The recent comments by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, concerning the safety and security of Rivers State, did not come to many people as a surprise.
His penchant for bitterness propelled propaganda and anger-fuelled political rhetoric are already well known to Rivers people and discerning Rivers watchers.
What is sadly surprising, however, is the occasion he used as platform to ventilate his hate filled sardonic comments, which has left many aghast by the brazen display of this rigid, unbending, cold hearted vindictiveness.
One had expected that a man like Amaechi, who has enjoyed unmerited favour in abundance and unquantifiable goodwill in excess, irrespective of his own very limited credentials, would at least have displayed a modicum of respect in the presence of the mortal remains of a distinguished elder statesman, whom he even referred to as his mentor.
But rather than show humility and reverence, Rotimi Amaechi chose the very sombre and solemn occasion of the funeral service of late Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, to launch into an egocentric rant celebrating his regime as Governor, with disrespectful and megalomaniac impunity to the chagrin and consternation of all who had gathered to bid the great man goodbye.
The Transportation Minister, in his lamentations on what he, in his warped imagination, contrived as the rising spate of insecurity and political intimidation in Rivers State, told the gathering that: “You have lost your voice. The sage has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was Governor, I gave people voices, but they have blocked those voices. I was happy with the sermon, the Bishop indicted us. If you are a Governor, have you governed well? If you are a politician, have you carried your people along?
“Everyone is scared. We are going back to when Ateke held sway. We are going back to the period where we run away from our people. We are back to a period when nobody can speak. But from next year, I will begin to speak, if nobody wants to speak.”
Rotimi Amaechi also made other atrocious and provocative comments, like casting aspersion on the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, for the non completion of the Trans-Kalabari Road, as well as some elementary advise he received from the late renowned jurist, which even a greenhorn aspiring politician should be knowledgeable about and all these of course have elevated Justice Karibi-Whyte to the enviable status of ‘his mentor’.
It is quite unfortunate that Amaechi had to spew this verbiage at such a poignant occasion, but those who know him well, have come to understand his uncensored demagoguery, unquenchable lust for divisiveness and the sadistic pleasure he derives in the politics of blackmail and subterfuge.
However, the question to ask Rotimi Amaechi is: what exactly does he want people to say that has not already been said by his diehard attack dogs, hirelings and refuseniks, who have not given the Governor Wike administration breathing space with their worthless, totally irrelevant negative criticisms since 2015? Indeed, which voice is he accusing the great Kalabari people of losing now that the sage is gone?
Obviously, Amaechi has forgotten so soon, how he deceived, insulted and rubbished the whole Kalabari ethnic nation, by first imposing with impunity, a candidate and his crony, who is a complete outsider, in the guise of riverine Governor agitation, at the expense of tried, tested, articulate and seasoned Kalabari sons who contributed huge human and material resources to build the structure he hijacked to achieve his selfish objectives.
Recall also that when that ill fated project failed woefully, he deceitfully dredged up a complete political greenhorn and drafted him as the favoured candidate, all in the name of appeasing Kalabari people. One is compelled to ask, is that the best Amaechi can do for Kalabari people?
Or does he want the people to recall how he sent soldiers to Abonnema, the very home town of the eminent Justice Karibi Whyte that he claims to be his mentor, to slaughter innocent men, women, youths in his quest to seize power at all cost? What did the people do to him as he came to dance on the graves of those that were killed? Nothing. Yet, those who sat down in that church and listened to him excoriate Kalabari people for not speaking out, clapped for him, all in the name of mourning the departed sage. So, what does he want them to say to him now?
The wickedness of Rotimi Amaechi’s anarchist mindset was further revealed when, in very choice sentences, he dragged King Ateke Michael Tom, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri kingdom, into his bitter commentary.
Of course, those who know better understand why he had to drag King Ateke into a hate speech in Kalabari kingdom, but what Amaechi forgot was that the people of Okochiri, with one loud, united voice, came together and unanimously crowned Ateke Tom as their beloved king.
Infact, there has been complete and permanent peace in his kingdom since he was crowned king, except for one incident of external provocation, when soldiers, acting on the command of the Transportation Minister, invaded King Ateke’s palace in the run up to the 2019 elections.
The calculation was to provoke reprisal attacks but wisdom reigned supreme and that evil was defeated and averted. So, will Amaechi’s attempt to foment another trouble again by dragging King Ateke Tom into his bitterness succeed?
The answer is a resounding No, because his dubious intention of invoking the name of King Ateke Tom in Kalabari land is not lost on anybody and the people are not at all fooled for one minute by this latest foul mouthed loquaciousness.
Rivers people, including the Kalabaris, are wiser now and have long passed that stage and nobody, especially Rotimi Amaechi, will drag them back there again for his selfish ambition.
Again, Rotimi Amaechi went to Kalabari land and told the people that President Goodluck Jonathan, who he shamelessly claimed to have reconciled with, refused to give him approval to construct the Emohua/Abonnema Road but he dualised the Airport/Elele/Omerelu which is a federal road project and the people are not talking.
Or maybe, what they should be talking is how come Rotimi Amaechi is getting billions of naira and dollars from China to do railway projects all over the country and even to Niger Republic, except in Rivers State, yet he cannot do anything for Kalabari people, if only to honour his “mentor”, Justice Karibi Whyte?
Talking about security, one must make the incontrovertible point that in Nigeria today, unlike Amaechi’s own imagination, Rivers State is arguably the safest State in the country at this present time and the reason is quite simple.
Governor Nyesom Wike embraced the security challenge frontally and deployed a proactive, effective, functional and pragmatic security strategy, accommodating all security agencies in a symbiotic synergy that completely rejigged the security architecture in the State.
At the commencement of his second term, Governor Wike initiated a comprehensive security platform to address the security challenges facing different parts of the State. This was a product of careful planning and implementation and on Friday, 26th July, 2019, right in the presence of all key stakeholders at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, he launched a new Rivers State Security outfit code-named Operation Sting.
Operation Sting is an outfit that involves all the security agencies, working in unison to address security concerns in all parts of the state. It is fully funded by the Rivers State Government with the aim of tackling criminal elements, the sources and drivers of insecurity in their diverse criminal manifestations and operations and to nip them in their buds, rout and root them out of existence and reduce crime and criminality in all parts of the state.
To ensure that the new security outfit responded effectively across the state, the administration provided the right logistics and equipment in patrol/operational vehicles fitted with communication gadgets; armoured fitted gunboats, to tighten coastal security and protect the waterways from the activities of criminals; Armoured Personnel Carriers for Police swift responses actions as well as; hand-held mobile radios to enhance communication among the security operatives and overcome the current wide gaps in intelligence gathering.
Operation Sting has functional and operational bases established in all the 23 Local Government Areas to strengthen the command and control structures of the initiative and ensure effective coordination and synergy between the State Headquarters, the Local Government Areas and the communities to achieve the common objective of providing comprehensive security cover for the State.
In addition, the operationalization of Operation Sting across the State has also increased citizens’ awareness and made the public to be more alive to the dangers of insecurity and their responsibility to be part of the present crusade to stamp this menace from the state and in appreciation of the officers and men who will participate in the new security architecture, the State Government set up a fund to cater for their families, in the event of any mishap in the course of service.
The result of this has manifested in the excellent collective intelligence gathering that has led recently to the smoking out and capture of some of the most dreaded criminal elements terrorizing the state over the years. Some were even apprehended outside Rivers State for the simple reason that the Wike administration has made the state too hot for criminals to operate or even hide out. This has made Rivers State arguably the safest state in the country today.
The Next Supermarket, the biggest in West Africa, Turkish Airline, Ethiopian Airline, Greenville Energy Company and Stockgap Nigeria Limited are new businesses thriving under this administration. In fact, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 Project could not have taken off if there is insecurity.
To buttress this point Governor Wike, in a recent Television interview said: “Rivers State is safer than any other State. See what is happening in Borno, Kaduna and Plateau States where bandits have taken over their areas. When Amaechi was Governor, Julius Berger Nigeria PLC was chased away because of insecurity. But they are here now, constructing roads all over the State without fear.
“The heads of security agencies that Amaechi influences their postings, come here and see the reality on ground.”
So, the Transportation Minister, having nothing better to say, than to instigate people with his provocative comments, has confessed that he will start talking from next year, if nobody wants to talk from now till then. But sadly for him, Rivers people are now wiser and nobody is afraid of talking because many people have come to the realization that when they talk, the Governor listens and makes sure he delivers what the people want.
Governor Wike is not only delivering good governance, he is also fulfilling all the promises he made to Rivers people. And that is why, when he also talks, the people listen and comply, as they demonstrated commendably during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
This, of course, is a far cry from what obtained in the previous administration where, when the Judges talked the courts were shut down for two years, when lecturers spoke, they were suspended. In fact, anybody who raised a voice of dissent was either clamped down by the dictator or denied the dividends of democracy.
The fact remains that Amaechi is the singular most divisive political figure in Rivers State today and the feeling, even amongst his own supporters, is that he is only deceiving himself, if he believes he will continue to behave like a dictator and an unpopular godfather, whose word must be obeyed always, in the political space of Rivers State.
Rivers people have proved to him that they are not afraid to talk and they have spoken loudly and clearly every time it mattered most, especially in 2015 and 2019. Rivers people are talking and Governor Wike is a listening Governor, who hears what they are saying and is responding to their voices with the commitment and dedication of a leader who has the interest of his people at heart.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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