By Simeon Nwakaudu
On September 18, 2016, I wrote a piece which I titled, “Rivers State : Nigeria’s Emerging Success Story”. That piece was on the premise of very significant efforts by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to grow the economy of the state.
An open letter by an APC apologist to Governor Wike has necessitated the need to re-state the very key points marshalled in that feature.
I am convinced that it is necessary to discuss these economic issues because the information is vital to all those who are misled by the misinformation being sponsored by the defeated Rivers State APC. Fundamentally a failed party, the Rivers APC is in a battle for survival, hence they are willing to throw anything up.
The first flaw of the piece by the APC apologist is the reliance on statements credited to Former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Nollywood Producer, Tonye Princewill. Rivers State is a reality, not make-believe.
To begin with, just as Governor Wike is Mr Projects, so he is Mr Jobs. The nomenclature does not really matter. Governor Wike’s performance has generated several names from different quarters. He is like the proverbial elephant encountered by blindmen. After their encounter, they describe the elephant from the body part that their hands touched. This applies to those positively affected by the development projects of Governor Wike .
Through careful planning and investments, Governor Wike has improved the security architecture of Rivers State. This improved security architecture has led to very profound foreign direct investments.
GREENGAS LNG FACILITY
The GreenGas LNG Facility constructed by Grenville Oil and Gas Limited in Rumuji community of Emohua Local Government Area in Rivers State is the new N140billion project that will add value to the economy of the country.
This plant is on the East-West Road, conspicuously displayed. Governor Wike worked with the investors and the host communities to develop it from the scratch. This is reality, not story of “about to”. It is in the final stages of completion. It is not like the Nasarawa Airport that is invincible or the fabulous sugar that is in the realm of prospects.
The first phase of the project is now on stream, providing about 3500 direct jobs. It will provide in the short-term over 40, 000 indirect jobs across the country.
Chairman of Greenville Oil and Gas Limited , owners of GreenGas LNG Facility, Eddy Van Den Broeke said:”We are in Rivers State to form a partnership with the state government for necessary economic growth “.
The project covers 42 hectares and the pipeline architecture will cover different parts of the country, setting off a chain of investment opportunities. At present, thousands of indigenes and other Nigerians are working at the project site.
Seven hundred and fifty (750) trucks will be loading from the facility, while it will generate 150 megawatts of electricity to serve Rivers State and Nigeria.
The gas produced at the facility will help other parts of the country produce 600 megawatts of electricity.
The APC apologist talked about investment in the agricultural sector. This is already an area that Governor Wike has succeeded in creating jobs. We are talking about verifiable and existing investments.
10,000 HECTARES SOUTH KOREAN RICE FARM
In Rumuewhor community in Emohua Local Government Area, Chang B2B Company Limited, a South Korean Investor is cultivating rice on 10,000 hectares of land provided by the host communities and the Rivers State Government.
This investment is providing 2000 direct jobs and over 10000 indirect jobs. This is an investment that has been applauded by well meaning Rivers people.
According to Governor Wike: “Our priority is how to attract investors to the state. Agriculture if well harnessed will be highest employer of labour after government. That is what we are trying to do.
“Rice production is very key. Ours is to make sure that the right environment is created for foreign investors to bring their funds to the state “
Managing Director of Chang B2B Company Limited and Leader of Delegation, Mr Kim Kyochang assured that the company will intensify the investment in rice production in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor has instituted a process where foreign investors have access to large parcels of land for commercial merchanised farming, with accompanying factories for value added production. The ultimate aim is to create employment and further stimulate the economy.
SIAT NIGERIAN LIMITED
Rivers State Government is partnering with Siat Nigeria Limited (operators to Former Risonpalm) to revive Delta Rubber.
Already, Former Risonpalm has been revived. Elele Old Estate has been replanted. Ubima and Elele Plantations have been cleaned up and first class maintenance operations and practices constantly applied.
The company has made substantial investments which has led to the emergence of a state of the art oil mill, with fruit bunches being harvested in commercial quantity both in Ubima and Elele estates. The company also purchases fruit bunches in large quantities from private farmers within the catchment area.
With 5000 persons already employed by Siat Nigeria Limited (Risonpalm), the privatisation of the Delta Rubber will also create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
He said that the Rivers State Government will partner with Siat Nigeria Limited to revive Delta Rubber, which has been been moribund for years.
WOMEN/YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
Women development and empowerment have featured prominently in Governor Wike’s governance model. Since the creation of the state, no administration has strategically empowered women like the Wike administration.
The administration has promoted gender equality through key appointments and placement of women. The Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo is a woman of substance who has provided the needed support in the actualization of the New Rivers Vision. Women commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors and administrators have been appointed in the last three years to help actualise the vision.
In terms of empowerment, the Wike administration released the sum of N500, 000,000.00 (five hundred million naira) only as grants to support the business endeavours of Rivers women. Ten thousand women drawn from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state and non-indigenes are benefiting.
In the political space, through negotiation and political engineering, Governor Wike secured Vice Chairmanship Slots and Councillorship Slots for women in the 23 Local Government Areas. He believes that women participation in governance will enhance the development of the state.
In addition, 1000 women have been recruited for environmental sanitation duties in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
The Rivers State Executive Council has approved the setting aside of N200million monthly as interest free loans to traders and young entrepreneurs.
In addition, the administration has set aside N100million monthly as business grants to civil servants from grade level 1 to 13. In 2016, the administration disbursed N2billion to medium and small businesses as empowerment lifeline.
JOB COMPONENT OF COUNTLESS PROJECTS
I addressed this issue in an earlier response to a fellow who ignorantly attempted to belittle the massive infrastructural regeneration taking place in Rivers State. I will reiterate this here.
All the projects executed or being executed by Governor Wike over the last three years have enormous job components. From the host communities to the external world.
The direct and indirect jobs created have been profound. Local economies have been revived and agro-based communities empowered.
The governor inherited a decayed infrastructure base. The only way to energise the economy was to rebuild the infrastructure and create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
In the United States, Former President Barrack Obama used the same model to revive an ailing American economy.
BASELESS APC NARRATIVE
The attempt to relegate basic infrastructural development in Rivers State is a baseless Rivers APC narrative. It has no link with the reality on ground.
It is promoted by Rotimi Amaechi, Dakuku Peterside and Nollywood Producer, Tonye Princewill. They sponsor this narrative to mislead few unsuspecting members of the public.
Reason for a minute. Had the APC developed infrastructure across the country, businesses would thrive and employment would be generated. The entire country is suffering from the failure of APC to develop infrastructure which is a foundation to other expansions in a developing economy.
Just this weekend, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi claimed that the APC Federal Government could not construct the East-West Road and the Port Harcourt International Airport because of the absence of security. How then has Governor Wike achieved the state-wide roll out of projects, which they desperately struggle to relegate?
It is not a coincidence that opposition members and those who sympathise with them only attempt to deride the massive infrastructural regeneration during a stretch of commissioning ceremonies. We can’t help it. An accountable government is under strict obligation to keep the people informed. The commissioning ceremonies are a sound reminder of the development revolution taking place in Rivers State.
As I conclude, the fundamental question is: is there any state of the federation performing better than Rivers State on a state to state basis? The answer is simple: there is none. Even Lagos thrives on Federal Projects.
The internally generated revenue base of the state is growing. It is being strengthened. The Garrison-Trans-Amadi-
Slaughter-Woji-Wlelenwo Road was delivered with IGR funds. This is a pragmatic administration. It is not built on propaganda.
The Wike administration has set up structures to bring the state up to speed in the internet age. A Rivers State Jobs (RivJobs) Portal has been developed to help create employment opportunities.
For easier tax administration, the State Government set up a Rivers State Tax Administration Management Information (RIVTAMIS).
What we have in Rivers State is a platform of good governance that permeates all sectors. It is a developing story of outstanding commitment to the welfare of Rivers people . It is a movement to establish the future of the State through strategic investments.
Men in APC cannot comprehend stategic development because they destroyed Rivers State for eight years. They are shocked beyond words because Governor Wike has changed the narrative of Rivers State. It is now the country’s centre for development. The country’s emerging economic success story.