by Sam Nda-Isaiah
They said we are nobody. Then they have seen. When you are dealing with nobody, be careful. The nobody will show you that he is somebody. We will make sure they will not sleep again. As they are sleeping, they will not sleep with their two eyes closed. One eye will be open, because they know there is danger.”
You won’t believe it but this statement was made by a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The minister of state for education, Mr Nyesom Wike, who is at the centre of the crisis in Rivers State with the clear support of the president, Goodluck Jonathan, and the co-president, Patience Jonathan, now operates above the law in the state. To worsen the joke, he has even declared for the governorship of the state. It is very hard to believe that a serving minister would make that kind of statement and still be kept in the cabinet by the president. But that has been our lot since Jonathan became president.
For those who may not know, the minister of state has virtually relocated to Port Harcourt to organise his thugs, and he is the force behind getting five state legislators to impeach the speaker in the House of Assembly made up of 32 members. His plan, of course, was to organise these five people to impeach the governor. And if that had happened, police commissioner Joseph Mbu would have been on hand to enforce it. That was Mbu’s mission to the state in any case. Both Wike and Mbu have been indicted by the National Assembly in the Rivers disgraceful crisis, yet the president has refused to remove them. In fact, the IGP has just announced that police commissioner Mbu is one of the best “professional” policemen that the Nigerian police can boast of. I want to assume that the IGP was misquoted. Because if it is true that Mbu is one of the best that we have, then, the entire police force should be disbanded immediately. No decent nation should keep that kind of police force.
It was also Wike’s thugs that stoned the five governors that went on a solidarity visit to Governor Amaechi, when the plot to impeach him with five legislators out of 32 collapsed. It was also reported that the minister had to rush to Port Harcourt on that same day to ensure that the stoning of the governors was carried out “professionally”. A serving minister? Only in Jonathan’s government of course.
It is probably in appreciation of all these professional services that Dame Patience recently publicly endorsed the minister. Speaking at the wedding reception of a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bapakaye Bipi (one of the five anti-Amaechi members and the one who specifically ordered the police to shoot the governor when the governor arrived in the House on the day of the crisis), the first lady declared: “Wike has been a major unifier for the state; it is him that has made it possible for me to be here today. We need peace in the state; if not for Wike, I wouldn’t be opportune to be here today. It is good to be good. Wike, I doff my hat for you.” Imagine the kind of company our first lady enjoys. Nigerians have never seen anything like this before.
The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has to raise his standards. He cannot continue to keep a minister like Wike in his cabinet. And Nigerians are embarrassed at the kind of company their president keeps. If it is not Wike, it is Tompolo, Dokubo-Asari and their ilk.
The Niger Delta has some of the most enlightened, educated and serious people in the country. Many of them are very well-known in the public and private sectors of this country. If our president wants to choose company from these, he has many, many of such people to choose from. Not Wike, not Tompolo, not Dokubo-Asari, for God’s sake.
Must They Deny Everything?
Last week, the African Development Bank released a report which showed that poverty increased in Nigeria in the 14 years that the PDP has been in power. This report of course tallies with similar reports from several respected global institutions. Besides, Nigerians do not need any report to know that the only real achievement of the successive PDP governments at the federal level in the last 14 years has been the deepening of poverty in spite of the very good prices crude oil has attracted since 1999. Before the PDP came to power on May 29, 1999, crude oil prices under General Abacha and Abdulsalami hovered around $20 per barrel, sometimes even much less. But it was under Obasanjo that the price got as high as $140 per barrel. It currently sells for $106 per barrel. Yet, poverty and unemployment since 1999 have continued to rise. The recent World Bank report actually said unemployment rate in Nigeria increased from 12 per cent of the working age population in 2006 to 24 per cent in 2011 under President Jonathan and went further to declare that the official definition of employment in Nigeria is unusual and therefore not comparable to what obtains in most countries. What that means in plain English is that Nigeria’s current unemployment rate in real terms could be more than 50 per cent. Recently, there was a vacancy for 10 people in a well-known establishment, and 10,000 qualified people applied. Many PhDs have applied to be truck drivers with the Dangote Group. The chairman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, himself said so not long ago.
As usual, the presidency has denied the AfDB poverty report on Nigeria. But must they deny everything no matter how silly such denials may sound? Friends of the presidency should advise them to stop making a fool of themselves. Maybe the PDP mandarins need to know that Nigerians have renamed the PDP “Poverty Development Party”. I hope this helps the PDP to refocus and restrategise, especially now that there is a real alternative platform, instead of lying to themselves.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Sam Nda-Isaiah