On August 8, 1974, a unique and tragic event in American politics occurred as President Richard M. Nixon spoke on TV to the American public announcing his decision to resign the presidency. Nixon’s decision came after the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted to recommend his impeachment.
The collapse of support in the Congress marked the end of Nixon’s two year battle against news media, government agencies, the Senate and House of Representatives and the U.S. Supreme Court – all stemming from a break-in that occurred on the night of June 17, 1972, when five burglars entered the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office complex in Washington.
Subsequent investigations revealed the burglars were actually agents hired by the Committee for the Re-election of the President. A long chain of events then followed in which the president and top aides became involved in an extensive coverup of White House sanctioned illegal activities. The coverup snowballed and increased the president’s troubles as Nixon and White House aides attempted to use the prestige and power of the presidency to obstruct justice.
The U.S. Senate then held televised hearings investigating the conduct of White House officials, leading to the resignation of several of Nixon’s top aides as they became implicated. The House Judiciary Committee also began an inquiry as to whether Nixon had committed impeachable offenses.
During the Senate investigation, a Nixon aide revealed the president had installed a bugging system in the oval office and recorded most conversations on tape. Under intense pressure, Nixon released edited transcripts in the spring of 1974 containing his conversations. The transcripts caused a national sensation, exposing Nixon as a cynical man who frequently used obscene language, in contrast to his carefully tailored public image.
The transcripts also revealed the president was deeply involved in managing the coverup, sometimes on a daily basis. As a result Nixon lost most of his political support and following further revelations implicating him in more illegal coverup activities, Nixon chose to resign and avoid the prospect of an impeachment vote by the full Congress. He thus became the only U.S. president ever to resign.
Vice-President Gerald Ford succeeded him on August 9, 1974 and a month later granted Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he might have committed as president.
Good evening. This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.
In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.
But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.
I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first.
America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.
To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.
As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 2 1/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Ford, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.
In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.
As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.
By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.
I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.
To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.
And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.
So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.
I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 5 1/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.
But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Congress and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.
We have ended America’s longest war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Americans, by the people of all nations, not only that we ended one war but that we prevented future wars.
We have unlocked the doors that for a quarter of a century stood between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
We must now ensure that the one quarter of the world’s people who live in the People’s Republic of China will be and remain not our enemies but our friends.
In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.
Together with the Soviet Union we have made the crucial breakthroughs that have begun the process of limiting nuclear arms. But we must set as our goal not just limiting but reducing and finally destroying these terrible weapons so that they cannot destroy civilization and so that the threat of nuclear war will no longer hang over the world and the people.
We have opened the new relation with the Soviet Union. We must continue to develop and expand that new relationship so that the two strongest nations of the world will live together in cooperation rather than confrontation.
Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children’s time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.
Here in America, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world’s standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every American and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.
For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.
Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Is CCT Right In Slamming Asset Declaration Charges Against CJN?
On January 10, 2019, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed six charges of corruption against the Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), accusing him of asset declaration offences.
The trial commenced, last Monday, at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, commercial neighbourhood in Abuja, with Wole Olanipekun (SAN) leading more than 50 SANs and 70 other senior lawyers in defence of the Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, who became the Chief Justice of Nigeria in March, 2017, less than six months after the homes of several federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, were searched in an anti-corruption raid in October, 2016.
Two judges of the Supreme Court were amongst those whose houses were raided. They were charged for corruption, but none of them has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
The government said it was only in 2016 after the controversial crackdown on judges that Onnoghen partially declared his asset, and cash in Union Bank branch in Calabar, but still failed to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.
The charges, triggered by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI), had sent a petition to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended against Onnoghen.
After laying bare the suspected transactions in the accounts between March, 2011 and August, 2016, the group accused Onnoghen of “Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office in several capacities prior to becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets at the statutory intervals after taking office throughout his career as a federal judicial officer contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; and False declaration of asset, and in particular, concealment of significant and declarable assets in the form of sundry bank accounts and the balances therein, contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.”
The group also requested the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to conduct comprehensive statistical analysis of cash transactions on all the accounts for cases of suspicious transactions; and determine whether Standard Chartered Bank has not breached statutory duties to the Nigerian State in favour of, or in connivance with, His Lordship on Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR). It also urged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine whether the disclosed financial transactions are justified by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration.
Onnoghen was alleged to have failed to declare his asset upon assumption of office as provided in Section 15 (1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act C15, punishable under Section 23 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the same Act.
His reaction to the allegations, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen, described his non-declaration of the domiciliary accounts as a mistake.
In a statement addressed to the CCB investigators, last Friday, Onnoghen also explained that the undeclared foreign currencies found in his Standard Chartered Bank were sourced from his estacodes and medical allowances, including funds from his days in private practice between 1979 and 1989.
He further explained that the withdrawals from his Pound Sterling and Euro accounts were for the school fees and upkeep allowances of his children abroad.
“My Asset Declaration Form No SC N 00014 and SCN 00015 were declared on the same day 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009,” the CJN stated.
“Following my appointment as Acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my asset anew made me to realise the mistake.”
The CJN further explained that he did not include the funds in his domiciliary accounts because he believed the accounts were not opened during the period covered by the declaration.
Here are some Nigerians’ reactions.
Reacting, Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), asked the Federal Government to urgently withdraw the charges against Justice Walter Onnoghen as such move will amount to prosecutorial misadventure.
According to Falana, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” Falana added.
In a swift statement condemning the action, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said, “I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I, therefore, call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the Constitution take its full course”.
In his reaction, Elder Statesman and Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and South-South Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, condemned the Federal Government decision to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, over assets declaration offences.
Clark said the arraignment of the CJN is a shock as Onnoghen has been carrying out his responsibilities as Nigeria’s top jurist diligently, adding that “PANDEF will resist any form of harassment of the CJN.
“The news of the arraignment of The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) on Monday has come to us as a shock because there is nothing to show that this man has not been doing his job properly,” Clark said.
”There is nothing to show that he is corrupt; simply because they want to rig this election, they want to remove him to put somebody who will do their bidding after the election otherwise there is no basis for harassing the judiciary.
“Yesterday, it was the acting director general of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Matthew Seyeifa, who was removed and somebody who was retired was appointed to take his place. We deserve some respect. So, we will resist this one, and I understand that our governors had a meeting on this matter too and we will all come together,” he said.
Also speaking, a Journalist and Corporate Administrator, Chief Soye Wilson Jamabo said, “The strength of the Tripod upon which sits the pot of good governance depends on the balance and equality of all legs, but if a leg is unduly elongated and another shortened, its fall is eminent. Such is the move by the Executive to investigate, prosecute and judge the chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
“The military style fashion, the timing and urgency of the drama smacks of desperation and fear of the unknown, this is impunity stretched too far. And to be silent is to watch the man in us die without any rescue effort.
“None is above the law, but same law that grants the Executive immunity from criminal prosecution recommends the National Judicial Council (NJC) as the constitutional body to handle cases of judicial officers not the CCT, an arm of the Executive. That will make an arm to be a judge in its own case”.
Activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), accused the Federal Government of engaging in unnecessary political witch-hunt.
Ozekhome maintained that the six-count criminal charge FG entered against the CJN over his alleged failure to declare his assets, was politically motivated, querying the time the alleged infractions were discovered.
Noting that the CJN, by virtue of his position, will play a major role in constituting the 2019 presidential election petition tribunal, Ozekhome, insisted that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Justice Onnoghen could not be forced to vacate his office, until when his guilt is established.
According to him, “The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 of the Constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-third majority vote.
“Our system of justice being Anglo-Saxon based, which is accusatorial, meaning that the innocence of a person is presumed.
“It is different from the criminal justice system of the French model which is inquisitorial, wherein the guilt of an accused person is presumed.
“This doctrine has been encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that the person’s innocence is presumed until he has been proven guilty.
“Assuming for example that Senator Bukola Saraki had been forced to resign his office when charges were brought against him before the same Code of Conduct Tribunal almost three years ago, what would have happened and what would have been his fate when the Supreme Court eventually discharged and acquitted him of the charge, following judgments and earlier order of the Court of Appeal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal itself?
“If you ask me, I sense serious political undertones oozing from this so-called imminent arraignment of the noble CJN. Question, when did they discover the alleged offence for which they now want to charge him on Monday?
“Was it just yesterday, was it last week, two weeks or six months ago? The CJN has been in office now for well over one year, how come that this misconduct or whatever offence that he is being alleged, was not seen up to now?
“How come, that it is just less than 40 days to the 2019 Presidential election, when the CJN is going to play the major role in constituting the Presidential election petition tribunal, that he is being moved against? Who is afraid of the Judiciary? Who is afraid of Justice Onnoghen and his impartiality and straight forwardness?
“How come we are reducing governance in Nigeria to one of impunity, one of despotism and one of absolutism.
“Don’t this people know that the world is laughing at us? Did we not see how Dino Melaye was yanked out from police hospital and taken to DSS quarters when he had no business or case with the DSS and DSS had no case against him.
“Did they not see Dino Melaye, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sleeping in the open yesterday? Do they go on social media and do they watch international televisions?
“Do they know how the whole world is deriding us in this country? That governance has been reduced to mere witch-hunt, very opaque, very unaccountable, very un-transparent and very fascist! Can’t they see that?”, Ozekhome queried.
Rivers Residents Dissociate Wike From APC Crisis
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is unabating. None of the factions of the party is seemingly prepared to compromise its entrenched position even as the general elections are fast approaching. They are still singing in discordant tunes. More worrisome is the fact that some members of the APC loyal to the Rotimi Amaechi faction are placing the woes inflicting the party on the doorsteps of Governor Nyesom Wike who belongs to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But residents of the state, who spoke with our correspondent, completely exonerated the Governor. Excerpts.
Hon Prince Israel Wobo, former Chief of Staff, Port Harcourt Local Government Council
In respect of the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike has been a factor of the day, and the political icon of Nigeria, he has nothing to do with APC crisis and the court judgement.
I want to stress the fact that Chief Wike has done his best in terms of infrastructural development in Rivers State despite the fact that they have been caging him, he does not have a hand in what is happening in APC, but something is certain in life, whatever a man sows, that he must reap.
The former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi believes he is the owner of Rivers State. He made a declaration that over his dead body would any one succeed him as governor of the state. Rotimi Amaechi while he was governor of Rivers State, Governor Wike was his Chief of Staff and Wike was very loyal to Amaechi’s-led government then, so why can’t Amaechi drop his pride and be ready to support the development of the state instead of causing problems in the state.
Today, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi , our own son is there as a Transportation Minister and should support Rivers State for development. Look at how Onne and Port Harcourt sea ports are wasting away, also major federal roads need our leaders’ attention. Why can’t something be done in this direction by Amaechi? I don’t see anything wrong that Chief Nyesom Wike has done to Amaechi.
I want to tell the world that Chief Wike is doing his best to ensure that peace and development are brought to Rivers State, therefore, he should be allowed to continue the good works he is doing. Thanks to Vice President, Osinbajo, who nicknamed Wike, ‘Mr Project,’ God has blessed the governor in all ramifications.
I want to appeal to Amaechi to bring down his wings and obey court procedures, as the crisis rocking APC is an internal one that would require only God’s intervention for the party to have peace because APC has failed Nigerians and God is not happy with APC as a party.
The crisis rocking the party is a natural phenomenon because whatever a man sows, that he would reap. The judgment is that APC cannot benefit from its stupidity and so Chief Wike has no hand in their crisis.
My humble advice to APC is that they should go and ask God for forgiveness. The entire crisis in APC is caused by one man, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi right from the day he brought a man and declared him aspirant of Rivers State House of Assembly. The Bible says for one man’s sake, I will destroy a nation and for the same man’s sake, I will build a nation.
So, I make bold to say that Amaechi is responsible for the problems and the court judgement declaring the party of not having a governorship candidate and not Chief Nyesom Wike. Generally, I will like to say that the APC crisis is caused by stupidity of the highest order and pride.
Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi should humble himself and should know that he is not god over other members of his party and to me, APC would only be accepted in Rivers State in the year 2023 when the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is prepared to handover.
Alhaji Ibrahim, a Muslim adherent
What I see in the APC is that they know too much and no one is ready to learn or hear from anyone. They don’t have respect for each other and as such, everything happening to them is their own fault and not caused by anyone else.
Take for instance, when APC decided to proceed with primaries in the state despite the court order against its earlier congress, the court on October 10, 2018 declared null and void, the nomination of Mr Amaechi’s man, Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate of the APC on grounds that Senator Magnus Abe’s supporters were excluded from the party congress.
This is what happens when disobedience dominates one’s life, so they should take it the way the court has judged and not to look for PDP to apportion blames as being responsible for the court judgement
Tejudeen Asifat, a Muslim leader
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has nothing to do with the court judgement. I don’t believe the rumours making the rounds that he has a hand in it, rather, I would say that the problem rocking APC is their internal problem and their fault that the judgement went that way.
Governor Wike cannot control the Federal High Court, so how is the judgement his own fault?
Due to the court judgement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may end up not having candidates for the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State in 2019, going by the Supreme Court ruling and other pending legal hurdles before the party.
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidated the stay of execution order issued by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, against an earlier order of a high court in Rivers State which nullified the APC congress in the state.
I see the legal battle happening in APC and the oil-rich state as part of power-struggle within the APC between the Minister of Transportation, Rt Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe, while Mr Abe wants to run for the governorship of the state under the APC, Amaechi wants Tonye Cole to go for governorship of the state on the platform of the same party. Things are not done right in a house where there is no understanding and unity.
While Mr Amaechi has allegedly been applying rough tackles to shut Mr Abe and his supporters out of the party, the Senator is using the court to fight back, and he seems to be successful in it, as evidenced by the Federal High Court ruling.
The High Court order on the party’s congress, which has just gotten the Federal High Court’s backing, nullified the APC congress which produced the factional state chairman of the party, Ojukaye Amachree, who is Mr Amaechi’s ally.
All these are responsible for the lots of problems they have and so nobody should link it to the Rivers State Governor as being responsible for the APC crisis.
The APC as a party is not in order and the party members caused this problem for themselves and not Governor Nyesom Wike because if the party were to be in unity, they would have produced one candidate from the beginning to be their governorship flag bearer and not two or three candidates coming from one party. They behave like children that need guidance, yet not ready to be guided.
As you can see, the APC has failed to put its house in order. Look at the comment by Senator Magnus Abe after the court judgement, he hailed the court, saying that the decision taken was “historic,” as it would amount to “political rascality of the highest order” for anyone to continue to parade himself as the APC governorship candidate in the state, afterwards.
Senator Abe is insisting that the APC should do the right thing and what is that right thing since the other primary was done in clear violation of an existing order of a court of competent jurisdiction, that the party should forward his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s recognised governorship candidate in Rivers State, which of course, we all know that Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi would never allow that to happen. This is why I said the house is not in order. They lack unity and this is a serious problem for them.
PH Residents Hail Wike’s Dev Strides
Even as elections are fast approaching, some residents of Port Harcourt, with the benefit of hindsight, take a look at where the state was when Governor Nyesom Wike assumed office and come to the inevitable conclusion that the Governor has performed creditably in several areas. They, however, express their desire for him to give more attention to several other areas, particularly during his second term if he wins the March 2, 2019 governorship election. Our correspondent captures their views. Excerpts.
Mr Ndulaka Oki-Onyedibia
I will give the Governor 75 percent because there are areas that he has performed so well and there are areas that need him to look into. Like the area of road, he has done very well so far. I would advise that he focus less now on this area and focus more attention on the education and health section.
The health and education sectors in the state need to be strengthened. These two areas are very critical for the welfare of the people living in Rivers State.
Mr David Michael Alumona
In my assessment of what Mr Project has done so far, I want to say that, indeed, he has really paid priority attention to infrastructure. He has constructed so many roads and I think if he is given the chance to continue, he would do more than he has done already.
This is the kind of person that Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole need, especially in the South-South, but what I think is still remaining for him to do is education. I still look forward to seeing him using his boldness and power as he has always done to boost the education sector by providing computers and all that is needed to make learning conducive for students.
Take for instance, the Mgboushimini Primary School. Since the existence of Oro-Akwor community, the people never had a primary school within that vicinity and through his intervention, there is now a primary school for everyone to attend freely and I commend him for that, but I want the work going on in that school to be faster than what it is now.
I am not talking about the fast pace of the job because of my interest, no, because my children have gone beyond secondary school, am talking for the sake of the less-privileged children in the society and because I love education.
I want to appeal to His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike to try as much as possible to monitor and remove some of the bad practices in the Rivers State University (RSU). Let admission be as free as that of Lagos State University (LASU), which is the second best state university in Nigeria after ABUSALI.
I want the governor to use his good offices to curb the excesses of some individuals at Rivers State University. We want him to put more pressure to sanitise the university system. I don’t want to go into details of these excesses, but I know His Excellency is aware of some of them in that university because he warned the school authorities sometimes ago, that he didn’t want to hear that they were still involved in these sharp practices that do not project the school’s image in positive light.
We need him to come back in 2019 and even after his tenure ends, we still need somebody like him that would have the boldness to withstand every opposition from within and without in order to safeguard the interest of the state and the entire South-South.
Infact, the entire South-South is looking up to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as one of the lions to fight for them and also defend them, so I want him to continue to remain there and I know with God on his side, they will not be able to do him anything.
All the strategies God has given to the governor to apply in order to make life comfortable for the people of the state, the opposition forces would always want to distract him from achieving the goals his administration has set for itself.
Take for instance, the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency, they knew he would be able to use it to secure the state, so they truncated that plan because they apparently have some hidden agenda.
I want to urge the governor to do everything possible to ensure the success of that security outfit because it is existing in other states and no military man has destroyed it in those states.
Let’s start by asking ourselves why is it that the security agencies including the military are always concentrating their attention in Rivers State? Is it because the Federal Government wants to turn the State which is ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to an All Progressives Party (APC) state by fire by force because they know that the governor is like a lion that would not allow that to happen?
In the area of health, I want the Governor to focus his attention in this sector especially during his second term which he would secure by the grace of God. It is annoying to see that there are so many oil companies in Rivers State and yet they are not contributing to free education for our children, we that have the oil.
For our children to be educated, we are paying through our nose and I want the state government to go into agreement with these oil companies to provide free education to our children, especially in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
In the health sector, there is a bit improvement, but I want the governor to pay more attention on the health sector as people are dying every day, they spend money and pay through their noses to buy drugs. It is so sad that in Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) for example, until you have a contact person, you will not be able to have your way through.
People are rushed to the hospital on emergencies and they die there as a result of no one to attend to them, this is unacceptable and I want the government to look into these issues.
In those days, when I was in secondary school in the old Bendel State, I saw that at the General Hospital, nurses and doctors were up and doing and the Pharmacies gave free drugs but today, no more. What happened in those olden days can’t they be brought back now? Are we retrogressing or progressing? We should please go back and reactivate all these things and boost them even the more.
Despite the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing drugs, the people at the helm of affairs in these government hospitals are diverting these drugs to their private clinics for sale and direct patients to go to the chemists to go and buy fake drugs.
I am calling on the Rivers State Governor to put his ears, eyes down to monitor and sack anyone caught in this act.
Barr Allwell Friday, A Port Harcourt-Based Legal Practitioner,
I want to say that His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done so well in some areas, for instance, as a legal practitioner, I want to start from the justice sector. For instance, when he came on board, we were faced with the closure of our court system, infact, nothing was working in the judiciary as a result of the closure of the courts being masterminded by the previous administration but upon his assumption of office, our courts were re-opened, thereby granting access to both litigants and others to access justice and justice delivery.
Now, still on justice sector, before now, lawyers and litigants in Rivers State had problems in accessing National Industrial Court as we travelled all the way from Port Harcourt to Calabar and sometimes to Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, but the governor has erected a magnificent building for the National Industrial Court and currently as I speak to you, the court is erected here in Port Harcourt.
He has also remodelled and revamped the justice sector, for instance, the remodelling of the Court of Appeal in Rivers State, by building a befitting Federal High Court Complex and even the State High Court and Magistrate Courts were not also left out, so I want to say that in the justice sector and the welfare of the judiciary staff members, he has done so well.
The other area I want to talk about is the area of infrastructural development, he has tried in this area too as there are some roads that were in terrible state before his assumption of office like the SARS Road, Abel Jumbo Road, Saakpenwa-Bori Link Road. The Andoni Unity Ogoni Road have also received a boost and some other roads in the Borikiri axis, Town, and Aggrey Road axis. He has actually fixed all these roads and these are part of the infrastructural development as we all know that if the roads are not in good condition and not motorable, there is no way the economic lives of the people will be meaningful.
Still on infrastructural development, the Bori Grammar School has been fixed by him and so many other schools within the state that the governor has fixed including health centres which are put in place.
Now in the area of security, you agree with me that security and welfare are the primary purpose of every government as enshrined in the constitution. Now, His Excellency has also revamped the security architecture in the state by providing security vans and giving support to our military personnel in the state. This would in turn boost the security of lives and property of people in the state as there is no meaningful development that can take place in the atmosphere of insecurity, rancour and acrimony, so, by doing this to aid the security architecture in the state, you also agree with me that he has done well in that area.
However, as human beings, nobody is perfect, there are some areas that I feel His Excellency should look into, if God willing and he is re-elected as I believe he would succeed, I want to advise that he should look at the issue of employment, as our youths are crying for employment.
Although he has taken some giant steps in ensuring that youths are gainfully employed, those steps are not enough. The Rivers State Civil Service Commission should be empowered and mandated to carry out massive recruitment of our people in order to curb youth restiveness.
Another area I also want to advise him is for him to move to other local government areas to develop them as he has developed more in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre LGAs even though he has also touched some other parts of the state, we want to advise that during his second term, greater attention should be paid to the riverine areas of the state.
Mr Success Chukwuma
His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done well in the area of infrastructure considering the ongoing construction of the Mile 1 Market and the Agip Road and so many roads he has constructed within his first term in office. These roads have improved access to many places and made life much more easier.
Looking at the areas he needs to improve on in his second term because I believe he is going to come back because his administration has positively impacted on the lives of the people, I know many people in Rivers State and even outside Rivers State would like to vote for him to complete most of the projects he has started.
Looking at the general view of people to his government, only very few have doubts about his performance, but I personally believe and the over 80 percent of the population believe that the Governor, has what it takes to return for second term as Rivers people and non-indigenes of the state are ready to cast their votes to bring him back.
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