Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has dismissed insinuation that the demolition of the Bayelsa state government dilapidated property in Port Harcourt was politically motivated.
The governor has however, blamed leadership failure on the part of Bayelsa State for the Rivers State government eventual demolition of the derelict property located at Akasa Street in Old Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt.
Briefing journalists on his arrival from Europe at the Port Harcourt International airport on Thursday, governor Wike explained that in line with the Rivers State government urban renewal programme, a formal letter was written to the Bayelsa State government in August 2021 concerning its dilapidated property inherited from the Old Rivers State in Port Harcourt.
“It is most unfortunate, when you have leadership failure that is what you get. I have never seen a hostile government against Rivers State government like Bayelsa State government. It’s most unfortunate. When I was away, I read from the media the rantings of the Bayelsa State government through the Commissioner for Lands.
“In August 2021, we wrote to the Bayelsa State government that with urban renewal policy and with the money we have spent, that it will be unfair to us if we allow such property belonging to them to remain there without any, maybe, a new development.”
Governor Wike said he had met severally with his Bayelsa State counterpart, governor Douye Diri and enjoined him renovate or build a benefitting edifice on the parcel of land because the formal existing structure contravened the Rivers State urban renewal policy.
“I spoke to my colleague, the governor of Bayelsa State, Douyi Diri severally. I said look, it is better you renovate, bring down or build a new thing for your State. I am not claiming that the property belongs to us, but we have a right to talk about development in our State. No State can determine the level of development that should occur in another State.
“So, in 2021 August, not only did I write a letter to him, in all our meetings then, I told him if you cannot develop it, you can sell the property back to Rivers State government, we are willing to develop it, but we cannot allow that property to be the way it is.”
He stated that governor Diri had acknowledged that it was unacceptable for the property to remain in its dilapidated state. And based on this, even in the presence of the governors of Oyo and Adamawa States, governor Diri had assured him that the Bayelsa State government will reconstruct the property, but to no avail.
“Ask the governor of Oyo State, ask the governor of Adamawa State, we are colleagues. He (Diri) had promised me that in the next three months everything will be done. I took him serious that he meant well for my State and I believed as a colleague he will not deceive me.
“I’ve said to anybody who cares, the failure of this country is the inability of leadership to take a decision. In one of my routine inspections, I went round and I saw the property. In fact, as I speak to you, no human being worth his salt will allow such structure to be there.”
Governor Wike narrated that even when the Rivers State had written a reminder to the Bayelsa State government, they still failed to act, prompting the formal with no other option than to demolish the property.
“You cannot have property in this prime area and you don’t develop it, and then criminals use it to torment, terrorise and harass innocent people. And tomorrow you will tell me Rivers State is not safe.
“Go to Akasa street, you can see what is going on there. If you are serious government, you cannot allow that. We have no apology. As far as we are concern the place has been brought down, we are building judges quarters there.”
The Rivers State governor said it was disingenuous for the Bayelsa State government to claim that the demolition of its property was politically motivated because the State did not support his presidential bid.
He wondered why the Bayelsa State government has always been antagonistic to anything that concerns Rivers State.
“I have never seen a government so hostile to Rivers State like Bayelsa State and let the truth be told. Every time politics will come in. Vendetta for what? Bayelsa has been the clog in the wheel of progress against Rivers State government.
“We had a joint property where Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over. NEW engineering works in Trans Amadi, AMCON took over the property and advertised for sale, Rivers State government, said look you can’t do it.
“We are ready to buy it. Bayelsa State knew about it. When Rivers State government purchased it from AMCON, Bayelsa State government went to court against Rivers State government. So, it is unfortunate.”
Governor Wike said the ranting of the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Lands that the demolition of his State property in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State government smacks of sheer political vendetta, was rather ludicrous.
According to him, Rivers State had in the past taken possession of abandoned property owned by the Edo State government, Nigeria Railway Corporation and default Nigeria Airways, and was never accused of political vendetta by the affected parties.
Special Assistant (Media) to Rivers State Governor
May 18, 2023.