By Eze Chukwuemeka
Having been deeply involved in the politics of Rivers State in the past fourteen years, I have had series of interactions with key political actors, gladiators and members of the leadership class and have come to be an acknowledged as a sort of authority on issues pertaining to the politics of Niger Delta region even as I appreciate God for those singular honour and opportunity given me in that regard.
I have, in the cause of this rare privilege written hundreds of articles and issued countless press statements, criticizing obvious undesirable events, preferring workable solutions to dangerous lapses and complex issues of governance, with the view to restoring sanity in the polity and for the ultimate good of the populace.
This made one Princess Ogbonnaya to declare and I quote, “Chief Eze, without fear of contradiction and fairness to your political outputs, you have become the authentic Voice of Niger Delta Politics”
While on the other hand, Dr. Lawrence Chuku, a respected academic and opinion leader from Rivers State in acknowledgement of the above facts asserted and I quote, “Chief Eze, the fact remains that what a man sows he reaps. You have been the mouthpiece and a great defender of our great party, APC. You have received several bullets both from the main opposition party and those who live in the hallucinating and pretentious world of belonging to our dear party. My father once told us that a tree does not dry the very day it was cut. At God’s own time you will reap what you have severally sown.”
Another great Leader from this wonderful State, Hon. Chisom Dike, a member of the Federal House of Representative enthusiastically stated, “Someone told me that Eze is a loose Cannon. I must confess Eze; you’ve rattled the PDP and all Amaechi enemies within and outside Rivers State. You’re really doing a good work and must be encouraged by all loyalists of Amaechi.”
While to Hon. Sokari Tom-George, “My Chief Sir, good morning.
You are just a genius, your pen is stronger than AK-47! Thanks so much and may God continue to bless you richly for all the good work you have been doing.”
What I am trying to do here is to establish the fact that I am well placed to discuss any issue pertaining to the politics of Rivers State particularly for the benefits of those living within and outside Nigeria.
Having laid the foundation above, let me state that I have watched with great amusement and displeasure the hot bandy of words between two great sons of Rivers State both of whom I hold on high esteem and have been privileged to work and collaborate with under the golden administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as Governor of Rivers State. While Governor Nyesom Wike was the Chief of State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside was the most outstanding commissioner of Works, a respected educationist and international figure.
I took time in this regard to go through what may have brought these bitter words between these two former great comrades.
But the question that may crop up particularly amongst those living outside Nigeria is “Eze are you qualified to discuss on a very sensitive issue like this” or put more succinctly, do I therefore based on all these testimonies qualify to speak on Rivers affairs?
Before attending to the above poser, let me bring in one of the most versatile Legal minds in Rivers State, Barr. Sogbeye Eli. His opinion will definitely bail me out. According to this awesome and fearless personality, “Chief Eze, Take a bow, Sir. You are General of Truth and enjoy the unusual honour only Knights of epic dedication are worthy of. Take note also that you have earned a grand presence whenever the roll shall be called of those who stood behind this political revolution to the very end.”
To those who may still feel unsatisfied with the words of Barr. Sogbeye, Dike, Princess Ogbonnaya, George and Dr. Chuku, let me therefore bring to you the words of one of the Lights of Rivers State politics and the past Ambassador of Nigeria to the Netherlands, His. Excellency, Ambassador Ngofa posited,
“Chief Eze Your impact in political discourse is unparalleled. You have distinguished yourself as an advocate of political truth and progressive values. We are extremely proud of you. My fervent wish is for God to preserve you in good health, happiness and peace of mind.”
Having solved the poser on my competence and qualification to handle this issue, let us delve into the issue proper.
The Foundation of the Latest Struggle amongst These Two Great Erstwhile Comrades
Governor Wike and Dr. Peterside, as I said were two great comrades while serving under the administration of Amaechi, but their differences came up during the gubernatorial election of 2015, where Wike was the Flag-Bearer of the PDP while Dr. Peterside was the Flag-Bearer of APC. How the two fared, the manipulations, the Supreme Court judgment pertaining to their election and how Governor Wike, veered from providing governance to creating an army of enemies among his former comrades will be dissected in succeeding paragraphs though, not the chief subject of this treatise.
The Conflict and Media Fire Works
From the facts before me, Rivers State government has elevated what seems to be an ordinary media war between Governor Nyesom Wike and his rival, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, to a full political battle for the control of the soul of Rivers State politics. All sides are digging deeper and deeper every day and no one is ready to give the other some space. Governor Wike and his media team seems to have been on holiday from the local chapter of APC until Dr. Peterside explored his right of reply to Dele Momodu’s article. His riposte sparked off the media fire.
THISDAY newspaper of 14th July captured the story thus “The road is narrow for one’s enemies. Whether this Chinese saying is more appropriate for Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State or his committed critic, Dakuku Peterside, remains to be seen. What is all too obvious at this point is that neither Wike nor Peterside is letting the other ride over their head .It has been a very interesting week starting with the publication of Ovation boss Chief Dele Momodu on his ‘Close Encounters with Gov Nyesom Wike.’ A riveting litany of observations, to be sure, but chances are that even Chief Momodu did not expect the fierce responses he got, particularly from the immediate past DG/CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside.
Brawns Vs Intellectual Guns, Who Wins?
In his rejoinder, the former NIMASA boss argued that Momodu had been deceived on all counts. He borrowed statistics from domestic and international sources to show that Wike has done less than nothing by way of commendable projects in Rivers and has only mastered the art of splashing his name on projects that former administrations almost completed. Peterside practically punctured a hole in every thumbs-up that Momodu has raised to Wike. However, even he underestimated the momentum from Wike’s camp lying in wait for him. The first person to respond to Peterside’s article, outside Dele Momodu, was Paulinus Nsirim, Rivers Commissioner for Information. He had an article of his own titled ‘Dakuku Peterside: The Tragedy of a Misguided Intellectual,’ slashing at Peterside with sharp barbs to “properly locate Dakuku Peterside within the ambit of his present hibernation and the torpor that ultimately invokes misguided hubris on his suffocating inertia.”Then came a well-known critic of Peterside, Hon. Igo Aguma and an ingrate of the first order and he let the former NIMASA boss have it. Then Wike got personally involved, dragging the coverage of NTA and AIT behind him to offload a dump of figurative spittle on Peterside. As some folks have concluded, Wike has resorted to using brawns while Peterside sticks with his intellectual guns. Who will knock the other out? Who else will join the party? “
RSG VS RS APC On Dakuku, What A Battle!!
One observer thought the media war was over, Dr Dakuku Peterside was invited to appear on a number of local radio stations to speak on national issues but rivers state government would not have any of that . The state government on Thursday 22nd July quickly issued a statement to the effect that the state chapter of APC is out to rubbish Gov Wike using Dr Peterside as arrow head.
Again Global patriots online publication captured the two different perspectives in its story captioned “ Dakuku Peterside wants to rubbish me- Wike; Because you’re running a failed government of lies- APC.” The publication presented verbatim the press releases by Rivers state government and APC’s supersonic response. The press statement by Rivers State government states inter alia; RSG Sends Alert on Orchestrated Media Campaign
Rivers State Government is aware of clandestine plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to use selected media houses in the State to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
This is as a result of the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and Sports development.
This orchestrated campaign spearheaded by a defeated and dumped governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is designed to portray the government of Governor Wike as one that is not meeting the developmental aspirations of Rivers people.
However, the uncommon transformation of the 23 Local Government Areas as witnessed during the last six years of projects commissioning and flag off shows clearly that Governor Wike is actually meeting the yearnings of the people.
The fact that Rivers people that turn out en mass at the various projects sites to heartily welcome their beloved Governor and his guests drawn from all political divides is a clear indication that Rivers people can no longer be swayed by cheap politically induced blackmail.
The truth of the matter is that the APC government that boasted that Governor Wike will not see money to pay workers’ salaries and execute projects has been humbled by the revolution in governance currently witnessed in the State.
Instead of people like Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his acolytes to eat the humble pie, they are busy looking for cheap popularity through sponsored appearances in the media.
No matter how hard these detractors push their propaganda, Governor Wike will never be distracted in executing his social contract with the people of Rivers State.
In the next few weeks, more projects that have direct bearing to the lives of Rivers people will be unveiled.
Governor Wike’s promise to continue working as if this is his first tenure and not abandon any project remains sacrosanct.
Rivers people are watching those whose stock in trade is to dance naked and pray that they continue as merchants of mischief, falsehood and baseless allegations.
The people of Rivers State love Governor Wike whose outstanding achievements in salvaging the State from the dearth of basic infrastructural development required for speedy socioeconomic transformation has received national and international applause.
Therefore, no amount of negative propaganda by the failed APC can diminish the legacy of Governor Wike in Rivers state.
Rather than launder the thoroughly battered image of the APC, such media appearances by Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his cohorts will further expose APC’s penchant for lies and deception which is now a public knowledge.
Dr. Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers State has confirmed that Governor Wike is the best Rivers State has produced.
“I have been there. And I make bold to say Governor Nyesom Wike, you are the best,” Dr. Odili said.
Dr. Odili’s comment serves as an answer to those masquerading as informed commentators with puerile and suffocating commentaries.” Paulinus Nsirim Commissioner for Information and Communications.
APC Rivers state responded almost immediately with its own statement thus “ Dakuku Peterside Interview; Why Gov Wike Is Jittery- Rvs Apc .
The attention of Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to a poorly scripted media release by the Government of Rivers State titled “ RSG sends alert on orchestrated media campaign”.
In the said press release issued under the instruction of Gov Wike , the PDP led Rivers State government alleges that APC plans to use selected media houses in the State to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The Government claims that the imaginary media campaign is as a result of “ the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and Sports development( Sic)”
Ordinarily our party would not bother to respond to the weak defence mechanism of a failed government that loathes accountability and transparency.
But, for record purposes and especially outsiders who may be gullible to the media campaign of Governor Wike and his team, which is intended to deceive Nigerians, the APC has not concocted any plan to sponsor any media campaign.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers people are well aware that Governor Wike runs a government that is out to punish and impoverish them for the benefit and sustenance of a few party lords who feed fat on our commonwealth.
Wike’s greed, maladministration, incompetence, garrulousness, hatred for accountability and lies is enough media campaign for Rivers people to reject Wike and his cult of brigands who are out to milk Rivers State dry.
The truth of the matter is that Dr Dakuku Peterside, a leading light in Rivers State, celebrated columnist and a major stakeholder in APC has been invited by different media organizations in Rivers State to X-ray state and national development issues in line with his regular weekly column that commands wide followership.
Dr Peterside, a well known national figure who has earned his place in national discourse was invited as an individual and not as representative or spokesman of the APC.
Why Wike Is Jittery About Mere Mention of Dakuku’s Name, Hon. Nwuke the RS APC Spokesperson Attempts an Answer
The question agitating the minds of Rivers people is “why is Gov Wike jittery?” It is obvious Gov Wike and the government he leads hates to be asked to account for their financial transactions .
To fully understand Wike’s fear is to appreciate that no government in the history of Rivers State has dished out so much lies as the present government has done, with a clear intent to deceive all and sundry.
Wike has embarked on building bridges that have no impact on the local economy or the welfare of the people. While Wike and a tiny clique of party lords are getting rich from the common purse, majority of Rivers people, including PDP members are being impoverished.
Rivers State Government under Governor Nyesom Wike can only boast of their record of renovation of schools and a handful of hospitals as legacy projects for a state that earned more that N2.4 Trillion in six years.
Out of a homogous sum of N2.4 trillion, it is on record that a total of N200billion was donated to unworthy causes while pensioners are being owed, workers denied their promotion and other entitlements while the state Secretariat stinks and depreciates.
Wike’s personal legacy includes buying up all the available land in Port Harcourt and forcefully recruiting young people to join his “group “. It is unfortunate that Governor Wike has taken Rivers State ten years back from where he met her.
The APC will respond at the appropriate time but for now let the government wait for the seasoned and reasoned comments of the cerebral minded Progressive, Dr Dakuku Peterside .
While the APC which is gathering statistics on the expenditure pattern of Governor remains committed to its historic mission, our take, there is absolutely no need for the Government to be consumed by imaginary illusions that are obviously making it jittery at this time. Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, wrote on behalf of Rivers APC.
Finally on the D- day Dr Peterside appeared on the radio station only for Rivers state government to pay for appearance of the state chairman of PDP immediately after Dr Peterside . The question on the lips of every one is , why is wike jittery any time Dr Dakuku is appearing on electronic media?
There are five main reasons from my investigation.
The first is that Dakuku Peterside is a man who has too much facts and always backs his assertions with data. Wike is yet to find a solution to this. The more facts Dakuku reels out the more confused Wike becomes.
The second reason is his power of delivery which persuades Rivers people to think deeply. A critical mass of citizens are building up who are asking Wike questions about how state resources are spent .
The third is that Dr Peterside is an old war horse who knows all political intrigues Wike knows and even more except that he was disadvantaged in 2015 because of vested interest of Goodluck Jonathan and the wife .
The fourth is that Dr Peterside has national network and stature that dwarfs Wike’s’ on all fronts so Nigerians are more likely to believe him and see through Wike’s many lies and deceit.
The fifth is that Dr Peterside has raised the ante of accountability and openness and Wike’s officials are beginning to rebel because they know better now about state finances that have been shrouded in secrecy all these while.
Wike without doubt is up against an uphill task. He acknowledges to his team that they are up against a formidable foe. This is obviously not a fight Wike would have wished for now but he has inadvertently foisted it on himself.
Reaction of Dr Gift Worlu and Others
According to Dr. Gift Worlu one of the most unrepentant ingrates in the politics of Rivers asserted and I quote, “Stop The Tyranny! If you want to fly the flag of APC in 2023, stop the tyranny with it. Insulting Gov. Wike as a strategy to win King Pharaoh’s heart is dead on arrival.
Think for Rivers people know better”
One other funny fellow stated and I quote, “DAP our friend wants to play smart. As if he is fighting for CRA, but wants to launder his image among faithfuls so that he can claim entitlement. Let him come out straight and demand change within the APC ; insulting Wike is a failed strategy. There must first be APC before flag bearer.”
His Royal Majesty, Chief Emma Chinda A Political Leader of Repute Came to the Aid of Dr. Dakuku
Chief Emma Chinda in exchange of ideas on Dr. Peterside and Wike imbroglio with one enfant terrible, Barr Dike Princewill highlighted thus, ” I am shocked that instead of us applauding Dr. Peterside. for taking on Governor Wike factually and brilliantly, some of us are annoyed and erroneously stating that he is promoting himself for 2023 gubernatorial ambition. This to me is very unfortunate and a demonstration of ingratitude which is becoming the hallmark of what most of us in APC exhibit these days. This is not good if we are to progress the party in Rivers State
On a serious note, how many of us in APC today can boldly criticise Governor Wike and his bad policies in the State apart from few of us?
Let me add unequivocally and unambiguously without any fear of contradiction who among us can defeat Dr. Peterside if APC decides to conduct her gubernatorial primaries today? But this is not the main issue here; the issue is that we all should emulate Dr. Peterside and defend the party and our Leader that is the only we can be taken as serious members of APC, Chief Chinda choruses.
It is not good for us to close our mouths at this period because if power depart from Amaechi come 2023 those that will still be with him will not be more than 5% while 3% will even want to stone him so it becomes imperative if we truly love Amaechi to do our best to sustain his political family and avoid the calamity that will affect us all if we lose 2023. The idea of eye service is no longer fashionable, he concluded.
My Observation and Conclusion
Apart from the position of Chief Chinda as stated above, one thing very sinister and sad that I have witnessed amongst most of our key stakeholders in this struggle is their inability or diplomacy in avoiding Wike no matter the amount of insult or abuse he throws at Amaechi and the one that provokes me the most is their strategy of discouraging those who wants to defend Amaechi so that Wike will have a field day in abusing Amaechi to his heart content while claiming to be Amaechi’s key loyalists.
Even as I am still studying this type of politics where one will keep quiet while his political Camp is been destroyed, let me in the same vein asserted that I am also aware of many of us who are ready to sacrifice their lives in defense of Amaechi and his vision. At the appropriate some of these people will be highlighted so that we can avoid this politics of hide and seek or rather Nicodemus type of politics.
As much as I don’t see anything wrong in what Dakuku is doing in defending us as a political party but to attribute his efforts to 2023 elections is not only most unfortunate but a disservice to someone who is doing his best to sustain the integrity of our political camp
I therefore commend Dr. Dakuku Peterside in this struggle and urge him not to relent or mind people like Dr. Gift Worlu whose goal in ensuring that APC doesn’t survive in Rivers State is well known.
To my great friend and brother, Chief Nyesom Wike, let me counsel you that neither I, Dr Peterside or some of us assumed to be criticising your style of governance is your enemy but what we are doing is to put you on the right track so that you will give to Rivers State and her people dividends of democracy and to write your name in gold at the end of your tenure as the Governor of Rivers State. I pray that you will see reasons in what we are doing and avoid praise singers like Dr. Worlu and Nsirim Paulinus who are confused on how to approach or advise you accordingly.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached thru: email@example.com