By Paulinus Nsirim
On May 29, 2015, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, took the oath of office as the duly elected Governor of Rivers State.
Seven years later, Governor Wike is on the cusp of winning the presidential primary election of the PDP, to be the flagbearer of the party in next year’s polls to elect the next President of Nigeria.
Within the period under review, he has metamorphosed from a Minister of the Federal Republic, into the most charismatic, dynamic, progressive, pragmatic, courageous and nationally beloved state Governor in the country.
This amazing transformation in the political trajectory of Governor Wike, into a potential Nigerian president-in-waiting, has been comprehensively matched and admirably complimented by a corresponding delivery of state-of-the-art legacy projects, particularly in infrastructure, social welfare, security and education, amongst other epoch defining accomplishments.
As has been widely reported and acknowledged, even by his detractors, Governor Wike inherited a comatose Rivers State, in all ramifications; the commercial economy had collapsed to alarming proportions, critical infrastructure had generally deteriorated beyond palliative remediation and there was pathetic dilapidation of structures across all sectors.
Badly negotiated private-public sector investments had rapidly crumbled and burdened by endless litigations and foreign investors confidence had dwindled to infinitesimal proportions, having been dealt a devastating blow by an administration in denial and buck passing.
Similarly, social existence was suffocating under a draconian autocrat who reigned with dictatorial impunity over his fiefdom.
Humongous state resources had disappeared in a spree of mind boggling squandermania like the Monorail and Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital projects while the collective trado/cultural essence of a proud people had been mortgaged and was on the verge of being annexed completely to a potentially slavish alliance.
Governor Wike took over the reigns of power under such precarious and debilitating circumstances, but he, in the typically boisterous pragmatic style we have come to admire over the last seven years, hit the ground running and embraced the new challenge with a firm, astute and focused administrative regimen.
In the last seven years, the landscape and ambience of Rivers State has witnessed an amazing transformation in the provision of generational historic, breathtaking and functional development.
These giant strides were accomplished with an even more phenomenal leadership vision, which is at once concurrently responsive and impressively futuristic, both in visionary conceptualization and altruistic intention.
Indeed, the last seven years of his administration have flown by expeditiously, with astounding and oftentimes, awe-inspiring swiftness, captured in some unforgettable instalments celebrating his bold, firm, courageous, determined and unwavering commitment to selfless and patriotic service, both to his beloved Rivers people and to the benefit of Nigerians.
A fair and objective appraisal of his administration’s achievements in the last seven years, will reveal that there’s arguably no sector in the state that has not been positively reformed since May 29, 2015, and the definitive testimony of his dedicated, visionary and progressive leadership was showcased in phases, when Rivers State shone brightly on the global map as eminent citizens of Nigeria, joined him to commission legacy projects.
The weeks of projects inauguration, which often witnessed an outstanding array of Governors, political leaders and national statesmen, cutting across partisan and geopolitical divides, who Governor Wike attracted to Rivers State as Special Guests, has been rightly regarded as the most exciting and audacious defining moments of the last seven years.
The carnivalesque atmosphere and the pomp and celebration that greeted Governor Wike and his array of special guests, coupled with a robust display of the rich cultural heritage of the diverse peoples in every community and local government they visited to commission the projects, were ample testimonies that Rivers people were quite in support of the commissioned projects.
The praises and encomiums showered on Governor Wike by these eminent leaders and statesmen who all spoke their minds honestly and with great candour, were unprecedented and still resonates loudly whenever projects are commissioned across the country.
This unprecedented development, coming at a time there is a downturn in the global economy , has become well referenced in the developmental narrative of the country and inspired an avalanche of sincere commendations from many social commentators both friendly and antagonistic.
The unanimous verdict on the Rivers Governor has been the unequivocal conviction that the only person who can realistically beat the impressive developmental record which Governor Wike has set so far, is Governor Wike himself and this assessment has been corroborated by the deluge of awards from some of the most respected institutions and establishments, the most prominent of which is the Extraordinary Man of the Year, by Silverbird Communications.
Some of the projects inaugurated include: the iconic Bori-Sakpenwa-Kono highway (phase 1) the Cassava Flour Processing Plant, Oyibo; Mother and Child Hospital, Rumuomasi; Opobo axis of the Unity Road, Rehabilitation Centre, Iriebe and
The ambience of Port Harcourt and Obio-AKpor Local Government areas, which harbour the capital city has been majestically transformed as over seven flovers had been completed. The flyovers are providing fantastic, jaw dropping scenic beauty in the daytime and at night with glittering street lights, walkways and drainages.
In addition to these, new campuses of Rivers State University(RSU) at Emohua, Etche and Ahoada, as well as projects at Nigerian Law School, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and the sprawling spread of the Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School, Port Harcourt, will soon be commissioned.
Riverine communities like Okrika, Abonnema/Obonoma have sand filling projects to create vast expanse of land for development.
In the area of Education, funds have been released regularly for the restoration, upgrade and expansion of secondary schools across the state.
The Rivers State Government in February 2021, released the sum of N16. 6 billion for the upgrade of facilities at the Rivers State University (RSU), with N9 billion (N3 billion devoted to each of the new campuses) to serve as take-off grant for the establishment of new campuses of the institution in Ahoada, Emohua and Etche Local Government Areas to facilitate the construction of faculty buildings, hostels, offices, libraries, auditoriums, lecture halls and address other needs required for the campuses to operate maximally.
This is a landmark development in the history of the institution which has maintained one campus since its establishment in October 1980.
The state government also released N7. 6billion to enable the College of Medical Sciences of RSU establish the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Clinical Sciences and Pathology Building, which in turn has now enabled the college to fully commence its programme leading to the award of Bachelor of Medicine, and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and also strengthened accredited department and those due accreditation at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
In the area of scholarship schemes, the State Government has established a scholarship scheme for Rivers indigenes studying at PAMO University of Medical Sciences to provide Rivers children and other Nigerians access to medical education in the state and assist in reducing the gaps in the doctor to patient ration in the state and country.
In Sports, Governor Nyesom Wike is the Power of Sports (POS) in Africa and the full import of this award has not only manifested in the commissioning of the state-of-the-Art Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourth which is now fully operational.
Governor Nyesom Wike has equally enjoyed a robust relationship with the Labour Unions in the last seven years, building secretariats for the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Even though he inherited a backlog of three months salary arrears and five months pension arrears Rivers State is one of the few states paying salaries fully and promptly.
One of the recurring themes which resonated loudly during Governor Wike’s presidential consultative visits to delegates across the country was the issue of security.
Governor Wike, who stated with clear conviction that he will end banditry across the country in Six months, has ample testimonies from his successful management of the security situation in Rivers State, to justify his confidence that he is the best qualified candidate as Nigeria’s president to address the seemingly insurmountable challenge of banditry and insecurity once and for all.
The Wike administration has, without doubt, performed exceptionally well in the promotion of security and protection of lives and property in the state, with the launching of operational security outfits including the codenamed C4I special outfit, the “Operation Sting” security platform and the Neighbourhood Watch Agency.
Governor Wike has instituted financial incentives for the officers and men of security agencies, including well meaning donations to families of those who lost their lives in the line of duty, as a further step in the robust, pragmatic strategy and holistic approach of the administration to strengthen the security architecture of the State.
What Governor Wike has consistently harped on however, is that powerful politicians should stop politicizing security, while the leadership of the agencies themselves, should try as much as possible not to get themselves involved in the murky waters of politics at the detriment of the people they are supposed to be protecting.
One major issue which dominated national attention towards the tail end of the seven years, was Governor Wike’s decision to frontally address the very dangerous activities of illegal oil refineries in the state which has exacerbated criminality, fire explosions and the increase of black soot emission, which has posed very serious health challenges.
The Rivers Governor did what many thought was impossible, whe he personally stormed Ogbodo community forest in Ikwerre LGA and Ibaa community forest in Emohua LGA of the state to uncover illegal crude oil refining sites located in those communities, in a pragmatic display of what strong, bold and fearless leadership should be.
The attendant result of course is that Rivers people are now breathing clean air.
As we approach the 2023 general elections, there may yet be a national crowning glory for the man who is admired across the country as “Mr. Quality projects.”
Two major talking points have defined Governor Wike’s administration and shaped his impressive leadership style and the brilliance of his strategic administrative acumen on the home front and at the national space, in the last seven years.
The first is that Governor Wike has consistently insisted that his administration will protect the welfare and interest of Rivers State and every Rivers indigene and only the best will be good enough for Rivers people.
Governor Wike has fulfilled this pledge admirably with his resounding legal victories to secure oil wells belonging to the State.
The second is that he has become the only Governor in Nigeria who has displayed sincere brotherliness, strategic brinkmanship and encompassing accommodation across political divides. He is also the vibrant voice of advocacy challenging constitutional oversights and misinterpretations in the implementation of economic and fiscal restructuring in a true federation.
Governor Wike is also encouraging states to explore and harness their areas of comparative advantages,rather than relying on FAAC allocations and handouts from the Federal Government to survive.
One admirable factor which has remained constant over the last seven years is that he is still greatly loved, admired and adored by the people of Rivers State and even more popular now amongst Nigerians, as their champion.
The scorecard of the last seven year of his administration has been replete with outstanding achievements, ground breaking events, the initiation of legacy projects, which have not only transformed the landscape of the state impressively but has attracted an avalanche of awards and chieftaincy titles from home and abroad, to add to his impressive gallery of plaques and silverware.
His avowed pledge that every local government area will be impacted with at least one legacy project and that he will not leave any uncompleted project behind for his successor, is fully on course.
Governor Wike puts it succinctly: “For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness. And so, as we look forward to the next few months, all I can say is that we are inspired by your continuous support and prayers to believe that our best days are ahead of us, and working together, we will surely do more to move Rivers State going forward.”
Nsirim writes from Portharcourt