From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) agreement with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was not binding on the Rivers State Government.
The governor noted how unfortunate it is that the NGF was signing an agreement with the striking members of JUSUN on behalf of state governments and that no one has consulted with the Rivers State Government on the issues of contention.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Senate Building of the Rivers State University and the foundation stone laying for the construction of the Faculty of College of Medical Sciences, Governor Wike stated that whatever NGF has signed is not binding on state governors.
‘Rivers State Government has implemented financial autonomy for the legislature and Judiciary. The judiciary has collected the first and second quarters of their capital fund. We still use our money to do infrastructure for them. In spite of that, we release and give to them their capital expenditure,’ the governor said.
The governor, who said the state government has commenced implementation of “No work, no pay policy”, reiterated that he would never sign an agreement with the JUSUN because both judicial and legislative arms of government in the state were enjoying full autonomy.
‘Governors’ Forum is not a government. It is an association of governors to share ideas and not to sign agreement on behalf of the state government. Even when they say something, I will have to come back to the State and call the State Executive Council meeting, and we will take it as our resolution that this is what we are going to do. So, whatever they have signed with JUSUN, let me tell you people, it is not binding on Rivers State Government.’
The governor noted that the Rivers State University secured the support of the state government because of the harmonious relationship between the university management and the governing council.
He said that amidst the ethnic colouration given to the appointment of the Vice Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor, there is visible proof that their appointment was justified given their achievements in turning around the fortunes of the institution.
According to Governor Wike, the structural and learning infrastructure of the institution have been uplifted through the establishment of four additional campuses that would avail Rivers people more access to tertiary education.
He said the remuneration and other conditions of teaching and non-teaching staff have also been enhanced, which has become the envy of their counterparts in other universities.
Speaking further at the flag-off of the construction faculty buildings for Basic Clinical Sciences, Clinical Science and Pathology of the Rivers State University, Governor Wike announced the award of full scholarships for all the 55 students already admitted into the college of Medical Sciences of the institution. According to him, the scholarship will last the entire period they will be on the programme.
He has also directed the management of the institution to refund all fees paid already by the students and forward their details to his office for computation.
Governor Wike also mandated the Rivers State University to commence construction work on the building to house the School of Nursing within the premises where the faculty of Medical Sciences has been sited.
The governor said while the previous administration once received in a month N100 billion from the federation account, much of which was frittered away on elephant projects like the abandoned Monorail and non-existence Justice Karibi Whyte hospital, the state allocation under his administration has never exceeded N13 billion per month.
Governor Wike said that despite the shortfall in revenue, he has within his second term awarded contracts for 10 flyovers in Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor LGAs, as well as other legacy projects.
Senator George Sekibo, who commissioned the Senate building, commended Governor Wike for his giant developmental stride in the State.
He explained that the governor has continued to take the lead in project implementation and will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the governance of the state.
Nigeria Medical Association President Professor Innocent Ujah, who laid the foundation for the Faculty of Basic Clinical, Clinical Science and Pathology buildings, observed that under Governor Wike’s administration, the health sector has received unprecedented attention geared toward sustainable development goals.