Nyesome Wike no doubt is a maverick politician. He is one governor nobody can predict precisely his intentions. Last week, the Rivers State governor again set the social media abuzz.
Last Sunday, Wike had personally supervised the demolition of two hotels: Prudent Hotel, Alode, Eleme, and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne for allegedly flouting his recently signed Executive Order 6, which placed a ban on the operation of hotels across the 23 local government areas of the state.
His action has attracted a lot of backlashes. While some are hailing him, there are also those who outrightly condemned his action, branding the governor “a despot”
His administration has been accused of taking some other controversial decisions in the past in its fight against the Coronavirus, including the arrest of oil workers who were accused of entering Rivers State in violation of the lockdown order.
Some critics, including right groups, say Wike needs to be cautioned for what they described as his current rash of autocratic displays, insisting that recklessness has become a daily affair in Rivers State than in any other state.
For instance, a civic group, Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) said that the demolition and forced eviction is “a violation of Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party”.
Also Irked by Governor Wike’s action is public commentator, Chris Amadi who said: “While lockdown is a good control measure against the spread of the virus, it loses its essence when badly enforced. Lockdown should be protective and not punitive. One would have expected that the governor would take advantage of the lockdown to fumigate public places, ramp up testing, and put up more effective measures to help combat the virus. Sadly, what we have is the pathetic situation of the demolition of property and auctioning of private vehicles.”
Even former Education Minister and Convener of BBOG, Dr Oby Ezekwesili delivered a blistering critique on Wike, describing his action as “monstrous and tyrannical”.
She said power in the hands of persons without self-discipline in the absence of social responsibility creates monsters in any society, urging owners of the hotels to seek redress by taking legal action against the state government.
Ezekwesili is of the position that rather than engaging in executive recklessness, violation of a lockdown or quarantine order should be proven in court after which the culprit could then be made to pay the applicable fine or penalty.
Also, some of his colleagues in the law profession felt embarrassed by his action in the demolition of the two hotels, which they believe was too harsh and draconian.
But Wike has remained unapologetic for any of his actions as he believes that he is on the right track and must be firm rather than compromise the fight against the pandemic that would put citizen in the state in great danger. He has repeatedly said that the lives of the people in Rivers must be put above business and has vowed to take on individuals, businesses, no matter who is involved and how highly placed, including oil and gas companies, if they flout the COVID-19 rules or do not cooperate with his government as far as the Coronavirus is concerned.
“All we are doing is to protect our people. Some people may not like our strategies, but our objective is to achieve results,” Wike said to explain his actions.
The governor said that his administration welcomes genuine criticisms, but would not join issues with “uninformed critics and social media legal practitioners who, blinded and prodded by sheer politics, bias, and hatred, have opted to demonise and paint our lawful and responsible actions in a bad light”.
According to Wike, “we’ve done no wrong as all our actions were taken in good faith and justified by under and within the purview of the Executive Orders, which have neither been challenged nor set aside by any competent court of law.”
Some natives of Rivers State who spoke with Sunday Sun affirmed that Wike is doing a great job in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus, insisting that it is his “right and bold approach” that has limited the spread of the pandemic.
“Wike has put a lot of things in place, ventilators, test kits, quarantine centres and as at now the state has not recorded more than 21 cases, so why the fuss? Do they want Wike to compromise measures, later when a large number of deaths are recorded they will turn around to blame him? We are happy with him, we are alive, and that is the most important thing. Those that have died in Kano and Yobe states out of state government’s carelessness what is the benefit now?”
Indeed, Governor Wike said that he would continue to provide good governance no matter criticisms and whose ox is gored.
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was born to the family of Reverend and Mrs Nlemanya Wike of Rumuepirikom community, Rivers State.
He was educated at Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
He holds degrees in Political and Administrative Studies as well as Law. After a brief stint with private legal practice, Wike was elected twice as the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
He was appointed Minister of State for Education on July 14, 2011 and was later appointed the Acting Minister of Education after Mrs Riqqayatu was sacked, but resigned before finishing his term to campaign for Governor of Rivers State. In 2014, he won the Rivers State People’s Democratic Party primary. He was elected governor in 2015 and serving his second tenure.