• ‘With N27b now, last Rivers’ administration was not truthful in IGR earnings’

    with n27b now last rivers administration was not truthful in igr earnings - nigeria newspapers online
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    Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Sydney Tambari Gbara, in this interview with ANN GODWIN, spoke on the crisis bedeviling the party in the state, the face-off between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and Minister of FCT, Nyesome Wike, transparency issues in governance, and why Rivers is now better off despite unease.

    Is there any difference in governance of the state since Governor Siminalayi Fubara stopped taking orders from his predecessor, Nyesom Wike?

    There are a lot of differences since Governor Fubara breathes that air of freedom. He has been doing well in the appointments and implementation of his programmes. For the first time, the civil servants are happy. Under this administration, all the gratuities are being paid, promotions that have not taken place for a very long time took place, all the backlog of arrears have been paid. There are life transforming programmes and projects that have direct impact on the people that are being implemented by the government.

    Most importantly, one of the achievements of this administration is the upward attainment of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), which for the past eight years has stagnated. The past administration told the people that the monthly IGR was only N12 billion, but the present administration, being a transparent one, has declared N27 billion and is still improving. It is good to let people know that this government is not borrowing to execute all the ongoing projects. They are being financed by the IGR. The governor has promised residents that he is not going to borrow a dime to run the government. This shows that there were a lot of fishy things in the previous administration. They were not declaring the actual IGR to Rivers people. You can see the difference between N12 billion and N27 billion to tell you how much has been disappearing in the past eight years. Fubara is a God-sent governor to Rivers’ people.

    Let me quickly point this out that one of the things that brought problems was the visit of Governor Fubara to the Songhai farm. It is a government owned Agricultural facility that was built by former Governor Chibuike Amaechi. The farm has different sections, and recreational facilities. It employed over 5,000 youths when it was operational but during Wike’s tenure, the farm was shut down. When Fubara decided to visit all the Agricultural facilities to see how he can revive them including the Buguma fish farm, Wike became angry.

    As I speak, reconstruction works in all the Agric facilities in the state are going on so that our youths will be empowered and food will be available. By the time the Agric facilities kicked-off and with the N27 billion of IGR on ground, it will enable the state government to run a more robust economy like that of Lagos State.

    PDP in Rivers State, especially the executive committee, is polarised between the supporters of Governor Fubara and Wike. How is that helpful?

    Well, we usually have our meetings together but there are disagreements based on principles. Some felt they must follow the FCT minister despite whatever he is doing, but they have forgotten that the minister himself thought us to be sensible in loyalty. He taught us to ask questions. When the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and Atiku Abubakar’s camp were not in agreement with him and the G5 governors, he took his decision and moved on. He decided to support the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who won the election and today Wike is the FCT minister. So, we have equally learnt from him to ask questions in our loyalty.

    We can now ask him if what he is doing is good for the young politicians to emulate. As far as I know, the party that produces the governor supports the government of the day, so most of us in the party are supporting the governor 100 per cent while others under ‘loyal syndrome’ still follow the minister even when they are not happy with what he is doing.

    Be it as it may, we all still attend meetings as party members but the difference is that while they don’t attend state functions, we attend. They attend the functions of the FCT minister, but we do not attend, because he is no longer the governor. Out of the 31 executive members, 20 are with the governor while the rest are with the minister.

    What is your opinion about the position of the NWC on the recently released list of the caretaker committee for Rivers PDP?

    At the expiration of our tenure, the NWC in conjunction with the governors’ forum met and agreed that all the executives of the party from state, ward and local government should be retained for another three months as caretaker committee till the congresses to elect those that will take over. A release was made in that regard by the national publicity secretary of the party and we continued our work only for us to be greeted one day by a purported list of members of the caretaker committee.

    We discovered that names of Fubara’s supporters were missing from that list. We wrote to the NWC and copied the governor, who followed it up. A letter was written and signed by the national organising secretary telling us to remain calm that the list will be revisited. When the NEC met, they directed that the Rivers State list be revisited and the national organising secretary wrote another letter that they will provide a political solution to the matter. But I wonder the kind of political solution that will be provided to this because we are all politicians. That is where we are today. It is, however, glaring that the list was tampered with but those in the NWC should for no reason compromise their integrity. They have not done well as leaders in their responsibilities. They have the original list of the executive members of PDP in Rivers State and they are aware that the rule is ‘don’t add, don’t remove.’

    A lot of funny things are going on at the PDP national secretariat. I also want to use this opportunity to advise them that PDP at the moment is the hope of Nigerians. A lot of Nigerians are waiting for PDP to put its house in order so that they can take over governance and redeem Nigeria from the excruciating pains people are going through. But we cannot take over power with the way we are going. A good number of our leaders have compromised the PDP and they have put the integrity of the party to question. If they don’t desist from what they are doing, PDP cannot give that expected opposition to the ruling party Nigerians are waiting for in 2027.

    The FCT minister is still in PDP but most of his followers are in APC. For instance, the 26 lawmakers recently joined APC. Does your party see this as anti-party?

    The quest for power has beclouded the sense of some of our leaders. The FCT minister is a man who was celebrated in the state, I had lots of respect for him because at that time, he stood for the people but with what is going on now, I am indifferent because I don’t see him standing up for our people. He is more concerned about promoting his selfish interest. Everybody has an interest but the interest of the state should be paramount in whatever leaders do. No leader should be a catalyst to a crisis. The primary function of a leader is to bring everybody together but losing this aspect of leadership has made some of us withdraw our respect for him.

    On his romance with APC, we are not aware of it but he does not need to be in APC to support the President. During the last election, we were not in APC, but he told us to support the President and we did. One leg in APC, the other in PDP is a typical characteristic of an inconsistent character. He is on his own; majority of PDP members are with the governor.

    Are there efforts by stakeholders in the state to restore peace in the party?

    Former state chairman of the party, Desmond Akawor, made frantic efforts to stop the crisis and some resolutions were reached but were not kept by Wike. The governor is ready for peace. It is sad that most leaders in the party have lost their integrity but I can tell you the only leader who has stood firm is Dr Peter Odili, but Wike berated him and his wife.

    He has forgotten the critical role these leaders played for him to remain as governor in 2015 because he lost at the election panel, also at the Appeal Court but won in the Supreme Court. He told us who assisted him to win in the Supreme Court. He is fighting Odili because he is supporting Fubara. What does the minister really want after all he has acquired, does he want the youths to start killing themselves? Anarchy or what? I don’t really get it but our support for Fubara is firm and there we are.

    What do you think is the way forward?

    Fubara is a very peaceful man, I want to urge his followers not to be provoked by the threats and attacks by pro-Wike supporters. They should remain calm, let us continue to support our governor in the interest of Rivers State, they want to disrupt the peace of the state so that people will not enjoy dividends of democracy from the governor. But we want our people to enjoy the dividends of democracy.

    They should know that we are peaceful does not mean we are weak. We equally have the capacity to perpetuate violence but we have decided to take the path of peace and let us continue in that manner. I urge the public to remain firm in support of the governor. He has given assurances that he will stand on the path of the truth, let us remain calm and peaceful, and continue to give him the support to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.

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