The Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, TCCO, said it received with shock the reported public reprimand of traditional rulers by the governor of Rivers State, Barr. Nyesom Wike at the 108 and 109 general session of Rivers State Council of Transitional Rulers in Port Harcourt Monday for what the governor referred to as their involvement in partisan politics.
TCCO in a statement signed by Chief Chidi Lloyd, PhD the Director-General of Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation noted that “Ideally, it is imperative that traditional rulers, as leaders and custodians of the people’s common heritage and culture, should remain non-partisan. We believe that every traditional ruler understands and accepts this position. Ordinarily, a constant reminder to the traditional institution of this age-old norm by a sitting governor should be seen as either routine or prompted by certain misstep by a member or members of the revered institution. However, Monday’s warning by the governor was couched in the harshest and most unconscionable language not deserving, not respectful of and totally demeaning to the hallowed office of the traditional rulers.”
The statement reads: “It is unsettling that Gov. Nyesom Wike decreed that, “If you don’t respect your stool, you will have challenges. Withdraw yourselves from playing politics. If you don’t withdraw yourselves, I will withdraw you. If you take sides, I will also take sides.” We find this style of Hitler-type decree and talking down disgusting, repulsive and unacceptable to the traditional institution in Rivers State and all decent minds.
“The exact reality on ground is that Gov. Wike has directed that no first class traditional ruler should represent Rivers State government before the federal government or federal agencies without his approval. He has further warned that before any traditional ruler will lead any delegation to visit the federal government; such a traditional ruler must have approval from him. This is the highest insult to the traditional institution in Rivers State. It appears that the governor has conquered the good people of Rivers State and their traditional rulers because the people seem to have gone silent in the face of this 21st century tyranny.
“Even more troubling is the attempt by Gov. Wike to incite the traditional rulers against the opposition when he stated thus: “We expect the political parties to play by the rules and embark on peaceful and issue-based campaigns. But you must be on the watch out to ensure that no person or entity violates the peace of your communities under the guise of political campaigns.” This indeed is a move to surreptitiously drag the traditional institution into partisan politics on the side of the governor and against the rest of the opposition parties in Rivers State. It is a clear message of intimidation to beat the traditional rulers into line on the side of the governor and his party and against the opposition.
“We are convinced that the real reasons for the present reprimand of the traditional institution by Gov. Wike was occasioned by the open acceptability of the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Pastor Tonye Cole who has been received with fanfare by the people and showered with traditional titles during his ongoing ward-to-ward consultative visits across the State. Therefore, we deeply regret this present attempt by Gov. Wike to publicly humiliate the traditional institution for partisan political reasons.
“The Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation believes that it is only respectful and proper to visit and get formal approval from community leaders before accessing their various communities to interact with the people. We will continue to respect the sanctity of the traditional institution by not undermining its authority, neutrality and fairness to all.
“We urge Gov. Wike to accord the traditional institution its deserved respect and not want to intimidate and incite our traditional rulers against any group or political party as the governor’s present chastisement appear to indicate.”