In 2015 during a Governorship debate in Port Harcourt, then Candidate Nyesom Wike promised to run an open government where all citizens will have access to budget information and where transparency, accountability and due process will be the guiding principle if he is elected. Nyesom Wike has since been sworn in as governor of Rivers State. Unfortunately, none of these promises have been kept.
In response to a question on how he will institute accountability and Open Government, Nyesom Wike had this to say;
“My colleagues have enumerated certain things that will show that their governments are open or if they are elected they are going to run an open government. Yes, they talked about the issue of access to information. Let me say this clearly, in addition to all these things that they (the other candidates) think are necessary, I have said before that if a citizen of Rivers state requires information on a particular subject or a particular matter, say for example the issue (Ministry) of Works. He wants to know what happens to this or that, the only way you can show seriousness that citizens will be able to have documents that pertain to government activities, is if a citizen writes to the Ministry of Works for example and the Commissioner or Permanent Secretary responsible for that refuses to avail that citizen of that particular information, obviously as the Chief Executive- as a leader that shows that He really wants to run an open government, that Commissioner or that Permanent Secretary must be sanctioned. Because it is not enough for him to say it will be on the website. It is not everything that is on the website. Take for example you can have a budget and then put an incomplete budget on the website. Of a truth it has happened so many times. Members of the state can even tell you most governors don’t do budgets. As you ask them to see the budget of this, what you will see will not be the original budget. So giving you that is not enough. For us, we’ll make sure that every citizen that requires information of a particular subject matter, that citizen is entitled and where the particular person refuses to avail that citizen that particular information, as the Leader, as the Chief Executive, I will have to sanction that particular head of the Ministry. That in a way will give some seriousness that yes, you are committed to have an open government.
Two, our budget must be published to members of the public… Let it be truly published so that if tomorrow you can hold it against the government, signed by the Governor of the state. This is the budget of Rivers state and signed by the Governor of the state. If the budget is passed today by the House of Assembly, in the next two weeks it should be available to members of the public, not at the end of the year. Certainly not.
Thirdly, our financial accounts must be audited and published yearly, so that citizens will know that these are the financial transactions of government and compare with the budget they have at hand to see that what is in the budget is it. Does it tally with the financial transaction of government? And talk of open government, we have to involve like I said local budgeting. We call it community budgeting”.