By: Best Agbese
As my friends from Edo-Delta would say, “person dey grow pass don’t be silly”. They went on to explain that the expression connotes the fact that maturity must set in at some point in a person’s life such that they become self regulatory and do not have to be coerced into behaving responsibly.
It however seems that Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike is unaware of this nugget of wisdom from his neighboring state. His obliviousness to this dictum reminds me of another expression that “one can take a tout out of the street but can never take the animal out of the tout”.
Wike’s outburst over what is part of a natural process of politicking therefore tended to lend credence to what has been alluded to as his antecedents as far as refinement goes.
The Rivers State Governor, apparently miffed that Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaigned in the state for the re-run election, resorted to unleashing a tirade at them as if the state is no longer part of Nigeria that others have the freedom to visit.
For Wike, election is a do-do-affair. But the consequence has left his state the Rivers of blood
My (Benue) state governor, Samuel Ortom, appeared to have particularly irked Wike and therefore got a disproportionate dose of his venom.
As far as politics goes, Wike can insult whoever he wishes to, afterall motopark touts exercise the same freedom in abusing anyone that passes through their parks to baked commercial vehicle, which includes Ortom since it is also said that once one ventures into politics the insults appropriate to one would be revealed. But to insult the Office of the Governor of Benue state is to insult the entire people of the state and that is where the line must be drawn.
For the avoidance of doubt, Benue state, like any other state in the country is grappling with the fallout of the economic recession. The situation has of course been worsened by the fact that the state is not one of those that get derivation revenue from crude oil earnings – which still accounts for something despite the price slump.
This is not factoring in the years of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) misrule that ensured that there are not much fall back options for the state in addition to the endless liabilities that were created and left for Ortom to inherit.
In the space of time he has been in office, Ortom has done what is humanly possible to clean up the mess he inherited. This includes clearing out outstanding salaries and obligations to contractors. With the continual paucity of funds and the fact that government cannot be left in suspended animation loan acquisition for financing key projects became inevitable. The realization of the enormity of what is required to bring Benue state out of the deep must have informed Ortom’s recent declaration that the state is managed by God to whom he has dedicated Benue to.
Anyone that has experienced the damage done under under PDP governments at the federal level and in several states would spread the gospel of liberation to electorates in any other part of the country where that party is still holding the populace hostage. Ortom’s presence on the APC campaign trail is therefore understandable not just in the context of his official presence but as man who has been convinced to lead the charge in setting other Nigerians free from the likes of Wike.
It is to Wike’s shame that Rivers state effectively became a battleground in the literal sense in the run-up to the 2015 general elections and has remained so till date and the re-run election had threatened to make Aleppo out of a state that was once used to describe the power of tolerance. Even the other by-elections before this witnessed sufficient militarization to question our collective commitment to the sustenance of democracy. One also wonders if it is a mere coincidence that resurgence of heavily armed militancy followed in the aftermath of those re-run elections.
Beyond elections, Wike has created an atmosphere of fear in Rivers state and has effectively muffled all the freedoms that are the true benchmark of democracy. Those that have been bold enough to be critical of his government – even on issues as basic as environmental concerns, are today six feet below ground level in various cemeteries. Thugs, cultists and militants that were once history are back in charge of the state and operate freely once they pledge allegiance to his imperial majesty, Wike.
Wike may be paying salaries, the huge allocations that still accrue to the state are compelling reason to not owe salaries. But what is happening to the balance of the revenue once recurrent expenditures are settled? The answer to that doubles as the explanation to Wike’s rabidity. He is desperate to perpetually block any possibility of genuine elections that could expose the rejection of the PDP that occurred long ago. With that rejection would come an exposure of the crimes he has perpetrated in office.
For instance, the Rivers State governor has continued the regime of perfidy that was the hallmark of the government that was sacked at the federal level. He is selling Rivers state’s assets to the madam he once declared to be his “Jesus Christ” as her reward for his electoral victory which came at the expense of the lives of many Rivers state indigenes.
He wrongly perceive that retaining political control of the state on a do or die basis is imperative to reviving the PDP as behemoth that will return “Wike’s Jesus” and her likes loot the country to extinction. If Ortom is bold enough to lead the charge against this revival of impunity then to Wike he qualifies as fair game to be abused and insulted in his official capacity.
It was one of Wike’s new errand boy in one of the many factions of PDP that destroyed Benue state and left the carcass that Ortom is now rehabilitating. He has chosen to rather be the Rivers state governor’s opposite by helping to revive Benue state and setting it on the path of recovery. This is something that a career thug cannot appreciate or come to terms with let alone allowing such prudence to be exported to a state over which he has jurisdiction.
It is instructive to note that while Ortom committed Benue state to God, to which he realized he will one day render accounts and consequently govern well, the “Mama Jesus” to whom Wike is beholden does not require piety but will rather see the poor in the state are sacrificed to their deity of sleaze. But this will not stop the truth. Ortom must continue to preach the gospel of political liberation and must not be deterred by Wike’s baying. We can’t take the animal out of Wike.
One can only sympathise with the good people of Rivers state. I’m not sure this was what they bargained for, when they voted for Wike.
Agbese is an Oil and Gas expert and contributed this piece from Coventry University, UK