By Prince Ejeh Josh.
Let me be brute and ruthless with truth here. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State simply did what many leaders were afraid to do. He simply implemented the law to the letter. He followed it up.
The law was there for everyone to see. It was never shrouded in secrecy. It was never made to hunt and haunt certain class of people. When you make up your mind to break the law or flagrantly treat it with disdain, you must also be ready to face the inherent consequences of your action. Wike couldn’t have gone to demolish any building without anyone violating the law. Nigerians must all learn to obey laws. We’re not in a lawless or anarchical society. Besides, this is a time of national emergency that requires extra-ordinary measure to save lives.
One of the fundamental problems facing Nigeria today is hypocrisy. Today, we swing here and tomorrow, we are there. We have lost our independent sense of reasoning to emotion and irrational sentiments. I’ve read many comments and reactions coming from people. They are not only unkind but lurid. Some people did not even know anything about the issue on ground. All they heard was that Wike was demolishing buildings, and they savagery jumped into conclusion.
After monitoring people’s unstable reactions, I’m was compelled, ever than before, to conclude that our problems stem from selective and discriminatory dispensation of justice. The law is blind, we all know that. And the law is respecter of nobody. According to Mahatma Gandhi, an error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
Since the demolition of Prudent Hotel, Alode and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne, all in Eleme local government area of Rivers state, by Governor Wike citing management violations of Government’s Executive Order 6 which banned operation of hotels across the state, and which order primarily deals with the curtailing of the ongoing Coronavirus inferno, many have been heard shouting; “crucify him, crucify him” without even knowing the contents of the Executive Order 6. They have become partisan. They have allowed some social media urchins loyal to their paymasters to sway their mood and sense of discernment.
“Good law”, my former lecturer, Dr. Nicodemus Abonyi, once told us, “does not make a good society”. We had argued fervently but fruitlessly dissipating our energy against such assertion. I could remember a classmate, who coincidentally is from Rivers state, received a jaw breaking slap after raising a cacophony of irritating arguments against this time-tested dictum. I wonder what would be his reaction now drawing from my inference.
After many years, the words keep resonating in my mind. And whenever I see people violating our laws, and farting audaciously in the face of their impunity without sanctions, I remember the words of my lecturer. How does a good law make a good society without the willpower to implement it? What’s even law without implementation? If violators of laws are allowed to go scot-free, our country will never move forward. We’ll remain standstill. Nigeria will be running on a treadmill. And that’s exactly what the country is facing today. We’re headed journey to nowhere.
The laws are not made for beasts to obey. People should wane themselves of that prison called emotion, and face the reality. Resentment is like taking poison and expecting your enemies to die. They should do away with their stiff necked arguments that hold no water. Many were suggesting that Wike could have fined them instead or shut down the hotels, or even prosecute the offenders in the court. Indeed, instantly, many arrogated themselves with the status of a governor. They started issuing their own executive orders on social media and pages of newspapers.
Lest I forget, a lecturer of mine, Professor Felix Asogwa, a renowned international professor of International Relations would likely see those arguments as “a shoe shiner suggestion”. That successive leaders have consistently failed in their duties to implement the law as it is does not make those laws bad. Until we start to see things from objective premises we’ll never progress.
Sadly, like Kelechi Jeff Eme noted in his recent work, Nigerians are in the bad habit of using different laws to assess and judge different people based on their creed, party affiliation, ethnics, and region. The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, did pass his own lockdown Executive Order, and when it was implemented, nobody raised an eyebrow. They rather hailed it.
When northern governors were repatriating the Almajiris even in the obvious face of danger that was lurking around, people rose up and gave them garland and cheering ovation. When Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai demolished the buildings of his perceived opponents sometime ago, many hailed him as democratic. And recently, a nightclub was demolished in Abuja because a lady in hijab was seen dancing at the club, and many lauded such decision that as good riddance to bad rubbish.
Now, a man is simply protecting the lives of his people, and some people somewhere were working against that in the face of the prevailing legal provisions, but some Yaba citizens were out, crying more than the bereaved. Rivers state and indeed, all states must do anything within their power to protect their people from insecurities and Coronavirus. Faces must not be the determining factor when implementing laws. The law, we were told, is an ass. It must take effect and strike ruthlessly no matter whose ox is gored.
To be sure, the hotel demolished belonged to a PDP member, from the same party as the Governor. This should send a strong message that Governor Wike is a no nonsense Governor. Lives of his people first. Life before business. Yes, man must eat bread, but he has to live first in order to eat. The Governor was only carrying out the provisions of the law.
For those crying like Hyenas, I have some questions for you: was there any law violated by those whose hotels were demolished? Were they aware of the curfew and lockdown directive by both the federal and the state governments? Were the hands of these alleged victims clean? He who seeks equity must do equity, and must, in fact, first go to equity with a clean hand.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on our opinion page are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.