The Presidency had described allegation by Governor Nyesom Wike that the Federal Government has politicised the fight against COVID-19 pandemic by concentrating all its efforts on Lagos State, while with holding support for Rivers State as diversionary.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Public Affairs, Aguri Ngelali who said this on a radio station in Port Harcourt on Monday also accused the Governor Wike of responding in a knee-jerk manner following the confirmation of the index case of Coronavirus in Rivers.
Ngelali, who is from Eleme local government area of Rivers said:
“Governor Wike is not happy with the reactions of the people to the lockdown and closure of markets that did not allow people access to food, goods and services.
“You even hear key PDP members distancing themselves from the closure of markets without alternatives. To distract attention of the people, he decided to blame Federal Government that it is giving Lagos money and none to Rivers.”
The presidential aide who spoke to CoolWazobiainfofm, Port Harcourt, by telephone claimed that the Federal Government is building an isolation centres in the oil city in conjunction with the private sector, even without receiving any request from the State Government.
“As we speak, the Federal Government is establishing a-210 bed Isolation Centre in conjunction with the private sector. The Governor didn’t ask for it. It is being done because of the proactive nature Presidential Taskforce on Covid19.”
In a broadcast on Sunday, Governor Wike had condemned the exclusion of Rivers State from the Federal Government grants in the fight against coronavirus. He noted that despite the exclusion of the state, Federal Government has continued to endanger the State by flying in expatriates to work in the oil companies.
He said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of coronavirus has been politicized by the Federal Government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10 billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the Federal Government.
“One wonders why Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 States to give support. Does it mean that support will come when a State has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support? No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the Federal Government. Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill Oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards Coronavirus”
Meanwhile, Rivers residents have questioned the rationale for the Governor’s order that markets in Port Harcourt will only be allowed to open 5 hours on Tuesday April 7 and 8 for the Easter shopping after which they will be shut down again.
Residents of Port Harcourt told this magazine that that the short period will lead to panic buying and overcrowding of the markets which will defeat the social distancing directive.