Speech By Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike CON, GSSRS, POS Africa,

Represented By Secretary To The Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy
Danagogo, During The Akuku-Toru Peace And Security Conference Held On 3RD
August, 2019 At The Multi-Purpose Hall, Abonnema.

I’m here wearing three different caps. First, I’m a son of the soil like anyone of you; so, ordinarily, I should have been contributing in that regard. Second, as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government and most importantly, to represent the Special Guest of Honour, the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Commander of the Order of the Niger.

He has asked me to particularly thank and appreciate the Amanyanabo of Abonnema and the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Council of Traditional Rulers for his very laudable initiative. He said I should let the people of this local government know that he holds our king very high in esteem because of the way and manner he has conducted himself in the comity of traditional rulers in Rivers State. That is why he is not surprised that what is happening today is happening.

If you recall, the governor has said that the responsibility of maintaining security and fighting criminality is not for government alone or for the security agents alone; that our traditional rulers and our kings, our chiefs must play their own roles in ensuring that there is peace and security in our communities.

Why he has asked me to come here today is to witness this effort of our dear king to ensure that the traditional institution also play a very key role in the maintenance of peace and security.

Your Majesty, His Excellency appreciates your effort. He has asked me to tell you that he knows that the meager allowances given to the traditional rulers’ council will not be enough for you to be doing all this. He knows that the Council may be supporting but that will not be enough too. He has asked me to assure you that at all times, the Rivers State Government will stand with you in the pursuit of peace and security. And to that end, he has said that I should inform you that he will support your effort with the pursuit of peace and security by way of this conference with the sum of twenty million naira (N20,000,000.00).

He wants it to be re-echoed that he has said in the state that any traditional ruler that does not take the duty of maintaining peace and security in the state will certainly face consequences. This is necessary to be restated because, Your Majesty, if you look round, I doubt if there are other kings here apart from the traditional rulers and high chiefs that are within or around Abonnema. It is expected that, as a peace and security conference of the local government, every chief of every community ought to be here because, without peace, I don’t think anybody can be king in any community. So, it is important Your Majesty that you take steps to make sure that your other traditional rulers and chiefs under you partake in this effort. If they fail to partake, it should be made clear that there can be consequences. The first consequence is what you can do and that is, whatever stipend, no matter how little, they’re not to be entitled to if they don’t partake in your effort to ensure that there are peace and security. That is what you can do at your own level.

And at the level of the state government, if you make it known to the state government that any king of any community in your local government where you’re the chairman of the traditional rulers’ council does not partake in the efforts to ensure that there is peace and security, such king or traditional ruler will certainly face consequences. So, it is important that we know that the governor is doing everything possible to ensure that there is peace and security in every part of Rivers State.

Elections are over. It is time for governance. So, everybody, whether you’re a member of party A or party B, you must come together to ensure that there is peace in our state and there is development in our state. Between now and 2023, we have enough time to pursue peace and development. By 2023, new interests will emerge, politics will come, then it will be fit and proper to play politics but now, it’s time for every well-meaning Rivers man or woman, youths, boys or girls to buy into the effort to ensure that there is peace and there is development in the state.
Personally, when I saw this invitation, I was elated that this effort is taking place and I was hoping to come in here to see all the gladiators that will truly contribute to peace and security. It is not only for the king; it is not only for his high chiefs; it is for every well-meaning man or woman that wants the development of this local government.

Akuku-Toru Local Government produced over ten governorship aspirants in various political parties. How many of them are here? That is the starting point because when you talk about peace and security, the traditional institution is there; the political gladiators have a big role to play. I will want to urge that in subsequent events, the communities should make an effort to see that their gladiators are also present so that meaningful results can be achieved. And if they fail to be present, the communities must be bold, must be courageous to condemn the tenure of any son or daughter of the community that fails to be present when the community is looking for peace.

As I came in here, sincerely I was disappointed when I didn’t see most of them, because if you talk about violence, if you talk about that people brought in people, who are those who brought in people? It’s the political class; it’s the various aspirants; it is the supporters of the aspirants. But where are they? The pursuit of peace, I believe, yes it has started from you, but from the key supporters of that pursuit, it is these political gladiators.

I want to thank the security agencies –those of you who are here – I want to thank you but I must say I was also disappointed to know that a local government that hosts the Nigerian Army and we’re talking about peace and security and I didn’t see any representative of the Army. You must know that the governor I’m representing is bold, is not cowardly. And if we must talk about election in Nigeria today and what went wrong in the last election, I must say, any discussion that does not highlight the ignoble role that was played by the Army, is a cowardly discussion. We must be bold and face reality. If you don’t know whereas a society you slip, I doubt if you can make progress. We must blame ourselves as politicians, that is true; we must blame some of our children who have joined the various cult groups, that is true. We should also blame security agencies that went wrong so that everybody will correct him or herself.

I expected that in this gathering, in a community where you have an Army base, I expected that the Army should have been here too because what went wrong in the elections in this country, in this state, in this local government can never be itemized without a good mention of the role played by the Nigerian Army.

And I will also say that part of the key solutions to peace or peaceful elections in this country –we have also not said anything about it – that it is important we know as Rivers people and as Nigerians, every society begets its leadership and every society begets its processes of leadership. We’re talking about elections in this country, even countries that are far behind us – little countries in Africa – today are using electronic voting, complete electronic voting –voting from the transmission to counting, completely computerized by electronics. But in Nigeria here today, we’re still not there yet and Nigerians are quiet about it. That, to me, is cowardly.

The governor has reiterated it over and over again and any discussion, that fails to call the attention of the leadership of this country to the fact that we are killing the country by refusing to enthrone electronic voting, such discussion is cowardly and we cannot move this country forward by cowardly attitude. It is important that our traditional rulers, our chiefs, our youths, our men, our women should begin to rise up and speak, speak the truth, speak what is right for the country so that this country will move forward; so that this state will move forward.

On that note, I want to thank you Your Majesty once again for convening this Forum. And I do hope that some of the shortfalls today will be corrected as we move on.

Thank you and God bless you all.

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