Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on the countries of the European Union to partner with the State Government in the development of the commercial agricultural sector for the purpose of job creation.
Governor Wike also called on the European Union countries to partner with the State Government on the improvement of the State Capital waste disposal system.
He spoke on Tuesday during a forum of the European Union Heads of Missions in Abuja in a presentation titled: “Understanding current political and security situation in Rivers State in particular and Niger Delta region in general”.
He said: “We will continue to solicit for targeted development interventions in Rivers State from the European Union Missions.
“Increase your unconditional development grants to Rivers State, and deploy same to fund programmes, projects and services that will sustainably advance the socio-economic wellbeing of our people and communities; and
encourage European companies and investors to come over to Rivers State in particular and the Niger Delta in general, and invest in commercial agriculture, manufacturing, maritime services, oil and gas exploration, quality healthcare delivery, quality education, especially, in science and technology, roads and transport infrastructure, affordable housing, water provision and effective waste disposal systems”.
He said, though Rivers State and the Niger Delta have their security challenges, the region is relatively peaceful, well governed and with a crime rate that is lower than the national average.
“Rivers State is effectively being governed. Law and order is in place; people are freely going about with their social and economic activities; the entire State is largely peaceful; and the crime rate is relatively low on the national average.
“This is also true with the other Niger Delta States as none is under a state of pervasive insecurity or violence as we have in some other parts of the country”.
“As a Government, our desire and resolve is to ensure that Rivers State is sustainably peaceful, secure and safe for citizens and visitors to reside, do business and have fun. And we have done a lot in the last four years of our administration to advance the security and wellbeing of the State and our citizens through personal initiatives as well as through the national security institutions”, he said.
He outlined all the key support and investments of the Rivers State Government under his leadership in the promotion of peace and security, but pointed out that State Governors though called Chief Security Officers, are constrained constitutionally in the administration of the security architecture of their respective states.
He said: “State Governors face legal, administrative and political constraints when dealing with internal security issues. Although we are held out as the chief security officers of our States, but in reality, we do not have even the slightest of legal and administrative control over security personnel, deployments and operations in our States.
“And if that was not frustrating enough, we also suffer from the politicization of security agencies and operations, which was taking to absurd levels, when the Federal Government prevented us, that is, the Rivers State Government, from operationalizing the Neighbourhood Watch Corps established by law to provide intelligence and other necessary security support and services to the formal security agencies in our communities, despite allowing some other States of the same political party with the Federal Government to have there own internal security outfits. With such and other effective drawbacks, there is a limit to what any State Governor can do to ensure all round security in his State even with the best of intentions, efforts and inputs”.
He thanked the European Union for steps they have taken to deepen democracy in the country.
“We thank you for the report you submitted to various organisations on the 2019 General Elections. Not everyone will like the report, but the truth must be told for us to forge ahead. I believe that if this country must move forward, we must look at the report and see how best we can improve on our electoral system “, he said.
He said what happened in Rivers State during the 2019 elections was a situation where security agencies tried to manipulate the Electoral Process to deprive the people the opportunity of allowing their votes to count.
“Thank God, the will of the people prevailed. That is why I am here today as the Governor of Rivers State.
“On our part, we have said that we will look inwards to find out what happened. That is why we set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into what happened during the last elections . That Judicial Commission of Inquiry has submitted its report. Once the cabinet is constituted, we will come up with a white paper that will check impunity. Anybody who is involved or indicted by that Commission, the law will take its course “, he said.
Governor Wike urged the European Union to put sufficient pressure on the Federal Government for Electoral Reforms.
European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen said the meeting is an opportunity for the Rivers State Governor to address the European Union on his visions and perspectives to the growth of the state.
He said that he is sure the Rivers State Governor has hit the ground running by taking steps to actualize the goals of his Administration.
The meeting discussed ways of partnership and development for the benefit of all sides.