Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said the people of the state deserve an award from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for standing up in defence of democracy in last December 10 rerun elections in the state.
Wike, who spoke while addressing the 2017 state new year banquet at the Government House, Port Harcourt last Sunday night, said the state government would stand by the families of those who died while defending the integrity of the state.
“Nobody will intimidate or blackmail me. No one person can own Rivers State,” he said.
He also assured the people of the state that his administration would embark on extensive empowerment programmes in 2017.
The governor also stated that the state’s share of the Paris and London Clubs Deduction Refund would be applied to aggressive projects execution in 2017 since the state government has already settled salaries and pensions.
Wike said his administration would combine aggressive projects execution with the empowerment schemes.
He said: “This year will be a year of the empowerment of our people. While we are doing projects, we will be doing stomach infrastructure.
“Our stomach infrastructure this year will go round the people. We will transform the state in all ramifications.”
The governor said: “We will increase the tempo of projects execution in January to the level that our people will be amazed.
“Work starts on January 3, 2017. We will release more funds for the execution of the Ogoni Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road. Sakpenwa-Bori road, Buguma internal roads, and several road projects will be executed.
“Between this year and early 2018, we will deliver on all our road projects. Within this period, Rivers State will witness total transformation.”
While commending the leaders of Rivers State for their support and loyalty, he assured them that his administration would continue to invest in the maintenance of security.
He also said he would never support the intimidation of the judiciary under any circumstances, pointing out that if the judiciary fails, democracy will collapse.
The governor declared that the state would roll out the drums in 2017 to celebrate the state golden jubilee.
In his remarks, former Transport Minister, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, said Wike’s style of governance must be applauded as it has brought development and stability to the state.
He said: “This government has brought an inclusiveness that has never been seen for a long time in the state.”
In a welcome address, Head of Service of the state, Rufus Godwins, said the leader of the state had revived the state’s economy when the entire country was in a recess.
Prominent persons who attended the banquet include former state military Governor, His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete Spiff; former state governor, Sir Celestine Omehia; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Austin Opara; former Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru; and former acting National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, as well as members of the national and state assemblies.