Except those who are in the opposition, or those who hate his guts, people generally believe that Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, is doing well in terms of projects undertaken for the interest of the citizens and residents. Nine flyovers have either been completed or are under construction, by construction giants, Julius Berger.
Apart from the flyovers, other projects have been undertaken by the governor since he assumed duties about six years ago. For the projects he has embarked on, he has been christened Mr Projects. Once those projects are completed and ready for use, as is the custom with many government officials, commissioning ceremonies will be organised and so much money spent, amidst fanfare. This has been the practice in Rivers State as well as other states. Governors of such states use those commissioning ceremonies to score some political points and attract some form of publicity. But the bad side of this is that in trying to make life meaningful for the people, the same people are made to go through excruciating pains, just because the governor wants to commission a project.
Last week, Wike did just this to the people, when the reconstructed Rumuola flyover was to be commissioned. Apart from the inconveniences that the residents suffered as a result of the closure of the roads leading to and from Rumuola, so much money was spent and many man-hours lost.
For example, on the eve of the commissioning, the roads were closed to traffic, forcing people to use alternative routes to get to their destination. Incidentally, the closure was done hours before the date the government announced for the closure.
Even with pleas by the residents, that the Rumuola and GRA Junction flyovers should be commissioned the same day and time, so that the people could go through the pains just at that time, the government did not listen. It decided to fix the commissioning of the GRA Junction flyover on Saturday, just two days apart. Of course the people went through hell again, as the road was closed to traffic on Friday evening, ahead of the commissioning which took place on Saturday, amidst the usual fanfare.
While we praise the governor for his decision to undertake meaningful projects such as roads and flyovers for the benefit of the residents, we do not see any sense in the decision to punish the people and make them go through hell, just because the projects had to be inaugurated. We do not see the rationale behind the elaborate ceremonies for projects commissioning, especially on a busy road as the Aba Road, where most of the flyover projects are sited.
The projects are meant for the people. Subjecting the people to so much pains and inconveniences in the name of projects commissioning is a slap on the rights of the people. They have got the right to movement and such rights cannot be taken away from them just like that.
Going forward, we urge the governor to think of other means of inaugurating his well thought-out projects without infringing on the rights of the people and causing them to lose their self-dignity and esteem. Forcing people to trek long distances and causing commercial drivers and other road users to spend longer hours on the road as they search for alternative routes is wrong. This should not be allowed to continue.