By Onozure Dania
Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, has accused the Federal Government of abdicating its responsibility of projects execution in the state because the state does not matter in its development programme.
Governor Wike said that his administration has taken over the Federal Government’s responsibilities in Rivers State, not because it has excess resources, but because it was committed to the rapid development of the state.
He spoke, yesterday, during the groundbreaking for the construction of the National Industrial Court which will be funded by the Rivers State Government.
He said: “All the indices point to the fact that Rivers State does not count in the development programmes of the Federal Government. And this has sadly been the situation for decades.
“Yet, we produce the bulk of the resources that are sustaining the entire country and funding multi-billion naira development projects in other states of the federation.
So, our position is that, while we shall continue to demand for fair treatment and commensurate recompense for our contributions to the national pool of resources, we cannot but endeavour to put our development destiny in our own hands, even if it means spending money on projects that should be initiated, funded and maintained by the Federal Government or its agencies.
“The point needs to be made that, we are taking these important steps and bearing such huge costs because of the need to create, recreate and reinforce the enabling social and economic environment for the continuous development of our state.
“It is not because we have too much money to throw around on federal projects, but because of our love, passion and commitment to develop our state, because we realised that the Federal Government has since abdicated its development responsibility to Rivers State.”
He explained that the Rivers State Government was embarking on the project because 90 percent of the cases in Yenagoa Division of the National Industrial Court, Bayelsa State, emanate from Rivers State.
He said that the project when completed will serve the purpose of creating access to justice for litigants and also reflect the transformational legacies of Rivers State.
He noted: “The need, therefore, to have a functional NIC in Port Harcourt to peacefully settle labour and industrial relations disputes, enhance industrial harmony and engender economic development cannot be overstated.”
President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, at the event, said that the Rivers State governor has shown his colleagues the way to go by his commitment to the project.
He said that when the National Industrial Court in Port Harcourt comes on stream, it will resolve the challenges and risks faced by litigants from Rivers State who are compelled to travel to Bayelsa and Imo States for litigation.
In a goodwill message, former Nigeria Bar Association, NBA President, Chief Onueze Okocha, SAN, said the project will advance the course of justice in the state.