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There are some people who really have nothing meaningful to say, but finding themselves in the perculiar situation where they must say something, they end up sounding like a tired, irrelevant ventriloquist, straining his falsetto vocal chords to mouth some overflogged, outdated criticism.

Dr. Sokonte Davies is one of such persons and his populist echo, calling on Governor Nyesom Wike to, according to him, “reopen markets which have remained securely locked in the overall interest of the people,” which was reported in some media platforms, is the very epitome of ventriloquy at it’s worst.

According to several reports, Dr. Sokonte Davies made this call, while receiving a delegation of market women in the State who paid him a visit at their Port Harcourt Party Secretariat, in his capacity as APC’s Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State.

He also echoed other irrelevant comments to justify the visit of the market women including the obvious white lie that the APC had a complete understanding of the situation, and a rejuvenated party which is currently engaged in internal efforts at reconciliation, would defend the interests of Rivers people and those who

reside in the State. What a joke!

But the part which really raised a huge laugh was when he was described as the “APC’s Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State”. Against this backdrop therefore, it becomes quite obvious why Dr. Sokonte Davies must be compelled to say something, even when he has absolutely nothing to say, but must talk in other people’s voices, like a Ventriloquist’s dummy.

It is important to state here that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the appeal by the market women for the markets to be reopened and the Rivers State government also feels the pains which affects not just the market women alone, but indeed, what majority of the populace is going through, as a result of the Corona virus pandemic, which has completely dislocated and rearranged all our lives, from the normal way we used to do things, to the new normal.

Without mincing words, the Rivers State Government, ably marshalled by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, can beat it’s chest proudly and claim that it has done excellently well in the proactive efforts and strategic initiatives which have been deployed so far, to contain and curtail the  spread of Covid-19 in Rivers State.

The unfortunate irony of such calls by Dr. Sokonte Davies for all precautionary restrictions to be lifted, is reflected in the fact that, even as the leader he claim to be, he still wallows in the tragically naive ignorance that Covid-19 is just a hype and not as dangerous as it is made to appear. And that is why for example, he and his ilk can deceive market traders, who they are supposed to be educating, with statements like finding “creative ways of getting their people to maintain social distancing and encouraging them to have access to the marketplace”.

The question to ask Dr. Sokonte Davies is this: “Has he actually been studying the figures released everyday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and has he also noticed that the states with the highest number of confirmed positive cases and recently recorded spikes in numbers, are those states that have lifted precautionary restrictions and relaxed Covid-19 advisories and directives? Does Dr. Sokonte Davies even realize that there is no “creative way” of getting people to wear face masks and observe social distancing, except to enforce it, and in the process, protect and secure their lives?

Covid-19 is not a child’s play or a tea party. Global economies are struggling for survival and

tottering on the edge of recession. Some have even collapsed right now and looking for aid, so when Dr. Sokonte Davies rants that: “The continued lockdown of the markets, has become an impediment to the expansion of commerce and trade, both of which have clear impacts on the health of the Rivers economy”, one begins to wonder which economy he wants to expand and which Commerce an trade he is talking about, in a Coronavirus pandemic afflicted world, or is he actually living in another world different from ours?

Indeed, if Dr. Sokonte Davies has been living in Rivers State, he would confirm that the efforts of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to address, contain and curtail the spread of Covid-19 in Rivers State have been robust, bold, pragmatic and implemented with both legitimate and humane considerations.

From the periodic lockdowns of specific communities, to the provision of comprehensive palliatives to every local government area, to the free bus service scheme and the on-going decontamination of  markets, schools, churches and other settings that accommodate large crowds, even the most unrepentant critic will applaud the structured and strategic manner through which the Rivers State Government has

been responding and  forestalling the community spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the state.

It is little wonder therefore, that the confirmed cases in Rivers State, which rose disturbingly for a couple of days, have now been decreasing rapidly with each passing day, with recoveries and discharges on the rise and reported cases confined mostly to those with underlying health issues or those exposed to cross border, imported carriers. This reduction in cases is the result of the bold and stringent enforcement of the directives and precautionary measures mandated by the state government and medical authorities, with Governor Nyesom Wike himself leading from the front and ensuring that impressive compliance is observed.

The fact remains that Covid 19 is not only real and dangerous, it has now become a fluid, unpredictable condition, which may not even manifest the symptoms earlier associated with it before striking it’s victim and it has no respect for anybody. But the most worrisome realization is that till date, a cure or vacinne that can be easily accessed by everybody, has still not been developed for it and the best prevention is to observe precautions and advisories.

So, when people like Dr. Sokonte Davies talk about opening markets and advocate other glib and flippant suggestions, because they want to sound politically correct and play politics with Covid-19, without considering the dangerous implcactions of their reckless suggestions to the lives of our people, they deliberately coerce and deceive people into endangering themselves and when the inevitable happens, they will be the first to turn around and accuse government of not enforcing precautionary measures.

Of course, it is understandable that his new elevation to the dodgy position and status of APC Rivers State Caretaker Committee Chairman, could be responsible for this urge to speak up and be heard when silence could have been wiser, but one can only sympathize with Dr. Sokonte Davies for the simple reason that his amateur strategy of trying to divert attention from the many troubles of his fractured party, as well as carrying the monumental responsibilities he did not bargain for on his weak shoulders, may have compelled him to the desperation of leaning on the old and tired crutches of criticising Governor Wike, which sadly has failed in the past and will continue to fail.

Let us remind Dr. Sokonte Davies that he has bigger things to battle with and more important

things to say in his factional and fractured party. We also want to assure him that Governor Wike is not all disturbed by this unnecessary noise and distraction, because he is fully committed in his effort to secure and protect the lives of Rivers people from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

Rivers lives matter and Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike will continue to do what is right for Rivers people. Covid-19 is real, but together we can outlast and overcome the pandemic by the Grace of God. Amen.

Soibi Max-Alalibo

SA on Media to the Hon Commissioner

Ministry of Information and Communications

Rivers State

July 8, 2020.

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