The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, yesterday reacted to allegations of corrupt practices leveled against him by the Minister of State for Education, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, in the implementation of some government programmes in the state, including the Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital and the Malaria Elimination Programme.
Below are excerpts of the commissioner’s reply to Wike’s allegations.
I have been made aware of
statements by the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike concerning the Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte Hospital and our Malaria Elimination Programme.
In the statement to his supporters, Mr. Wike insinuated that I engaged in corrupt practices in these projects.I would have dismissed Wike’s claims as the ranting of a fast drowning man who is disorientated by his circumstances but my duties and obligations as a public servant, accountable to the people of Rivers State does not allow such luxuries.
Therefore, I am constrained to respond to Wike’s delusional statements.
1. The Karibi Whyte Hospital is an on-going project with a target completion date. I shall in due time brief Rivers people on the progress of the hospital.
May I quickly add that the first contractor was disengaged based on spurious allegations and campaign of calumny orchestrated by Nyesom Wike, then the Chief of Staff and his cohorts. The Governor set up an independent panel of inquiry. The panel exonerated me of any wrong doing and stated that the State had lost no money on the project. Not satisfied and blinded by his desire to implicate me in some crime pressured the security services and ICPC to arrest and indict me. I challenge Wike to tell Nigerians how much he spent to spread rumours of my arrest while I was in United Kingdom on official assignment. As stated earlier, I will give Rivers people a progress report on the Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte Hospital. It suffices to state here that the 1,000 bed mega hospital is not an abandoned project and will be commissioned before long.
2. Malaria Elimination Program: Rivers State was the first Statein Nigeria to embark on Malaria elimination. The Governor, after consultations with experts in Nigeria, ECOWAS and WHO decided that Malaria Elimination was achievable. Malaria is a disease that has killed more Africans, especially children, than all the world wars and inter tribal wars combined. This noble vision was supported by ECOWAS andeven some foreign governments. We commenced the first trial phase of this program which involved spraying of biolarvicidein select local government areas and towns in Rivers State. This was done in conjunction with the Cuban government. The analysis and the effects of the spraying are known to the people as the findings were made public. Malaria incident reduced by as much as 63% in the areas we sprayed. In fact, it is the effectiveness and efficacy of our trial that led to the National Council on Health adopting Malaria Elimination as a national health policy for Nigeria.
Due to the success of this first phase and the high cost of transporting the biolarvicides we used, government, in order to reduce cost decided to set up a factory to manufacture this essential substance, in our Malaria Elimination Program. The foundation stone for this factory was laid by the ECOWAS President Kadre Desire Quedraogo and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who was represented by Minister for Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu at the proposed site Rumuosi in Obio Akpor Local Government Area which is Wike’s local government of birth. ECOWAS is a partner in this project. The factory on completion, will supply biolarvicides to the entire country and beyond. Construction of the factory shall soon commence.
Can Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike claim ignorance of these facts?
Honour must be given to whom it is due. Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has done extremely well in conceptualizing and provision of affordable, free qualitative health care to Rivers people. I am proud to have served as his Commissioner for health since the inception of this administration.
I know Nyesom Wike very well. We are both products of the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi political family. Wike may be described as a son of perdition but he was loved by his family.
As I stated not too long ago, we have entered another political season. But this should not deter us from speaking the truth to our people.
The reality is that all power belongs to God and He gives to whom it pleases Him to bless. If in the quest for power we destroy institutions, malign people and fabricate stories just to score cheap political points, we fool nobody but ourselves. It is like building a structure on quick sands.
I am a man of simple tastes. My family size is very manageable. I was practicing medicine before politics. God has blessed me. I know my history. I have no desire forprimitive acquisition of obscene wealth as I do not indulge in expensive habits like consumption of drinks that cost hundreds of thousands of naira a bottle. When I travel within and outside Nigeria I am content to do so in commercial airliners. Yet I feel no envy or jealousy towards those who, even as serving public officers, travel in private jets at least twice a week.
I challenge Nyesom Wike to make same claims. Wike has been in public service all of his adult life. There is no record that he has worked anywhere, either as a lawyer or a businessman, yet Nyesom wike has properties in Port Harcourt valued at over N5,000,000,000 ( five billion naira)
I shall give 50% of my August salary to Nyesom Wike or anybody who can prove that the Minister of State for Education has travelled to Port Harcourt on a commercial flight more than two times since being sworn in as Minister of State for Education. I repeat, at least two stubs of flight tickets or manifest that proves that Wike was a passenger on any commercial airline. Who pays for the chattered flights Wike comes to Port Harcourt with at least two times a week?
Wike’s private residence in Asokoro, Abuja, is said to be worth at least ¦ 1,000,000,000.00 (One billion naira). How did the minister of state for education acquire that kind of property?
How can a man who has never managed a private company in his life afford tens of cars which he doles out to his supporters? Did he sponsor some of his supporters to the world cup in Brazil with his salary as Minister? How many years did he save money to sponsor these people to Brazil?
Wike should tell Nigerians who pays for his favourite brandy, Louis XIII, which costs at least £5,000 (five thousand pounds) or 1,400,000 a bottle?
Conversely, I challenge Wike to tell Nigerians and indeed the world my assets, apart from my house in Okrika, so as to support his allegations against me. He should also expose all the assets acquired by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who he claims to have made Governor ofRivers State.
The injunction that “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones” should have been imbibed by Wike.
He claims to be a lawyer but cannot show one brief written by him. His familiarity with court rooms are as a result of being a plaintiff or defendant in law suits. A man with no visible means of livelihood yet owns malls, mansions, and doles out cash and gifts in millions of naira daily;a man whose earnings do not match his assets should be the last person to accuse anyone of corruption. He needs no one to show him the face in the mirror when he accuses people of corruption.
However, I pray that those who aspire to lead should be very mindful of their utterances and actions, especially in this season. If by the time this election cycle is over our people and institutions have been destroyed who will they govern?
I am ready to stake my character, reputation and integrity against Wike’s. Let the Rivers people and indeed Nigerians be the judge.
Daily, I remind myself of what the good book says: “Power belongs to God.”
DR. TAMUNOIYORIARI S. PARKER
Hon. Commissioner for Health, Rivers State.