The controversial Rivers state local government elections may have come and gone but some events leading up to the Saturday polls bring to the fore one consistent feature of the politics of chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike since 2015.
Governor Nyesom Wike has spent a huge chunk of his media exposure in the last three years as the chief executive of Rivers State pointing fingers, dispensing blames and raising allegations that have hardly been verified. Before the dust could settle from the last salvo fired at the Rivers Commander of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) could settle down, Governor Wike put the ongoing anniversary of his three years in office on pause for a state broadcast that was nothing more like a hate-filled political vendetta.
As a major contribution to the democratic experience, the government of Rivers state has in its almost four years in office gained a dominant presence in the media space by hurling unsubstantiated personal attacks on opposition leaders, security agencies, INEC and any other actor that has been earmarked an enemy by no other than the executive governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
This penchant for the deliberate spread of negative information about perceived enemies on selected platforms like churches clearly shows the rapidly disappearing moral standards in the political interactions of Rivers state. Following recent events, those who believe that morality has been banished from the political language of the state maynot be far from the truth.
In fact, politics appears to have gone beyond winning elections. Even after employing every available means to achieve victory without hesitation, the complete annihilation of the opposition now seems the ultimate goal.
The massive use of financial resources to manipulate and bend the minds of voters through deceitful management of media and spread of fake news for the sake of garnering electoral benefits has increased in manifold abd is fast becoming the norm.
Governor Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party in the state often accuse members of the opposition All Progressives Congress of “de-marketing the state and scaring away investors” but the tone and tenor of his constantly confrontational speeches appear to be doing more harm.
Governor Wike has been caught many times promoting ethnic and religious divisions in his many ‘we versus they’ narratives designed to consolidate his own vote bank. On several occasions and possibly to influence the mostly Christian voters of the srtate he has openly implied that his immediate predecessor is colluding with people from other parts of the country to transfer the wealth of the state to the North.
Making fear, hatred and resentment a psychological weapon and the legal tender of politics in the state has raised the level of political anxiety. As a political dividend, it may appear to consolidate the support base of those who successfully apply these obnoxious methods, yet the obvious remains that it has also continued to widened the divisions in the state to an all-time high.
AN ALARMIST BROADCAST UNBECOMING OF A GOVERNOR
Two days before the June 16 local government elections, many Rivers people had tuned in to listen to a preannounced radio broadcast hoping to hear their governor address vital issues confronting the state, or at least encourage people to turn up en masse to vote for their preferred candidates in the forthcoming council polls, little did they know that the expected state broadcast was nothing more than an amplified attack on the opposition from an increasingly pugnacious governor.
Governor Wike in his statewide broadcast alleged that the state government had intelligence report that a faction of All Progressives Congress, APC, was arming political thugs to disrupt local government elections taking place tomorrow in the state.
According to Wike, the “APC faction” planned to disrupt the elections in Abua/Odual, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Degema, Emohua, Ikwerre, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Opobo and Tai local government areas.
“The arrowheads of this satanic plot are recruiting and arming political thugs with guns to be deployed on the eve of the election to create an atmosphere of insecurity in these and other local government areas and scare voters to shun the polling stations”, he claimed.
“In the light of these dangerous threats from these people, therefore, I wish to call on the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police to live up to their primary responsibility of providing adequate security for the election and deal decisively with those who may attempt to disturb the peace, order and security of the State before, during and after the election.”
Surprisingly, the All Progressives Congress which the governor had accused its members of plotting mayhem for the elections had stated clearly on many fora that it was not participating in the forthcoming elections hence had no interest in its conduct.
The new state chairman of the APC in Rivers state, Hon Ojukaye Flag Amachree while reiterating an earlier position held by his immediate predecessor described the elections as illegal and declared in a statement released a day before Governor Wike’s state broadcast that his party will not participate because “the aftermath will be prejudicial, null and void”.
He said “We stand by the election conducted on May 2015 by the RSIEC which our party candidates won overwhelmingly. Since the matter is still pending at both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal on the illegal removal of the duly elected chairmen, we will not be participating in any other local government election until the matter is decided by the courts”.
On the allegations of plans by his party to disrupt the Saturday elections Ojukaye said “it’s either some persons are scamming the governor or its one of those his lies he likes throwing around”.
Even if there was any iota of truth in the allegations raised in the Thursday Broadcast, many commentators are of the view that given the tone of the address, the chairman of the PDP or any other official of the party should have signed and delivered it as it sounded more like the bickering of a political party than the statement of the governor of the entire state.
It is not yet clear what could have prompted Governor Wike to release these unverified but weighty allegations against the APC even though the party has said it is not interested in the polls, however, it should not be ruled out that this may be another false flag designed to achieve some political goals. False flags have been used by individuals and state actors to create the appearance of a particular party, group or nation as being responsible for some activity disguising the actual source of responsibility.
What has stunned residents of the state now is not the blatant accusation that the APC which has made it open that it was not interested in the conduct and outcome of the elections was also planning to disrupt it, it is the declaration by Wike after the conclusion of the polls, that the elections were peaceful, but that it was only peaceful because the APC did not participate!!!
For the sake of scoring political goals
Watchers of the political happenings around Rivers state know that throwing accusations at perceived enemies and selected actors each time an election draws near has become habitual of the state’s number one man.
In the build up to the December 10, 2016 rerun of parliamentary elections in the state Wike had during his outing at Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area claimed that the state government was in possession of audio-visual footage of alleged plot to rig the rerun. He accused the Commissioner of Police, Francis Odesanya of involvement in the alleged plot with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The Rivers State Police Command challenged the state governor, Nyesom Wike to prove “his latest” allegation about plots to rig the rerun legislative elections in parts of the state by making public the purported video. Till date, the said video is nowhere to be found.
On a Church pulpit, Wike accuses FG of plans to assassinate him
Governor Wike knows the potency of religion in the politics of Nigeria so many at times he chooses the church pulpit to bring the reputation of his opponents to disrepute or probably seek sympathy from church folks.
On Sunday May 20th this year, Wike took advantage of the third year anniversary thanksgiving service of the Wike administration at Living Faith Church in D-Line, Port Harcourt to accuse APC led Federal Government of plotting to assassinate him in a crowd and claim accidental discharge.
He said: “Intelligence report available to us as at this morning indicate that they are plotting to assassinate me in a crowd and claim it was accidental discharge “.
Responding, Rivers APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, said: “The governor is doing what he knows best, that is to raise baseless allegations whenever he is up to some mischief. “Whenever he is up to some mischief, he raises wild allegations in another direction to divert attention from whatever sinister thing he is about to do until he finishes with it in the hope that people will not follow up. That is exactly what informs this statement being credited to him now.”
Without End, Wike Accuses FG of Plans to Frame Him up
In April this year,Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, through his Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu raised the alarm over a plot by the federal government and her agents to frame him up by planting illegal items on him in any of his trips outside the shores of Nigeria, and have him quizzed and embarrassed by foreign security agencies.
The statement held that “My investigation reveals that the federal government using her security agencies is planning to set me up anytime I am travelling outside the country. They plan to organize security to storm the hotel I am staying and say they found xyz cash in my possession; after which they would say I was arrested for currency trafficking or whatever offences outside the country.
Dismissing Wike’s claim, the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Wike was abusing his power of immunity, but added that the governor was entitled to his personal opinion. He said: “One of the beauties of being a governor is that you enjoy immunity from prosecution and arrest. Because, I remember a couple of years ago, when I made similar allegations, I was invited to Force Headquarters.”
Not done with the string off accusations, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, again told whoever cared to listen that that the Federal Government is still plotting to frame him up. He accused the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government of contacting a Lebanese, who has been directed to claim that he received money from him (governor) to procure arms for the 2019 elections.
Wike Accuses Police IG Of Plot To Kill Him
Governor Nyesom Wike, in April this year told journalists in Port Harcourt that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, is after his life. He alleged that the IGP had directed his crack team to invade his home in Asokoro, Abuja supposedly acting on information from a whistle-blower.
He said “I want to reiterate, the Inspector-General of Police is after my life,”. Wike claimed the planned raid was aimed at planting firearms, cash and other incriminating exhibits in his Abuja home, claims the police have denied.
He said, “All attempts are being made so that they will go and plant either AK-47 or $1m in the governor’s house. They can even plant costly wristwatches as a propaganda tool. The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, told newsmen that the governor’s story was far from truth. He said the police never plants incriminating materials in the house of anybody.
All of this happened during the height of the whistle blower policy when it became rife that an unnamed individual had alerted the security of some incriminating materials inside the governor’s Abuja residence.
Only recently, the State’s APC Chairman, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, alleged that the reason why the governor is apprehensive about the search of his Abuja home by the police or EFCC is because he has stashed away the state’s allocation in his Abuja while only spending local government allocations to run the state. The Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Governor, Engr Chukwuemeka Woke responded by saying that that ‘Rivers people’ would resist any attempt by agents of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to invade the Abuja residence of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Osborne Towers: Wike turning a serious matter into a circus show-Dakuku
When in April last year, the federal government’s whistle blower policy led to the raid of a four-bedroom apartment on the7th floor of Osborne Towers located at 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, where a humongous find of foreign currencies and naira notes to the tune of $43.4m, £27,800 and N23.2m was uncovered, Governor Wike saw the shock which the find put on Nigerians as a ripe opportunity to further denigrate the image of his sworn enemy, Chibuike Amaechi.
All the mainstream narratives, including the one that Ambassador Ayodele Oke, the then DG of the National Intelligence Agency had said that the money belongs the government security agency tasked with overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations in Nigeria, could not deter Wike from taking advantage of this opportunity to score a major political point.
Governor Nyesom Wike added his own twist to the controversy over the real ownership of the money recovered by the EFCC. The governor said the money belonged to the Rivers state government which was part of what was stolen – and warehoused in the Ikoyi house – by his predecessor and current Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, from proceeds of sale of the state’s gas turbines to Sahara Energy.
Clearly, Wike was not interested in the money merely spinning propaganda and mudslinging, an art he has proven to have tremendous skills. On the 19th of June, 2017, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government the huge sums of money that had been found in the Osoborne towers on the 11th of April, 2017 following the failure of the Rivers State Government to file counter affidavit to back up their claims. Justice Muslim Hassan at the expiration of his interim forfeiture of the cash, following the ex-parte application from the EFCC held that “I am in complete agreement with the submission of the learned counsel for the applicant (EFCC) that the property sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and that by every standard this huge sum of money is not expected to be kept without going through a designated financial institution; more so, nobody has shown cause why the said sum should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Having regard to the foregoing, I have no other option but to grant this application as prayed.
The candidate of the Rivers state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 governorship elections, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, speaking this issue at that time said Wike was turning a serious matter into a circus show.
We Are Tired of reacting to Wike’s Accusations-APC
Blamed for being responsible for the arrest of Kenneth Kobani, the secretary to the Rivers state government, and Cyril Wite, Governor Wike’s special adviser, during the legislative rerun elections in March 2016, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has stated that it is tired of reacting to false accusations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against them.
The party said it had nothing to do with the arrest of the Secretary to the Government, Kenneth Kobani during the Rerun polls. “Why should we mastermind the arrest of Kobani? What is his political relevance? Does his position as SSG place him above the law? Are we the one that asked him to be lawless that warranted his arrest?” a statement by Dr Davies Ikanya, APC state chairman quizzed.
APC then said, “Maybe very soon they (PDP) will accuse us of planting the N40million, arms, police and army uniforms in the car of Mr. Cyril Dum Wite, Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Special Projects that led to his arrest. Look at the embarrassment and national shame that Wike and PDP have brought to Rivers for the few months they held sway in the state. Today we are looked upon as barbarians that behead and burn fellow human beings as if they are goats,” APC lamented.