The Network for the Defense of Democracy and Good Governance – NDDGG, has urged Governor Nyesom Wike to prioritize job creation for the teeming youths in the state rather than establishing rehabilitation centres as a way to stem the tide of drug-related crimes.
The group was reacting to reports that the Rivers State governor planned to build rehabilitation centres in the state.
In a statement signed by its Director of Operations, Hon. Williams Igweh, the group recalled that Wike made a promise to establish rehabilitation centres when a delegation of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency – NDLEA led by its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
During that visit, the Governor said, “increase in crime rate in the state and across the country is mostly carried out under the influence of hard drugs.”
“The Network for the Defense of Democracy and Good Governance – NDDGG is, however, worried that the intended gesture of the governor to set up a rehabilitation centre in the state, will not in any way address the issue of the increase in crime rate witnessed on daily basis in the state such as kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and others.
“This is not to say that we are against the move but suffice it to note that setting up a rehabilitation centre will not address the issues that mostly lead to crime. As we are all aware, crime is mostly committed by youths whose minds are idle.
“The NDDGG, therefore, calls on Governor Wike to prioritize job creation for the teeming unemployed youths of the state while he goes about with concluding plans for setting up the rehab.
“Beyond engaging our youths for task force jobs in the past five years of this administration and plans to employ five thousand youths in the state civil service, the Rivers State government should consider reviving the Sungai and Buguma Fish Farms in order to increase the State GDP.
“The Rivers State Government must be able to set up and effectively run a scheme to assist small businesses to get access to soft loans and startups, as well as create enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.
“Everything must be done to bridge the employment gap in the state, because it is bad publicity for Rivers State to rank number one in the nation’s unemployment index, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. An idle mind they say is the devil’s workshop.
“Another worrisome trend as observed by the NDDGG has been the fact that the issue of welfare of our senior citizens, that is, pensioners and retirees of the state government has been unfortunately considered as less important.
The group further frowned at the donation of brand new SUVs to Commissioners of the State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, saying that the development was insensitive.
“Governor Wike had earlier claimed that the state government pays pensioners and retirees in the state their monthly pension and gratuities to the tune of nothing less than N1.8 billion.
“However, when we put a call across to the chairman of pensioners in the state, Lucky Atti to confirm the governor’s claim, he clarified that there are four kinds of payment the pensioners are entitled to.
“He listed them to include monthly pension, (which he acknowledged has been the only payment received by the pensioners in the state in the past five years of this administration).
“Others are gratuities, pension arrears and third party beneficiary payment in cases of deceased members. He said non of these monies has been paid since 2015.
“This has been the actual position of things, and, unfortunately, the governor prefers to score cheap political points with half-truths and playing with the sensibility of these respected class of individuals and the generality of the state.
“As a lawyer and one who is well armed with the law and the nitty-gritty of governance, Governor Wike cannot claim to be unaware that monthly pension is not the only payment retirees and pensioners are entitled to.
“If the claim by the governor is anything to go by, why then has there been a sustained public outcry of non-payment of the said pension and gratuities since 2015 till date by these senior citizens who had given up the better part of their lives rendering meritorious service to the state?
“The NDDGG hereby calls on the Rivers State Government to retrace its steps and consider our suggestions as the way forward to ensure the overall peace and development of the state”, the statement concluded