(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – The current administration in Rivers State led by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has made and is still making significant contributions to the development of Rivers State. With the same zeal he started from the day of swearing in as Governor in 2015, Barr. Nyesom Wike has been roaring with ideas and projects that have kept many mouths agape. Where do we start from: the massive rehabilitation of roads in the early days of his administration; tarring of internal link roads in many communities and towns across the state; hospitals and schools. We cannot forget the introduction of Medical School at the Rivers State University, culminating in the upgrade of the former Braithwaite Specialist Hospital to Rivers State University Teaching Hospital. That tertiary health institution has also been equipped with corresponding relevant facilities and man power.
One cannot forget the rehabilitation of some buildings that have been abandoned to rot by past administrations. They include the former Produce House, now Emmanuel Aguma house; the buildings near the popular motor park and Mile One fly over now housing the National Examination Council , Immigration and other government agencies. In fact, the most exciting is the on going rehabilitation of the former Rivbank Insurance building, along Aba road. When one adds the contemporaneous construction of four bridges along Aba road and at Rumuokoro round about, one can go away with the conclusion that Wike has exceeded the expectation of many, and written his name in gold in the history of Rivers State, and indeed Nigeria.
Time may not permit us to delve into Governor Wike’s exploits in politics, as evidenced in his being able to confront and overcome the Abuja forces – to return for a second term and to also sustain the dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. He has also been working hard to win over some of the heavy weights in the opposition All Progressives Congress as evidenced in the recent defection of the former leader of Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lyod; and indications of others doing likewise because of the governor’s exceptional performance in government and manifest commitment to accommodating all well meaning politicians – who are willing to join forces with him to advance the course of development in Rivers State.
Meanwhile, it is heart warming to note that the governor has told the relevant authorities to ensure that Rivers people are generously engaged in the proposed NLNG project in Bonny, jus as he has made efforts to fill some urgent vacancies at the Rivers State university and other places. These efforts of the governor to contribute towards the development of the state are commendable and have put food on the table of some citizens of the state, and indeed of Nigeria. However, many more citizens are hungry! They are hungry because of the galloping price of food occasioned by inadequate supply to match the demand. To address this challenge, the Wike administration need to take a second look at agriculture with a view to making the state sufficient in food production. This is possible.
One suggestion is to make the Rumuewhuo rice project a reality. It will not only gainfully engage thousands of Rivers youths across the value chain, it will also lead to increased supply of rice and help to reduce the cost of food in the state.
Government has to also look at poultry and fish production. We can have more than enough in this state by revisiting past initiatives, and making the projects functional. There are also individuals who are involved in these endeavours in the state; government can engage them to see how they can be assisted to increase fish and poultry production. Government can also borrow a leaf form Total E&P. They have an initiative whereby fish fingerlings are given to prospective entrepreneurs who have land or other facilities that can be used for fish production. By the time we have one of this in each of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state, the impact will be felt.
Presently, a basin of garri costs five thousand Naira. This quantity can serve some families for a week, and others for two weeks. The pressure is high on many families because a lot of people in the state eat garri daily.
We can have more if government can engage farmers in the rural areas. Government pays them for planting the cassava but comes in with its own mechanism to take care of the harvesting and processing. This way, a lot of the idle lands across the state would be put to use, and this will culminate in more food for all. This is no doubt, a credible way to redefine stomach infrastructure, and ensure sustainable development in the state.