Wike and the Spirit of Rivers Development
By Simeon Nwakaudu
On Tuesday , a friend and colleague drew my attention to a feature titled: "Rivers State: Wike, Amaechi and the Familiar Spirit " by Ifeanyi Izeze. Without any doubt, the piece no matter the intention of the writer; was produced on a faulty premise. It had no truth in it, because the writer came to absolutely wrong conclusions, even though he accepted the reality of today's New Rivers.
To begin with, the immediate past Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has concluded his sojourn in office in the state. With the benefit of hindsight, he can be judged in relation to his policies, projects and programmes.
On the other hand, Governor Wike is a work in progress and as the writer reluctantly admitted, the governor is transforming Rivers State through massive infrastructural development and investment in human capital development.
Governor Wike’s developmental operations are totally different from that of Rotimi Amaechi. So, there is no basis for comparison.
Unlike Amaechi’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which the writer claimed was politically motivated, the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry on the Sale of Valued Assets set up by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was established in the interest of the people of the state.
The setting up of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was purely a pragmatic decision, which set in motion the process for the recovery of misappropriated and misapplied funds. It also set in motion a deterrent machinery to discourage the economic bleeding of the state in future.
Governor Wike’s New Rivers Development Blueprint was designed principally to ensure that the state does not return to the old ways foisted on it by the failed Rotimi Amaechi era. It was on this platform that he campaigned and got the mandate of the people.
For Governor Wike, it is Rivers first. The rapid development of Rivers State is the cornerstone of all his political and economic engagements. All policies since he took over the reins of leadership have been pro-Rivers.
For Rivers State, Governor Wike is ready to lay down his life. For the state, he has taken unimaginable risks. He is working daily for the social, economic and political emancipation of Rivers State.
On this score, Governor Wike is facing political persecution.
During the visit of the leadership of Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organisation Worldwide, Governor Wike said: "No amount of persecution will stop me from doing what is right. I will continue to defend the interest of our people. I am from Rivers State and I will protect the interest of the state.
"All ethnic groups must work in unity to ensure that Rivers State attains development ". All political engagements of Governor Wike are targeted at the improvement of the living condition of the people. He has never taken an action that is centred on personal promotion.
On the issue of travels, the writer was totally wrong. Governor Wike spends over 90 percent of his time in Rivers State.
Indeed, the governor recently offered explanations on why he hardly travels to Abuja.
If there is one Governor that is focused on projects and programmes delivery in Nigeria today--that Governor is Nyesom Wike. But for his focus and commitment to the ideals of development, Governor Wike would have derailed in view of the concocted and orchestrated politically attacks on the state.
If is not DSS, then it the Nigerian Police or the Army. For the first time in the history of the country, an Inspector-General of Police has been appointed strictly to wage political war against a sitting governor. Because he is prepared, Wike takes these ugly attacks in his stride and remains at the workplace.
I sincerely believe that most outstanding difference between Governor Wike and his predecessor is their attitude to institutions of state and the rule of law. Amaechi had no respect for the rule of law or the institutions of state. Therefore, it is uncharitable to attempt to place such a man on the same platform with a bencher who thrives under the rule of law.
The writer deliberately forgot that Amaechi murdered the judiciary, closed the courts, welded the entrances to courts and denied Rivers people access to justice. He also locked the State House of Assembly and turned a few members of the house into gluttons, who met at intervals at his dinning at the Government House. He stopped paying salaries and pensions, while the state bureaucracy was incapacitated by the former governor’s refusal to pay monthly overheads.
Many believe that Governor Wike's revival of the courts, State Assembly and his regular payment of salaries and pensions have already secured his position in the hall of fame of Rivers State. A man who restored the rule of law amongst his people cannot be equated to the man who destroyed it.
Rivers State is now a huge construction site. From roads to hospitals, to water projects, to modern schools, agricultural programmes, international recreation facilities, marine transport and land reclamation amongst others. These projects have helped to rebuild the economy of the state.
There is a developmental revolution taking place in Rivers State. This cannot be trivialised by pedestrian comparisons. There is no meeting point between day and night.
Governor Wike represents the morning of Rivers State after a long dark night that lasted eight years. He has entrenched good governance, transparency and prudent management of scarce resources into the administration of the state.
He lives amongst his people, shares their joy and aspirations. He leads from the front as he fights their battles against forces of oppression.
Governor Wike embodies the spirit of progress and development. He is a true Rivers man, a pragmatic politician and focused leader.
He is not distracted by propaganda, political schemes and blackmail. Indeed, Governor Wike was prepared over the years for a time like this. The way he was of immense service to Rivers State and Nigeria whilst serving as Honourable Minister, has been multiplied as he serves the people as Governor of Rivers State.
Under Governor Wike, nobody is hounded out of the state. As few as APC members are in the state, they freely carry out their sponsored street march once in a blue moon. They spread all manner of falsehood online and in the traditional media without molestation. The governor plays politics of tolerance. This was not the case with the immediate past APC administration in the state and certainly not the type of scenario you find in APC controlled states where Facebook critics are regularly arrested and prosecuted.
Rivers State is now a reference point. An example of a state where the people's democratic power overcomes the guns of security marauders. A state where development projects are churned out daily to the chargrin of the powers that be at the centre. A state where the people are satisfied with their performing governor.
Going forward, there are no indications that Governor Wike would deviate from the route of development and empowerment of Rivers people. He is not a traitor, hence he will never betray his people.