To be fair to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers, I do not think he pretends a lot about himself. From my assessment, he appears to be rude, reckless and uncouth, but a very courageous person who doesn’t pretend or care about controversy. I intentionally didn’t want to add the word “violent”, even though many Nigerians have reasons to associate him with numerous politically motivated violence in his state. However, many of his numerous supporters seem not to have known him very well prior to last Sunday. If they knew him, they wouldn’t be expressing the kind of shock and disappointment I have seen many of them express, to the extent of publicly announcing the withdrawal of their support for him.
From my own perspective, except for a few mature individuals, who chose to support Wike out of self conviction, majority of his supporters, especially those from South East and South South were those who embraced him as an expression of their misplaced anger against former Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for supporting Buhari and for his role in defeating former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
I definitely wouldn’t blame such people, after all, many of them were diehard supporters of former Governor, Amaechi, sadly we live in a country where even the teaching of history has been terribly relegated, thus majority of them who may have forgotten or who didn’t know at all how things fell apart between Wike and Amaechi, still do not have the opportunity to refresh their minds by reading that very interesting history.
Yes, such supporters forgot or may not know about the nationally acclaimed role of Amaechi in the election of Jonathan in 2011 where Jonathan got millions of votes and won overwhelmingly in Rivers state with Amaechi as the Governor.
They forgot how the near perfect relationship between Amaechi and his brother Jonathan was destroyed because Wike played a smart one on Jonathan by instigating Mama Peace against Amaechi and got Jonathan to endorse it. Sadly, Jonathan didn’t know that his own ambition was being put on the line for Wike’s Governorship ambition.
They forgot how Mama Peace, a woman married in far away Bayelsa pushed ruthlessly to decide what should happen in her state of origin, Rivers under Amaechi, just because her husband was the President. Mama Peace insulted the then Governor, Amaechi and went to the extent of grabbing the microphone from him in a public gathering and scolded him like a pupil, because the Governor promised to demolish shanties and other illegal structures that served as safe haven for criminals in Okirika, with a firm promise to build schools there.
Many didn’t remember CP Mbu, who was at Wike’s beck and call when maximum violence was brought upon Rivers in a bid to remove Amaechi as Governor. Several impeachment moves failed, while Amaechi’s supporters were ruthlessly dealt with by the Police led by CP Mbu. It became a National disgrace as outrage greeted every episode.
It wasn’t going to abate, because Mama Peace was in charge, and having been terribly brainwashed, or if you like dribbled by Wike, it was difficult to convince her that the war against Amaechi was needless as it merely served Wike’s interest while putting Uncle Jona’s ambition in jeopardy.
Seeing himself being humiliated and rejected by those who should actually embrace him, Amaechi took a bold step of survival, leveraging his position and influence in the Governors Forum to fight for his seat and his political life.
His exit from the PDP was mission accomplished for Wike, who was determined to assert his authority and pursue his ambition which was ab initio the cause of the protracted crisis. To confirm his excitement, Wike boasted that immediately Jonathan is declared the winner in 2015, they will shut all the borders, capture Amaechi and dump him in prison. Sadly for Wike and other captors, Jonathan never returned as President.
Prior to Amaechi’s movement to APC, millions of people from the South East and South South region loved him with passion. Many loved him because of his sterling performance, especially in the area of infrastructure and his signature school projects which became a reference point, while others loved him for his ferocious and far reaching onslaught against militants and cultists in Rivers. He also enjoyed so much love, support and sympathy from millions of Nigerians who detested the injustice meted to him.
However, majority of those whose love, support, and solidarity for Amaechi were sectionally and politically motivated quickly transferred same to Wike for his support for Jonathan and consistent attack on Amaechi. Sadly, majority of these supporters couldn’t pause, ponder and ask; when and how did Amaechi suddenly become the foe? They didn’t ask themselves; what would we have done if we were in Amaechi’s shoes?
Since after the 2019 election, Amaechi appears to have faced his job as a Federal Minister, and possibly used dignified silence to score many goals against Wike.
For Wike, it has been from one problem to another. Interestingly, it’s no longer Amaechi vs Wike, rather it now appears to be Wike vs Rivers people.
The demolition of the hotel at Eleme appeared to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. His supporters knew that Amaechi hasn’t been in the picture lately, so the chances of politicising it and blaming Amaechi “the foe” was zero. Just like other Nigerians, their rage was against Wike and Wike alone.
We are good at copying policies from Europe and America the way they would suit our reckless style, yet we fail woefully to critically adopt those pro people leadership measures that would help drive those policies home in times like this
Beyond ordering a total lockdown, what were the economic policies put in place to impact on the people. What stimulus packages does Rivers have for poor citizens, who would be trapped at home as long as the pandemic lasts? Has a rich State like Rivers gathered her best brains in the field of epidemiology and other related fields and equipped them for research aimed at finding a cure or Vaccine for the disease, or is the State waiting for World Health Organisation like all of us?
Citizens, who flout government orders and good directives at a time like this should be punished, but such punishment doesn’t entail senseless deployment of naked power against vulnerable citizens. Showmanship should be disconnected from real governance, especially in times of crisis when wisdom and restraint are required most in dealing with the citizens.
I have read from the legal angle that the Executive Order that regulates the lockdown in Rivers state was made pursuant to QUARANTINE ACT, 1926 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The said act specifically provides for a fine of a certain amount of money or six months imprisonment, or both. So please where did the Governor derive his powers to demolish the hotel? Or are we saying that his Executive Order should override the Quarantine Act of the Federation?
I have also read a recent judgement that was delivered against a more organised State of Lagos which made nonsense of the Executive Order, same order which was allegedly deployed by Wike.I want to be corrected or educated specifically on the basis of what the law says.
The fact that Governor Wike is trending for the bad reasons more than any other Governor had ever trended in recent years, is enough to make the defenders of his action pause a bit. At least, it appears Wike and his men haven’t yet found the right words to defend their latest costly somersault, possibly because there was no Amaechi to blame.
It’s an incomprehensible stone age act of ignominy for anyone to believe that the extreme act of demolishing a hotel was the best action required to instil discipline in a citizen at a time like this.
Not too long ago, Wike publicly insulted and humiliated dozens of Rivers traditional rulers in their presence, some of who are old enough to be his father, sadly, those who support him didn’t see anything wrong with that.
Like Obama said some years ago while visiting Africa that “Africa requires strong Institutions, and not strong men”. Wike is wielding his powers very recklessly and needs to apply caution.
If Wike had built strong institutions in Rivers State and allowed bright Rivers sons and daughters to be in charge, he would not have the time for such repulsive drama, sadly he doesn’t know that it portends direct danger for him if he sets this obnoxious standard, because someone very mean and more brutal might occupy the seat he’s occupying today, and may decide to deploy the same naked power against him.
It’s strong Institutions that check the excesses of strong men, because strong men come and go, but institutions remain and strive to be fair to all, therefore now that there’s no Amaechi to blame for the continuous hokum going on in Rivers State, Wike should kindly listen to all these voices of reasoning across the country, especially from his supporters, who are already expressing their shock and disappointment in him.
Footballers, who once won World Footballers of the Year, later retired and became spectators, because no one remains in form forever. I hope Governor Wike ponders over his actions, knowing that he would also watch from the stand as a spectator one day.