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Wike’s Rivers: One Year After



By SIMEON NWAKAUDU, who is Special Assistant to Governor Nyesome Wike on Electronic Media, writes about progress made almost 365 days after he was sworn in as governor.


Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike assumed the reins of governance at a time that the morale of the people was at an all-time low. Despite the N3 trillion that accrued to the state in the course of the immediate past administration, physical and social infrastructure had depreciated beyond imagination, while the people were left to suffer due to lack of government projects and programmes to empower them.

The courts were closed for over two years, the State House of Assembly was hijacked to the precincts of the Government House, while Civil Servants were owed for four months and pensioners owed for eight months. Different shades of athletes were also owed, while the immediate past governor fled the state on self-imposed exile as he pursued his personal political goals.

This was the premise upon which 1, 029,102 Rivers people representing 87.77 percent of the total votes cast on April 11, 2015 resolved that Nyesom Ezenwo Wike should lead the state out of the doldrums of under-development and enthrone the values of a New Rivers State where every indigene and inhabitant will enjoy good governance, accountable leadership and greater opportunities to realise their potentials.

One year into the journey, this has proved to be the most valuable decision made by the Rivers people, as the state has metamorphosed into a huge construction site where values of good and accountable governance have been elevated as the pillars of the Wike-led administration.

All over the country, Nigerians from all walks of life are visiting Rivers State in their numbers to catch a glimpse of the transformational leadership of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. Their interest premised on the fact that the immediate past administration in the state destroyed the very fabric of projects execution and left the state in a developmental comatose.

With proactive planning and strategic implementation of projects and programmes, Governor Wike has turned Rivers State into a destination of choice for all lovers of development.

Little wonder, several professional, sports and religious organisation have in the last few months made Port Harcourt the preferred host city of their conferences and seminars. Between May and October 2015, Rivers State will play host to the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Biennial delegates conference of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Annual General Conference and the Law Week of the Federal High Court. These conferences will culminatively attract over 100,000 professionals to Rivers State.

In the last one year, Governor Wike has lived up the expectations of the people, emerging as Nigeria’s best governor in terms of projects initiation and execution, staff welfare, empowerment of the less privileged, enhanced security architecture, sports, education and employment generation.

It has been a compelling love story between Governor Wike and his constituents because the governor continues to deliver despite dwindling resources.

One of the most outstanding areas of performance of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the last one year is the area of developing new road infrastructure in the urban centres of the state for the purpose of jump-starting the collapsed economy he met upon the assumption of office on May 29, 2015.

The governor shortly after he was sworn in flagged off the Operation Zero Potholes programme to address the dilapidated road infrastructure in the state capital and environs. This programme is being handled by two construction giants, Julius Berger and CCECC.

He also kick-started the completion of several roads abandoned by the immediate past administration. The Governor’s Urban Renewal efforts have led to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of over 120 kilometres of roads in seven local government areas of the state. They include: Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Eleme, Etche, Oyigbo and Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas.

A roll call of some of the prominent  roads are: Abonnema/Obonnema Link Road/Bridge  (Commissioned) Eagle Island/Iloabuchi Road/Bridge (Commissioned) Abuluoma-Woji Link Road/Bridge (Commissioned) Oyigbo Market Road (Commissioned) NKPOGU-NLNG Road/Bridge  (Commissioned) Reconstruction of    33 kilometres of  Township  Roads under Operation Zero Potholes  (Handled by  Julius Berger and CCECC) Reconstruction of Igwuruta-Chokocho road, Reconstruction of Eleme Junction to Onne Junction  of the East-West Road, Reconstruction of the Rumualogu/Alakahiah Road, and Rehabilitation of the Road under Mile 1 Bridge.

Others are: Reconstruction of the Rumuolumini-Iwofe road, Rehabilitation of Obi Wali road, Reconstruction of Elioparanwo road, Reconstruction of Oro-Igwe road.

His commitment to the revival of the Rivers economy led to the governor initiating the  reconstruction  of  the  Federal Government  owned Eleme Junction to Onne Junction of the East-West Road to boost movement to the Onne Seaport. This project was funded in conjuction with private stakeholders  in the area. The governor   also initiated the  reconstruction  of  the  Federal Government owned NPA-Industry road to the Port Harcourt  port to improve  the  economy  of the area.

One of the highpoints of infrastructural  development  by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the last  one  year  is the revival of the Rivers State Road Rehabilitation Agency.  This agency  duly funded by the Wike administration  has been driving  the regular  maintenance  of roads  across the  state. The successes of this agency can be best appreciated  by  the  fact that the Amaechi  administration  left all the  major roads to degenerate.

Some of the roads rehabilitated by the Agency  include : Bodo Road, Woji Road, Evo Crescent , Birabi by Presidential Hotels Andrew Uchendu Crescent and Abacha Link Road.

The governor  has also  commenced the revival of  all dysfunctional  street lights across Obio/Akpor,  Port Harcourt and Ikwerre Local Government Areas.  Several  major streets in Port Harcourt  and Obio /Akpor Local Government Areas are now powered at night with  new generating sets to improve security and  beauty at night

To enhance  security  in the course of  the  last one year,  Governor  Wike’s administration    donated 66 Security  Vans fitted with  communication  gadgets to Security Agencies.

The governor also liaised  with  the 23 Local Government Areas  to donate another  46 Vans fitted with communication gadgets to Security Agencies. He has enhanced Statutory Financial  Support and relevant logistics   for Security  Agencies thereby  strengthening of the State Security Council for responsive performance.

Most importantly,  the  governor in concert with the Rivers State House of  Assembly strengthened the Rivers State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism law empowering the  state to demolish houses from proceeds of crime and also confiscate resources earned through crime by criminals. To encourage security  agents to make sacrifices for the people, Governor  Wike  outlined incentives that is being doled out to those who suffer whilst fighting crime.

Provision  of  Potable Water  has received  unprecedented  attention  under the leadership  of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. He has taken bold steps to ensure that the people  of  the  state have access to clean and safe water.

The administration has launched State urban water sector reform, the Port Harcourt  Water Supply Scheme and the Sanitation  Project. This project  will create women entrepreneurs,  youth employment  as well as provide safe drinking water for the inhabitants  of  the state. Under the new Urban Sector  Water Reforms,  the State Government  will be  supplying  water to 2 million people  in  Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor  Local Government  areas after laying 400 kilometres  of  water-pipes in strategic  locations.

Also in the course of his first year in office,  Governor Wike launched the  potable water scheme was launched  in Akuku-Toru,  commissioned the design and conceptualization of water laboratories  for the three senatorial district  and is rehabilitating 10 old water schemes across the  state. The   administration  has enhanced  the expansion  of  water reticulation  in Eleme and Okrika Local Government Areas,  with the construction  of  eight new water schemes already being executed for the people  of  the state.

To most Nigerians and the international  community,  Governor Wike’s  most outstanding  achievement  in the  last one year is his restoration  of  the  rule of law and the  rebuilding  of the Judiciary  destroyed  by  the  Amaechi  administration.  It is on record,  the immediate  past  Governor Rotimi Amaechi  deliberately  plunged the judiciary  into a needless succession crisis that led to the closure of  courts for over two years.  This singular  unfortunate  act impacted negatively  on the security  of  the  state,  the administration  of  justice and  the enthronement  of good governance.

Upon being sworn-in as the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike  took immediate  steps to address this unfortunate  development.  He immediately announced  the appointment of the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Daisy Okocha and the Acting  President,  Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo.  About one year down the road, Governor  Wike has further stabilised the  state judiciary.

Immediate past Chief Judge of the State,  Justice Daisy Okocha  (rtd), emerged as the first substantive Chief Judge of the State,  while Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, incumbent Chief Judge of  the  State,  succeeded her. Today, Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo is also a substantive President Court of Appeal.

Governor Wike  took very fundamental  steps to revive  the  state’s judiciary. He is Implementing financial  Autonomy for the judiciary and has commenced the  construction  of  an ultra-modern Law Centre for lawyers in the state.

The governor  donated  six  coaster buses for the Five NBA Branches  and FIDA. Over the last one year the administration  has released over N700 million for Capital  projects, while the state government  is constructing additional  courtrooms for the State High Court and Customary Court of Appeal.  The  state government is also constricting additional Courtrooms at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. The governor’s efforts  are targeted towards enhancing  access to  justice  for  the  people of  the  state.

Just like the judiciary, Governor  Wike  upon assumption  of the reins of governance restored the principle of separation of powers by duly proclaiming the  Rivers State House of Assembly at its official  premises.

This is remarkable because  the House of Assembly under Former Governor, Chibuike Amaechi sat at the dinning  hall of the Government House, Port Harcourt from where they rubber stamped all proposals of that anti-people administration.

Under Governor Wike,  the Rivers State House of Assembly has been financially  autonomous, receiving her allocations  on a first line charge basis.

In the course of  the  governor’s first year in office,  housing  has also received  the  required  attention.  50 Units Iriebe Housing Estate for Middle Income Earners has been completed and commissiomed. The Wike administration has also commenced the construction of the  Phase 2 of Mile One Market under a public private  partnership arrangement.

Sports development  is one area that Governor  Wike used to  place Rivers State  on the global  map. Rivers State  hosted a series of international football  matches that attracted global  citizens  to the state.

The State hosted the  National Under 23 Team Match against Congo, the Super Eagles Versus Angola Match and the  Ivory Coast versus Sierra Leone Nations Cup Qualifier. The State has been playing host to all the  CAF Champions League Matches involving Enyimba International Football Club.

In the  course of  the  year under review,  Governor  Wike  merged the defunct  Sharks FC and Dolphin FC to create a formidable Rivers United.  The governor  also  cleared  the eight months salary arrears  owed athletes  and managements of the clubs by the  immediate  past  administration.

The  less privileged  in the state have been  accommodated in the  governor’s empowerment  programme. Over 35,000 artisans, barbers, traders, fishermen, hairdressers and other small scale  business  owners  benefitted from

N2billion Rivers State Micro,Small, and Medium Scale Entreprises Development Fund. This programme  has helped to  improve the  economy of the State.

Education  has received  unprecedented  attention  under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. For the first time  since the establishment  of  the  Rivers State University of Science and Technology over three decades ago, the university  will be having a College of  Medical Sciences.  The governor  laid the foundation  stone for the College and proactively  released funds for the commencement  of  construction  works. The first set of  students in the college will be admitted  in the course of  the  next academic session. The governor  has also commenced  the  completion  of  the  abandoned  structures at the Faculty of Management Sciences and Faculty  of Environment  buildings of RSUST.

The administration  completed the Dr Nabo Graham Douglas Faculty  of  Law building which has facilities  such as auditorium, electronic  and traditional libraries, classrooms and moot courts. The governor  reinstated  RSUST lecturers illegally sacked and has released N700 million for the payment  of  their entitlements.

The Wike administration  has  also  kick-started the rehabilitation  of prominent  secondary  schools  in the three senatorial  districts of  the  state  for the purpose  of  reintroducing boarding education  with Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta,   serving as a pilot.

To ensure  that  the  children of the less privileged  write  their SSCE without  being charged illegal fees by principals, the governor  distributed science equipment  for practicals to 247 public secondary schools and also transferred financial  grants to  them to buy relevant  perishable  consumables  for that purpose.

Governor Wike  has revived the abandoned  agricultural sector  since assuming the  leadership  of  the  state. In liaison  with the Central Bank of Nigeria,  Governor Wike  has delved into the promotion  of  commercial  agriculture  by providing  cheap finances for the cultivation  of  oil palm produce and cassava.

The administration  in February  2016 launched  the school farm project to attract youths to farming for the purpose  of  food security  and  empowerment.  More than 2000 youth farmers have been registered  for empowerment into agricultural sector  in the  23 Local Government Areas  of the state while plans have been  concluded  for the administration  to extend  credit  to farmers and fisher folks.

The administration also reintroduced Input Distribution  to boost Food Production in the state. The  Wike administration is currently  rehabilitating the fish farms in Ubima, Buguma and Andoni,  while it contained the spread of  avian influenza in Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas  in November,  2015.

The Transport  sector  has witnessed the process of  the  modernisation of the marine transport in the state. The ongoing  rehabilitation of Bille Jetty and Bonny  (Nembe-Waterside) and the rehabilitation of Okrika are on course.

Also, Database of Buses/Taxis in the state capital  has been developed while new Motor-Parks have been  established  in Port Harcourt.

The Representative of the World Health Organisation, WHO,  in Nigeria, Dr Rui Gama Vas brought to the fore the outstanding  achievements of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike  in the health sector  during his visit to the governor  on April  27, 2016. He declared that the robust response of the state government  through its personnel and  facilities  stopped the spread of the deadly Lassa Fever in the state.

This proactive successful  handling of the Lassa Fever  Outbreak  was a fallout of the funding and support  the State Ministry of Health received  from Governor Wike.

The Wike administration  has  started preliminary  works towards the rehabilitation  of  Zonal hospitals in the state. The administration  is also working on the rehabilitation  and revival  of primary health  centres.

Also in  the health sector,  the Wike administration  established relevant  partnerships with International  Organisations for the treatment of infectious diseases especially  the consolidation  of the gains of routine immunisation.

Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is loved by the civil servants in the state because he has prioritised their welfare despite the dwindling  resources  to the state.

Governor Wike cleared the four months salary arrears  he inherited  from the  immediate past administration and also settled  the eight pension arrears inherited.

The state civil service has been  reformed with Ministries, Departments and Agencies  receiving monthly  overheads  denied them by the immediate  past  administration.

During  the  campaigns,  Governor Wike  promised to restore  Port Harcourt  City to its famous status as the Garden City of Nigeria. One year into his first term  in office, the governor  has implemented programmes and  projects aimed at actualizing these goals.

The Wike administration  has  in line with  the  New Vision  Development Blueprint embarked on aggressive  physical  planning by designing a low density residential  layout near golf estate at Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout wherein 150 plots have been mapped . This new residential  layout billed for development  will further beautify the city.

To stop illegal structures  in the urban centres  of  the state,  the  Wike  administration merged the offices for the approval of building plans into a one-stop-shop location  at the State Secretariat. This has also  increased revenue  for the state.

Extensive  Development  Control and enforcement have been  carried out  by  the  administration to recover  right of ways in densely populated areas of Port Harcourt,  especially  Diobu. The administration  has  closed illegal  parks and markets with efforts geared at making  the  state capital neat and appealing.

To ensure  that  the  people  support the urban renewal  programme  of  the administration,  a public enlightenment campaign, “Operation Garden City Restoration 2016” was launched  for Port Harcourt  and neighbouring communities.

Women  have assumed  a central role in the building  of a new Rivers State  by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.  In this era of rapid development,  women have been duly elevated to state-builders. The  State Judiciary  has been stabilised since June , 2015 by women. First, it was Justice Daisy Okocha (rtd ) as Acting Chief Judge alongside  Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo as Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal.  Justice  Okocha  later became substantive Chief Judge before  she retired. She was seamlessly  succeeded by Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra who is now a substantive Chief Judge of the State.  Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo has also been sworn-in  as the first substantive President Customary Court of Appeal. Aside the judiciary,  women are playing key roles in the State Executive Council as Commissioners,  Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Parastatals and Government Agencies.

Though, the governor’s wife, Justice Suzzette Eberechi Nyesom-Wike has been working  as a High Court Judge, she has continued to play her role as a mother of the state, providing  succour  to the less privileged  in the state.

The last one year has set the tone for the revival of Rivers State. The creation of a new Rivers State, where all inhabitants  of  the  state  will be proud of has started in earnest . No section  of  the  state has been  left behind as Governor Wike is involved  in  pro-people  governance  steeped in consultations  and respect for the contributions  of all stakeholders.

As a result  of  the  governor’s  performance,  the Rivers people have rewarded him with undiluted  loyalty.  They trooped out on March 19, 2016 during the rerun  elections  to declare  their  appreciation to a man who has kept his vow that a new Rivers State is the right of the people . Their support has created an enabling  environment  for Governor Wike to recreate the landscape  of  the  state  and make it the envy of  other states.

In his first year in office, Governor Wike  has ultimately  defined performance  in governance with his focused leadership,  compassionate  interventions in the welfare of  the less privileged , stoic defence  of  the Rivers mandate, prudent application  of  resources  and strategic  implementation of projects and programmes that have uplifted  the  state.

It goes without  saying  that  Governor Wike’s second  year in office  would be  extra-ordinary. This is because  the  governor will not be  confronted  with a  year long electoral litigation  and majority  of  the  rerun  elections  have been settled by the  good people of Rivers State.  The governor  will focus all his attention  on development programmes and projects. If Governor  Wike  emerged Nigeria’s best governor  in  the  first one year of this dispensation  despite the distraction  a from the failed opposition  and lack of financial  resources  due to economic  downturn,  you can only imagine  what he will achieve  going forward.  As the people say: Rivers State  is NEW.



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