We have noticed with great dismay the unfortunate attempt by the the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, to stiffle the political space for opposition political parties in Rivers State with his recent signing into law an obnoxious Executive Order 21, which prohibits the use of public schools, built by taxpayers money of Rivers people, for political parties’ event without the prior approval of the state ministry of education (not the school authority vested with the authority to manage the facilities) and the payment of an obscene unrefundable amount of N5 Million. For a man with such a notorious aversion for civil engagements, we know that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than for the opposition parties to secure approvals from Wike’s appointees and cheerleaders.
Nothing best defines his quarrel with democratic ethos, than the recent macabre dance between him and the rubber-stamp House of Assembly, same day, wherein they claimed, in a snow of shame, to have de-recognised Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of Rivers State, an act that brought ridicule and opprobrium to the institutions of governance in Rivers State.
The de-recognition of Omehia cannot be said to be a restoration of any legality. This de-recognition arose not as a correction of any past wrong or error. It is a display of punitive arrogance which is incompatible with the Rivers State we plan to lead. No Rivers Governor should run this State as a personal property in the manifest political intolerance of Wike. Punishing Omehia for supporting the Atiku Abubakar 2023 presidential quest is politics taken to levels of unprecedented absurdity. Of course, Wike has no right protecting his breach of the laws of the land and should never be allowed to do so at the expense of any citizen. Asking Omehia by a Resolution of the State House of Assembly to refund money he was paid on account of Wike’s recognition as a former Governor is a product of poor thinking by a Governor whose notoriety for donating hundreds of millions of Naira from the State coffers in pursuit of his political interests is legendary. The APC condemns in no uncertain terms the attempt to pull a wool of accountability over Rivers eyes by a politician who is hurting over his political miscalculations and indiscretions.
We state unequivocally that Executive Order 21 is deliberate and part of the plot by the Governor to stifle competition from other political parties. It is another manifestation of his penchant to brutally crush and suppress opposition in a multiparty democracy instead of allowing citizens exercise their freedom of choice as enshrined in the Constitution. We are therefore not surprised that Wike would tow this path in his resolve to impose a lackey on Rivers State as his successor in office.
Mr Wike has consistently shown that even as a life bencher, he has no issues with abusing his powers without any regards for the law or the constitution he swore to protect. His actions bring the exalted office of the governor of Rivers State to disrepute and embarrasses our people in the commity of nations. It is highly unfortunate and disheartening that while the rest of the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership is opening up the electoral space for the free and fair participation of everybody regardless of political, religious or tribal inclinations, the despot in Rivers State is refusing to embrace change and attempting to take us back to the mud-era where only political pigs can swim.
As one who is highly ill-prepared for the office he occupies, it is understandable that he is not aware of his responsibility to uphold the law and not abuse his office, in the event that he never knew or conveniently forgot, we will want to educate him or remind him – as is appropriate, as governor of Rivers State, of his oath to not allow his personal interest, whether political or otherwise, to Influence his official conduct or decisions, and that he will be answerable to that same constitution when his garb of immunity will be taken away from him in only a few months from now. May we also remind him that under President Buhari’s Government, political parties in Rivers State will conduct their rallies peacefully and without provocation, but should he push them to the wall, he will be reminded of how he forced his way into Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in 2015.
For the records, we want to state without equivocation, that this law by the governor is not only obnoxious but the desperate acts of a coward, who is permanently at war with democracy, made with the aim of oppressing and silencing opposition parties in the state. We are therefore calling on all men of goodwill and Rivers people- wherever they may be, to condemn this tyrannical effusions of a despot with a morbid fear of life out of power.
The Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Councils in the State who have been directed by the Governor to enforce his punitive and draconian directive under Executive Order 21 are hereby put on notice that the All Progressives Congress shall campaign with our candidates across the length and breadth of Rivers State as provided under the Constitution and as prescribed by law. We will neither succumb to intimidation nor accept the presentation of a fait accompli by Executive Order 21 to political parties other than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform they and the Governor were elected in the first place. We draw the attention of those to whom it may concern that the enforcement of that Order howsoever by the Council Chairmen would amount to a brazen affront on our constitutional rights as political parties and a campaign organization. We urge them to resist the lure of exercise of power that can only result in anarchy from the resistance of the parties and candidates targeted by the obnoxious Executive Order 21.
Lastly, we want to assure Rivers people, that in 2023 we will have the opportunity to at long last, after nearly a decade in leadership wilderness, where hopelessness, joblessness and Wikedness have been the order of the day, have the opportunity to freely choose their own leader who will respect them, who understands them, who will not abuse his powers, who understands the difference between politics and governance, and who will bring them development and restore the pride and dignity of the Rivers man. That day of reckoning is fast approaching, for weeping may tarry for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.
SOGBEYE C. ELI, Esq.
Spokesman, Tonye Cole Campaign Organization.