By Paulinus Nsirim
Rivers State was on the global map for three weeks as eminent citizens of Nigeria joined Governor Nyesom Wike to commission projects in 11 Local Government Areas of the State.
This unprecedented development coming at a time most leaders in the world have used COVID-19 as excuse for non performance will surely remain legendary.
Many social commentators across the country, have opined with conviction, that the only person who can realistically beat this impressive record is Governor Nyesom Wike himself, especially when the next phase of projects commissioning which will unveil some of the most amazing and marvelous legacy infrastructural projects ever seen, commences in Rivers State.
Of course, the delivery of quality projects to the people is not new to Governor Wike. Everyone who has followed the trajectory of his administration objectively, will agree that he hit the ground running from the first day he assumed office in 2015, fixing roads and bridges, reorganising institutions and establishments, opening up clamped down spaces and courageously mending a broken, dysfunctional and deliberately abandoned State.
It was little wonder therefore that in just two years into his first term, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo visited Rivers State and amazed by the volume of work and projects already delivered and functional within that period, named Governor Wike 'Mr Projects'. Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was to corroborate and revalidate the Vice President's honest observation and endorsement a few months later when he visited Rivers State to commission some projects himself.
Projects commissioning has become synonymous with the Governor Wike administration in the last five years and even against the backdrop of the noisome buzzing of a jobless, fragmented and confused opposition in the State, one important fact which even his critics will admit and even concede to is that the construction of infrastructural projects like roads, bridges and jetties is not a one day job.
Quality projects require careful planning, expert handling and many months of hard work to ensure that projects are delivered to specification to serve the people for a long time.
This is what Governor Wike has achieved with class, panache, tremendous success and a lot of goodwill and appreciation from Rivers people who will be the beneficiaries of these projects.
Two major talking points stood out in the course of the just concluded projects commissioning in the State. The first was that most of the infrastructural projects were handled by renowned world class international and indigenous construction firms with the unparalleled German construction consortium, Julius Berger, at the top of the list and delivering a good number of the quality projects.
But the more exciting and quite audacious aspect of the entire projects inauguration spree has been the array of outstanding Governors, political leaders and national statesmen, cutting across partisan and geopolitical divides, who Governor Wike attracted to Rivers State as Special Guests to perform the projects inauguration ceremonies.
And the outpourings of praise from these leaders, peers and distinguished Nigerians, awed and amazed by the massive infrastructural transformation that is going on in Rivers State under Governor Wike's watch, have been warm, sincere, uncensored and gushing with the unbridled admission of the Rivers Governor's brilliant, astute, firm and commendable leadership qualities, in delivering quality legacy projects, that are not only in fulfilment of his campaign promises to the people but are also tailored to serve the needs of the people in their perculiar environments.
Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri who commenced the first phase of the inaugurations when he commissioned Emeyal, Elelenwo, Ndoni and General Diriyai Streets on December 21, 2020, had only words of praise for Governor Wike who has exhibited total commitment to advancing the quality of life of his people with his landmark projects and for being an irrepressible democrat who has demonstrated uncommon vision and rare courage in working for the Rivers people and making a difference that is unprecedented and hardly to be equalled as well as advancing the unity of Nigeria.
"Nowhere has Governor Wike demonstrated this than in the constant and consistent liaison with his fellow colleague 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.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who commissioned the dualized Tombia Road and Amaji Street on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, showed the benevolence and generous side of Governor when he confessed how the Rivers Governor stood by him and the people of Benue State in their time of need.
"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 and supported us."
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, described Governor Wike as a brand, an icon, and symbol of everything good and a blessing to Nigeria, adding that by virtue of the professional expertise that has gone into the projects, especially the roads, given the topography of the areas, they will last for a long time as a legacy to the visionary administration of Governor Wike.
Senator Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State applauded Governor Wike for delivering such quality roads 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.
"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 Nigerian we need tomorrow. Someone 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 in Nigeria," he added.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Saakpenwa -Bori road, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State acknowledged that many projects inaugurated by Governor Wike, were campaign promises which the Rivers Governor has been fulfilling for Rivers people since he assumed office.
"I congratulate Your Excellency 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.
While Senator Birabi and Barr. Ledum Mitee, both noble sons of Ogoniland described the project as a monumental legacy Governor Wike has bequeathed to them, Veteran Rivers State journalist Comrade Blessing Wikina was to fully capture the essence and importance of the project thus: "Truly, Sweet smooth roads are no longer fantasies or fairy tales…with our two eyes open, and closed, we have seen it, touched it, felt it, heard about it, and also smelt it. Our Governor is building them. Governor Nyesom Wike deserves our thanks, and commendation. For showing that dreams, can be converted to reality, " Wikina enthused.
Commissioning the Rehabilitated 11.53 kilometers Agbonchai-Oyigbo road, connecting Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas, former Senate Majority leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume 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.
" 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 us."
Senator Ndume also highlighted the peaceful and secure nature of 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.
You don't know what you have until you lose it. What you're doing here, we will never try it in Borno State.
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, adding 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.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is a great friend of Rivers State asserted that the performance of Governor Wike has justified the confidence reposed in him by Rivers people who had re-elected him to serve them for a second term and 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. Those following you and those following developments in Rivers and democratic development in Nigeria, know your place in this state, and at the national scene in delivering your mandate, and your efforts at building bridges across Nigeria. You're indeed a special gift to the people of Rivers State and Nigeria at large,"
Speaking further Governor Tambuwal who also commissioned the Bonny/Bille Jetty on Saturday January 9th 2021 said: "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 life in Rivers State. That is very key and that is very fundamental,"
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," he said.
The charismatic former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who now represents Imo West Senatorial District at the Senate, inaugurated the Rumuche/Rumuakunde/Ohna Awuse Link Road in Emohua Local Government Area and 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.
“ What brought me here today is not party. What brought me here today is love and friendship. I am not PDP, I am APC. Let us bring all like minds, all great people of Nigeria together. Rather than complaining , let us come together to make this country greater and greater as it should be,” the Owelle said.
Inaugurating the Rumuekini /Aluu Road project, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius 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," he stated.
Former Anambra State Governor and 2019 PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Peter Obi commissioned the Isiopko Internal Roads Phase 2 in Ikwerre Local Government Area and 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," Dr Peter Obi said.
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, urged Emohua people 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
And 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 dividend to rural dwellers even as 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.
There's no doubt whatsoever that all these eminent leaders and statesmen spoke their minds honestly and with great candour not just on the excellent developmental strides and achievements which Governor Wike has accomplished since he assumed office as Governor of Rivers State.
They were also quite succinct and unfettered in their praise for the Rivers Governor's soaring political profile and national appeal which has made him one of the most accepted and admired Governors in Nigeria today.
History is already recording the sounds and strides of Governor Wike and with many more projects still to be commissioned, it is only to be expected that his place in the pantheon of great leaders who delivered legacy projects and impacted positively on the lives of his people, is already secured.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers StateNaijaBlog.ng