2023: Politics of religion may consume Nigeria, Wike warns

By Chris Ezeonoh

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has raised the alarm that resorting to politics of religion by some of the political gladiators ahead of the 2023 election is a tinderbox that may consume Nigeria.

The Governor raised the alarm on Thursday in Government House, Port Harcourt while receiving the new commissioner of police posted to the state, Mr Okon Effiong.

Governor Wike urged personnel of the various security agencies to stop taking sides with politicians who use all tactics including religion to frustrate efforts at protecting life and property.

“We believe we owe this country and we must also stop this politics of religion so that we don’t instigate crisis and violence. You must go and tell the people what you can do, what we can offer.”

The governor emphasized that his administration has remained committed to the protection of life and property of all residents in the State.

This he said was because of its belief that the people for which any development projects are provided must feel safe and alive to use them.

Wike noted that any government that is unable to do so has failed in its responsibility and has no business being in governance.

“For me, there cannot be any good governance without the protection of life and property. Nobody can talk about good governance when there is insecurity everywhere. If you cannot protect your citizens, you have no need to talk about governance.

“Because if you’re doing roads, people must be alive to use the road. If you’re building good schools, people must be alive to go to school. So, it is key that you owe your citizens the protection of their lives and property. And so, for us as a government, that is the sole aim of being in government.”

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He assured that since the security agencies are the institutions saddled with such duties, his administration has always and will continue to provide requisite support to them so that they can discharge their security operations effectively.

The State Chief Executive expressed the hope that the new Commissioner of Police will bring his vast experience in operations and crime fighting to bear in Rivers State.

He urged him not to be intimidated against doing what is right, take the fight against crime and criminality to the den of criminals in order to dislodge them.

The Governor acknowledged the untiring efforts of the Inspector General of Police, Akali Baba in insisting on professionalism among his officers and making sure they remain committed to crime fighting.

The Rivers State Governor praised the immediate past Commissioner of Police, Mr Friday Ebuka, for staying true to his professional calling. According to him, instead of being used to destabilize the peace in Rivers State, he contributed his quota to consolidating on the efforts of crime fighting.

He promised that the State government would build a befitting police station along Ada George Road in Port Harcourt.

The governor recalled how heads of security agencies in the State, particularly of the army, became involved in the election process in 2019 but were resisted by Rivers people.

He told the new Commissioner of Police not to tread that path, but to ensure that the campaigns are peaceful, and the elections conducted in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation of the electorate.

The governor said if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to be influenced, the police stay away from interfering in the electoral process and the judiciary insist that the rules are complied with, the vote of the people will count.

“You have a role to make sure the people’s vote count, that the right person emerges. And when the right person emerges, you’ll see passion, and commitment in their work. The difference will be clear.”

In his speech, Mr Okon Effiong, the 43rd Commissioner of Police to Rivers State said, he would operate a policy of zero tolerance to crime and criminality.

“We have arrested in the past four days more than 12 armed robbers and kidnappers. In the past four days, we have rescued more than 12 kidnap victims. In the past four days, we have recovered more than 6 vehicles.

“In the past four days, we have recovered arms and ammunition. The law will take its course. We want to stress that we have zero tolerance for crime and criminality.”

He thanked Governor Wike for his numerous logistics and other forms of support to the command that has enabled its officers to perform optimally.

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