By Codratus Godson
Governor Nyesom Wike who was sworn in for another term of office seems to respond to wide spreading criticisms of lethargic economic policies by announcing what he called a ‘Marshal Plan’ and a green revolution to transform the economy of the state.
Speaking in a long inauguration speech that showed experience and touched on almost every aspect of governance, Wike said his last term would focus on various aspects of the economy hinge on agriculture from job creation, more road constructions, flyovers, loans to entrepreneurs, to a cassava revolution.
He said: “We will therefore adopt a holistic approach to development by partnering with relevant national and international agencies and expertise to initiate and implement a 25-year ‘Marshall Plan’ for economic transformation and development to guide and accelerate the future development of our State.
“We are already doing great to close the existing deficit in infrastructure but the need to deliver more roads, bridges and modern jetties to connect our cities and communities, improve our economy, accelerate our development and improve the general wellbeing of our people. This we will do with greater vigour and commitment.”
He said agriculture would play a huge role in the coming plans as if in response to many advisers who have appealed to him to look into agriculture. He said; “For us therefore, it is about time we embraced the green revolution as a strategic measure for achieving economic diversification, job creation and food security for the State and our people, and we are just ready to do that.
“Our role in this regard will span from granting interest free loans to providing training, land preparation and logistical support to our willing youths to invest in commercial agriculture and allied businesses. We will also establish regional agricultural development belts in partnership with private firms to advance commercial farming in cash and other crops and invest in the establishment of agro-allied industries and processing plants across these belts.
“We will complete and privatize the multi-million-naira cassava processing plant at Afam, sell off all State-owned farms and agricultural companies, including the Okomoko Rubber plantation and company, and release all idle State farmlands to private sector investors for commercial cultivation.
“We will revive the school-to-land programme and leverage on the incentives from the Federal Government and the Central Bank to promote and sustain the development of agriculture across the value chain by our youths so that they can proudly earn their living, be employers of labour and contribute to the development of the State.”
On achievements of the first four years, the governor mentioned huge investments in the judiciary that birthed the rule of law, closing the deficits in the finances of the state, boost in IGRthus making Rivers one of the fastest growing state economies by IGR, better tax environment, roads, education, and establishment of a teaching hospital as well as college of health sciences in the state university.
He said security would take huge attention, the youth would be focused, and the controversial Rivers State Neighbourhood Security Watch Scheme would go operational.