On Thursday, May 31, 2018, Governor Nyesom Wike commissioned 11 roads with concrete drains in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA), Rivers State.
Decked in colourful ceremonial clothes and symbols of office that reflect the cultural diversity of ONELGA, the traditional rulers of the various communities led by His Majesty, Professor Anele Nwokoma, Eze Egi III, added pomp and pageantry to the occasion, which attracted a mammoth crowd.
Performing the tape cutting function and recounting the projects his team inspected in Port Harcourt and other parts of the State, Senator Godswill Akpabio wondered aloud how Wike accomplished the execution of so many infrastructural projects across the State at a time resources are very scarce.
In his speech, former Caretaker Committee Chairman of ONELGA, Barrister Olisa Osi, thanked Governor Wike on behalf of the peoples of ONELGA for the great works across Rivers State and ONELGA in particular, adding thus: “Your Excellency, you have touched the people of Omoku, Ndoni, Egbema, Usomini, Igburu and Egi positively; we shall reciprocate appropriately in due course.”
The thunderous applause that greeted that statement reflected unquestionable acquiescence by all and sundry.
Responding to the sights and sounds of the occasion, Governor Wike thanked the people of ONELGA for expressing appreciation for what has been done so far and for giving the contractor the enabling social environment to execute the projects. He reiterated his promise to complete the on-going dualization of Omoku—Okwuzi Road stretch of Federal Highway 28 (F28) by December this year and further promised to flag-off the Omoku—Kreigani— Oboburu Road in July.
The euphoria reflected in the above anecdote is a natural consequence of a promise fulfilled. When a promise is made, it generates joyous expectations and anticipation of outcomes that possess the propensity of improving the lives of the people. This is more so when the promise is by authority figures that possess power of patronage in the political system. When the promise is not kept, disappointment and despondency ensue leading to citizens losing confidence in government and politicians.
However, when a promise is fulfilled, it spawns jubilation and exaltation such that was witnessed in Omoku during the occasion. This is especially so in a society where the sensibilities of the citizens have been numbed over the years by a myriad of unfulfilled promises proclaimed at the podiums of politics.
Noteworthy is the fact that this feat was achieved within three years and at a time resources are scarce and contending forces for infrastructural development abound across the State. Certainly, this is praiseworthy and highly commendable; more so when it was achieved alongside other similar projects commissioned across a State that has suffered years of systemic insensitivity to the needs of the masses.
Again, that the Omoku-Okwuzi Road project is a segment of F28, which has been in a state of disrepair for more than 25 years, is a reflection of Federal Government’s insensitivity to a stretch of towns that arguably constitute the highest oil and gas bearing communities in Nigeria.
Sadly, within that timeframe, NAOC Ltd and TOTAL E&P Ltd, two major oil companies operating in ONELGA, and NLNG, Bonny, and Indorama Petrochemical, Eleme, which get more than 80 per cent of their feedstock from the area, shied away from what could have been a commendable project under their corporate social responsibility programme. Today, realising the socio-economic importance of the road, Governor Wike has taken up the project and has reiterated his commitment to complete it this year!
A timeless aphorism bequeathed to the democratic world by late President Abraham Lincoln of the United States is that democracy is “government of the people, for the people, by the people.”
While this abiding classic may easily be consigned to the Athenian model of democracy and therefore antiquity, its relevance to representative democracy is the fact that authority figures should deliver on the promises they made to the people from the soapboxes of politics.
Revisiting the wonder expressed by Senator Akpabio regarding Wike’s capacity to deliver on promises, it is offered that the attribute is a product of Wike’s commitment to promises and pronouncements on the podium of politics and perceptive prioritization of priorities in public policy and programmes. It is also reflective of the aphorism “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” It is a disposition worthy of emulation in governance. Amon avis, this is the essence of “government…for the people” in the Lincolnian tradition.
Osai writes from Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.


Jason Osai

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