*As Gov Wike restates commitment to partner Police in keeping Rivers safer.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that the provision of comfortable housing for officers of the Nigeria Police is a crucial part of the ongoing reformation of the nation’s security architecture to enable them perform optimally.
He maintained that directives had already been issued that the building of barracks for men and women of the Police Force should be done in collaboration with the Social Housing efforts of the Family Home Fund.
According to him, this will ensure speedy execution of all of the projects in all of the barracks that need to be provided.
President Buhari, who was represented by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo gave the explanation at the inauguration of the Nigeria Special Protection Unit,(SPU) Base 6 Barracks at Omagwa Community in Ikwerre Local Government, Rivers state on Tuesday.
The SPU barrack has 68 one-bedroom flats, which include; functional office spaces, residences for both the commander and his second, one armoury, underground cells and a gatehouse, built and donated by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
President Buhari stated that the reform of the police force also included a yearly recruitment target that have been set to increase the number of police personnel. He said, already, the process is on to equip the personnel with personal gears and hardware.
“It is my understanding that the contract for this building was originally awarded in 2012 but was stalled by a series of delays. I am gratified that it has finally been delivered.
“This project is important because it is a means by which we can alleviate the accommodation challenges of senior security personnel posted to Rivers State and ultimately enhance the security footprint in the region. The cumulative impact of this and other similar projects will be the improvement of security in the state and the consolidation of the economic and social life of the people of the area.”
President Buhari said his administration is looking at other sources of funding of the nation’s security agencies to ensure that the pursuit for peace, prosperity, and development across the country is achieved.
In his speech, the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike berated the NDDC for taking about eleven years to complete the SPU Base 6 housing projects.
According to Governor Wike, it is however, not surprising because NDDC projects, often, are abandoned due to poor conceptualisation, political in nature and without commensurate provision of fund.
“Mr. Vice President, this is my first time of attending what NDDC is doing. In fact, I don’t know who gave out the information. About seven months ago, I had decided to take over this property for security reasons. I’m sure somebody must had told the interim head, that look, better go and complete the project, as the governor is about taking them over.
“You see, this is the problem with Nigeria. look at a project like this that was awarded in 2011/2012. Ten years after is when we are commissioning it. This project shouldn’t have lasted this long. The minister has told us here that over thirteen thousand (13,777) projects of NDDC were abandoned. Why will they not be abandoned when they’re projects without conceptualisation, projects being done politically, projects with no funding.”
Governor Wike said the problem of nonperformance of NDDC should not be blamed on the commission alone, but also on Abuja portfolio contractors and other political interests who are seeking compensation from those they have assisted to positions within NDDC.
According to governor Wike, these people have all ensured that the commission remained as a cash cow to serve as avenue to siphon money for their election purposes.
“Let nobody say that the problem of NDDC is only of the Niger Delta, no. The problem of NDDC is from the entire Nigeria. You have the Abuja problem, and you have the Niger Delta problem here.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike urged the leadership of NDDC to fulfil its promise to pay N2. 5 billion as counterpart funding, for the reconstruction and expansion of the Eastern Bye-Pass Road that leads to their Corporate headquarters office in Port Harcourt.
The Governor also told NDDC to adopt the culture of synergising with Governors of States in Niger Delta to understand their needs in order to achieve a uniform and purposeful development.
While commending the current interim committee for their dogged determination to right the wrongs of the past and completing projects it inherited, Governor Wike also lauded the Inspector General of Police for removing politics from the posting of police commissioners to the state.
“This is the only IG, I have seen, since 2015, I have had over 15 Commissioners of Police. They change them by the minute and that had affected the security architecture. Look at the peace we are having in Rivers State today, it’s because the security agencies in this State are now apolitical.”
Governor Wike also used the occasion to reaffirm that he was not leaving the Peoples Democratic Party, which he described as the hope of Nigeria.
“I thought we came fully to commission this project. I didn’t know that former Governor Akpabio will turn it to a political rally. But, let the records be straight. I prefer to stay where there is malaria, than to go to where there is cancer. Former Governor (Akpabio), malaria is treatable. With cancer at 4th stage you’re likely to die. I don’t want to die now. I’m very comfortable to remain where Nigerians have hope.”
In his address, the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio said NDDC is delighted to built and donate the housing to the Nigeria police and it represents the current resolve of the commission to deliver development to people of the region.
Inspector General of Police (IG) Alkali Baba Usman noted that the accommodation will enhance the administrative and operational competency of police officers for optimal performance.
He vowed to make sure that officers who will be allocated the facility maintain them.