Wike seems to change gear, veers into empowerment and job creation

  • N200m loan to traders, N100m to civil servants begin
  • New minimum wage ready
  • Ban on recruitment of workers and promotions lifted
  • But embezzlers of N35Bn medical fund would go to jail

 (First published in BD Sunday by Ignatius Chukwu)

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who delved fully into project execution that gave him the sobriquet of ‘Mr Projects’ seems to listen to calls to focus on the economy starting with empowerment and job creation.

He kick-started soon after winning the protracted re-election battles by permitting the Rivers State University (RSU) to recruit new academic and non-academic workers. On May Day (Wednesday, May 1, 2019), he lifted the embargo on recruitment of workers into the state’s civil service.

Next, he lifted the embargo on promotions. The governor has now ordered the disbursement of the N200m revolving loans scheme per month.

Thus, workers in Rivers State welcomed the packages as the labour leaders told newsmen that they believed that the governor would carry out all the promises he made because he is known to fulfill promises.

The workers jumped for joy all through May Day when the Rivers State government unfolded the packages said to be to reduce suffering and unemployment in the oil state.

Top on the packages is lifting of ban on recruitment into the state’s civil service. The recruitment into the Rivers State University was approved a week earlier and is now in progress. Other mouth watering packages announced at the Yakubu Gowon International Stadium are lifting of embargo on promotions, readiness to pay new minimum wage, N200m loan fund to civil servants in the state, and construction of secretariats to two labour unions.

Represented by his deputy, Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the chairman of the Civil Service Commission had already been directed to conduct interviews and effect the promotion of Civil Servants to their next salary grades, noting that he has also approved the recruitment of Rivers indigenes to fill existing vacancies as part of efforts to strengthen the Civil Service for effective service delivery to the Rivers People.

Governor Wike said the government under his watch is committed to tackling social issues by creating the enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs and empower our youths.

He said: “We are also strengthening our educational system to ensure that our graduates are imbued with appropriate skills and the mindset to become job creators rather than job seekers and will also continue to implement effective policies and programmes that will address and lift our people from poverty to economic prosperity”.

The governor also disclosed that government has started implementing the N100m interest free-loan to civil servants in a bid to advance their welfare and wellbeing.

He promised to pay the new minimum wage as soon as he receives the official transmission from the Federal Government while noting that the Pension Reform Bill before the Rivers State House of Assembly when passed into law would bring into existence a seamless and positive scheme for workers in the State.

Wike who described his administration as worker-friendly one said despite financial challenges his administration is up to date in the payment of full salaries and pensions to working and retired civil servants, stressing that his promise to construct befitting secretariats for the state chapters of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has been fulfilled and will soon be handed over.

In her address the state chairman of the NLC, the comrade, Beatrice Itubo, who congratulated Gov Wike and his deputy for their victory at the election said the election was a referendum on the performance of Governor Wike in the past four years, noting that the victory was an indication that a large number of the voting public in the state is happy with the governor.

Also speaking, the chairman of TUC, Comrade Austin Jonah, reiterated the commitment of the labour movement to continually seek improvement on existing working conditions of workers.

In line with the pledge to begin the loans, Gov Wike has commenced the disbursement of interest-free loans to traders and entrepreneurs.

The State Government also announced that it will prosecute those indicted by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that investigated the management of funds of the Integrated Medical Industries (IMI) Limited.

The resolutions of the Rivers State Government were made public by the State Commissioner of Information and Communications, Emma Okah, the State Attorney General, Zaccheus Adango, and Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Politics and Strategy, Emeh Glory Emeh, on Thursday, May 2, 2019, after the State Executive Council meeting at the Government House Port Harcourt.

Okah said that the State Government has also disbursed interest-free loans to civil servants under the first phase of the programme. He said that empowerment programme will run on a monthly basis for civil servants in the state.

Also speaking, Emeh said that the interest-free loans for entrepreneurs and traders have been disbursed for 12 local council areas. He said that under the second phase of the exercise, 11 council areas will benefit from the scheme. Emeh said that 600 traders and entrepreneurs have benefited from the empowerment scheme, while N200m shall be disbursed monthly.

He added the list of all beneficiaries will be published for Rivers people to know the beneficiaries.

On  IMI Limited, the Attorney-General of Rivers State said that N34.5Bn invested by the Rivers State Government in the company was squandered. He noted that those indicted by the Justice Constance Green Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the embezzlement of the IMI funds will face the full weight of the law.