Tuesday’s frontal attack by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that Ogoni leaders are largely responsible for the backwardness of that axis of the state has received a high profile support from a stalwart of All Progressives Congress (APC), Magnus Ngei Abe.
Abe, an Ogoni and former Secretary to Rivers State Government and its Information Commissioner during the Peter Odili administration is a key APC figure who represented Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the Red Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature.
He pushed aside blind partisanship to express his profound appreciation to Governor Wike, for comments made to Ogoni people on Ogoni Day Celebration, describing it as an awakening of the spirit of oneness to Ogoni people.
Abe, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, said, he is not just grateful for the positive comments Wike made about his person, but for the spirit in which he spoke as a governor.
This is coming as the state’s Information and Communications Commissioner, Paulinus Nsirim, says the contents of the new year broadcast made by Wike is a clear expression of his love for Rivers people.
Nsirim said Wike’s new year message which touched on issues such as artisanal crude oil refining which has polluted the environment with soot, notorious activities of cart pushers in scavenging manhole covers and menacing activities of nightclubs and commercial sex workers along with major residential areas, amongst others was a clear indication that Wike means well for Rivers people.
In a statement, the information chief said the directives Governor Wike gave to Local Government Chairmen to work to end the menace, will give Rivers people a sigh of relief.
“Also, the directive to undeveloped and abandoned property owners to develop their properties or have them forfeited to the state government is commendable because criminal elements use those properties as safe haven to perpetrate all sorts of crimes.
“No government will sit down and watch abandoned buildings serve as safe haven for criminals. Governor Wike has given the people a new year gift that will make them live a better life,” he said.
Nsirim called on security agencies and everyone living and doing business in Rivers to cooperate with the state government to ensure that the good intentions of the government are successfully achieved.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure sanity in the state. This is not the time to play to the gallery or politicise serious issues as addressed by the governor in his New Year broadcast”, he said.
The commissioner advised all those involved in those illegal activities enumerated by the Governor to have a rethink or be prepared to face the full wrath of the law because there will be no sacred cows.
However, Abe commended the governor for honouring Ogoni people on Ogoni Day with his presence, describing it as an evidence of the governor’s implicit commitment to building unity and brotherhood among the Ogonis in the State.
The statement reads in parts: “What the governor said is not different from what other Ogoni leaders have said in the past including late Ken Saro-Wiwa, who described the pull him Down syndrome in Ogoni as crab mentality.
“For the Ogoni people, the real challenge after all said is ‘what can we do better or what can we do differently?’
“I continue to appeal to everyone to think and act, there must be something each one of us can do to make things better, for example, we can all resolve not to take disagreements amongst us as leaders to the public arena, and we can also try to forgive one another when we are offended.
“Rivers people are great people, we have a long history of standing by one another, Ogoni Day as always was a great opportunity to celebrate our unity and strength. I extend my appreciation to all other ethnic groups in the State who came to Bori to felicitate with the Ogoni people.
“I am grateful to the governor not just for the positive comments he made about my person but for the spirit in which he spoke to the Ogoni people, as a serving Governor, he is part and parcel of every tribe in the state.
His presence at the Ogoni Day event and his evident commitment to building unity among the Ogonis is commendable.”
Senator Abe in a message to Ogoni people on Ogoni Day said, “as we mark another Ogoni Day Celebration, it presents an opportunity for us to take stock and appreciate one another”.
Abe went further to say, “finally 2015 and 2019 cannot be the same as 2023, I have not declared any ambition for 2023, I must consult widely and honestly review the political situation in the State and the nation before I take any major decision. For now let us melembe, enjoy the New Year and show love all around”.