By Akanimo Sampson
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, one of Nigeria’s biggest oil and gas states, is still unrelenting on opening fire on Governor Nyesom Wike.
Despite the loud commendation of the vociferous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on how his administration is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, APC says Wike has been handling the scourge poorly.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, the media warhead of Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, in Rivers APC, is alleging that Wike has continued to politicise the pandemic in the troubled oil state.
In a statement wired to this reporter this Thursday, the APC chieftain claimed, “the deceptive approach adopted by the Rivers State Government in the entire process has been a source of growing concern to interest groups and people of goodwill.’’
But, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of NCDC, had commended Wike, a seeming no-nonsense political fighter for his “firm and personal leadership’’ to check the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Speaking during a meeting between Wike and NCDC officials in Port Harcourt recently, Ihekweazu said Rivers was important in the fight to stop the spread of the virus. “This is a working visit. I want to thank you for your firm, strong, committed and personally-led response to Covid-19 in Rivers.
“Rivers is one of the most important gateways into the country; one of the most important economies in the country. So, Rivers is important, not only to you but to the entire country’’, the NCDC big boss said.
Apparently not persuaded, APC says the commendation is a mockery of the genuine commitments and efforts of spirited individuals, civic groups and corporate bodies who are making “gratuitous donations of flamboyant nature to end the ravaging global pandemic in the state.’’
Undone, the opposition party that has no legislator in the state House of Assembly nor a councillor in any of the 23 local governments in the state says the healthcare system in Rivers is already overwhelmed and “posses great danger to public health owing to the massive negligence the sector has suffered under the Wike administration.’’
The party, therefore, wants the PDP administration “to speedily revisit the many hospitals and other health facilities built by the former governor, Amaechi scattered across the state. The sorry condition of most of the hospitals constructed and equipped by Amaechi, that was the envy of most states in Nigeria then, is shameful.
“Under Wike, all the Amaechi health facilities are under lock and key. Amaechi had envisaged Rivers to be the India of Nigeria, and the centre of excellence in terms of provision of quality health services to Nigerians. Sadly, this is not the case under Wike.’’
In the meantime, APC is awash with joy, claiming that God has blessed Rivers with another visionary leader in the person of Prof. Henry Ugboma, the Chief Medical Director of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
“The commitment and sense of public service displayed by Prof. Ugboma, especially during this trying period has distinguished him in the medical profession and pencilled him as a competent public servant. Ugboma is an unassuming great leader who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2017 as the big boss of UPTH.
“He has turned the fortunes of this federal institution around since his appointment. Before his appointment, he was a senior lecturer and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist with the university.
“Under his watch, UPTH has become a centre of excellence and a referral centre. At the moment, he is determined to see the eradication of the deadly virus in Rivers. To this end, he has solicited for assistance from Shell,’’ Eze said.
Already, Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, has visited UPTH to explore a partnership deal. The hospital is requesting for more COVID-19 test machines and modern health equipment to meet the health challenges of the peoples of the oil region.
As a guest on Rhythm 93.7 FM, Port Harcourt phone-in programme, on Saturday, the UPTH boss spoke extensively on COVID-19 and the efforts on the ground to contain its spread.
Most of his claims on the radio programme did not go down well with the state government that viewed his views as an unnecessary politicisation of the coronavirus in the state.
Governor Wike has been insisting that his administration is focused and will not allow itself to be distracted in its battle against COVID-19. “We will neither tolerate nor hesitate to deal with anyone who dares to rubbish the hard work and the sacrifice we are all making to save lives in our state, just to advance parochial partisan interests,’’ he says.