‘Wike Came to Government House Prepared’

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Paulinus Nsirim

Ugo Aliogo discusses new strategies implemented by Paulinus Nsirim, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications to publicize the developmental programmes of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

What new ideas are you bringing to the Wike government as a member of the Rivers State Executive Council?

I want to thank God Almighty and Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Governor of Rivers State, for finding me worthy to serve my dear state as Commissioner for Information and Communications.

Before my appointment as commissioner, I served the state as Permanent Secretary for two years. Within the last seven months when there was no commissioner, I initiated a campaign tagged “#OurStateOurResponsibility”, designed to change the negative narrative about our state.

The campaign which was taken to about 43 stakeholder groups has helped to make all those living and doing business in Rivers State to understand that they have a shared prosperity, and should ignore attempts to de-market the state.

As commissioner, I will consolidate on the gains recorded so far, through a short, medium and long-term strategic communication plan, which will help to promote the state as a destination of choice.

 

How do you see the achievements of the governor in the last four and a half years?

 

Governor Nyesom Wike did not stumble into governance. As a strategic thinker and patriotic leader, he served as a two-term chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Chief of Staff Government House and Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, before he was elected governor four and a half years ago.

With these rich credentials, on assumption of office, he launched the ‘New Rivers’ blueprint. Encapsulated in that vision is open governance and accountability, development of infrastructure, health care delivery, development of agriculture, education, housing, urban renewal and development, employment generation and economic empowerment.

Within the last four and a half years, His Excellency has demonstrated that the ‘New Rivers’ blueprint has become an economic development tool that has made Rivers State stand out in the comity of states. Little wonder His Excellency has won numerous local and international awards.

How do you handle frequent criticism from the opposition?

Government welcomes constructive criticism. The only thing that is bad is arm chair criticism. However, my ministry will focus on giving out the right information to members of the public at all times.

I also believe that the statesmanship demonstrated by Governor Wike after the 2019 elections, where he extended the olive branch to the opposition will reduce needless opposition.

I therefore appeal to all well-meaning citizens of Rivers State to break down the barriers of political parties, ethnicity and religion in order to join hands with the governor to build a worthy legacy for posterity.

What do you have to say about the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that your state is a for money laundering?

 

As a state government, we wish to reiterate that the EFCC has no power to investigate the financial transactions of our state.

EFCC can only investigate the government if it vacates the Federal High Court judgment that declared that it cannot investigate the financial transactions of a state government.

Magu cannot claim that that judgment cannot stand, except he wants Nigerians to believe that he has started issuing instructions to the Supreme Court.

It is unfortunate that in a democracy, someone holding a public office would want to muzzle the court.

I wonder how the EFCC arrived at the conclusion that Rivers State is the second capital of money laundering in Nigeria, after Lagos.

To justify this allegation, the EFCC should make public the names of people they have arrested and prosecuted in Rivers State over money laundering. If this is not done, Magu’s statement would be seen as a mere play to the gallery for cheap publicity.

Rivers State Government will support EFCC to fight corruption within the ambit of the law, but will reject any attempt to subvert the rule of law.

Recently your Governor had a spar with his Bayelsa State counterpart over Soku, who actually owns Soku?

The Supreme Court judgment and the latest Federal High Court ruling have clearly shown that the Soku oil wells belong to Rivers State.

How do you ensure that the state information organs are in top shape instead of relying on private media organizations? 

I would like to correct one impression, the state government does not rely on private media organizations to publicize its policies and programmes. We use both the state information organs and private media organizations in the propagation of our activities.

However, the state media organs will be given adequate support to compete favourably with other media organizations within the limits of available resources.

 

What legacy will you leave behind as Commissioner for Information?

People like you will answer this question after my sojourn as Commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State.