Our attention has been drawn to a recent Press Statement titled: “Development: Wike’s Policies Are Skewed, Uncharitable – Rivers APC!”, signed by its spokesperson, Ogbonna Nwuke.
We are once again amazed at how utterly naive and disconnected the APC in Rivers State is, both with the processes of governance and the development of the State.
First of all, let us remind Ogbonna Nwuke that the suffering, hardship, insecurity, which Nigerians are suffering today and the utter sense of hopelessness which pervades the whole country, is as a result of the gross ineptitude, sheer cluelessness, opaque visionlessness and the pathetically failed governance that the APC administration at the Federal level, has imposed on Nigerians within the last six years.
Secondly, we want to sincerely appreciate the recognition and commendation which the APC has accorded the the Cardiovascular Hospital, which in Ogbona Nwuke’s words: “the present Government has commendably thought of as part of a plan to boost medical tourism in the State.” This is indeed very charitable of the APC.
Alas, that’s just about the only reasonable or meaningful passage in the entire press statement, as even the suggestion that it could have been cited within the Greater Port Harcourt area, clearly betrays the sorry fact that the APC doesn’t really have anything to say any more.
There’s an African proverb which says that, when jealous people have nothing else with which to criticize a beautiful woman, they reluctantly tell her to go and take a bath.
That’s the case with the APC in Rivers State today. Otherwise, how can one describe the construction of flyovers in a bustling cosmopolitan hub like Port Harcourt with it’s suffocating traffick gridlock, which has often resulted in the loss of huge man hours, as ‘lopsided development.’
The APC cannot, in all honesty, claim that it is deaf to the avalanche of praises and encomiums which the Governor Wike administration has continued to receive even from the Opposition, for the bold and courageous determination, with which it has tackled urban renewal, especially the need to drastically curtail the frustrating traffick gridlock experienced in critical parts of Port Harcourt, by constructing these flyovers at strategic points.
In fact if the APC puts its ears on the ground, it will hear the loud suggestions on the streets, urging for even a 10th flyover and the people are already pointing with unflinching emphasis, at the exact location where they want it to be constructed in Port Harcourt.
Indeed, given the rapid expansion and migratory influx into Rivers State in the last decade, we cannot but applaud the foresight of Governor Wike, who had already foreseen, long before anyone else, that a vibrant capital city like Port Harcourt would need as many as Ten flyovers in a very short time.
In addition to these, the Governor Wike administration is also expanding some existing flyovers, as well as maintaining
internal roads with adequate drainages and street lights and building dual carriage highways in different parts of the state, like the Bori-Sakpenwa-Kono dual carriageway, which is one of the infrastructural wonders for this generation of Rivers people from that area.
The people of ancient Opobo Kingdom drove home for the first in history under this administration.
The APC is not aware of the Mother and Child Hospital, Cassava Processing Company and the Real Madrid Football Academy only seen in this part of the country.
One therefore wonders where the brainwave that convinced APC that the Governor Wike administration is siting overhead bridges in an unplanned, uncharitable and irrational manner” came from.
Rivers people are only too aware of how lopsided and controversial most of the so called projects and ventures of the previous administration turned out to be even before their tenure elapsed, which has informed the brilliant economic initiative of this administration to concession some of them, extricated at last from bogus legal clauses that had tied them, for maximum capacity utilization.
Indeed one recalls with great sadness and anger, the unfortunate spending spree and inordinate extravagance which led to the construction of a grotesque white elephant monorail project, the ubiquitous Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital and the frenetic building of model schools every where just for the sake of putting a structure somewhere.
Most of these structures have now been abandoned and overgrown by weeds, because they were absolutely unnecessary in those areas where they were built.
Perhaps, what irks the APC is the fact that Governor Wike is not only using the best construction company in the world, Julius Berger and some of the best indigenous construction companies in the state, to deliver his projects in record time and according to specifications.
They are also not happy that the projects, which he has promised will be sited and completed in every local government area during his tenure, are the type that will never be abandoned or overgrown with weeds.
One should also be charitable in forgiving Ogbonna Nwuke’s ignorance of the realities on ground that despite the economic ravages and existential truncation caused by the sudden outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Rivers State, under Governor Wike and indeed the PDP states across the country, have not only continued to pay workers salaries as and when due, but are the only states embarking on and delivering projects and other dividends of democracy to their peoples, while many APC states are owing workers salaries and either cutting their wages or sacking workers outrightly.
One is a bit aghast to hear Ogbonna Nwuke ask a puerile question like: “Can the Rivers State Government say that these overland bridges are in any way helping to place food on the table of Rivers people?” What a pedestrian and kindergarten question.
It is even more embarrassing that a former federal lawmaker would join the motely crowd of bigots and irredentists, to push the negative narrative and reduce the development of a capital city like Port Harcourt into a myopic, misleading and provocative ethnic agenda, in order to score cheap political points.
Of course Ogbonna Nwuke is very much aware of what infrastructure projects mean and equally understands the importance of roads, bridges and flyovers, schools and hospitals infrastructure in modern cosmopolitan cities, especially capital cities and territories.
He also should be aware too that government is a continuum and while every administration has a tenured term in office, development and the delivery of democracy dividends is endless. There will always be an agenda for the next administration to accomplish.
That he should now echo the obvious beer parlour logic of what is behind the hasty payments made to Julius Berger and ask if there could be other reasons for what he calls the ‘brigde–mania–policy of the government’, when he is actually seeing the work delivered with professional expertise that meets all global standards, leaves much to desired about what he has really learnt from his vast exposures and many experiences.
By its very description and acceptance as the Treasure Base of the Nation, Rivers State has become one of the most important states in the country and Port Harcourt, which was already legendary as one of the most attractive and sought after cities in the world; the Garden city, has transformed into a more central and critical destination socially, commercially and economically.
Port Harcourt has since transcended beyond the silly ethnic rationalizations which have no place anymore in a modern society and every project Governor Wike is siting in Port Harcourt and the capital territory, as well as in other parts of the state, are for the use and benefit not only of Rivers people, but indeed the national and global community.
The NLNG is in Bonny, the fetiizer company Indorama is in Eleme, the International Airport is in Omagwa and all these have made Port Harcourt, as the seat of Government, a major hub and melting pot for everybody who comes to Rivers State.
Sometimes when one listens to the sense of possession logic which the likes of Ogbonna Nwuke have erroneously stamped on the indigenous peoples of the communities where the flyovers and other projects are located, one wonders, for example, whether it is only Ikwerre people that will use or are even using these flyovers now or it is only Bille and Nembe people in Bayelsa that will use the rehabilitated jetty, or only Abonnema folks will use their ring road and only Kalabari people will use the trans Kalabari road.
The truth is that everybody; indigenes, residents, visitors and tourists, who visit Port Harcourt and Rivers State, will use these flyovers and the jetty and every other legacy infrastructural project, if their destination is routed along any of them. These projects are Rivers projects, built in Rivers State for the use of one and all
Every indigenous Governor or Administrator who has presided over Rivers State, starting with the visionary King Alfred Diette-Spiff, who built the State Secretariat and the Presidential hotel amongst others, all in Port Harcourt, have continued to enhance the status and attractiveness of the city as the capital of the state, so much so that the immediate past administration even tried to out do all the others with it’s ill fated monorail project, in just a small section of the same Port Harcourt, which eventually turned out to be a conduit pipe for grand theft and corruption.
Perhaps, if the humongous amount that was guzzled by that failed monorail project had been utilized in constructing flyovers in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike would have concentrated on other matters and the APC would have been singing a different song today. That of course is the nature of jealous critics who will never see anything good in the beautiful woman.
It is sad that the APC with her “beautiful” ideas, failed to implement them satisfactorily within the eight years that they were in power in the State. After all, what is what dong at all is what doing well, as Governor Wike is showing with his projects and not haphazardly, without any sustainable or enduring modalities, only to start crying wolf that your successor abandoned them.
Be that as it may, the developmental fact of the matter remains that Port Harcourt is long over due for these flyovers and Governor Nyesom Wike is delivering them comprehensively and in great style. We make bold to say that Rivers people will know exactly what to tell any Governor who comes after him and wants to build flyovers in Port Harcourt again.
The most remarkable thing with all weightless criticisms that the APC has been churning out over the years however, is that Governor Wike is neither fazed, deterred nor distracted from his firm and determined leadership agenda for urban renewal and the transformation of Port Harcourt into a capital city beffiting the Treasure Base of the nation.
Most importantly however is the fact that he is not only on the right track to ensure that he delivers one legacy project in every local government area of the state as he has promised, but he is unwaveringly set to fulfill his pledge that in the remaining two years of his administration, all the projects he has started, including the ones still to come, will be completed before the expiration of his tenure and he will not leave any abandoned project for whoever is coming after him to inherit. So for those who still desire one project or the other, Governor Wike has not forgotten you. He is a promise keeper who has kept his promises so far.
Only an extraordinary leader, who has complete confidence in his vision and astute acumen and is sure of his ability and capacity to deliver, will make such a pledge. Governor Wike has nothing more to prove to the opposition in Rivers State.
Special Assistant (Media) to Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.