Rivers crisis: Worgu, Abe defend Wike’s integrity

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Two former senators – Magnus Abe and Olaka Worgu -yesterday rose in defence of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Nyesom Wike over allegations of impropriety levelled against him as former governor of Rivers State.

The duo, who cautioned Governor Siminalayi Fubara against mudslinging, vouched for Wike’s integrity, saying that he served the state with utmost patriotism.

Abe, a former Secretary to the Government of Rivers State and Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in last year’s election, frowned at the allegations. Worgu said Fubara was trying to demonise his benefactor.

As the crisis escalated yesterday, five commissioners resigned from Fubara’s government.

Abe reflected on the Rivers crisis during his meeting key leaders and grassroots coordinators of his support groups in Port Harcourt, the state capital, where he also spoke on his decision to return to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Worgu, who also spoke in Port Harcourt, said Fubara was indulging in propaganda against Wike, who has acquired national and global reputation as a performer.

He said calling Wike names would not erase the minister’s records that had already been etched in the hearts of people.

Worgu rejected Fubara’s allegation that his administration was overburdened by the debts incurred from Wike’s unpaid projects.

He reminded Fubara that Wike’s outstanding performance made the Federal Government controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to give him an award as the best governor in infrastructural development.

Worgu recalled that Wike inherited projects from his predecessor, completed and paid for them, adding that he also initiated and paid for most of his projects.

He said: “Honestly, we have become the laughing stock of Nigerians with all these allegations. We all know there is a rift between Governor Fubara and the former governor, now Minister Wike. What we are seeing is propaganda.

“Wike was a performer. We know that Wike paid for most of the projects he inherited from his predecessor. He also paid for the ones that he awarded. He set a record in governance and in Nigeria earning an award from the then APC Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari as the best performing governor in infrastructure in the entire country.

“Wike did not only pay the debts of his predecessors, he also did many projects more than any governor had ever done in our state.  Assuming but not conceding that he left debts, is government not a continuum?”

Worgu argued that Wike only paid for most of his completed projects, adding that he could not have paid contractors, who failed to finish their jobs.

He said: “Wike paid by milestones. He could not pay for jobs that were not done. Some of these jobs were not completed at the time of his exit from power.

“Why should he pay the contractors that have not finished their jobs just because he was leaving? That would have been bad business for the state. He was a prudent governor. It behooves on the new governor to complete the projects and pay the contractors their outstanding debts.

“The important thing is whether the state got value for money. Everybody agrees to that. Wike was a tough governor who insisted that the state got value for money from contractors. Calling people rats and using uncouth words do not impress anybody”.

Worgu said the people of Rivers will judge Fubara, not based on how he has been fighting Wike, but on his performance as his successor.

He said that rather than dissipate his energy on a futile attempt at bringing Wike down, he should focus on how to outperform him in office.

Worgu asked Fubara to examine his conscience and see whether what he was trying to do to Wike was the best way of paying him back for making him governor.

He said: “We believe that what the government should do is to challenge the records of Wike by working hard, building hard so that people will appraise them better. But this is not happening. Many people believe that we have lost a year by fighting and picking on Wike.

“This is the wrong way to go. Our dream has always been that successor governors will build on Wike’s legacies and do more than he did. Inciting the mob to lynch Wike who is the hero of our state will not be the right thing.

“Wike trusted the current governor a lot and ensured that he emerged governor. Is mudslinging the man, demonising and castigating him the way to pay back?

“I urge the governor to focus on his job and focus on delivering what he promised the people, not to put all the efforts of the government on fighting a person who did him good.

“Rivers people will judge him not on amount of insults he heaped on Wike. You cannot change the records. We all witnessed it. What we saw Wike do is etched in our hearts and you cannot just wipe it away by just calling him names.

“The unprecedented development Wike did in Rivers is replicating in Abuja. Go to Abuja and see what Wike has done.  We will keep lagging behind if we put all our efforts denigrating Wike. We can speak on issues by having healthy competition.”

Abe to Fubara: don’t malign Wike

Abe clarified that contrary to the misconception in various quarters that Wike came from the back to displace him (Abe) as a key supporters of Tinubu, he was a party to how the former governor became closer to the president.

Abe said: “I want to correct one misconception. The then governor of Rivers State, now FCT minister, is my friend. I did everything to facilitate his becoming a part of the Tinubu campaign because I knew his presence with us will make a substantial difference and will help us to win.

“It is not true that Wike came and pushed me aside. No, that is not true. We had a disagreement, but I will not give the detail of that disagreement, because it is not political to do so. But he did not just push me aside. We had a disagreement.

“Wike did not steal anything that belonged to us. He did not deceive us to take anything from us. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all of you who have any misgivings about what is happening in the party or to us here as Tinubu people to let it go.”

Noting that election is over, he said his supporters should team up with the APC caretaker committee chaired by Chief Tony Okocha.

Five commissioners quit

Five commissioners loyal to Wike yesterday resigned their positions from the State Executive Council (EXCO).

They left, following Fubara’s allegations against Wike and decision to probe his administration.

The commissioners, who quit are: Dr. Gift Worlu (Housing); Austin Ben Chioma (Environment); Prof. Chinedu Mmom (Education); Mr. Jacobson Nbina (Transportation) and Mrs. Inime Aguma (Social Welfare).

In his resignation letter dated yesterday, Mmom said he could no longer cope with his current work environment, describing it as toxic and unfavourable.

He said: “I write to formally tender my resignation as a member of the Rivers State Executive Council as the Honourable Commissioner for Education with effect from today the 15th day of May, 2024.

“It is a truism that a calm, safe and friendly environment would stimulate efficient service delivery and enhanced productivity. It is however unfortunate to note that my current work space has become toxic and no longer guarantees a favourable environment to enable me realise my set targets for the Education sector in the state.

“There is loss of trust, animosity and sharp division among colleagues in the same cabinet which is unhealthy and very unfortunate. I want to thank Your Excellency for the opportunity to serve in your cabinet and wish your administration well.

Ben-chioma cited the political crisis as the reason for his resignation.

He said: “I hereby tender my resignation as the Hon. Commission for Environment, Rivers State on this day the 15th May, 2024.

“I want to sincerely appreciate Your Excellency, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the State Executive Council. My decision to resign is due to the political crisis befalling our dear Rivers State and other personal reasons.

“It was a privilege to have been of service to you in your administration and wish you all the best in your tenure.”

Worlu also hinged his decision on the unfavourable working environment, saying there was an attempt to fuse the executive with the legislature.

He said: “it is one of the most difficult decisions in my life. Yet, it is precipitated by the toxic atmosphere that has characterised our working relationship, especially the smouldering arbitrariness of decisions and actions, including the attempt to fuse the executive and the legislative in Rivers State.

“I thank you for the opportunity to serve in your government and I wish you the best as you continue to steer the ship of state. Kindly accept the assurance of my esteemed regards.”

Aguma said: “I resign with all sense of responsibility as there is no room for progressional development in the workplace.”

Nbina thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his intervention to restore peace in Rivers, but said he decided to leave due to the unresolved crisis.

Kukah sues for peace

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah expressed hope that Fubara and Wike will fix their problems.

He said ordinary people are worried by the crisis, politicians always have a way of settling themselves.

Kukah said: “This is politics. I’m very hopeful. We ordinary people cry more than the bereaved. The important thing is that politicians will fix their problems.

“Rivers State is a place that is very dear to me because I have been associating with them for a very long time. But, look, when politicians fight, don’t get carried away because they have their capacity to fix their quarrels.

“I hope and pray that Rivers State will sooner than later reposition itself because it is not an insignificant part of Nigeria.”

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