By Simeon Nwakaudu
It was no coincidence, that the new Spokesman of the AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE, Mr Austin Tam-George chose yesterday to rant over Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike's praise for Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili. It was aimed at diverting mass global attention from the unprecedented victory of Rivers people at the Governorship Election Tribunal.
The popular maxim here is: "as e sweet us, e go dey pain dem". Rivers people were in a jubilant mood and there was no need to allow the stench of lies and rants from a disgruntled AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE spokesman spoil the celebration of victory over the forces of darkness and hate.
The best Tam-George can do is to sit in his corner and spew lies. No single fellow is deceived. Rivers people just came out of an election last March. They stood with Governor Wike against the forces of the Army and F-SARs. Two of the Local Government Areas where the people stood firm to defend their results were Okrika and Ogu/Bolo Local Government Areas. Tam-George hails from Okrika. In these two Local Government Areas, women dared the military and insisted that their votes must count. Specifically in Ogu/Bolo, there was this viral video of women pulling down a soldier who scaled the fence to snatch collated results.
The Okrika women were passionate because Governor Wike in the course of his first term reached them through projects much more than Tam-George's new financial director ever did in his eight years in Government. This defence of the Rivers mandate reverberated across the state.
I wonder why Tam-George and his co-travellers in the ill-fated AAC/APC/ARMY alliance think that the Rivers State Governor will shy away from the truth. I wonder why Tam-George and his sponsors think that by playing the Ostrich, they can wish away the massive acceptance Governor Wike enjoys amongst all Rivers ethnic nationalities.
To begin with, what Tam-George 'nicodemusly' called State Event was the closing ceremony of the first 100days of Governor Wike in his historic second term. It was the Commissioning of the Dualised Birabi Street. That is one of the major arteries into the New GRA of Port Harcourt. The Street has Hotel Presidential and the Headquarters of Salvation Ministry. For about three weeks, Governor Wike rolled out iconic projects in different sectors. Between September 9 and 27, 2019 the entire country watched as projects were unveiled to the benefit of the people. Whilst Tam-George served here, he understood the hardwork that was required to supervise, complete and commission projects. But for politically induced amnesia and the compulsive need to lie for relevance, Tam-George wouldn't be speaking anyhow.
Whilst the Commissioning Programme lasted, Tam-George held his peace. When it was concluded, Tam-George tried to whip up sentiments on the basis of frank accolades showered on Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili. If Tam-George was objective, he would have commended the giant strides of Governor Wike, which leaders of APC, PDP and apolitical Nigerians have acknowledged.
The following projects were commissioned to mark Governor Wike's First 100days in his second term: Bonny Street, Adaka, Boro/Elliot Henry Streets, Government Secondary School, Ubima, Dualised - Birabi Street, Dualised Rumukwurusi -Elelenwo – Akpajo Road, Sea bed Model School, Port Harcourt, Rumuwoji Market, Government Craft Development Centre, Port Harcourt, Civil Servants Quarters, Real Madrid Academy, Rivers State University, Students Union Secretariat, Ogbum-Nu-Abali Fruit Garden Market, Rivers State NLC Secretariat, Engineer Lawrence Anele Amadi Road (Former Shell Location Road) and Port Harcourt Pleasure Park Cinema.
Tam-George failed to acknowledge the positive aspects of these projects for fear of being sidelined by his paymasters.
On the day in question, Governor Wike made very profound statements. Fundamentally, he acknowledged the role that Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili played in the emergence of an Ikwerre man as Governor. In his desperation to criticise, Tam-George failed to realise that Odili is from ONELGA and therefore not an Ikwerre man. What is wrong in showing public gratitude. Tam-George would have everyone bite the finger that fed them. Governor Wike will never be in that league of ingratitude. The highest exposure that Tam-George, has ever had , was freely extended to him by Governor Wike. He has continued to display dare-devil ingratitude.
Beyond praising Dr Peter Odili for his gesture towards the Ikwerre, Governor Wike declared that all the present crop of leaders in Rivers State are the political offsprings of the leader. These leaders are from Ikwerre, Ogoni, Kalabari, Okrika, Etche, Andoni, Ibani, Ekpeye, Ndoki, Orashi etc. This is one truth, the AAC/APC/ARMY alliance dislikes. But there is nobody in that team that was not watered by the Odili Political Family. The last time that Governor Wike praised Odili, the same after the confirmation of his election, the same integrity challenged charlatans cried blue murder .
Tam-George in his usual fictional style attempted to dance around important issues like a fraudulent salesman. On the issue of insecurity, it is unfortunate that Tam-George would mention Rivers State. It is known that Rivers State, despite the few security challenges is one of the safest places to be in the country. It is safer than the entire north and the South-west. With the provision of logistics and finances by the Rivers State Government, Operation Sting has made sure that Rivers people live in relative security. As I write, the Federal High Court has cleared the Rivers State Government to commence the operation of Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps. This agency was stopped by the APC Federal Government through the Nigerian Army. The National Security Architecture has failed. Therefore, Governor Wike deserves commendation for developing a functional security system in Rivers State.
Our compulsive liar talked about Rumuepirikom, the governor's home community. Like other parts of the state, Governor Wike is constructing roads within the area and empowering the people through programmes. The First Set of Roads delivered under the First Phase of Rumuepirikom Internal Roads include: Engineer Lawrence Anele Amadi Road (Former Shell Location Road), Ekani Street, Maxwell Street and Odoli Street .
Tam-George and his sponsors have over-flogged the lie on the issue of pension. As Tam-George is aware, Governor Wike inherited four months of pension arrears in 2015 and cleared them. Since then, monthly pension has been regular. Not even one month has been left unpaid. However, there was a challenge with the Contributory Pension Scheme, which Governor Wike inherited from the immediate past Administration. That aspect needed the amendment of the law.
In fulfilment of the pledge made by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike after he signed into law, the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019), the Rivers State Government commenced the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme. All other Pensioners who are not under the Contributory Pension Scheme have been receiving their monthly pensions since Governor Wike assumed office on May 29, 2015. The other challenges within the pension scheme are being addressed.
On Risonpalm, Tam-George displayed his deliberate political ignorance. First, Risonpalm is now under the management of Siat Nigeria Limited. Working with the Wike Administration, that facility has been revived and is creating mass employment for the people.
Recent investments led to the emergence of a state of the art oil mill, with fruit bunches being harvested in commercial quantity both in Ubima and Elele estates. Ubima and Elele Plantations have been cleaned up and first class maintenance operations and practices are constantly applied. Replanting for the Elele estates of the Former Risonpalm has reached over 5000 hectares since 2017. This is the place that Tam-George claimed has been left to rot.
The issue of Former Risonpalm leads me to that of unemployment. Even in the Former Risonpalm, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created. Same for different project sites across the state. Skilled and unskilled jobs have been created in several thousands. Direct employment into Government Agencies, the type Tam-George is talking about, will be kick-started for teachers and civil servants in line with Governor Wike's directive .
I saw the tears that Tam-George shed on the three flyover bridges billed for Port Harcourt. The AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE spokesman said that the projects would only benefit the contractors. I never knew that the Tam-George has transited from lying to childish comedy. The construction of these flyover bridges will last over a year. In the course of construction, the contractors will hire thousands of skilled and unskilled labour, create indirect employment, engage local sub-contractors for supplies and further energise the economy . At the end of the day, better infrastructure would be delivered to Rivers State and the challenging traffic on Aba Road and Rumuokoro addressed.
Rivers State Government over the years has invested in the reconstruction of key Federal Roads. At the last count, the Federal Government is owing Rivers State Government over N80billion for such projects. The Federal Government refunded monies owed other states, but did not refund that of Rivers State. To worsen the situation, the Federal Government announced that States are no longer allowed to intervene in Federal Roads.
The above point is important because all key Federal roads into Rivers State are in very deplorable condition. The East-West Road, the Port Harcourt-Aba stretch of Enugu- Port Harcourt Expressway. The two seaports have also been abandoned. In fact, there is no form of Federal presence in Rivers State. These are issues that don't bother Tam-George of the AAC/APC/ARMY alliance. He is more concerned with being relevant in this rejected alliance.
Recall that Tam-George on the sponsorship of a company with economic interest in OML 25 lied against the Rivers State Governor. Without knowing the details of the governor's intervention, he pocketed money and held several press conferences to spew trash. Today, the matter ended with Shell Petroleum Development Company resuming production at OML 25, with a charge from the Rivers State Governor to implement the GMOU entered with Stakeholder Communities at the Government House Port Harcourt. The impasse was resolved simply because Governor Wike intervened.
For Governor Wike, it is Rivers first. He promotes the interests of all Rivers communities. All the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State have key projects of the Wike Administration. No Section of the state has been neglected in terms of projects and appointments. Governor Wike runs a pro-Rivers Government. He is a pro-Rivers man. He is a Rivers man. He hails from Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. He is an unrepentant Ikwerre man.
Inspecting projects earlier this week, Governor Wike reiterated his guiding philosophy: "What is important is that when we make a promise, we fulfil that promise. We have no room for excuses. We will continue to promote the good of our people. For me , everything is Rivers. Whatever will improve the lives of Rivers people, we will do it".