Eleme Indigene Condemns Wike’s Demolition of Hotels

Mary Nnah

A concerned indigene of Eleme local government area in Rivers State, Michael Osaro has frowned at Governor Ezenwo Nyeson Wike’s recent demolition of two hotels in Eleme local government area for allegedly breaching of the lockdown rules intended to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state. He described the Wike as one with no regard to both the political and traditional rulers in the domain.

In statement made available to newsmen, Osaro stated that, “To all intent and purposes, it can be argued that the executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Ezenwo Nyeson Wike CON, has no regards for the political leaders from Eleme who are working with him nor Eleme traditional rulers that claim to be his friends.”

Osaro said this was perhaps so because the so-called friends of the governor have so cheapened themselves before the governor in their pursuit for petty personal interests that they have lost value before the governor.

He stated further that if the Governor had any regards for his so-called Eleme friends, he would have used them to ascertain the true situation of things, before rushing off to demolish the hotels in Eleme thereby laying waste the investments of two Rivers sons and forcing many youths who were employed by the hotels into unemployment.

Osaro said however that this was by no means to say he supports or condones the flouting of the Governor’s order, adding, “We are all aware of the Covid-19 case in a hotel in Rumuomasi and the spread that singular case had. But a leader who has regards for his people and claims to have friends among them, would carry those friends along in some cases that would affect their people.”

Osaro was quick to add that the Eleme community do not approve of the actions of the Eleme PDP Youth Leader who allegedly mobilised some persons and fought with the members of State Covid-19 Task Force who went to monitor compliance with the Governor’s order in one of the hotels.

“The fight against this pandemic is something that needs all hands to be on deck. But the Governor’s action of demolishing the hotel is clearly a case of two wrongs not making a right. The hotel, which the Governor assumed belongs to the Eleme PDP Youth Leader, is actually an investment of an Ogoni indigene who took advantage of the position of Eleme in Nigeria’s economy to site a hotel in Alode. Neither the hotel owner nor any of the skeletal staff managing the hotel was involved in the fight that is said to have occurred in the hotel between the Youth Leader and members of the task force.”

“The Governor has already done the right thing by declaring the Youth Leader wanted and offering a #5million reward for useful information about his whereabouts. By going further to demolish the hotel, the Governor is scaring off foreign investment and investors from the state”, Osaro stated.

He averred that the Governor has more regards for and values his Ogu and Okirika friends more than his so-called Eleme friends, adding that, “If the Eleme political and traditional elites that say they are friends of the governor had any value in his eyes, he would not have demolished hotels that are source of incomes for son and daughters of Eleme.

“The truth is that Eleme leaders that claim to be friends with the governor are only interested in what that so-called friendship can do for them and them alone. That is why they are quick to invite the governor into their personal matters, but not matters that could benefit Eleme as a whole.”

Osaro stated further that, “How else can one explain the fact that the governor who has not once driven to Ekporo to see things for himself and think of how to relocate one of his constituencies to their homes, wasted no time in driving bulldozers all the way from Government House in the centre of Port Harcourt to Alode and Onne, where he demolished two hotels in Eleme land for violating his Executive Order which banned the operation of hotels in the state’s battle against Covid-19; without taking those who say they are his friends into consideration?

“Eleme occupies a vital place in Nigeria. It is the host community to so many national, state, foreign and private owned companies operating in the oil and gas sector of Nigeria’s economy; including the Onne Port and the Onne Free Zone. Hotels in the area provide necessary lodgings and accommodations for a lot of those who do business in the area. Given the abrupt nature of the Governor’s Executive Order Six, it is not unlikely that some hotels, not just the two demolished in Eleme, have guests who had previously been trapped in the state by the previous orders that shut land, air and sea access into the state. If such guests were already in the hotels before the Executive Order Six, would it be proper for the operators of the hotels to drive the guests out? Certainly not. The more logical thing would be for them to close their doors to accepting new customers.”

He stressed further that in a state where they are lamenting the spate of youth unemployment, joblessness and restiveness, the Governor demolishing those hotels shows nothing but insensitivity to the plight of the people.

“Or is the Governor suggesting that the Covid-19 pandemic will not come to an end? Certainly, it will. And when it does end, the Governor’s actions will only translate to making Eleme poorer than it already is”, he added.

Stating instances of the Governor having no regards for Eleme leaders, he noted, “Firstly, the people of Ekporo community have been chased out of their land and remained refugees in Eleme land for almost ten years now, yet not once have these so-called friends of the Governor gone to him with the plight of the people of Ekporo or sought how to get him to issue an executive order that would ensure the return of the people to their ancestral lands and maintenance of peace between them and their neighbours.”

“The people of Ekporo have since been living as refugees: their homes, schools, churches and health centre have been completely destroyed. The dead bodies of their people that died since they fled the land have been piling up in mortuaries in other parts of Eleme and Port Harcourt, because they cannot go to their land to bury them for fear of what their Ogu neighbours might do. Some of these people are sleeping in the open, in tents and make-shift huts, while the Governor sleeps comfortably in Government House”, Osaro noted.

He lamented further that while Governor Wike has completed his first tenure in office and will soon complete the first year of his second four-year tenure, not once has he seen the need to mediate between the people of Ekporo and Ogu, so that there would be peace among them and the people of Ekporo can return to their homes.

“While Ogu pursues development, Ekporo is becoming a jungle inhabited by wild beasts, yet the Governor of a state in this 21st century is not troubled by that fact.

“Secondly, the land of Okochiri is traditionally an Eleme territory. For years that land was in dispute between the people of Eleme and their Okirika neighbours. Even when an Okirika son, Chief Rufus Ada-George, was governor of the state, he did not consider annexing that land and making it part of Okirika; yet Governor Wike has gone ahead to not only make Okochiri part of Okirika, but also created a second class traditional ruler for Okochiri, thereby forever dispossessing Eleme of her territory and claims to that land against the substantive Supreme Court judgment that ruled that Okochiri up to its aquatic borders belong to Eleme.

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