Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has challenged the Nigerian Media to desist from praising public office holders and giving them awards for favoritism but to hold them accountable.
Governor Wike gave the charge when the national leadership of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday.
The governor noted that in time past, the Nigerian Press was a strong voice and conscience of the society, but wondered what has whittled down its powers.
“What I have seen of you is that you praise us and give us award because of relationship or friendship. That’s not the way it should be. Challenge us; the people in authority and we will sit up to our responsibilities. We will have no choice than to perform and serve the people, as it should be.
“My support for you has to do with the fact that you are supposed to tell the truth of what is happening in Nigeria. There was a time you were exposing the ills of society. If not for you, certain things will not be known. Assume your role, grow strong again and speak out,” he said.
The governor stated that Nigeria is in a difficult period in its history and NGE cannot shy away from performing its duties without fear or favour.
He urged them to discharge their function and be sure that they are doing what is right always.
“If when I castigated the operations of SARS, you added your voice, who knows what good that would have achieved. Now look at what has happened. There was EndSARS protest across the country. Nobody knows how the youths were able to organise themselves without a leader.
“Up until now, intelligence can’t even know how they did it and who’s behind them. Without good intelligence, how can Nigeria even defeat Boko Haram?” he queried.
Governor Wike further said EndSARS protest was peaceful in Rivers State until the outlawed Indigenous People Organisation of Biafra (IPOB) took laws into their hands.
“I don’t support criminality. IPOB killed 6 army officers, 4 policemen, burnt police stations and court buildings. This is Rivers State. Go to Oyigbo and see the level of destruction. Now, the State Government will be rebuilding those facilities.
“Those who don’t understand our actions are saying we are fighting the Igbos. How will they allow criminals to speak for them when there are intelligent Igbo people to speak for them?
“If they (IPOB) are aggrieved, instead of channeling it to the right quarters, they go and kill innocent people and destroy public places,” he stated.
In his speech, the National President of NGE, Mustapha Isha, said Governor Wike has remained consistent in his support for the Guild.
“You are the only government that has sponsored our annual conference back to back. Even if we have a new leadership, that will not affect the friendship we share with you.
“Anytime I come to Port Harcourt, there is always a new project on-going. Flyovers are being constructed; existing roads are being expanded, and new roads being built. Projects don’t hide; even your political opponents will see them. They may murmur, but they will use them. Your excellency, keep up with your good job,” he said.
The members of the guild later accompanied Governor Wike on a project tour of the Rebisi Flyover, Real Madrid Football Academy, and the Mother and Child Specialist Hospital.