By Simeon Nwakaudu
It was a clarion call based on truth. It was a fundamental declaration that stressed the reality that propagandists insist must be swept under the carpet.
Dax George-Kerley, Former Head, Special Projects Bureau, Rivers State in a Facebook post said:
"I was in Lagos. I travelled through the length and breadth of Lagos. The roads in Lagos State are in a terrible state especially those in Festac, Apapa, VI and lots of LGAs outside Lagos metropolis; the gridlock too is out of the world because of the terrible roads. I had to use a bike and at some point got a speed boat. This is my opinion. Rivers State is doing far better than Lagos State.
Stop de-marketing Rivers State!".
Trust the Chief Paid De-Marketer of Rivers State, Mr Austin Tam-George to jump in. He attempted to fault Dax George Kerley. As a propagandist with a weak base, he posted the picture of the State Secretariat Building as the only progress Rivers State has made since creation. Tam-George comfortably forgot all the achievements he reeled out for Rivers State when she celebrated her Golden Jubilee. At that time, he was the State Commissioner for Information. He forgot the countless roads built over 5 decades, the Universities, Growth in the number of technocrats, Tertiary Institutions, Hospitals, Companies, Modern Secondary Schools and other top facilities that have impacted positively on the lives of the people. Tam-George forgot that it was not about Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who gave him his first and only political visibility.
When Tam-George lies, he forgets that other people live in Rivers State. The room for improvement is as much a reality as the achievements attained.
Tam-George promotes Lagos State because that is his personal economic base. But most importantly, Lagos does not allow Resident 'de-marketers' to thrive. If you de-market Lagos, the state has a way to sanction you.
Dax George Kerley was only saying the truth in his comparison of Lagos and Port Harcourt. The roads of Lagos and the infrastructure of the city are having major challenges. But Lagos is lucky that it shares infrastructural investment responsibility with the Federal Government. This has been the situation before the nation gained independence till date. Therefore, when such discussions are held, facts must be placed on the table.
On June 27, 2019, Members of The Community Development Association Ijaye –Ojokoro LCDA in Lagos state protested over abandoned roads in their communities at the State House of Assembly Alausa. This was as reported by The Nation Newspapers.
In January, 2019, The Guardian Newspaper reported that Ojokoro, Ibeju-Lekki and Mopo 1 in the Eti-Osa area of Lagos Alimosho, Isolo, Oshodi, Ejigbo, Surulere, Ojo, Alaba, Bariga, Ketu and Mushin are Councils worse hit by terrible roads in Lagos State.
President Muhammadu Buhari personally directed action on the deplorable Apapa Road. The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo inspected that road.
A Thisday Line Editor, Davidson Iriekpen in May 2019 wrote: "All over Lagos, from expressways to inner streets, it is tale of neglect and abandonment of roads. Expectedly, Lagosians have become frustrated with the crater-sized potholes and gullies on the roads. From the mainland to the Island, the densely populated Ikeja,Ijesha, Isolo to the highbrow Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikoyi,the embarrassing sight of the decrepit roads confronts you in dare-devil fashion. State-owned roads are just as horrible as stretches of roads controlled by the federal government".
The situation described by Davidson Iriekpen was what the immediate past Failed Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi left as at 2015 in the state. Governor Wike remedied the situation and started to create access across the state.
On March 31, 2016, Austin Tam-George in a widely circulated press statement condemned the Amaechi administration for leaving the most abandoned projects in the history of Rivers State, since 1967, despite receiving over 3 trillion naira in revenue in eight years. He praised Governor Wike for completing projects abandoned by Amaechi and initiating several pro-people projects, especially roads. The beauty of growth is that many people conveniently forget the past. They have forgotten how Diobu, New GRA, Port Harcourt Township, Old GRA, Obio/Akpor etc use to be as at May 29, 2015.
While Lagos enjoys the support of the APC Federal Government as indicated, the Buhari Administration has refused to refund Rivers resources expended on Federal Projects. Only recently, the APC Federal Government refunded monies to a states, but marginalised Rivers State Government. This is even after the State Government has continued to intervene in Federal Roads and other key federal projects across the State. You will never hear Tam-George and the APC Vuvuzelas calling on the Federal Government to effect this refund, so that more interventions can be made.
About 85 days into the Second Term, Governor Wike has continued to improve on the quality of roads in the state. Of course, a few roads are experiencing wear and tear in the State Capital Territory, but key interventions are ongoing. Rivers roads will continue to be among the best in the country.
Since 2015, the Rivers State Government has solely borne the responsibility of infrastructure and projects in the state. The Failed APC Federal Government has made no single contribution. It was for this reason that Rivers people rewarded Governor Wike with a second term despite the overwhelming deployment of the Federal Might. Rivers people know the truth and they support the man of truth.
Few days ago, WAEC released its ranking for 2019. If that ranking was not based on hard facts, the likes of Tam-George and other APC Vuvuzelas would have relegated Rivers State to the 36th position.
Prominent Rivers people who de-market the State like Tam-George have disregarded the fact that they can make concrete contributions other than lie. Someone built Greengas LNG during Governor Wike's tenure. Another person built Next Shopping Mall. These are multi-billion naira projects. What have these "lovers" of Rivers State done for the State, outside telling people not to come to the state. For four years, 2015 to 2019, they justified Buhari's refusal to execute any Federal Project in the state. They have started once again, instead of canvassing for Federal Projects to add to the Wike Outstanding Development Agenda.
When Tam-George lies about Lagos, those who are yet to visit the place would think he is talking about NEW JERUSALEM. The king of lies, Lai Mohamed has learnt that there is a limit to propaganda. When will Tam-George understand this fact about communication? He will not tell the tell truth that over 60 percent of critical infrastructure in Lagos were built by the Federal Government when the state was the Federal Capital of Nigeria. How many of such critical infrastructure did the Federal Government build in the nation's TREASURE BASE?