Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said his administration’s recent demolition of a Bayelsa State Government property in Port Harcourt was not politically motivated, but provoked by the leadership failure of Bayelsa State.
The governor on arrival in Port Harcourt Thursday from a Europe trip explained that before levelling the property located at Akasa Street, Old Government Residential Area (GRA), he had alerted his Bayelsa counterpart, Governor Duoye Diri, on the issues with the said property and that Diri never kept his promise to take responsibility to avert the eventual demolition.
He said, “It is most unfortunate. When you have leadership failure that is what you get. I have never seen a hostile government against Rivers State like the Bayelsa government. When I was away, I read in the media the rantings of the Bayelsa state government through her Commissioner for Lands.
“In August 2021, we wrote to the Bayelsa government that with our urban renewal policy and the money we have spent, it will be unfair to us if we allow such property belonging to them to remain there without any, maybe, a new development.”
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“I spoke to my colleague, the governor of Bayelsa State, Douyi Diri severally. I said look, it is better you renovate, bring down or build a new thing for your State. I am not claiming the property belongs to us, but we have a right to talk about development in our State. No State can determine the level of development that should occur in another State.
“So, in 2021 August, not only did I write a letter to him, but in all our meetings then, I told him if you cannot develop it, you can sell the property back to Rivers State government, we are willing to develop it, but we cannot allow that property to be the way it is.
“Ask the governor of Oyo State, ask the governor of Adamawa State, we are colleagues. He (Diri) had promised me that in the next three months, everything will be done. I took him seriously that he meant well for my State and I believed as a colleague he will not deceive me.
“I’ve said to anybody who cares, the failure of this country is the inability of leadership to take a decision. In one of my routine inspections, I went around and saw the property. In fact, as I speak to you, no human being worth his salt will allow such structure to be there. “
He added, “You cannot have a property in this prime area and you don’t develop it, and then criminals use it to torment, terrorise and harass innocent people. And tomorrow you will tell me Rivers State is not safe.
“Go to Akasa Street, you can see what is going on there. If you are a serious government, you cannot allow that. We have no apology. As far as we are concerned the place has been brought down, we are building judges’ quarters there.”
On allegations by the Bayelsa State government that the demolition of its property was a demonstration of vendetta because Bayelsa did not support his (Wike) presidential bid, the Rivers governor said, “Truth be told. Every time politics will come in. Vendetta for what? Bayelsa has been the clog in the wheel of progress against Rivers State.
“We had a joint property where Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over. NEW engineering works in Trans Amadi, AMCON took over the property and advertised for sale, Rivers State government said look you can’t do it.
“We were ready to buy it. Bayelsa State knew about it. When the Rivers State government purchased it from AMCON, the Bayelsa State government went to court against the Rivers State government. So, it is unfortunate.”
Describing the sister state’s allegation as ludicrous, Wike recalled that Rivers State had in the past taken over property owned by the Edo State government, Nigeria Railway Corporation and defunct Nigeria Airways, and was never accused of political vendetta by the affected parties.