By Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo
I am compelled to react to Mr Oraye St. Franklyn’s latest piece on the violent political/cult killings in Rivers State captioned “APC’s politicisation of insecurity in Rivers State: Unpatriotic and bad for development” in which he tried frantically albeit unsuccessfully to absolve Governor Nyesom Wike of blame on the numerous violent killings in Rivers State. By the way, Mr Oraye St. Franklyn is the young Senior Special Assistant to Governor Wike on Social Media.
I decided to react to this article to set the records straight lest the truth be twisted permanently and as the saying goes: “the she-goat does not give birth in the presence of an elder with rope tied to its neck”. I am a Rivers State elder and I will not allow anyone stand truth on its head without saying something no matter the risk and insults to my person.
As I read through Oraye’s piece, I could see how he strenuously sweated through a most difficult assignment of twisting facts and truths about the gruesome killings in Rivers State that have surpassed alarming proportions and have attracted national and international attention and condemnation.
I have no quarrels with a Media Assistant subjecting his creative energy into defending and eulogizing his paymaster but what I consider inappropriate is the deliberate escape into self-induced Alzheimer’s disease (deceitful forgetfulness) in order to mislead the public and distort the facts of our most recent political occurrences.
The major angst of Oraye arose from what he called the attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to blame Governor Wike for “minute pockets of security issues emanating from only one LGA (Onelga) out of the 23 LGAs” and the claim by members of APC that they are being singled out for persecution and killing.
He said the allegation of complicity against Governor Wike was false and malicious aimed at deliberately discrediting the governor. He insisted that “it smacks of mega mischief and sabotage for leaders of APC to allege that Wike promotes insecurity in Rivers State.”
This is where my quarrel with the young man begins. Did our elders not say that “when a monkey’s hand stays too long in the soup, it begins to resemble the hand of a human being”? Nyesom Wike’s despicable brand of violent politics is now being seen as normal by Oraye St. Franklyn who wants to hoodwink the rest of us.
I have few questions for Mr Oraye:
a) Who is the Grand Patron of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) that beat up and injured PDP leaders in Abuja?
b) Who was the Minister of State that used the then Rivers State Police Commissioner to undermine a sitting governor?
c) Who sponsored five out of the 32 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to attempt the impeachment of the Speaker?
d) Which governorship candidate got the backing of cult groups in the 2015 elections?
e) Who appointed Egberipapa, Roland Sekibo and Ishi as Local Government Chairmen of Asalga, Akulga and Kelga respectively?
f) Who do Ateke Tom, Asari Dokubo, Farah Dagogo, Solomon Idigbara, Don Wani, Evans Bipi etc support?
g) Who asked INEC officials to write their will before coming for the rerun elections?
h) Who asked PDP members to resist arrest?
It is most unfortunate that Barr Nyesom Wike, a brash blood thirsty rogue personality who has no respect for anybody; a megalomaniac whose selfish ambition has torn Rivers State apart and caused the gruesome murder of hundreds of persons is allowed the latitude of a normal law-abiding person despite his myriads of atrocities. It is disheartening that it has come to: “Our word against his word” — a man that should be serving time in jail but for the so-called immunity?
Oraye St. Franklyn stretched his imagination into the ridiculous when he criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) for blaming Governor Wike for what he (Oraye) referred to as “minute pockets of security issues emanating from only one LGA (Onelga) out of the 23 LGAs”.
How can any sane person refer to the widespread and unfettered armed occupation of Onelga towns and villages; the ceaseless murder of hundreds of Onelga people and the pervading atmosphere of siege in Egi Clan, Omoku town and environs as “minute pockets of security issues”? How on earth can anybody refer to the heinous crimes brazenly perpetrated by the militant gang led by Mr Charles Igwedibia (aka Don Wani) and his politician sponsors as “minute pockets of security issues”?
Oraye St. Franklyn added salt to injury when he said that insecurity in Rivers State was limited to only Onelga out of the 23 LGAs of the state. Can you imagine that? Is this young man normal? Does he live in Rivers State? Is this how to be useful to the governor? What about the killings in Ahoda-East, Ahoada-West, and the entire Ogoni land, Opobo, Okrika and Kalabari land? Is there any town in Rivers State that is free from the menace of political/cult related killings?
Oraye said further that “the key objective of APC is to conquer Rivers State, having failed to do so at the polls and at the courts”. He accused the APC of deliberately painting, amplifying and broadcasting a gloomy picture of perpetual doom in Rivers State. He talks as if Rivers State APC members are not indigenes of Rivers state with legitimate rights to aspire to govern the state.
He accused the federal government of planning to oust Wike by any means and undermining the governor through constant changing of security chiefs in the state. He said that the sins of Wike were that he called for credible elections and condemned the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians by the military. Is that so?
Reading through Oraye’s piece reminds me of a columnist who once said of Nigeria that “each time it appears there is some hope in the horizon, something happens and everything goes wrong”. He identified this mysterious element that “keeps disrupting the flow, course and direction of Nigeria’s river of greatness” as the NIGERIAN FACTOR”. This is the terminology that encapsulates the depth of Nigeria’s corrupt national life. It is the point at which everything (no matter how noble and serious) must bend to parochial self-interest.
Here is Rivers State that was beginning to settle down into the gains of the federal government amnesty programme and the post 2007 years of peace and rapid development; then suddenly the ‘Nigerian factor’ sets in and everything snapped in the face of one man’s governorship ambition.
Our dear Rivers State is now in an ‘undeclared state of emergency’ moving dangerously and steadily into total anarchy. The State which was at the centre of the Niger Delta militancy has again buckled under the firm grip of heartless gunmen. The thugs that were used to rig the 2015 elections have returned to armed robbery, kidnaping and cultism, killing and maiming Rivers people at will. A frantic struggle for supremacy has ensued among rival cult groups in their desperate quest to get recognition and patronage from the state government. These armed cultist target and kill members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as an apparent mark of loyalty to the PDP led state government and for a young man like Oraye to have the effrontery to defend these barbaric acts leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
I am actually not too surprised after all. If Oraye St. Franklyn can work with Nyesom Wike who looked Rivers people straight in the eyes and claimed that Mr Felix Obuah was elected the state chairman of PDP then these people can say and do anything. But as the saying goes: “It is not about those who do wrong things but about those who refuse to speak against wrongdoings”. I shall continue to speak out no matter the risk to my life.
10 March, 2016.