Rivers State Information and Communications Commissioner, Paulinus Nsirim, says the Wike administration is working with relevant agencies to role out the process that will check perennial flooding in the big oil and gas state.
The announcement is coming as the 2015 governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Dr Dakuku Peterside, was calling on Governor Nyesom Wike to urgently reactivate the drainage master plan put in place by his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi.
Peterside spoke against the terrible flooding being experienced in several parts of Port Harcourt and the s state at large, lamenting that Rivers people have suffered untold hardship as a result of the flooding, which had long ago been predicted by Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET), with the state featuring prominently.
According to him, the Amaechi administration put in place a drainage master plan for the city of Port Harcourt and was already being executed before he left office in 2015 but was however abandoned by Wike for political reasons.
Peterside who was Amaechi’s Works Ccommissioner is blaming the Wike administration for not paying attention to early warning signals from NIMET but rather chose to put the blame on Rivers people who are already suffering from lack of jobs and economic empowerment.
“Our people are traumatised, a lot of persons are displaced, we have lost several goods and properties estimated at over N3billion, social and economic life has been disrupted because the state government slept off, our people are suffering.
“The governor awards projects from his office without going through the due process and the very important Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which has unfortunately led to pain and agony by the people.
“It is even more shocking that the state government is yet to respond, even if half-heartedly to the cries of the people but has chosen to blame everybody other than itself. A responsive government should by now be engaging and looking for ways out of the crisis.
“Port Harcourt has never had it this bad and it can only mean that the state’s relevant ministries, departments, and agencies are either incompetent in carrying out their duties or have been starved of necessary funds to function optimally”, the ex-commissioner said.
Peterside, also a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is calling on the government to immediately mobilise resources of the state to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
Adding, he said, “with heavy rains expected in coming weeks as predicted by NIMET, it will only be natural that the state government immediately activate the moribund emergency management agency that can react swiftly to serious situations and arrest whatever difficulty the people may be facing.
“This is the time for the state government to show compassion rather than grandstanding and looking for who to blame for its own ineptitude and maladministration. Our people deserve better than this and it is the responsibility of the government to provide solutions.”
Nsirim is however, calling on those living and doing business in Rivers to play their part in line with the programme that would be executed by government to address the problem of flooding, and frowned at the situation where residents of Port Harcourt had turned the drainage systems into refuse bins, “and that is not what it should be.”
“The present administration under Governor Wike is desirous to make Rivers a destination of choice and that is why the government has embarked on massive infrastructural development in line with its urban renewal programme.
“So, what is expected of those living and doing business in Rivers State now, is to co-operate with government to ensure that the urban renewal programme and the plan by government to make this state a destination of choice is realised”, he said.
While noting that the state government could not do it alone as it required the support of corporate organisations, civil society groups, religious organisations and the media to enlighten their publics on the need to behave as responsible citizens, he called on the media to embark on massive enlightenment programmes along the line of the roles of citizens in checking flooding in the state.
“We believe that if the citizens cooperate with government, as Government is out to ensure that everyone living and doing business in the State does so in a healthy environment, we believe that in the next few days or weeks we will find a solution to this (flooding), he said.
The Commissioner also announced the names of entrants selected for the essay competition on the titled “Our state our responsibility” introduced under the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign of the Ministry launched at the beginning of this month.
He said those shortlisted were expected to be at the conference room of the Ministry by 11am on Monday, September 27, 2021 for a physical test to ascertain their original ownership.
Those shortlisted are: Jessica Hart, Samuel William, Amarachi Chimezie, Jasper Dorcas, Jaja Tamunoimiegba Christian, Sophia Oyibo, Blessing Pepple, Anyiam kelechukwu, Deborah Adegbami, Gift Samuel, Okiche Golden, Okiche Miracle, Orovwigwo Deborah, Otuka Goodluck and Ziga Paago.