The unemployment rate also rose slightly in Rivers under Nyesom Wike's administration.
Nyesom Wike was elected the fourth governor of Rivers State in the Fourth Republic in April 2015 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was re-elected for a second term in 2019.
In his inaugural speech on 29 May 2015, Mr Wike made several promises to the people of the state. The former minister of state for education pledged to ensure poverty reduction in the oil-rich state through job creation and expanding business opportunities in the state.
"On healthcare delivery, we are determined to ensure that our people have access to affordable and quality healthcare. To achieve this objective, we will adequately rehabilitate, equip and staff all existing general hospitals and health centres across the state," Mr Wike said.
The governor also promised to ensure prompt payment of workers' salaries, entitlements, including a backlog of salary arrears owed by the previous administration.
"We will therefore deliberately create the enabling environment to attract local and foreign investors into Rivers State by tackling the challenges of multiple taxation, irregular power supply and insecurity," he added.
In his second inaugural speech on 29 May 2019, the governor pledged to prioritise security after alleging that the federal government had begun to "politicise" security in the state.
He said he had recorded "successes" in the state in his first term and assured that he would make more "meaningful progress" in his second term.
"I stand here today with a humble spirit, conscious of the enormous responsibility that you have again entrusted in us and confident in our potential and with God on our side, we will surely discharge our mandate to the benefit of all and leave our dear Rivers State better off than when we started four years ago," Mr Wike assured.
On 29 May, Mr Wike left office after eight years. PREMIUM TIMES examines data on key socio-economic indicators to assess how Rivers State fared under his administration.
Internally Generated Revenue, FAAC Allocation
In 2015, the year Mr Wike took office as governor, the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Rivers State was N82 billion. The state's IGR ranking stood second, just after Lagos State, data released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows.
By the end of 2019, months after Mr Wike's second term in office, Rivers' IGR significantly grew to N140.39 billion, and remained the second highest nationally and the highest in the South-south region. The state raised N76 billion in the first half of the year and N64.39 billion in the last six months.
In the same year, the state received a total of N158.44 billion from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), taking the total revenue to N298.84 billion. The FAAC disbursement contributed 53 per cent to the total revenue of the state in 2019 while the IGR contributed 47 per cent.
This indicated that the state did not rely heavily on funds from the FAAC in 2019.
In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Rivers State suffered a decline of -16.53 per cent in IGR from N140.39 billion in 2019 to N117.2 billion, data from the BudgIT shows. However, the state still remained the second highest in IGR nationally after Lagos and highest in the South-south. It generated N65.6 billion in the first six months of the year and N51.69 billion in the last six months.
Within the same year, the state's FAAC disbursement dropped to N141.2 billion, taking total revenue to N258.3 billion, a decrease from the N298.84 billion received in 2019. The FAAC disbursement contributed 54.64 per cent to the total revenue of the state in 2020 while IGR contributed 43.36 per cent, data from NBS showed.
The details show that the state did not rely heavily on FAAC disbursements.
When analysed on a per capita basis, Rivers State's IGR in 2020 stood at N14,005, the second highest among the 36 states and the highest in the South-south region.
In the 2021 fiscal year, Rivers State grew its IGR by 20.6 per cent from N117.2 billion in 2020 to N141.40 billion, according to records by BudgIT. The FAAC disbursement for the year grew by 13.99 per cent from N141.2 billion in 2020 to N170.70 billion in 2021, taking the state's total revenue to N312.09 billion, data by BudgIT showed.
Again, the state did not depend heavily on FAAC disbursement for the year with 45.31 per cent of its total revenue (N312.09 billion) coming from its IGR, while FAAC contributed 54.69 per cent.
Further analysis of the revenue shows that Rivers State's per capita IGR was N16,333, the second highest nationally and highest in the South-south region, scoring above the average IGR per capita of N6,131 for the entire federation.
From the foregoing, Rivers' IGR grew from N82 billion in 2015 to N141.40 billion in 2021, an increase of nearly 100 per cent over five years, under Mr Wike.
BudgIT annually assesses the fiscal sustainability of the 36 states in Nigeria using four indexes. These include the ability of a state to cover its operating costs, and loan repayments without borrowing. Other indexes include a state's fiscal capacity to borrow more, given its low debt burden relative to its annual revenue, and the prioritisation of capital over recurrent expenditures.
Within the first six months of 2015, two months after Mr Wike assumed office as governor, Rivers State was ranked first on the fiscal sustainability index. It was also ranked first in 2020 and 2021 on the index.
This indicates that Rivers State performed excellently in fiscal sustainability index rankings from 2015 to 2021.
Available data shows that Rivers State was on continuous borrowing under Governor Wike's administration, resulting in a rising debt burden.
In 2015, when the governor took over office, the state's total debt burden was N53.16 billion. Its external debt stood at $46.92 million, ranking 21st highest nationally and fourth lowest in South-south, while domestic debt was at N134.96 billion, the fifth highest nationally and the third in the South-south, according to data released by BudgIT.
By the end of 2019, months after Mr Wike's first tenure in office, the state's total debt burden rose to N290.96 billion. This represented an increase of 194.66 per cent within six years from N98. 73 billion in 2014. Still, in 2019, Rivers' domestic debt stood at N266.94 billion, the second highest nationally and highest in the South-south. Its external debt grew to $78.4 million, the 16th highest nationally and third in the South-south region.
By 2020, Rivers State's total debt grew to N303.68 billion, the second most indebted nationally and the highest in the South-south region. The state's domestic debt stood at N266.94 billion. Its external debt grew to $96.7 million.
Within the same period, the state's total debt per capita stood at N36,291, higher than the country's average of N27,316 per citizen.
In 2021, Rivers State emerged as the third most indebted state in the country, despite a 5.65 per cent reduction in its total debt stock from N303.68 billion in 2020 to N286.54 billion. The state's domestic debt stock dropped to N225.51 billion while its external debt jumped to $147.78 million, data from BudgIT showed.
As of 31 December 2022, Rivers' domestic debt remained at N225.51 billion, becoming the fourth highest indebted state nationally and second highest in South-south after Delta State, according to records by Nigeria's Debt Management Office (DMO). Within the same period, Rivers' external debt stock dropped to $87.13 million, becoming the 21st least indebted state nationally and fourth lowest in the South-south.
From the details above, Governor Wike is leaving behind a huge debt burden in Rivers State with domestic debt increasing from N134.96 billion in 2015 to N225.51 billion in 2022, an increase of over 70 per cent. Also, the state's external debt grew from $46.92 million in 2015 to $87.13 million in 2022, an increase of nearly 100 per cent, within seven years under Mr Wike.
Available records show that in the third quarter of 2017, about two years and four months after Mr Wike took over, the unemployment rate in Rivers State was 41.3 per cent. It dropped to 36.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, representing a decline of 4.92 per cent, data from the NBS showed. It emerged as the state with the second highest unemployment rate in the South-south region, after Akwa Ibom (37.7 per cent) within the same period under review.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the figure jumped to 41.59 per cent, the 11th highest nationally and fourth highest in the South-south. New unemployment statistics for states are yet to be published since 2021.
Thus, Rivers State's unemployment rate rose from 41.3 per cent in 2017 to 41.59 per cent, in 2020, in three years, under Mr Wike.
In 2019, after Mr Wike's first term in office, Rivers State had a poverty headcount ratio of 23.91 per cent, the third lowest in the South-south, according to official records. The ratio placed Rivers among the states below the national average.
The report, released by the NBS, was based on data from the Nigerian Living Standards Survey.
The poverty headcount ratio, also called poverty rate, is the percentage of the population who are multidimensionally poor.
By 2022, the figure surged to 38.7 per cent, the third lowest in the South-south region, however.
From the details above, Rivers State's poverty rate increased from a headcount ratio of 23.91 per cent, in 2019 to 38.7 per cent in 2022, a difference of about 14.79 per cent within three years, under Mr Wike.
Ease of Doing Business Ranking
A conducive business environment, experts say, plays a huge role in inspiring investments in a state. There is a general belief that investors usually consider the business environment when making a decision about where they should invest.
There was no data on the ease of doing business ranking as of 2015, the year Mr Wike assumed office. However, an Ease of Doing Business ranking by the BudgIT in 2017 indicated that starting a business in Rivers State would take an average of 35 days, scoring the same with Bayelsa and Cross River states, the highest in the South-south.
In 2018, Rivers State was ranked eighth on subnational data on the ease of doing business, the lowest in the South-south. It scored 79.47 out of 100.
The ranking was published in a report, Comparing Business Regulation for Domestic Firms in 36 states and FCT Abuja with 189 other economies. It focuses on whether an economy has in place the rules and processes that can lead to good outcomes for entrepreneurs and, in turn, increased economic activity.
By 2022, the state recorded a drop in the ranking. It was ranked 11th on subnational data, the third lowest in the South-south region.
Thus, Rivers' Ease of Doing Business Ranking dropped from eighth in 2018 to 11th in 2022, under Mr Wike.
Under-5 mortality rate, Access to health
Between 2016 and 2017, about two years after Mr Wike took office, 85.8 per cent of pregnant women in Rivers State had access to four or more antenatal care visits, according to data by the NBS.
The state emerged the best in the South-south with the highest percentage of antenatal care visits.
By 2018, the state slightly dropped to 81.2 per cent in the score, but still emerged as the ninth best in access to antenatal care visits across the country, and the best in the South-south region. The score placed the state above the national average of 56.8 per cent for the year.
In 2021, the NBS data shows the figure dropped to 73.2 per cent, becoming the 20th best in access to antenatal care visits across the country. The state, however, emerged as the second lowest in the South-south region just ahead of Bayelsa State.
Therefore, between 2017 and 2021, under Mr Wike, the percentage of pregnant women with basic access to antenatal care visits dropped from 85.8 per cent to 73.2 per cent
On the Under-five Mortality, data showed the rate for Rivers State between 2016 and 2017 was 58 per 1,000 live births, the fifth lowest nationally and second lowest in the South-south region after Cross River which had 52 per 1,000 births, although the score for Edo State was unavailable for the year.In 2018, data showed that the under-five mortality rate in the state was 79 per 1,000 live births. With the figure, the state emerged as the 12th state with less under-five mortality rate nationally, scoring the same as Ondo State and the highest in the South-south.
By 2021, the figure increased significantly to 100 per 1,000 live births, recording the 13th highest position nationally, scoring the same with Bayelsa, and highest in the South-south region.
On the other hand, the number of women married or in unions who use or whose partner uses contraceptive methods in Rivers State is 18.0 per cent between 2016 and 2017, placing the state as the second best in the South-south after Cross Rivers State (23.0) and the 15th nationally.
In 2018, the state improved in the ranking with 32.0 per cent to emerge fourth highest nationally and highest in the South-south.
The percentage of pregnant women in Rivers State that had access to four or more antenatal care visits dropped from 85.8 per cent between 2016 and 2017 to 73.2 per cent in 2021, a difference of 12.6 per cent under Mr Wike.
Similarly, the number of women who are married or in unions who use or whose partner uses contraceptive methods in Rivers State increased from 18.0 per cent between 2016 and 2017 to 32.0 per cent in 2018, a difference of 14 per cent, under Mr Wike.
Budgetary allocation to key sectors - Education, Health
According to experts, there are important sectors that require investments to engineer socio-economic development. Two of those sectors are education and health.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommended that governments of various countries should allocate 15 to 20 per cent of their total annual budgetary allocation to education. Similarly, heads of African Union countries, in April 2021, recommended the allocation of at least 15 per cent of an annual budget to the health sector.
An analysis of the Rivers State Government's budgetary allocations to the education and health sectors under Governor Wike's administration shows that the state has consistently failed to meet the benchmarks for the sectors.
Worse still, the state disbursed only a meagre N4.28 billion for the sector as of December 2019, despite not meeting the minimum benchmark for the sector.
In 2020, the state allocated N1.5 billion to the health sector while the education sector received only N2.8 billion from its capital expenditure, according to evaluations by BudgIT.
The allocations, again, were below the minimum benchmark for the sectors.