By Ogbonna Nwuke
I was just about to have a glass of cold water to quench my thirst when someone dropped a hint Wike had explained how he fired his commissioners.
I was tempted to wave the tale bearer aside. Such tales are more normal than they are abnormal in these times. They are broadcast and rebroadcast, written and rewritten, copied and pasted everywhere.
Somehow, it is not the presence of the mass media which strive for balance in their reportage that is “at the heart” of the “tori for town.” It is the army of persons, able bodied recruits such as my companion, who without really knowing that they are victims of spin doctors and their spin machines, take tales of a political nature to all corners. They are found in bars, buses, marketplaces, chat rooms and anywhere more than two or three people are gathered.
Besides, in these austere times, I thought to myself, it simply didn’t pay to engage in idle talk. Don’t ask me why. Talk is cheap. Trouble is, there isn’t any way cheap talk can place food on the table or pay a child’s school fees!
I simply shrugged and braced up.
My companion didn’t care one bit about what was obviously my lack of interest. Didn’t care to see if I was indeed part of the conversation, And didn’t even care that I was seemingly bored.
He went on all the same and told me about Wike, how Wike had consulted PDP leaders before taking the precipitate step to fire his cabinet. He told me how he learnt from the news that Wike was even late in sacking members of his cabinet, told me how Wike said there were people who had eyes on the seats of the commissioners he dumped.
Soon the tale was over. At least, I now had the chance to think. I couldn’t stop trying to find answers to the questions that were coming from within.
Did Wike also tell stakeholders of the PDP about his intention to throw out the Commissioner of Works? Could he honestly say that stakeholders of his party were in the know before he tossed out his commissioners? When were stakeholders assembled to agree on the dissolution of the State Executive Council?
To hire and fire any of his aides is indeed the prerogative of the governor. So, the Rivers governor was not under any obligation to tell Rivers people that his colleagues in other states had theirs fired before he did.
Wike didn’t need to tell us there were people who, while his commissioners were on board, very much wanted to serve under him.
By the same token, there was no need for Wike to suggest that there were persons within the executive who very much wished to storm out of his administration.
Each time we are served a potpourri of tales, some of which turn out to be brazen lies, I hit the roof in anger The reason is, those who tell these tales think the rest of us are little kids in a kindergarten class. It is really painful.
Wike could have told “we the masses” that he made mistakes in his relationships with some of those around him and we would have believed him. We could even have had pity upon him and reflected over that quotation which says to err is human.
Wike could had invited them over for a last dinner and thanked them for their sacrifices. But Wike chose to justify his actions by claiming that well placed stakeholders were in the know of the step that he took.
By alluding without prompting that there may be those who genuinely wanted to opt out, he unwittingly admitted that all is not well around him.
Telling a lie is not a problem. The problem lies in the additional lies that would be told in order to cover up for the first.
So in Rivers State, we have heard tales about funds stolen from the treasury; and learnt of stolen cutleries and stolen airconditioners from Government House. We have similarly heard tales that funds found at the high rise Osborne Street building in Lagos belonged to an eminent son of the State.
In all of these, we all waited for credible proof as drama upon drama unfolded, and asked ernestly for convincing evidence when the Rivers State Government failed to provide verifiable facts.
What more lie do we have to listen to before enough is enough? How many more rivers do we have to cross?
As a student, my lecturers such as Professor Alfred Opubor and Professor Nwuneli taught us early communications models and theories primarily concerned with the impact of mass media messages on target audiences.
One of such theories is the theory of the hypodermic needle which studies show have been largely adopted by many propagandists and others determined to doctor behaviour in some way.
Crude as it may seem, the basic theme on which it runs simply says that when information is constantly repeated even when such information is not true, it gradually begins to have the ring of truth.
As an adult, living within the confines of Wike’s garrison, I have heard so many lies, seen many lies told; and watched men bite the bug in confusion.
But with time I have come to appreciate like others who wear my kind of shoes that the kind of lies that we have been exposed to by the Wike administration belong to the category of lies described in typical Nigerian parlance as “bobo-juice”.
We have drank so much of this kind of juice at the instance of the Wike administration that we have become drunk, dumb, shaken and stupified.
The art of governance requires craft, tact, patience, focus and determination. It requires vision, will and integrity to drive the process.
More than that, society prays all the time for the existence governments that genuinely care about the needs of the people; and governments that are kinder, gentler and humane.
Little wonder Rotimi Amaechi took a long look at events in his native State while speaking at a public lecture in Port Harcourt and ordered Wike whom he said is in the habit of telling so many lies to shut up and go to work.
Wike has to go to work, at least to salvage what is left of the honour and integrity of Rivers people.
Merely going to church and turning pulpits considered sacred into platforms for promoting falsehood and discontent is not one of the best things to do.
Politics and the church have existed side by side from time. Somehow, there has always been that thin line which attempts to separate the church from politics. And gives the church the utmost responsibility to salvage souls that are headed in the direction of hell.
Wike shouldn’t believe that because these men of God say nothing they applaud everything that comes from his lips. They are silent because they know that the race to salvation is personal.
I am not a priest and shouldn’t sound like one but the end times are here. As Christians we are encouraged to repent before it is too late so we can avoid the burning lake.
Wike really needs repentance and the time to repent is now.