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Address issues raised by Dakuku on the economy, Group tells Wike

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Dr Dakuku Peterside (left) and Governor Nyesom Wike

A Port Harcourt based youth group, Rivers Renaissance, has challenged Governor Nyesom Wike to address the critical issues raised by former Director-General,  NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku  Peterside,  on the Rivers State economy in the last six years of his administration.

Dr. Peterside in an interview in the Independent newspaper raised critical issues bedevilling the state and declared that there was absence of governance in the last six years of Governor Wike’s administration. The group, in a statement issued on Saturday and signed by Dr. Dokubo Dan-Tamuno, its president, noted that rather than address these critical issues, Wike, as usual, dictated a script to his staff, aimed at diverting attention from the questions raised in the said interview, committing more  gaffe and  using a pseudonym “Amieyeofori Ibim” in a bid to  cast aspersion and vituperation on Dr. Peterside.

The group advised Wike to ignore the messenger and address the message instead of demonstrating that he is bereft of modern idea  economy and waking away in a peekaboo in the presence of  Gov. Tambuwal of Sokoto State.

Rivers Renaissance further said the issues raised in the Independent newspaper interview  posed a lot of concern to the survival and aspiration of Rivers people and further  challenged Governor Wike to make public his achievement in employment generation, following the  revelations by National Bureau of Statistics that Rivers State is the headquarters of unemployment and underemployment with over 714,800  representing 59.22 percent unemployed in the state. “This is an indictment on Gov. Wike who  pays scanty attention to real human capital development and parading himself as Mr. Project, a sobriquet  he coined for himself  during an event at Rumuoparaeli and not the Vice president, Prof .Yemi Osinbajo, as erroneously believed,” the group said.

The group noted that Wike’s lack of  strategic  economic policy to promote and drive  investment and attract investors has become an albatross for investors doing business in the state, adding that this has caused  organisational flight and relocation out of Port Harcourt. The report of a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council of Nigeria Sub National Ease of Doing Business in partnership with KPMG professional service, showed that a state like Rivers is challenged in implementing the ease of doing business policy; the group said.

 “More worrisome is the controversy surrounding its fiscal performance ranking in 2021 and its  financial healthiness  as Rivers State under Gov Wike has never made public its annual budget for citizens’ connection and consumption. BudgiT in its report stated that Rivers State does not make its annual budget transparent. However, the inaccessibility of the state budget was attributed to the inability of Gov. Wike to access bailout package, as publishing of budget was  an enabler and  a major part of condition set aside for  states  to access bailout package and other  investors funding,” the group noted in the statement.

The group noted that disconnect among ministries, agencies and parastatals with Rivers people had eroded open government partnerships, throwing to the wind, accountability, transparency and participation.

The statement reads: “Most agencies are moribund, even the State Secretariat is dilapidated. What a shame! Yet Gov Wike approves contracts arbitrarily based on the spot conviction and makes  full payments in  public glare without recourse to  the Rivers State Public Procurement Law of 2008. The Bureau of Public Procurement no longer bid for tender through publication for healthy competition and has been reduced to providing  advisory services to small and medium scale enterprises. This is against open government partnerships as open budget index ranks Rivers State low on fiscal transparency without a functioning Treasury Single Account (TSA).

 “One wonders why there is never difference in the cost of award of flyover contracts  as Gov Wike unilaterally has pegged the cost of every flyover at N7 billion. His avarice for primitive acquisition and glamour for buying different media awards for himself has no significant impact on the lives of the citizenry.

 “Even the education sector is not an exception. In 2014, the educational exploit and achievements of Rivers State received global reckoning under Chibuike Rotimi Amaech. The State won the UNESCO WORLD BOOK CAPITAL, beating advanced countries like the UK, US, Canada, among others as a literacy giant.”
The group noted that the current government in the state pays lips service to education as Wike’s refusal to pay up NECO fees recently has led to withholding of NECO results of outgoing secondary students in Rivers State causing so much panic among critical stakeholders in the educational sector.

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