The Lion of Niger Delta

The Lion of Niger Delta by Dr Paul John

It was Daniel Defoe who first observed that it is better to have a lion as the head of an army of sheep,than a sheep as the head of an army of lions. The choice of Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as the PDP governorship candidate  sent chills down the spines of other political parties in Rivers state. The lion ,they say,  is not only intrepid but also brave. Out of all the ministers that resigned their appointments in order to contest the 2015  gubernatorial elections in their respective states,only one was successful  . Even the former minister of Health who was  supported by the then incumbent governor could not even win the PDP primaries in Ebonyi state let alone running on the platform of another party.

The paradox  is that Chief Wike that survived was the one that faced the most challenging battle before,during and after the elections. As a political juggernaut ,he started building his political structure many years before the campaign for the 2015 governorship election began even when his opponents were busy attacking the then president  while their proverbial house was on fire. He started his campaign in the form of a social organisation called the Grassroot Development Initiative,GDI. As the name sounds ,he started sensitizing the people in the grassroot politics while his main opponents were busy playing to the gallery. When his  opponents realised that this political guru had won the hearts of many natives and residents of the state,they started a campaign of calumny against his candidacy.

Also ,When Chief  Wike’s  political opponents understood that Chief Wike had permeated all the political  fabrics in  the state,they simply sponsored candidates to go and pick  PDP governorship nomination  forms in order to create chaos after the PDP governorship  primaries in the state so that in the midst of the melee ,the votes in the general elections  could sway in favour of the opposition parties . In view of this,PDP in Rivers state witnessed the highest number of governorship aspirants ever since the state was created in 1967. Many of the aspirants knew their roles which were either to create chaos after the primaries or to share the votes that  ordinarily would have gone to Chief Wike,who according to some mischievous politicians ,came from the least favoured zone in the state with respect to the 2015  governorship election.

At the primaries,Wike having built a formidable political structure months before the PDP  primaries, simply won with a very wide margin. The moles among the PDP governorship aspirants,having realised their mission, ganged up against Chief Wike ,protesting here and there for the sole aim of frustrating Wike ‘s candidacy .The then ruling political party in the state issued a statement that the choice of Wike was  PDP ‘s faux pas .Everybody knew that,that statement was ironical because it was only Chief Wike,among the numerous PDP aspirants, that had the political clouts to wrest political power from the then  ruling party in the state. The moles, presenting as  PDP aspirants ,were busy protesting even at the national headquarters  of the party  ,bringing up the issue of Riverine and Upland dichotomy in the state . It was then that it dawned on the people of the state that some of the PDP governorship aspirants were really sponsored or how could one  explain the rationale behind  the gang-up when at the end of the exercise ,only  one of them would still win the primaries election  if there was  a rerun?

Why was this issue of rotation of power between the people of upland and Riverine parts of the state not come up  when Dr Peter Odili handed over to Omehia,thereafter Omehia handed over to Rotimi Amaechi due to the supreme court judgement? All these  three  successive governors  of the state were all from the so-called  upland region  .Why did they  not raise the issue then and  why must it come out when Chief Wike declared his interest? Having seen that the issue of  Upland-Riverine dichotomy in the state had failed ,the next strategy was a rumour  that Chief Wike was a member of a secret cult and that he had been initiating all his followers and supporters. At this point, it was clear that the then ruling party in the state was afraid of  the candidacy of Chief Wike .My question is,since Lagos state was in opposition to the 16 years of PDP rule at the federal level ,will it now be a ‘taboo’ for Rivers state to be in opposition to the APC led federal government ?If  yes,then where lies our democracy?

Concerning the secret cult rumour,the originators and peddlers of that rumour in the  state  were aware that our people are hyper-religious . Consider,for an instance,a former governor of Imo state lost his reelection partly  because there was a false rumour against him  then that he slapped a catholic priest. Many people accepted the rumour without verifications .One popular priest in Enugu went to the extent of singing a song about the   slapping of a fellow  priest  by the embattled governor without verifications . It was many years after the then  governor lost his reelection bid that the same priest that sang the song came out to openly apologise that the former governor never slapped any catholic priest,but then the deed was done as that unsubstantiated rumour contributed to the former governor’s failure to win his reelection . Believe you me,in other developed climes,that should have been a subject of litigation and the priest that produced such  music album would be made to foot the bills of  the damages that would be  awarded or he would  face prosecution .

In rivers state,they brought up the issue of Chief Wike being a member of a secret cult in order to score cheap political points. Meanwhile,Chief Wike had repeatedly denied the allegation and he even went on to openly say prayers like,’God,let no member of a secret cult win any election in Rivers state.’ Later the peddlers of the rumour saw that the  rumour could not have the same effect as it had in Imo state in 2011 governorship election. Another strategy was that  during the election ,they started claiming that elections did not hold in Rivers state when the same people  were captured by cameras accrediting  and  voting in their respective polling units. What a self deceit? After the elections ,the same group of politicians went on to sponsor series of injunctions,through their proxies, in  different states, seeking to stop the inauguration of Rivers state  democratically-elected governor . The irony is that some of these  politicians once  benefitted from the judiciary,but they later paid  back by destroying the  Rivers state judiciary .What an irony of life? They contributed immensely to the closure of Rivers state owned courts but after the 2015 governorship election in the state, they urgently needed the help of the same judiciary to stop a democratically elected governor. I want to thank the members of our judiciary for not allowing those that destroyed the Judiciary in the state( for their selfish reasons) to use the same  judiciary in other states  to truncate democracy in Rivers state.

Why should Chief Wike not win with a very wide margin in Rivers state? The closure of the state owned courts for almost a year,the deplorable  states of many state government-owned  roads  and non issuance of certificates of occupancy to landowners  (  especially the  non-natives of the state) and other failures of the past government were enough reasons to sway the votes in favour of Chief Wike. The way Jonathan was misled by his advisers was exactly the same way the past governor of the state was misled by his own advisers .The immediate past governor erroneously  believed that APC was going to win the governorship election in Rivers state. The truth is that people of Rivers state equally voted for change the same way Nigerians voted for change in the presidency , hence Wike was the people’s choice. The people of the state have spoken through their respective votes and for those fighting the Chief Wike led administration in the state,we say vox populum vox dei,the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Meanwhile ,we  have heard series of reports where these disgruntled  politicians boasted that they were going to reclaim the mandate at the tribunal at all costs and we are also  aware that these politicians are now closer to the corridors of power at the federal level. However,many of us still  believe in the incorruptibility of the current president. All we are saying is let the independence and impartiality of the judiciary not be compromised by these ambitious politicians .This is because ,with what is on ground in the state,Chief Nyesom Wike will win the election again even if God and his angels come down to conduct the election. Rumuigbo community is always over flooded whenever it rains due to poor drainage system which the past administration ignored . Civil servants  protested severally  and it was after the series of protests that  the former adminstration started paying them by instalments. The mind-boggling amount of money that was sunk into  that white elephant  monorail project in Port Harcourt was enough to fix many roads in Rivers state or better still revamp the intra-state railway system,decongesting the ever busy Aba and Ikwerre roads in Port Harcourt. Rumuagholu  and Rumudara-Eneka roads,among other roads in the state,are deathtraps to all road users.

Chief Wike ,as the man of the people launched the much-awaited ‘OPERATION ZERO PORTHOLES IN PORT HARCOURT ‘  during his inaugural speech at the liberation stadium ,shortly after his swearing in. As that was not enough,the same day this man of the people  moved down to Iloabuchi-Diobu  area of Port Harcourt to commission the renovation of some  deplorable roads there that had cut off the traders and residents of that part of Port Harcourt city. The new governor in the same speech went on to appoint an acting  chief judge of the state so that our judiciary could start functioning. That is one of the qualities of a lion because a good leader should know the needs of his subjects at each point in time. Many suspects  awaiting trial have been in different prisons in the state for more than a year doing nothing and  was the immediate past government  in the state  expecting  the sane people of the state to vote for continuity during the state election ?

What are the residents of Rivers state doing with a monorail when many of the state and local government owned roads are in deplorable states? Why did the former governor defy the impending court injunction ,to conduct local government elections in the state just less than a week to the end of his administration ? We are mindful of their boasts with respect to the case pending at the governorship tribunal but we still believe in the impartiality of the judiciary. This is also a reminder to the current President .  All past  Nigerian presidents had  good plans  for this  country but the problem has been  those in the corridors of power. They would ill-advise the president and when the heat was on,the president /head of state would bear the brunt of it   . Sequel to this,General Ibrahim B. Babangida once lamented that,’the politicians that caused and sponsored the annulment of June 23,1993 presidential election are still in the government of the day.’ Our current president should not allow his much-revered personality to be dragged to the mud by these  ambitious politicians around him . A line in his inaugural speech where he said,’I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody ‘, should not just be swept under the carpet like the words of a devious politician  .

The worst that can  happen in the case pending in court should be to nullify the election (which to many,there is definitely no need for that as the election reflected the choice of the majority )and call for a rerun which Chief Wike will still win ,but now with a wider margin but if the politicians ,having seen the acceptability and popularity of Chief Wike among the people of Rivers state decide to influence the judgement so that the governorship position  will be given to the opposition party without a rerun( over an election they claimed did not hold in the state),that means many people will lose confidence in our judiciary .Since the judiciary is still the hope of the common man ,I believe the wish of the people of the state will be reflected in the judgement . Good citizens of this country still believe in the sanctity and incorruptibility of the judiciary, after all PDP lost many states and cases to the opposition parties  while PDP was the ruling party at the federal level while won’t such democracy be replicated when APC is the ruling party? We all believe in the impartiality of our judiciary because the only difference between man and other animals is justice.
(To be continued)

Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt,
Rivers state

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