The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu captured the outstanding leadership role of Governor Wike in the fight against coronavirus when he visited the State recently.
In his words: “I want to thank you for your firm, strong, committed and personally led response to COVID-19. We thank you very much for your leadership and we need your leadership to continue in order for us to continue doing our work nationally.”
The fight against coronavirus in the State has been premised on the Rule of Law. It was Governor Wike who first signed an Executive Order that led to Border Closure and other actions. This was done on March 19, 2020. After initial criticisms, other States followed suit.
Therefore, the fight against coronavirus in Rivers State is in the interest of Rivers people and the entire Country. This is because Rivers State is vital to the survival of the nation as the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry.
There is no wisdom placing finance ahead of human lives.
However, essential services continue to thrive even in the midst of the fight against coronavirus.
The latest issue that has been hijacked by opposition elements is the demolition of two hotels in Eleme, after they deliberately flouted Executive Order 6. These two hotels, Prodest Hotel, Alode, Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne not only flouted the Executive Order, the Hotel Manager of Prodest invited the wanted PDP Eleme Youth Leader, Princewill Osaroejiji, who came with thugs to unleash mayhem on Task Force operatives on ground to close down the facility.
As we speak, one of the Task Force operative lost his life last night.
Governor Wike and the Rivers State Security Council took the decision to demolish the hotel in the interest of Rivers State and her people. Days before that demolition, everyone was aware that the State Government sensitized the people on the consequence of flouting Executive Order 6.
Having demolished that hotel, Governor Wike has approved that a primary school be constructed at that location to serve Rivers people. This is what a responsive government will do.
Eleme people are happy with the demolition. In several publications they made after the demolition, they have declared that Prodest Hotel is a criminal hideout and a den for cultists.
They added that Prodest Hotel is a centre for gun-running by the wanted PDP Youth Leader. It was his criminal tendencies that emboldened him to unleash mayhem on State officials when the Hotel Manager invited him.
These are facts that the political analysts have turned away from. They have allowed their political enmity with Governor Wike to override their objective judgment.
One question many Social Media Lawyers and their followers have refused to answer is, why is that out of several hotels operating in Rivers State only Prodest and Etemeteh hotels were demolished.
Even the Chairman of Nigeria Hotels Owners Association Rivers State Chapter, Mr. Eugene Nwaizu, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt expressed surprise that the hotels that were not even registered with the body disobeyed the Executive Order.
According to him, the Hotels and Guest Houses were well informed about the Executive Order. The Governor is not out to witch-hunt anybody but to ensure that coronavirus does not spread in the State.
However, seasoned legal luminaries like Chief OCJ Okocha (SAN) have said that Governor Wike acted within the law under the present circumstances.
We are saying, rather than mislead members of the public; those aggrieved should approach the courts for interpretation.
As we speak, many offenders have been tried and convicted under the Executive Orders. This is not a lawless situation; Governor Wike is working hard to protect Rivers people within the ambit of the law.
The Rivers State Government will remain focused. It will not be distracted by these unfortunate schemes by ill-mannered politicians, struggling for political space at the expense of their people.
As I close, I want to ask, why did the Pro-APC media not report the mass demolitions by the Lagos State Government between April 22 and April 23, 2020. These demolitions rendered over 500 persons homeless. Not a single Newspaper mentioned these demolitions for reasons yet to be ascertained.
Where are those displaced in the heat of the lockdown? Where are the women and children? Where are the lawyers, the civil society groups and other APC mercenaries? Are the displaced worthless?
This was a fundamental crime against humanity, but it was swept under the carpet because it happened in Lagos.
I don't need to mention the demolition of a night club in Abuja where 80 persons lost their livelihood. What about the demolitions of homes in Abuja during the lockdown? Civil rights Lawyers and others looked the other way.
We don't need to mention Kaduna and several other States.
For Rivers State, the demolition of the two hotels was carried out in line with the prescribed Executive Order known to all hoteliers in the State. It was also done to protect officials of the Rivers State Government who are implementing the Executive Order. No Government will allow its officials to be killed by thugs whilst they carry out lawful directive.
Pst. Paulinus Nsirim
Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.