Without doubt, Nigerian politicians are a rare breed, whose antics have over time stopped surprising the people who voted them into the different positions of power and authority they occupy.
In a display that has come to be regarded by many as a new trend among political figures in the country, they have resorted to engage each other in banters and make-believe quarrels, which in some cases have turned ugly, and petty.
From the state to federal level, politicians have deviated from the usual constructive criticisms characteristic among ruling and opposition figures, and seemingly delved into the mundane.
Many Nigerians however are of the view that the new antics are a ploy adopted to distract from the absence of good governance among the Nigerian ruling class which has been criticised over the years.
This trend was taken to another level recently by the Governor of River State, Nyesome Wike when he took on his counterpart from Benue State, in what has been described by many as a misplaced priority.
Wike without provocation took on his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, when he (Wike) called for the declaration of a state of emergency in Benue State over incessant killings in the state, a situation that has become a national concern, due to the menace of marauding suspected Fulani herdsmen, in different parts of the country.
Wike argued that Governor Ortom has lost control of his state, making immediate declaration of state of emergency in the state necessary, in order to restore security and protect the lives of the people.
His grouse was that Ortom was among people who allegedly plotted for state of emergency in Rivers State when it had security issues.
According to Wike, “Benue governor has lost control. That is why there is an immediate need to declare a state of emergency for the restoration of security and protection of the people.
He stated, “If you are from Benue State, I apologise. But when Rivers State had security challenges, Governor Ortom of Benue State was among the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, who plotted the declaration of a state of emergency in the state (Rivers).
“When the problem of insecurity started here in Rivers State, instead of joining hands to proffer solutions, they politicised it”.
Wike’s outburst sparked off a trail of banters between both men, with Otom referring to Wike as an ‘idle’ governor who is poking his nose into the affairs of other states. He also wondered why Wike should be so concerned with Benue when, in fact there were more killings in Rivers than there were in Benue.
He said, “Wike’s recent interest in affairs of other states, including Benue, is a clear manifestation of an idle governor and an indication that, unlike his counterpart in Benue, Wike has so much time to distract busy governors of other states.”
After the initial attacks, Wike in another interview called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Ortom over what he did with the N12.7billion Paris Club refund to his state (Benue) in December last year.
Not done, Wike went a step further to show his love for the people of Benue by declaring that the Rivers state government would spend N4 billion to construct two roads in Benue State.
Wike based his gesture on an assumption that Benue people are suffering “because they don’t have dividends of democracy.”
Wike said it was because of this, and respect as well as value he has for elder statesmen from the state that he has elected to reconstruct Makurdi-Naka-Adoka road and Aliade-Oju-Obarike-Ito-Otukpo road in Benue State.
According to him, the contracts would cost him N4 billion, revealing that the roads’ “bill of quantity” had already been issued.
No doubt, the gesture drew widespread criticisms from many Nigerians who felt Wike was obviously misusing the resources of Rivers in an ego quest of misplaced priorities, even as many wondered the basis of such a move, given the many bad roads in his own state.
Chris Finebone, State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Rivers State described the gesture as a circus show, “wrapped around a tragic sense of comedy” not different from his lifestyle, as he (Wike) “thinks life is in itself a fatal joke”.
Finebone who tendered an apology to Ortom and the people of Benue state said, “Ordinarily, any reasonable person will think it is a joke gone awry, but by believing it is a huge joke is simply to be undeservedly charitable to him. He is serious in some inexplicable tragic sense and only God can help Rivers people”.
He further lamented that “Every day, concerned Rivers people pray and ask for forgiveness from God in case the Almighty afflicted us with Wike due to our past sins. All we can do now is to apologise to Gov Ortom and the good people of Benue State for the unmerited insult Gov. Nyesom Wike has poured on them. At least, that is the little we can do”.
A good number of people, especially residents of Rivers State, who spoke on the issue of Governor Wike committing to spend N4 billion to reconstruct roads in Benue state argued that it must be a joke, as they refused to believe it.
Political analyst however lament that the gesture is a classic depiction of the mind-set of most leaders in the country, which they say can only be addressed when Nigerians begin to pay more attention to the level of governance around them, by calling their elected leaders to accountability.
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