ONYEDI GABRIEL, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has opened a road to Opobo Kingdom, an ancient island in Rivers, after 150 years of its existence.
Excited residents of the historic kingdom showcased their best cultural displays on Saturday to celebrate the feat following the inauguration of a section of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity road by the governor.
Crowd of joyful residents thronged the road and cheered the governor as he drove into the area.
Wike while addressing the crowd of Opobo, Nkoro, Ogoni, Andoni indigenes at Opobo New Layout, said the completion of the road and its inauguration was a dream come through for the people of the area and his administration.
The governor said he felt happy to have fulfilled his 2014 campaign promise to Opobo people, expressing appreciation to the administration of Dr. Peter Odili for conceiving the Unity Road project.
Wike said without the foresight of Dr. Odili, it would have been difficult for his administration to complete the Opobo axis of the Ogoni-Opobo-Andoni Unity Road.
The governor directed his Special Adviser of Special Projects to liaise with the King and leaders of Opobo on where they desired a new land to be sand-filled and reclaimed for them by the state government.
Wike also urged the Survey-General of the State to commence the process of land mapping and survey of the already sandfilled land in the area to enable Opobo people to begin allocation of spaces among themselves.
Speaking about the Queen’s Town erosion menace, Wike reminded Opobo people of the N3.1 billion contract that was awarded when one of their sons was the Commissioner for Works to solve the problem.
The governor said, unfortunately, the company that was awarded the contract disappeared after it got N2bn mobilisation fee.
Wike said it was baffling that their son could frustrate such a project attracted to the area to solve the erosion menace and end the threat of washing away the Queen’s Town.
He said: “Sometimes, you wrote to me about the erosion in Queen’s Town. I told the Amayanabo the other day that the job was awarded when your son was Commissioner for Works.
“It was awarded to the tune of N3.1bn. The company collected N2bn and it ran away from site. Amayanabo of Opobo, go and ask your son, who is that company that collected the money and refused to do the Queen’s Town shore protection.”
He said every Nigerian needed to come to terms with the reality that they were better off living together in a united Nigeria than otherwise.
The governor, who reflected on the rich diversity and resources in Nigeria, said people must learn to live in unity.
Performing the inauguration, former Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Adamu Maina Waziri, expressed gratitude to Wike for solving critical needs of the Opobo people.
He observed how excited the people were to have a road saying the governor had brought humanity to governance.
He stressed that it was pertinent for Nigeria to remain united so that the Opobo road woulf continue to be in the country.
Waziri also declared that Wike was an uncommon governor, who was providing the country an indispensable ingredient of democracy to promote nation building.
He said: “Yobe has remained in opposition since 1999. All attempt to silence us has failed. In Nigeria also, all attempt to silence opposition will fail under the banner of Governor Wike.
“There are certain dividends (respects) that ordinarily have come to Governor Wike because he has earned them. But Governor Wike is not a governor for Rivers alone. He is an uncommon governor in PDP.
“He is giving the Nigeria polity the indispensable ingredient oh democracy. And that is, for democracy to thrive, to be useful, for it to flourish, democracy must promote nation building.
The Amayanabo of Opobo,
King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, said the people of his kingdom would remain eternally grateful to the governor for the humanity he had brought to governance.
He passionately appealed to the governor to initiate another land reclamation project in Opobo.
Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the road is entirely built through mangroves and swamps.
He said: “It is 11.15km long, 7.3m wide with a 1.5m wide shoulder on either side. From the start point at Nkoro/Opobo junction to this point where we are now gathered you will cross 18 culverts of varying dimensions and 5 bridges of varying lengths the shortest being 34m.
“Due to terrain peculiarities we have an average fill height of 4m, the least fill height being 2m, a height that qualifies me as a short man, and some fill heights as much as 8m high, taller than a storey building. It has 2 layers of Asphalt, a binder course of 6cm and a wearing course of 4cm. All together 10cm.”