Philip Ezuma writes on the import of some of the key policy decisions taken so far by Governor Nyesom Wike viz-a-viz the recent assessment of the new administration by a retired Principal Manager with the Central Bank of Nigeria, a financial expert with professional banking experience spanning over three decades, Dr. Isaac Mietamuno Jaja.
According to a seasoned banker, Mietamuno Jaja, Governor Wike came at a time when the once peaceful and serene Rivers State wore the toga of the most politically volatile state in the history of Nigeria and the leadership style was diametrically opposed to the yearnings of the people.
“Governor Wike’s emergence was a divine intervention. He restored hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak within less than seven months in office. He has the zeal and zest to serve his people. In spite of paucity of funds, but with leadership vision and creativity, he took dynamic steps to complete critical infrastructure abandoned by previous governments.”
Cataloguing Wike’s achievements, the former chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area affirmed that he promptly paid arrears of several months of salaries owed civil servants, pension and scholarship arrears and reversed the injustice done to the poor. In fact, he displayed complete ability to cultivate humanity and promote happiness of all, and the good of every Rivers man.
“No force could have removed the apostle of ‘NEW Rivers’ vision as governor except the Almighty God. Even if elections are conducted hundred times, he would win. Why? He has three attributes that please God. They are- strong belief in God, uncommon courage and a heart of thanksgiving. Read the accounts of Joshua, David and Jehoshaphat and you will see Wike in them. These are the three divine weapons that Wike applied to demolish the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“Even in victory, he demonstrated a whole lot of magnanimity, as exemplified in his speech, shortly after the Supreme Court had in its verdict, validated his election as the governor of our dear state.”
Dr Jaja lauded the governor’s invitation to the APC governorship candidate, Dr Adol Dakuku Peterside, to join hands with him to build Rivers State.
The former Administrator, Central Bank of Nigeria, Uyo, who is currently a Management and Financial Consultant, while capturing the governor’s all inclusive style of governance, celebrated the adoption by Wike of Dr Peterside as his political son. The APC candidate had described himself as a political orphan, following the validation of Wike’s election, yet the latter with his large heart said, ‘no’, and offered to be his political father.
On his advice to various political parties in the state, he said politics is local and is all about the people, adding that you cannot claim to be a politician if you fail to do what the electorate wants. “Our politicians should be people centric and statesmanly in their bid for political relevance. They should eschew bitterness, rancour, vendetta and close ranks in the interest of the people. It is important to note that power is transient, it comes and goes, but the state and bond of brotherhood subsist.
“Political venture should ordinarily bring progress and put smiles on the faces of people, rather than inflict frustration and untold hardship. The increasing desperation of our politicians has become greed.
He philosophised that, “need can be met, but greed cannot be fulfilled,” always insisting on politics of selfless service to humanity, believing that political success is not necessarily defined by the amount of wealth accumulated without work, but about the difference one makes in people’s lives.
The chairman, steering committee on sensitisation campaign on the redesigned Nigeria currency notes and coins for Rivers and Bayelsa States in 2007, warned that this is not the time for people to feather their own nests and leave the people hungry and wasted.
“We should build people and not use and dump them. According to Einstein, “Try not to become a man of wealth, but a man of value.” We should learn to think, act and live Rivers State. This remains my advice to politicians.
On the alleged growth of crime and criminality in the state before, during and after the 2015 general elections, he said, it was not true and that he is from the state. “I was here before, during and after the general elections. I voted in ward seven, Unit, 15 in Opobo/Nkoro LGA, where elections were generally adjudged to be peaceful. I was still here after the election.”
He does not understand why one should single out Rivers State when election tension and fever affected every part of Nigeria in almost equal proportion. The political analyst did not and would not want to stop people from campaigning before elections. “You cannot stop people from exercising their civil right to vote nor express wishful thinking neither can you stop those who failed during the election from crying wolf. If this is what you mean by criminality, then you are wrong because it happened nationwide, but if you are referring to Boko Haram in the North-East or Fulani herdsmen along the Benue trough, you could be right, but certainly not in Rivers State.
Commenting on the combined team of the police and army that had been raiding homes and communities of ex–militants claiming to be mopping up illegal arms and ammunition, he regretted the development. “I feel extremely bad when people describe our youths as militants just because they asked for equity, justice and fairness in the distribution of oil proceeds derived from their land.
‘‘How does that make them militants? I do not like that word. On the issue in question, my position is just an advice to the combined team that in raiding homes and communities of the alleged criminals, they should abide by the rules of engagement and adopt the highest level of professionalism to avoid repeating the ‘Odi mistake’ where innocent people including women, children and the elderly were massacred. It was a genocide for which many of us will not forgive Obasanjo in a hurry.”
Jaja warned the federal government to thread with caution in handling the numerous crises in the interest of our economy. “It will be disastrous for us to battle low oil production and oil price. Be it in the Niger-Delta, IPOB, Boko Haram and even the emerging Fulani herdsmen who are unleashing mayhem in the Benue trough.
Responding to the federal government’s withdrawal of petroleum subsidy, he enlisted his support for it, revealing that a World Bank report a couple of years ago had it that “99 percent of Nigeria’s population shares 20 percent of its resources, while one percent shares 80 percent.”
That was thought-provoking, particularly when I read the International Monetary Fund’s analysis that “40 percent of fuel subsidies in rich countries go to rich families”. That is to say oil subsidies impoverish the poor and benefit the rich. Perhaps this must have informed the last administration’s decision to remove oil subsidy. Our income distribution mechanism is deliberately skewed in favour of the rich at the expense of the poor.
Based on this, I support the removal of oil subsidy, but with the proviso that government must ensure equitable and even redistribution of the economic benefits arising therein, which should also be seen to tally with the practical living standard of the people.
Assessing President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption drive, he holds the view that the increasing level of bare-faced looting of public funds in the name of politics by politicians whose only interest is on wealth without work is worrisome in view of its negative impact on our economy and should be condemned. As an advocate of good governance, transparency, accountability and quality leadership, I wholeheartedly support President Buhari’s fight against corruption in all its ramifications. “My disagreement is in the area of implementation and procedure. I am not convinced that he is going about the anti-corruption war the right way. It should be holistic and in collaboration with the judiciary.
“I have strong reservation on its implementation process which to me has been subsumed and highly driven by political sentiments. I expected a process that would promote due process, respect for the rule of law and encourage transparency and democratic ethos. What we saw and read in the media was like pronouncing sentence on the accused before trial.’’
The exercise has been over politicised and cannot lead us anywhere other than to destroy our eminent personalities, weaken investors’ confidence and de-market Nigeria internationally. According to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, “any nation that goes deep into the probe business is jeopardising the future of its citizens because it cannot get to the end.”
I agree totally with Bishop Matthew Kukah. “I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or against the president’s commitment to ensure that we turn a new leaf. What we are concerned about is the process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws everybody is innocent until proven guilty. Breaking the law to enforce the law makes the anti-graft war look more like an instrument of witch-hunting and vengeance. It looks as if nobody is advising Mr. President correctly.
He said it is difficult to fight a war one does not understand and win. “We had expected government to have taken a comprehensive study of the scope, nature and enablers of corruption in Nigeria because most of these corruption cases are system induced. The system creates avoidable gaps that encourage stealing and corruption. No politician can steal without active involvement of career civil servants. This is the reality.
Also, a thorough assessment of operational guidelines and procedures of anti-corruption agencies is necessary to reposition them to meet the expectations and aspirations of the current government’s mantra of change and zero tolerance for corruption. Furthermore, a holistic review that synchronizes and strengthens relevant extant laws and processes that may encumber judicial processes is needed.
The ex-banker said government should have embarked on a nationwide society based value reorientation of Nigerians through enlightenment/sensitisation programmes on the negative implications of corruption to national growth and development in order to gain the masses acceptance and key into the vision of zero tolerance for corruption. Corruption should be a Nigerian fight and not that of a single political party.