The Epicentres of Coro-politics: Still on Rivers State… The other side of Governor Ayade
We continue with our discussion on the political dynamics of this interesting war against oga- Coro, which we started last week. However, we have to start with some matters arising from last week’s intervention, were we mostly focused on Governor Wike’s unique coro-war strategy. There have been certain strange developments in PH in the past one week.
Most of us would remember what happened years ago, (2003+) in the days of Amaechi, when the Federal Government almost established a parallel government in River State, with Joseph Mbu, the Commissioner of Police as the alternate governor and chief enforcer. That was during the era of free-for-all war and “attempted coup” in the Rivers State House of Assembly. It got so bad that the nascent APC directed its members in the National Assembly to boycott executive bills, including the 2014 budget, until the presidency resolved the Rivers’ crisis. That was in the aftermath of the formation of nPDP, when Amaechi and 6 other rebel-governors joined the APC, were immediately celebrated as progressive change-masters, and all their sins were washed away and everything became anew( Ik Muo, From nPDP to nAPC and then what? 14/5/18). Then, Amaechi had accused Mbu of colluding with the presidency to undermine his government. This is 2020, the APC is now in power at the centre (with Amaechi as one of its stalwart) and another Mbu Scenario is rearing its ugly head
You all recall how the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, forgot that he was a federal employee and brazenly joined Wike in the onslaught against the federally empowered Caverton. At the height of the Caverton saga, the unfortunate cop became a victim of the high-wire intrigues, got redeployed to the Force Headquarters, as the provost and was replaced with Joseph Mukan. The first act of the new COMPOL was to establish a “Technical Committee to ensure the movement of agricultural products and other essential items into Rivers State”.
In effect, the FG has established a parallel Task Force in River State, where Wike is the GOC of the state taskforce. Is this history repeating itself? Is this the era of another Mbu, who proudly declared himself the “tamer of Amaechi”? It is an ironic twist of history that the first one was Joseph Mbu and this one is Joseph Mukan and that Frank Mba, the Police PRO during that period is also the current Police PRO! And our politicians have been behaving true to character. The River State caucus in the NASS (peopled by PDP), asked the President to disband this taskforce because “This development is sour and highly confrontational not only to the authorities of the Rivers State Government but to her citizens and residents. The APC, through its South-South Zonal Secretary, David Okumagba, asked the president to “carry go”, because disbanding the federal taskforce, would “plunge Rivers residents and indigenes into further economic hardship and psychological trauma!” Both parties are responding to the same matter and in the interest of the same residents and citizens! So, now, there are two task-forces in PH.
The State Task Force, directly commanded by Governor Wike himself and the Joint Task-Force, commanded by ComPol Mukan. One interesting thing is that the state and federal units are both “forces”. So, what happens when an irresistible force confronts an irremovable force? This is a federation and ideally, the federating units have their powers and limits. But Nigeria is the only centralised federation in the world where the FG is the author and finisher of everything. In this case, a state “bold-facing” for the FG is like nza the tiny bird, whom under the influence of alcohol, challenges its chi to a wrestling contest.
This is not a normal situation, even now when everything is a new-normal. Our people advise that it is better to uproot that evil tree, which, once it bears fruits, people MUST die, before it bears fruits. Our people also advice that he who wants to separate a fight should step in during the preparatory push-me-I-push -you-I think an evil tree is growing in River State, I think the two-fighting are almost past the push-push stage
Meanwhile, our people say that whenever the witch cries at night and the baby dies in the morning, it becomes necessary to count our teeth with our tongue! There is a report that EFCC is seeking to investigate some River State officials over some suspicious cash withdrawals between 2015 and 2018 and that the RVSG has reminded them of a subsisting order of perpetual injunction (lawyers go chop now!), explicitly stating that EFCC cannot probe the accounts of River State and its officials. To those of us who ate not initiated, this is a weird injunction! However, EFCC should do its job and RVSG should let it do its job but this strange injunction needs to be sorted out first.
There are other matters arising for last week’s article. The first is that the manager of the hotel, which Wike demolished recently for flouting the lockup and lockdown order has tested positive to the disease of the moment. This may or may not be true but that does not change my views on that highhanded action. Secondly, the Benue index case, our longest “serving” Coro patient, who complicated matters by refusing to cooperate with medics at Makurdi and Abuja, Susan Okpe, has been “discharged from detention”, after 58 days, almost two months in the Isolation Centre. I do not know whether a test has been carried by World Health Organisation as she demanded.
Finally, Anambra State Government, has, in consultation with Delta State, locked up the Niger Bridge to minimise the influx of “illegal immigrants” into the state. The “gates” are opened up at the periods agreed by the two governments. I do not know whether Wike consulted the Governor of Abia State before closing their inter-state boarders
Other matters: The other side of Ayade
Politics is a vehicle for acquiring power so as to serve the interest of the society. In Nigeria however, politics is a DIRTY game, in which people adopt do-or-die strategies for self enrichment and aggrandisement. At times they go beyond self to other levels of “myonisation” (my relations my town, my state, my tribe, my church, my friends). In this equation, the people, who are at the centre of the political calculus, are not even mentioned, not to think of being considered. When they mention the people, it is tokenistic, to play to the gallery or to fulfil all righteousness.
Even people who are good as individuals, get irreparably contaminated once they join the political industry. That is why most Nigerians, apart from those who have access to the crumbs, hold politicians in disdain. Last month, Ayade signed an “executive order” (that is the in-thing nowadays) on no-facemask-no- movement in Cross River state and then went ahead to distribute facemasks, gratis, to his people, saying that, “As governor…I can’t, at this difficult moment when you are asking people to stay at home, also task them to put on masks at a cost. We as a government have to find a way to reduce the burden on the people.” I noted that compassionate statement, gave it as a model to the PTF-COVID (Other Matters: KITA, by-fire-by- force and the Management of Covidity: Business Day, 7/5/20) and life went on.
Recently, (21/5/20) Ayade wept on National TV as he bemoaned the hardship which some government agents inflicted on the people through obnoxious taxation. He was so concerned that he established an anti-tax task force, made up of pastors, asking them to ensure that the poor are not taxed out of existence. He declared that it was the greatest injustice to tax people “who don’t have scholarship for their children, who struggle to have security in their small businesses and struggle to get water with their boreholes…struggle with generators and government is providing almost nothing”.
He announced that the following categories of people and businesses were tax-exempt “okada riders, taxi drivers, hotel with less than 50 rooms, small saloon owners, mama-put, people struggling to eke a living” concluding that “it is better for me as a governor to tax my brain than to tax my people”. I was touched and I am touched. I hope that this is deep-down and not for show, and that he operationalises this compassionate manifesto. Ben Ayade is a professor and I hope he makes up for the mess which some professors caused, especially those involved in electoral activities! However, when I see a Professor with PhD in Environmental Microbiology (UI), in the political arena, I lament at what the universities have lost.