19 July 2013, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – On Tuesday, July 16, four governors from the North visited Rivers State to enter solidarity with the State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, over his recent political travails. According to the national dailies that reported the event, the governors were pelted at the Port Harcourt International Airport at their arrival by a crowd of molesters. Clearly on a mission and undaunted by the unwholesome welcome given them by the protesting youths at their point of entry, they proceeded to the Government House, had a closed door meeting with the governor and issued a press statement signed by all four of them.
In their statement they claimed that they had interacted with the state government and other persons. The persons were not named and the press did not observe the meeting with the unnamed persons. However, on the grounds of these consultations, they came to the conclusions that the police had been partisan in the handling of the House of Assembly crisis; they called for the redeployment of Rivers State Commissioner Mbu and added a hilarious angle by threatening to discontinue their funding of the police!
Now let us examine the opening lines and other aspects of the statement:
“We are pleased to notice the peaceful atmosphere in town and that people in the state are going about their normal business and that the governor and government are in charge.”
The four wise men from the North came to Rivers State on a solidarity visit, then became assessors by calling the police partisan, demanding for the redeployment of a commissioner who had maintained in their words, “a peaceful atmosphere” they commended and with whose office’s armoured personnel carrier they escaped the stones of the protesters at the airport and whose views on the event at the Rivers State House of Assembly they had not sought. They made wise statements, demanding that democratic institutions be allowed to thrive for the sustainable development of the people.
We should ask the following: Did the governors discount the people of Rivers State in their reference to democratic institutions? Is there any institution in Rivers State more important than the people of Rivers State? Did they ask their colleague why he, the leader of the executive arm of government, went with soldiers to join the fighting at the House of Assembly? What democratic credentials do the meddling governors possess? The Presidency, the office of the Inspector General and the Rivers State Government have all set up panels of inquiry to investigate and report on the ugly events that took place on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly a fortnight ago and four jobless governors seek to undermine those efforts by making pronouncements without any data when investigations on the subject are still on.
Who are these four wise men from the North? Governor Sule Lamido, the governor of Jigawa State who has aspired to the presidency of Nigeria since 1979, occupied several high offices but who would tomorrow run for the Chairmanship of Goron Dutse just to stay in political office; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the governor of Kano State whose security apparatus have been undermined over and over by the operatives of Boko Haram and the many perverts in his state who have developed a queer taste for the flesh of doctors treating polio in the state; Murtala Nyarko and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the governors of Adamawa and Niger states who between them have more socio-economic and infrastructural problems than they can deal with even if they had three more terms. These men who visited Rivers State with dubious intentions feigned ignorance about the workings of Nigerian federalism when they threatened to stop funding the police. Gentlemen, in Nigeria the federal government funds the states and local councils. If you are in doubt, keep your accountants within your borders at the end of the month and the Police is a federal institution that exists thankfully without the pleasure of tyrannical state governors. Can Sule Lamido tell us how much Jigawa State contributed to the Police Fund in 2012 or indeed to the federation account?
If the governors had not pretended to care for democracy but done their politicking in view of 2015 and the state governor’s obvious political preferences, they may have gone without this and more reviews that are sure to come. They talked lavishly about democracy, ignorantly about funding the police, prematurely about the role of the police when data on the event is still being collated but they had no soothing words for the people of Rivers State who have endured an uncouth, tyrannical and immature governor for nearly six years. They were obviously unconcerned about the welfare of the people since they are standing in contest for the deployment of the people’s millions for their political misadventures come 2015. Rivers people know what they want and that is why like the good people of Egypt they do not want to wait till the next round of ballots to enter a Vote of No Confidence they can carry out now on the streets, through the House of Assembly or deploying the good offices of illustrious sons in high office.
And the era when certain sections of the country wanted others to play the role of political surrogacy is a fading history that Amaechi alone has failed to recognise because of his ill conceived ambitions. If Amaechi thinks he means more to these politicians from the North than the campaign millions with which they seek to seize power from his own region, then we need to add foolishness to the long list of his dwindling misfortunes.
The next time the four jobless governors conceive of the idea of visiting Rivers State, they should come well announced and well prepared. The Rivers people I know are definitely more ‘generous’ than the few protesters the governors met at their last visit!
*John Iyene Owubokiri is a Port Harcourt based legal practitioner and a Columnist with Sweetcrudereports.