By Hon. Tonye Smart Adoki
So much has been said about the statements made by the executive governor of the State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the civic reception organized in his honour recently by the apex Ikwerre socio-cultural organization – Ogbakor Ikwerre and the recent visit to him by leaders of Kalabari ethnic nationality in the state. It would however be amazing if no comments against the governor were made because it has become a norm for detractors to maliciously criticize anything that comes out of the governor without thorough rational reasoning.
Critics of the governor's statements on both occasions have occupied public discourse with the following issues:
That the governor only concentrates on Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas (being Ikwerre dominated areas) in his infrastructural provision and developmental strides.
That the governor made a mockery of other ethnic groups, particularly the Ijaws in the politics of producing the next governor of the state come 2023.
That the governor denigrated the revered stool of Amanyanabo of Kalabari.
These are just few but very critical issues raised in all the criticisms emanating from the insensitive discourses pertaining to the governor's speeches as mentioned in the public sphere. Without necessarily joining issues with the governor's critics, I wish to lead a rational consideration on the issues raised for purpose of setting the records straight.
On the issue of the governor concentrating only on Ikwerre speaking LGAs, it is important to draw attention to the fact that both Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs are inhabited by a large population of non Ikwerre indigenes and that they are both metropolitan in nature. Therefore any infrastructure provided in these areas will be enjoyed most by non Ikwerres. Anyone who visits these areas directly or indirectly will enjoy the benefits of infrastructure provided. So the reasoning of the governor providing for only his Ikwerre kinsmen is neither there nor here. Moreover, the three flyovers so talked about are strategically located and would help to ease traffic and movement of people, goods and services which will enhance economic activities for the good of the citizens.
Let me also point out that there are very laudable projects being executed by the governor in the twenty-three LGAs of the state. therefore it will be totally out of place to think that the governor only concentrates on Ikwerre speaking LGAs in his developmental strides.
On the issue of the governor making mockery of other ethnic groups, particularly the Ijaws in the politics of producing the next governor come 2023, I wish to categorically debunk all such insinuations as they are baseless and unfounded. It is worrisome to hear of such criticisms against a man who spearheaded a fight in support of an illustrious Ijaw son, Dr Goodluck Jonathan when he was president against his fellow Ikwerre brother. A fight which no Ijaw man at that time could openly lead. The same governor supported an Okrika-Ijaw man Senator George Sekibo to return to the senate as against his fellow Ikwerre kinsman, Senator Andrew Uchendu.
One of his first appointments on his assumption of office for a second term was to appoint another Kalabari-Ijaw man, Dr Tammy Danagogo as Secretary to the State Government. In spite all these, critics still dare to say the governor made mockery of the Ijaws, quite amazing. One is tempted to ask if there is anything wrong in saying that if any ethnic group desires to produce governor, must consult and work with others. Certainly not wrong to say. No one ethnic group can produce governor alone without the support of others, it is therefore very imperative to join the governor in re-echoing that times have past when parochial thoughts of “our turn” is used to canvass for support. All those who feel eminently qualified to be governor of the state should consult and seek the support of all ethnic groups and be prepared to be governor for all and not for one ethnic group.
Lastly, on the issue of denigrating the revered stool of Amanyanabo of Kalabari, I wish to sincerely appeal to His Royal Majesty, King T. J. T. Princewill, Amanyanbo of kalabari to disregard the undue blowing out of proportion the concern raised by the governor over the visit of Governor Seriaki Dickson of Bayelsa State to his majesty's domain. Governor Wike never and will never denigrate the very revered monarch as speculated. The governor in his speech only expressed concern over breach of official state protocol by his colleague whom he expects to observe state protocol. If a prominent citizen such as governor of a state is visiting, it is only but fair and proper for the chief security officer of the state (the host governor) to be accorded the simple courtesy of being informed by the visitor (if he has nothing sinister) or his hosts. This is important because should there be any security breach during the visit Governor Wike being the chief security officer of the state will be held liable. Obviously, it would cost nothing if either the palace administrators of the revered monarch or the protocol team of the visiting governor prompt the host governor before the visit, except there is something sinister which is not in public domain. Like other very revered monarchs in the state who had at one time or the other hosted such august visitors, I urge the palace administrators to live up to their responsibilities and ensure strict adherence to state protocols. Governor Wike is one man that attaches much respect to traditional rulers in the state and has demonstrated same to HRM, King T.J. T. Princewill since he assumed office as governor of the state. I therefore call on mischief makers to stop fanning the embers of discord between the governor and the very revered monarch.
Let me equally use this opportunity to urge Rivers people to shun unnecessary politicization of issues in the state as such trend will demarket the state. Rather than over-heating the polity of the state, let us all join hands to constructively position the state to an enviable height among other states in Nigeria. I also use this opportunity to call on security agencies to caution people who take delight in using abusive words when addressing the governor of the state without regard to his office. This trend if not checked would instigate crisis in the state and this we do not want again as peace and stability have come to stay.