Members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) have been charged to always hold public office holders accountable to the people by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
He said this when the national leadership of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
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 their powers.
“What I have seen of you is that you praise us and give us an 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,’’ Wike said.
According to the governor, Nigeria is in a difficult period in its history and NGE cannot shy away from performing its duties without fear or favour.
Wike also urged the Guild’s membership to discharge their functions and ensure that they were doing what was right always.
“If you added your voice when I castigated the operations of SARS, 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 did not even know how they did it and who is behind them. Without good intelligence, how can Nigeria even defeat Boko Haram?” he queried.
Wike further said that EndSARS protest was peaceful in Rivers “until the outlawed Indigenous People Organisation of Biafra (IPOB) took laws into their hands’’.
“I do not 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,’’ the governor stated.
In his speech, the National President of NGE, Mustapha Isha, said that Gov Wike had remained 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 new leadership, that will not affect the friendship we share with you.
“Anytime I come to Port Harcourt, there is always a new project ongoing. Flyovers are being constructed, existing roads are being expanded, and new roads being built.
“This is your second term and you are maintaining what you said that you will 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 do not 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 the governor on a visit to some projects in the state.
Some of the projects visited were: the Rebisi Flyover, Real Madrid Football Academy and the Mother and Child Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt.