Minister, Rivers commissioner trade allegations of corruption
Rivers State Commissioner for Health Sampson Parker has accused Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike of having ill-gotten wealth.
Parker made the allegation yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He was reacting to Wike’s allegation that Governor Rotimi Amaechi mismanaged the N7.5 billion allocated for the construction of the Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital, N3 billion meant for the fumigation of Port Harcourt and N3 billion voted for the city’s landscaping.
The commissioner said the governor had provided affordable and quality health care for the people and accused Wike, who is believed to be interested in the governorship seat, of fabricating stories to tarnish Amaechi’s image.
Parker said the minister, who used to be the governor’s chief of staff, lacked the moral right to accuse anyone of corruption.
He accused Wike of owning property, adding that his earnings do not match his assets.
The commissioner said: “Those who aspire to lead should be mindful of their utterances and actions, especially in this season. If by the time this election cycle is over, our people and institutions have been destroyed, who will they govern? I am ready to stake my character, reputation and integrity against Wike’s. Let Rivers people and Nigerians judge. Daily, I remind myself of what the good book says: ‘Power belongs to God’.
“I know Wike well. We are both products of the Amaechi political family. Wike may be described as a son of perdition, but he was loved by his family. We have entered another political season, but this should not deter us from speaking the truth. The reality is that power belongs to God and He gives it to who He pleases.
“If in the quest for power, we destroy institutions, malign people and fabricate stories, just to score cheap political points, we fool nobody but ourselves. It is like building a structure on quick sand.”
Parker described himself as “a man of simple taste, with a manageable family size”.
He said he had been practising medicine before he ventured into politics, adding that God has blessed him.
The commissioner said: “I know my history. I have no desire for the primitive acquisition of obscene wealth, as I do not indulge in expensive habits, such as the consumption of drinks that cost hundreds of thousands of naira per bottle. When I travel within and outside Nigeria, I am content to do so in commercial airliners. Yet, I feel no envy or jealousy towards those who, even as serving public officers, travel in private jets at least twice a week. I challenge Wike to make same claims.
“Wike has been in public service all of his adult life. There is no record that he has worked anywhere, either as a lawyer or a businessman. I shall give 50 per cent of my August salary to Wike or anybody who can prove that the minister has travelled to Port Harcourt on a commercial flight more than two times since being sworn in as the minister of state for Education. At least, two stubs of flight tickets or manifest that prove that Wike was a passenger on any commercial airline. Who pays for the chartered flights Wike comes to Port Harcourt on, at least two times a week?”
Parker accused Wike of living in an expensive home in Abuja and drinking exotic wines that cost a fortune.
The commissioner said it was sad that the minister, “who claims to be a lawyer”, could not show one brief written by him.
He said Wike’s familiarity with court rooms was “as a result of being a plaintiff or defendant” in law suits.
Parker said he was proud to be part of the Amaechi administration since its inception on October 26, 2007, adding: “Karibi-Whyte Hospital is an on-going project with a target completion date. The first contractor was disengaged based on spurious allegations and campaigns of calumny orchestrated by Wike, then the chief of staff, and his cohorts.
“The governor set up an independent panel of enquiry. The panel exonerated me of any wrongdoing and said the state had lost no money on the project. Not satisfied and blinded by his desire to implicate me in some crime, he pressured the security services and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to arrest and indict me.
“The 1,000-bed mega hospital is not an abandoned project and would be inaugurated before long.
“On the Malaria Elimination Programme, Rivers was the first state to embark on malaria elimination. The governor, after consultations with experts in Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided that malaria elimination was achievable. Malaria has killed more Africans, especially children, than all the World Wars and inter-tribal wars combined. This noble vision was supported by ECOWAS and some foreign governments.
“We commenced the first trial phase of this programme, which involved the spraying of biolarvicide in select local government areas and towns. This was done in conjunction with the Cuban government. The analysis and the effects of the spraying are known to the people, as the findings were made public. Malaria incident reduced by 63 per cent in the areas we sprayed. In fact, it is the effectiveness and efficacy of our trial that led to the National Council on Health adopting malaria elimination as a national health policy for Nigeria.
“Due to the success of this first phase and the high cost of transporting the biolarvicides, the government, to reduce cost, set up a factory to manufacture this essential substance in our Malaria Elimination Programme. The foundation stone for this factory was laid by ECOWAS President Kadre Desire Quedraogo and President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister for Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, at the proposed site in Rumuosi, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, which is Wike’s local government. ECOWAS is a partner in this project.”
On completion, Parker said the factory would supply biolarvicides to the country and beyond, adding: “Can Wike claim ignorance of these facts?”
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