FOR 20 straight years, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has played a fundamental role in the transformation of the state, the Niger Delta and Nigeria generally. He has served as a leading light in the entrenchment of development.
Right from his days as the chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Wike proved that leadership was about the people, their welfare, development and growth. He started the execution of major projects for his people. His outstanding performance led to his emergence as the best performing council chairman as well as several awards of recognition from the then Peter Odili administration.
Across the country, his grassroots development agenda attracted applause as he grew to become the national president of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON). In that capacity, Wike masterminded the development of rural primary healthcare delivery across the 774 local government areas in the country.
It was Wike that created the platform for the first term success of the immediate past administration in the state. His positive development approach ensured that the administration got a second term. After his departure, that administration crumbled like a pack of cards. There was nobody to give it the human touch; there was nobody to create the right development mix for state-wide development. Since 2011, the leaders of that political divide remain rejected in the state’s political terrain. Even with their massive rigging machine, Rivers people have continued to be with Governor Wike.
When he became a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Wike worked for the entire country. His impact was felt in all the six geopolitical zones and the 36 states. He championed Almajiri, girl-child, boy-child and vocational education that specifically impacted positively on different zones. He was a national minister in the true sense of the word.
In all, Wike paid quality attention to Rivers. He sited over 25 major projects across the state and crowned it with the Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas in Bonny. Through the Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies, thousands of Rivers people were empowered with contracts and employment opportunities. His presence at the national turf improved the living standard of Rivers people. From all the 23 local government areas of the state, Wike empowered people and developed educational facilities.
The entire state worked with the Ikwerre ethnic nationality to elect Wike as governor in 2015 and 2019. On the two occasions, they stood firm against the rigging forces that invaded the state. They rewarded Wike with the ultimate leadership position in the state because they trusted his ability to deliver.
Years down the line, Wike has lived up to the expectations of Rivers people. He has opened up the state through key projects in different sectors and empowered the people through programmes. Under the governor, no part of the state has been neglected. It has been projects after projects: the testimonies abound.
For his outstanding performance and commitment to development of Rivers, the leaders and people of Ikwerre ethnic nationality, last Saturday, honoured Wike for positively projecting the ethnic group and diligently serving Rivers people. In the full glare of the world, leaders and people of the ethnic nationality, at the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt, recognised governor. They thanked him for the performance and also appreciated other ethnic nationalities for their support towards the political growth of Wike.
From the four Ikwerre local government areas (Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Emohua), Ikwerre people trooped out in their thousands to announce to the world that Wike was a worthy leader who had satisfied the people with his performance, dedication and vision for outstanding development. On ground were traditional rulers, politicians, women groups, youth groups and religious leaders from Ikwerre land and beyond. It was a case of God’s anointed receiving the approval of his beloved people.
Other Nigerians, who have been blessed by the outstanding performance of Wike over the years, were not left out. State governors, party chieftains, federal and state lawmakers, as well as local government chairmen and non-indigenes in Rivers were on ground to honour Wike.
Present at the event were Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha, Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal. Also present were former Rivers governors; Dr Peter Odili and Sir Celestine Omehia; former Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and Senator Dino Melaye.
The event sent a clear message: a politician can be powerful locally, nationally and internationally. In the quest to seek political relevance, no aspect of the society should suffer. As you develop other cities, develop your people. Humanity is one. No group should be marginalised on any account.
The Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organisation Worldwide, by hosting Wike, is, by implication, encouraging other Ikwerre, Rivers and South-South leaders to always remember their people when opportunities come their way. Aside Governor Wike, other Ikwerre and Rivers leaders spend time improving other climes, while abandoning Ikwerre land and Rivers State. They find reasons why they should not develop Ikwerre land and Rivers.
For Wike, charity begins at home. That is why he has changed the narrative of Rivers. From a state of stagnant growth which he inherited in 2015, he has turned the state into a development centre of the country.
Wike took out time to recognise Rivers and non-Rivers people who have worked over the years to ensure his political growth. He praised former Governor Odili, Chief Sergeant Awuse, Prince Secondus, Senator Sandy Onoh, Chief Dan Orbih and Alhaji Imam for their contributions. This was selflessness at its peak. Rather than boast of his personal accomplishments, Wike chose to recognise other leaders who contributed to his political success.
The governor also used the occasion of the grand civic Reception to promote the unity of Rivers. He explained very clearly that leaders who promote ethnicity in their quest to govern the state will fail. The central idea in the promotion of Rivers unity is for politicians to respect other ethnic nationalities and ensure state-wide welfare.
He said: “Rivers State is one. Nobody can divide Rivers State. No outsider can be governor of Rivers State. Let us not allow anyone to divide us. If you must be a governor of Rivers State, you must carry everyone along. No ethnic group can do it alone. Once you say it is your turn, it will not work. When you say it is your turn, you have started failing.”
- Nwakaudu is Special Assistant (Electronics) to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State