The year 2020 was defined by Covid-19. It was a year the entire world succumbed to the unexpected outbreak of a global pandemic that neither discriminated against color nor creed.
The rich, middle class, poor, white, black, caucasian, aborigines; every segment of the human race felt the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic that completely reprogrammed the normalcy that hitherto guided our existential norms and compelled us to embrace a new normal.
The year 2020 was a very challenging year for our country too. A centrally mismanaged national economy in recession made worse by a brutal corona virus pandemic, escalated insecurity, corruption and socio-political tensions which all made life, in a truly post-modern Hobbesian context, horrible for millions of struggling families and ordinary Nigerians.
Rivers State was right in the eye of the COVID-19 storm and as one of the leading oil producing states in the country, the necessary restrictions and mandated health and other operational guidelines and protocols stipulated by global health and medical authorities, created a fluid situation that demanded rigid, unquestioning adaptability to, first protect citizens from contacting the infection and then ultimately curb the spread of the virus in our communities.
But by an impressive combination of dedicated, firm, courageous, proactive and strategically administrative leadership regimen, which often demanded leading from the front and periodically ruffled the central authority feathers, Governor Nyesom Wike was able to contain, control and astutely adapt the COVID-19 situation to the accomplishment and delivery of some of the already laid down developmental initiatives promised Rivers people in the second tenure of his administration.
As a State, we strove and reasonably advanced our development agenda and to God be the glory, we survived 2020 and COVID-19.
As a responsive Government, committed to delivering on its promises to Rivers people, the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, already mindful of how high the infrastructural development bar has been raised and the outstanding sectoral pledges yet to be delivered, is definitely not resting on its oars.
Governor Wike has repeatedly promised that there will be no abandoned or uncompleted project, when his tenure comes to an end in 2023.
It is against this quite challenging backdrop therefore, that the call for Rivers people to join hands with Governor Wike to develop the State in 2021, resonates with clear and patriotic brotherhood.
Like Governor Wike rightly espoused in his new year message to Rivers people, “Let us eschew the recriminations, turn a new page on the hatred that has kept us divided, forgive one another and together, work towards making our dear State the best place on earth to live, do business and bring up our children.”
To be sure, the statesmanship exhibited by Governor Wike in the new year address is a commendable gesture, especially in his clarion call to all well-meaning citizens to work together to overcome the road-blocks to the progress of Rivers State and the enthronement of a State that holds concrete promise of hope for the present and future generations.
The year 2020 shocked all of us into the realization that things can actually change from what we are used to, into a new normal that nobody ever anticipated and it is in recognition of this existential eye opener that we must acknowledge the call by Governor Wike for us to embrace a new chapter of cooperation, togetherness and solidarity that would unleash our potentials on the development of our State, with all seriousness and acceptance.
Governor Wike’s ultimate goal is to better the lots of our people in all sectors of the economy and his conviction that, “There’s no goal we cannot achieve if we remain united,” attest to the fact that his determination to implement the NEW Vision development blueprint in all the 23 Local Government Areas of the State, will not be compromised.
The very impressive realization that the State Government, inspite of COVID-19, initiated and completed a record number of development projects with tremendous socio-economic impact while several others, including the multi-billion naira epoch defining legacy flyovers, as well as the Mother and Child hospital, the Real Madrid Academy new buildings, the Okoro-Nu-Odo flyover, the Sakpenwa – Bori dual carriage way, the Abonnema Ring Road, the 10 kilometer Bolo internal roads, and the Eteo – Sime – Nonwa – Kira Road, are all due for inauguration from the 4th of January 2021, speaks volumes for the unwavering dedication of the administration.
This year which of course represents the midpoint of the second term, is therefore a year when the Wike administration’s agenda for the State, which has been clear from the very inception and, contrary to the warped narratives of some diehard critics and refuseniks, will begin to crystalize.
The efforts already put in place to pragmatically address the critical concerns of Rivers people, which have yielded verifiable results, especially in the sustenance of peace and security, education and affordable healthcare, fixing our infrastructural deficit and driving better economic growth and social progress for our State, will be consolidated.
The achievements so far recorded have already formed the bedrock for the motivation towards greater levels of development, economic growth, better life and secured future for our people and special gratitude and appreciation must be offered to God and the teeming masses of Rivers people who not only gave us the opportunity to serve but have also reposed great faith and confidence in the ability and capacity of Governor Wike to always do what is in the best interest of the people, as exhibited in the near total compliance of our people to the sometimes stringent Executive orders, mandated health guidelines and other directives, which became necessary at the height of the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also quite important to stress here that a second wave of Covid-19 is already upon us and the appeal is for us as a people brace ourselves with maximum cooperation to the protocols and regulations which will be rolled out as the situation determines and most importantly, to take personal responsibility in embracing and adhering to the already mandated guidelines and Covid-19 protocols, especially the wearing face masks and maintaining of social distancing, in our individual and collective interactions.
The call for Rivers people to join hands with Governor Wike to expand the development of the State is thus a germane and genuine admission that, as we crest the home run curve of this administration, there’s still much more to be done to realize the Rivers State of our dreams: a progressive State with fabulous infrastructures, quality education, affordable healthcare and boundless economic opportunities for all who live in it.
This year will be dedicated to focusing on the fundamental task of creating a new Rivers State through prudent, efficient and transparent management of available resources and from the program of events already reeled out for the first quarter, which will be kick-started with the marathon commissioning of projects across seven Local Government Areas in the state, the message that echoes loud and clear is that the State Government shall continue to upgrade and expand welfare and infrastructural services across all sectors of the polity.
One incontrovertible fact in the delivery of the NEW Rivers Vision is that traditional rulers, elder statesmen, religious leaders, party chieftains and opinion leaders are strategic partners in the development of Rivers State and the need for them to break the barriers of partisanship to build the future that many Rivers people yearn for, which is the desire of all for our State, cannot be overemphasized.
Governor Wike captured it succinctly in his new year message thus: “Those who demarket our State, remain our enemies and we must resist their antics. Let us therefore start a new chapter of cooperation, togetherness and solidarity and in one accord unleash our potential on the development of our State and better the lots of our people, for there’s no goal we cannot achieve if we remain united.
“As we say farewell to 2020 let us also eschew the recriminations, turn a new page on the hatred that has kept us divided, forgive one another and together, work towards making our dear State the best place on earth to live, do business and bring up our children.
“As we step into the New Year, let us recommit ourselves to the new Rivers Vision by working together under God’s guidance to make 2021 truly remarkable and fulfilling for Rivers State,” Governor Wike admonished.
*Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications.