I thank my dear Brother Dakuku for the response to my column of last week on Governor Nyesom Wike. I am always open to a critique of everything I write, and indeed, I am one of my own greatest critics, even if I say so myself. This is why I am often not fazed by abuse unless they are uncouth or scurrilous. I am quick to accept superior argument and facts when they are presented, but my emphasis is on those facts and arguments being accurate and superior. That is why my first reaction to this Right of Reply was one of pleasure and appreciation. However, I wish to emphasize the following points where I disagree with the riposte from Mr Dakuku Peterside in which he suggested I was misled by Governor Wike.
One. I must instantly correct the impression that Governor Wike was aware of my column on him before its publication, and that he somehow teleguided me with respect to it. Nothing could be far from the truth. I was given access to the projects of the Government and as I stated in my Column the views I expressed on what I saw were mine only. Other than the invitation to inspect the projects, nobody had any input into my column apart from me.
Two. I made no links, connections or comparisons between previous administrations and Wike’s, so Mr Peterside should have, at the very least, tolerated my observations. I was not concerned with the past, only with the present. If Governor Wike has earnestly completed work initiated by his predecessors, as Mr Peterside claims, then it is another feather to his cap, in a clime where the tendency is to rubbish the original and creative work of one’s predecessors. Everything I wrote is solidly backed by original pictures and videos.
Three. It is uncharitable and unfair to say Wike has done nothing in Rivers State or even to try and detract from his achievements. I know Mr Peterside to be a scholar and the hallmark of scholarship is acknowledgement of the good of others just as much as backing up negative assertions with proper and accurate facts which are borne out of research and empirical data. If you continue to insist on this jaundiced perception of events in your home State, I can only think and conclude that you’re no longer familiar or conversant with occurrences at home after spending six years between Lagos and Abuja.
Four. Mr Peterside said Wike merely completed what the Rotimi Amaechi government conceptualised or started. That’s how good and responsible leaders should behave. But it is not true that Wike has not initiated and executed his own projects. We made enquiries on this issue and got favourable responses from independent bystanders. I challenge anyone with similar or more projects in Nigeria today, or in the immediate past to send in pictures and videos of such projects. I will publish and broadcast massively because they contribute to the enhancement of the development of our polity!
Five. It is noteworthy that unlike Mr Peterside, many distinguished members of his party APC have been special guests of Governor Wike; they have inspected and sometimes commissioned his projects, and they have all attested to the stupendous work he is doing across the State. The spate and variety of Wike’s work is audacious and stunning! He has touched every facet of human endeavor.
Six. I disagree with Mr Peterside’s bland statistics on the financial status of Rivers. I expect him to publish the figures of the debt exposure of Rivers State and demonstrate how, if he is accurate, the development does not justify the debt. Please note, that debt itself is not the problem, it is the lack of tangible evidence to what the money borrowed has been put that is anathema to all people of conscience. No country or government worth its salt beats its chest by proclaiming its debt free status. It immediately stands to reason that such a country or government has stunted growth. In fact the popular question in town is “where’s Wike getting money to execute his marathon projects?”
Seven. I don’t know how often Mr Peterside goes to Rivers State. He should endeavor to do so again soon. He is unlikely to recognise some of those roads he mentioned or indeed most parts of the State. Governor Wike deserves support and encouragement, despite political differences, for the progress of the State.
The simple truth is that Wike is indeed a phenomenon, and no tirade or diatribe can belie or belittle this fact…
– Momodu is a respected journalist and publisher of Ovation International magazine