Ledum Mitee, a former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, on Sunday faulted Federal Government’s position over the arrest of the pilots of Caverton Helicopters by the Rivers State government.
Mitee said in a statement that the Federal Government’s action was a confirmation of MOSOP’s stance that the former placed premium on oil against the lives of Niger Delta people.
He wondered if the government could have acted the way it did if Rivers were to be an All Progressives Congress state.
According to him: “The facts appear, in my view, to revolve around the obvious violations of the Rivers State government’s publicly declared regulations aimed at fighting the spread of the virus in the state and the Helicopter company’s operations which, as it has now been stated, is driven by the federal government’s economic imperatives.
“In essence, the federal government seems to be saying is that the expected economic benefits from the continuous flow of the oil business override whatever regulations the state may be putting in place to protect residents in the state from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the years, I and several others, even at grave risks to our lives, have maintained that this country places so much premium on oil that it is even prepared, and in fact, does sacrifice the lives of its citizens for oil revenues.
“This current imbroglio brings into bolder relief the extent of that sad situation that we have consistently opposed”, he noted.
Mitee argued that the Federal Government ought to have informed Rivers State government of its intention, than engaging in activities in defiance of the state government’s directive.
He said: “Many would wonder if this apparent lack of cooperation between the state and the federal government would have been the situation if the Rivers state was an APC state?
“As I have warned several years ago, the stability of the Niger Delta region, and, indeed, this country, would continue to be dependent on the extent to which the central government is able to tolerate opposition state governments, not undermining them to the extent that its policies in those opposition states are perceived to be dictated by political exigencies of the ruling party’s leadership in those states.
“After all, in the current fight against the spread of the deadly virus, the federal government has practically wittingly or unwittingly conceded leadership to the states.
“Indeed, apart from the daily ritual of press conferences, mainly to announce the current confirmed cases of the virus in the country, citizens of the states have hardly seen or felt the federal government’s efforts to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
Mitee, a legal practitioner, noted that Wike might not be perfect, but the governor had demonstrated boldness for the positive steps he took.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Governor Wike, might not have been perfect, but he has shown that he is not paralyzed by the fear of not making the right moves. Let wiser counsel prevail”, he advised.