The senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Andrew Uchendu, has urged Governor Nyesom Wike to continue with the people-oriented projects initiated by previous administrations.
His media aide, Solomon Okocha, yesterday in Port Harcourt, said Uchendu spoke when a delegation of Association of Female Taxi Drivers (AFTD) visited him.
Uchendu, who is the deputy chairman, Senate Committee on Public Procurement, lauded female taxi drivers in Rivers for their courage to venture into a profession once reserved for men.
He promised to draw the attention of relevant authorities to their plight.
“It is obvious that the persons who are benefitting from the services that you are rendering cut across different political, social and religious divides, hence government must do all that it can to assist you, devoid of any sentiment.
“If Governor Wike wants to assist the people of the state, there is no reason why pro-people programmes of previous administrations, especially in the area of women empowerment, should be abandoned.
”I urge Governor Wike to continue with any state empowerment programme initiated by previous administrations for the good of Rivers people. He should emulate King Alfred Diete-Spiff (the pioneer military governor of the old Rivers state), who set the ball rolling in terms of scholarship programmes in Rivers State. It is sad to note that it is only Wike’s administration that has refused to maintain this noble service to humanity.
”There is no justifiable reason why Governor Wike has abandoned the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) scholarship programme, Songhai Farm, Buguma Fish Farm, Greater Port Harcourt City, and the multi-million naira state-owned banana plantation in the Ogoni-axis of the state.
“For the good of our state, we must learn to continue with projects that directly touch the lives of our people, irrespective of political differences.”
The senator also said he would write to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and urge it to partner entrepreneurs willing to invest in female commercial driving in Rivers.
Coordinator of AFTD Mrs. Ayo Ogbonna said the last time they received audience and assistance from the government was during the administration of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation Minister), when they got new cars, through the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI) programme.
“AFTD is made up of women who undertake commercial driving in Rivers State, especially to add value to the lives of indigent women, hence making them to become economically productive and financially supportive in their homes.”
“We were set up by Her Excellency, Dame Judith Amaechi, wife of former Governor Amaechi, through the ESI scheme, in collaboration with Skye Bank. A lot of women immensely benefitted from the programme. Brand new cars, support funds, training, among others, were some of the tangible things that we got from that bold initiative. We remain grateful to Dame Amaechi and her husband for the unforgettable gestures towards Rivers women.
“Unfortunately, the present administration has not continued with the laudable scheme. A lot of female taxi drivers are undergoing various challenges, ranging from lack of access to funds for the procurement and repair of cars, discrimination, disturbances by touts and loading points being infested by criminals.”
Ogbonna pleaded with Uchendu to use his legislative mandate to speak out for female taxi drivers in Rivers.