A group, Centre for Public Trust has bemoaned the exclusion of the Rivers state deputy governor, Dr Mrs Ipalibo Harry- Banigo from the state task force on COVID-19.
The group in a statement sent to journalists on Sunday, May 16 and signed by its head of programmes, Sotonye George, wondered why Governor Nyesom Wike sidelined his deputy, despite the fact that she is a very experienced medical doctor and public health professional of repute.
“It is believed that her exclusion was a deliberate attempt by the governor to make sure that nobody challenges his decision by providing any counter professional advice.
“Her absence on the team is a huge gap that has paved a way for Governor Wike’s continued ill-informed highhandedness which has led to avoidable negative consequences,” the group alleged.
The statement continued: “We are not surprised that Wike did not include Dr Banigo in this whole COVID-19 thing. He is afraid of his shadows.
“CPT wholeheartedly condemns this display of inferiority complex which comes at a huge cost to the health of Rivers people.
“Many of us believe that the governor may be intimidated by the credentials of his deputy and does not want anybody to challenge him.”
The group also alleged that some of the governor’s loyalists in the Rivers state House of Assembly are preparing impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor.
Furthermore, the group said with the mishandling of the COVID-19 response in the state, Governor Wike has entered into one controversy after another through the politicisation of the pandemic, instead of tackling it.
“These uncoordinated efforts could affect the battle against the infection which is said to be spreading in the state,” the group warned.
Meanwhile, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been asked to prevail on Governor Wike to proceed on mandatory isolation immediately for the next 14 days.
The call was made by a renowned scholar, Dr Uche Igwe, who accused the governor of undue politicization of the fight against COVID-19 in the state.
Dr Igwe said his advise to the NCDC was as a result of the governor’s participation in a public event where the protocols of social distancing were not adhered to.