Governor Nyesom Wike took his oath of office for a second term on Wednesday with a Rivers-first speech delivered at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital.
Backstory: Wike was sworn in alongside his deputy, Ipalibo Harry Banigo by the Rivers chief judge, Justice Adama Iyaye-Laminkara who administered the oath of office on them both.
Rivers-first: That was the underlying theme in the governor’s speech.
- “For us, in all things it is Rivers State first; Rivers State is the measure; Rivers State before others. This is the essence of the political mandate and burden that we will bear for the next four years and we will not disappoint you.
- “We will continue to stand up for Rivers State and defend her interest, no matter the challenges or what comes at us.”
Even though the speech seemed like a direct message targeted at the central government, Wike said he was not in opposition to the FG and actually wants a partnership.
- “But we are not a conquered people and we will never surrender our freedoms to any body or entity, whether internal or external. We will therefore not accept to be subjugated to a headmaster and pupil power relationship; neither will we abandon the collective interest of Rivers State for the sake of political expediency.
- “We are for the rule of law, democracy and mutual respect as autonomous State entities and co-building blocks of the Nigerian federation.”
- “The future of our State depends on us. It is up to us to renew, re-energize, and advance the Rivers dream, to fight for what belongs to us, and to defend our right to exist in freedom, security and peace in our own nation.”
On the economy: Wike claimed that the Rivers economy is “great” and the “fastest growing” in the country. “But it should be greater and made more beneficial to all,” he said.
- A Marshall Plan to be launched: “We know we are developing, but it’s better and more result-oriented if approached in an organized and strategic form.We will therefore adopt a holistic approach to development by partnering with relevant national and international agencies and expertise to initiate and implement a 25-years Marshall Plan for economic transformation and development to guide and accelerate the future development of our State”.
On Security: Wike accused the FG of politicising security in the state.
- “They have refused to accord adequate security attention to Rivers State in spite of the unprecedented support they receive from us in terms of provision of operational vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, gunboats, communication gazettes, fuel and overheads to the security agencies.
- “Nevertheless, we thank the security agencies, especially the State Commands of the Police, the Department of State Security, the Nigerian Air force and the Nigerian Navy for the partnership and willingness to give their best to keep us safe and secure in spite of the seeming indifference and lack of tangible material support and encouragement from the Federal Government. Even now and going forward, we can only pray to them to depoliticize the provision of security in Rivers State because we are also Nigerians as other States and the preservation of our lives and property should equally matter to the Federal Government.”
On the polluted Rivers environment, Wike admitted that his administration did not achieve results in that area, and he apologised.
- “We are therefore minded to declare a state of emergency on the environment and tackle all forms of degradation, nuisance and irresponsible behavior occasioned by individuals, companies and other agencies, both public and private,” he said.