Even his most uninformed and partisan critic admits that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is the best in terms of project delivery, initiation of stakeholder participation in project execution and the financing of projects in the most austere periods.
Out of the 36 State Governors, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is the only governor who has intervened and completed two critical Federal Road projects. The NPA-Industry road and the Eleme-Onne Junction of the East West Road. This is outside the 50 other roads completed by his administration in four urban Local Government Areas of Rivers State.
All the roads embarked upon by the Wike administration are principally targeted at empowering the less privileged and reviving the state’s economy which was battered by the unprecedented looting and fraud that characterized the Amaechi administration. Governor Wike needed to give the people back their lives without boring them with needless unproductive excuses.
On Tuesday, 19th January, 2016, Governor Wike extended his excellent record of performance by keeping to his campaign promise to the people of Etche and Ikwerre Local Government Areas. He kick-started the reconstruction of the Igwurita-Chokocho-Etche Federal Highway which was neglected by immediate past governor of Rivers State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi who is an indigene of Ikwerre Local Government Area. The Igwurita-Chokocho-Etche Federal Highway is arguably one of the worst roads in the state. The deplorable nature of this road has crippled business activities along the axis.
All Amaechi did in the buoyant financial days of the N3trillion that accrued to Rivers State under his watch was to concoct excuses why it was impossible to construct the road. He blamed it on the rains, on Jonathan and on the people of Etche. He spent eight years and refused to connect Rivers food basket to Port Harcourt.
Wike is a man who does not know excuses. He believes in working for the people of Rivers State. At every turn, Wike goes the extra mile to satisfy the Rivers interest. No matter how attractive the excuse looks, Wike will have nothing to do with it. The Igwurita-Chokocho-Etche road is a Federal Highway. Therefore, it would have been easy for Governor Wike to go the anti-people way of Amaechi. He, however, chose to side with the people and execute the pro-people project.
Flagging off the reconstruction of the 6.6kilometre Igwurita -Chokocho -Etche Federal Highway to be handled by Setraco Nigeria Limited, Governor Wike said that the road will be funded through the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, account.
According to him, the contractors will receive N400million monthly to defray the N2.4billion cost for the construction of the road.
He said: "We believe that politics is about the welfare of the people. This road is critical to the people of Etche and their Igwurita neighbours. It is vital to their economies, hence we have resolved to complete it in a record time of six months.
"I agree that this is a Federal Road, but we cannot sit and allow our people suffer. We will construct this road to the satisfaction of our people. We will pay Setraco N400million monthly through IGR to ensure work goes on regularly till the completion of this project ".
This is yet another model to tackle development challenges in the state. Using the IGR of the state to execute the project ensures that it will be completed on schedule. This innovation is similar to the stakeholder model used for the Eleme-Onne Junction of the East West Road.
Recently, Mr Amaechi issued a press statement through his treacherous party accusing Governor Wike of slowing down on the execution of projects in the state. This ridiculous statement by the indicted former governor and his political party failed to take into cognizance the fact that several projects are going on simultaneously in different parts of the State. Luckily for us, these projects are there for all to see and the contractors on their respective sites. Several others have been completed and in use.
Governor Wike is a pragmatic leader who delivers on his promises. He is not a propaganda driven leader. All his actions are guided by the interest of the good people of Rivers State. While the leaders of the immediate past administration used the N3trillion that accrued to Rivers State to sponsor external political activities, Governor Wike is using the meagre resources of the state to fund growth and empower the people.
For the first time in eight years, Rivers people can now comfortably discuss execution of development projects. Under Amaechi, discussions centred on political events and schemes while development was relegated. The creation of a New Rivers State is a task that is being accomplished and will be fully accomplished in due time.
There is no doubt that the people of Rivers State are enjoying the benefits of good governance. The state is a huge construction site where the people are being empowered through the multiplier effect of the realistic funding of critical infrastructure.
Governor Wike is the hero of development and prudent application of scarce resources. With the speed of developmental growth being witnessed in the course of the last seven months, the people are sure that by 2019 when the first phase of revival would have been completed, the state would have attained her rightful place in the comity of states.
Like the Governor reiterated during the flag-off of the reconstruction of the Igwurita-Chokocho-Etche Federal Highway, no part of the state will be left behind in this planned and sustained efforts at reviving the state. The project New Rivers State will reach every community.
After all, the People of the state elected Governor Wike on the agreement that he will move the state forward by closing the door against organised crooks who lined their pockets instead of embarking on projects. Governor Wike is at work fulfilling his own aspect of the bargain. The projects will continue to spring up everywhere in the state, because in Rivers State, the governor assumed office armed with the right political will, determination and development blueprint to make the difference everyone is seeing. As they say, seeing is believing.
By Simeon Nwakaudu,
Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor,
The New Rivers State has a team of prolific writers who will be introduced with time.