Some persons in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers State Chapter, on September 12 2016, made some radio comments that the amnesty for repentant cultists in Rivers State given by Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike of the state was a ruse. They hinged their blundering views on a lackadaisical standpoint that the governor wanted to use the boys after, for whatever reason. By this statement, one was thrown aback to think of what it pays to play deconstructive politics in the state all in the name of playing the opposition.
In the beginning, some of us in the media were against the way the governor emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) flag bearer in the twilight of the election and drew attention to that. But since the Supreme Court had canceled all our views on January 27, as regards to that and authenticated Wike as the rightful elected Governor of Rivers State, we took a bow.
So, it is a lost battle when some persons or groups rather than criticise the governor and his government being that public opinion helps in shaping government policies, have decided to throw caution to the dogs and feed the general public with statements capable of maligning the governor. And this is sinking in the public consciousness.
Many residents of the state and across the country think that Governor Wike was a ‘killer’ or dines with militants. Yet, the governor and his media team are only writing press releases to some of the events and have no strong article-writing team to tell the people that the governor was not a killer or militant, as being speculated.
If Wike was a killer, he would not have shown piety to the charlatans that caused mayhem in the Ogba-Orashi axis of Rivers State that left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the late months of last year to the middle of this year when the governor decided to show them amnesty. The amnesty by the governor has shown that the governor does not like wasting blood. If not, he had the security at his disposal to match it fire for fire and waste the once hoodlums. But the governor said no, eye for an eye combusts the world. We are not sure from where the purveyors of the statement that Wike would be using the boys given amnesty for nefarious activities. What we heard on June 24 while Wike was speaking with the National Administrative Council of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers led by its President, Mr. Igwe Achese at the Government House, Port Harcourt, was that the state government was working with germane security agencies to guarantee that Rivers State remained safe for investors.
It would have been the same persons or group calling Wike a ‘killer’ that would have written a letter to the International Criminal Court that he was killing ‘innocent agitators’ if he had used force to curtail their brainless excesses. There could not be any last option to the once worthless boys and men if not the amnesty granted them. Apart from the political imbroglio that once characterised the immediate past governor of the state with Wike, the later had always made peace as the first and last option. Yes, he had said some words in many quarters that were deemed dim-witted coming from a man of such a caliber. But situations that warranted such words were like soldiers trained not to kill people but to fire their gun when the enemy attacks.
Wike has always been a man who shows traits to peace. We could remember in 2015, while speaking when he received in audience, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh, the Presidential Adviser/Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday, November 12, Wike said the sustenance of the amnesty programme would further promote peace, stabilise the economy and generate empowerment. His words, “It is important to note that the peace we enjoy today in the Niger Delta is largely due to the Programme.” That was even given that Wike said recently that his administration would not pay cash to kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers that surrendered their weapons in the state’s amnesty programme.
It was in that meeting that the Presidential Adviser/Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh, told Wike that Rivers State had 7652 beneficiaries of the federal amnesty programme, with 4310 beneficiaries involved in skills acquisition and vocational training. Imagine what the fate of the amnesty beneficiaries and the state could have been in term of public disturbances if the federal government had used force on the once militants. In that courtesy, Wike urged the agitating labour unions to use strike as the last option. If Wike was crude as some persons wanted the world to believe, he would have told the labour that they can do their ‘worst’.
The deconstructive critics would not see that the state government and NUPENG in collaboration developed a Tankers Village at Eleme with a view to decongest the highways of trucks and most importantly, generate revenue. The governor’s option in giving the once inadequate cultists amnesty was in order, apart from some opinions that said it contravened some sections of the constitution. While the constitution was always right, the opinion holders in this direction were not apolitical. That was the reason the Commissioner for information and communication, Austin Tam-Gorge, appeared on a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt in July and said it was the incessant move by hardened criminals who had promised to lay down their arms and embrace the amnesty offer. The commissioner said they placed calls to the special adviser to the governor on Amnesty that showed the boys were tired of the dastardly acts but perhaps did not know how to get off them.
As according to the commissioner, “As soon as we have properly vetted them and go through the process of screening, there will be a rehabilitation scheme. Those who forsake their ways are going to benefit from the amnesty programme. They should know that it is not going to last forever. Those who are interested should act very fast so they can benefit. Cultists who belong to DeyBam, DeyWell or whatever from the Ahaoda area, the Etche area, the Abua-Odual and Omoku area have contacted the amnesty office already. So, they should act very fast and embrace this offer because the Governor has continually said those who engage in criminality will have no hiding place.”
We must be thankful to Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike for this initiative. In our culture, we do not use force on one, we first summon the person for a peace talk. That was what the governor had done by giving the former cultists amnesty. Any of them or other that goes back to criminality would be seen by free-thinkers as being not fair and whatever he or she sees and receives from the government would be the person’s own cup of tea. That was the reason the applaud by the state PDP on June 28th, 2016, saying that the amnesty by Wike was aimed at curbing criminality; cultism in the state would continue to be a welcomed development.
Wike’s hands of olive branch to the former street urchins to accept the amnesty should be praised than pummeled. The governor has shown that everybody should be tolerant and live with one another in peace. If the governor was not a peace-loving person, by now, many of the bodies of those given amnesty today would have been a source of manure to the crops.