Monday, April 9, 2018 11:10 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Contrary to the insistence of former Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s that governorship postion in the state should rotate between Upland and Riverine dichotomy, the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike whse emergenc as governor broke the rotaton has declared that one of the greatest achievements of his administration is the elimination of the upland/riverine dichotomy which plagued the state in the past.
Speaking during an interview with the organisers of Zik Leadership Prize Award, Governor Wike said that his administration has been able to promote unity for the overall development of the state.
He said: ‘First of all, you remember that the founding fathers of this state maintained that Rivers state should be seen as a place or land of opportunity where people will have to achieve their potentials in life. In this state before, all you see, all you hear is tribalism; that you are from the upland, you are from the riverine and so people were not doing things as if we are one Rivers.
“So, we believe that, one way we must achieve, if we see ourselves as one and once that is done, then we have moved to the next step. So today, our concern is that issue of upland/riverine is no longer necessary. We see ourselves as one Rivers state and it is necessary because of the projects and programmes we are carrying out in all the local government areas in the state. So the issue of upland/riverine differences is relegated to the background.
“There are projects going on every where in the state and if you don’t do that people will begin to say of favouritism against each other that we are this, we are that, and vice versa. Therefore, the issue is to bring everybody together.”
Governor Wike noted that Rivers State has made tremendous progress in the last three years because project execution has been prioritised.
“We have to move and that is why today, most people are beginning to have hope and they are happy also that Rivers state is moving, it is no longer stagnated as it used to be. We have moved from point A to point B.
“Our concern is to make sure that we use the economic potentials of the state for the greater interest of our people by turning around what we have from what we use to have.”, he said.
The governor said that his administration is committed to making sure that Rivers state takes her rightful position in the comity of states in the country.
He said a trip round the states of Nigeria under the present dispensation reveals that Rivers State under his watch is one of the leading centres of rapid growth.
Governor Wike said that he inherited a collapsed infrastructure and damaged governance structure, hence the decision to prioritise projects execution for optimum output.
He said: “The idea of I started this project without completion amounts to bad governance. My administration has taken the step by completing all abandoned and uncompleted projects. When such projects are fully completed and those that left them uncompleted, who did not handover properly to me will turn around to claim 95% completion of such a project. How can a project left at 95% completion take 3-years to complete, isn’t it funny?
“Our problem in Nigeria is that we initiate white elephant projects that we cannot complete. My administration has plans of building new schools and also renovating old ones. That cannot be done at once but in phases across the three senatorial districts. Any project that we cannot fund, we would not venture to begin”.
He stated that achievements in governance can only be made possible by commitment and passion, and not just the experience of the office holder.
“But it goes beyond that and that is the passion and commitment, and that is what has helped us to record some of the achievements that you have today identified. So commitment and passion are key for any person in public office to make a mark or try to achieve some successes. So, for me, it’s the passion and commitment and these are things that would aid in recording some milestone”, he said.
Governor Wike added: “Like I said, part of the problems we’ve always been having with all due respect is not being able to identify what you want to do. Planning to carry everything at the same time and at the end of the day, you achieve nothing. So, for us, what was our focus when we came on board. The infrastructure was completely down, no road networks. So, how can you talk about bringing in investors to Rivers state when there are no network of road infrastructure. We fixed the infrastructure, beginning with the road network. If you look at the budget in our first year, it was dedicated to works, bringing alive all decayed infrastructure in terms of road network. Having done that, we moved to another sector without carrying everything at the same time.
“Remember, in May 27, 2015 precisely, my predecessor while having his birthday at Obi Wali International Conference Centre did say that he’ll see where the governor of the state would get money to pay salaries, talkless of carrying out projects. But to the glory of God, we are safe.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is among nine prominent Nigerians who have won the 2017 Zik Prize Award. Governor Wike emerged the winner of the Zik Prize in Good Governance.