The Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, has hit had at his state’s administration, saying investors were fleeing from Rivers State due to what he termed ‘toxic’ economic environment.
He said everything that could go wrong had gone wrong, but urged investors and the people of the state to remain calm until a change of administration that he said was certain to take place on May 29, 2019.
The DG’s statement attracted instant reaction from the state government which stated through the Commissioner of Information, Emma Okah, that Peterside’s hope to unseat Gov Wike in 2019 was mere wishful thinking. Okah said the DG’s assessment of the state of economy of Rivers State was faulty on all stands.
Peterside had shared his concerns with newsmen thus: “Investment climate is toxic. Nobody can bring any new investment to Rivers State due to insecurity, Gov Nyesom Wike’s way of extracting taxes, unfriendly policies, lack of opportunity for youths, etc. Check the hotels, the occupancy rate has dropped. The Government is not looking at such key indices; there is no single investment that is coming in.”
He went on: “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 5 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.”
He said 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’’.
Reacting, the state government said: “On investors leaving the State, Dakuku Peterside should have told us about the millions of jobs lost in Nigeria since his party came to power in 2015. On the contrary, Rivers State has continued to make a difference. Economic indicators show that the IGR of the state has increased since 2015. In less than a year, Gov Wike has signed more certificates of occupancy (C of Os) and consents than the previous Government signed in eight years. Tax reforms have eliminated double taxation. Security is being tackled head on and the Neighbourhood Watch scheme is receiving attention. Funding of security is a priority despite the lack of cooperation from a section of the police. Massive infrastructure projects create jobs and have multiple effects on the economy but unfortunately Dakuku is too bitter to know that.”