Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, of failing to hold public officers to account for their stewardship.
The governor, who hosted a delegation of the guild at Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday, said most often the editors were interested in praising public officers and giving them awards when they should be making them sit up.
He therefore challenged them to play their constitutional role effectively by always holding public office holders accountable to the people.
The governor noted that in the past, the Nigerian press was a strong voice and conscience of the society, but wondered what has whittled down their powers.
He said, “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.
“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 recalled that when he reprimanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, NGE did not gve him a voice.
“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.
Wike said the #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 six army officers, four 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 channelling it to the right quarters, they go and kill innocent people and destroy public places,” he lamented.
The National President of the NGE, Mustapha Isha said governor Wike had been consistent in his support to 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.
“This is your second term and you’re maintaining what you said that you’ll work until the last day of your tenure. You have zeal and passion in handling issues of Rivers state, from covid-19 to issues of security.
“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.