• As IPI World Congress delegation visits Rivers
Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on the Nigerian Media to wake up and defend Nigerians who are suffering untold hardship under the APC-led Federal Government.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by leaders of the International Press Institute at the Government House Port Harcourt on Friday, Wike regretted that the Nigerian Media has lost its voice since May 2015.
He said: “The Nigerian Press should wake up. The Nigerian Press presently speaks for the rich. It no longer speaks for the poor. The focus now is advertorial, instead of defending the people.
“The press in Nigeria has been gagged. The Press that was at the forefront of ‘Jonathan Must Go’ can no longer speak up against bad governance, electoral manipulation, electoral fraud and total collapse of national security. What has happened to the conscience of the Nigerian media?”
Wike added that the same press that joined some prominent Nigerians to fight the partial removal of petroleum subsidy under former President Goodluck Jonathan, has maintained a deafening silence under President Muhammadu Buhari when the entire fuel subsidy was removed in controversial circumstances.
The governor said that despite the controversies and inconsistencies that have trailed the alleged total removal of fuel subsidy, there are no calls for Occupy Nigeria in the media. He said that the APC-led Federal government is poised to use illegal means to manipulate the electoral process, hence the fight over election sequence in the amended Electoral Act.
The governor said that in Rivers State, the Police authorities rewarded Mr Akin Fakorede, who was allegedly indicted by the INEC Committee on Rivers Rerun, over alleged electoral fraud. He said: “It is good that the International Press Institute is coming to Nigeria to see the injustice and illegality that characterise the present administration.
“There is no image for Nigeria to launder. We need the world to know what is happening in the country. The world through the IPI will know the nature of the war against corruption where the Federal Government convicts opponents who are still before the courts. The world through the IPI will also know how if you don’t want to be a corrupt man, enter the ruling party. It is good for IPI to come to Nigeria to see the atrocities that the Federal Government is committing.”
Wike further said Press Freedom can only be achieved in a democracy where the rule of law is respected.
Earlier, the leader of the International Press Institute Media and Publicity Committee, Dr Tonnie Iredia said that the committee was in the state to create awareness on the 2018 World Congress to be hosted in Nigeria. He said the event offers Nigeria the opportunity to launder her image as well as give international journalists the opportunity to appreciate development efforts in the country.
Dr Iredia said that Rivers State is one if the functional states where the people are enjoying the dividends of democracy. He said that there is the need for the media to highlight Rivers State for other states to emulate.
In another development, the governor has called on the Federal Government to urgently address the problem of the East-West road.
Wike stated this during a day sensitization seminar for the South-South zone, organized by the Federal Character Commission in Port Harcourt.
Wike, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo, expressed displeasure that the East-West road was not mentioned among the roads that needed attention, by the representative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
“The East West road which connects most of the South-South States and also connects the Onne Port, which is the deepest Sea Port in Nigeria, as well as the Oil and Gas Free Zone, which is a major employer of our young people, has been totally paralysed, because of the state of the road. I hope the Federal Character Commission will put a word across to the Federal Government on the need to immediately address the problem of the East-West road and alleviate the suffering of our people”, the governor stressed.
He said Nigeria must strive to close the gap of agitations by groups, by being fair and just, which is the hallmark of what the Federal Character Commission was set to achieve. He noted that the State is one of the disadvantaged states in terms of bureaucratic appointments within the Federal Structure.