By Codratus Godson
Dr Dakuku Peterside, perhaps one of Gov Nyesom Wike’s bitterest political rivals, flew into Port Harcourt at the weekend and gathered a handful of Port Harcourt-based journalists at a hotel in the Old GRA in what turned out to be an explosive encounter.
The man who flew the guber flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and was compensated with the headship of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as DG shot right from the hip the moment he entered into the conference room after short prayers.
He straightaway accused the press of creating and sustaining the Wike phenomenon, saying the ever-rising image of the Rivers State governor was not backed by facts on ground. He reeled out several areas of failure and accused the press of going to sleep. He asked to know why this was so.
He further reeled out what he considered to be false claims by the Wike administration which he said the journalists as a matter of duty should have debunked on a daily basis, and said Rivers State was consistently leading in crime and that the state’s economy had become toxic with unfriendly policies, insecurity, bad taxing methods, etc. He again asked the press where they were when Wike was growing in popularity while the state was allegedly sliding in all indices.
The pressmen fired back, accusing the APC in the state of not providing counter facts if they had them. They said it was the duty of anybody who had facts to make them available to newsmen and not the duty of pressmen to manufacture facts.
Some said it was not true that the state’s economy was toxic while some others said Rivers did not have the worst crime rate in Nigeria. The hall became tensed.
Both groups agreed to review the situation and work better to present all opinions and all sides in their reporting.
WIKE IS SUSTAINED BY THE PRESS –
Dr DAKUKU PETERSIDE
– Rivers State is sliding but Wike’s image is blooming. Can you people in the press explain to me why it is so? Rivers State is the least in all indices, but the administration is popular.
– Transparency index shows the state is the least. No project is advertised, budget is not in the public domain, from 2016 to 2018, and I have challenged anybody to show me any of Wike’s budgets.
– The common talk on the streets is that Gov Wike may have closed all leakages but he is the pipeline for leakage. He controls all spending; is the awarding authority, supervising authority, and executing. All others are mere watchers
– Some commissioners cannot pay children’s school fees. Its that bad.
– Why then is the press singing his praise or silent over these deeds?
– Deaths in his cabinet show that he does not care for his team. This is the position of some persons in his cabinet
– He is not a planner. He has no blue print. Wike does not have any plan anywhere that states where he is taking Rivers State to. Its brick and mortar system of administration
– Primary education is dead, healthcare has collapsed, but he would say he built a College of Medicine in UST (now RSU)
– Rivers State economy is dead
– Businesses: Firms are leaving the state. A business guru said Wike is making everybody leave, he is also making himself to leave in 2019.
– The true picture of what Wike is doing is not in the media. Why has everybody kept quiet? Evil thrives and press is quiet? What is wrong?
– Investment climate is toxic
– Nobody can bring any new investment to Rivers State due to insecurity, his way of extracting taxes, unfriendly policies, lack of opportunity for youths, etc.
– Check the hotels, the occupancy rate has dropped. The Hotel Presidential is now struggling, Le Meridien is struggling, Novotel, etc.
– The Government is not looking at such key indices; there is no single investment that is coming in.
– The housing sector is zero.
– Gov Wike is sustained only by the press
– Every Rivers fund is pumped into the judiciary, federal judicial institutions
– The few projects being done are in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor
– Check out two key indicators: Federal allocation and debt service ratio
– The ratio of funds coming in and what has been done is almost 95 to five per cent.
– The state is getting more than the past administration got but is doing nothing with it
– Debt servicing is done and so, debt is mounting. Rivers State has moved from one of the least indebted states to one the highest indebted states, by the National Bureau of Statistics figures
– Crime rate is highest in Rivers, always ahead of even Lagos. I am a member of the body where the police submit reports per month. Until the last two months when I did not attend, Rivers was the highest.
– The state distorts facts
– I am sold out to the battle of making Wike history on May 29, 2019, not minding who would be the governorship candidate of the APC.
– For now, our common goal is to remove Wike. For now, it is not about self about saving Rivers State by removing Wike, and that we must accomplish
CHALLENGES IN NIMASA
– TSA is now in place, making it difficult to do some things fast; the DSS and EFCC are permanent in NIMASA, not because of me but because of what happened in the past
– We have totally reformed NIMASA
– President Buhari came to Calabar and when we shook hands, he said to everybody’s hearing; I am extremely proud of what you have done in NIMASA.
– A lot has been put in place. It’s a total transformation there
– Buhari shook hands with me vigorously
– Question & Answer
– We have not agreed on who will run for APC in Rivers State, and our group is a place of consensus. We work as a team. So, I cannot begin to do what some other persons who have got the nod are doing in terms of executing their agenda. The day that decision is taken in Rivers State, you will see the result.
– Yes, we have issues in the APC in Rivers State about unity but the national body is looking into it. Soon, you will hear from them
– The division is just five per cent in disagreement. The PDP was divided into two going into elections in 2015 and they still won, though in a manner not very satisfactory to the rules..
– APC has a big chance.
– Nobody can stop the APC by going to court and the case in court is not going to stop the party. In the worst case scenario, the party can set up a caretaker committee to conduct the primaries that would produce our candidates, that is even if the case in court poses any problems in terms of legitimacy of the present state executives.
– I am not against completing old projects by new administrations but credit must be given to those who started it. That is the way it is done.
– Can anyone name one single project that Wike has started and completed.
– The Airport Link Road to Obiri Ikwerre was not started by Wike. The heaviest work was underground drainage system. Wike tarred the surface.
– The Peter Odili-Akpajo Road was suggested by Prince Uche Secondus to Amaechi and I was the commissioner of works. We had to take helicopter to do aerial survey of where the bridge would be. Why are they now taking credit for it?
– The minister of Transportation commissioned projects last month and gave credit to the previous administration that moved it forward after Obasanjo regime failed to do much on it.
– NIMASA has always given credit to my predecessor because he did some good things. He made the NLNG to start paying money, he started the scheme that sent 2000 persons for training abroad, etc.
– The Amaechi government built five flyovers in three years, but Wike has not built one.
– Dr Odili did the most in power so far.
– Wike has no idea where he is taking the state to. He has even admitted it often.
– The boat mishaps worry me too but it’s a matter for the NIWA, the Inland waterways authority. NIMASA is upping our game to help NIWA in that aspect. I as a person is giving out 1000 safe gears to Rivers State.
– Destruction of parallel APC secretariat in PH: I join in condemning it. The APC boss in the state has also said the security agencies should fish out the perpetrators and punish them. This shows that he was not party to it. The minister did not order any such action, and that I can assure you. That is not his style.
– Erecting the parallel secretariat is wrong, but taking the law into one’s hand by destroying it is also not good.
– We hear there are some disagreements within them over NDDC contracts or so. We do not know who did it.
We have noted your explanations. We will get back to you.