From Tony Joh, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the 2023 general elections will prove to many the strategic political importance of the state.
He said the state cannot continue to be a dumping ground where the interests of the people are considered inconsequential.
Governor Wike spoke at Elele Civic Centre, the venue of the flag-off of construction work on the Elele internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area on Monday.
He urged people to understand that Rivers State stands very strong in the scheme of national affairs, which is why it is a given that when the state gives anybody support, it should be reciprocated.
Instead of people addressing their minds to that reality, Governor Wike said they were rather issuing political threats against the state. He warned those issuing such threats in Abuja to rethink otherwise they will have problems.
Governor Wike said Rivers State has remained the bedrock of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999, providing it with a bulk of votes and logistics than any PDP state in the country.
The governor insisted that if there was no Rivers State, there would not also have been a PDP, but despite the State’s contributions, there is nothing of note, in terms of a project that can be reckoned as a benefit to justify the support.
Governor Wike pointed to how Rivers State refused to enter into a negotiation with the APC-led federal government as done by other states and did not give President Muhammadu Buhari 25 per cent votes in the 2019 election despite the heavy military presence in the state.
He explained that Rivers State rank higher above other states, and they should shiver when it is talking.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Rivers State governor disclosed that some politicians have started mounting pressure on the National Assembly to speedily pass the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) N500B budget.
“Since NDDC was established, look at the money that has gone into NDDC. What can we show for it? The NDDC has become a cash cow for politicians. The President has just inaugurated the new board of the NDDC. You know what is going on now? There is N500 billion budget for NDDC. Election is coming from 25th February, Now, what the politicians have done is to put pressure on the National Assembly so that they will pass the N500B budget for NDDC.”
He explained that some politicians with a vested interest in the 2023 general elections have already determined how the NDDC budget would be siphoned, and if they succeed, the region will further suffer.
Governor Wike said it is regrettable that those who superintend over the affairs of the NDDC are sons and daughters of the oil-producing states, yet, the commission has never deemed it appropriate to seek the input of these State in its budget preparation.
He said the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice have been notified to challenge some perceived fraudulent provisions of the budget, such as the allocation of N60 billion for building a spurious safe haven for a particular security agency and N4 billion for cleaning gutters, in court.
The governor lamented that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been rendered redundant, as supervision of the NDDC has now become the sole concern of the minister in charge of the ministry.
Speaking on the project, Governor Wike told the people of Elele that the entire road network in the town will be reconstructed and it will serve as part of an appreciation for their support to his administration in 2015.
He explained that all the indigenous contractors his administration is using have all shown the capacity and assured that no project awarded by his administration will be left abandoned.
Governor Wike urged them to support his quest for consolidation by voting Sir Siminialayi Fubara to be the next governor of the state, and his running mate, Prof Ngozi Ordu who will continue with the ongoing development agenda.
Providing the description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, George-Kelly Dakorinima Alabo, said the Elele internal roads were awarded to the contractor, Oki & Sons Ltd on October 28, 2022.
According to him, the road measures 9 kilometres in length, will have 6 kilometres of drains and is expected to be completed in the next three months.