Rivers at 50: Celebration, New Vision, Sustained Growth
By Simeon Nwakaudu
It is no longer news that Rivers State will be 50 on May 27, 2017. Everyone knows that Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has set in motion the process to celebrate the creation of the state, her achievements so far and establish the foundation for the construction of a new Rivers.
The celebration is already in full swing. The logo was unveiled by the governor, a fund raising dinner held for key stakeholders to participate in the sponsorship of the Golden Jubilee, while the Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee has rolled out a comprehensive programme of events . Some key events have already taken place.
Even the fiercest critics of the state cannot say in all honesty that there is nothing to celebrate. Since 1967, several milestones have been achieved from one administration to the next.
Rivers State has served quite significantly as the treasure base of the nation, religiously supporting other states of the nation with her resources and ensuring that Nigerians from other climes benefit from her God-given resources.
Funds from the state have played key roles in the construction and fertilisation of the two Federal Capital Territories of Nigeria. Despite the challenges of development, the state has been a critical factor in the overall development of the country.
The challenges of development that have confronted the state since her creation are not enough to trivialise the need to celebrate and chart a new direction.
While unveiling the Golden Jubilee Logo, Governor Wike captured the essence of the entire celebration.
He said: "Over the past 50 years, we have travelled quite a marvellous journey. We have made some significant progress no doubt, but we have also made mistakes and lost valuable opportunities. However, this Golden Jubilee inspires a new direction to build a prosperous State we can all be proud of. This is the spirit of the New Vision."
Like Governor Wike explained, the celebration offers the opportunity for stocktaking, which several critics and analysts are already doing. But most importantly, it offers the opportunity to march forward.
There is no virtue crying bitterly about the past when there are better opportunities going forward.
One of the highpoints of the Rivers State Golden Jubilee Celebration will be the launching of the 50-year strategic economic and social development plan for the state .
This plan will consolidate the gains of the different development programmes and projects implemented by successive administrations.
The framework of the 50-year strategic economic and social development has been presented and approved by the Rivers State Executive Council. This framework would then be presented to the public with a committee established to drive the process between 6months and one year.
The committee will hold public hearings on the framework with all stakeholders expected to make their contributions. Public debates would also hold on the framework , before the 50-year strategic economic and social development plan is set in motion.
Aside setting on course the development process for the next 50 years through the launching of the 50-year strategic economic and social development plan for the state, Governor Wike will take practical steps to flag off the execution of iconic Golden Jubilee Projects.
Hear him at the unveiling of the Golden Jubilee Logo: "On our part, the State Government is set to execute a number of landmark projects throughout the year to commemorate the Golden Jubilee, advance the promise of economic independence and improve access to public services as we set forth on the new pathways to create an unimaginable future of peace, unity and prosperity for our State."
All through May, 2017, the Rivers State Government will commission several key projects spread across the three senatorial districts of the state. This will be part of the Golden Jubilee Celebration.
A mini-investment summit tagged corporate Rivers forms part of the overall Rivers at 50 celebration. This summit will bring development and economic experts side by side other stakeholders as Rivers State Government implements the New Rivers Vision Development Blueprint to ensure that the entrenchment of the development process.
As a lover of youth development, the Rivers State Government will in the course of the Rivers State Golden Jubilee Celebration flag off a youth empowerment programme. This programme targeted at youths from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state will be implemented alongside a major commercial bank.
The celebration of the achievements of the incumbent administration in the state inspires hope that the state has commenced her sustained journey towards development.
Governor Wike’s outstanding performance since May 29, 2017 is the new beginning he promised the people of the state. The new direction to ensure that the people have benefits for their resources.
Basic amenities denied the people of the state in their respective senatorial districts by previous administrations are now springing up. This will lead to the emergence of new towns that will support emerging populations.
For 50years, Port Harcourt and her environs have not had the privilege of a functional public water supply. That is about to change. The Wike administration has concluded the preliminary process for the Port Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project.
The Port Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project is a joint venture between the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Rivers State Government. This project will take care of water supply and sanitation in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Under the project, water schemes will be constructed across Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, backed with massive reticulation infrastructure in the city. Rambol Environ of Denmark who are the project management consultants have been in Port Harcourt since 2016 reviewing the project design, engaging stakeholders , embarking on approved study tours and training critical technical personnel to drive the project.
It is clear that though the State Government has kickstarted the Golden Jubilee Celebration, it is by no means a jamboree. It is a well planned programme to celebrate the history of the state, her people, culture and their contributions to national growth. Heroes of the Rivers struggle will be recognised and leaders of tomorrow empowered to take up the task of leadership.
Governor Wike summed it up thus: "Even as we are all excited by this milestone, we must also not forget that the Golden Jubilee presents both opportunity and challenge; an opportunity to celebrate our proud heritage and the challenge to harness our vast resources to fully realize our potential to be the best in Nigeria and secure enduring progress and wellbeing for our people."
At the risk of sounding immodest, it is pertinent to declare that Governor Wike has ushered in the best era of the story of Rivers State. He has redefined the development process, re-dedicated the people to the ideals of growth and instilled self-confidence across the state.
Despite the sponsorship of negative media propaganda by opposition politicians in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike remains Nigeria's Best Performing Governor, recognised by Leaders of all political divides.
Governor Wike's excellent performance stems from his prudent management of scarce resources. The people of Rivers State are feeling the impact of good governance and such impact is beyond the understanding of opposition politicians who only think about the next election. Of course a few "food is ready" politicians and armchair critics are unhappy that Governor Wike prefers to satisfy majority of Rivers people through projects execution instead of being "a popular father Christmas " to a few .
His programmes and projects empower majority of the less privileged people. Those who have no daily access to Government House. Those who ply the countless roads, get treatment from hospitals, train their children in revived public schools, drink from water projects and carry on their legitimate businesses on account of peace and security that flow from a successful amnesty programme.
Even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited Rivers State and lauded Governor Wike for his outstanding achievements, confirming that the governor is 'Mr Projects '.
There is no APC governor or any governor for that matter who can compete with Governor Wike in terms of projects delivery. The success of the Wike administration is unprecedented.
Therefore, 50 years down the line, Rivers people have every reason to celebrate. The journey has been full of challenges, but the state has made remarkable progress. It has the second largest economy in the country with huge prospects of rapid expansion.
When Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio declared that Governor Wike's projects delivery in two years were beyond that of the Federal Government, he based his conclusion on empirical evidence. Till date, nobody has disputed this fact with empirical data.
Governor Wike has initiated the next phase of Rivers development through the implementation of a new vision. As the Golden Jubilee Governor of Rivers State, he has planted the seed of progress for the next 50 years. Governor Wike has returned Rivers State to the people. He has given them the keys to control their destiny at 50. That is why they have rolled out the drums to celebrate. They are assured of better days ahead.