Today, Rivers State in Nigeria is termed as the ‘Rivers of blood’.
To some of us who share a bond with this State, it pains us so much when such description is used for our dear State.
Before divulging into the main aim of this treatise and for avoidance of doubt and for clarity, Rivers State is the hub of the oil industry in Nigeria and very rich in hydrocarbons, from which the nation draws its major revenue.
The strategic importance of Rivers State in the socio-economic and political future of Nigeria cannot, therefore, be over-emphasised.
A recent investigation by the Economic Confidential listed Rivers State among four rich states in Nigeria, including Lagos, Delta, Ogun and Edo.
The fact remains that Rivers State has over the years evolved as the oil and gas nerve-centre of Nigeria.
It has a growing population of about 5.1 million (the sixth most populous state in the country) and an impressive GDP of 21.07 billion USD – which is bigger than that of most African countries, such as Botswana, Rwanda, Nambia, Lesotho, etc.
The enviable economic and socio-political scorecard of Rivers State has made it a war theatre, occasioned by some unscrupulous politicians that use the youths to cause deaths, mayhem among the citizenry of the state.
Sadly, today, the state is confronted with security challenges, especially illegal bunkering, piracy, cultism, oil pipes destruction, kidnapping, armed robbery, political killings, etc.
This article, therefore, is influenced by the rise of kidnapping, heinous murders, criminal activities and other insecurity challenges in Rivers State.
And, as a patriotic Nigerian, I intend to examine the causes of the recent rise in insecurity in the state and proffer suggestions on the way forward.
This becomes imperative to avoid falling into the trap of late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia’s famous words:
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
Genesis of current insecurity in Rivers State
The current state of insecurity in Rivers can be anchored and situated on two principal developments in the politics of the state:
1. the gubernatorial ambition of Chief Nyesom Wike; and,
2. the political battle between Dr Goodluck Jonathan, erstwhile President of Nigeria and former Governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Wike’s ambition and creation of the ‘Rivers of blood’
Chief Wike’s ambition to succeed Amaechi as the governor of Rivers State may be shocking to most political watchers.
It started from his days as chief of staff to the then Governor Amaechi.
The fact remains that while Amaechi was busy providing dividends of democracy to the people, Wike, on the other hand, was busy undermining Amaechi and using all the connections and goodwill of the Rivers State Government not only to station his men in strategic positions in government, but to empower most of them financially through award of contracts, initiation and other means.
He tested the ground of his ambition when he was appointed as the director- general for the re-election of Amaechi as governor of Rivers State in 2011.
A position he ensured that only his men were appointed to strategic fields to serve as key mobilisers at the grassroots level.
By the time he was appointed minister of state in the Ministry of Education, based on the recommendation of Amaechi to Dr Jonathan, Wike went further with his gubernatorial ambition plot by forming the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), a political pressure group he used to deceive the public, that it was formed to assist in the re-election of then President Jonathan.
But, in fact, the outfit was formed to pursue his gubernatorial ambition.
He used the outfit to formally recruit his foot soldiers for the battle ahead. Under our nose, this body was heavily financed and motivated, and its presence was established in all the constituencies of Rivers State.
It was this group that he used to dislodge over 11 key Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members that wanted to contest the 2015 governorship election under the PDP platform.
Those that wanted to play games were properly beaten up and molested at the party’s national secretariat at Abuja.
Before this time, Wike, based on political exigency, tactfully suppressed his gubernatorial ambition from public view.
Instead, he offered himself as a tool to spearhead the political battle between Jonathan and Amaechi.
He gave everything within him to execute this, with the PDP ticket as a target.
Continued on the next page… Click Next >>