By NWADIKE UGOCHUKWU, Port Harcourt
RIVERS State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has accused the media of being involved in a conspiracy of silence while the people of Rivers State are denied legitimate representation at the National Assembly because of the illegal quest to save the dwindling political relevance of an individual. The governor declared that the time has come for Editors to put an end to deliberate negative reportage of events in the state for factual development-based reporting to be enthroned. Declaring open the 12th All Nigeria Editors Conference organized by the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Port Harcourt on Thursday , Governor Wike said: “The 8th National Assembly is well into the second year of its 4-year tenure without any Rivers State representative in the Senate, and only a fraction in the House of Representatives. Yet, the press is maintaining conspiratorial silence over the continuing repression and deliberate denial of the State’s constitutional right to full and effective representation at the National Assembly. The question is: can Rivers State legitimately be bound by legislation or resolutions from the 8th National Assembly passed without our representation and input?”
The governor added: “I would like to leave you with some thoughts about the values we share – thoughts about our democracy, good governance and public accountability. As the watchdog and guardians of the public interest, no other profession can give us the opportunity to know the truth about our country, about our leaders, about the state of our democracy, about ourselves, and about governments than journalists. Your profession enables and empowers you to prod and probe; to speak truth to power, to expose injustice, to speak on behalf of the voiceless and to hold leaders accountable.
“Thus, the statement is true that if you all commit yourselves to the highest standards of your profession, you can be the most powerful force for deepening Nigeria’s democracy, for human rights, for justice, for shaping public policy, for fighting corruption, for free, fair and credible elections, and for efficient service delivery.”
He stated that journalists must take interest in the damage being done to the polity by persons trying to subvert the will of the people.
He urged them to use their informed position to report the reality of events in Rivers State, where the people are insisting on free and fair elections. The governor said : “In these politically terrifying times, we urge everyone of you to be objective in your coverage and reportage of events and stand with the people of Rivers State in our quest for free and fair re-run elections, instead of serving as proxies for those elements and tendencies that are bent on holding us captives and depriving us of our freedoms and liberties.”
The governor stated that there is no reason for the perpetual postponement of elections in Rivers State. “They say there are security challenges in the State but even in the height of the vicious violence by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) supposedly conducted elections in Bornu and other infested States. “The excuse of insecurity is therefore a farcical political contraption. Again, if we may ask INEC and its collaborators: who is fooling who?”, the governor stated. On his achievements since taking the oath of office, Governor Wike said that he has improved the fortunes of the state through execution of pro-people projects and programmes that have lifted the people from the under-developed position the immediate past administration left it.
He said : “Before we came in, roads in the State were in their worst states of disrepair. Today, we have restored most of the streets in the State capital and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas. In addition, we started 27 new roads and completed 15 strategic roads and bridges abandoned by the previous administration.
“As I speak work is ongoing on several strategic projects, including the dualization of the 16km Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono road, which straddles three local governme0nt areas; the East/West – Airport (Prof. Tam David West) Boulevard; the Igwuruta – Etche road; the Rivers State Ecumenical Centre, and the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park.”