Wike: Of Prostitutes And Bunkerers – By Kassim Afegbua
Governor Nyesom Wike, the former Minister of state of Education who suprintended over the almajiri schools during president Goodluck Jonathan’s regime, and current Governor of Rivers state is loaded with all manner of power aphrodisiac. He captures the picture of a man who sees Rivers state as too limited for his bountiful energy, and might perhaps seek a bigger space once he finishes combing the forest of the riverine communities in search for bunkerers and their dubious collaborators. Port-harcourt has become an endangered state capital with serious environmental pollution caused by the illegal activities of these bunkerers which leaves the state to contend with soot hazard as a fallout of these unholy activities. Until this busy Governor entered the forest, no one would have known that some police officers have become collaborators and conspirators in an illicit trade with its associated hazard. Soot is the output of hydrocarbon emissions often let loose each time the flames of local refining travels through the air, polluting the environment and causing health hazards to humanity. At the sight of any house in Port-Harcourt, you are likely to see copious evidence of soot all over the buildings, polluting the very air that the inhabitants breathe in an already choked up city, which Governor Wike has been trying to open up.
Bunkering and illegal refining of crude are parts of the unwholesome activities that have ravaged the Niger-Delta for quite a long time. The operators or do I call them undertakers are so well-knitted in their chain of command that one hardly notices any trace of it at the very least. On a closer scrutiny, you are likely to be let into a cartel, undercover operation that has turned many to millionaires. It is a well oiled operation that is carried out in the forest where security personnel would not be encouraged to visit. But like Governor Wike’s adventure to the forest revealed, security officers with bloated stomachs are involved in this illegal transaction ostensibly because of the high yield it guarantees those who are perpetually involved. A Divisional Police Officer is reportedly on the run once Governor Wike’s intervention exposed the rotten underbelly of a trade that cares less about safety measures, or healthy living for the average citizens. Imagine a DPO getting involved in what he ought to prevent from happening. It tells the people out there that the country has come to a critical crossroads. While efforts were being made to ensure security to lives and property, the Police that ought to guarantee that were enmeshed in the bizarre tradition of being the real accomplices. That exactly is the crux of the matter.
I am not a fan of Governor Wike, but you can’t fault him on a number of things he has done in Rivers state. As a Governor, he has courage to interrogate issues and scenarios. He is bold and assertive. He’s outspoken and pointedly acerbic when he needs to be. He speaks truth to power at every point he feels such need. He has performed very well on account of the commissioning we see him carry out at the completion of each legacy project. The few times I have visited Port Harcourt, I saw evidence of a Governor that is very much abreast of the challenges of an urban city like Port-Harcourt. Roads that were earlier impassable have been fixed while some.of the decayed infrastructure have been rehabilitated and rebuilt. Quite a number of people see Governor Wike as “brash” and often “impolite” but what they cannot fault is his capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy. A man must have a style, and you are at liberty not to agreed with his style. Rivers state is without doubt a construction site, as he has consciously planted projects in every local government of the state. Opposition APC is almost non-existent despite the burgeoning influence of the former Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, the current Minister for Transportation. Wike has “demolished” a lot of political structures and gang up to the consternation of his opponents.
Bunkering and its associated vices have germinated for so long in most riverine oil producing states, it is only the soot foothold that has prompted the Rivers Governor to take this precipitate action to rein in the culprits in a most daring manner. His intervention again raised serious queries about our skewed federalism which gives agents of the Federal Government the leverage to commit crimes in states, almost unchecked. The Nigeria Police, Navy, Army, and Airforce personnel often lobby to be posted to most of these coastal states in what they considered as juicy posting. It is worse for the Police and the Civil Defense personnel who often allegedly part with money to effect such postings. What President Buhari ought to do to fix an ailing system and rid the region of these criminal elements, is what Governor Nyesom Wike took the bold initiative to do. The visuals I saw on social media typify the crudity of our national engagement and the lawlessness of a system that is not properly policed. Rather than prevent such crimes, police officers according to Governor Wike, have become the enablers of crimes such as the bunkering issue. This is quite sordid and utterly nauseating. All these economic predators and saboteurs would go scot-free if deliberate prosecution is not visited on them.
President Buhari, who we ought to look up to at a time of national anomie and economic dislocations, is sleeping on duty. When our strength is gone, we are supposed to draw strength from President Buhari, but he has admittedly declared his weakness and lack of strength on account of his age. President Buhari’s waning strength has not powered his adrenaline enough to be able to execute oversight function on a number of things. He swallows what they bring to him by way of report and gives pass mark to his lieutenants, even when they have not shown any sign of remarkable achievements. Wike’s style may not be embroidered with finesse and candour but the results he gets confound even the worst of his opponents. They now nicknamed him “Mr. Project” on account of his many projects he started and completed on record time. He may not be your ideal, smooth and suave talker, but he has since become a leader who gets the job done. If he hadn’t taken this step, those potbellied police officers would still have been running their police post in the forest. The other Governors of Delta, Edo, Ondo, Imo, and Bayelsa must take the bull by the horns to nip this practice in the bud. They must apply “wike-nised” approach if they ever expect to get positive result.
Dealing with bunkerers could be most daring and dangerous because it is an entrenched business that parades security officers as collaborators. The exposè by Governor Wike was just a tip of the iceberg. I am reliably informed that all other security formations also have their hands in the pile. Joint Task Force Commanders of operations Pulo Shield to Operation Delta Safe, Flag Officers commanding eastern and central naval commands often retire as billionaires because of the kickbacks they get from these illicit transactions that run into several millions. So, Governor Wike must take his security very serious because it is like exposing the nefarious trade of those who were trained officially to kill. Rather than for the Federal Government to take immediate action to arrest these economic buccaneers for being enemy of the state, the matter will soon be swept under the carpet and possibly Wike may be given a bad name in order to hang him. This government is not known to act promptly. The forensic audit of NDDC is still lingering and we may never have an NDDC Board until this government fades out.
Wike is fighting too many battles and like I often say, any man who speaks truth in politics is often seen as a lonely man. In the case of Governor Wike, he has been able to show repeatedly that he has the political will to attract positive development to Rivers state. If anything, his stand on prostitution in the state, is an indication that he wants to entrench a culture of morality. With his stance on bunkering, he has just cut the supply chain that sustains and promotes promiscuity and prostitution in the state. Prostitutes may complain, but the positive impact this bold step will bring to the state will be an eloquent testimony to the Governor’s grit. We need uncommon leaders like Wike that would do uncommon things to lead an uncommon era in the life of an uncommon country. He deserves every bit of encomium one could shower on him for taking bold steps to cure a disease that has festered for so long. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.