Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said that the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board used to be notorious for corruption until he assumed office and posted a priest there, and that he is providing leadership and making a difference at the agency.
The Rivers governor made the observation at the standing committee meeting of the Church of Nigeria, held at the Diocese of Lagos, Archbishop Adebola and Oluranti Ademowo Resource Center, Faith Plaza, Bariga, Lagos State where himself, ; Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and Governor Adedapo Abiodun of Ogun State were honoured with awards by the Church of Nigeria ( Anglican Communion) for their exemplary leadership qualities in a challenging economy and dedication in the service of God and humanity.
Addressing the congregation on the state of the nation and the role of the Church, Governor Wike admonished the leadership of the church to encourage its members to be part of the governance process in the country.
The Governor noted that a situation whereby Christians leave governance for politicians alone is no longer obtainable. According to him, the effect of bad leadership will also affect the church if they remain passive to the issue of governance.
“You must be part of choosing leadership. Don’t say you have no role, you have a role. When you don’t participate, bad leaders will emerge and when bad leadership emerges, you are part of it.
You must encourage your people to be part of leadership. I didn’t go to any school to study leadership.
“So nobody should say that as a Christian you cannot be a governor, no. The head of SUBEB in my state is a priest and you can see the leadership he has given to that agency today. You will feel proud about it. That used to be the most corrupt agency, but today it is headed by a priest and you can see the difference.”
Governor Wike decried the inherent injustice that has characterized the Nigerian State, and urged the church to speak against sociopolitical issues adversely affecting the progress of the country.
“We say we are all one Nigeria. We went to World Bank to borrow money to do specific projects . One of the states that make up Nigeria I hear is Rivers State. And I also know in paying this money back to World Bank, money that comes from the resources of my state will be used in paying back this money. But my state was denied to have projects from that loan.”
The Rivers state governor said a situation where States depend on the Federal Government to survive can no longer be tenable. He insisted that States must be allowed to collect revenues such as Value Added Tax, VAT to enable them improve the welfare of their people.
“You have gone to take loan and I am one of those states that will pay back those loan and you deny me to benefit from the projects that that money will be used for. I have no problem with that.
Allow me the one (VAT) the constitution says I am entitled to, let me collect that one and develop my state.”
He regretted that some governors in Nigeria have refused to think out of the box on how to boost economic activities in their states.”There is flood in my state, it requires N200millon, I will go to Abuja to beg. Even as a governor, I will knee down before a DG of an agency of government. You will knee down for a director just because of N300 million. That is the status of some of the governors of some states.”
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, while speaking on the theme of the conference: “Abiding in Christ: God’s Panacea in an Unstable World”, lamented that Nigeria is fast becoming a land flowing with tears and blood because of the impact of terror, banditry, herdsman attacks on communities and kidnapping.
He said a situation in which communities that are predominantly Christians are targeted one after another in some parts of Kaduna State and North Central of Nigeria is unacceptable.
“We call on President Mohammad Buhari to brand the bandits and herders attackers as terrorists and let them be treated as such.
The Primate urged Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity 2023 general elections offer to exercise their right to choose new leaders.