By Samuel Ibiyemi
If the power of voters can be evaluated correctly in democracy, the emergence of Barr. Nyesom Wike as the governor of Rivers State in 2015 can be described as a blessing to the people of the state and particularly residents of Port Harcourt after two years in office. This victory indeed has helped to restore the glory of the state’s capital popularly known as the ‘Garden City’ two decades ago. Most importantly, the state of infrastructure development across the state is unbelievable. For instance, Pleasure Park previously known as the ‘den of criminals’ is now a place for kids and their parents to have fun.
Also, the rehabilitation and face-lift of seven general hospitals and four referral hospitals abandoned for eight years by the administration of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi are nearing completion.
Equally, the construction upgrade of Mother & Child Hospital in which the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC)refused to fund its own 50 per cent equity is nearing completion. Hence,what politics and personal sentiment destroyed in the past one decade are currently receiving attention of the administration of Gov Nyesom Wike.
If there is anything the executives and standing committee of the Guild of Nigerian Editors (NGE) has done well, it is the choice of Rivers state as the host of the Annual Conference both in 2016 and in 2017. This indeed has helped Editors to be guided when correspondents send stories and features for publication.
On road construction and other projects completed recently, the testimony of the success recorded was identified with marble on projects slated for inauguration by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo invited by Gov Wike. Even though, politics made him to avoid inauguration of these projects, the marble with his name on them remains a testimony that the projects were completed during the present administration. This includes Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road in Etche Local Government Area, Igbo-Etche-Chokocho-Rumuokwurusi Interchange Road, Rukpokwu Market Junction to Aluu Road in Obio/Akpor LGA, Rumuokoro Market and Park in Obio/Akpor LGA and Ogbunabali Internal Roads, in Port Harcourt City LGA of the state.
However, the tour of projects completed by Gov Wike by Editors on Saturday Septemebr 23, 2017 has helped to separate truth from lies.
For Editors to confirm or criticise, about 350 editors that participated in this year’s edition of Annual Editors Conference were divided into four groups during the tour. My group led by the new Commissioner for Information and Strategy Emmanuel Okah visited completed and ongoing projects in some of the local governments.The team visited the Umuokoro market completed recently,some of the general and referral hospitals abandoned for eight years but undergoing repair and facelift by the administration of Gov Wike.
The investment made by the administration in the construction of new blocks of classrooms in colleges owned by the state government were confirmed by Editors at GOVT Girls Secondary School at Rumuokwa, Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Birasi Memorial Scondary School Bori, County High School,Ahoada, Okrika Grammar School, County Grammar Ikwerre/Etche and GOVT Secondary School NGO, Andoni. Also to make housing development a smooth project for residents of the state, several sandfilling reclamation sites at riverine communities in various local governments were visited. These include reclamation sites at Abalama and Abonema.
Another group of Editors visited Nkpogu Bridge, Phase 2, Street/Road connecting Danjuma and Prof Okujagu Road in Trans-Amadi”, and Woji/Akpajo Bridge.
Others are Oil Mill/Elelenwo/Akpajo Road, Sakpenwa-Bori-Kono Road, Kpopie/Bodo Road, Igbo Etche Road and Chokocho/Umuechem Ozuzu Road.
In reaction to milestones recorded by Wike otherwise referred to as “Mr Projects” at these sites by residents, the Hon Commissioner for Information and Communications Mr Emmanuel Okah said: “If we did not plan and execute these projects, residents of the State would have stoned us on the street following hate campaign and hatred for the states by the leadership of ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) at the federal level. There is no federal project in Rivers in the last two years. There is also no appreciation or thank you for executing projects on federal roads and hospitals expected to be executed by the Federal Government including the longest Aba road”.
Okah added: “If the essence of service is to benefit Nigerians, the milestones recorded by Gov Wike in Rivers and certified by past and present federal government officials are enough for the APC administration to embrace current administration in Rivers state”.
This is not a matter of headlines, it will be of interest for the immediate past administration led by the current Minister of Transport Rt Hon Amaechi to answer questions on the $39million lost to Canadian-based Clinotech Diagnostic and Pharmaceutical Limited for the construction of a proposed 1,000-bed Adolphus Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital.Why on earth will the past administration abandon general hospitals and referral hospitals for almost eight years, thereby making access to treatment of complex medical cases a Herculean task for rural settlers in Rivers State?
Another question is bordering on alleged sponsoring of kidnapping by the Police despite donation of six armoured personnel carrier to the Police at N200 million each? Why is it that the Inspector General of Police shunned Journalists at Aso Villa, when he was asked to investigate the killing of a Police Inspector of X Squad by a Sergeant of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the alleged provision of AK rifle bullet pellet by the State Police Commissioner ?
Why is the IG not investigating extortion and harassment of residents by Police in Rivers State? Why is the Chief of Naval Staff not using 10 gun boats donated by Rivers state to protect and defend the coastal territory of the state?
In summary of my one-day account of the tour of Gov Wike’s projects after two years in office as a regular visitor to the state from 1999 till date, I will end this account with the same statement by the former Governor of Rivers State Dr Peter Odili that ” Gov Nyesom Wike is doing better than past governors of Rivers State and ranks among the top three best serving governors in Nigeria today regardless of the criticisms by politicians”.