Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has denied allegations that the Bayelsa state government’s dilapidated property in Port Harcourt was demolished for political reasons.
The governor, on the other hand, has blamed Bayelsa State’s lack of leadership for the Rivers State government’s eventual demolition of the decrepit property on Akasa Street in Port Harcourt’s Old Government Residential Area.
Briefing journalists on his arrival from Europe at the Port Harcourt International Airport on Thursday, Governor Wike explained that in line with the Rivers State government’s urban renewal programme, a formal letter was written to the Bayelsa State government in August 2021, concerning its dilapidated property inherited from the Old Rivers State in Port Harcourt.
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 government like the Bayelsa State government. It’s most unfortunate. When I was away, I read from the media the rantings of the Bayelsa State government through the Commissioner for Lands.
“In August 2021, we wrote to the Bayelsa State government that with urban renewal policy and with the money we have spent, that it will be unfair to us if we allow such property belonging to them to remain there without any, maybe, a new development.”
Governor Wike said he had met severally with his Bayelsa State counterpart, governor Douye Diri and enjoined him to renovate or build a benefitting edifice on the parcel of land because the formal existing structure contravened the Rivers State urban renewal policy.
“I spoke to my colleague, the governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri severally. I said look, it is better you renovate, bring down or build a new thing for your State. I am not claiming that 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, 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.”
He stated that governor Diri had acknowledged that it was unacceptable for the property to remain in its dilapidated state. And based on this, even in the presence of the governors of Oyo and Adamawa States, governor Diri had assured him that the Bayelsa State government would reconstruct the property, but to no avail.
“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 serious that he meant well for my State and I believed as a colleague he will not deceive me.