OPINION: Peterside’s verdict on Wike’s administration: Apt, an accurate description of maladministration
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
The trending article written by Mr. Dele Momodu, a respected Columnist, Publisher and Public Affairs Analyst, titled, “My close encounters with Governor Wike”, published on 19th June, 2021, in which the author moiled all day in a clearly enervating and boot licking slog to extravagantly enliven the docile regime of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the People’s Democratic Party, is in no small measure, beginning to elicit a fit of violent wrath among the enlightened population of Rivers State.
Dele Momodu, had inter alia, chalked-up some magnificent legacies and stunning projects of the former administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, to the docile regime of Gov. Wike, in what many have perceived to be a huge compromise by the public affairs analyst, in order to get ahead. His vainglorious retaliatory sally to the fact-filled repartee made to correct the gross oddity peddled by his brown-nosing composition cleared every iota of doubt that Momodu may have been hoodwinked into Gov. Wike’s unsolicited and vulgarly pretentious philanthropy.
Correcting Dele’s cocktail of lies and straightening his crooked and falsified record of events in Rivers State, an intellectual giant, accomplished Politician and renowned Publisher/Author whose records in public service have remained green in the hearts of men, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, in his first reaction titled, “Pendulum: What Gov. Wike Did Not Tell His Guest” widely published on 26th June, 2021, exposed with facts and figures the erroneous presentation by Mr. Dele Momodu
On Monday, 27th June, 2021, he recaptioned his thought on this in his Leadership Newspaper Column, “Gov Wike: Facts Versus Propaganda”
The response given by the Rivers State Government through her Commissioner of Information, Pastor Nsirim Paulinus, in a harshly censorious riposte titled
“Dakuku Peterside: The Tragedy of A Misguided Intellectual” which only makes a good reading, further unraveled the huge compromise in the sycophant-riddled harangue.
In a single article, Dele Momodu told more lies and deployed more sophisticated deceptive mechanisms to hornswoggle the public than even the Rivers State Commissioner of Information whose protruded belly is suddenly beginning to shrink because his task has become more demanding and onerous than ever due to the manifest fraud, gross ineptitude and obvious mediocrity he labors to cover-up on a daily basis through the hugely paid media.
My reaction in this regard will however not be on Mr. Dele Momodu’s misguided article as Dr. Peterside had properly addressed his awful sycophancy thus, I will in this treatise dwell on the general shortage of knowledge displayed by Mr. Nsirim in his futile attempt to defend a government that has brought woes on the citizens and residents of Rivers State.
To avoid being misconstrued particularly, by those who are not so conversant with the politics of Rivers State, let me reiterate that Governor Nyesom Wike is one politician in Rivers State that I am very close with whose love and understanding of my operations is well known and respected. I have worked closely with him when he was the Chief of Staff under the administration of his boss and mentor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and was a member of the Media Committee when he was the Director General of the 2011 Amaechi Reelection Campaign Organisation even as I stands out as the first person to have done an article to bring to limelight his style of politics and operations in a piece titled “Anyanaele”.
On the other hand, Dr. Peterside, aside being a friend, while we were under the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, he is a young man whose relationship with both the poor and the rich is something very commendable.
Having laid that foundation, it is therefore safe to say that I am versed and knowledgeable on the characters and politics involved in this discourse. I am not a political hireling who goes around defending people to curry favour. I state the facts and lay them bare as they are.
The Misconceptions Contained In Mr Nsirim’s Reaction
Exposing the ignorant-ridden riposte of Mr. Nsirim, to the sound presentation of Dr. Dakuku Peterside is not something men of integrity should shy away from and that fact singly informed my decision to set the records straight.
The first major issue which Mr. Nsirim tried to highlight was how Dr. Dakuku Peterside handled the affairs of NIMASA which is totally strange to the issues raised. According to him, “…Unceremoniously relieved from his recent unimpressive misadventure with NIMASA; a job for which he had little knowledge and zilch experience, but was appointed as compensation for his failed Governorship bid, Dakuku has been compelled to recline quite disconsolately to his recognized day job of Wike-bashing.
Charged with reluctant gusto and this time masquerading with the ambivalence of an omnibus self imposed title as “leadership and policy expert”, ostensibly crafted after several pedestrian appearances as a ‘Speaker’ at some makeshift conclaves during his short- lived stint at NIMASA, Dakuku’s pathetic appendage of the Amaechi Administration and pitiful lackey of the Transportation Minister, has once again been exhumed.”
Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, by the above tirade, succeeded to expose his crass ignorance of the giant strides made by Dr. Dakuku Peterside when he held sway as DG of NIMASA.
For the records, I make bold to state categorically without fear of equivocation, that Dr. Peterside stands tall and remains a model of good governance in public administration.
It is sheer devilry for Mr. Nisirm to describe Dr. Peterside, a global force in the global Maritime Industry, with impugning adjectives.
It was not for nothing that Dakuku was elected to head the 34 member-countries Association of African Maritime Administration (AAMA), thus to term him a failure is simply beyond a mere mortal to decipher.
For the information of Mr. Nisirim and his likes, the following were some of the feats of Dr. Peterside during his tenure as Director General of NIMASA:
His Feats as Director General of NIMASA
As a tested and trusted reformist-minded administrator, who has all it takes to reform and transform NIMASA into the pride of Nigeria and Africa, Peterside proved that his appointment was not misplaced.
During the pendency of Dakuku’s appointment as Director-General of NIMASA, a lot of reforms were initiated, including the new Cabotage Compliance Strategy, which has created more employment for Nigerians in the maritime sector and significantly grown the maritime sector’s contribution to both the Federation Account and the Gross Domestic Production (GDP).
His turnaround and re-engineering strategies and efforts in NIMASA gave a facelift to not only just the Agency but the maritime sector- With the agency attracting commendation from the Federal government as the highest revenue remitting Agency in Nigeria.
“Under the watch of this reformer and revolutionist, NIMASA, with its record-breaking income generation into Nigeria’s coffers, received presidential commendation and dusted other similar agencies to top the chart on Port and Flag State Control in the West and Central African sub-regions. The maritime regulatory agency outranked other maritime regulators in the region, in the inspection of vessels calling at Nigerian ports, according to the latest report by the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control for West and Central African Region, otherwise known as Abuja MoU.
All these were part of the fruits of reforms initiated by the agency and deliberate investment in enforcement equipment. The fact remains that the management team of NIMASA under Dakuku was conscious of global best practices and showed determination to rid the waterways of all substandard vessels, with the ultimate aim of ensuring a safe and robust maritime domain. This afforded the agency the capacity to be a competitive player in the global maritime space, giving her an edge in the comity of maritime investment destinations.
“NIMASA under Dakuku then engaged in deliberate efforts to protect the country’s maritime assets and environment by building up response capabilities under the Deep Blue Sea project. The Agency acquired special mission aircraft, special mission telecommunications gadgets, and 17 interceptor special mission vessels. It also, in conjunction with the country’s security services, set up a Command and Control Centre, with a complement of armoured vehicles to patrol littoral states, and a standing military force to deal with criminal activities at sea”, .
Dakuku left the Agency on March 10, 2020 in a touching moment of camaraderie. A colourful and historic pulling-out ceremony held in his honour at the end of his tenure brought together history, legacy, and lesson for the future. He says, “Serving in NIMASA was fulfilling; leaving was breath-taking. Now, I feel elated to watch my successor, Bashir Jamoh, a man of phenomenal institutional knowledge, advancing the spirit of excellence that guided our collective tenure.”
No matter the thought of anybody, Dakuku has truly established himself at this young age as an icon, an enigma, a study in resoluteness, benevolence, audacity, resourcefulness, a consummate administrator, a humanist, and has easily positioned himself as one of the new faces of Nigerian politics.
Dakuku is an astute and charismatic politician, a seasoned and consummate administrator with an amiable personality, a phenomenal reformist whose cult-followership stature particularly among the youths puts him as a leader to be admired, watched and associated with.
The leadership quality of this resolute revolutionary and visionary democrat is reflected in the words of many outstanding great leaders, such as: Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian General and military theorist, who stated: “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them, in spite of all obstacles.” One-time President of the USA, George W. Bush: “Leadership, to me, means duty, honour and country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.”
The second major issue that the half-witted Nsirim postulated in his reaction simply shows his jealousy of the feats of the APC led Federal Government under President Buhari. According to him, “Perhaps, he needs to be reminded that the railways which his mentor is gloatingly delivering were conceptualized and commenced with considerable work done on most of them by the previous Federal Administration.
The same goes for the second Niger Bridge, the rehabilitation of Airports and some of the far reaching reforms in the maritime sector.
Nigerians should forgive this man for his shortsightedness based on the above remarks. It is a thing of shame that a Nsirim could speak about projects that his PDP led Government could not actualise after sixteen years in government. Nigerians are aware that Amaechi, through the passion for service, has brought to life to the rail rendered moribund by the PDP Government. Today Amaechi is addressed as a Super Minister and the best Minister so far in the past decade and have won awards in this regard, and a son of Rivers State who should be proud is making nonsense of such feats.
The Port Harcourt Airport which Wike and his cohorts frustrated is now fully operated as an International Airport. The second Niger Bridge which gulped billions of Naira and only existed on the drawing board during the PDP Government came alive after the APC took over power.
Mr. Nsirim, based on his falsehood has brought shame to himself and Wike by exposing his ignorance on issues well known and accepted by the public.
What Are the Facts That Mr. Nisrim Refused To Address
Mr. Nsirim, in his baseless retort, refused to address some salient points controverted by Peterside in Dele Momodu’s fictitious presentation. There are:
- Did Rivers State in 2020 have 41.59% of its workforce as unemployed and ranked 8th in unemployment by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)?
- Was the State the number one on the poverty index among South-South States even as the US Travel Advisory has consistently put Rivers State among the most security challenged States in the southern part of Nigeria from 2017 to 2020?
- Is Rivers State according to the Nigeria Police records ranked as the top crime infected State in the South-South geopolitical region from 2017 to 2020?
- By the admission of both the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NBS, did Rivers State record no foreign direct investment (FDI) from 2017 to 2020?
- Was Rivers State, with a debt profile of N270bn by 2020, among top 3 indebted States despite an average internally generated revenue of N10 – 13bn monthly and an average of N15 – 18billion monthly from FAAC allocation plus 13% derivation accruals?
- Was the reaction by Mr. Nsirim explained when measuring any financial expenditure on projects done by the Wike Administration that received two heavy bulk payments of N78bn and N110bn respectively from the FGN as refund for work done by the predecessor Rt Hon C R Amaechi Administration and Paris club-related debt.
These humongous funds add to receiving regular monthly federally allocated revenue and the IGR. The sheer size of these monies is staggering and the utilitarian value derived there from must be put in clear perspective to make sense to those genuinely interested in the development of the State. The amounts announced as expenditure in comparison with the real value of the paltry legacy projects done by the Wike Administration without recourse to the provisions of the State Procurement Law orchestrate weeping for Rivers State.
- Did Mr. Nisrim fail to read this account by Dr. Peterside, “Compare the above verifiable facts with the impression created by the column that started on a note of “bringing some good news in this season of anomie”, you will notice a sharp contrast in meaning and significance. Thus, the portrayal by the column that remarkable development indicators are emerging from Rivers State is not only misleading but an invitation to fantasy. One therefore wonders where the good news or economic management wizardry is emanating from.
The other contentious point is Mr Momodu positing he will do a “critical examination and evaluation of the work Gov Wike was doing in Rivers through his pictorial lenses (rephrased)”. These lenses, granted, may capture beautiful images of projects executed in Rivers State, but what it will not do is to tell the true stories of who initiated, started, and sometimes completed them. We are witnesses already to how the splendid work done by Wike’s predecessor have been pushed aside by a well-rehearsed and intentioned attempt to give credit to whom it is not due. This dimension of dishonesty, I dare say, is for purely political considerations only. It will be significant if my great brother Dele Momodu will critically examine and engage with Wike’s work and position them in the milieu and context of history of these projects to let people know what part of the acclamation Wike deserves. Remembering that Government is a continuum, it is laudable to complete development projects started by predecessors. However, it is immoral not to acknowledge this or give honour to whom it is due. For instance, you cannot claim to have built a house when you only painted an existing one as we saw in the case of the Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt. That is fraud in simple terms.
Also, the column claimed Wike has miraculously restored law and order. As I write, the State has had more curfew imposed on her citizens and those in transit than in any other State in the southern part of Nigeria. The State is currently under daily siege from a 7pm to 6am curfew in all LGAs. It has the unenviable record of the top 3 States in kidnapping and cult wars in Southern Nigeria. SBM Intelligence Report puts the State as the number one State in kidnapping and robbery. How are these indicators of a safe State? For sake of emphasis, residents of Rivers State now have no business being outside their homes after 8:30pm any day. Instead of the Government taking the war to the intruders or sources of security threats to curtail them, citizens and residents are being forced and denied their constitutionally guaranteed liberty and freedom of movement. This situation sounds absurd given the secure nature of Rivers State just a decade ago. The fact Mr. Momodu did not or failed to see is Gov Wike has not put any genuine security policy in place to fight crime since he took office. Instead, he has been consistently fingered as patronising criminals on account of his politics.
- Did Governor Wike convert the world-class model Secondary Schools and the Sports College of Excellence at Abara, Etche built by Gov Amaechi into his so called University campuses. There is nothing wrong with this except that he should put it in proper context.
- Does Mr. Nsirim acknowledge the dangerous fabricated falsehood that the Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity Road leading to Opbo/Nkoro LGA was constructed by Wike? The fact is that Gov Peter Odili conceptualised and awarded a 37.71km road with ten bridges crisscrossing 3 LGAs in the year 2005. Before his tenure wound up in May 2007, he accomplished 26% of the scope of work with two major bridges completed stopping at Iwoama-Asarama. Governor Amaechi’s Administration took it from there, significantly changed the scope and added a spur to Nkoro, Kalaibiama to Opobo Town. The road redesign increased the length from 37.7km to 44.1km and bridges from 10 to 11 whilst expanding the bridges and retaining walls. By the time he left office in May 2015, the Amaechi Administration had completed 80% of the work. Again, for emphasis. The Amaechi Administration completed 9 of the 11 bridges on the road, with considerable work done on the remaining two bridges. I can say with boldness that I accompanied Dr. Peterside as a Governorship candidate in 2015, by road to campaign in Kalaibiama-Opobo and most parts of Andoni. Let Mr. Nisirim help us with what exactly Gov Wike did on this road which he is boasting that he will commission in few days time. What a fallacy?
The fact remains that from May 2015 till June 2021, a cumulative period of 6 years, the Wike led administration is yet to complete less than 20% of the work left on both the Ikuru and Opobo axis of the Unity Road. These are incontrovertible facts. For Wike to attempt to claim credit for this road in the face of these realities is the height of self-deceit in an ignoble chase of personal aggrandisement. Wike and those doing so truly deserve nothing but pity.
- Did Mr. Nisirm address the claim that Wike constructed the Abonnema ring road. This claim is laughable and metaphorically calls “a butterfly a bird” with intent to dress her in borrowed robes. Wike awarded a less than 2.2km contract for a Bypass in Abonnema to connect the Bridgehead landing from Degema on the opposite side of the Sombreiro River to the Abonnema Cemetery on the Abonnema-Obonoma Road. That is not a ring road by any civil engineering or construction description and same was awarded, executed and commissioned without Streetlights for a project in the heart of an ancient city.
- The records are there that the only attempt by Wike to create employment through establishing local industries or creating an environment for such to thrive is what many perceive as his signature project in Agriculture: the Cassava Processing Plant in Oyigbo. Unfortunately, Gov Amaechi initiated multiple agro-industry projects including the Rivers Songhai farms, Fish farms, agro-industrial villages, rice farms, amongst others. Disfigured by Wike’s brand of propaganda, many have forgotten that the Oyigbo Cassava Processing Plant is one of Amaechi’s imprimatur in Agriculture. How? The Administration in partnership with DADTCO (a Dutch firm) and Shell (SPDC) set up the cassava processing plant with a definite blueprint. The administration brought in all needed equipment and installed them. The only part of the project left undone at the time Amaechi exited Government House was connecting it to a source of power. Perhaps connecting an already completed project by his predecessor to a power source is the “real signature” agricultural project of the Wike Administration in six years.
- Is it fair that Mr Momodu should credit to Gov Wike the renovation of 6 schools in six years as a feat on the Education Sector?. When you juxtapose this with the fact that the government before Wike’s constructed 400 new primary schools, 21 model secondary schools at different stages of completion and initiated a brand new campus to cure the obvious congestion at the Rivers State University of Science & Technology (as it was), it becomes a case of staging a light versus darkness contest. Clearly, Mr Momodu’s tour guide, who traded on half-truths, was very uncharitable to the people of Rivers State.
Let me align myself with the Conclusion as submitted by Dr. Dakuku Peterside that Gov Wike’s main signature project is the replica of the Government House he built for himself in his village. He can only boast of the poverty he has visited on the people with thousands of pensioners owed their gratuities since 2015; a critical mass of unemployed youths roaming the Streets and vulnerable to crime and criminality; hundreds of Rivers sons and daughters on State scholarship withdrawn from Universities overseas; destruction of primary health care and the basic education system. If in the 21st century, the hallmark of progress for a resource-rich State like Rivers is the beautification of the two major roads in Port Harcourt with multiple flyovers, then our future and that of our children is bleak. In acknowledging one area my Governor is doing very well – a pernicious propaganda that has turned underdevelopment to development and attempts to change men to women – the people of Rivers State know that they have been terribly impoverished in the past six years. No amount of propaganda, not even leveraging on the reputation of Bob Dee, can garnish a bad case. No amount of seasoning of soup that has gone sour can restore the taste.
Finally, both my friend, Mr. Dele Momodu’s efforts and that of Mr. Nisirm to address or cloth my good friend, Governor Wike in a borrowed cloth was an exercise in futility.
Finally, let me commend and congratulate Dr. Dakuku Peteraide for his brilliant and bold presentation that have caused much pains to Governor Wike to warrant his ceaseless cries and lamentations in the public. Let him continue with his lamentations while we continue to expose his inadequacies in government.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org