By Chris Finebone
The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, views the stunning revelations made by the Executive Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Board, Mr. ThankGod Norteh as a damning confirmation that Gov. Nyesom Wike is operating a motor-park type of government where every rule of governance is observed only in breach. Mr. Norteh made the revelations as a guest on Rhythm FM current affairs live programme, Viewpoint, over the weekend in Port Harcourt.
The APC feels deeply saddened that the Internal Revenue Board Chairman admitted that he had no knowledge of the budget of Rivers State hence he could not state the overhead budget for running his office. All he could say was that his office overhead budget was “grossly inadequate’ and also confirmed that the financial laws are not being followed by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). For us, there is no better vote of no-confidence on the makeshift government Gov. Nyesom Wike is running in Rivers State than the startling revelation made by the RIRS boss howbeit unwittingly.
In response to a question, Mr. Norteh was unable to state the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) target of the State Internal Revenue Board he superintends over. That question would have been unnecessary if the State budget was available to the media and the public to see. This is indeed sad and has only left the APC and well-meaning Rivers people wondering why things have to get this bad for our dear Rivers State.
More importantly, the response by Mr. Norteh further revealed that it is either that MDAs are so poorly-funded that they are forced to retain their earnings to simply survive or the Gov. Wike is deliberately undermining the MDAs to serve his whimsical and capricious motives.
While the APC condemns this sad turn in the life of our dear State, we feel vindicated that Mr. Norteh confirmed the position of the APC that Wike’s de-marketing of Rivers State has resulted in businesses leaving the State in droves.
“We have done well in the last six months in revenue generation in spite of the fact that more companies and businesses have left Rivers State in our time than before,” Mr. Norteh confessed.
This seemingly honest statement by the boss of the State Internal Revenue Board is obviously a damning indictment on the performance of the Wike administration. That such a confirmation is coming from a highly-placed official in the Wike administration is a clear confirmation of the views of the APC that, after two years, the Wike government has been unable to provide wholesome governance to the people. All he has achieved is fooling the people with tokenism in form of some superficial mediocre projects without budgetary details deliberately to prevent a proper assessment of whether such projects have the right value for the people’s money. We stand by our strong conviction that Gov. Wike is unprepared for governance as confirmed by his words and actions in the over two years he has been governor.
His unpreparedness for governance first came to light when he had to commission the Barr. Nimi Waltson-Jack Committee to draw up a developmental blueprint for Rivers State only after he had been sworn in as governor. And we ask: on what programme did candidate Wike campaign to be governor if he had to go in search of a blueprint after becoming governor? To this day, Rivers people neither know anything nor have sighted any blueprint for development of the State. As things stand, Gov. Nyesom Wike does not want Rivers people and Nigerians to see the State’s developmental blueprint and the budgets of 2016 and 2017. There is even a disingenuously hilarious aspect to the State’s budgets as displayed publicly by the State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Samuel Nwanosike. He recently stunned everyone when he stated on a radio live programme that the state government refused to upload the budgets on the State website to avoid hacking. God help us!
The APC strongly condemns Gov. Wike running Rivers State as his private fiefdom. This is the 21st Century and the governor has the responsibility and obligation (at least for the period he remains governor) to provide good governance for the people of Rivers State. It must be stated that the utterances and actions of Gov. Nyesom Wike keep diminishing the established towering height of the proud people of Rivers State in the comity of states. When we look at a state like Lagos and the candour of its governor, the question keeps popping up: how did Rivers State get here? Rivers people must take advantage of the earliest available opportunity to rid themselves of this fraudulent administration led by Gov. Nyesom Wike.