Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, has dismissed an allegation that the Governor, Nyesom Wike, sidelined her in the ongoing management of COVID-19 in the state.
A group, Centre for Public Trust (CPT), at the weekend, accused the governor of marginalising Banigo, who is a public health expert, in all programmes and policies designed to contain the pandemic in the state.
But Banigo in a statement signed by her Head of Press, Owupele Benebo, described the position of the group as false and appealed to members of the public to ignore it.
He said the deputy governor continued to enjoy cordial and robust relationship with the governor in COVID-19 management and other programmes and policies of the state government.
He said: “We would like to state categorically, that there is no iota of truth about Governor Wike’s alleged sidelining of his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo as regards COVID-19 or indeed any Programme or Policy of the State Government.
“She has continued to enjoy a cordial and robust relationship with the amiable and gender-friendly Governor of Rivers State and the pride of Rivers State, from the inception of this administration in May, 2015 to date, so the purported sideling of his Deputy is a mere figment of the Imagination of the group”.
Benebo said the group was not comfortable that Wike and all members of his team including Banigo were committed and working to actualise the New Rivers Vision.
He said: “This is why they want to cause a rift between the governor and his deputy where there is none? They should look elsewhere. The deputy governor is a public health physician, but it is very uncharitable to insinuate that Wike would be jealous of his deputy, when he has very impressive credentials himself.
“The governor is a legal luminary and a Life Bencher, a two-time Chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government Area, a former Chief of Staff Government House, a former Minister of State Education, former Supervisory Minister of Education and a second term Governor of Rivers State.
“COVID- 19 is real and it has claimed many lives across the globe. Governor Wike has continued to demonstrate leadership in the country in the fight against COVID 19, which has been emulated by other states of the Federation and the Federal Government.
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“These upheavals about Governor Wike and his deputy concerning COVID 19 is absolutely unnecessary, because the governor himself cleared the air in a Live Television Programme that his deputy has been contributing her quota in the quest to stem the COVID 19 onslaught or do they want the governor to take the back seat in this war?
“We are in a state of war with an unseen enemy, COVID-19, instead of the purported Centre for Public Trust to join forces with Governor Wike and his team to reduce the prevalence rate of the killer virus in our state they are playing politics.
“Our advice to them is simple, do not cry more than the bereaved and please do not try to be more Catholic than the Pope. Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo is fine and is totally committed and loyal to the governor in his quest to protect the Rivers People against COVID 19, his strategy is working. Do not distract him”.