Since 2015, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has established a process of performance, projects and service delivery that has lifted the state to an enviable level. Through diligent implementation of annual budgets, Governor Wike has redefined governance in Rivers State and placed the State on a platform of developmental progression.
Governor Wike inherited a state that was crippled by debts, non-payment of salaries and pensions and embarrassing infrastructure deficits. Even the then outgoing Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi was ashamed of the state he was leaving behind.
In his now infamous remarks captured on video, Amaechi admitted that Rivers State was so broke that Wike would neither have money to pay salaries, pensions or even execute projects. That Administration handed to Governor Wike, a template for failure.
From his very first day in office, Governor Wike programmed himself to succeed. He launched the Operation Zero Potholes on May 29, 2015 and kick-started the most ambitious infrastructural revival scheme in Nigeria's Second Largest Economy.
Between May 2015 and May 2019, Governor Wike delivered the highest number of roads, schools, healthcare facilities, empowerment programmes, land reclamation projects, tourism projects, rural water projects, workers welfare projects, water transportation projects and security infrastructure.
Governor Wike also developed an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The streamlining of the tax system to eliminate double taxation and the improvement of the land allocation system have enhanced the inflow of investments in the state.
For his outstanding first term, Rivers people rewarded Governor Wike with a second term. It was the most difficult second term to extract. Rivers people collectively defeated Federal Might.
REWARD FOR RIVERS VOTES
Governor Wike is a different kind of politician. He appreciates his people every step of the way. The first 100days of Governor Wike during his second term proved that the second term would be worthwhile.
For over three weeks, Governor Wike rolled out completed projects in different sectors of the economy. He assured Rivers people that he will not disappoint them. He stated that he will depart from the ugly tendency of Governors not to perform during their second term. As a man who keeps his promises, Governor Wike has lived up that pledge.
Over the last few weeks, he has met with leaders and people of different ethnic nationalities to fashion out key programmes that are important to the people. The different ethnic groups came to these meetings with their projects' lists. Frank discussions were held and key projects were agreed for different parts of the state going forward.
The 2020 Budgtet was principally designed by the Wike Administration to intensify development and reach out to more communities across the state.
The Budget Preparation Process as earlier stated had the inputs of critical stakeholders. The overriding objective is to ensure that no ethnic nationality is schemed out of the development process.
TARGETS OF THE 2020 RIVERS BUDGET
Christened: Budget of “Reassurance, profound impact for inclusive growth and shared prosperity”, the Rivers 2020 Budget is targeted at consolidating on the development process initiated by the Rivers State Governor since 2015.
According to Governor Wike: "We will build and consolidate on the gains and progress of 2019 to deliver on the commitment of this budget for the benefit of our people. We will mobilize resources from the different sources and scale up investments in infrastructure, human capital development and the productive sectors of our economy to create jobs and improve the wellbeing of our people. And as our economy grows and creates opportunities, our people will benefit and enjoy a better standard of living."
Job creation, economic development, improvement of standard of living are the objectives of Governor Wike in framing the 2020 Rivers State Budget. All sectors of the economy have been primed to work for the development of the State.
The Governor said: "This budget contains deliberate, specific and targeted policies and programmes to address, not only the challenges of poverty and development, but also, the concerns of our youths and women for empowerment, inclusiveness and a future to long for. This government keeps promises and we will keep our promise to increase youth participation in the governance and development process of our State."
KEY AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT
This is one of the key areas of economic stimulation in Rivers State. Since 2015, Governor Wike has used the development of a network of roads to revive the economies of different parts of the State.
With over N93billion, the Ministry of Works will implement the State's Strategic Road Development Plan for 2020. Several key road projects will be delivered in the course of 2020.
Closely linked is the Special Projects Bureau where over N26billion has been earmarked for new and existing projects.
The Ministry of Works and Special Projects Bureau have been programmed to develop critical infrastructure that will sustain the economic growth of Rivers State.
ENHANCING QUALITY EDUCATION
Governor Wike met a weak Education Sector in 2015. At the time, education in Rivers State was merely a propaganda tool. Through strategic investment, the education sector has been revived.
Governor Wike said: "Building on the progress of the last four and half years, we will continue to ensure adequate funding for education in Rivers State. It is for this reason that we are proposing the sum of N49.471 billion to fund the education sector for 2020. This sum represents 20% of the total budget and is the highest ever budgetary allocation to education, reflecting the level of our commitment to investing in the future of our children.
'In 2020, we will continue to ensure the systematic rehabilitation, upgrade and transformation of our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and build new ones where the population demands to deliver a more conducive learning environment across schools in Rivers State. "
This is one sector where Governor Wike is working hard to improve access to quality healthcare facilities. Across the state, the Rivers State Governor plans to deliver state-of-the-art tertiary hospitals for the people.
The Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt, the Zonal Hospitals in Degema, Bori, Ahoada and Omoku will come on stream within the year. The Rivers State Governor is working hard to strengthen the healthcare delivery system of the state through critical investments.
Governor Wike plans to take appropriate measures to enhance measures to manage the burden of public healthcare costs, including effective implementation of the Rivers State Contributory Healthcare Insurance Scheme.
The administration will also continue to partner with local, regional and international healthcare agencies, non-governmental organizations and healthcare professionals to ensure better access to primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services as affordable rates.
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH AGRICULTURE
Governor Wike plans to empower Rivers people through in agriculture in 2020. The target is to make thousands of women and youths financially stable using agriculture as a platform.
Governor Wike will invest massively in this sector in 2020, with a view to energising Rivers economy.
According to him, his administration will invest and support the commercial production of cash and other crops to which we have relative advantages, such as cassava, palm oil, yam, plantain, banana, rice and vegetables for both domestic and export markets.
In 2020, the Administration will revive the school-to-land programme and engage over 10,000 youths in commercial agriculture and establish farmer input support programme to provide farming inputs to farmers across the State.
The Administration will also train and build the capacity of Rivers State farmers to engage in productive and profitable commercial agriculture, including farming in crops, poultry, piggery, and fisheries and complete the Cassava Processing Plant at Afam in Oyigbo Local Government Area.
SUSTAINING SECURITY OF LIVES AND PROPERTY
Even the worst critics of the Wike Administration admit that the governor's investments in security have paid off. With Operation Sting and other security measures, Rivers State has become the business and entertainment hub of the country.
The 2019 Christmas and New Year celebrations proved the importance of visionary leadership. In 2020, Governor Wike has pledged to invest more in the security of lives and property.
He said his Administration will provide vehicular, necessary security gadgets, logistics and other operational support for all the security agencies, including the armed forces to enable them provide 24 hours security patrol, reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and operations throughout the State.
He added that in 2020, his Administration will provide more gun-boats to the Nigerian Navy to patrol and ensure security in our waterways. This is addition to setting up the State Emergency Centre to manage and coordinate all emergency, security and information concerns in the State.
In 2020, the Wike Administration plans to make key investments in tourism, water supply and rural development . The Governor's focus is to develop the state and enpower the vast majority of Rivers people.
CONTINUED MAJOR INVESTMENTS
At the close of 2019, the final major investment decision was taken on the $10billion NLNG Train 7 Project. This investment will play a critical role in uplifting the economy of Rivers State. The multiple effect of the coming on stream of train 7 would create wealth and empower hundreds of thousands in the state.
In July 2019, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike commissioned the new Alcon Nigeria Limited Low Voltage Panels Assembly Plant in Port Harcourt. This was part of the partnership between his administration and the private sector to revive the manufacturing sector of the state. Several such efforts are ongoing.
In November 2019, Governor Wike commissioned the Maiden NLNG DLPG Delivery to Stockgap Terminal in Port Harcourt. This was a major shift as LPG in the past was trucked to Port Harcourt from Lagos. This was after being shipped from Bonny to Lagos. This milestone was achieved because of the development of infrastructure by Governor Wike and the creation of enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
In the twilight of 2018, Next Cash and Carry, Port Harcourt's Flagship Shopping Complex came on stream. During the 2019 Christmas Season, it was a major attraction, driving people to the Trans-Amadi Area. With better infrastructure, more businesses are setting up in the state.
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 is already functional. The owners of the facility are working on major expansion, in view of the peaceful operational environment.
COMMITMENT TO GREATER SERVICE IN 2020
In all, Governor Wike has committed to providing the right leadership to drive the state in 2020. He has established the right framework, aimed at motivating the populace and sustaining the development process.
He spelt out his determination to further drive development in his new year message.
Governor Wike said: "We reiterate our resolve to continue to provide accountable, caring and transparent administration that works for everyone, both residents and visitors.
As a State long deprived of meaningful development, we acknowledge the need to work twice as hard to take Rivers State to greater heights of development and we will do just that in order to achieve our long-time goal of building an inclusive and prosperous society for us and our children.
"I wish to thank all residents, including the business community, security operatives and everyone who has made Rivers State your home and contributing your quota to its progress and prosperity. I urge you all to continue in this spirit of brotherhood, love and commitment to the development of our State. I am confident that a peaceful, united, productive and sustainably prosperous Rivers State is possible as long as we all continue to work together for the common good of the State with prayers, determination and optimism and this should be our resolve for the new year."
The templete for development in 2020 has been set. It will be a continuation of the superlative performance of Governor Wike. The bar has been raised and the delivery will be outstanding. At the end of 2020, we will have the privilege to once again, thank God for his infinite grace. After all, 2020 is Rivers Year of Greater Grace and Peace.