4 August 2016
Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike, warned in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the state would not tolerate rigging in the forthcoming re-run elections in the state.
Re-run elections are to hold into eight state and federal constituencies in the state before the end of the year.
Addressing the 2016 Annual National Editors Conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Wike said: “Rivers State is desirous of free and fair elections.
“I state without fear of contradiction that electoral fraud is worse than financial fraud and any other manner of fraud.
“If any politician thinks he can come to Rivers and be aided by the military to tamper with the free will of the people, we want to assure such politicians that we are also ready to reduce them to nothingness,’’ the governor warned.
He said it was unfortunate that Nigeria and particularly Rivers was beset with security challenges, but assured that government had done a lot to restore peace in the state.
Wike also said the Rivers government was determined to empower the people through heavy investments in the agriculture sector.
The theme of the conference is: “Economic Diversification: Agriculture as option for a prosperous Nigeria.’’
Addressing the opening ceremony earlier, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, commended the NGE for being part of the ongoing determined efforts to tackle the various challenges facing the country, especially in the area of the economy.
The minister, however, urged the editors to do more by becoming the champions of change.
.“As you are all very much aware, Agriculture is one of the sectors we have identified in our economic diversification programme aimed at moving the country away from a mono-product,
oil-based economy, under our “Change’’ mantra.
“’What I am saying in essence is that while the media owes it as a duty to keep Nigerians well informed about the situation in the country, it must do so in context.
“We are not saying we should continue to lament about missed opportunities, the massive corruption
or profligacy of the past, but is it is important for Nigerians to know where and when the rain started beating them, that no provision was made for any umbrella to shield them from the elements, and that
indeed genuine efforts are now being made to turn things around,’’ he said.
The minister explained that one of such efforts was the unprecedented massive investment in infrastructure – roads, railways and power among others.
He said contractors had been mobilised to sites, many of them long-abandoned. Any contractor who is not on site is waiting for the rains to stop, not due to lack of funds.
The minister noted that Nigeria’s economy was hard-hit by the fall in the price of crude oil because the country failed to save for the rainy day, coupled with the fact that the country did not invest in
“Many other oil producing countries and fellow OPEC members are faring better, because they saved for the rainy day.
“Saudi Arabia, with about one-fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves about 600 billion dollars (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves). United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has 75 billion dollars in foreign reserves.
“Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has 36 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people, has about 25 billion dollars in foreign reserves.
‘“Here in Nigeria, with oil selling consistently for over 100 dollars a barrel for many years, we simply failed to save for the rainy day, with the result that a country with a population of over 170 million
today has just 26 billion dollars in foreign reserves.
“To compound this, the fall in the price of crude is having a ripple effect: the scarcity of forex, which has resulted from the oil price crash, means that industries are struggling to get forex to import raw materials and machinery,’’ he added.