A senior broadcaster, Mr. Chris Ebuetse, on Thursday wrote an open letter to Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, over his plan to demolish the Port Harcourt offices of AIT/Raypower over undisclosed offences.
Ebuetse urged Wike to exercise restrain over the matter as there was no known reason for the planned demolition.
The full text reads:
OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, NYESOM WIKE, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF RIVERS STATE:
Let me first congratulate you on your party, the PDP, winning the governorship election, sir.
This letter is an appeal; it takes into cognizance the enormous power you exercise as the governor of Rivers State.
I read on the internet of the planned demolition of Daar Communications Plc offices, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT), Raypower 100.5FM, and Faaji 106.5FM.
May I humbly request Your Excellency, Barrister Nyesom Wike, sir, to please exercise restraint and temper justice with mercy on the property?
In studying the entire imbroglio, I can only appeal to you, without undermining your enormous powers as the state governor.
May I request, in consonance with your democratic nature, a restraint, sir, taking into consideration the sensibility of our people, the variables of the media as the conscience of the people, with the symbolic connotation, its perfidiousness, and the role of the media as the watchdog of the society, ensuring and creating balance on issues of governance, deepening our democratic culture, building national cohesion, promoting development, security, and peace. Even in countries where there is no freedom of the press and where the media is debased, it still remains the nexus, the catalyst for its society’s rejuvenation. I have often seen the media as the heartbeat of any nation.
Your excellency’s growth in politics cannot be complete without the role of the media, including that of the Daar conglomerates. I have witnessed from the sidelines the impact of AIT and other major broadcast media on the growth of your political career. I also believe that your biography will not be complete without the role and impact of the media in the publication of your views and the series of crises and political battles you have led, the recent with the G5 governors. Looking back from your days as a junior minister for states for education, you are today more known across the length and breath of the country, having admirers for your good and critics, depending on the public’s views and positions in the political equation of the country.
As a Christian, I refer you to the Bible, the word of God, which admonishes believers to count their blessings one by one, and the Bible makes it clear that it will surprise us what the Lord has done for us.
Your Excellency, sir, If there is one governor who has been so blessed in the federal republic of Nigeria, your excellency is the one. What else would you be asking for?
Remarkably, Daar Communications Plc, as a media conglomerate, has continued in its indelible contribution to the socioeconomic development of Rivers State and every other state in the federation since the inception of this democracy in 1999.
The broadcast media business would therefore need your great understanding and receptiveness. Africa Independent Television (AIT), has in no small measure assisted in mirroring the ills of the society, economic development, political challenges, development, and promotion of peace in the land. It was from Africa Independent Television, AIT, that I heard your side of what transpired during the March 18th governorship election. I am sure millions of Nigerians and other people around the world also heard your part of the story. As large as the position you occupy is and as small as we think this media service is, it is quite correct and sufficient to affirm that the media business is a thankless job, especially when compared to other services and businesses in the world.
On the 3rd of January, 2016, I had a comprehensive interview in the Guardian newspaper. The title was, “Dokpesi’s Media Empire Has Exposed Him to Attacks.”
In my interview with Gbenga Salau, I lamented Dokpesi’s fate in the hands of successive state operators. I deeply understand that Dokpesi’s media exposure makes him susceptible to political confrontations.
Some years ago, officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, Abuja, demolished part of the building on the grounds that it violated the Abuja master plan. That incident was perceived as purely political, again, most of the clampdowns on AIT happened during the election periods.
As a scholar, I have applied myself studying Daar Communications Plc.
Those in the business of the media know that the Nigerian environment is so harsh for it. The practitioner is either the target, or the property, or the proprietor, and for Dokpesi, founder of Daar Communications Plc, every form of blackmail against him is mainly due to his political leaning. But the government, be it federal or state, should not forget that thousands of Nigerians depend on the company to practice their trade and get livelihoods.
Your Excellency, right from the military era of the late General Sani Abacha up to this present political dispensation, he has been a target of successive governments in power, largely due to his media empire.
With the advent of democracy in 1999, Dokpesi thought that his victimization was over. But democracy became the height of undue interference in the activities of his media outfits. The political administration at that time had noted that AIT and Ray Power 100.5 FM were giving undue recognition to activities of the National Assembly, led by the late Senator Chuba Okadigbo. For this reason, the consortium of banks, of which Dokpesi was indebted to about six, was instigated to recall their loans. The police came in commando style into the premises of the empire to forcefully shut it down. The loans led to the temporary closure of the empire for six months. The idea was to take the company from him, but his destiny is already packed with him.
Dokpesi also suffered a series of attacks from the government over tenure elongation. There was also the invasion of the facility by the DSS, which took away the broadcast materials on tenure elongation. On another occasion, the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) also pulled down part of the corporate headquarters’ building on spurious claims that it contravened the Abuja Master Plan.
When AIT was occupying a section of the Labour House building in Abuja, the station was razed by fire. There were several fires in the outfit, such as the one that gutted the Abuja, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt, and Lagos offices. Most of these infernoes, based on available findings, were politically motivated. The reasons for all these challenges were that the twin stations were too critical of the government at that time.
Your Excellency, Dokpesi has always seen the wrath of government. His media empire is perceived to be too powerful to be ignored by the government of the day. But in other contexts, are media houses treated the way we do in Nigeria?
I wish to appeal to Your Excellency, Sir. You have the power; you are the chief executive of the state; you should please temper justice with mercy and allow AIT to stay on its compound. Your allowing it to remain will be appreciated by millions of Nigerians and others around the world, who will appreciate your magnanimity.
Thank you for every consideration you will give , in a most compassionate manner to my personal appeal.
God bless your Excellency, sir.
Dr. Christopher Ebuetse
Broadcaster and socio-political commentator on national issues”