• Friday, April 12, 2024
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Why we are replying critics – Fubara’s aide


There is cacophony of noises by naysayers and they filled some quarters. The peddlers are of blinded perspective and they exhibit uncertain hysteria, hardening themselves against the reality of the times. They pretend that they do not see enviable strides made already by the administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State. But it is a lie. They just want to deliberately continue to deceive those who listen and believe in their falsehoods and lies.
It was these noise makers that Governor Fubara addressed when he inaugurated the Governing Councils of three tertiary institutions in Rivers State on Wednesday, March 13. He served the noise makers with the duty of explaining the educational challenges prevalent in the State, and what has been decided to be done urgently.

Tony Okocha, the caretaker committee chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, seemed rather unsettled about how focused the Fubara-led administration is steered. He picked on, and dwelt on the “noise” Governor Fubara referred to, than the well enunciated policy thrust that was laid out, which will transform the education sector, both in the content that would be delivered and the infrastructure in which learning would take place.

I am doing this response, not to dignify Okocha, but to rather ensure that the records in public domain are straight, not tainted, and stewed. Otherwise, nothing was short of understanding in the speech of Governor Fubara when he stated clearly that the noise makers were asking to know what his administration was doing. To be clear, he said: “There are lots of noise everywhere, people asking what we are doing, that we are not focused, and that we don’t have direction. But I want to tell the world that we are focused and aware that we cannot grow if our energies are not channelled to education. Not just education, but purposeful education.”

But Okocha would not discuss such purposeful education, or make suggestions to enrich policy implementation. He was more preoccupied and chose to drag along the path of thanksgiving rallies organised by Rivers people who are expressing gratitude to God over the upholding of their mandate by the Supreme Court. Don’t winners celebrate? Was the APC that he leads not at the Supreme Court where they prayed to be declared the winner instead. When the subject of discourse was education, Okocha’s mind recluses to issues of thanksgiving rallies. Was that not noise making? Or is his memory lost in his beclouded reasoning, without basis, that the Governor is spending public funds on the rallies?

Let it be made abundantly clear to Okocha and his likes that Governor Fubara has not spent a dime on the rallies! Neither has he expended a kobo on mobilisation of attendees! That is why he speaks of the organic support of the people of the State.

Governor Fubara is determined to keep more Rivers youths out of the streets, and take them back into the classrooms. He is laying the foundation that will return the State to the path of competitive education. He is also committed to paying more attention to providing them vocational training that will make youths who graduate from schools enter the labour market with hands-on skills to become self reliant.

It is worthwhile to remind Okocha that the Fubara- led administration, within the first 100 days, and even now in its tenth month, reconstructed and completed six public secondary schools, and furnished 124 classrooms with modern furniture, science laboratories, ICT, library, administrative block, assembly halls, dormitories and staff quarters across six local government areas of the State.

The schools were Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt Local Government Area; the Government Secondary School, Eneka, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; the Government Secondary School, Emohua, Emohua Local Government Area; the Government Secondary School, Okehi, Etche Local Government Area; the Comprehensive Secondary School, Alesa-Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area; and the Government Secondary School, Ataba, Andoni Local Government Area.

Over a million copies of relevant educational resource materials, including basic textbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopaedias were acquired and distributed to all primary and secondary schools in the State. The administration of Governor Fubara has also sustained the payment of WAEC and NECO fees for students in all public schools.

These giant strides do not look like acts of inactivity. Not at all! A “moribund” Government, led by a “clueless” leader, who is not in tune with his people could not have achieved the litany of these milestones in just nine months, almost all of which have been punctuated by distractions deliberately engineered to undermine both the Governor and the Government. And Okocha knows this fact. He knows that the Governor has excelled in many areas of governance. He is only playing the card of his paymaster(s).

Otherwise, would Okocha not rather know that constructive criticism should not be mere itching to speak, to be heard, to tear down, or merely looking for flaws where none exist? Does he not know that the state executive is properly constituted and functioning? Or does he now desire to take over and run the Government through the back door, without contesting election? Perhaps, Okocha needs to focus on his role in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), where he has not justified his mandate as representative of the State.

Or does Okocha need any tutorials to remind him that as acting chairman, he should concentrate efforts at uniting and reconciling aggrieved party faithful in his fragmented APC in the State? Does Okocha need the people of the State to ask him how many times he has held executive meeting of the caretaker committee to show that he is working? It is, indeed, a pity that Okocha, who has not settled the implosion looming in his caretaker committee, where members are already grumbling that he is running a ‘one-man-show’, is busy making empty allegations and insinuations against Governor Fubara and the Performing Rivers State Government.

If he was just asking to know, as a meddlesome interloper that he clearly is, then let it be stated that, within the principle of prudence, accountability and undivided stewardship, Governor Fubara has, again, funded and completed over 21 critical road projects spread across the three senatorial districts of the State.

These roads have added approximately 68 kilometres to the network of roads in the State, even in the heat of the political crisis he has been surreptitiously part of.

Let Okocha know that the Governor, even with the glaring distractions, has religiously continued construction work on the groundbreaking 50.15-kilometer dual carriageway Port Harcourt Ring Road. Does Okocha not know that the key infrastructure project has progressed with an over-river-bridge and six different flyovers? Does he not know that most of the critical structural elements like the pillars and beams have already been erected and set? Does he need to be told that this is a legacy project that is connecting six local government areas in the State? Does Okocha not know that no Governor has ever undertaken large-scale, singular but magnificent project of this nature in the history of the State?

In the media, Okocha should not sound like a stranger to the State. He lives in Rivers State and sees the steps of consolidation and continuity taken to advance the holistic interest of the state and not that of a few. Does Okocha not know that the Governor has continued efforts to complete the remaining uncompleted projects of the past administration as part of the fulfilment of the continuity agenda?

If Okocha wants to talk about consolidation and continuity on which mantra the Governor sought and secured the people’s mandate on March 18, 2023, let it be clear to him that Governor Fubara completed and commissioned the Dental Maxillofacial, Ear, Nose, Throat and Ophthalmology Hospital at Garrison. That hospital is functional today. Governor Fubara also completed and commissioned the Kelsey Harrison Hospital at Mile 2 in Diobu, Port Harcourt City Local Government Area. It is also attending to patients’ medical needs at this time. Or does Okocha want anyone to remind him that Governor Fubara has completed the new University of Port Harcourt Convocation Auditorium, flagged off by the previous administration?

Maybe, Okocha has been sleeping all these nine months of the Governor Fubara administration. Otherwise, why won’t Okocha remember that the Governor has been busy completing projects commenced by the previous administration? Or is it possible to conclude that a Government that completed a 19.1km Oyigbo-Okoloma (Afam) road in Oyigbo Local government Area has been “moribund”? Okocha needs to be reminded that a Government that completed an 8.1km Abua-Omoku-Iyak-Ighom-Elok road in Abua/Odual Local Government Area has not been “clueless”.

He needs to know that a Governor that has completed a 10.3km Indorama-Agbonchia-Ogale-Ebubu-East-West link road in Eleme Local Government Area has not been idle.

Okocha needs to wake up from his slumber. He needs to know that a Governor that flagged-off Elelenwo Internal Roads in Obio/Akpor LGA, and is also undertaking the ongoing Omuakali-Eberi Road in Omuma LGA, the ongoing 10km Aleto-Ebubu-Eteo road (old Port Harcourt-Bori Road) in Eleme LGA, and the ongoing Igbu-Ehuda Internal Roads in Ahoada-East must have come prepared to deliver on his mandate.

I want to assume that Okocha does not know that work is ongoing on Bori City Internal Roads in Khana Local Government, Emohua-Ogbakiri Road in Emohua LGA, and a 6.5km Woji-Aleto-Alesa-Refinery link road with 200 meters bridge. In fact, for Okocha’s information, the Governor Fubara-led administration has completed the Andoni section to Ngo town of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.

He should know that same “moribund” Government was celebrated in June by Rivers people for the approval and implementation of promotion for all Civil Servants stagnated for eight years or more. It is the same Government that commenced implementation of the financial benefits of the promotion exercise in July last year. The same “moribund” Government also commenced payment of pensions and gratuities of senior citizens abandoned to their fate after serving the State for 35 years or so, and retired to rest and enjoy the fruits of their labour. It is the same Government that approved and implemented N100,000 Christmas Bonus for all state civil servants (over 40,000 civil servants).

Okocha should know that investing in and implementing policies designed to build human capacity of the people is also good governance. Thus, the approval and increase in the number of scholarships for Rivers indigenes at PAMO University of Medical Sciences and the release of the N2billion 2023 grant to Rivers State University, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo do not indicate non-performance, especially when the same Government gave approval and implemented the free registration of WAEC/SSCE for all Rivers children while distributing textbooks and school materials across the schools in the State.

Discerning minds know when a Government undertakes the rehabilitation of roads in Port Harcourt Township area, rehabilitation and reopening of all Model Primary Healthcare Centres across the 23 Local Government Areas, execution of the Opobo ring road project, and also re-awarded Omoku-Egbema road, which is currently ongoing; it means that such Government is performing.

Of course, the discourse on Wednesday at the inauguration of the Governing Councils of the three tertiary institutions was the Government’s efforts to secure the future of the youths and create a peaceful and violence-free society. How else do you talk about consolidation if you are not investing in the future of the youths? Governor Fubara is working!

He has already ordered the disbursement of the N4billion, as marching fund released to empower small scale indigenous investors. It is a scheme in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI) and accessible by business categories like the Micro and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises across the 23 LGA. This facility is accessed at single digit interest rate through the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency (RIMA).

Even the 20,000 housing scheme project that will provide affordable houses for low-income earners is good governance. It aligns with the consolidation and continuity mantra on which the PDP campaigned for the election. Rivers State is safe. The synergy between the government and the security agencies has remained cordial with criminality is at low ebbs. Those criminal elements who dare foment trouble are given hard chase and apprehended.

If Okocha finds it difficult to readjust his extreme position where he sees nothing good and developmental going on, he should wait for what is about to hit him when the Government unfolds its programme of activities to mark its one year in office. Rivers people know that Governor Fubara has been working round the clock to deliver on his campaign promises. They know that their amiable, compassionate, and meticulous Governor is not pretending about his commitment to transform the State not only in the area of infrastructure but also in building the capacity of the people to drive and sustain development of the State.

He is not ending there. He has taken a step further to address the hunger and poverty crisis. As Okocha is peddling his falsehoods, lies and blind arguments, Governor Fubara’s footprints have began rejuvenating the Songhai Integrated Farm and the DADTCO Cassava Processing Factory to accelerate agricultural transformation, boost jobs creation, address food sufficiency and security while taming hunger at a time when the larger population of Nigerians are struggling to put food on their tables.

There is no doubt that the milestones achieved within these nine months and half have been historic. There is also no doubt Governor Fubara has shown strong leadership to propel the State to greater heights. It is obvious that people like Okocha underestimated the strength of character and capacity of the Governor to surpass expectations. That is probably why they are trying from all angles to undercut the Governor, and make him look like a weakling. But they have failed and will continue to fail!

Chukwudi is the Chief Press Secretary to the Rivers State Governor