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By Paulinus Nsirim (Port Harcourt)

Our attention has been drawn to the latest offering by Dakuku Peterside in the public space, titled: “Wike Seizing, Dashing Off Rivers’ Property To Friends, Cronies.”

One cannot help but wonder, not for the umpteenth time, how low, petty, jaundiced and begrudgingly spiteful Mr. Peterside has sunk, in his unbridled obsession to discredit Governor Nyesom Wike.

His latest rant not only reeks of resentful bitterness and acrimonious slander, but has dangerously crossed the line of decency into primitive maliciousness, unbecoming of a man of his supposed intelligence and claimed academic status.

From puerile and unsubstantiated allegations of seizing property and dashing them to his friends and cronies, Dakuku Peterside betrays his shallow pettiness by crudely attempting a graphically salacious, yet tasteless description of a functional and operational building, located in the very heart of a throbbing capital city like Port Harcourt, in line with the urban renewal initiatives of the Governor Wike administration, which is transforming Port Harcourt in particular, into a capital city of picturesque beauty.

For the avoidance of doubt and with sincere apologies for repetition, we wish to appeal to the patience of those who may rightly recall, that we have explained and cleared the air on the recovery of properties, especially in previous rejoinders to this same Dakuku.

We want to state again categorically, that the Rivers State Executive Council took the decision to recover dilapidated government quarters from civil servants and illegal occupants within Old and New Government Residential Area (GRA), Port Harcourt and reallocate them to competent private individuals.

A task force was properly constituted by the Rivers State Government to carry out this mandate and the findings of the task force revealed that some of these properties were fraudulently acquired by retired civil servants through dubious processes of allocation and sale and some others also fell into utter deterioration due to the abject neglect and lack of maintenance by the occupants.

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The properties were totally in uninhabitable condition and many were converted into commercial and business uses; in some cases, they were even subleted to private tenants, and some of these tenants used the premises for poultries, fish ponds, barbing saloons, and other unauthorized activities.

The Task Force also discovered that some of these properties were found to be under illegal occupants by non-civil servants, some of whom were even non-indigenes. This therefore, necessitated the recovery of these properties as part of government’s urban renewal programme.

The Task Force accorded the people the right to follow due process, even though some folks stubbornly toed the ill advised path of non-compliance, which had its well spelt out penalty. Notices were duly served in addition to series of meetings so that nobody was taken unawares.

The civil servant-occupants, who were affected by the recovery, contrary to the lies and misinformation by Dakuku Peterside, now have alternative private properties through financial support provided by the State Government. They are very comfortable in their new residences; a situation which would have been near impossible for them to accomplish at the time, on their civil service emoluments.

The recovery of these properties and their subsequent reallocation have been properly articulated as part of the first phase of the ongoing urban renewal programme of the Rivers State Government within the Old and New GRA, Port Harcourt, which is proceeding nicely with scheduled compliance.

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So it completely beats the imagination to identify where Dakuku Peterside came up with the hallucination that people were ‘ejected in a ridiculous and undignified manner’ and the misleading rumour that the Governor had cornered no fewer than 400 houses for himself and his cronies and then sold-off at ridiculous market value to his friends and cronies.

Again, we have consistently declared that Dakuku Peterside does not live in his village, Opobo, the capital city Port Harcourt, or anywhere within and around the capital city territory, otherwise he would have been a little bit more circumspect and less flippant before describing Rumuepirikom, a bustling, thriving modern community, located in the very heart of the state, as a “Village.”

Governor Wike, unlike some past leaders in the State, who took Rivers wealth to build mansions in Abuja and develop other specific parts of the country, ostensibly to
curry favour, is proudly and patriotically building at home, developing Rivers State and transforming the state capital into a beffiting metropolitan hub.

The urban renewal programme encompasses the entire state capital area, including Rumueprikom. By the way, if Governor Wike does not build his own house in his community, is it in a foreign land that he will go and build it?

Charity, they say, begins at home and the infrastructural legacies Governor Wike is setting down, especially the amazing, breathtaking flyovers, the state of the art unity roads and expressways and indeed the modern markets, the medical and academic establishments, amongst other excellent infrastructures both in the capital city and across the state, will remain in Rivers State and will continue to be used and utilized by Rivers people, long after his tenure would have ended.

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Governor Wike has even hinted that as his administration gradually winds down, he would be spending quite a bit more time in his country home, interacting and fraternising more with his people and carrying out his usual on the spot inspections of the projects that are still ongoing in the capital territory and across the state, to ensure their completion on schedule.

This is in line with his pledge that he will not leave any uncompleted project behind for his successor.

That indeed is the hallmark of a visionary leader who is building in the present for the challenges of the future, unlike some leaders whose legacies ended in the past.

Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State

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