• Tells Wike, Fubara to sheath their  swords

 

From Tony John, Port Harcourt

Former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has charged the warring Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara and his immediate predecessor and incumbent Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, to bury their differences and sheath their swords to avert the crisis snowballing into a bigger regional and national challenge with greater consequences.

Jonathan, who spoke when he flagged off the construction of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Road project at Nkpor-Aker Road Roundabout, Rumuolumeni community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area said rather than fighting, the duo should synergise for the growth and development of the state, even as he applauded efforts of some leaders who had intervened in the festering political fight.

The former president noted the problems associated with transition of governments in Nigeria, and associated crises.

He explained that even at the centre, where presidents have taken over from presidents, it has been better managed but regretted that it was worse at the state level, warning that it is not the best.

He emphasised that outgoing governors and incoming ones must know that they have to work together for the collective interest of the citizenry of their states, urging them to address their minds to the need for such mutual acceptance.

“In this case of Rivers, Minister Nyesom Wike and Governor Siminalayi Fubara must work together for the development of the land and the people of Rivers State. The tension will not help us.

“Rivers State is very critical in this country. Rivers State is the heart of the Niger Delta. If Rivers State is destabilised, the whole Niger Delta will be destabilised and it will not end within the Niger Delta alone because I am from this part of the country, and I know how the system works. We don’t want any crisis in Rivers State.

“Leaders must know that nobody takes 100 percent. You must learn the principle of give and take. So, our political actors must work together if you love Rivers people.

“And, I join the leaders of Rivers State and well-meaning Nigerians who have been calling for truce, who have been calling for ceasefire, to also re-emphasise that there is the need for a ceasefire. Let us do things that will rather project the state positively.

“There is this common saying that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Both the Governor and the Minister are young people, very young people, but they are powerful, and if you continue to fight, Rivers people will suffer. We don’t want the Rivers people to suffer.

“So, we are calling on them to embrace themselves. One hand does not clap. It takes two hands to clap. So, we want them to work together for the collective interest of Rivers people.

“Whatever has happened, has passed. Let us move to a new phase for the interest of the state, the Niger Delta, and indeed, the country.”

He commended Fubara for his vision, commitment and courage to take up the construction of such a road that has numerous benefits of making movement easy, enhancing response time to security issues, promoting integration and economic growth.

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“When I was asked to come and flag off this project, I felt that it is only a person who has vision and the commitment to develop his people that can do this.

“Your Excellency, let me commend you for your vision and the courage to start this project. In fact, it is not going to be a tea party. If you must develop a nation, region or state, there are critical elements that count. These are good road networks, airport, rail and water transport systems as well as security.”

He said by providing the enablers, development would thrive in the state, and thanked the governor for daring to dream big, and venture into projects that previous administrations had avoided.

Earlier, Fubara assured that his administration was determined to deliver the Trans-Kalabari Road to stimulate socio-economic activities in benefiting rural communities for overall development of the state.

He, therefore, advised the people to buy into the project and ensure they ward off any form of sabotage that may delay or frustrate timely completion of the project.

The governor said he understands the difficult swampy terrain that the road will traverse, and the associated cost but has decided to embark on it, which signals the driving principle of his administration to put the wellbeing and advancement of the people first.

He maintained that there were funds saved from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and federal allocations to fund the project to completion without borrowing, which is why 30 percent of the contract sum had already been paid to mobilise the contract to site in order to deliver on schedule.

“When we went for a campaign in the three local government areas of Kalabari Kingdom, we promised you that if you give us your votes and we succeed, we will embark on the Trans-Kalabari Road.

“And that is what we have come to do today. We are a government, when we make promises, we keep our promises.

“I understand the cost. I understand the difficult terrain and I also understand that somebody has to take this step. If it is not done by me, then another person can also do it. But, within our time, it is proper for us to make a statement to our people.

“I don’t want to talk about politics on this project. I want us to look at the facts. It is a difficult terrain, it is going to be expensive, but we are equal to the task.

“Let me also say it for record purposes; we are not going to borrow to embark on this project. We have saved and we are using our savings to pay off the cost, which we have already done, the 30 percent initial advance payment. So, the contractor has no reason to delay, but to start off the project immediately.”

The governor appealed to the Rumuolumeni people to give the contractors the necessary support to enable them take off without much ado while also urging the Kalabari Kingdom to give the necessary support so that the project will be delivered without any sabotage.

The governor said the Trans-Kalabari Road project will have a lot of bridges, and will have a deck-on-pile, being built on the swamp, adding that having started it early, it should be ready within the lifespan of his tenure for formal inauguration.

In his description of the project, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Atemea Briggs, said Governor Fubara was making true his commitment of providing infrastructure that promotes socio-economic growth and urban expansion. Briggs explained that the project that will link Kalabari land by road to the metropolis is 12.5 kilometres long, and has four concrete bridges measuring 576 meters, 288 meters, 360 meters and 108 meters, separately.


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