Rivers state’s dilemma: More bridges, more poverty

Dec 23, 2022|Adesola Afolabi

Solid infrastructure is probably the first thing you notice when you get to most countries outside Nigeria. Several days ago, Bo, one of our co-founders, was still raving on and on about the quality of roads in Rwanda after a week-long visit.

That kind of ringing endorsement is the norm because infrastructure investment on this side of the world is low and slows economic growth.

Key takeaways:

  1. Rivers state has constantly recorded one of the largest revenue among Nigeria’s 36 states. 

  2. This revenue growth has fuelled capital expenses that took up over 77% of total expenses last year. 

  3. But Rivers state’s revenue is yet to rub off positively on residents who are poorer and less employed than other oil-producing states.


But, if you have spent any time following Nigerian politics, you’ve probably heard of Nyesom Wike, Nigeria’s singing governor. You may have also heard of his love for bridges, 10 of which he built in his state in four years.

Wike’s performance in this area has earned him “the flyover governor” moniker in praise of an achievement other states have struggled to accomplish. On the other hand, Wike’s political angst and controversies also contribute to fame beyond building bridges. This might earn Nigeria’s south-south region increased influence in the country’s political discourse.

For instance, he leads the G-5, a group of five governors from Oyo, Abia, Benue, Enugu and Rivers. This group aims to extract certain concessions from Atiku Abubakar, his party’s presidential candidate, ahead of the 2023 elections. But political theatre, a live band, smooth dance steps,  and other controversial fame aside, his primary occupation since  2015 has been to improve the lives of Rivers state residents.

How has he performed in this area, and what should we expect as a new political regime gets set to lead following the 2023 elections?

To answer this question, we will examine how the Rivers state government has grown and spent taxpayers' funds in the past eight years. We will also provide further insights into

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