By Simeon Nwakaudu
One of the critical issues that agitated the minds of the business community during the 2015 governorship electioneering campaigns was the issue of the unfriendly investment climate of Rivers State occasioned by the poor governance choices of the immediate- past administration in the state. All businesses in Rivers State, the organised private sector and the small and medium scale entrepreneurs, were concerned about the comatose nature of the economy. They were agreed on one issue. They sought an administrator with the right vision to galvanise the economy of the state and make it work for the people.
As Nyesom Ezenwo Wike toured the markets and hosted the organised private sector to interactive dinner, the issue of multiple taxation cropped up repeatedly as one of the factors crippling the state’s economy. In all these meetings, Wike insisted that he remains the only candidate with the political will to put an end to multiple taxation and make the Rivers economy an envy of all. Wike is a man who lives by his word. Having gotten the mandate of the people of the state, Governor Wike has started to reposition the economy of the state. The very first step is the actualization of his promise to eliminate multiple taxation in the state.
On Wednesday June 10, Governor Wike met with the business community of Rivers State where he announced to them vital steps being taken to stop multiple taxation. Wike said during the meeting that his administration will end multiple taxation in the state, with a view to jump – starting the state’s economy for the benefit of the people. According to him, his administration will create the right environment for businesses to thrive so they can create employment. He said: “Multiple taxation will no longer exist when this administration settles down. We will work with the Local Government Councils to streamline taxes, so that businesses will not pay a tax in one local government and replicate same in another local government area”.
The governor said that he will set in motion the required legal and administrative framework to ensure the speedy issuance of certificates of occupancy to create avenues for the private sector to have easier access to finance from financial institutions. He said: “We will create avenues for businesses to access finances for increased investment in the state.
My administration will cooperate with the organised private sector to reduce unemployment. As such, we shall interface on a quarterly basis with the business community to improve the economy of the state”. The governor stated that he would fight crime across the state to ensure that all communities are safe for businesses to invest. According to him, the administration will improve security as a fundamental platform for developing the state’s economy. He added that the state government will collaborate with the Federal Government to revive the two sea ports in the state and complete the Port Harcourt International Airport .
The President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Emeka Onachukwu commended the state governor for initiating an interface with the business community to improve the state’s economy. He urged the governor to create the right environment for businesses to grow in the state. The business community appealed to the state governor to address the issue of multiple taxation and ensure that there is a one stop shop for the promotion of investment in the state. Wike’s economic programme for Rivers State is as contained in his blueprint titled: “A New Rivers State: New Vision, New Thinking, Better Opportunities”.
Its a carefully designed blueprint to revive Rivers State’s economy through the creation of jobs, wealth and the empowerment of the people. For Wike, his word is his bond. He has entered into a contract with the Rivers people to return prosperity to the land. He is taking the right steps to respect the terms of the contract. Also Wike, is a politician and administrator that you underrate at your own peril.
He is a master strategist with an unwavering commitment to the stability and development of Nigeria. On May 31, elected National Assembly members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, trooped to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to hold their retreat ahead of the proclamation of the National Assembly. This retreat was no ordinary event. It was an event strategically initiated by the Rivers State Governor as an acceptance of his role as the new cornerstone of the movement to rebuild the PDP.
The retreat was to hold in another state, but Wike beckoned on the elected PDP National Assembly members to come over to Rivers State to chart a worthy route for the party. Former Senate President, David Mark recognised this rare leadership quality and sacrifice when he spoke at the opening ceremony of the retreat for the elected lawmakers of the party on June 1 at the Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt.
The retreat in Port Harcourt afforded the PDP the opportunity for introspection and bonding. It gave the party the desired leverage to rise from the ashes of a crushing defeat to face the challenges of repositioning Nigeria. It was a needed opportunity for the party to ensure the growth of democracy and the deepening of same through credible polls at every turn. Wike also took time in his different interventions at the retreat to lift the morale of disillusioned members, telling them that with the quality members available on ground, the party would remain relevant in the political scheme of things. He said : “ No one can honestly deny the PDP its due credit for successfully nurturing, stabilising and consolidating Nigeria’ s democracy to heights never imagined in the country’s chequered political history. “Power has changed hands and our party is the official opposition at the centre.
We do not have any choice than to play this role that has naturally fallen on our party effectively as possible”. “Fortunately, the PDP is not just one of the numerous spineless parties that ascribe the word opposition to themselves. The PDP is the only alternative opposition party to the ruling APC. This means that the PDP is just one election away from taking over power at the centre and all other states it is currently relegated”. Without equivocation, PDP’S effective opposition status at the centre has started in earnest with Wike as one of the key drivers. The power sharing deal at the Senate which witnessed the emergence of Senator Saraki as Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu of PDP as his deputy brings to the fore the relevance of Wike’s strategic political engineering. It was not by accident that Ike Ekweremadu was nominated by a Rivers Senator, George Sekibo and his nomination seconded by another Rivers Senator, Olaka Nwogu.
It was a carefully designed project aimed at ensuring that the nation experience political stability moving forward. It was a project of inclusion and granting a sense of belonging to all sections of the country. As a master tactician, Wike’s politics is grounded in fair play, justice, development and accommodation for all sections. Wike’s political philosophy abhors exclusion, no matter the excuse. This has been his driving force since 1999 when he came to political limelight as a high performing and award winning council chairman of Obio /Akpor LGA in Rivers State. At every point, Wike has used his position to advance public good.
Little wonder, Rivers people opted for Wike despite the huge resources expended by the immediate past administration in the state to run him down. It is for the same reason that the entire membership of PDP has found in Wike, a rallying point to recover from the loss of the 2015 election. Wike is a team player who believes in the power of the people. He is a leader whose eyes are permanently on the ball of development. He is never distracted by propaganda as he knows that posterity will always be kind to him.
Simeon Nwakaudu is a Special Assistant to Gov Wike