Rivers State Is The Safest State In Nigeria – By Paulinus Nsirim
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 vindictivness.
One had expected that a man like Rotimi 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 Godwin 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 has 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 MichaelTom, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri kingdom, into his bitter commentary.
Of course, those who know better understand why he had to drag King Ateke Tom 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 forment another trouble again by dragging King Ateke Tom into his bitterness succede?
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.
“Under Operation Sting we have taking concrete steps to strengthen the logistics and operational capability of the civil and armed security forces. It is this spirit that has led us to come to terms with the fact that insecurity, irrespective of the level of manifestation, whether big or small, violent or otherwise, is an insidious threat to our individual and collective development and prosperity.
“This being so, it is has become rather compelling for us to bring all elements of State power, Federal, State and Local, to bear against every security threat to our State, our persons and our property, including those posed by pastoral conflicts and kidnappers, in order to create and sustain the right social environment to drive our development,” Governor Wike declared during the launch.
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 Policeswift 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 Liquified Natural Gas(NLNG) Train 7 Project could not have taken off if there is insecurity.
To buttress this point Governor Wike, in a recent Tevision 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. Infact 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 everytime 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