Bus drivers, pastors gang up against Wike over covid19

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By Kelechi Esogwa-Amadi

There is now every reason to assume that a conspiracy by commercial bus and taxi drivers, transport owners, pastors and filling station owners to sabotage the noble efforts of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to prevent the entrance and spread of coronavirus in the state might be ongoing silently.

This is because the above-listed stakeholders have adamantly refused to comply with the governor’s directives to them as part of measures to check the spread of the deadly covid19.
The governor had, on Tuesday, banned public outings, burials, weddings, church services of more than fifty people at a time, and night clubs.

But investigation shows that while other affected stakeholders are complying with the directives, many general overseers of churches have stubbornly refused to comply with the directives as they are still holding services and other church programmes.

Most of these pastors, we gathered, believe that any attempt to stop the gathering of church people is satanic and must not be allowed to succeed, irrespective of where such order is coming from.

Also Read: Port Harcourt: Offices shut, fewer vehicles on roads over COVID-19 scare

Also, most Christians are in support of their pastors’ decisions not to suspend their church programmes, an investigation has shown.

One woman who said she is a worker in their church said she would rather die because of her faith rather than stop going to church, describing the directive as a temptation.

She said: “This is the time God is looking for those who are with him. We should not allow any situation to prevent us from serving our God. I want the Governor to know that there is need for Christians to be gathering together to pray for Rivers State and Nigeria and also the whole world because of this coronavirus because only prayer can save us. So, let him not ban church service so that God will not be angry with him. If not for the prayers, who knows if this disease would have entered Rivers State by now?”

Apart from the Omega Power Ministries that has suspended its popular coconut night in compliance with Governor Wike’s directive, it is not clear if any other church has followed suit.

The stubborn pastors seem to have allies in commercial bus and taxi drivers who have also refused to comply with the directives of the Rivers State government.

The Rivers State Ministry of Transport had directed all buses to carry tern passengers while taxis should carry only three. However, the drivers are still carrying their normal number of passengers, insisting that the government should pay them compensations if it wants them to comply with the directives.

They are also complaining that the police are still collecting the usual money from them at the checkpoints while the ticket sellers are still forcing them to buy tickets, adding that if the government is serious, it should stop the revenue collectors and policemen from collecting money from them.

Also, many filling station operators are still selling one litre of petrol for N145 instead of N125 as directed by the federal government.

The investigation also shows that residents of Port Harcourt are not protesting against the refusal of the drivers to reduce the number of passengers they carry in line with the government’s directive.