By Simeon Nwakaudu
I understand that Gbenga Arulegba, the AIT presenter of Focus Nigeria, is a business associate of former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. His business relationship with the immediate past Governor of Rivers State is not enough reason for him to trivialise the security of Rivers State and that of Nigeria.
As a background, Gbenga Arulegba was Amaechi’s media consultant who produced a television programme called ‘Giant Strides” for the immediate past Governor of Rivers State. The programme gulped hundreds of millions in airtime and production costs. Even at the Ministry of Transportation, Gbenga Arulegba still works as a private media consultant to Rotimi Amaechi.
On Monday, January 8, 2018, Gbenga Arulegba once again used his Focus Nigeria to make several judgmental pronouncements on Rivers State and her security network. These pronouncements would have been ignored, but for their obvious links with the same views expressed by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his social media consultant, Deji Adeyanju.
Arulegba threw media professionalism through the window and jumped into the arena in a desperate attempt to promote the narratives of his paymaster.
Recall that his paymaster through Sahara Reporters on same day, promoted a similar narrative online.
Arulegba reading the Rivers APC press statement on set, accused the Rivers State Government of sponsoring cult activities in the state. Aruleba re-echoed Amaechi’s allegation that Governor Wike is sponsoring protests against the police and blamed him for security breaches in Rivers State. While downplaying the badoo cult killings in Lagos State, Gbenga Arulegba accused Governor Wike of not cooperating with security agencies to tackle criminality in the state.
It is on record that there is no love lost between the Rivers State Governor and the AIT presenter of Focus Nigeria. That Governor Wike refused to continue with the multi-million naira running contract that Gbenga Arulegba had with the immediate past Governor of Rivers State led to the deep-seated hatred and the penchant to misrepresent facts. Since 2015, Gbenga Aruleba has made his platform the television arm of the falsehood network of the Amaechi crew. Every statement made by Amaechi and Rivers APC are amplified by Gbenga Arulegba and other media associates of the former governor.
Gbenga Aruleba is clever by half. When the security breach happens in other parts of the country, the federal security agencies take responsibility. For Rivers State, Gbenga Arulegba tells his audience that Governor Wike should be blamed. This unprofessional double standard is unfortunate.
If we stretch the argument by Gbenga Arulegba, it means that the governors of Kaduna, Benue, Lagos, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Adamawa, Kwara, Zamfara, Yobe, Kebbi, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba refused to cooperate with the federal security agencies, hence the massive security breaches in their respective states at different times in 2017/2018. It is disingenuous for Arulegba to claim that in Rivers State, Governor Wike should be held responsible for security breaches, while in other states, the President is responsible for security.
The structure of governance in Nigeria is such that all the instruments of state coercion are domiciled with the Federal Government. They are fundamentally at the beck and call of the President and Commander-in-Chief. No state governor, anywhere in Nigeria can issue a directive to a state commissioner of police, state director of DSS or any service commander for that matter. In other words, no state governor is a Chief Security Officer of his state. It is only academic to think otherwise.
If you doubt, ask Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The state has passed an anti-open grazing law. The State Commissioner of Police outrightly declared that he will not implement the law. Since the Police Commissioner is not answerable to the Governor, he can afford to disrespect a law passed by the State House of Assembly.
Like Governor Wike has said, state governors are mere logistics officers. They support security agencies with finance and logistics, but have no roles in directing their operations.
Therefore, it is disheartening that Gbenga Arulegba would join his paymasters to allege that Governor Wike has failed to support security agencies and has facilitated cultism. This is falsehood at its crude form.
It is on record that Governor Wike stands out as the governor that has made the highest investments in the funding and equipping of security agencies. Over the last 30 months, the governor has donated over 200 Patrol vehicles, 20 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 20 security gunboats, bullet proof vehicles, housing estates and funding for state-wide operations.
Despite the politicisation of security by the APC Federal Government, the governor has remained focused in the promotion of security.
Governor Wike abhors insecurity. He is the ultimate protector of Rivers people. Aside setting up mechanisms to fight insecurity, Governor Wike facilitated the passage of the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Amendment Law, 2015. This law helped the security agencies in their fight against kidnappers and their sponsors. It also created the framework for the tackling of cultism in the state.
The confiscation of the residence of Don Wani and the property of other criminal elements have been made possible by this law. He has proposed further amendment of the law to prescribe death penalty for offenders.
Governor Wike launched a successful amnesty programme which led to the restoration of peace across the state. This amnesty programme calmed communities across, engaged cultists and rebuilt the state’s peace process.
The Rivers State variant of Amnesty Programme is the best as its outcome has been profound in all communities of the state. Since the commencement of the programme on September 16, 2016 when Governor Wike inaugurated the Rivers State Amnesty Programme Implementation Committee, peace has developed progressively in the state. There may be few infractions, but peace has returned in majority of communities.
The programme helped in the profiling of all notorious cultists, creating the background for security agencies to trail those who eventually returned to crime. The profiles generated have helped security agencies.
Gbenga Arulegba is a known APC member. But even amongst liars, there should be honour. Why would an experienced broadcaster allow pecuniary consideration to override security interest?
If Arulegba wants to be sincere, he will admit that Governor Wike has taken all necessary measures to promote security of lives and property in Rivers State. I have outlined steps already taken.
It took the intervention and motivation by the governor for Don Wani to be traced and killed. All across the state, Governor Wike motivates security agencies to do their work. He motivates traditional rulers and other stakeholders to work towards better security for communities.
On the issue of SARS, which Arulegba touched indirectly, the position of Governor Wike is known. The criminal gang failed the Rivers people the moment it took to kidnapping and armed robbery. It failed Rivers people the moment it got involved fraudulent extra-judicial killings. The facts of SARS’ indictments are known. One of such indictments is a signal from the IGP X Squad. Governor Wike made his position clear. Initially, the Police High Command lived in denial before the national public outcry forced a belated feeble action.
It is expected that APC apologists like Gbenga Arulegba would cry over Governor Wike’s insistence that SARs must stop their criminal activities in the state.
By trivialising security in Rivers State on his programme, Arulegba has exposed the grand plan to destabilise the state as championed by his paymaster. It is unfortunate that the APC Federal Government through her agents like are working with media traders to circulate negative propaganda to overheat the polity and generate crisis.
It is for this reason that Amaechi, as a former governor, delivered an illegal state-wide broadcast, played the national anthem and spewed out falsehood aimed at instigating violence in the state. Imagine a situation where former President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a national broadcast, simply to embarrass Buhari and incite violence.
Gbenga Arulegba is a personification of the unfortunate trend in broadcast journalism, where commercialisation of falsehood has robbed the country of developmental opportunities. His recent ugly on-set drama with one Dr Okonkwo on the Anambra Senatorial rerun is a clear testimony of Gbenga’s sad descent into the propaganda business for personal gain. They almost fought on set as Gbenga Arulegba lost control of the studio. It is true that AIT relies on the commercialisation policy to survive, but there is a limit to which the management can tolerate rascality and media merchandising.
*Nwakaudu is media assistant to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike