From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Governorship candidate of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in Rivers State, Leyii Kwanee, has faulted the proposed appointments of 100,000 political advisers and liaison officers by Governor Nyesom Wike, saying that it constitued an advanced vote-buying technique.
Kwanee, who was former deputy speaker of the State House of Assembly, has also described the approval of N1 billion for flood victims by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led Rivers government, as a reactionary measure.
The ZLP governorship candidate made the assertions following Governor Wike’s media chat on Friday, saying that preliminary investigations revealed that the appointments were a support strategy to the newly approved Executive Order 21.
Governor Wike had, during the media chat at the Government House, Port Harcourt, reacted to a question on his recent decision to appoint 14,000 persons as Political Advisers, 319 Ward Liaison Officers, 40 Local Government Area Liaison Officers, and a subsequent appointment of 28,000 Special Assistants, for over 6,000 polling units in the State.
But, Kwanee expressed: “With the continued escalation of the figures, we do not know what the final numbers would be with the increase on a six hourly basis.
“We submit that a government has the power to make appointments. However, were same is made without disclosing the identities of the so-called governor’s special assistants, special advisers and liaison officers at the wards and local government areas levels, they would raise eyebrows and call for concern among the citizens of the state.
“This is particularly so, where the corresponding job description for these mass of appointments remains unknown to Rivers people and other major stakeholders in the state. Moreover, where this is coming from a government with the poorest records in history in human capacity development through employment of Rivers people in the state’s civil service.”
Kwanee continued: “It (Executive Order 21) is an Order that now serves as a tool to monopolize the physical political space and exclude opposition parties from participation in the traditional medium where political parties attract votes through campaigns designed to sell their programmes and policies to the voters.
“To us as a political party, that has submitted her candidates by law to the decision of the Rivers electorate at the next general elections in 2023, these appointments also constitute an advanced vote-buying technique.
“It is quite unfortunate that the governor cares less about the implications of his political actions on Rivers people. It is even more unfortunate that he does not worry about the consequences of his attempts to convert the state to a personal fiefdom and further deplete her (Rivers) scarce financial resources.”
The ZLP governorship candidate said no government would indulge in politicization of appointments at the time the state is experiencing consistent increase in already high unemployment rates.
He said: “The non-payment of pension and gratuity to retirees, insecurity and deplorable road conditions in many parts of the State outside the capital (Port Harcourt) serving as death traps should be of greater concern by any governor who owes the legitimacy of his office to the people.
“We understand that these acts are borne out of fear, desperation and unwillingness of the PDP to compete with other political parties at the 2023 general elections, having identified that it is, as a party, totally disconnected from the voters and well-meaning stakeholders in the State. But proceeding in the manner Wike has done without consideration of its consequences, is most deplorable and an uncharitable demonstration of leadership to the generality of Rivers people.
“He has by these recent acts that are capable of introducing unhealthy competition and violence among political parties in the state shown leadership that is everything but statesmanship.”
He, however, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to regulate activities of political parties ahead of the forthcoming election.
“In the circumstance, we hereby call on the INEC which is empowered by law to regulate the activities of political parties, including detecting and prosecuting overspending in campaign financing, to immediately call the PDP and her Government in the State to order.”
On the N1 billion flood fund, Kwanee expressed: “It is also worthy of note that the approval of N1 billion by the Rivers State Government as emergency measures to support flood victims, especially in Ahoada West and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas of the State, is a reactionary measure.
“It is disheartening that this government was unable to follow sincere and consistent pre-flooding notices and warnings from relevant agencies of the Federal Government and allowed this avoidable calamity befall Rivers people.
“Rather than throw money at the problem after it has overwhelmed the people, it is naturally expected that a rational and people-oriented government will quickly adopt measures that are capable of mitigating the anticipated loss of lives, property and legitimate means of livelihood of her citizens following the warning by the relevant agencies.
“Unfortunately, this has never been the case with a PDP Administration that prioritizes self-centered political activities and programmes that would enhance its chances at elections and sustain her ability to hold the state captive over and above paying attention to the immediate needs and suffering of her citizens.
Kwanee, however, condemned the government’s actions, describing the N1 billion donation to the communities impacted by the floods as insensitive to the plight of the people.
He said: “We reiterate that the amount approved by Wike is grossly insufficient to address the widespread devastation created by the flooding.
The subsequent creation of bureaucratic bottle-neck for the distribution of yet-to-be acquired relief materials for victims under the guise of appointment of Committee members further expresses a lack of will to put the fund to judicious use.
“As Rivers people, we know from experiences that the tendency exists to share same among the very large composition of committee members and channel the funds to the much-prioritized political activities and programmes of the PDP. This, unavoidably, leaves the victims stranded at their very point of need from a government they supposedly voted into power.
“We, therefore, appeal to the good people of Rivers State to join our movement and use the 2023 general elections in the State to vote out these two brotherly formed political party arrangement of the PDP and APC in the State.
“The Rivers electorate should be courageous enough to take their destinies in their own hands by voting to replace the APC and PDP with the candidates of the Zenith Labour Party, who are men and women full of character and capacity to run a people-oriented government of Rivers State.”