By Davidson Iriekpen
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the federal government for politicising the fight against the spread of COVID-19 otherwise known as coronavirus, describing the selective support to states as unfortunate.
In a broadcast yesterday, Wike condemned the exclusion of Rivers State from the federal government grants in the fight against coronavirus.
He noted that despite the exclusion of the state, federal government has continued to endanger the state by flying expatriates into the state.
He said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of coronavirus has been politicised by the federal government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the federal government.
“One wonders why federal government should single out a state out of 36 States to give support. Does it mean that support will come when a State has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support. No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the federal government. Everyday, we are inundated with letters from the federal government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill Oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards coronavirus.
“If they come to come Rivers without us knowing their status, what will be implication assuming they have the virus.”
Wike announced that all markets in the state shall operate between 7a.m. and 12 noon on April 7 and April 8, 2020 to allow residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
He declared that Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market would remain closed till further notice.
He said: “All markets in the state except Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans-Amadi shall be open on Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 7a.m. to 12noon. After those two days, the markets will remain closed. This is to enable residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
“Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans Amadi shall remain closed till further notice. “
The governor announced the dissolution of the board of RTC for the notorious operation of illegal franchise scheme.
“The Board of the Rivers State Transport Company (RTC) has been dissolved with immediate effect. All those operating a franchise scheme in the name of the company are advised to desist forthwith. Anyone who violates this directive, will be arrested and prosecuted. Government took this measure because the franchise scheme of RTC has become notorious for illegal activities that compromise the interest of the state,” he said.
The governor directed security agencies to fish out and prosecute persons who slaughter animals in the Bush for public consumption.
He said: “Our people must understand that lives are more important than profit.
“We are constrained to note again that despite our directive, commercial vehicle operators have refused to maintain social distancing. Their action portends grave danger because they place the entire society at risk of the virus.”
The governor announced the setting up of a committee to work out modalities for implementation of the state government’s palliative programme.
“In line with our decision to provide palliatives to cushion the hardship being faced by our people, government has decided to set up a committee to work out modalities for the smooth implementation of this directive. This committee reflects all interest groups.
“The members are: Ambassador Desmond Akawor (Chairman), Mrs. Inime Aguma , Dr. Bariere Thomas, Chief David Briggs, Mrs. Florence Amiesimaka, Mrs. Stella Ichenwo, Mrs Anthonia Kpakol, Hon. Edison Ehie, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, Hon Hope Ikiriko, Mr.
Latteh Loolo, ACP Innocent Umerie (Representative of Nigeria Police Force), Hassan Yahaya (DSS), Lt Col Bello (Nigerian Army), AC Mathew Pama (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps), Wing Commander Comfort Visah (Nigerian Air Force) , Lt Commander CJ Udeh (Nigerian Navy) Venerable Richard Opara, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Diepriye, Monsignor Pius Kii, Archbishop Felix Ezebunwo, Mrs Vivian Braide , Prince Ohia and Paulinus Nsirim (Secretary).
“This committee will be inaugurated tomorrow, Monday, April 6, 2020 at the Government House, Port Harcourt by 12noon. Attendance of the inauguration ceremony will be strictly for members of the committee,” he said.