BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Cause of poverty: Wike returns fire, takes swipes at minister who accused states

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says his projects rather fight poverty, contrary to claims by one of the federal ministers that states were breeding poverty.

Wike, who uses his commissioning ceremonies to hit at his many detractors, has visited his wrath on the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, for exhibiting what he called a lack of understanding on how governors plan development projects in their various States.

Governor Wike took the swipe at the minister when he spoke at the inauguration of the 13.86km long Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road in Oluua – Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area on Thursday, December 1, 2022.

The Rivers State governor said Agba was wrong when he said that governors were the causes of poverty because they focused on building flyovers, airports and other projects in the state capitals, while allegedly neglecting to invest in rural communities to directly uplift the living standard of the people.

Wike reacted thus: “He said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads. I ask him where and where have you been? You just sit there (Abuja), you’ve not been to anywhere to go and check whether rural roads are being done or not.”

Wike pointed out that the development plan of his administration was holistic with critical infrastructure delivered not only in the State capital, but across the 23 Local Government Areas.

He advised the minister to take time out, leave Abuja, and visit States, particularly, Rivers State. Gov Wike emphasised that there were quantum of projects in rural communities with the Rumuodogo road inclusive, which have improved the socioeconomic status of rural communities.

Read also: Rivers is not safe, APC cries out after IG’s visit

“Come to Rivers State and see whether we are doing roads that will cause agricultural produce to be brought out to the cities or not before you open your mouth. We are not doing roads in the city alone. We are doing roads in all local government area of the State.”

Gov Wike also challenged some South-South State governors to stop hiding behind their attack dogs they have commissioned to insult him, but they should rather come to confront him personally.

“Some people have been sending their people to insult me. I laugh. I hear some people, they call them Akwa Ibom professionals, they were insulting me. Tell the man who sent you to come out. You are just small kids. I am waiting for the big masquerade. Some people said they are Ijaw professionals. You that is sending them come out. It is you I am looking for, I am not looking for these small fries.”

The Rivers State governor wondered why those faceless governors are picking offence with him because he thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing the 13 per cent derivation arrears from 1999 to date.

Gov Wike informed that even though he is never a fan of President Buhari, it does not stop him from expressing his gratitude to the president for releasing the fund that has helped to finance several projects in Rivers State.

“If they’re not prepared for governance, give up. I am prepared for governance. I was prepared, I’m still prepared, I will be prepared till I leave. How can people talk, simply because I said thank Buhari for giving us money. I am not a fan of Buhari. All of you know that I am not one of those they like. I am not one of those who go to Abuja to see them, but the truth must be told. When somebody has done well in an aspect, you say he has done well in this aspect. You cannot change it.”

The Rivers State governor also said while some of the governors could not withstand the federal might in their States, he was able to withstand the federal might that tried to undermine the 2019 election process in Rivers State.

The governor also said, when he thanked President Buhari, he did not say that the South-South governors should account for their share of the money they got.

He noted that each governor should know peculiar development needs of their various States and attend to them.

Gov Wike, however, said he was prepared for governance when he took the shot to become governor, was not handpicked, but entered the race and defeated a sitting governor.

“But let me tell those who are making noise, whether you’re a governor I don’t care. When I came to run as governor of Rivers State, there was no governor that said I want to put you in office as a governor. I came on my own. God said I want to use you. There was a sitting governor, we defeated the sitting governor.

“Some governors were brought by their godfathers, I never had any godfather that brought me as a governor. The only God father I had was God and the people of Rivers State. So, when some governors are talking, they should know those they are talking to, we are not at the same level and we can’t be at the same level.”

The governor explained that he has always ensured that no project awarded by his administration last more than 14 months.

Gov Wike also said that it is worthy to note that Rivers State spent over N5Bn to recover the Yenagoa campus of the Nigerian law School, while the Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt was completed within 10 months.

The governor urged Rumuodogo people to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Siminilaye Fubara, and all other candidates in the 2023 general elections.

He further charged them to use their votes to punish the party of the former State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for refusing to construct the road for them.

“A governor then that had all the money refused to do this road. He thinks that people of Rumuodogo will still be backward. God said no, the time has come for Rumuodogo people to be remembered. The time has come that people must know this community called Rumuodogo and today is your day. Now you have to pay them back with your PVC.”

Providing a description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla said the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road is a rural road that has opened up the benefitting agrarian communities to increase economic activities and enhanced property value.

He explained that the road measures 13.86km in length, with width that measures 7.3meters, has a total of 13.96km length of drains and 17 culverts.

On his part, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Chidi Lloyd, noted that the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 road was a promise made by Gov Wike to two of his political associates who joined him to return to the PDP on October 1, 2020.

He pointed out that with the project delivered, Gov Wike has shown that once a need is determined, he awards the contract, dedicate fund to it and ensure it is completed on schedule, a leadership style that remains unbeaten.