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Wike’s 100 Days: Rivers APC Refutes NAN Report

wikeThe Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, would like

to refute the report circulating in the media by the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] titled, “APC lauds Governor Wike [picture above] on projects’ completion in Rivers.”

This caption and the body of the said story do not represent what the Rivers State Spokesman of the APC stated and presented in his paper at the 100 days in office symposium organised by the Rivers State Federated Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ.

For the avoidance of doubt, what the APC Spokesman said was that the party did not see anything wrong in a sitting government completing projects that were uncompleted by the previous administration as government is a continuum.

In the case of Rivers State, there was nothing exceptional the governor was doing that required being ‘lauded’ especially when the governor is not acknowledging the input of the predecessor in conceptualising, initiating and carrying out those projects to the extent that they were inherited by the new government.

The position of the APC is that the sitting government accepting to complete those projects confirms that the government of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi that started them deserves greater commendation for its vision and efforts from the present Rivers State Government.

It amounts to the height of mischief and dishonesty on the part of the present government to describe such projects as abandoned by the previous government in its paranoid mission to take away from the achievements of the Amaechi administration.

We urge NAN to promptly retract its earlier wrong report and circulate this clarification that correctly represents what transpired at the said symposium and confirmed by the paper delivered at the eventand attached hereunder.

Chris Finebone

State Publicity Secretary

 

SPEECH PRESENTED BY SENIBO CHRIS FINEBONE, STATE PUBLICITY SECRETARY, ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS [APC], RIVERS STATE AT A ONE DAY SYMPOSIUM/SPECIAL REVIEW OF 100 DAYS IN OFFICE IN RIVERS STATE ORGANISED BY THE FEDERATED CORRESPONDENTS CHAPEL OF THE RIVERS STATE COUNCIL OF THE NUJ, CHAPEL SECRETARIAT, NO. 49, IKWERRE ROAD, PORT HARCOURT ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

PROTOCOL,

The term ‘First 100 days’ was coined in a July 24, 1933, radio address by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he was referring to the 100 day session of the 73rd United States Congress between March 9 and June 17, rather than the first 100 days of his administration.

Over time, the term has been used to measure the successes and accomplishments of presidents during their first 100 days – a time that their power or influence is at its greatest.

For me, it is arguable whether the power or influence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is at its highest in the first 100 days of being sworn into office.

In any case, the 100 days phenomenon arrived Nigeria not long after we jettisoned the Cabinet Government modeled after the British system and adopted the American-type Presidential and federal system of government in 1979.

Since then, governments at the federal, state and sometimes local government levels try to mark their first 100 days often times with so much fanfare and little substance.

However, one thing appears not in contention when it comes to first 100 days. Any government worth its salt must put forward its achievements or at least a demonstrable grasp of its purpose, intentions and direction even if it is by way of its level of work-in-progress across the very important sectors of governance.

At the high point of campaigns and electioneering, certain issues such as the economy, security, unemployment, amongst other items struggle for prominence on the shopping list of the electorate. Political parties and their candidates joggle up these issues and come up with their own priority list which may be tagged manifestoes or short, medium or long-term action plans.

Sometimes, certain items may command the unenviable status of national or state emergencies, requiring very urgent intervention from day one the government is sworn into office.

You may recall that the most pressing challenge facing Americans when President Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States [US] on January 20, 2009 was economic recession and it was almost existential for the US to fashion a way out for its economy. This led to several legislations and actions by the government under the stimulus package that included The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, the economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009 by President Barack Obama amongst others. On Obama’s 100 days in office on April 9, 2009, the US economy was already on the part of recovery. 

On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari did not mince word when he reeled out the most pressing issues on hand for him which is fight against corruption, rescuing the national economy that has been so battered by the free-for-all corruption of the immediate past government and insecurity occasioned by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s North East.

To show commitment to tackling insecurity, President Buhari in his inaugural speech ordered the Command and Control Centre of the Military High Command to relocate with immediate effect to Maiduguri, the epicentre of the war theatre.

In 100 days, President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good. He has re-instituted the values of hard work and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.

Power & Economy

In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already seeing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time.

With no Kobo of investment made by the Buhari administration but by just the right body language and public perception, the power sector seems to have turned a new leaf as most people now see power in their homes and offices for upwards of 5 to 8 hours a day depending on location in the country.

Again, he didn’t put a Kobo to finance the power sector. Yet, reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari, electricity supply all over the countries has risen to unprecedented heights.

Actually, some cities are on the verge of calling 24-hour, round the clock power supply. The country generates more power than can internally be taken by the deplorable distribution system we have on the ground, which points to the next challenge that the country faces.

What this aptly demonstrates is that with the right kind of leadership, Nigerians are ever so ready to show commitment to good behaviour and provide responsible and patriotic followership.

Security & Foreign Policy

Beyond ordering the Generals to relocate to Maiduguri, he removed the Military Chiefs and replaced them with fresh ones with a lot of connection and knowledge of the strife-torn areas of the North East. Within 100 days, the reward is showing in the successes being recorded at the battle field.

Boko Haram, which had more or less been allowed to fester for about five years is about being ended but what is even more interesting is that intelligence coming from the fired-up armed forces who now work in synergy with each other is raising hope that the Chibok girls may be found in good numbers in a geographic location of interest somewhere in the North-East.

Ab initio, President Buhari prioritised on taking relations with the country’s immediate neighbours to new heights. By their open admissions, this country’s neighbours did not have someone they could talk to on the deteriorating security situation in the Lake Chad Basin area in Aso Rock.

Buhari embarked on his foreign policy on Day Four of his administration.

When he met Barack Obama, the U.S president told the Nigerian leader that he was getting it right and that it is only when Nigeria gets it right that Africa will get it right.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who came calling said that our president is “courageous, focused and firm.”

Relations with the “G 7” group of industrialized countries have since been “reset” and the dividends of this have begun to flow inwards.

Anti-Corruption & Finance

President Buhari is being praised at home and abroad for his ongoing fight against corruption. He said from the beginning that his government will not tolerate this vice.

Framework for the management of the country’s finances has been put in place. The wobbly Naira is being stabilized and inflation is headed towards a single digit. President Buhari is keeping a close eye on the government treasury.

The Treasury Single Account [TSA] which just took effect was instituted within the administration’s 100 days. This policy is to plug loopholes in the management of national finances, encourage fiscal transparency & efficiency and check corruption.

Agriculture

Within the 100 days, agriculture is getting its own shot in the arm.

Rice importation has been curtailed and seven governors whose states are priming a massive local production of the commodity have had a strategy meeting with the President on the next steps that are coming. Americans say their intervention in our agriculture will come next year.

Borrowing the words of India Narendra Modi’s, he said, “I won’t steal and I’ll not allow others to do it.” President Buhari has walked his talk since he came to office.

Within 100 days, President Buhari and his Vice Yemi Osinbajo publicly declared their assets in lin with the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau [CCB].

In 100 days, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari certainly deserves a pat on the back for improved power, reform in the energy sector, foreign relations fight against corruption and insurgency and the fact that Nigerians are being at peace, not only among themselves but with their neighbours and the rest of the world.

In 100 days, President Muhammadu Buhari has served Nigerians and the world notice that he aims to become a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu of Singapore and India’s current reform-minded Prime Minister Narendra Modi with strong and clear emphasis on detail and execution.

On the other hand, the very honest assessment of the 100 days of the Rivers State Government under Chief Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike by the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaves much to be desired.

Development Blueprint

The first hint that we are on a journey in the wilderness without destination became loud when a week after swearing in, the governor announced the setting up of the Barr. Nimi Waltson-Jack Committee to draw up development blueprint for the state. After 100 days in office, Rivers people have heard nothing about the blueprint. Certainly, this is not the democratic world idea of simple good governance. Certainly, not even in any governance, no matter how rudimentary, do you put the cart before the horse.

Project Completion & what next?

Perhaps the only area of agreement between the APC and the present government in Rivers State is that there is need for a succeeding government to complete the projects uncompleted by the previous government. However, that is where the agreement terminates.

The fact that the sitting government is completing projects uncompleted by the past government means that by action the present government is acknowledging the achievements of the previous government but it should also do so in words. We find it highly dishonest to put a dampener on things by claiming that those projects were abandoned when certain persona in this government partly, directly and indirectly contributed to the sharp shortfall in the state’s allocations that led to difficulty in completing those projects on time by the last administration. The least the APC expects from the sitting government is an honest stance in words and in deeds in recognition of the vision of the previous government in conceptualising and initiating several projects that should give quantum leap to the existence of present and future generations of Rivers people and residents of our dear state.

Beyond Road Project Completion what next?

The previous government under Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON must be given credit for tackling the issues of education, health, road infrastructure, human capital development, etc. with uncommon courage. On human capital development for the youth, various foreign scholarship schemes were provided for the youths under the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency [RSSDA] amongst other schemes. It must be said that, at some point, the previous administration found itself under excruciating financial burden but struggled to meet those obligations sometimes unavoidably behind schedule.

When this government came into existence, the governor made heavy weather about the backlog of fees that needed to be paid for the children in overseas universities. At some point the government claimed that the loans it took was partly to clear the scholarship backlog and indeed has cleared those bills. But less than 100 days after, most of the students have been stopped from taking lectures because the claim by this government that the fees of the students have been cleared is a barefaced white lie. Here is the SOS text of one of the stranded students sent to his father recently:

“Daddy we are not fine..our situation is deteriorating and our schools are not letting us take classes.. dad Simons school is not letting him register because rssda did not pay two semesters and his school is not letting him finish I don’t know what is happening with the govt but we heard that wike had released funds for students studying abroad but we are yet to see any development we emailed rssda and they sent us this email I would attach it.”

“From: Rssda

Date: Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 7:59 AM

Subject: UPDATE ON FUNDING SITUATION

Dear Students,

As you are aware, payment of your tuition fees for 2014 /2015 academic session have been delayed. Consequently, your schools were severally engaged over this delay to seek their understanding. Thankfully to them, some of you were allowed to sit for your examinations and the session has ended.

At the moment, Government has approved the release of funds for payment of tuition fees for ONLY final year students and we consider it necessary to provide you this update.

The Agency equally forwarded its funding requirements including allowances for all students to the Government for necessary action and we are awaiting their response.

We will continue to make the request for funds from the government and we will come back to you if there is any development.

Thanks and regards”

Most troubling to the APC is that the governor of the state has publicly stated that he does not believe in spending N4billion to build a world class, all- boarding secondary school that Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi initiated of which a few have been completed like the Nne Kurubo Memorial School at Eleme. The present governor says that he would prefer to renovate Enitona High School, Baptist High School, Ascension High School and others and the audience clapped without a clue as to what that means. What the governor really means is that our people should forget having their children and wards pass through 21st Century modern schools like in other developing parts of the world but to make do with the token of sending their children and wards to schools built by missionaries in late 19th Century and early 20th Century suitable only for those times. The last time I checked there is nothing visionary about such anachronistic thinking and that is not what leadership is all about; leadership is about planning for centuries ahead not clinging to centuries long gone and forgotten. For example, the likes of Enitona High School were not conceptualised for the computer age irrespective of any re-modelling anyone brings to them today.

It is true that 100 days are already gone in the life of this state administration in Rivers State. In all honesty, 100 days is too short to expect an Eldorado by any government. However, Rivers people expect that any administration that comes into being in Rivers State should be able to, at least, enunciate and present its master plan for the development of the state before seeking the peoples’ votes. But to date, the present Rivers State Government has not offered Rivers people any roadmap to development. It does not matter whether the government will stay in office for a day, a month or eight years, governance is a continuum.

And the question keeps popping up: should a government come to office then start articulating its developmental agenda? The standard practice in line with logical reasoning is for anyone or group of persons seeking power to do so with a developmental blueprint in hand to serve as the social contract with the people and moral commitment to seek to serve them in the first place.

Under 100 days, the APC clearly sees the roadmap and direction of President Muhammadu Buhari towards turning Nigeria around for good, sadly, same cannot be said of the government in Rivers State.

Port Harcourt, Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

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