The residents of Rivers State in different locations of the state said that they were happy with the pace with which the government of Barrister Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, went about road construction and rehabilitation in the state.
In their perception, the highlight of that was that the governor did not use one company to achieve the feat that residents threw their hats out in honour of him.
The residents said that many of the roads that Wike made sure were reconstructed, were aged-long abandoned roads by successive governments in the state and at the federal level.
The residents of Borikiri, Creek Roads and many others, where the governor inspected the government’s road projects, might not forget the reprieve the government of Wike brought to them in a hurry.
Areas where there were potholes, the governor engaged the services of highly-regarded firms such as Julius Berger and, CCECC, to enliven the government’s determination in its “Operation no Pothole” project in the state.
However, the governor did not achieve the projects on a platter of gold. They were the proceeds of a N30 billion loan he collected. Through that loan, the government said that many debts in salaries, pension, and school fees of students owed overseas it inherited from the past government, were also paid.
It amazed residents of how Wike achieved all of that from the “little loan” even that he told the world that the Rivers State government was not a party in the bailout fund of the Federal Government recently.
Unlike some governors that would have embarked on projects that they would later abandon, Wike rather said that his government would cut its coat according to its clothing by focusing only on projects that his administration would have the competence to complete.
The governor, in his estimation, said that it was tomfoolery for any person or government to embark on a project that he, she or it knew it would not complete. To him, the best thing to do was to do the basic and wait for the opportunity to further others.
Barrister Wike stunned the world on September 7, 2015 when he said that within the 100 days in office, the government he is the pilot has built 42 roads.
The claim might not be newspapers projects; the governor subsequently conducted select of developmental journalists round the projects. The outcome was that the projects were not in their take-off stages. They were completed projects.
The aim of the governor was to make sure that the damaging traffic-jam that was Port Harcourt was reduced. From Abuloma to Woji and from OYILGA to ONNELGA, the governor beat his chest in swagger that his government was out to deliver and strengthen governance to aid economy in all facets of existence in the state.
The building of roads, not only in Rivers State, but elsewhere, was the best way to build relationships with people. Without which, there would be no inter-streets cooperation among neighbours.
The re-construction of the Oil Mill-Elelenwo-Akpajo Road by the Wike government earned him the applause of Keke Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria, KORAN, Oil Mill-Elelenwo-Akpajo-Slaughter branch.
The Chairman of the Association, Mr. Julius Ejekhene addressed newsmen in the capital of the state, Port Harcourt, and said that the association was proud of Wike for hearkening to his electioneering campaign promises of which the road was among.
The height of surprise was that Governor Wike was not building only the state-own roads; he also extended his working equipments to Federal-own roads such that were at Onne Sea Port, the 6 kilometre road of Eleme to Onne Junction that ditched to the East West road.
At the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, a Federal-own road, along Oyigbo area of the state, Wike was also there. His pluck in the 6 kilometre road removed the veil that presumably was on the eyes of organisations like the Indorama, Intels, West African Container Terminal, Port Harcourt Refinery, Nigeria Ports Authority, Onne Free Trade Zones with Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to see the need the road should be constructed.
Checks have it that the governor vowed not to pay the contractor – Reynolds Construction Company – all the money till there was 80 per cent evidence of work. An initial N1.5billion was raised in the project that apparently totaled N3billion.
The governor made it known that he would monitor the work personally; even as he applauded the organisations for their foresight to support the good works the Governor Nyesom Wike administration carried out in Rivers State.
Wike’s compelling factor to embark on the project, he said was the immeasurable importance of the road to the country’s economy.
“We cannot wait for the Federal Government to repair the road. We had to take the initiative in the interest of the economy of our state. Due to the impassable condition of the road; virtually all companies operating in the area are threatening to pull out.
“It is simply inhuman and unimaginable that people will be spending three hours driving from Port Harcourt to Eleme on a road that most resources of the country come from. More importantly, rehabilitation of this road will put to an end incessant case of kidnapping, robbery, extortion and killings which occur regularly,” Wike said to pressmen.
On the construction sites, the governor lived his words that rains would never be impediment to the colossal construction and rehabilitation of chiefly roads across the state. On Iwofe road after inspection, it was there that Wike deafened the residents’ ears with the promise.
“Despite the challenges posed by the rains, these major roads under construction will be executed as scheduled by my administration. These are major roads that are critical to the residents of these areas for which we took loans to reconstruct them, their execution will continue as scheduled and we will not allow any contractor to perform below expectations,” he said.
He did not achieve the feat by biasness; the governor deplored different companies to man the different road projects in the state. Unlike the Onne-Eleme road which was awarded to the Reynolds Construction Company, MCC handled the Iwofe road construction.
Senator John Mbata, Chairman of the company, promised the governor and the people of the state that his company would never disappoint, just as the people of Oro-Igwe and Elimgbu lavished ovations at the governor for coming to re-construct the once christened “long abandoned” Oro-Igwe Road that had a relationship with areas such as Elimgbu, Rumuewhara-Rumundu, Eliozu Roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
On 11th August 2015, the people of the area rolled out their drums to thank the governor who was at the Eliozu junction, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, and performed the grand breaking ceremony of the road.
It was the CTC Construction Company limited that handled the project and the governor assured the people of the area that for them to have given him the mandate to superintend the affairs of the state, he would never disappoint.
The dignitaries that joined other residents of the area to welcome Wike were Hon. Martin Amaewhule, a lawmaker representing Obio/Akpor Constituency I in the Rivers State House of Assembly and the leaders of the House; Chief Collins Ewhulu, a community leader; Mr. Glory Ejekwu, the president of Eliozu Youths; HRH Ezemekaka Wobo the Paramount Ruler of Elimbu, HRH Eze Amb. I.J Woko the Eze Ozuzu II of Eliozu; among others.
Hon. Amaewhule said that Wike’s interference in the construction of the roads alleviated the suffering of the people of Oro-Igwe and other communities. The former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo; former Deputy Speaker of Federal House of Representatives, Austin Opara had always expressed joy for the works Wike was doing.
The governor also used Julius Berger and, CGC Construction companies. Jiang Liwei, the representative of the later once thanked the government of Rivers State Government for giving the company prospect to donate efforts to the progress of the state.
It was observed that car owners living in the affected roads in the state once drove their cars to a point on the roads and packed, then joined any available means of transportation such as Okada and Keke Napep to continue their journey.
Many did not pack their cars in their residences for years, due to bad roads. To this end, they blessed Wike thus: “God will bless you, sir, for remembering us.”
But in all, the governor did not only receive goodwill from people. He was also accused of being the awardee to construct a particular road by the past administration in the state; an issue he vehemently refuted and claimed that it was not true, but the figment of propaganda from the opposition.
He was also accused of commissioning some projects that were 80 per cent completed by the past administration to mark his 100 days in office, a matter the governor waved with the back of the hand and claimed that it was a rude politics against his government from the opposition.
He fielded information that many of the projects from the past governor he inherited were abandoned, while others were at below 50 per cent completion stage. He, however, gave his nod that no projects in the state that were of value would be left un-attended to.
According to a source, the governor surmised, “That allegation is neither here nor there. It does not make sense. What they wanted was for government to abandon projects so that government’s funds will be wasted. So that there will be abandoned projects everywhere.
“What is important is that you had eight years and you were unable to complete the projects. You abandoned government totally. What you would have done was to complete the projects. Election was done in April; so you still had one month to complete but you did not do anything.”
Some of the projects that sources said the Wike government inherited that were abandoned were such as the Aboloma-Woji-Akpajo Road which the government said it took over at about 40 percent completion stage, and the bridge at Nkpogu Road, and many others.
It was revealed that the governor said: “Let me also speak on this Nkpogu Bridge. It was abandoned by the former government. The contractor told us he needed N500 million to fix it. So we asked him to go ahead. I expect that N500 million should not be a reason this bridge should not be completed. Tomorrow they will tell you this road was almost 99 percent completed. Now you see what we are doing here.
When this bridge is done, it will ease traffic.”
Onwumere is a Port Harcourt-based journalist
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