The recent conferment of the “2020 Extra Ordinary Personality Award” on Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, by Silverbird Group, has elicited a litany of reactions from critical stakeholders in the province of politics.
Opinion leaders and political and public affairs analysts have made their minds bare, lamenting ceaselessly and lashing at the communication company for allegedly throwing standards to the dogs and sacrificing competence and meritocracy on the alter of mediocrity for short-term reward in the search for a suitable candidate whose records merit the trophy.
With the opinion of Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, taking the lead, a summation of citizens’ views clearly suggest that the Governor was considered for the conferment on the singular basis of the quantum of dividend and alleged financial reward accruable to the organisers from the N78 Billion Naira refunded to Rivers State of late for federal projects executed by former Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
Recall that since the refund, “Governor Wike, who may have been lost in the euphoria of the whooping sum, has suddenly turned himself into a ‘Point Of Sale’ (POS) machine, and like the Biblical prodigal son, he has embarked on a careless spending spree, dispensing Rivers money at his own behest to address the needs of other states, tub-thumber and praise singers, to the utter detriment of Rivers people who have cried their voices hoarse in demand of a little thought from a government which they call their own.”
In a statement made available to media houses, Chief Eze, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), decried what he called Governor Wike’s excessive avarice and sheer greed in hoarding the common patrimony to self and denying the people their basic due.
The party Chieftain queried the footing on which the Governor was considered for the nomination, stressing that Wike lacks in every local standard of measurement for the performance of a public servant especially, the holder of the exalted office of a State Governor, to be named an Extraordinary Man.
He said it is unbecoming of a responsible communication company like Silverbird Group “which should be serving as a moral compass to allow itself to be swept from the sound mandate of shaping public opinions into the waste bin of encouraging laziness, avarice and mediocrity in public service for a a reward.”
“It pricks the conscience to learn that the media in Nigeria is fast losing its flavor to the overbearing influence of corrupt public office holders like Wike, who finance their way to gain undue media recognition in a bid to sway the public into believing their bogus achievements which exists only in the figment of their imaginary world with support from some unprincipled Journalists.”
Eze said the media should be more alive to issues of public concerns especially, those touching the core ethics of the Journalism profession “rather than offer attention to the tricks of busybodies who have almost conscripted the profession into the idiotic and niggling struggle to advance their political czar in a bid to obfuscate the sufferings and pains of the public.”
He called on Silverbird Group and others to learn to beam their searchlights more scrupulously in the quest to hunt appropriate individuals and public office holders who have distinguished themselves with the requisite credentials befitting of awards and honours, stressing that conferring trophies on the basis of merit will spur people to do more for public good.
Chief Eze called on Journalists to always maintain an optimum “standard of professionalism in the discharge of their services and warned them against being inveigled into a situation in which they find themselves as partisan agents of wrongdoers and deceitful politicians in the pursuit of their selfish vendettas.”
Referring Governor Wike to the thought of John Maxwell, “leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another”,Chief Eze counseled the Governor to be a bit more prudent in his tactless handling of public funds, adding that the sizeable chunk of money lavished annually in lobbying for awards and trophies would make a whole lot of difference in governance and public life if channeled into meaningful ventures.
Continuing he said, Matshona Dhliwayo was very much on point when he posited that “simple people pursue power, average people pursue fame, but extraordinary people pursue ideas”.
To be extraordinary, Eze said one must pursue sound ideas that profit humanity and not the incessant purchase of undue human recognition, awards and honours, which have gulped billions of Rivers money whereas, a sizeable number of issues of public concern requiring funding have continued to be treated with brazing laxity while others are deliberately left unattended.
He called on Governor Wike to imbibe the attitude of subjecting himself to learn the art of governance from those who have made indelible marks in public service because and according to Sheryl Sandberg, “the ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have”.
Dismissing the honor as inappropriate, Eze reasoned that the SilverBird Group erred in her choice of Governor Wike as recipient of such an award, pointing out that such error is fundamental and amounted to
acknowledging and encouraging poor performance, incompetence, laziness and docility in public service.
He said according such an honour to Governor Wike for making Rivers State the capital of Poverty and unemployment in Nigeria shows that the SilverBird Organisation has lost touch with reality.
Lamenting over the composite “failure of Governor Wike on all locally and globally known parameters of rating performance in public administration, the party Chief described the Rivers State Governor as a flamboyant disgrace to governance”, noting that his failure led to the exclusion of Rivers from the recent N123.348 Billion performance-based grant of the federal government to states, under the States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for results, reiterating that the Silverbird Group must have compromised.
“I must confess that I am totally ashamed by the act of the Board and Management of SilverBird for trying to embarrass my good friend, Wike in such a manner by endowing him with an award which the Nigerians know he doesn’t merit”, Eze said.
He further said available reports suggest that Rivers State lost out of the N123 Billion FG largese owing to the failure of the state government to meet the simple eligibility requirement from states to publish online approved annual budgets and audited financial statements which has always been shrouded in secrecy given the mountain of illicit transactions perpetrated by officials of the state government under the watch of Governor Wike.
He said “owing to the wide maladministration occasioned by the bunch of mediocre occupying sensitive public offices, the state has lost several high profile local and global opportunities with the potential of developing the State economy and reasonably contributing to the improvement of the fortunes of Rivers people who have continued to roam in a leadership-induced poverty in the midst of plenty.”
Admonishing Governor Wike to save the little integrity left of him by formally rejecting the award, the party stalwart slammed the Rivers State Commissioner for Information & Communication, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, for being overly servile and sycophantic even on issues that require a good sense of judgement.
Nsirim,he said, “in his usual obsequious flattery, which has done more harm to Rivers people, lumbered exaggeratedly” that the shelves of Wike’s trophy cabinet are “splendidly decorated with an array of multiple plaques, silverware, mementos, and other memorial items of recognition from multi-sectoral professional and academic establishments”.
Eze therefore,queried the essence of a plaque and silverware-filled trophy cabinet of a Governor “when his people have continued to suffer in abject poverty and perpetual deprivation of basic needs. He said the fact that the state is highest in employment index of the country should be a source of reasonable concern to people of goodwill especially, the media, part of which responsibility is to prod government and its officials to positive action.”
“Aside Governor Wike’s display of obvious disinterest in meeting the series of promises he made on employment given the huge number of workers that retire on monthly basis, the Governor has refused to allow promotion in the State Civil Service since he assumed office.”
“While a chunk of pensioners have been denied enrollment into the State Pension Scheme, those already captured have left their fate in God, as the Governor and his agents have refused them their pension allowances, emoluments and sundry entitlements for several years.”
These acts of alleged deliberate “wickedness and many more singles-out Governor Wike as unfit for any positive human endowment and cast a strong doubt on the merit of the award investiture on him by the Silverbird Group or any other group in future, save that as usual, he lobbied and in fact, offered the highest bid than every other competitor or better still, the award was conferred on him following his track records of astonishing wickedness and penchant for sophisticated espièglerie.”
“Without a dint of sentiment, I am actually lost in thought as to the particular criterion on which Silverbird Group confirmed Governor Wike fit for such award when Rivers state tops in unemployment rating; when workers have been continued to be denied promotion; when pensioners are on the street every day protesting and demanding gratuities; when the State Secretariat is in a complete deplorable state; when he has blatantly refused to implement the new minimum wage; when students have been denied scholarships and bursaries; when transparency in budgetary implementation has taken flight etc”.
“It pricks the conscience to believe that mere recoating of roads and building a few flyovers; ordinary things that even the worst military government has done in the past is what merited Wike the award. This is really funny,” he concluded.