Rivers’ Fight against COVID-19 and Examples

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike,

Simeon Nwakaudu

I have watched very closely Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s fight against coronavirus on behalf of the people of Rivers State. It has been firm, decisive and basically in the interest of Rivers people.

This is a war against an invisible enemy. A deadly enemy that is claiming lives everyday. But one thing is clear, every decisive step taken by Governor Wike leads to an unnecessary shout from propaganda merchants. But few days later, they copy it.

Flouting Executive Order and the Ugly Attack on State Task Force

On Sunday, Wike took the decisive step of demolishing two hotels that deliberately flouted Executive Order closing down all hotels across the state. At Prudest Hotel, the wanted PDP Youth Leader and a gang of thugs, inflicted heavy injuries on Task Force members who were at the facility to stop it from operating.

Several members of the Task Force that went to enforce the Executive Order are lying critical ill at the hospital. But these mob reporters expect the Rivers State Governor to look the other way because the youth leader is a member of PDP.

The fundamental aim of closing all hotels across Rivers State is to ensure those being allowed by the security agencies to illegally enter Rivers State have nowhere to stay. These hotels for whatever reason flouted the order and did so violently.

If the Rivers State Governor had swept this matter under the carpet, what will be his moral standing when members of other political parties recklessly flout the law.
It is unfortunate that we are in an era where people write and then think later. That is the reason the entire nation was hoodwinked by horrible propaganda in 2015. The guys attacking Governor Wike are the sand proponents of this national failure.

All Stakeholders Were Involved

The strategy to check the spread of coronavirus involves all stakeholders in Rivers State. The main goal is preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Inaugurating the Rivers State COVID-19 Local Governments Task Force at the Government House, Port Harcourt on May 7, 2020, the governor charged them to identify erring hotels and beer parlours.

He said: “From tomorrow, move in. Any hotel that is operating, identify it and we will bring down the hotels.
“I have the political will. Those people who disobey, will face the consequences.”
Governor Wike said that the task-force must be decisive to ensure that coronavirus is not accommodated in Rivers State.

The governor said that the task-force must take it that they are being drafted to fight an invisible and their duty is to defend the state.
For days, Governor Wike has created awareness on the Executive Order and the consequences of flouting it. Yet, a member of the PDP would flout the order and go ahead to injure operatives of the Task Force that came to enforce a decision.

Lagos State Governor Demolished over 30 Houses During This Pandemic

On April 23, 2020, The Punch reported that the Lagos State government demolished over 40 residential buildings in the Ogba area of Lagos State amid the coronavirus lockdown.
These demolitions attracted no media attention because it happened in Lagos. Those affected cried out, but no meaningful response from the civil society. After all, it is Lagos, it has the power to do and undo.

Abuja Demolitions During Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 7, 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory demolished structures and mechanic workshops at premises in Kado Estate, in Abuja.
A few whispers were made here and there, but there was no serious protest.

Demolition of Strip Club in Abuja

In May 2019, the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) through its Department of Development Control (DDC) demolished the Caramelo Lounge, a popular strip club, for allegedly contravening the FCT land use regulations. This was disclosed by the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) Coordinator, Umar Shuaibu, while briefing newsmen on the exercise on Monday in Abuja.
The FCT regulations were respected by the media because it was drawn by the propaganda merchants of the APC.

Jigawa Demolitions

In January 2017, Jigawa State government demolished places of worship affected in a general demolition of houses. It said the demolition of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Lord’s Chosen Church in Dutse were carried out because the churches were not approved by the state government.

January 2020 Demolition of Saraki’s Residence

In January 2020, the Kwara State Government demolished the late Olusola Saraki’s home in Ilorin. Even the immediate past Senate President could not stop the demolition. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq announced the decision to revoke the late Olusola Saraki’s property owing to alleged illegality in its acquisition.
Till date the Saraki family has lost that property.

Kaduna Demolition of a Popular Beer Parlour During the Lockdown

According to the Nigerian Pilot, Kaduna State Governor, in May 2020, during the lockdown, demolished a popular beer joint located opposite command secondary school in Kaduna South local government.

Recall the 2018 demolition of a building located in the heart of Kaduna city, belonging to a leader of one of the two APC factions, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi by the state government.
In November 2019, the Kaduna State Government through KASUPA demolished about 300 houses in different communities.
The affected communities are Baban Saura, Anguwan Waziri, Karji, Tsohon Kamanz and Angwan Maigyero all located along Yakowa road.

Delta Demolishes Abraka Market

Right in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the need arose for Delta State Government to demolish Abraka Market. It demolished the market.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa threatened to deal ruthlessly on anyone caught doing business at the demolished Abraka market.
Governor Okowa was at the market last weekend. He said the market was demolished due to illegal and illicit businesses been done there as some unscrupulous elements turned it marked to criminal den.

From Lagos to Kaduna, down to Abuja and Delta State, they carried out demolitions far heavier than that of Rivers State during this coronavirus pandemic. None of the stated demolition was backed by law. There was no stakeholder engagement.
In the case of Eleme hotels demolition, it was backed by an extant law and also supported by stakeholder engagement.

It is baffling that civil society or social media advocacy in Nigeria have lost basic rules of decency and mutual respect. You talk without weighing all sides of the information.
Imagine APC’s online medium, using the title: “Our Governor has gone mad again”, simply because he enforced a law.

Governor Wike has explained the background that led to the demolition. He did this in a statewide broadcast.
He said: “We acted against the hotelier because, apart from using the facility to jeopardise the lives of our citizens in violation of the extant law, the owner audaciously unleashed thugs led by the Eleme Local Government Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party and inflicted severe injuries on our task-force members who went to enforce the law against the continued operation of the hotel.

“As we speak, nobody knows the fate of the lives of most of the victims of that brazen and deadly attack given the severity of the head injuries they sustained.”

Obaseki Demolished Kabaka Hotel

During the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Edo State Government demolished part of a hotel owned by one of Adams Oshiomhole’s loyalists, Tony Adun, popularly known as Tony Kabaka.
Governor Obaseki said no amount of blackmail would stop the state government from demolishing the hotel because it was built on government land.

A Word for Ajuri Ngelale

Presidential aide, Ajuri Ngelale, a native of Eleme, went ahead to insult Governor Wike about lockdown in Abuja and Lagos State. This is the worst form of miscalculation. If the lockdown in Lagos succeeded, why the consideration for further lockdown? Why has Ogun State gone on additional lockdown and why is the PTF considering yet another lockdown?

Where’s Dakuku Peterside?

While writing this piece, I saw a news report where Peterside was shouting himself hoarse. But this man only finds his voice when it concerns Wike. He blew Rivers opportunity at NIMASA by failing to deliver and engaging in untoward behaviour. Nobody takes him seriously any longer.

Where’s the Ban on Interstate Travel?

The fact that responsible states are working hard to stop influx of suspected cases from the North and West, shows the failure of the federal government and the security agencies. Trucks with hundreds of people drive into Rivers State from Gombe, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States without any checks from the security agencies on the roads, despite the Presidential Order. There is no security personnel courageous enough to stop them. If Governor Wike stops them, there is a media campaign against him. The very next day, the media claps for another governor for stop the same disregarding the presidential ban on interstate travel. If the federal security agencies have been doing their job, we wouldn’t have to take tougher measures.

Falana’s Ugly Vuvuzela

I hear that Femi Falana, the leading diversionary lawyer is insulting Governor Wike. Many people don’t know that Falana was one of the lawyers that Dakuku Peterside hired to upturn the mandate of Governor Wike in 2015. They lost at the Supreme Court. Those who take Falana seriously are people who don’t know that he hides under advocacy to misinterpret the law. He is only respected by the uniformed.

Do You Want Governor Wike to Go to Sleep Like Others

Men like Falana and other armchair critics survive on promoting lawlessness. They call themselves senior lawyers, but their advocacy is mainly to enjoy publicity. It is never based on the law. If it is based on the law, why would Falana insult a governor for promoting a law and punishing a violent offender.

This entire coordinated media attack has nothing to do with the demolition of two hotels. Falana and his APC goons are promoting a negative agenda. An unfortunate agenda that they have worked for since 2015. Imagine Falana in the same boat with Ralph Uwazuruike, Dakuku Peterside and others crying from the position of ignorance, simply because their extreme hatred for Governor Wike.

Wike Remains Focused to Defending Rivers People

These coordinated ignorant attacks won’t change the focus of Governor Wike. He is determined to defend Rivers State, irrespective of the sponsored attacks on his person.
Wike once said: “Therefore, while we welcome genuine criticisms directed towards strengthening our intervention measures; it is no use joining issues with uninformed critics and social media legal practitioners who, blinded and prodded by sheer politics, bias and hatred, have opted to demonised and paint our lawful and responsible actions in bad light.
“Let me assure you that the overall interest of all residents remains paramount and we shall continue to fight this virus with all the seriousness it deserves until it is defeated and the safety of everyone is secured and guaranteed.”

•Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Governor Wike