President Bola Tinubu on Thursday received in audience at the State House, Abuja a 62-man delegation from Rivers State pledging the commitment of his administration to reconstruct the Eleme axis of the East-West Road.
Welcoming the high-powered delegation, comprising of leaders from both the governing All Progressives’ Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the President, according to a release issued by his Media Adviser, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, noted that concerning infrastructure development in Rivers State, he has heard the cries of prominent Rivers sons, with particular reference to the Eleme Junction-Onne axis of the East-West Road, linking the Port Harcourt Refinery.
On this, the President said the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, is a strong adviser, and would follow up on the issue for prompt action.
His words: “The Honourable Minister, Wike, is not just the Minister of FCT, he is also my adviser and an admirer of mine. He has hit the ground running and he should be encouraged by the State”.
President Tinubu said being blessed with enormous human capacity and natural resource wealth, neither Rivers State nor Nigeria has any business being associated with poverty, insecurity or under-development, assuring that under his leadership, the narrative will be permanently and positively changed.
The President said the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, has left big shoes to fill for the new Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and that as one of his most trusted allies, Rivers State will always have direct access to him in their joint march toward sustainable development.
According to him: “We are not meant to be in a position to be poor. We will turn the tide! Somewhere, somehow in this storm, there’s a quiet and peaceful place for us. We will locate it!
“We are not lazy people. We are richly endowed. We just need to be our brother’s keeper, and good neighbours to one another. I am not a President that will give excuses. I will work hard for our nation with purpose, determination and dedication to create wealth for all Nigerians. We have no reason to be poor! We will not look back, we will run aggressively forward.
“Today, we may be swimming against the tide. But the waves will soon propel us forward from behind. We will achieve the goals and dreams of our forefathers. I am inspired by the nation of people I now lead”.
Advising the younger generation to be more patient with the processes of government, President Tinubu said, “I am the Captain and Chief Salesman of the country. We have to reverse the trend and achieve possibilities within a short period of time. Our people have high expectations for us. I pledge to work hard, and I pray to God to put me on the right path, not to disappoint Nigerians”.
Earlier in his remarks, Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, told the President that the delegation, which included leaders of political parties, and past and present members of the State and National Assemblies across parties, was on a solidarity and thank you visit.
He said: “The people of Rivers State voted for you in the last general elections based on their belief in fairness, equity and justice. This is the first time that Rivers State is truly feeling the impact of the federal government since the inception of democracy in 1999”.
The Governor noted that the delegation greatly appreciated the President for appointing capable sons and daughters of the state into highly strategic positions within his administration.
Fubara particularly thanked the President for the appointments of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Barr. Nyesom Wike; Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity & Official Spokesperson of the President, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, as well as other sons and daughters of Rivers State into the Boards and Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other institutions.
The Governor hailed the President for attracting a $14 billion dollars investment approval for projects nationwide during the G-20 Summit, including the expansion of Indorama Petrochemicals in Eleme, Rivers State, adding that the State had just allocated 209 hectares of land in support of the new investment.
Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, a member of the delegation and former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Joseph Okocha, said the team came to thank the President for appointing Rivers indigenes into his government as well as “raising in our speech was the state of the East-West Road, leading to the refinery and we did mention that that will enhance the movement of petroleum products when the Port Harcourt Refinery comes on stream”.
According to him: “The President said he’ll attend to them and he has noted them and he made a joke there, which we have taken with seriousness, that our former governor is one of his closest advisers and things that we cannot get direct to him can be routed through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.”
Asked what his reaction was to protests by APC members in the state against the appointment of Wike, Okocha stated that the APC says protest is a right which the people are entitled to.
His words: “As you said, it was protest and protest is a right and as lawyer, I recognize that. The minority will have their protest and the majority will have its say, it’s normal, we’re in a democratic society, but let Nigeria and the federal capital see. The President has the prerogative to make an appointment and he has exercise that prerogative and all I say is ‘let Nigerians see whether the President’s appointment was justified and I can assure you, with the performance, which we expect from Minister Nyesom Wike from the Federal Capital, Nigerians will be happy that the President made that choice”.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja