Nigerian Army as Rivers’ last hope

Wonders shall never end in state. I have been receiving calls from some of my friends outside state trying to confirm the allegations of oil bunkering levelled against the Nigerian Army by the governor of state, Nyesom Wike. I have tried my best to explain the position of things to my folks, but the calls won’t cease. At some point, I was ashamed of my state of origin and wondered how we deteriorated to this unenviable position.

As a first, I would heap the blame on just one man, the governor of state who seems to have institutionalised political thuggery to such a height that if care is not taken, the state might end up in flames. Governor Wike, a supposed lawyer, has done great harm than good to the people of state since he assumed leadership in 2015. He has demonstrated an apparent lack of policy direction in the conduct of government business. And this has manifested in the cruelty with which he has carried on since 2015.

It must be admitted that state has not witnessed the best of times under Wike. We have a youthful population that has been so disoriented and battered that they only way out of their miseries is to take to criminal behaviours to make ends meet. We are also confronted with a political class that knows nothing but how to squander public resources at the detriment of sustainable development.

Those not conversant with the workings of would be shocked to learn that under Wike, the level of insecurity has degenerated to a low, so much so that it seems Armageddon has befallen the state. In the years I have spent in Rivers state, I have never seen a governor so uncouth in his actions and inactions.

I have not seen a situation where a governor encourages youths to get involved in criminality. I say this because as an indigene of I had all my education in the state and I had followed the political journey of Wike right from when he was chairman of Obio Akpor local government in 1999. Wike is not new to me, and I wasn’t surprised with the way he has governed since 2015.

This is also suffices that while he was the local government chairman, his trademark then was the alleged patronising of thugs who labelled him the Chief Barrister.

So when the news started making the rounds that the Nigerian Army was involved in crude oil bunkering, I smiled and told close associates that the world is beginning to see the real Wike. The Wike that would do or say anything to demean you once you are not in his good books.

The accusations by Wike against the Nigerian Army, notably, the GOC of 6 Division in Port Harcourt is at best uncharitable and every inch acts of ungratefulness to the sacrifices the Nigerian Army has been making to ensure that is safe and secure.

A commentator had come on air to challenge the governor to substantiate his claims of the Nigerian Army involvement in crude oil bunkering. I also smiled because I know such a time will never come with a character like Wike. That has been his stock in trade from time immemorial. So we were not alarmed when he made the allegations. As a fact, the average Ikwerre or Okrika man would simply say the Chief Barrister is at work and wave it off with a hand.

But the question is what about members of the unsuspecting public that do not know the antecedents of the governor? What about the reputation of the GOC that has been called to question with the unsubstantiated allegations? What impression does the governor want to give to the outside world about the Nigerian Army? All of these and many more are questions we must take seriously in this ugly episode in Rivers state.

As a Rivers man, I think we owe the Nigerian Army a collective apology on behalf of the governor who has suddenly forgotten how the officers and men of the Nigerian Army have been able to restore sanity in our state that was under the verge of collapse with the activities of thugs, kidnappers, and cultists. At some point in the annals of the state, if the Nigerian Army is not present in any event, you could be assured that there would be chaos that would lead to loss of lives.

It was so bad that cultists and assassins had a field day in the state. As a fact this anomaly was caused by the same thieving political elite that is now accusing the Nigerian Army of involvement in acts that they are the proponents. In my opinion, the major sin of the GOC of the 6 Division is that he refused to play ball for business as usual, and he put an end to their nefarious activities.

It is therefore expected that they would unleash their arsenal on him and the institution he represents. But in whose interest? In their selfish interest or in the interest of the generality of Rivers people that can now go about their normal lives without fear of harassment by political thugs, cultists, and even assassins. All of these, the Nigerian Army has been able to nip in the bud, but our dear governor, as the chief security officer of the state, sees and thinks otherwise.

It is indeed a shame that our governor has decided to throw caution in the wind by accusing the same institution that has helped a great deal in the security architecture in the state. The institution that has persevered even in the face of dire to ensure that the common man and woman in the streets of Rivers state are protected.

It must be added that Wike is governor of Rivers state today, and a time will come when he will no longer be the governor. But that is not so for the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army would always remain. The Nigerian Army is indeed bigger than Wike, and so it would stay and as such the futile attempt at dragging the institution into the murky waters of politics is unbecoming of a governor and chief security officer of a state.

The governor is therefore advised to toe the path of honour and apologise for his reckless statements. The Rivers people would not allow an individual to disrupt the relative peace we enjoy in the state. The average Rivers man doesn’t know anywhere else as a home than Rivers. And this much Governor Nyesom Wike knows. The Nigerian Army is an institution and as such respect must be accorded it.

Amana, a public affairs commentator, writes from Rumuokoro, Port Harcourt.

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