Opening Etche to the World
Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas of the Rivers State were once seen as the most backward in terms of road infrastructure. But not anymore, as Governor Nyesom Wike has opened up the area with motorable roads. Davidson Iriekpen writes
All over the world, improvement on public infrastructure, especially roads, is believed to be one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve macro-economic indices that impact meaningfully on the common man. Good roads are seen as a basic component of good governance and a good parameter to measure the development and conduciveness of any city. This is because good roads only make transportation much more easier, they impact positively on the lives of the people. Roads open a community to the world.
This perhaps is why road construction has topped the priority list of Governor Nyesom Wike since he assumed office in Rivers State. Having crisscrossed the length and breadth of the state, the governor knows every part not accessible and linked with good roads and now that he has the opportunity, he wants to lead a transformation in the sector.
Since he assumed office in 2015, virtually every three months, a new road project is inaugurated. Recently, the governor put a lot of smiles on the faces of the people of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas of the state with the inauguration of the two major roads in the area. Prior to now, the two local government areas were the most backward in terms of road infrastructure. The roads linking the two area councils with other parts of the state, particularly Port Harcourt, the state capital, was in complete state of disrepair. In the past, previous administrations had ignored the area until Wike came on board said no more.
To the people’s joy, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, was on ground to inaugurate the Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road and Chokocho-Igbo-Etche-Rumuokurushi Inter-Change. The Chokocho-Umuechem-Ozuzu Road is 16 kilometres while the Chokocho-Igbo-Etche-Rumuokwurusi Inter-Change is 14 kilometres.
Seeing the quality of work done, Osinbajo, who could not hide his feelings, commended Wike for embarking on pro-people projects and charged leaders to always work for their people, saying that is the only way that the people can feel the impact of government.
He said: “We must always look for ways to advance the interest of our people. We are greater together than apart. Today is a very happy day. We will always have happy days.”
Earlier, Wike said the two roads were constructed to revive the economy of the local government areas. He said the roads were death traps and completely damaged the economy of the area as they could not take their agricultural produce to the market. The governor decried the politics of under-development being promoted by some politicians from the state, saying he would remain committed to the development of the state despite plots to distract him.
“The condition of the two roads to be inaugurated today were so bad that the people of Etche could not use them to transport their agricultural products to markets. Some people are annoyed that our projects are being inaugurated. Their anger will not stop us from delivering projects for our people,” he said.
The acting President’s advice aligns with Wike’s policy. During his electioneering to the area, he had promised the people that he would reconstruct the road in order to ease their suffering whether they voted for him or not.
The governor once said: “My commitment to Rivers people is unwavering. I will never play politics with the construction of roads in the state. I will never make promises that I will not fulfill. My pledge is my bond. Whether or not there is economic recession, we shall continue to work for the people of the state. Recall that the APC claimed that they were the ones constructing this road. But the truth is known to the people. We shall continue to construct more roads so that APC members can ply on them to access venue for campaigns. We are committed to serving all the people of the state, irrespective of their political inclinations,” Wike said.
Last week’s commendation by Osinbajo was not the first. Last February, as part of the federal government’s consultation with the leaders of the Niger Delta region, the acting President had commended the governor when he was taken round to see some of the ongoing projects undertaken by him. He had declared: “I think he deserves the title of ‘Mr. Projects’,” an overwhelmed Osinbajo said, during a state dinner organised in his honour after the project tour. “He is indeed ‘Mr. Projects.’”
In the last 20 months, the governor has embarked on and completed over 20 critical roads and sundry projects in the state, thereby reducing the suffering of his people. As demonstration of his love for his people, Wike does not care if the road projects are federal or not, for as long as they improve the comfort of the people. He also does not care if the area is ‘opposition’ area or not.
From as little as the Operation Zero Potholes on Rivers roads, which he launched immediately he was inaugurated, the governor has long turned the state to a construction hub with projects in every nook and cranny of the state.
To show that the projects are not propaganda, a majority of them had been inaugurated by eminent personalities across the country. For instance, former President, Goodluck Jonathan, former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, former Senate President, David Mark, Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Apkabio, Governor Zamfara State, Abdullahi Yari, former NBA President, Austine Aleghe, National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, had at one time or the other been invited to commission road projects.
Among the roads the governor has far completed in two years are Government, Garrison-Akpajo-East West Road, Second Nkpogu Bridge, Dr Peter Odili Road, Abuluoma-Woji Road, Woji-Akpajo Road, Elelenwo-Akpajo Road, Sakpenwa-Bori Road, Rumukwurusi-Eneka Road, Igwuruta-Okehi Road, Rukpokwu-Eneka and Oroigwe Road.
Other projects visited are: Industry Road, Njamanze Road (Diobu), Eagle Island Bridge –Agip, Rumuepirikom-Rumuolumeni Road, Rumuolumeni-Elioparanwo-Ogbogoro-Ozuoba Road, Ozuoba-Rumoosi Road, Alakahia-Rumualogu Road, Nkpolu-Rumuigbo-Rumuaholu-Obiri Ikwere Road and Aluu-Rukpokwu Road.
A crystal symbol of the governor’s determination to make all roads in the state motorable is his administration’s Operation Zero Pothole, an idea that saw massive rehabilitation of Port Harcourt’s internal roads, which include Tombia Street, Sokoto Road, Churchill Road, Creek Road, Ahoada Road, Force Avenue, Evo Road, Woji Road, Ohiamini Road, Ogbunabali Road, Eleme flyover and Kolukuma Road. In all, the operation covers 20.1 kilometres and has provided relief to residents and road users.
Confident of performance for so far since assumed office, Wike last challenged the national leadership of the APC to present their best performing states of the party for a peer review against his state. Speaking while inaugurating 10 internal roads constructed by his administration in Ogbunabali area of Port Harcourt, the governor said the state was the centre of fast delivery of pro-people projects in the country.
He said: “I challenge them (APC) to bring their states for a peer review against Rivers State. Let them attempt to do the projects we are doing in the state. Here in Rivers State, we are no longer talking about payment of salaries. We have gone beyond that level. We are busy working, talking about the delivery of different types of projects.”
The governor said his administration had a covenant with the people of the state, which was the platform upon which he delivered projects to the people. He appealed to the people to continue supporting his administration for sustained development. He added that contracts have been awarded for the construction of additional roads in the area and the erection of street lights on all the constructed roads.