
Governor Tambuwal was also on ground to commission the Bonny/Bille Jetty on Saturday January 9th 2021 and commended the Rivers Governor for judiciously applying the resources of State to address pressing needs of the people.
“It is not just about earning revenues, be it revenues from FAAC or from IGR. It is about having the grace of God in applying those revenues to the needs of the people. That is what I see here happening in Rivers State. You have done a lot in the area of human capital development. You have done a lot in the infrastructural development of the state and importantly bringing back security and safety of lives in Rivers State. That is very key and that is very fundamental,” the PDP Governors Forum Chairman noted.
Governor Wike speaking on why he remodelled the Bonny/Bille jetty said the zeal to provide an enabling environment for sea travellers and boost the marine economy of the state, spurred his administration to rehabilitate the once dilapidated jetty first built in the 1950s,
He also warned that he will not tolerate criminal activities around the remodelled jetty and that he will not hesitate to shut down the facility if any passenger travelling to and fro Bonny, Nembe or Bille is reportedly kidnapped around the jetty.
The marathon projects commissioning continued on Monday, January 11, 2021, when former Imo State Governor Senator Rochas Okorocha arrived Port Harcourt to inaugurate the Rumuche/Rumuakunde/Ohna Awuse Link Roads in Emohua Local Government Area.
Senator Rochas Okorocha, who represents Imo West Senatorial District at the Senate, described Governor Wike as a courageous leader, who has spoken truth to power, and has continued to improve the lot of Rivers people with his project delivery mantra.
He added that it is time for people of like-minds who desire the best for Nigeria, to stop complaining but come together to join forces to make the country great.
“In this dispensation, there are many bad people in APC, many bad people in PDP. I think the good people of APC and good people of PDP must come together for the purpose of making Nigeria great. I could imagine where I join forces with Wike. Governor Wike, this is my hand of friendship. Let us bring all like minds, all great people of Nigeria. Rather than complaining , let us come together to make this country greater and greater as it should be.”
“What brought me here today is not party. What brought me here today is love and friendship. I am not PDP, I am APC. But the time has come when we must break the jinx of party division and begin to embrace brotherhood and friendship and be able to state what is good and what is bad. A bad man is a bad man, even if he is PDP or APC.”
Senator Okorocha also lauded Governor Wike over the Rivers Govt House Clinic and Administrative Building describing the Rivers State Government House Clinic as a top class health facility that is comparable to the typical German standard hospital, with latest health equipment that can address critical health challenges and stop medical tourism.
Former Senate President and Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, was on ground to Commission the Rumuekini/Aluu Road, traversing Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Areas, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 and Governor Wike also used the occasion to declare once again that: “I will not leave burden of uncompleted projects behind for my successor.”
“Before now, APC said we are doing roads only in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government. Now, they can’t talk again. We have commissioned projects in Khana, Gokana, Eleme. The other day we were in Akuku-Toru, yesterday we were in Emohua. We are a government for every Rivers person and every local government,” he stated.
Inaugurating the Rumuekini-Aluu Road Senator Anyim expressed his delight to associate with Governor Wike because he has demonstrated through his projects that he is truly bonded with Rivers people and knows their needs. He equally noted that it is this level of leadership that has enabled Wike to conceive projects that are tailored to meeting those needs and eliminate the possibility of having white elephant projects.
“Governor Wike, because you commission projects, it is certain no project will be abandoned. I am proud to identify with the progress that you have made. I am proud to belong to PDP family. It is the spirit of PDP that is at work in your government and that spirit of PDP will come to work in Nigeria.
“When I was invited for this commissioning, I did not really appreciate the magnitude of the work: the real import of the governance Governor Wike has brought to Rivers State. But as we drove down here, the impression I have is that Port Harcourt has expanded. It is only the government of the people that can expand a city to the extent that Port Harcourt has expanded,” Senator Anyim confessed.
On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, a distinguished Nigerian, former Anambra State Governor and 2019 PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Peter Obi came to commission the Isiokpo Internal Roads Phase 2 in Ikwerre Local Government Area, and Governor Wike used the opportunity to inform Rivers people that the long expected N78 billion refund to Rivers State for Federal roads project undertaken with state funds, has finally been released.
“Rivers people, the Federal Government has refunded us the money,” he said adding: “I have not touched a dime yet and it is in the bank. I will use it for project execution. I kept it to tell those who are making noise to know that I am going to work till the last day in office. I will continue to work for the interest of our people. I’m not resting. We will channel the Federal Government refund to more projects for Rivers people,” he declared.
Dr Peter Obi who inaugurated the road project, hailed Governor Wike for providing access roads to the Isiopko people, which will increase the quality of life they live, enhance property value and reduce poverty.
“Accountability in government is the most critical yardstick to determine good governance and to build the trust of the people. For recruitment into governance, competence capacity, and visible performance like we are seeing here today should be embraced.
On Thursday, January 14, 2021, Governor Wike returned to Emohua, this time with Senate Minority leader and former Deputy Governor of Abia State, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who performed the inauguration of Isiodu Road in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Inaugurating the road project, Senator Abaribe urged the people of Emohua and their political leaders not to relent in believing in Governor Wike who they know as a leader who delivers on his promises.
“Today, I have seen that you’re the real talk and do person. That you have been able to bring eminent Nigerians to come and be commissioning projects that you started and completed, since December 2020, is something that is unprecedented in Nigeria.
“Let me also say that you are an ambassador, a role model and also a shining light of PDP in Nigeria. Some people are angry that Governor Wike is commissioning roads every day. They should wait until he starts commissioning schools, hospitals then comes back to unveil the fly overs one after the other.
“When they continue to look for excuses in the Federal Government, and we come here and see how you are doing your own thing without looking for excuses, we know that somebody like you cannot be left alone in Nigeria. We must all continue to support you,” Senator Abaribe pledged
Governor Wike, speaking during the inauguration, admonished politicians to be accountable to their people, stressing that the PDP was already showing good example in this regard.
“I did say that our administration will impact every Local Government Area in the State. There is no local government in this state that we will not go and commission one or two projects, ” he declared.
And then on Saturday, January 16, 2021 the second phase of the marathon projects commissioning was rounded off with pomp and celebration at Ogu Bolo LGA, where the inauguration of Bolo Town internal roads network, was performed by the former Governor of Gombe State, Dr Ibrahim Hassan Dankwanbo.
Inaugurating the network of internal roads in Bolo Town, Dr. Dankwanbo said he considered himself privileged to be in Bolo Town to see how such hinterland has been touched by the administration of Governor Wike, delivering democratic dividends to rural dwellers.
He noted that the road infrastructure put in place by the Rivers State governor will open up Bolo Town and its people to enjoy the benefits of development.
“Development comes in several ways. From what I have seen, coming to this part of the State was very easy. Seeing the internal roads that have been constructed with drainages, is a rare achievement and very commendable.
“Roads open development. I want to, therefore, urge the people of this community to use this facility that have been provided to ensure that they grow the economy of this place. More youths should be employed and ensure that all the farmland are cultivated, and the produce easily evacuated to the market,” he said.
As the whirlwind projects commissioning, which spread across three weeks and covered not less than 11 Local Government Areas out of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State, came to a resounding and successful conclusion, one of the major highpoints remains the very fact that Governor Wike was able to attract these eminent Governors, political leaders and ebullient statesmen to Rivers State, even at such short notice.
This not only attests to his brilliant strategic medium to long term visionary planning, but also speaks volumes about the burgeoning stature of the Rivers Governor as a national bridge builder and consensus maker in the political space, and most importantly, consolidates the fact that Rivers State is indeed one of the safest and most peaceful states in the country today.
Senator Ndume, while commissioning the Eleme-Afam(Oyigbo) Road captured succinctly, the relative peace and security in Rivers State, when he commended Governor Wike for his feat in the fight against insecurity in the state, which had given the people the liberty to come out and participate fully in the spree of projects commissioning across the state, without fear.
He said: “You don’t know what you have until you lose it. What you’re doing here, we will never try it in Borno State. You can’t invite people like this and everybody is comfortably listening to somebody speaking without looking around. So, we have to thank God for what your doing and what you have achieved in Rivers State,” Ndume enthused.
As Rivers people eagerly await the next phase of projects commissioning, which will not be too far away, especially given the fact that work on the other remaining legacy flyovers, as well as other key multi sectoral projects, is progressing nicely at scheduled pace, a focused and obviously elated Governor Nyesom Wike has left no one in doubt about his determination to fulfill his pledge that his administration will impact on every local government in the state.
According to him, he is not tired serving the state and when he eventually leaves office, he can confidently walk on the streets without security protection because he has served the people well.
“We are proud because we can come out and say to the people of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Governments, this is what PDP has done for you by the projects carried out in these two local governments.
“Also, we can go to other local governments and say look, vote for us. If they ask us why do you say we should vote for you, we will show proofs. Very soon, we will go to them and we will be able to tell them, yes, this is what we have done, therefore having done this, if you vote for us again we will do more,” he declared .
Paulinus Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.