By Christopher Egbo
I struggle to reject the version of Nigeria as an abnormal country. But certain incidents in the country have continued to insistently and adamantly push this feeling. If Nigeria were a nation structured to function like a decent country, certain coterie of politicians should never have been shot into the limelight. But I am not surprised that this is Nigeria, a country devoid of leaders; a country ruled by irrational and irresponsible rulers; a country where you have an assemblage of complacent and easily contented people.
Rivers State is one odious example. For instance, the Rivers State politics is a brand of politics that has consistently left soured taste in the mouth of all decent, enlightened and responsible citizens. In Nigeria, we celebrate wrong leaders simply because they bow to our favoured affinities so that, no matter the offensive aberrations they commit, we see them as flawless and faultless people. This is why many people in Rivers and outside the state, particularly those who are completely averse to his cantankerous posture, hold the popular view that if Nigerian politics were decent, persons like Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the governor of Rivers State, might never have been shot to fame as it stands currently.
So, it is not enough that people like that are straddling the land, but we are compelled to call them our leaders. Wike is very powerful and influential but his foray into partisan politics about two decades ago, he has remained under highly controversial circumstances. His political sagacity is typical of Nigerian political elite: use all you have to grab power and hang on there.
Is the rumour swirling that the state government allegedly provoked protests in London and engaged in other clandestine moves linked with alleged inducements ostensibly to manipulate observer mission report in the just concluded 2019 general elections in favour of the PDP true? This and some of the issues are what Nigerians should probe with a view to knowing exactly what really happened.
Members of the opposition in Rivers State believe that the state government is determined to push for a clean copy of fabricated, false and misleading report indicting the Nigerian military, INEC and everyone opposed to Governor Wike and his party, the PDP. The question is: what will the Rivers State governor, PDP and their cohorts gain by deliberately overheating the polity through outright speculation? Why is Wike hell-bent on disparaging the military at any given occasion?
Definitely, this posture is unpatriotic and far away from pursuit of peace and national interest. This is a dangerous trend and men and women of goodwill should call him to order. Had soldiers accepted the bribe from the Rivers State government during the recent elections in the state as alleged in some security circles, surely, the Nigerian Army would have been blackmailed with ‘authentic evidence’ to that effect by now. But Gen. Sarham was so smart by disappointing the state government by rejecting all forms of alleged inducements.
Apparently, sensing that it (state government) was losing the war on tainting the image of the Nigerian Army, the ruling government started another storm alleging that the governor had been marked for political assassination.
The portrait of Wike in politics is unattractive and his actions are often repulsive. But since we have misapplied the interpretation of democracy to some irrational limits, some human people are still parading and flaunting themselves as leaders of people.
What legacy is Wike leaving in politics or Rivers State? Why should the state continue to experience political thuggery, violence and killings in the name of politicking? I still recount vividly that in the build-up to the general elections, APC, the main opposition party in Rivers State lamented in several press statements about the silent elimination of its members. Now if PDP and Wike are not responsible for such criminality, should we believe APC silently eliminated its chieftains to blame PDP and the government of Wike?
We must learn to face reality and tell ourselves the truth. Wike’s prolonged battles to discredit the Nigerian Army has a history. If we remember, in the course of routine surveillance, sometime last year, soldiers of 6 Division, Nigerian Army busted an illegal militia training camp at Nonwa Gbam (NYSC Orientation Camp) in Tai Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State with claims that the camp was being funded by the state government. Is that really surprising to watchers of politics in Rivers State?
Deputy Director, Army Public Relations , Col. Aminu Iliyasu said in a statement that “The troops met over 100 recruits undergoing military-type of training.” Just imagine that massive number of trained and armed thugs are unleashed on River State, peace would have gone on permanent exile. But of course, the state government denied the report and bent the narrative.
was anybody surprised when the governor said the camp busted by soldiers in Tai was the training camp in Rivers State meant for “Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency Training programme?”. How can safety corps be given hard core military training in this volatile state and no security agency was involved? Or was any official security organization involved? It is childish and laughable to mouth that the Army or the Federal Government is after the life of a serving governor. There should be a level of decency in leadership because this type of irresponsible leadership is not sustainable in the long run. Egbo, a public affairs commentator, writes from Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt.