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Battle of the titans: Wike and Sirika

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Sir: Nigeria careens from one crisis to another. Public officials are always rapier tongued, reacting immediately to national issues instead of allowing reason to prevail, challenging people and asking them to defend themselves instead of seeking to clarify issues. The gutsy upper-class must tyrannise, forgetting lessons from Attila the Hen. Is this not a lurking piranha, an unvarnished preferential treatment, same as the poignant specter of an unwilling captive? I watched the drama, the arrest of the two Caverton pilots in Port Harcourt, the woes-and thrills of the office of governor of state of Rivers and minister of Aviation, the clash of bureaucracy, the intrusion of our private lives in the face of a deathly pandemic, the huge task around executive offices which calls for quick wits, and shook my head.

In my cocoon, I thought that the governor overreacted although I had sympathy for him; I thought he suffered from a crisis of followership and needed direction at a crucial moment but his hangers-on failed him. His supporters not only asked him to arrest the Caverton pilots but also coached him to say that the Federal Government planned to people Rivers State with patients with the dreaded COVID-19. How farcical. He went too far. What the governor needed to have done was to have collaborated with the Federal Government. A simple phone call might have solved the problem.

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The minister appeared arrogant, he spoke like a Czar and his attitude on this issue portrayed him as someone who does not have a mark of respect for the Rivers State governor.  The governor is an elected official but he is a governmental aide and he should have reverted to his principal and the relevant agencies to handle the embarrassing situation properly. The leaders in Nigeria over play their cards and make disorder a state policy. Process drives everything. Policy experts bend over backwards to explain policy of state to everyone unmindful of class for the common good, they do not talk outside the script, but fight for the masses. Public officers should use their offices to pursue and enforce policies the way most statesmen do with dignity. I watched the press releases of both the governor and minister on television and I wondered if those came from these respected people, so combative and did not show a healthy respect for Nigeria especially at this testing moment. The governor appeared to love Rivers State more than Nigeria, he forgot the history of Rivers State and how same Federal Government created Rivers State by decree before the civil war and the minister appeared to love his principal more than Nigeria and forgot the crucial role Rivers State plays in the national economy.

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I wished they took the stage to promote economic policies to make Nigerians survive the hard times as predicted by the IMF and World Bank and not bore us with unnecessary rant and supremacy battle. It’s left for them and their conscience. Nigeria would be a beautiful country if there are patriotic national establishment players in public offices, establish players who will choose principles over nothingness, and journey to evolve for the national good.

These needless problems aren’t necessary especially in a fragile nation like Nigeria. Crisis threatens Nigerians, engulfs the nation, and cripples economic life of states and the country. I agree that the governor needs to secure the safety of Rivers people at all costs; but he needs to maintain a cordial relationship with the Federal Government for the good of the Rivers people. The government should work with all state administrators as much as possible and avoid secrecy in the handling of national affairs.

Both Sirika and Wike should cover themselves in glory.

Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.

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