Last Monday, the former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) accused Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State of cornering ‘no fewer than 400 houses for himself and his cronies’ describing the development as “ridiculous and undignified.” Peterside further accused the governor of displaying an obscene and insatiable appetite for criminal accumulation of properties with reckless abandon despite being a serving governor.
No sooner Dr. Peterside dropped the bombshell than the governor responded with his usual caustic and vitriolic insults through the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim. In the confusion and frenzy to explain away why civil servants have been thrown out of their lawful abodes in Government Reservation Areas (GRAs), the governor confessed to seizing those buildings but re-allocating same to those the governor called ‘competent private individuals.’ The statement read in part, “We want to state again categorically, that the Rivers State Executive Council took the decision to recover dilapidated government quarters from civil servants and illegal occupants within Old and New Government Residential Area (GRA), Port Harcourt and reallocate them to competent private individuals.”
It is said that there is never a perfect crime. Therefore, it was not surprising that the governor indicted himself by confessing to the accusation howbeit unwittingly.
Ever since the governor responded to Dr. Dakuku Peterside through Nsirim, many questions are being asked and no answers seem available. For example, how were ‘qualified private individuals’ determined? Who are those considered qualified? Did the Rivers State Government, by any means, prequalify Rivers indigenes before re-allocating those buildings? When and where was the process carried out? These and more are the questions the governor must answer. The APC will not be surprised if the governor is unable to provide the right answers.
The truth is that Gov Wike is guilty of the accusation leveled against him by Dr. Peterside. The governor’s landed acquisitions are known to everyone in Rivers State and even beyond. The APC will soon publish a full dossier of Gov Wike’s landed properties (many acquired through proxies, some bought, sold and bought again through a myriad of fronts, etc.).
The APC is aware that with the difficulties erected by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) / Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the notorious past time by corrupt governors and government officials to launder money overseas has become even more difficult for the likes of Gov Wike hence the emergence of the ‘unknown investor’ buying up anything and everything in sight in Port Harcourt and Rivers State, sometimes through threat and intimidation of rightful owners.
But most worrisome and dangerous is the fear by many that the evictions whether of civil servants in the reservation areas or the waterfronts is a carefully planned agenda to alter the ethnic demographics of Port Harcourt for a purpose because of the pattern of re-allocation of those properties after the governor has personally picked the choicest for himself.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) urges Rivers people to arm themselves with their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to liberate themselves one year from now.
Senibo Chris Finebone