Governor Nyesom Wike, has been consistent in driving government policies and development in Rivers state, he has sustained his politics of inclusion and has maintained a robust relationship with stakeholders. Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, the state Commissioner for Information, in this interview with Willie Etim and Blessing Ibbunge, described Gov. Wike, as a strategic thinker and patriot who will leave nothing unturned to ensure the development of the state
You are in a very familiar terrain, from a cub reporter to commissioner, what does your appointment portend for journalists in the state.
This appointment is a vote of confidence on the journalism professional and not just in Rivers State but in Nigeria. What it means is that journalists now have their own person at the helm of affairs, not just their own person, someone who rose through the ranks to get to this point, somebody who knows the challenges of the profession, who knows what it takes to get his colleagues to do their jobs better. My appointment is a new dawn for journalism profession in Rivers State and Nigeria because I will bring my wealth of experience to bear in managing public communication.
The relationship between government and the media will not suffer any setback because as a man who started life as a cub reporter. I will ensure that my colleagues in the media have access to information such as to enable them play their role as critical stakeholders in the governance of the state. Media practitioners will not play second fiddle they will be part and parcel of governance in Rivers.
Would you say Governor Wike has done well within the period of his governance?
You know, His Excellency did not just jumped into governance, he is one governor in the history of this state that one will quite be proud to say that he was prepared for governance. From his tract record you can attest to the fact that he was quite prepared. He was a two time chairman of Obio/Apkor Local Government, he was Chief of Staff for four years, and he was a cabinet Minister for four years. Governor Wike didn’t just jumped into governance, he was prepared and that is why he enunciated his preparedness in the new vision blueprint. He articulated what he wanted to do because he is a man who has a grasps of the landscape he wants to govern and his new vision blueprint is very encompassing. These are the simple reason why you will see the kind of landmark achievement he has recorded which has earned him both national and international recognition as a leader who has come to redefine governance. He encapsulated this into these priorities namely; open accountable, inclusive governance, security of life and property, administration of justice, education, healthcare delivery, agriculture development, roads drainage and transport infrastructure, housing development, provision of water, energy, security, jobs, wealth creation development empowerment, women development, youths development, sports recreation and tourism, environmental protection, urban and rural development, social welfare service. We are not surprised that he has recorded this landmark achievement because the new vision blueprint encapsulated the vision and direction of his administration.
There is criticism that the Governor is concentrating development in the capital city.
You are living and doing business in Port Harcourt and you know that this is not true. His Excellency is detribalise, he has said repeatedly that he is a governor of Rivers people and that as a patriot he will continue to protect the interest of Rivers State and Rivers people. And he is not a man that speaks from both sides of the mouth. If you know His Excellency very well, he is very forthright. Today, the unity road has connected Andoni Local Government to Opobo, these are not Obio/Akpor LGA and if you are conversant with development in that area, you will know the enormous resources that he has pumped into getting a road across to Andoni and Opobo. The Sakpenwa/Bori road is not in Obio/Akpor, is quite a long lengthy road. In fact as somebody who is a peoples governor, that road was supposed to end at Bori but he has now extended the contract to get to Kaa waterside and if you know the geography, between Bori and Kaa is quite a distance, that is not Obio/Akpor and not PHALGA. The land reclamation that is ongoing in riverine area, the hospitals that are being built in all the senatorial zone is not in Obio/Apkor and PHALGA alone. The economic empowerment that His Excellency has been pursuing, they are not just for Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor people. So those who are carrying that kind of narrative are just trying to score cheap political point, they don’t understand governance. If there is one man who is spreading development in the 23 local government areas is Nyesom Wike.
Security has been a major challenge in the state , how has the governor been able to manage it,
You know His Excellency is a strategic thinker, if you are close to him, you will know he is quite strategic in the things that he does. When he looks at the security architecture of the state holistically, he designed a formula and that metamorphose into the launching of Operation STING. Operation STING was design in a way that all the security agencies come under one umbrella. And he did not just do a political launching, he arm them with requisite equipments both for sea and land, that is the way it is now, the 23 local government areas are interconnected so that if something is happening in Bonny LGA for instance, somebody in Ahoada will know. And because he is also a people’s leader, he enjoys the confidence of heads of security agencies in this state. Like somebody was saying, there has been zero incidence of insecurity in the state in recent times. And of course he is also engaging strategic stakeholders, at a point he had to make even traditional rulers be accountable to security bridges in their domains. There are a grassroots approach to handle security and then there is also strategic security architecture that is in place in Rivers State now and all is designed to make Rivers State a destination of choice. The state will be a destination of choice because the right infrastructure is here, the right leadership is here, we have two sea ports, we have an international Airport, and headquarters of Hydrocarbon industries is here. And so with what is going on now, Rivers state is going to be the destination of choice not just for the South-South but for entire country.
What should be the expectation of the Rivers people in the next four years of Governor Wike led Government.
If your an ardent observer of what is going on in Rivers State you will notice that His Excellency has repeatedly said that this his second tenure will be like his first tenure. He is not like the other governors that when it is their second tenure they slow down. He gave Rivers people a grasp of what the second tenure will look like during his first 100 days in office in this second tenure. The governor had taken almost three weeks to commission projects in the state. It has never happened in the history of this country and real people oriented projects. So Rivers people are in for a good deal because a patriot is on the saddle, a man who believes that Rivers money should be for Rivers people. He is not into white elephant projects, the governor had said at the beginning of his administration that for every project he will initiate he will fund and complete it and that is why even the three flyover projects that are being constructed simultaneously have paid for and will be completed in 16months. The cost of the flyover project, is put at N21billion and His Excellency on signing the contract for three projects has paid the Julius Berger the contracting firm 70% of the entire money and so those projects are almost as good as completed. The contract can only be embarked upon only by a bold, courageous and patriotic leader. It is indeed an ambitious project especially at a time when the economic fortunes of the country is shaking.
Given the ratio of appointment into political office in the state, will say Governor Wike is gender sensitive.
There is something His Excellency did that is rear, all the 23 vice chairman in the presently constituted Local Government councils of this state are women. It has never happened in the history of this state. The Governor is gender sensitive, even his deputy is a woman. Women are at the head of decision making at the grassroots and a good number of political appointees are women. Women are fully represented in the governance of this state and His Excellency who is gender sensitive is ready to do more in the years ahead.
Given your tract record how are you going to drive government policies with regards to public communication.
Well, the first thing I have going for me is the goodwill of the media. Like you have noticed since my appointment, it has been like celebration galore for journalism in Nigeria. So in driving public communication for the state I will rely on the goodwill of my colleagues that I know are quite excited about this appointment. I will run open governance in public communication because some of the challenges those who are manning government information have is that they are not open but this office is going to be open to journalists for information sharing, suggestions and constructive criticisms on how this job will be done better. That will be the focus, we are going to use both the traditional media and the social media side by side, non will suffer for the other to be given prominence to drive public communication in the State.
What is your expectation from the media on the State.
I expect a robust collaboration and corporation because this is our time. Like I said earlier, is a vote of confidence. His Excellency appointed me a Permanent Secretary, and I just did that for two years and he made me a Commissioner for Information. That is the whole statement, that look I am ready to partner with the media. So for me I should pride myself to be the luckiest commissioner for information because the goodwill of my constituency is there.