Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has warned that the Rivers State government will no longer condone the disruption of construction work on the Andoni section of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road project.
The governor said his administration, which has already completed the Opobo section of the multibillion Naira road, is determined to complete the Andoni section before the end of his tenure in May, 2023.
Governor Wike, who stated this during a meeting with Andoni stakeholders at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday, regretted that construction of the Andoni section of the road had lingered for so long not because of funding, but because the people of the area have failed to see the project as theirs.
He warned that the State government will no longer tolerate the harassment or kidnapping of the contractor and his staff working on the road project. According to him, anyone caught attempting to sabotage the completion of the road will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Governor Wike explained that from the inception of his administration there has been deliberate attempt to equitably spread developmental projects across the twenty three Local Government Areas of the State.
The governor, however, regretted that some unscrupulous persons in Andoni have frustrated effort of the State government to connect Andoni Local Government to the rest of the State by road, hence, stalling the socio-economic growth of the area.
He explained that his determination to complete the Andoni section of the road spurred him to call the contractor who had travelled to Lebanon to return to Nigeria and complete the project.
Governor Wike urged the people to resist the temptation of being used by politicians to frustrate the effort of the State government to deliver the dividends of democracy to Andoni council, particularly, the communities that are directly affected by the project.
“Some of you may be used by politicians to sabotage our effort, to make sure that our promise to provide road to Ngo, we did not fulfil it. Woe unto you that you will be the one to be used because of politics to deny your people the benefit of democracy.”
The governor said Andoni is part of Rivers State, and must also benefit from the infrastructural development other Rivers communities or Local Government areas are currently benefiting from.
He charged Andoni youths, particularly former agitators to desist from harassing or kidnapping innocent construction workers toiling to ensure that indigenes of communities like Ikuru and Ngo can drive home before the end of his tenure.
“Agitate for the interest of your people. Make sure nobody harasses the contractor that is doing the project for the interest of your people. When your people are lacking basic amenities and facilities that is when you can agitate. But when you see government is willing to provide the things your people require, you should come out to protect what government is doing.”
Governor Wike disclosed that the Rivers State government will disburse the sum of N1Billion (One Billion Naira) monthly between August and October to enable the contractor complete the project latest by March, 2023.
Rivers State Commissioner of Works, Dr. Dakorinama George-Kelly, explained that total length of the road is 26 kilometres, out of which 10 kilometres have been executed, while 16 kilometres is outstanding.
“Summarily, about 68 percent of the project has been concluded hitherto 90 percent has been paid for and just today, you made another release, that is going to make it 94 percent paid for out of 100 percent. But completion status stands at 68 percent.”
The Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, commended governor Wike for his determination and commitment to complete the Andoni section of the Unity road.
“The assurance the governor gave Andoni people, everyone is satisfied. The governor assured us that the payment for the Andoni section of the Unity Road will be in record time. And the contractor also gave us assurance that it will be completed in seven months.”
He further added: “we are very happy to have a leader, governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who is not only doing projects in the city, urban centres.
He is also doing the same thing in the rural areas of the State, that is development. Development is one thing that you use to record the progress of social change.”
The Okama of Ikuru , King Aaron Miller, assured governor Wike that the people of Andoni will not allow further disruption of the project.
On his part, the Managing Director of Raffoul Construction, Elie Raffoul, assured governor Wike that his company will complete the Andoni axis of the Unity Road within the next seven months.