Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has always been a man one cannot afford to be neutral about. It is either you like him or you dislike him.
I do not know him that much but it seems Governor Wike, to many Nigerians, is a leader who is never afraid to raise his voice against injustice and dishonesty .
Governor Wike may have again grabbed the admiration of many Nigerians when he recently stood up to speak, unequivocally, against the outlawed armed group who identified themselves as Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). The group had this week declared a sit-at-home order for all Igbos and other residents in Southeast Nigeria to remain in their homes on Monday to commemorate „Biafra Day“.
During that unofficial holiday, declared by the self-styled IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, anybody seen in the streets would be „killed“.
Of course, most states of Southeast Nigeria complied with the threat order and has stayed at home simply because the residents fear their lives. Mr Kanu had however pushed his luck beyond limits when he mentioned that even states in the. South-south should observe the forced holiday.
Even though the political leadership in the southeast had failed to condemn the stay-at-home order, Governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, rose to the occasion and called the bluff of the IPOB order.
Governor Wike said it categorically that IPOB has no right anywhere in the constitution of Nigeria to declare a sit-at home order, because „we don‘t have IPOB in Rivers!“.
Wike was emphatic as he spoke on national TV that such breach of rights and laws should not be accepted anywhere in Nigeria. That alone speaks to the fact that IPOB remains a group that has no place in the country called Nigeria.
It should be recalled that about a year ago, Governor Wike had banned the activities of IPOB and asked them to leave Rivers state. He even placed a N50 million bounty on any information that will lead to arrest of the IPOB leadership in Rivers.
It should also be noted that the sit-at-home order which was declared by Nnamdi Kanu, came amidst wanton killings and abduction of security personnel and destruction of police stations and INEC facilities by the group. We should also be reminded that the Nigerian government had in the past year, named IPOB a „terrorists“ organisation.
IPOB gunmen had burnt over 40 INEC and police offices across the six states of the Southeast.
IPOB has carried out many abductions and broad day murder of prominent personalities in the country. Sadly and much to everyone‘s surprise, none of the leaders of the Southeast has come out to speak strongly against their worsening illicit activities.
It seems our leaders in the southeast and other parts of the South have prioritised local political considerations over National interest.
A group that armed itself with lethal assault rifles and engage in senseless attacks and destruction of critical security facilities have waged a war on the country. As such leaders should be seen to be swift in condemning them and their activities. Keeping quiet is either a sign of cowardice or endorsement for IPOB.
Why must wonder why did the leadership in Southeast kept silence on the issue of IPOB when they convened their regional security meeting last month.
On this matter, Governor Wike has provided true leadership for the southern region, most especially the South-south. Let everyone join him on this patriotic stance. This includes even leaders in the North.
All leaders should be nationalistic in their views, expression and even body language.
Leaders should see anything that confronts the Constitution of Nigeria, as their number-one issue to condemn frontally.
All leaders must believes that a man‘s country is not all about a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle that a citizen belongs to all parts; and his patriotism is loyalty to that principle.
IPOB must be told, and boldly for that matter, that there is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people and destroying public infrastructure for a purpose that is unattainable.
Wike has, as usual, spoken; it is time we all join his nationalistic outlook on this simmering matter.
Audu, a public analyst, writes from No. 13 Maiduguri Street, Wadata, Makurdi