By David-Jack Aribima
I have followed with keen interest the recent rise of criticism against the state of things in Rivers State. While I do not oppose the view that citizens are entitled to their opinions and should be allowed to freely criticize the state of affairs, I am of the view that critical thinking, at its basics, and the objectivity of it, should be the basis of public criticism.
A campaign for the good of Rivers State, if it so claims, should be to promote Rivers State and not just the interest of one man and his group. Anything short of this should be disregarded and not be taken seriously as being in the interest of Rivers people.
If there is anything serious about the sudden outburst of social media attack on the Wike-led Rivers State, it is in how subtly this campaign is being peddled to achieve its aim. On the one side, the campaign claims to be in the interest of putting Rivers State first; but deep inside, it has the hidden agenda to demarket the State.
This is not the first time that such means are being sponsored for this purpose. But it is disappointing that even those who are aware of this are now the ones being used to achieve this aim.
No one can pretend to be unaware of the battle against Rivers State and its people. For the first time in the history of its politics, Rivers State is faced with constant severe opposition from powers in the Federal Government.
Rivers people have been marginalized by fellow Rivers people in conspiracy with the powers that be. They have been sabotaged by fellow citizens and leaders who should have exemplified the role of statesmen. But despite all, the State for the past 4 years has continued to move on. And under all these pressures, Governor Wike and his comrades have been on the receiving end.
No genuine criticism of Governor Wike and the present Rivers State Government will overlook these facts. Not minding the gang up against Rivers State, Wike and his team have striven to keep Rivers State in the path of progress.
In four years, he was able to return Rivers State back to its place of peace and development. It would have made much sense to criticize the impact of the developmental projects of Wike in the last 4 years than to begin an argument against him with pictures of overworked and dilapidated roads as evidence.
In 4 years the impact of Wike’s leadership was felt in all corners of the State. By opening up new pathways for the growth of all Rivers people, this administration embarked on projects that addressed the basic challenges of Rivers people. Wike built roads. He linked bridges to communities and connected Rivers people to one another. He revamped the health sector. He built and renovated schools. He provided business loans for Rivers people and gave all and sundry an opportunity to thrive.
Every project has a duration. If works done by the Wike Government are now wearing out after some years, efforts can be made towards maintenance. And there are many other ways a citizen can support this effort, aside the public demarketing of the State. And if at all there is need to criticize, it should be done without bias in favour of one’s sentiments.
Beginning his second term, Governor Wike has continued the process of building peace in Rivers State. He has made strong statements and taken strong action on the sanitation of the State. He has taken proactive steps to address lingering issues of disputes between oil firms and host communities. He has strengthened the security architecture of the State to meet the challenges of the common Rivers man and woman. He has unveiled plans to consolidate on existing development in the State. Many of those who write those critiques are witnesses to these actions of Governor Wike’s.
If there should be any argument about Rivers State other than these ones, then it should be against those with the insatiable greed to pocket Rivers State at all costs. If there is any issue we must criticize at this point in time, then the events of the 2019 General Elections, whose wounds are still fresh in our memories, gives us a better recourse for argument.
We can not pretend to be indifferent about the pains of these events and the truth about them. We are all aware of the constant fight by power- thirsty men to pull Rivers State down under the watch of Governor Wike. We must stand boldly for Rivers State and do so honestly, if we so claim. We must allow the truth prevail.
The bottom line of it is that there is no cogent reason yet for this criticism against Governor Wike and Rivers State, alas, it is serious that this trend is being sponsored by people who have worked with the present Rivers State Government one way or the other and have had their experience in no little measure. Rivers State and its people are still recovering from the pains of the 2019 General Elections which claimed the lives and maimed the names of its citizens.
But then, people will always argue, every man bringing his own reason for justification. But if an argument lacked proof or the solid facts for approval, there arises the need to clarify such reasons, and, if needs be, to disapprove of it. For nothing ever stands alone. And to raise a strong argument is to have a strong point to back it up.