In a country where the Federal Government led by the All Progressives Congress (APC) has failed woefully, the petty trader imagined he could sell trash to the good people of Rivers State.
It is true that shouting is a weapon in a street market. But even at that, reason comes to play at critical moments.
This was the situation when a trader left Lagos, flew into Port Harcourt to participate in Rhythm FM’s Viewpoint. The Programme for Saturday December 30, 2017 brought him down to earth.
His stage-managed appearance on Channels Television, where a compromised presenter gave him the unprofessional and unethical opportunity to throw insults around must have emboldened him to return home to try the same nonsense.
That show by the producers of Politics Today on Channels Television was the height of criminal broadcast journalism. The worst form of pocket driven engagement. The fact that the said trader stealthily appeared on the programme without the other side having an opportunity of being heard same day, was an indication that it was a fraudulent transaction.
Modern broadcast journalism permits the two sides to be heard same day, same set, perhaps at different times. This allows each side to marshal out their points without the set degenerating. This is for contentious issues. Therefore, the Channels Television crew would have worked it out if they believed in fair play and objectivity. But the objective was obvious.
The Viewpoint Arena in Port Harcourt was more professional. The trader had his time and was thoroughly cross-examined by the public. The Rivers State Government also had its time with critical questions asked.
Lack Of Research
Some of our human rights activists love money to a fault. They hardly do basic research. For a man who shouted himself to confusion, it was shocking he had no facts. He didn’t know anything about the workings of the State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning or the State House of Assembly. All he did was rant and curse. When asked to provide the budgets of other states that he claimed were more transparent than Rivers State, he could not. When informed of the existence of the Rivers State Budget, he could only rain obscenities. He came to the studio with a loud voice. No data.
Lack Of Integrity
The petty trader was in the studio with no integrity. He sells it to everyone ready to pay. Even his organisation has sacked him. Sadly, when the Executive Secretary of Integrity Group, Meshak Uyi called to tell him this on air, he denied ever knowing Uyi. He lacked the integrity to defend his name. He could not engage.
Secondly, on the day he appeared on Channels Television, that was the same day he wrote a letter demanding for the budget. In a space of three hours, he was on a compromised television programme, ranting that he was denied access to the Rivers State Budget. Could he have gotten the budget when he merely dropped his mischievous letter before flying to Lagos to do a sponsored hatchet job.
Presentation Of The Budget
There is the good side of APC’s sponsorship of the petty trader on this budget matter. It brought to the fore the fact that the Rivers State Budget exists and has been implemented according to the letters of the law.
Right there in the studio, the trader was given the budget. The presenter received copies of the budget and the minds of members of the public were also disabused.
This issue has been the creation of the APC, a few compromised journalists and criminally minded Non-Governmental Organisations.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr Isaac Kamalu did justice to the entire issue. As a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, he explained the entire process, availing the public very critical facts.
Kamalu noted that the processes for the passage and assent of the state’s budget are such that the budget can never be a secret document, adding that the 2015 Supplementary Budget, the 2016 Budget and the 2017 budget are available for the members of the public to access and use.
The Rivers Assembly Input
The Finance Committee of the Rivers State House of Assembly led in the oversight of the implementation of the budget in releases and expenditure.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon Ehie Edison, described the implementation of the budget as excellent.
He said: “On behalf of the 8th Rivers State House of Assembly House Committee on Finance, I thank the Rivers State Government for the successful implementation of the 2017 budget to the letter as appropriated by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“As part of oversight, we engaged in several budgetary implementation scrutiny in all MDAs and agencies of government. We are satisfied with our findings of very detailed implementation in the release of funds and prudent management of state finances as allocated by the Rivers State House of Assembly”.
The Trader’s Bloodied Nose
On April 11, 2015, the good people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted for Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as their governor. He polled 1,029,102 votes. They preferred him to the boy’s quarter tenant sponsored by the immediate past failed Amaechi administration.
When the petty trader got into the studio on Rivers soil and attempted to disparage the chosen one, the people rose in one accord and gave him a bloodied nose.
If Rivers people withstood over 50,000 armed security personnel backed by a vicious Federal Government, what can a human rice activist do?
Governor Wike has endeared himself to the Rivers people through his pro-people projects, transparent governance and prudent management of resources. Here salaries are not owed, pensions are not owed. Therefore, the trader can continue to collect his paymaster’s bribe, but he will always receive shame from the people.
I know the petty trader will run to more television stations in Abuja and Lagos to curse and rant. Whatever he does, the vast majority of Rivers people who benefit from the budget will continue to work for the re-election of Governor Wike.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.