Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has kicked off the construction of seven units of five-bedroom buildings for judges of Rivers State judiciary at the Akasa Street Old GRA where his administration recently demolished flats initially belonging to Bayelsa State.
The Governor, however, said nothing had strained the relationship between Rivers and Bayelsa.
Performing the kick-off on Monday, Wike explained that with the dilapidated property owned by the Bayelsa State Government demolished, his administration considered it appropriate to develop its residential quarters for judges.
Wike explained that the project was implemented under his administration’s urban renewal programme to rid the area of criminal elements, who used once abandoned Bayelsa property as a hideout.
He said: “This is the second phase of residence of judges of the Rivers State judiciary. It is important to let the public know where we are. This place used to be Bayelsa State government property when it was created out of Rivers State.
“As part of urban renewal, we gave the whole of Old GRA to Julius Berger Nigeria PLC to do all the roads and drainages.”
Wike recalled that in August 2021, he wrote to Bayelsa Governor, Douye Diri to inform him about the dilapidated nature of the property and that they served as a hideout for suspected criminals.
The engagement between them, he said, continued without yielding the expected responses and his administration was compelled to acquire the property under public policy.
He said: “Even when we attended our Governors meeting, I called his attention to it, saying there is no way we can allow this kind of property to be here.
“It is either you renovate it, which will not cost more than two or three hundred million or you sell it to the Rivers State government to be able to rebuild the place, so that we know those who are staying here. In 2022, I reminded him again.”
Wike said it became impossible to allow the dilapidated property to remain, so it was destroyed to ensure that the intended clean and safe environment was achieved.
He said: “And to tell Bayélsa people, I have nothing against Bayelsa State or Bayelsa people. But every government must be serious and show leadership.”
Wike emphasised that it was because of the existing cordial relationship that his administration embarked on building hostels and auditoriums at the Yenagoa campus of the Nigerian Law School.
He said: “Nobody forced me to go and intervene when intervened in school (in Yenagoa). I spent not less than N5.3B. If we have anything against Bayelsa State, we would not have even tried to help in rebuilding the law school.
“When Bayelsa State government was inaugurating their Medical University, Rivers State government was invited, on that Saturday, I was there and Rivers State government donated N500m.
“And on Monday the Bayelsa State government acknowledged receipt of the money. We are playing brotherly and sisterly role which is what it is supposed to be.”
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