There are quite a few in Rivers State who still believe that the people’s wrath against Governor Nyesom Wike over the many disappointments and betrayals they have seen in his administration can be whitewashed by caustic attacks on genuine leaders and stakeholders who are concerned about the present abyss of despair in their state. Robert Obioha, a notorious hatchet man and co-traveller with Wike on the lane of perfidy, is one of them.
In his usual column of escapist fantasies in The Sun, “Afara Lane”, on Friday, September 2, Obioha launched into a campaign of misinformation against Dr. Dakuku Peterside for commenting on the lies, sorrows, tears, and blood that have become the lot of Rivers State since the coming of Wike. Obioha, certainly, thought that by his many virulent words against the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the attention of the Rivers people can be diverted from their anguish under Wike.
But Obioha and others of that ilk simply dupe themselves. The people of Rivers State can no longer allow themselves to be duped by their campaign of falsehood. The people have since seen through Wike’s lies. And they are praying daily, watching and waiting for an opportunity to escape from his vicious rule. They believe that opportunity will come sooner rather than later.
But while the people hope and wait, it is time those saddled with the difficult task of whitewashing Wike learned some basic facts about their principal and the Rivers situation.
The Wike government has smashed all national records in political violence, impunity, and state-sponsored lawlessness. The ground for this anomie was prepared before he came on board. While Wike was still contesting the governorship seat on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, the whole world watched in bewilderment how he and his then principal, former President Goodluck Jonathan, deliberately dismantled the state’s security apparatus. That security architecture had been set up by the administration of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi to contain the worrisome insecurity at the time occasioned by growing militancy and agitation in the Niger Delta. It was a security establishment that had made Rivers State the envy of the country, but which Wike and Jonathan destroyed. What followed was an orgy of violence unleashed on the peace-loving people of Rivers State during the electioneering for last year’s general election.
Jonathan and Wike emboldened militants who had been roundly defeated and chased out of the state by the Amaechi government. They returned with amazing force in a reign of terror. Having received the necessary federal cover and vitality, the militants were ever ready to express them. The All Progressives Congress rallies and the party’s governorship candidate, Peterside, were their prime targets. Many innocent members of the public, mostly APC supporters and members, were killed or maimed.
Then on one fateful day in May 2013, just before preparations for the 2015 general election reached fever pitch, Rivers residents watched helplessly the bizarre sight of, apparently, procured militants and ex-militants storming Government House and bearing political statements demanding Amaechi’s resignation as governor. Among the marchers were leaders of some of the most notorious armed groups in Rivers State. They had, ostensibly, been procured by Jonathan and his newfound godson, Wike, emboldened and assigned the task of making the state ungovernable for Amaechi. Security agents in the state under the then Commander-in-Chief Jonathan watched in bewilderment as the militants and ex-militants laid siege to the seat of Amaechi’s administration. They never came to demand anything relating to the amnesty programme for ex-militants, but to oppose the sitting governor on behalf of the then incoming Wike.
That marked the return of violence to the state, a situation that residents have continued to contend with. As the saying goes, “Rain does not fall on only one man’s house.” Wike and his erstwhile principal had thought the reign of violence would disappear immediately they succeeded in getting power. They were mistaken.
After the Supreme Court awarded the governorship to him, Wike danced across Port Harcourt. It was like a dance on the graves of the many innocent residents killed during the election.
Wike has continued to act with impunity since he captured power. Under his watch, armed individuals and groups have brazenly attacked and killed many people, mainly those that hold contrary opinions.
On November 30 last year, APC members in the state were attacked by suspected PDP thugs at the Isaac Boro Park area of Port Harcourt as well as in Asari Toru, Akuku Toru, and virtually all the local government areas of the state as they participated in a memorial march, tagged Rivers Black Day, to peacefully remember the about 100 persons killed during the last general election in the state. In a curious twist, the PDP chairman in the state, Mr Felix Obuah, gave blanket exoneration to PDP members with regard to the attacks without so much as an investigation. But Obuah also gave it up for the attackers, when he condemned the APC rally as illegal, treasonable and a breach of security. Reading his lips, those who attacked the peaceful marches simply helped to deal with an “illegality.”
Currently, under Wike’s watch, hardly does a day pass without one violent incident or another in Rivers State. This is a throwback to the violent process that brought him to power, and he has been hard-pressed to deal with this peculiar insecurity. A human rights activist and prominent attorney to the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Ken Atsuete, was murdered on August 29 in Port Harcourt in very strange circumstances.
The APC lawyer’s murder came just after the August show-offs by Wike, with the hosting of the 26th All Nigerian Editors Conference and the Nigerian Bar Association’s 56th annual general conference. They were all part of a tradition of deceit, to try to impress outsiders that all is well, when everyone knows a contrary situation reigns.
As if to cap the regime of torment, teachers, pensioners, and other civil servants in the state are being owed several months’ salaries, some upwards of five months, while the governor is embarking on a spending spree to revive and appropriate the dying soul of the PDP.
These atrocities against the people of Rivers State and humanity, generally, are what “would end very soon” the regime of Wike, as Obioha rightly recognised in his article. What will bring down the reign of Wike is his seemingly sworn determination to misstep and mislead a people desperately in need of good leadership. What will end the Wike era is his penchant for using the people’s resources for the servicing his own vainglory at the expense of their welfare.
It is not the frank and innocent comments of Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
—Paul writes from Port Harcourt.