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Nwabueze to Wike: Save Nigeria from sectionalism, nepotism

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• I didn’t say Buhari shouldn’t visit Rivers –Gov

Adewale Banjo; Tony John, Port Harcourt

Former minister of Education, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has urged Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to rescue the nation’s democracy from nepotism, sectionalism and pervasion of justice.

Nwabueze gave the charge yesterday, at a public lecture organised by the state government, to mark the third anniversary of Wike’s administration, where he (Nwabueze) chaired the occasion.

The elder statesman, who reminisced the country’s journey to democracy, said Nigeria has suffered nepotism, sectionalism and pervasion of justice, and described the theme of the lecture: ‘Democracy in Nigeria: Still many rivers to cross’, as timely.

Nwabueze said: “Democracy in Nigeria: Still many rivers to cross,”  is apt. It is true. I would say one river has been crossed in Rivers state, which is river of dynamic leadership.

“Young people should take over governance of this country, and Wike is one of them. My generation is gone. My generation cannot save this country. Wike, we are charging you, with the energy you have exhibited, to take up the mantle.

“It may not be in 2019, because of zoning arrangement; but, prepare yourself for the future, to save the democracy of this country. We want you to help us save democracy in Nigeria. That is one river to cross.

“We still have rivers of nepotism and sectionalism in this country. This country is being governed by sectionalism. Also, there is river of pervasion in Section 308 of the constitution. It is a coercive section of the constitution, to search the residence of a serving governor. Can the residence of the president be searched?

“Pervasion goes with impunity. Your excellency, we charge you to save the democracy of this country from many rivers. Until these rivers are crossed, we are yet to come out of the hoods,” the former minister noted.

In his response, Wike called for collective efforts to ensure a workable democracy in the country, rather than the type currently experienced, where, according to him, government chooses the court orders to obey or disobey.
Wike, who also tasked the guest speaker and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, on some grey areas, said the will of the people must matter in a democracy.

He said: “The judiciary and Independent National Electoral Commission have been intimidated, and this is not good for the development of democracy.

“Democracy can only work when the right things are done. What happened on the day the court (state judiciary complex) was locked, is a coup against Rivers state. The will of the people is a very important key for democracy to triumph.
“I have the mandate of the people to ensure violence is not allowed. As a governor, I won’t allow people to come and overthrow the state. The mandate of the people must be protected,” Wike declared.

Earlier in his lecture, Kukah said the country still has a long way to go in the journey of attaining a functional democracy, and urged Nigerians to come together to achieve it.

The fiery cleric said Nigeria’s democracy is characterised by “distortion, disruption and destruction,” adding that if 90 million, out of the 190 or 200 million of the country’s population, cannot vote during an election, it is an indication that the country’s democracy has problem.

Meanwhile, Wike has denied making comments suggesting that he is opposed to President Muhammadu Buhari visiting the state.

Wike said this yesterday, in Port Harcourt, the state capital, when he appeared on a Lagos-based national television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily.

“I never said President Buhari should not come to Rivers and I can never say it. The president is the president of the country. He has the right to come to Rivers,” he said.

The governor, however, argued that Rivers state is not faced with security challenges and does not need presidential solidarity visit. He said Rivers is safe and not confronted with herdsmen attacks.

“What I disagreed with is, if you (Buhari) are coming because of insecurity or because an armed robber operated and killed 15 people. This is not the same thing as when herdsmen daily attack people which can lead to religious or ethnic war. That is the point I made.”

“For example in Lagos State, armed robbers have killed about five people at a time. In Ogun State, people have died, cultists have killed people. So, I never said the president should not come to Rivers state and I can never say that,” he said.

President Buhari on March 5 announced his plan to visit Taraba, Yobe, Benue, Zamfara and Rives states, which he said were affected by several attacks. The president also noted his administration’s commitment to ending the killings.
Governor Wike further revealed plans by his administration to commission the first industrial court in the state.

He said the state records nearly 80 percent of labour-related cases in the country, hence, the establishment of the project.

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