An improved security arrangement in Rivers state replicated in Eleme has given the area turn-around for businesses to thrive and also attract new investors into the state. Godwin Egba reports.
Economic analysts acknowledge that among other parameters to determine a society’s socio-economic growth are anchored on adequate provision of effective security and infrastructural development in order to attract both local and foreign investors.
A critical stakeholder in security and infrastructural assessment of Rivers state, Comrade Mohammed Umar Giwa bared his mind in an interactive session with select journalists recently when he said that Rivers which had suffered unmitigated criminal activities mitigated by different criminal elements and infrastructural deficiency over the years now stands out in a new dawn of a near zero tolerance in security challenges and monumental infrastructural development.
Giwa who is the chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state based his observation after carefully studying developments at the Eleme industrial zone described as Nigeria’s economic hub where over 200 oil and gas giants, petro-chemical and fertiliser companies are on ground generating billions of naira annually into Nigeria’s economy amidst security and infrastructural challenges.
What makes Rivers/Eleme thick
Eleme is one of the 23 local government areas in the state that prides itself as an economic engine room of both the federal and state governments.
For decades, it has been playing host to overwhelming number of multinationals in hydrocarbon businesses, organised heavy-duty transporters, shipping and other oil and gas-related businesses.
The zone also plays host to Nigeria’s premier Port-Harcourt Refinery sited between Eleme and Okirika business community, a world-class Indorama Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company, Onne Oil and Gas designated free zone housing over 180 investors, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Onne-Eleme and the Liquidated National Fertiliser Company Of Nigeria (NAFCON) now called NOTORE chemical and fertiliser company limited.
A changed narrative
Giwa recalled that as a heavy duty transporter with operational location in Eleme, they had witnessed several attacks from criminals against their trucks and drivers in various parts of the state and the Eastern parts of the country.
He however attested that, “Now the Eleme newly-elected local government council chairman, Chief Obarilormate Ollor, with the support of the state governor, Nyesome Wike and various business stakeholders can heave a sigh of relief that insecurity is becoming a thing of the past especially in that part of the state.
“I am attesting to this for anybody to challenge me based on how insecurity was tackled within three months (100 days in office) the council chairman assumed office. Working in consonance with the security template of Governor Wike, the chairman destroyed all illegal structures and shanties along the Eleme East West road axis where criminals such as kidnappers, armed robbers and cultists among others operate from and used as their hide-out/ comfort zone.
“One of the most dangerous locations destroyed was the Eleme-Ebubu Trailer Park adjoining the Onne oil and gas free zone port where transport and other commercial activities thrive in the midst of dare-devil criminals operating both day and night,” Giwe disclosed.
Blueprint checks also revealed that the demolition of the Trailer Park in April 2021 as directed by the state governor was a hack into the epicentre of all criminal activities in Eleme where a den of criminals identified as Wazobia/ Achara joint was discovered.
The NURTW boss attested that Eleme residents and business operators in the zone applauded the bravery of the council chairman and the state governor, pointing out that the action was a new security roadmap that has instilled confidence in the mind of existing investors in the zone and a magnet to attract more potential ones into the area especially transporters, industrial and commercial enthusiasts.
Giwa further attested that hitherto the Eleme business community had suffered untold hardship due to endless days and months of non supply of electricity except individual alternative power generating plants and lack of portable drinking water in most parts of the 10 communities that make up the local government area.
Giving further perspectives he said, “But right now, we are now existing in a new Eleme as chief Ollormate has taken a bold step in restoring light and water to the entire communities that once suffered these neglect in the hands of past administrations, most especially the dead trap Eleme-East-West federal road which the chairman fought doggedly to ensure that the federal government gives immediate attention to its reconstruction.”
Giwa who commended the servant-leadership style of Governor Wike and the Eleme council boss noted that the duo and others like them are on the path of history to be emulated considering their commitment to protect and promote the socio-economic growth of the state against all odds.
He however appealed to the state government to approve a new site for the NURTW to settle and operate, as according to him, “We are stake-holders in the economy of Rivers state, we generate huge revenue to the government alongside our counterparts in the South-west and northern zone of the country,” Giwa noted.
In a bid to ascertain the veracity of Comrade Giwa’s positive observation of the new dawn in security and infrastructural development in the Eleme business community, Blueprint secured the attestation of the council’s in-house publication ‘The New Era’ in which it stated that, “It is true that the silent prayers of Eleme people has sounded so loud to the deafening of ill-wishers.
The emergence of Obarillormate Ollor as the executive chairman of Eleme local government area has brought among other things peace and security which without gainsaying the chairman (a lover of peace) held a youth meeting aimed at sensitising the youths as well as gathering information that can help to forestall the spate of social vices in Eleme.”
“He immediately reconstituted the youth council in order to ensure the reins of peace. He also organised a peaceful prayer walk round Eleme where criminals openly surrendered to peace.
“He also ensured that the peaceful protest on the Eleme section of the East-West road was indeed peaceful, devoid of the semblance of Lekki toll gate. The chairman within this short time commenced work at the abandoned new Eleme local government secretariat as it took him less than a week to set the wheels in motion and work has commenced and contractors fully mobilised.
“He has decongested the Eleme Nchia market junction to ensure that traders have a better place to carry on their trade and motorist enjoy a free flow of traffic around the area as well as the renovation of the Eleme Motor Park which is ongoing.
“He has started the building of Eteo market, Onne Civic Centre and demolished shanties that housed criminals in some quarters. The chairman immediately on assumption of office ensured a smooth working relationship.
“Not to say less of the stable electric power supply that the people of Eleme now enjoy. The chairman has ensured that even the communities that suffered prolonged blackout now enjoy light as well.
“First impression they say strengthens relationships as the chairman has made a good start and not by being ‘very busy’ doing nothing but has dealt with matters of direct impact on the people of Eleme,” a council legislator, Hon Chumu attested.