‘Wike has not done well at all’
What is your impression of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in Rivers State so far?
To me, Rivers State’s politics has not been put in proper perspective, both in terms of the performance of the incumbent government and what could be achieved.
How many can still remember the landmark achievements of the Chibuike Amaechi administration? You can deny the Amaechi administration of anything, but definitely not performance.
In healthcare, he built the first 105 model health centres that can pass as hospitals anywhere in the world.
All of us know also what he did in the education sector: he built brand new secondary schools that could pass as universities.
He also constructed about 500 model primary schools with 12 classroom blocks and ICT centres, and set out to establish a new university, although he didn’t complete it.
In the area of sport development, he erected a new magnificent stadium in the New Port Harcourt area and that is the stadium everybody uses till today.
In agriculture, Amaechi established the Songhai farm- fish farm settlements that have about 500 employees.
In industry, his strategy was to encourage private investors and not direct investment in industries.
Then in roads infrastructure, he dualised almost all the roads in Port Harcourt. And as the then commissioner for works, I know.
In 2007 when he said we were going to dualise Rumuola Road, I said within me, ‘something must be wrong with this man!’ Now, the greatest highpoint of the Wike administration is roads.
But, can you point at what he has done in the education sector, or whether he has done anything in the health sector?
Yet, the media hype makes me like, ‘what is going on?’
The media have sustained this hype about Wike administration so much, even when it is not the true situation of things in the state.
My position is that the so-called Wike administration’s achievements have been blown out of proportion and do not represent what is on the ground.
Even the roads he said he is doing, which has he done outside Port Harcourt?
As commissioner for works, I know the state very well and if you match what Wike has accomplished against the huge financial inflow of Rivers State, there is a stark mismatch.
In terms of federally allocated revenue, Rivers State is number three, on the 13 per cent derivation; it is number two, for Value Added Tax, we receive next to Lagos.
Then in terms of IGR (Internally Generated Revenue), we rank either number two or three.
Just last year, the state government received more than N160billion as IGR and if you are to match that with what is on ground, you cannot account for the resources.
Governance is assessed in terms of transparency and accountability.
Wike has never advertised any project since he became governor, no competitive bidding process.
How does he hire the contractors at this time that emphasis is on accountability and due process?
The only time he advertised for bidding was to access World Bank loan that the Amaechi government secured before its tenure elapsed.
Let me ask, have you ever seen Rivers State budget? Nobody has, so, in terms of transparency, it is zero.
The current law insulates the BIR (Board of Internal Revenue) from being tampered with by the governor, but Wike dissolves the board and appoints people any time he likes. He doesn’t care about due process in governance.
May be his government is all about rolling out the drums to celebrate the commissioning of a one-kilometer road.
But in terms of human capacity development, I don’t think the current government in Rivers State has done well.
But the governor said he has turned around the fortune of Rivers people, don’t you believe him?
Make your findings: Rivers State is number one in terms of unemployment in Nigeria today, going by the statistics by NBS (National Bureau of Statistics).
Why is the state the number one? Simply, because industries are leaving in droves and families are relocating from the state.
The major responsibility of government is providing a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
Rivers State is not conducive, because of insecurity, multiple taxations and a lack of right policy framework.
For instance, if you want to acquire land in Rivers State today, you can be sure that every Tom, Dick, and Harry will come around to harass you.
That is why, by my assessment the Wike administration has not done well at all, I am frank and honest.
I don’t know of any area the government could say it has done well.
No doubt, Wike has done some roads and completed those initiated by the Amaechi administration, but the completion of roads and commissioning of projects initiated by another administration is not bad, only he must give credit to who deserves it.
It is on record that Governor Wike revived the state judiciary, which he said was moribund at the time he came on board…
He renovated the Court of Appeal he didn’t construct it anew.
But that is not his primary responsibility; it is the responsibility of the Federal Government.
Rivers State has issues begging for attention and he is investing in the federal judiciary; that means there must be some vested interest.
Personnel of our local judiciary do not have residential quarters and they are not exposed to the best training they can get.
That means there must be a reason he is investing in the federal judiciary, which is not his primary responsibility.
As governor, Amaechi can say there is no community in the state that didn’t benefit either a school or health centre from his administration, but Wike cannot say so.
In terms of human capacity development, Amaechi gave over 2,000 Rivers State indigenes scholarships, sent them overseas to study various courses.
But immediately Wike came on board, he brought them back.
The fund to sustain that was only about N1 billion, but recently the same governor contributed N500million to a private university.
He provides about N2 or N3billion in his budgets as donation to churches. How does that help us as a people to build human capacity?
Will you contest the governorship seat again in 2019?
I was on a radio programme and that question came up, I said I would announce my decision.
I have not made up my mind whether to run in 2019 or not. I am still consulting, and that decision will be made any moment from now.
It is often said that it would take a madman to govern Rivers State, as a gentleman, are you not overwhelmed by the madness over there?
I will answer that straight away: I am not overwhelmed, because somebody will make order out of that madness, and somebody must offer himself to restore order out of the madness.
I agree that there is some level of madness going on, but somebody must restore order and defend the aspirations of the people of Rivers State.
Rivers State appears as one of the flashpoints, how can violence be curbed during next year’s general election?
It is very easy to form a culture, but very difficult to nip it in the bud.
What happened is that the 2015 general elections caused a new culture of violence to blossom in Rivers State.
Although it has been there, it got to a crescendo during the 2015 elections.
If we must stem the culture of violence during elections, we must not reward those who benefit from it.
The majority of those who are in the state House of Assembly right now benefited from the electoral violence of 2015.
So, it became an incentive that if you engage in violence, you can get elected and if you don’t engage in violence, you stand the risk of not being elected.
The fact that people succeeded with electoral violence in 2015 became an incentive.
And for those who were not involved and didn’t get elected, it was a disincentive.
So, INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), the military, police, political actors and in fact, all Nigerians have a role to play to stop this.
And until we sit down and tell ourselves the truth, we won’t go forward.
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