The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari, to heed the clamour for fiscal federalism and restructuring, to douse brewing tension in the country.
Wike, said stakeholders in the South-South and other geopolitical zones that met with the delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, have expressed their grievances, which must be genuinely addressed.
The Rivers State governor, stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday.
The governor noted that stakeholders in the South-South, last Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, ventilated their expectations, and what was now required was political leadership and will by the President to implement the demands.
“President Buhari, has an opportunity today, that Nigerians are saying these are the things we want; these are the things we think can move Nigeria forward. And you have to show leadership by saying, ‘I have listened to you and these are things we can implement’. You may not necessarily implement everything that the people are talking about or people may want. But let people say that under President Buhari, has been able to implement one, two, three and four demands by the people.
“But if he does not take this opportunity now, and does not implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigeria and for his legacy. I don’t think that will mean well.”
The governor stated that despite reservations in some quarters about the readiness of the Federal Government to address issues raised, Buhari must avail himself the rare opportunity to address nagging issues militating against the stability of the country.
“If the president does not do this, given the opportunity he has now, then, he will put Nigeria on fire.”
Wike acknowledged that some of the salient demands of the South-South zone will require constitutional amendments to actualise, but implored the President to ensure that whenever the National Assembly passes constitutional amendment as it concerns restructuring, true federalism and resource control, he does not refuse to assent to it.
“But, again, if constitutional amendment is being made and the President vetoes or says no, he will not sign it like he did against the Electoral Act, then, it will become a problem for Nigerians.”
He dismissed insinuations by the Deputy Senate President, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, that National Assembly members and ministers from the zone were not consulted before Tuesday’s meeting with the presidential delegation.
“We are playing politics with issues that concern Nigerians; issues that concern the region. I don’t need to be told, assuming I am a legislator, and something like this happens, I will rush back to the state to meet the governor; to meet the stakeholders, and say: what do we do? You don’t need to wait for the governor to call you! It is your own responsibility as representative of the people. You heard that your state has been burnt down, for example, you don’t expect somebody who is bereaved to begin to call, to say I am bereaved.”
He described as regrettable the absence of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, who arrived the Government House, Port Harcourt, with the Chief of Staff for the crucial stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, but failed to participate in the event for inexplicable reasons.
“When I asked the Chief of Staff: where is my own minister? he was also shocked, because he knew that the minister was at the airport with them.”
Wike noted that President Buhari has done the needful by appointing people to manage the affairs of NDDC for the interest of the region, but, regrettably, that those appointed were politicians who have refused to work with PDP governors in the region.
He accused the NDDC of pervasive corruption to the extent of claiming projects done by the Rivers State Government, as its own.
“Rivers State Government went to court and challenged NDDC that, you cannot do what you are doing without consultation, without approval of the state government. And the court agreed with the Rivers State Government. NDDC, you cannot do what you are doing. You are distorting the physical development of the stat”, Wike stressed.
The governor, lamented the continuous politicisation of security in the country to the extent that it has prevented the take-off of operations of the State Neighbourhood Safety Corps.
He accused the Nigerian Army, which ironically, has given tactical support to similar outfits in APC-controlled states like Lagos and Kogi, of preventing the State Safety Corps from operating, despite legislative backing.
He also wondered why the state Police Command would be contemplating community policing without the involvement of state governors.
“You are talking about community policing, and then, state governments are not involved. Who pays these officers or the men who are involved in community policing? You stay in Abuja, you take a decision, you recruit, then, you come and tell the state governments to come and pay, it does not work that way.
“And what do you mean by community policing? You are talking about how to provide security in various communities. Who is in-charge of these communities? And that is the problem we have in our own federal structure. You cannot say you operate a true federal system when you have only one police command”, Wike argued.
The governor dismissed claims that the state government owed personnel of the Rivers State Transport Company, and explained that state does not have such employees on its database.
He explained that before the advent of his administration, the state transport company had been operating as a franchise, without remitting proceeds to the state government.
Nkanga’s Death Has Left A Void In N’Delta, Wike Laments
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says the untimely death of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) has dealt a severe blow to Niger Delta struggle.
Wike made this assertion when he visited the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom at the Government House, Uyo, yesterday, to commiserate with him over the death of Nkanga and the state Chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong.
The Rivers State governor said the death of the PANDEF chairman has created a deep void in the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria in line with the principle of true federalism.
“The PANDEF chairman stood for the struggle of the Niger Delta, restructuring of this country. As Rivers people, we are all from Niger Delta. We face the same problems. So, if anything happens to Akwa Ibom State, it also affects Rivers State. We have lost a voice. Whether anybody likes it or not. We have lost a voice.”
Wike, who described the death of both the PANDEF and PDP chairmen as painful, urged Udom and the people of Akwa Ibom State to take solace in God over the death of these two great sons of the state.
In appreciation of the immense contribution of the late PANDEF chairman to the Niger Delta struggle, Wike said Rivers State Government will collaborate with Akwa Ibom State Government to support his family and accord him a befitting funeral.
“My brother, we will support you to sustain the family. We will support you for the burial of the late PANDEF chairman. Rivers State Government will want to be fully involved in whatever it takes to give him a befitting burial.”
Wike, also lamented the abrupt death of Ekpenyong who was just recently elected chairman of the party in the state.
In his response, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, thanked Wike and Rivers State delegation for standing by the people of Akwa Ibom in their moment of grief.
Udom said the death of Nkanga, who was the Director General of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Campaign organisation 2015 and 2019, was emotionally devastating to him and the people of the state.
“He was my DG for both first term and second term. For somebody who had been your director general for first and second term, you know the man must have proven that high level of loyalty and integrity.
“What he doesn’t say in front of you, he will never say it behind you. He was that man at that level of integrity, character.”
He urged the governors of the South-South states to collaborate with the Akwa Ibom Government to give Nkanga a befitting funeral next month.
Udom, who described death as a mystery that only God understands, said he was saddened about the death of his state party chairman, who according to him epitomizes loyalty.
“In fact, my party chairman when they are introducing him, they use to call him Mr Loyalty. He was that loyal to our party. He had served the party at the national level; he started serving the party at the state level. If you want any definition for loyalty, just look for Udo Ekpenyong.”
NSCDC Uncovers 119 Gallons Of Adulterated AGO In Rivers
The Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Rivers State, Commandant Muktar Lawal says the command has uncovered an illegal dump of 119 25-liter gallons of adulterated AGO, and arrested one suspect, saying that the Special Anti-Vandal Team which specialised in identifying illegal dumps in the state, was responsible for the discovery and arrest.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the command, Assistant Commandant Oguntuase Michael, and made available to The Tide said that at about 1500hrs on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the anti-vandal team arrested a suspect, one Mr. Ezike Shoke, with a Volkswagen Jetta car loaded with suspected illegally-refined AGO, in gallons (25liters), 56 in number at an illegal dump situated at number 34 Arochukwu Street, Rumumasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
According to the statement, the illegal dump where the suspected products were seized was situated at a residential area making it unacceptable and dangerous for residents of the area due to the adverse health effects it poses to the people.
The statement also said that 57 empty gallons found at the crime scene were seized while investigation is ongoing to arrest all the fleeing gang members who are connected to the dastardly act.
He said that when they are arrested, they would be charged to court.
RSG Orders Civil Servants To Stay-At-Home
The Rivers State Government has directed civil servants on salary grade levels 01 to 13 to stay-at-home to check the spread of a spike in the second wave of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government’s position was made clear in a statement signed by the state Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The statement, copied to the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, all honourable commissioners, all chairmen of commissions, all permanent secretaries, the accountant general, the auditors-general of state and local government, the surveyor-general, all special advisers and senior special assistants, all heads of non-ministerial and extra-ministerial departments, the clerk, Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Rivers State Liaison officers, Lagos and Abuja, with reference number: A.779/Vol.11/156, and dated January 19, 2021, was titled, “Stay-At-Home Directive for Officers on Salary Grade Levels 01 – 13 due to Covid-19 Pandemic Second Wave”.
The statement reads, “Following the current hike in the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the second wave of the virus, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has directed all civil servants on salary grade levels 01 -13, except those on indispensable essential duties to stay away from duty forthwith, while officers from grade levels 14 and above should be on duty, and assume full responsibilities for their offices until further notice.
“Accordingly, all permanent secretaries, and heads of extra-ministerial officers should ensure compliance with this directive within the strict context of the Covid-19 Protocols. This directive, which takes effect from Wednesday, January 20, 2021, shall remain in force until His Excellency, directs otherwise, please.”
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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