Connect with us

Headline

Pendulum: My Close Encounters with Governor Nyesom Wike

Published

on

By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to bring you some good news in this season of anomie. The reason I want to do this is simple. Just last week, President Muhammadu Buhari threw a challenge at Nigerian Governors, suggesting that they should take care of their States, instead of jumping on the planes to Abuja at the slightest opportunity, in search of largesse from the Federal Government. The impression that that heavy statement created and the lurid picture it painted was that of little kids in search of lollipops.

To some extent, I agree with the President as I will expatiate upon in the course of this discourse. I believe that our States should be generating their own incomes in significant sums that dwarf whatever they may receive from the Federal Government.  However, President Buhari is wrong to suggest that what the States are seeking from the Federal Government is a largesse. These are monies that they are entitled to. Indeed, on one view, it is the Federal Government that is feeding on the benevolence of the States, because it is resources of the States that transform to the income which is generated by the Federal Government. Furthermore, if the system worked efficiently, and the Federal Government played its part and did not want to be seen as Father Christmas, nobody needs to come to Abuja at all. There is already a revenue sharing formula in place. There is no reason it cannot be automated. Instead, in this hugely technological and automated age, things are being done manually. This is why the Governors, and their Finance Commissioners require to oversee the process to ensure that the division and splits are being done fairly and promptly.  Even at that, there are great anomalies, with the Federal Government evidently not acting uberrimae fidei, in utmost good faith, by not providing full and earnest disclosure of funds received and available. It is like extracting teeth from a ferocious animal.

It is very true that most of our Governors prefer to spend more time in Abuja than in their home States. While it may be true that the Federal Government controls most of the cash cows in Nigeria, any State that can think out of the box should be able to achieve something tangible with the available funds and resources. The first step in the process is to use what they can garner now to expand their coast. A few Governors have demonstrated such capacity of vision and mission. I have been privileged to see and interact with one such enigmatic leader in the last one year. The next step in the process  will be to unburden themselves and lift the yoke that the Federal Government has placed on the States by creating the enabling environment for private enterprise to thrive without taxing them to death. The more the productivity, the more wealth is created. Thus, the greater the revenue that will accrue to the States. This is not to mention the overriding achievement of enhanced welfare and well-being for the people both economically and socially.

I now come to this Governor who is doing remarkable stuff with the minimal resources currently available to his State, in order to provide the springboard for the next phase of the development of the State. Governor Nyesom Wike has been a household name in Nigeria for some time now.  I read a lot about him, but I felt and found him very controversial. Perception can change or distort reality. I met people who were ready to swear that Wike was nothing but a rabble rouser. I was told he was doing nothing in Rivers State. What was worse, he was accused of being occultic and all what not, which he has denied vehemently in our deep conversations. No worries, a story for another day.

The first opportunity to meet him one on one as Governor came at the invitation of the late Malam Ismaila Funtua who had called me in Ghana and requested that I join him, Nduka Obaigbena and Kabiru Yusuf on a trip to Port Harcourt. I accepted the invitation from a man popularly known and addressed as Godfather, a man who never denied being a member of the Buhari cabal, and actually took pride in being one of its pointsmen and focal point. So, I flew to Abuja from where we were flown to Port Harcourt for the Guild of Editors summit.

There and then, I witnessed Wike’s masterful hospitality big time. It did not matter that he had fundamental differences with the ruling party, APC. He demonstrated that he makes friends across party lines but is never afraid to speak up his mind. For example, he minced no words in telling me how I had written about him on one occasion and his body was shaking badly with fury. He wondered what he did to me to deserve such a blistering attack. Honestly, I could not remember what triggered the article, but he never forgot. I’m sure he must have felt I had taken sides in the fight between him and his immediate predecessor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi because he is known to be my very good friend. This is far from being the case. I love my friends dearly, but my personal life and my work do not mix in that way. Furthermore, it could never have been the case because I always write based on personal convictions and never on the basis of friendship, loyalty, vendetta or bitterness.

Those of us present, including my travelling companions all laughed it off, the tension was defused, and we went back to our hotel after dinner. The first thing I noticed during the dinner was the camaraderie that existed between him and most of the political leaders in Rivers State. It was obvious he was carrying along most of the stakeholders, and they were happy. I was convinced that it would be impossible for any force to dislodge his second term ambition. It later transpired that I was a bit naïve in not recognising the power of the Federal might in Nigerian elections, and the elections turned out to be a major battle for the soul of Rivers State, and almost a bloodbath. Eventually, Wike won at the end of the highly combustible exercise.

Rivers State was far from my mind when it came back unexpectedly through the most unanticipated channel. I had interviewed the IPOB Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and naturally I had asked Kanu about the altercations between the Governor and himself and also the bounty of N50m Kanu had placed on the head of Governor Wike. Of course, the Governor,  had instantly responded and retaliated by placing his own bounty of N100 million on Kanu’s head. It was in the middle of this brouhaha that I was opportune to interview Kanu, and naturally this issue came up.

Apparently, there had been some savage and sporadic attacks against some security personnel and installations in Oyigbo Local Government area of Rivers State. The security forces immediately went after the IPOB members they suspected must have been behind the dastardly attacks. IPOB in return accused Wike of masterminding the massacre of its people. The IPOB supporters challenged me to invite Wike for an interview, which he agreed to pronto. The rest is history.

In the course of the interview, Wike went beyond my expectations. He spoke passionately about his work as Governor, his running battle with IPOB and invited me to come with the Ovation Media Group team to see for ourselves. I have never seen that level of confidence before. He was so sure of the quality work he has been doing. We accepted his challenge, went to the Lion’s den at Oyigbo, the centre of the conflagration between IPOB in that community and the Government, and came back with the double assurance that life was returning to normal. I offered my neutral recommendations in a piece on this page. That was however, one leg of our journey and mission to Rivers State. The other aspect was to critically examine and evaluate the work that Wike was doing through our pictorial lenses.

The good news that I want to share is that while the whole country is seemingly embroiled and engrossed in crises galore, Governor Nyesom Wike has almost miraculously restored law and order in Rivers State. He has demonstrated an uncommon ability to develop the State and guarantee security of lives and property, which is key to any development.  The cities are alive. The villages are active. Businesses are growing. Roads are springing up where they never existed before. World class hospitals are sprouting, burgeoning and thriving. The beautification of Port Harcourt is amazingly remarkable. Many are wondering and asking “where is Wike getting his money from that he’s able to build all these humongous structures, pay contractors fully or 70 percent upfront, engage the numero uno construction firm, Julius Berger, the company building flyovers left right and centre?” I won’t lie, I’m pleasantly surprised myself at the phenomenal work ongoing in all parts of the State, a lot of them completed. I recently told a friend that Buhari won’t have any problem if he could just execute half of what Wike has done in Rivers State alone. This is not an attempt to ridicule anyone, but the brutal truth.

What I also love about Wike is his ability to market the State to insiders and outsiders. Since seeing is believing, he constantly invites special guests from both his party PDP and APC to see for themselves. I know the world is full of cynical people who will pass snide remarks at this good news (many people prefer negative stories), I will now give you some verifiable details… In due course you will also see them in pictures and glowing technicolour.

Let’s start from this. After 41 years, Wike has begun implementation of the multiple campus that was envisioned for the Rivers State University with his establishment of campuses in Emohua, Etche, Ahoada and Gokana… This includes the foundation Laying ceremony of the first-ever College of Medical Sciences, RSU and proper buildings for various Faculties, including the  Faculties of Basic Clinical, and Clinical Medicine, Medical Pathology,  Orthopaedic & Trauma Centre, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Construction of the Senate Building and many more…

Other notable infrastructure being built by Wike include the N25.9 billion Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Centre, being built by Julius Berger. There are also the Haemodialysis and Renal Centre with ability to perform Kidney transplants and such hi-tech procedures, the Mother and Child Specialist Hospital & Doctors Quarters, all part of his insatiable urge to leave a befitting legacy of fantastic medical facilities for the State.

In terms of road and rural development, Wike has embarked on the Opobo-Andoni-Nkoro Unity Road and achieved the distinction of constructing the first road to enter Opobo and Andoni Communities in over 100 years – He thus became the first Governor to drive into Opobo town…

Other roads completed or nearing completion are Abonema Ring Road. It is noteworthy that, before now, the State had only one narrow single carriage road that led into Abonema and Obonoma townships. It has now been widened and dualised in parts. It is envisaged that for Odufor-Akpoku-Umoye Road, a 21km road, will mark the very first time a road will be constructed in that axis. All Roads in Old and New Port Harcourt GRA Constructed. A 33km Saakpenwa Bori-Kono Road (Phases 1 and 2) are in the process of completion.

In relation to schools, there has been complete Restoration of Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonema and the flag off of construction of Government Secondary School, Kpor and restoration of Government Secondary School, Abuah, Community Secondary School, Eteo, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu-Ndoki…

The judiciary has not been left out. There is now full Autonomy for the Judiciary, upgrade of facilities of state and federal judicial officers…  He constructed and furnished a new High Court complex of two storey building and a  Court complex of four Magistrate Courts, Judicial Service Commission’s office, a multi-door Court house, and a family court.

A construction and furnishing of a new ultramodern Court complex for Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
A construction and furnishing of a new ultramodern court complex for the Port Harcourt Division of National Industrial Court. A comprehensive rehabilitation of the Federal Court of Appeal Complex, Port Harcourt. A massive renovation of the headquarters of the State’s Customary Court of Appeal Complex.
A complete rehabilitation of Customary Court of Appeal courtrooms across the State.
A magnificent renovation and furnishing of the official residence of the Chief Judge.
An establishment of the Rivers State Multi-door Court House and the Family Court.
Building of a new secretariat complex for the Port Harcourt branch of the NBA.
Quarters for Judges of National Industrial Court of Nigeria

In Sports Development, Rivers State Real Madrid Academy…

With regard to Agriculture, completion of the Cassava Processing Plant, in Oyigbo Local Government, Ogbunabali/Eastern Bypass Road… And much, much more.

The essence of this page today is to inspire other leaders to work harder and not to disparage anyone. I have no doubt that Governor Nyesom Wike has built an enviable and enduring legacy for himself and his family. He deserves a standing ovation.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline

Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

Published

on

By

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

Continue Reading

Headline

Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

Published

on

By

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

Continue Reading

Headline

Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

Published

on

By

By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

Continue Reading

Trending