Wike: Pursuit Of A New Rivers Vision
RIVERS State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday assumed political leadership of the state at a time of protracted political and economic stagnation. The new governor whose political ambition had been a contentious issue, owing to the fact that he is of the same Ikwerre ethnic extraction as his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi, has promised to create a new Rivers State.
He had, during his campaign, promised to enhance agricultural productivity, provide quality healthcare, widen opportunities for education and employment, provide good roads, attract more investment and improve the living conditions of economically disadvantaged people of the state. But Wike’s administration is taking off at a period when the state’s federal allocation has dwindled or better still plummeted to N6bn in April, whereas its monthly recurrent expenditure is estimated at N9.2bn. Furthermore, the new government will be saddled with the task of paying a N17bn debt inherited from the Amaechi government.
Although revenue from the centre had dropped drastically from N25bn per month in 2007 to N6bn in 2015, the Amaechi government achieved a remarkable feat by growing the state’s internally generated revenue from N2.5bn to N7.8bn per month. Wike will be expected to improve on this, due to the dwindling federal allocation, if he has to achieve his dream of promoting the economy and matching Amaechi’s infrastructural stride.
Faced with financial constraint, youth unemployment and infrastructural decay due to paucity of funds, Wike’s government will need to quickly appreciate that what the state needs at this critical juncture is a deft, committed and focused leadership to revitalize Rivers.
Though Wike has promised to diversify the state’s economy and encourage investment, he will be expected to tackle the growing spate of kidnapping and general insecurity in order to boost investors’ confidence.
His political sophistication will be tested in the next few days with regards to how he relates with his predecessor whose administration he has threatened to probe. According to him, Rivers state, under the previous government, stinks with unbridled corruption. But Amaechi has dared him to probe his administration. The bellicose utterances of the two are a pointer that the peace that will ensure political stability and economic growth, could remain elusive in months to come.
Attempt by the Catholic Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese, Rev. Dr. Camillus Etokudor, to end the feud between Amaechi and Wike during the former’s 50th birthday thanksgiving service, last week, failed.
The Bishop had observed that there could be no peace or reconciliation without forgiveness. He said it was time for the former governor and Wike to reconcile, so that peace would return to Rivers State. But Amaechi in his response rebuffed the entreaty. He said justice must be seen to have been done before he can settle with Wike, whom he recommended for a ministerial appointment, having served in the state executive council as Chief of Staff to the Governor from 2007 to 2011.
“All those that were killed during the last general elections must get justice. Their families must get justice. Our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), must get justice, first, at the election petition tribunal. Our mandate must be retrieved at the tribunal.
“I am surprised that My Lordship congratulated Nyesom Wike, here, today. I am using this opportunity to call on the Church to join the APC in praying to God, so that we can reclaim our mandate. Reclaiming our mandate at the election petition tribunal will represent a measure of justice. We must seek justice before reconciliation,” he said.
The first political confrontation Wike will have to deal with is his resolve to dissolve the 22 newly elected council executives in the state. He said last week that the illegal local government elections conducted by Amaechi’s government will not stand, as the court made specific order that it should not hold.
One remarkable event that will usher in the new regime is tomorrow’s reopening of courts and the House of Assembly, which have been under lock and key due to the protracted political tussle between Amaechi and Wike.