• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Gov Wike wants ‘effective power devolution’, but commits to national unity

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Governor Nysesom Wike of Rivers State has warned that Nigeria would continue to suffer from stunted development unless the nation turns to what he called ‘effective power devolution’. The governor however restated his commitment to Nigeria’s national unity.

This was the highlight of his address to mark the country’s 60 years of independence in Port Harcourt, the state capital. He talked about need for strong institutions that would promote devolution of power.

Wike, who organized a limited celebration in Government House said it was time for Nigerians to confront core political and economic issues that hamper sustained growth.

According to him, to put Nigeria on the path of progressive growth, the rule of law, a fraud-proof electoral system, an effective neutrality of law enforcement agencies and independence of the judiciary should be put in place.

“We may gloat in the limited progress that we have made since independence. It is true that we have achieved relative expansion in access to education, healthcare and the socio-economic infrastructure; but if we fail to give considerations to the serious challenges preventing us, we cannot build a free, fair and just nation that will command the total loyalty of all nationalities.

“Let us, therefore, resolve to take the right step to institutionalise the necessary constitutional and political systems that will enable us to build a free, sovereign democratic and functional nation”, he stated.

Gov Wike noted that at independence, there was an effective democracy, regional autonomy and fiscal federalism. Those principles, he said, guided the political, social and economic relations between the central government and the regional constitutional regions until they were frustrated.

“Our founding fathers envisioned to build our nation with due regards to our diversities and with visionary enthusiasm. They provided basic building blocks for sustaining a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria with a functional constitution document.

“No one part or region was deliberately denied against what was due to it. No ethnic nationality was politically and economically favoured unduly above all others by the central government.

“Under this arrangement, Nigeria thrived on a peaceful and progressive path. Unfortunately, the fundamental principles of negotiated constitutional regional autonomy and federal government were blatantly jettisoned,” he said.

He however did not explain what led to the 1966 coup and eventual civil war if the nation did not have issues of ethnicity and constitutional imbalance.

Gov Wike rather restated that Rivers state would continue to promote the unity of the country and ensure peaceful coexistence of all residents.

According to him, efforts would be sustained in improving the standard of living, expand healthcare delivery, and pursue accelerated economic growth.
“We are constructing roads, flyovers, jetties, markets and expanding healthcare and education facilities throughout the state including the rural areas. We have spared no effort in advancing and achieving security. Rivers state is now reckoned as one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria with much improved business environment that is attracting investors. Clearly, we have a bright future”, he emphasised.

The Governor also commended the military for their efforts in curbing banditry, and all forms of insurgency to defend the sovereignty of the country.

Meanwhile, the state struggled to maintain peace on the day in the face of threats by Biafra agitators who declared a sit-at-home order which they wanted to enforce. Shops were shut down in most markets where Igbo traders dominate including Ikokwu spare parts area, Emenike Junction areas, and all of Obigbo town in Oyigbo local council area.

The police mounted security in major places with several armoured vehicles stationed at the Government House areas.