Governor Nyesom Wike has taken aim at Mr Clement Agba, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, claiming that Agba does not understand how governors plan projects in their respective states.
The comment attributed to the Agba urging the governors to address poverty and refrain from constructing airports and flyovers in various states prompted Governor Wike to respond.
At yesterday’s opening ceremony for the 13.86-kilometre-long Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road in the Oluua-Rumuodogo village of Emohua Local Government Area, the governor of Rivers State gave a speech.
He rebutted Agba’s claim that governors were to blame for the country’s low standard of living because they had prioritised urban development — constructing flyovers and airports and the like — over reinvesting in rural areas to improve people’s daily lives.
“He said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads, and I ask him where and where have you been. You sit there (Abuja); you’ve not been anywhere to check whether rural roads are being done or not.”
Governor Wike emphasised that the state’s 23 LGAs will all benefit from the comprehensive development plan implemented by his government.
He urged the minister to take a break from Abuja and travel to the states, highlighting Rivers State in particular, where he said a number of initiatives, the Rumuodogo road included, had helped to enhance the economic and social conditions of rural areas.
“Come to Rivers State and see whether we are doing roads that will cause agricultural produce to be brought out to the cities or not before you open your mouth. We are not doing roads in the city alone. We are doing roads in all local government areas of the state.” Governor Wike also challenged some South-South States governors to stop hiding behind the attack dogs they had commissioned to insult him, but they should rather come to confront him personally.
“Some people have been sending their people to insult me. I laugh. I heard some people; they call them Akwa Ibom professionals, and they were insulting me. Tell the man who sent you to come out. You are just small kids. I am waiting for the big masquerade. Some people said they are Ijaw professionals. You that is sending them come out. It is you I am looking for; I am not looking for these small fries.”
The governor of Rivers State questioned the motives of the anonymous governors who took offence at his thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for paying off the 13% derivation arrears from 1999.
Even though Governor Wike has never been a friend of President Buhari, he nevertheless wants to thank him for releasing the funds that have allowed Rivers State to finance a number of important infrastructure projects.
“If they’re not prepared for governance, give up. I am prepared for governance. I was prepared, I’m still prepared, and I will be prepared till I leave. How can people talk simply because I said thank Buhari for giving us money? I am not a fan of Buhari. All of you know that I am not one of those they like. I am not one of those who go to Abuja to see them, but the truth must be told. When somebody has done well in an aspect, you say he has done well in this aspect. You cannot change it.”
The governor of Rivers State also claimed that, unlike other governors, he could stand up to the federal power that attempted to disrupt the state’s 2019 election.
The governor added that when he praised President Buhari, he didn’t ask for an accounting from the South-South governors.
He said each governor must understand their state’s specific development requirements.
Although he was not a preferred candidate or a handpicked candidate, Governor Wike declared he was ready to lead the state when he ran for office and ultimately won.
“But let me tell those who are making noise, whether you’re a governor, I don’t care. When I came to run as Rivers State governor, no governor said I want to put you in office as a governor. I came on my own. God said I want to use you. There was a sitting governor; we defeated the sitting governor.
“Some governors were brought by their godfathers; I never had any godfather that brought me as a governor. The only Godfather I had was God and the people of Rivers State. So when some governors are talking, they should know those they are talking to, we are not at the same level, and we can’t be at the same level.”