By Dan Amana
Wonders shall never end in Rivers state. I have been receiving calls from some of my friends outside Rivers state trying to confirm the allegations of oil bunkering levelled against the Nigerian Army by the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike. I have tried my best to explain the position of things to my folks, but the calls won’t seize. At some point, I was ashamed of my state of origin and wondered how we deteriorated to this unenviable position.
As a first, I would heap the blame on just one man, the governor of Rivers state who has institutionalized political thuggery to such a height that if care is not taken, the state might end up in flames. Governor Nyesom Wike, a supposed lawyer, has done great harm than good to the people of Rivers state since he assumed leadership in 2015. He has demonstrated an apparent lack of policy direction in the conduct of government business. And this has manifested in the cruelty with which he has carried on since 2015.
It must be admitted that Rivers state has not witnessed the best of times under Governor Nyesom Wike. We have a youthful population that has been so disoriented and battered that they only way out of their miseries is to take to criminal behaviours to make ends meet. We are also confronted with a political class that knows nothing but how to squander public resources at the detriment of sustainable development.
Those not conversant with the workings of Rivers state would be shocked to learn that under Nyesom Wike, the level of insecurity has degenerated to a low, so much so that it seems Armageddon has befallen the state. In the years I have spent in Rivers state, I have never seen a governor so uncouth in his actions and inactions as Nyesom Wike.
As an indigene of Rivers state I had all my education in the state and I had followed the political journey of Nyesom Wike right from when he was the local government chairman of Obio Akpor local government area in 1999. In a way, Nyesom Wike is not new to me, and I wasn’t surprised with the way he has governed Rivers state since 2015.
This is also sufficing to add that while he was the local government chairman, his trademark then was the patronizing of thugs who labelled him the Chief Barrister. In those days, Nyesom Wike would instead gather youths together and engage them in a drinking competition rather than do anything meaningful for the local government as a whole.
So when the news started making the rounds that the Nigerian Army was involved in crude oil bunkering, I smiled and told close associates that the world is beginning to see the real Nyesom Wike. The governor that would do or say anything to demean you once you are not in his good books.
The accusations by Nyesom Wike against the Nigerian Army, notably the GOC of 6 Division in Port Harcourt is at best described as uncharitable and every inch acts of ungratefulness to the sacrifices the Nigerian Army has made to ensure that Rivers state is safe and secured.
I recall that a particular commentator had come on air to challenge the governor to substantiate his claims of the Nigerian Army involvement in crude oil bunkering. I also smiled because I know such a time will never come. That has been his stock in trade from time immemorial. And this much we all know and so we were not alarmed when he made the allegations. As a fact, the average Ikwerre or Okrika man would simply say the Chief Barrister is at work and wave it off with a hand.
But the question is what about members of the unsuspecting public that do not know the antecedents of the governor? What about the reputation of the GOC that has been called to question with the unsubstantiated allegations? What impression does the governor want to give to the outside world about the Nigerian Army? All of these and many more are questions we must take seriously in this ugly episode in Rivers state.
As a Rivers man, I think we owe the Nigerian Army a collective apology on behalf of the governor who has suddenly forgotten how the officers and men of the Nigerian Army have been able to restore sanity in our state that was under the verge of collapse with the activities of thugs, kidnappers, and cultists. At some point in the annals of the state, if the Nigerian Army is not present in any event, you could be assured that there would be chaos that would lead to loss of lives.
In my opinion, the major sin of the GOC of the 6 Division is that he refused to play ball for business as usual, and he put an end to their nefarious activities.
It is therefore expected that they would unleash their arsenal on him and the institution he represents. But in whose interest? In their selfish interest or in the interest of the generality of Rivers people that can now go about their normal lives without fear of harassment by political thugs, cultists, and even assassins. All of these, the Nigerian Army have been able to nip in the bud, but our dear governor as the chief security officer of the state, sees and thinks otherwise.
It is indeed a shame that our governor has decided to throw caution in the wind by accusing the same institution that has helped in a great deal in the security architecture in the state. The institution that has persevered even in the face of dire challenges to ensure that the common man and woman on the streets of Rivers state are protected.
It must be added that Nyesom Wike is governor of Rivers state today, and a time will come when he will no longer be the governor. But that is not so for the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army would always remain. The Nigerian Army is indeed bigger than Nyesom Wike, and so it would stay and as such the futile attempt at dragging the institution into the murky waters of politics is unbecoming of a governor and chief security officer of a state.
It is advised the governor should tow the path of honour and apologize for his reckless statements. The Rivers people would not allow an individual to disrupt the relative peace we enjoy in the state. The average Rivers man don’t know anywhere else as a home than Rivers. And this much Governor Nyesom Wike knows. The Nigerian Army is an institution and as such respect must be accorded it.
Amana, a public affairs commentator wrote from Rumuokoro, Port Harcourt.