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After 150 years of existence, the ancient kingdom of Opobo, an island in Rivers State, is now accessible by road, following the inauguration of a section of the road of the Ogoni-Andoni unit -Opobo by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The mood in the ancient and historic kingdom of King Jaja d’Opobo last Saturday was euphoric, as ecstatic crowds thronged the road and cheered on the governor for connecting the island by road to the continent of the state.
Wike, while addressing the electric crowd of the natives Opobo, Nkoro, Ogoni and Andoni at Opobo New Layout, said the completion of the road and its inauguration was a dream come true for the people of the area and its administration.
Wike said he felt happy to have kept his 2014 campaign pledge to the Opobo.
He thanked the administration of Dr Peter Odili for designing the Unity Road project.
According to Wike, without Odili’s foresight, it would have been difficult for his administration to complete the Opobo axis of the Ogoni-Opobo-Andoni road.
The governor has asked his special adviser on special projects to get in touch with the king and the rulers of Opobo to find out where they want a new land to be filled with sand and reclaimed for them by the government of the State.
Wike also urged the state’s surveyor general to begin the process of land mapping and surveying lands already filled with sand in the area to allow the people of Opobo to begin dividing up space between them.
Speaking of the threat of erosion in Queen’s Town, Wike reminded the Opobos of the N3. A billion dollar contract that was awarded when one of their sons was a works commissioner to solve this problem.
The governor said that, unfortunately, the company that got the contract disappeared after receiving a mobilization fee of 2 billion naira.
Wike said it was baffling that their son could thwart such a development project drawn to the area, which would have solved the threat of erosion and ended the threat of Queen’s Town being swept away.
“Sometimes you wrote to me about the erosion in Queen’s Town. I told the Amayanabo the other day that the post was assigned when your son was a works commissioner.
“It was awarded up to N3.1bilion. The company collected 2 billion naira and fled the site. Amayanabo from Opobo, go ask your son: who is this company that collected the money and refused to protect the shore of Queen’s Town?
He said every Nigerian must accept the fact that it is better to live together in a united Nigeria than otherwise.
The governor, who reflected on the rich diversity, resources and why God has brought every part of the country together in a geographic space called Nigeria, said Nigerians must learn to live in unity.
At the inauguration, the former Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources and Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, expressed his gratitude to Wike for addressing the critical needs of the Opobo people.
He observed how thrilled people were to have a road to take to connect the island to the rest of the state, adding that Wike had brought humanity to the rulership.
The former minister stressed that it was relevant for Nigeria to remain united so that the Opobo road continues to be in the country.
Waziri also said that Wike was a rare governor who provided Nigeria with an indispensable ingredient of democracy that would promote nation-building.
“Yobe has been in the opposition since 1999. All attempts to silence us have failed. In Nigeria, too, all attempts to silence the opposition will fail under Governor Wike’s banner.
“There are certain dividends (respects) that usually go to Governor Wike because he earned them. But Governor Wike is not the only governor of Rivers. He is a rare governor in PDP.
“It gives Nigerian politics the indispensable ingredient of democracy. And that is, for democracy to prosper, to be useful, for it to prosper, democracy must promote nation-building.
In his remarks, the Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas-Jaja, said the people of his kingdom will remain eternally grateful to the Governor for the humanity he has brought to rule.
He passionately called on the governor to launch another land reclamation project in Opobo.
Also speaking, Rivers State Works Commissioner Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the road has been built entirely through mangroves and swamps.
“It is 11.15 km long, 7.3 m wide with a 1.5 m wide shoulder on each side. From the starting point at the Nkoro / Opobo junction to where we are now gathered, you will cross 18 culverts of varying sizes and 5 bridges of varying lengths, the shortest measuring 34m.
“Due to the peculiarities of the terrain, we have an average infill height of 4m, the smallest infill height being 2m, a height that qualifies me as a short man, and some infill heights of up to 8. m, taller than a multi-storey building. It has two layers of asphalt, a 6cm binder layer and a 4cm wearing course. All together 10cm.
The works commissioner further stated that “with the commissioning of the 11.15 km-Opobo road on the Opobo axis of the 43 km Ogoni, Andoni, Opobo Unity Road, the Kingdom of Opobo has lost its island status “.

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Lucas E. Kelly

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