Rivers State Governor, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has stated he has great respect for traditional rulers, given the critical role that the traditional institution plays in promoting peace, unity and cultural harmony in the society.
Ironically, the sudden turn around is coming after the governor took a sneering swipe at traditional leaders in the state during a meeting.
Recall that a quarterly meeting the governor summoned in Port-Harcourt two weeks ago, he dressed down the monarchs, openly calling them sycophants.
Governor Wike, who is currently expressing disappointment that some unpopular politicians in the State are continually playing politics with the traditional institution said while speaking during the installation of a former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo, as Head of Achin War Canoe House and his admission as a member of Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs at Okrika insisted he has respect for chieftaincy,
He said: “I have great respect for Traditional Rulers because they are critical to the development of our State.
“It is regrettable that some politicians always want to play politics with the Traditional institution. I am the only Governor who has always declared open their quarterly meetings. It was not so in the past.”
Governor Wike stated that he will always promote the tradition and culture of Rivers people, noting that in all his engagements with Traditional Rulers, he has always maintained that they promote their respective ethnic nationalities.
He said: “When I urge the Traditional Rulers to promote Rivers culture it is not aimed at disrespecting them. We must promote our own culture. We must show we are Rivers people.
“Those playing politics with the Traditional Institution were the ones that balkanised the traditional institution in the State. What I said is, carry along your official Staff of office, which distinguishes you as Traditional Rulers. Our Traditional Rulers must prove at all times that they are not second class citizens.”
Governor Wike urged Chief Abiye Sekibo to use his experience and contacts to add value to the Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs.
He said: “Use your experience to attract development to the area. I want to commend the people for choosing Dr Abiye Sekibo. ”
The Governor said despite emerging as the head of Achin War Canoe House, Dr Sekibo’s contributions are still required in the political landscape.
Senator Representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Senator George Sekibo said with the induction, Chief Abiye Sekibo is now a leader in charge of a division, noting that he is like a general in the army.
He said: “As a war canoe chief, you should be ready at every point in time to defend your people. To defend the citizens of your war canoe. Today’s defence is not necessarily war, it may be economic. Whatever challenge, it is required of you to salvage the situation ”
Chairman of Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs, Chief Kala Wolo said Okrika people are happy with Governor Wike because he loves them and is committed to their development. He disclosed that Okrika people would soon celebrate the Governor’s re-election.
The induction of Chief Abiye Sekibo as Head of Achin War Canoe House and his admission into Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs witnessed Traditional Dances, which climaxed with Chief Sekibo displaying before the audience.