Rivers may become the first state for the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to set foot on after his return to Nigeria.
The state government is earnestly expecting the most sought-after Nigerian at the moment who is expected to storm the Rivers State capital to commission two mega projects executed by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The visit may also afford lobbyists from the South-South/East zones who have been angling to get Tinubu’s ears as position to occupy pour out. The most urgent is leadership of the National Assembly including the senate presidency, speaker, deputies, majority leader, and chairmanship of key committees.
The state government has already made a public statement about the expected visit, saying in the evening of Wednesday, April 26, 2023, that Tinubu was to inaugurate the Rumuola-Rumuokwuta flyover and Magistrates Court building in Port Harcourt on May 3 and 4, 2023.
A statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, the governor’s media aide, said: “The 1007.5 metres Rumuola-Rumuokwuta flyover which connects Rumuola Road to Ikwerre Road is the 12th flyover built by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike’s administration since 2019.
“Governor Wike during an inspection tour of the Rumuola-Rumuokwuta flyover and Magistrates Court building in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, disclosed that the President-elect will pay two days visit to Rivers State next week.
“To God be the glory. We are expecting the President-elect on the 3rd and 4th of next month to commission the 12th flyover and the Magistrates Court building. You can see the Magistrates Court building and how amazing it is. We commend the contractor too who has done this job, and quite on time. I don’t think you can find this anywhere else in this part of the country.”
The aide revealed that Wike explained that the President-elect was told when he came to campaign in Rivers State and paid a courtesy call in Government House, Port Harcourt in February, 2023 that he would be invited to commission some of the landmark projects of his administration.
“We had invited presidential candidates of other parties like Labour, NNPP (New Nigeria Peoples Party), they all came and commissioned projects, and we did say to him (President-elect) that we believe that after the election we are going to invite him to commission projects too. And luckily, these two very important projects are ready.”
The Rivers State governor said it is gratifying that his administration was able to commence and finish the construction of 12 flyovers within the last four years. According to him, “Rivers people will of course attest to the fact that we have given our best and we thank God that it has turned out this way. We are extremely happy and we can beat our chest, we can go home satisfied that we have not disappointed our people. “
Wike explained that as of part of the activities to mark the inauguration of the incoming administration in Rivers State, several projects like the Intelligence Centre in Rumueprikom, remodelled Prof. Kesley Harrison and Dental and Maxillofacial hospitals among other projects have been earmarked for inauguration.
“Remember when the IGP (Inspector General of Police) came last time to commission the Intelligence Centre (Port Harcourt), we did promise him that we are going to build another Intelligence Centre. As I speak to you now, that centre is ready. Some other projects are the Kesley Harrison hospital.”
It is believed that many lobbyists in the south-south and south-east such as David Umahi had been trying to pry open the ears of president-elect through Wike. Many believe that Wike was highly instrumental in handing the presidency to Tinubu by leading away fives states including Rivers from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a fact not lost on Tinubu and the APC.
On this score, many believe that Tinubu would also rely on Wike to rally together most of the opposition parliamentarians in the National Assembly to help the APC gain control in parliament, or to even cause mass cross-carpeting to the ruling APC.
This seems to explain the relevance and importance of Wike and Rivers State in the incoming administration, and this seems not lost on lobbyists especially those from the South-East who seem to weigh little or nothing in Tinubu’s caucus.