In the next few days,
Chief (Barrister) Nyesome Wike will be 100 days in the saddle as the governor of Rivers State. Without doubt, history will judge Wike as the most outstanding governor of the first one hundred days of this dispensation. The facts speak for themselves.
This is contrary to the predictions of his predecessor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi that Wike would fail to deliver.
Hear Amaechi celebrating the trap he set for Governor Wike during a thanksgiving service held by the Greater Together Campaign Organisation (GTCO), the campaign
outfit of the Rivers All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr.Dakuku Peterside: : “ I think Nyesom Wike is coming, we are waiting. He will look for money for salary; there is none. But when he pays out salary, we will see if anyof them can do what we did in this state: whether they can build the schools, the roads, even to get a loan’’.
It was under this precarious situation planned and executed against the Rivers people that Governor Wike took up the reins of leadership. It was a very gloomy period. The courts were closed, the State Assembly crippled, the state bureaucracy was in coma, the roads were death traps and insecurity was at the worst imaginable level. Civil servants were owed for two months, pensioners owed for six months and the entire Port Harcourt City was a huge dump site because Amaechi owed refuse clearing service providers several months of unpaid fees running into billions.
Worse still, the former Governor did not hand over any documents and refused to set up a transition committee to interface with the then incoming administration.
Instead, Amaechi turned a drummer boy at the Eagle Square, Abuja on May 29.
As an apostle of the “Talk na Do” political philosophy, Wike refused to be cowed by the political booby traps set for him. He was overwhelmingly elected because the people believed in his capacity to surmount the obstacles of treachery and wanton theft of state resources as exemplified by Amaechi’s administration. All through the campaign trail, the song was the same in all languages – “Wike na talk na do.”
The governor himself amplified it at every spot, both at the riverine and upland communities. ”My word is my bond. What I say I will do, I will do”.
With Wike’s exemplary administration in the last ninety-five days, the people have realised that they were right to have embraced the “talk na do”, political philosophy over the politics of treachery and corruption.
On his very first day in office, Governor Wike revived the judiciary, initiated operation zero pothohes and kick-started the process of rebuilding the state civil service. On June 1, he swore in the State Acting Chief Judge and the State Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal. He also proclaimed the State House of Assembly at the Assembly Complex the same day.
Governor Wike has instituted constitutional separation of powers in the state with all arms of government functioning optimally. Indeed, former Governor Amaechi had to use the State High Court recently, even though he shut it down for one year.
The Rivers State House of Assembly is now one of the most active in the country, passing critical bills and doing legislative business at its complex.
Today, Rivers State is now a huge construction site. The economy is waxing stronger and the State is working again.
Two construction giants, Julius Berger and CCECC are handling the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Port Harcourt roads which spans two local government areas with a great percentage of the state’s population and economic infrastructure. The success recorded so far is mind boggling.
Wike has redefined project execution in Rivers State. Even under the rains, which was the indefensible excuse of Amaechi’s government, the roads are springing to life in areas such as Diobu, Borokiri, Iwofe road, GRA, Akpajo, Eliopranwo, Tombia extension, Eagle Island and other key communities in the state capital.
Several other construction companies are working on roads in different parts of the state to open up the state to the rest of the country.
Theonce deplorable Eleme-Onne Junction of the East West road leading to the Onne sea port is now motorable and work is still ongoing. Same for the Industry/NPA road to the Port in Port Harcourt City.
These interventions to rehabilitate two key federal roads are in line with his promise to make the ports functional for the economic revival of Rivers State.
The Abonnema -Obonoma link road in Akuku-Toru LGA has been completed while work on Andoni-Opobo Unity road as well as the Trans-Kalabari road is billed to commence shortly.
Through the Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority, the governor has started the construction of a facility to move auto-mechanics and spare parts dealers out of the city centre to further beautify Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike has also strengthened the security architecture of the state. He intervened in the equipping of the police and other security agencies, supplying 64 security vans with high class communication gadgets to track down criminals.
Beyond the donation of the vehicles, Governor Wike initiated a compensation scheme where families of security agents who die in active service fighting criminals will receive N5million, while residents who supply credible information that will lead to the arrest of kidnappers, armed robbers and cultists will get N1million.
The governor sent the state anti-kidnapping bill to the State Assembly, which has been passed and assented to by him.
In the housing sector, Governor Wike has completed the Iriebe Housing Estate of 50 units of two and three bedroom flats. He promised to replicate this model across the state.
For the first time in many years, Rivers State hosted an international football match. It hosted the U23 match Olympic Qualifier Match between Nigeria and Congo. It has been given the hosting rights of three Super Eagles matches beginning with the match against Tanzania. He has cleared the backlog of salaries of Sharks and Dolphin Football Clubs players.
Within this period too, he has commenced the process of rehabilitating prominent schools across the state. The hitherto abandoned state of the art Law Faculty building at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology has been completed.
The health sector is about to receive a revival pill. The governor has established the framework for the equipping of major general and zonal hospitals in the state.
Regarding economic development, Governor Wike took the most ambitious step. He started the process to end multiple taxation by involving all stakeholders across the state.
He has in the last three months opened functional lines of engagement with the diplomatic community, local and international business concerns. He has renewed partnerships with Shell, NLNG, NPA, Indorama, INTELS, NNPC, just to name a few. The governor has already attracted a Visa Centre of the South African Government and is working out international programmes with the British, the Irish, the Chinese and the US.
Rivers State is now a hub of development and collaboration as institutions, companies and entrepreneurs are now coming to the state to benefit from expanding business opportunities with the multiplier effects on jobs, economy and social stability.
Governor Wike has, in line with his promise to the people, effectively commenced the creation of a New Rivers State. He has given them back their voice and ensured that their resources work for them.
Even his few opponents who are presently on self exile in Abuja have commended him on his programmed revival of decayed infrastructure across the state.
Wike is no doubt, a political phenomenon. His ‘Talk na Do ‘ brand of politics is hinged on the people and the vision to improve their living standard. It is anchored on protecting them from external resource predators and ensuring that their God-given resources are judiciously deployed for all round development. It is about giving Rivers State a pride of place in the comity of states. So far, so great.
Nwakaudu is a Special Assistant (Media )to the Rivers State Governor.
Senate Sets Up Seven-Member Conference Committee On Electoral Act Amendment Bill
The Senate has set up a Conference Committee to harmonize positions on the Electoral Act Amendments Bill.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who announced this Wednesday during plenary, said that the conference Committee will work with that of the House of Representatives in order to be on the same page on Electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to Lawan, Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North will be the leader of the team.
Other members are Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South to represent North West; Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central for North East; Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central for South East; Sani Mohammed Musa, APC, Niger East for North Central; Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central for South West and Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South.
Recall that of the seven members for the Conference, while only Senator Urhoghide voted YES Electronic transmission of election results, Senator Ekwunife was absent during the voting time and the other five members who are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC voted NO for electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate was before its annual recess thrown into confusion and uproar as Senators considered the Report of the Electoral Bill, 2021 which is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Act No.6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections.
PIA: Buhari’s Aide Tasks Southern Govs, Lawmakers On Amendments
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, has asked the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) and members of the National Assembly to take advantage of the proposed amendment to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to change the Act on controversial issues of host communities development fund and the frontier basins exploration trust fund.
Mr Enang, a former senator, said members could propose amendments that could be consolidated with those proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He stated this while appearing on “Politics Today” a programme on Channels TV.
Mr Buhari had written the National Assembly on Tuesday seeking an amendment to the PIA on the administrative part of the law.
The letter dated September 16 was read by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives during plenary sessions on Tuesday.
The PIA, which was assented to by the president on August 16, was passed by the National Assembly under controversial circumstances in both chambers of the National Assembly in July.
The president seeks to increase the number of non-executive board members of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory commission from two to six, to ensure representation of all geopolitical zones.
The Nigerian Governors Forum had in a communique after its 35th teleconference meeting in July expressed dissatisfaction with the ownership of the NNPC Limited and the issues of host communities and the frontier exploration trust fund.
The NGF recommended that given that the corporation is owned by the three tiers of government, the newly incorporated entity (NNPC Limited) should be owned by a vehicle that “holds th.e interest of the three tiers of government” – the institution that is currently positioned to carry out this mandate is the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
The governors, in the communique, said they will address the issues using appropriate channels including the National Economic Council and the National Assembly.
Deepening Constitutional Democracy
One person who seems to be unhappy about the way the country runs its political parties is Mr Dan Nwanyanwu, the Chairman of Zenith Labour Party.
To him, funding of political parties should not be left at the whims and caprices of money bags, the president, governors or other elected officers of political parties.
He said that such would weaken the political system and make members mere spectators in their own affairs.
He recalled his experience when he gate-crashed in a meeting of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), presided over by the National Chairman, late Adisa Akinloye.
He noted that party supremacy was the in-thing, as the then President Shehu Shagari and his Deputy, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, sat where ordinary members of the party were all seated.
He stated that Akinloye, as the chairman and other party executives sat in a special seat provided for them.
Nwanyanwu said that in those days, there was equal ownership of the party, because members contributed and were unwaveringly committed to the party’s ideology.
The Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr. Leonard Nzenwa, stated that non-payment of party dues by party members, remained the core problem in deepening constitutional democracy in the country.
He said that political parties should be mass-owned, mass-oriented, mass funded and must be people-centred, stressing that it is the only way to ensure equality of members in any political party.
According to him, where it looks like few people put funds together to bankroll or fund any political party, such will remain a major problem to constitutional democracy.
Nzenwa who doubles as the Chairman of Action Alliance (AA), noted that funding of political parties by money-bags or few individuals, is a setback to constitutional democracy.
He observed that Nigeria is the only country where members of political parties would refuse to pay their party dues.
He said that in South Africa, the legendary Nelson Mandela, never claimed ownership of the African National Congress (ANC).
“Even in the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, they never claimed to own their party as members pay their dues as and when due,” he said
The IPAC boss said that if today promoters of political parties are laying claims to ownership of their respective political parties, it showed the sad reality of the time.
“Even in America where we borrowed our democracy, no one claimed to own the party even as rich as former President Donald Trump is, at no time did he claim to own the party unlike what is obtainable in Nigeria,” he said
He said that the idea of certain individuals claiming ownership of political parties should be stopped, adding that such people used it as a vehicle to blackmail others.
Nzenwa noted that such abuse must be addressed through party structure, commitment of members to the party and high sense of responsibility.
“Hardly do members pay party dues, including my political party and this is because of non-chalant attitude of members, so the money-bags hijack the parties.
“Political parties cannot survive if members refuse to pay, because why we have problem in political parties is that members do not want to make commitment and do not want to take responsibility.
“Members are not sincere and that is why we have this issue because people keep jumping from one political party to the other once they see that there are going to get money there, there is no ideology whatsoever,” he stated.
The Publicity Secretary of Young Peoples Party (YPP), Mr. Wale Martins, on his part said that YPP members pay their monthly dues, which according to him, is what has been keeping the party going.
He stated that donations are also welcomed from members and highly spirited Nigerians, but added that, that would not confer undue advantage on them.
“YPP members pay monthly dues which differ from state to state; for instance, in Lagos members pay N1000 monthly, while in some other states, they pay between N500 and N100, while party executives pay N3000,” he said
Martins stressed that payment of dues create a sense of belonging, adding that it would further help to promote accountability.
Martins said that members were reluctant to pay their dues because money-bags had hijacked the political structure and members had given tacit support to those willing to drop money in a bid to control the soul of the party and dictate the pace.
Martins said that vote-buying, manipulation and other shenanigans are fallout of this ugly development, especially during party primaries to elect candidate that would fly the flags of the parties.
He also said that government’s withdrawal of payment of subvention to parties was responsible for hijacking of the political process by powerful individuals.
“The government used to give political parties subvention, but the sudden withdrawal of such subvention eroded their confidence and left members with no choice than to embrace money-bags,’’ he said.
The Executive Director, Adopt A Goal For Development Initiative, Mr. Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said that the country cannot deepen constitutional democracy without political party reformation.
He said that the reformation must guarantee internal party democracy and ensure that party members and officials adhere strictly to rules, guidelines and the constitution.
He noted that the products of political parties become the drivers of the nation’s democracy; hence, the country must focus on the basic foundation of ensuring the process of party membership conforms to best practices.
“We must ensure that few money bags and people in power do not undermine and appropriate the functions of political parties,” he said.
To get the best out of this democracy, Atoye stated that the country needs political parties that are funded by members and the public and not a few political merchants.
Ogunshola writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
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