Rivers: In pursuit of good governance, transformation
Since 2015, Rivers State has been steered by a leader whose conviction is to make living better for the people, transform the state into an investment destination and make it contribute its subnational quota to the unity of Nigeria.
So, in achieving the desired transformation, reverse the visible and decrepit state of things including ridding the state of litany of abandoned projects left behind by the previous administration, the New Rivers Vision served as a tenable blueprint for development.
Within the frame of that blueprint, good governance was cultivated and demonstrated. It anchored on ensuring an effective management of the state’s resources. That commitment has the incontestable developmental dividend distributed across the state.
Every sincere Rivers citizen, including the disgruntled, disoriented and sometimes rancorous among the opposition, attests to the fact that fulfilling promises and delivering quality projects is the mind, body and soul of the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s administration.
It remains unprecedented under the watch of Wike that the economy of Rivers State continues to grow. There is friendly tax regime, plus other economy policies, quality road infrastructure, security, administration of justice and robust commitment to rural development.
Governor Wike has remained consistent in transforming the educational system with greater access provided. Healthcare delivery has been improved and expanded and low-cost housing provided for civil servants. There are also deliberate investments made for the advancement of sports, social welfare, culture, recreation and tourism.
The constant, consistent and recurrent narratives of the last over six years of the Wike administration has been an unprecedented delivery of projects, transformation and progress. In recent times, the governor and eminent Nigerians have traversed the length and breadth of the state to commission or flag-off various development projects in the education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, sports sectors.
Objective observers have continued to describe the provision of quality roads across Rivers State as phenomenal. The echoes are felt and heard everywhere across Nigeria.
No administration in the history of Rivers State has ever provided over a thousand kilometres of Trunk-A roads in less than seven years. There are more road networks now connecting many communities to Port Harcourt, the State capital.
Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic that adversely affected global economy, Governor Wike remained committed to project delivery. He first started and completed three arterial flyovers simultaneously. So far, six flyovers are completed and in use now. Four others are ongoing and at various stages of completion. It is such untiring feat that thrilled the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to nicknamed Wike as, ‘Mr. Projects.’
Under the urban renewal programme, the entire road network within the Old Government Reserved Area, Amadi Flat and substantial parts of the New Government Reserved Area within Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas have been reconstructed. The effort improved connectivity, restored environmental sanity and enhanced the socio-economic conditions of the place for residents and those who do business there.
One significant project that has distinguished the Wike administration is the connection of ancient Opobo community to the rest of the state and country by tarred road. For one and half century of Opobo’s existence, 61 years after Nigeria’s independence and 54 years after the creation of Rivers State, the former island was only accessible by boat.
According to Governor Wike: “We are as excited as the good people of Opobo for being the government that ensured this glorious reality in the infrastructure and socio-economic lives of this important and famous community.”
With Opobo axis of the Ogoni- Opobo-Andoni Road achieved, Andoni community is next and would soon be completed so that coastal communities of Ngo, Ikuru and other towns along that axis can be accessed by road after decades of failed promises by the previous governments. It is in similar vein that the construction of phase one of the Trans-Kalabari road has commenced.
Governor Wike’s administration has turned and transformed not less than 18 major single lane roads into dual carriage. They include Igwuruta – Chokocho road, Saapkenwa – Bori road, Tam David West Boulevard, Rumuokwurishi – Eneka – Igwuruta road, Rumuepirikom – Rumuolumeni road, Rebisi – Trans-Amadi – Oginigba road, Justice Iche Ndu road, Eagle Island – Illoabuchi road, Elelenwo – Akpajo road, Birabi road, Emeyal road, Tombia road, Forces Avenue, Olumeni road, Abacha road, and Harley street, Tombia Extension and the Ezimgbu road. They have street lights, pedestrian walkways and covered drains.
Already, a lot of roads connecting and interconnecting several communities across the State are ongoing. They include Phase one of the Ahoada – Omoku dual carriage way, the phase two Saakpenwa-Bori – Kono dual carriage way, the dualization of Ahoada – Omoku, and Egbema- Omoku roads, the Eastern bypass – Ogbum-nu-Abali dual carriage way, the Woji – Aleto – Alesa road and the Wakama – Ogu – Bolo road, are underway.
In the same vein, Elele-Alimini, Isiokpo, Rumuche, Okochiri, Amadi-Ama, Omoku, Odiokwu Bolo and some others now have a new lease of social and economic life with the internal roads provided, while those for Ogbakiri, Omerelu, Okochiri phase 2, Omagwa and Igwuruta are already underway.
Owing to the burgeoning population and demand for land in the coastal areas of Rivers State, Governor Wike embarked on extensive reclamation of land with the primary intent to overcoming the problem of overcrowding in the future in places like Abalama, Bakana and Kula.
He has also started the sand filling of 55 and 42 hectares of reclaimed land for Abonnema/Obonnoma and Okrika communities respectively. This is to drive for growth and expansion of these ancient and major communities. In addition, Ogu community is benefitting from sand-filling of 25 hectares of land.
For Governor Wike, who is a Life Bencher, access to justice should not merely be an aspirational goal, but a practical reality. This explains why the justice sector is another important area that has received special and consistent attention from his administration.
Since 2015, the Rivers State government has built, furnished and equipped both State and Federal Courts, provided life-long accommodation for all State Judges and enhanced their movements and comfort with new official vehicles as well as built official residences for judges of all Federal Courts in the State.
The new Rivers State High Court complex, the new Federal High Court, the New National Industrial Court, the new Court of Appeal complex, and the new judges’ quarters for the State and Federal Courts all testify to what Governor Wike’s administration has structurally achieved for both the State and Federal Judiciaries in Rivers State.
There has been a substantial investment of resources in the health and education sectors, which are considered as key determinant factors that augment human capability.
With the increased funding, Governor Wike has provided over 1200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. His administration has also reconstructed, furnished and equipped several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved interconnecting road networks.
According to WIke, “As a result of the concrete and targeted interventions, the education system is becoming more and more effective and qualitative in the state with enrolment and transition rates of over 98 per cent, while over 80 per cent have consistently recorded 5 credits and above pass rates, including Mathematics and English in WASCE since 2015.
“At the tertiary level, we have elevated the structural quality of our tertiary institutions with new faculty, administrative and other buildings, strengthened the governance systems and enhanced staff welfare with the new salary structure.
“Apart from the College of Medical Sciences, we have also implemented a multi-campus structure for the Rivers State University with the establishment of new campuses at Emohua, Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas, thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the University and providing more access to quality tertiary education for our children.”
Equally worthy of note is that the governor is presently constructing what will be the best Nigerian Law School Campus in Port Harcourt. Not long from now, Governor Wike will be delivering the state-of -the-art, Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt to the Council of Legal Education.
In the health sector, the Wike’s administration has built some new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities, renovated some existing primary health centres and general hospitals, commissioned the 132-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, built the Senior Doctors’ Quarters and rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, while a Junior Doctors Quarters is also under construction.
The five zonal referral hospitals at Degema, Bori, Okehi, Ahoada and Omoku will soon be completed and commissioned for use. Work has started on the total renovation of the Professor Kelsey Harrison Specialist Hospital as well as the Dental and Maxillofacial Center in Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike considers the Rivers State University College of Medical Sciences, the Rivers State Teaching Hospital and the scholarship schemes at the Pamo University for Medical Sciences as veritable vehicles to accelerate the training and production of medical doctors and other health professionals for Rivers State and the country.
Construction work has reached advanced stage of completion at the five-star Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, initiated in 2021. When completed this year, it will attract medical tourists to Rivers State from within and outside the country. The centre will offer specialized diagnostic, treatment and therapeutic services.
Deliberate investment has been done in the area of Sports development. For instance, the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt is the first of its kind in Africa, built to the highest standards of quality and infrastructure, and is targeted at advancing the academic and footballing careers and talents of the youths of Rivers State in particular, and Nigeria, in general.
In culture and tourism development, Governor Wike has built the Rex Jim Lawson Cultural Centre, the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, beautified a number of places, including the old Government House buildings and landscapes, as well as hosted a number of major cultural events, including the 20th national cultural festival in Port Harcourt where Rivers State took the first position.
As part of his inclusive governance agenda, the governor caters to the plights of vulnerable people, including children and the mentally challenged whose rights to decent conditions of living have been abused and neglected for so long.
Today, the State government has changed that ugly narrative, and restored their dignity with the provision of a comfortable Safe Home and Rehabilitation facility. It will cater to the health, social and economic wellbeing of all categories of inmates, including victims of gender violence and substance abuse.
Above all, the security and stability of Rivers State continue to be of primary concern of Wike’s administration without which, investors will stay away and life would be difficult for every resident.
Without relenting, support is given to the nation’s security agencies with the hard and soft logistics that they need, including patrol vehicles, communication gadgets bullet-proof vests, armoured tanks and patrol boats to enhance their operational capability and effectiveness.
In the area of agriculture, the Rivers Cassava Processing Company has turned out to be a game changer in the long-subdued potential of making Rivers State the foremost hub in cassava production in Nigeria.
There is no doubt that Governor Wike has used good governance to engender sustainable growth and human development by giving voices of the most politically vulnerable and marginalised WOMEN. He is the first Rivers governor to have a woman as his deputy. In addition, a woman is the Chairman of Bonny LGA, while all the twenty-two elected Vice Local Government Chairmen are also women.
To ensure environmental protection of Rivers State and the health of her people, the governor launched a major offensive against illegal crude oil refining operators whose activities are responsible for the soot in parts of the state.
Ebiri is Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Rivers State.