By Emeh James Anyalekwa
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Sunday, May 10 2020, oversaw the demolition of a hotel and a bar over the violation of the current lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state. The affected hotels are Prodest Hotel in Alode and Etemeteh Hotel in Onne both in Eleme Local Government Area (LGA) of the state. These buildings were demolished three days after Wike directed officials of the local government Task Force to identify hotels operating during the lockdown for demolition.
Deride him as much as you can and want. Hate him as many in the opposition have adopted to. Even some have chosen to see him as a trouble maker who is despised and criticised as brash and without finesse. Regardless however, we must come to terms with the reality that the Rivers State Governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike is consumed with the vision and objectives of true leadership.
Many governments around the world have effectively frozen social and economic activity in all or parts of their countries to contain the outbreak, shutting non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay at home for weeks or months. Billions of people worldwide remain under some type of lockdown, costing the world several billions of dollar. If the threat of COVID19 is strong enough to practically shut down the global economy, no price is too much (including the demolitions ordered by Gov. Wike) to stem the tide of spread of the virus.
The Rivers State Governor issued an Executive Order with a clearly outlined consequence for any violator. A PDP youth leader in Eleme (same Politicial party with Wike) defied the Governor’s orders and threw a party that had large people in attendance. He reportedly also fired some gun shots at members of the taskforce set up by the governor, when they tried to stop the party. It was a ‘’show of might’’ which could send the wrong signal across the state that some ‘’powerful political figures are definitely above the law and untouchable, which will be detrimental to the objectives of the lockdown and checkmating the spread of the virus. Besides, it is also reported that the Youth leader had been using the hotel to perpetuate several acts of criminality in the state. There is always a red line, which in Gov. Wike’s judgment, the owners of the hotel crossed on Saturday.
In a clime where indiscipline, chaos and disorder seem to be accepted as the norm; it is commendable that Wike rose up to show the world that it can no longer be business as usual. The government needed to send a very clear message to her citizens, and that was exactly what the said demolitions achieved.
As the Chief Security Officer of a nation or state, presidents or governors have both moral and constitutional obligation to use their executive powers to act when the security or life of her citizens are threatened. Executive orders are not acts of parliaments, they are not always necessarily subjected to judicial interpretation. It lies within the power of the executive to act.
This is the power President Trump exercised when he ordered the elimination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani without congressional approval. If President Trump is dragged to court over the order, all he’s required in law is a proof that Soleimani posed an imminent threat to the Security of US and that he (Trump) acted in the best public interest.
Gov. Wike’s action is consistent with the Governor’s constitutional authorities as Chief Security Officer of the state, to do everything necessary, in his judgment, to protect the life and well being of her citizens.
From the foregoing, it is my strong conviction that the action of the Governor, is in line with the security and welfare policy of the state which he has vowed under the oath of the constitution to safeguard and protect. With the spread of coronavirus reaching the community transmission stage, many of the critics of the Governor’s action will be the same voices to clamour for his crucifixion if Rivers State gets hundreds or thousands of new coronavirus cases in the coming days.
It is pertinent to note that the Governor has made very little drama and razzmatazz of his achievements since the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic began; contrary to what most political office holders have elevated into national life. Rather, Governor Wike is about delivery and he allows his work to speak for him. His proactive leadership saw over 214 people recently discharged from the isolation center in Rivers State and this has kept the State as one of the most controlled states in the federation.
There are too many voices that are clamouring for positive change but it’s obvious that many are simply paying lip service so they can remain ‘’politically relevant’’. Everyone has a right to fair hearing and the defaulters of the Executive order knew the consequence before participating in this Swan Song. In the event that any aggrieved party feels the Governor has done wrong; they have the right to seek redress in Court.
(Emeh James Anyalekwa is the Executive Director of Igbere TV and also the National President Of Online Media Practitioners Association Of Nigeria, OMPAN. He writes from Abuja)