Rivers: Politics Of Solidarity Visits And Protest Marches By Ifeanyi Izeze

10 Min Read

What does the Holy Bible say my people are destroyed for? It was not for the lack of resilience for violent confrontations; and definitely not because they did not go to school as some of them attended the best ones in Nigeria and overseas and can stand anywhere to defend their certificates. But my people perish for lack of knowledge and wisdom to discern the signs of the time like the children of Issachar in the Bible.


It vexing that the perceived feud between Governor Chibuike Amaechi and President Goodluck Jonathan on one hand and the open fight between Amaechi and Nyesom Wike , Minister of State for Education on the other has turned Rivers state into a theatre of absurdity and now all we have is the politics of solidarity visits and protest marches for and against whatever cause.

The other day it was the former governor of the state, Peter Odili that led the solidarity visit to President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja to declare their loyalty. Of course, the truth is that the visit was a protest march against Governor Chibuike Amaechi. The day after, Odili’s Deputy, Gabriel Toby led his own solidarity visit to Amaechi at the Government House Port Harcourt where they equally pledged their loyalty. Without being told, this was also a protest march against whosoever is fighting Amaechi both at home and abroad.

It was very painful to see the caliber of men that went with Odili and Nyesom Wike to President Jonathan in Abuja and also the ones that came with De Toby to the Government House, Port Harcourt. If the elders who should be the ones making efforts to reconcile Wike and Amaechi for whatever their quarrel is, were the first ones to take and stick to sides, then things have completely gone wrong in Rivers state. If Odili and Toby cannot call Amaechi and Wike to order, who else can? Both Chibuike and Nyesom were political creations of Odili and both highly respect and esteem Toby. So what are we talking about?

How could the elders be more concerned in taking sides while the state is grossly progressing in error? It would have been more productive and elderstatesman-ly to see Odili as a father lead that same team to visit Amaechi at the Government House to plead for peace or even if it is to chastise Chibuike for not behaving well towards Jonathan/Wike. And also Sir Toby going to Jonathan/Wike to plead for peace. Is this too difficult to achieve if we are sincere with ourselves? It is still not too late for this initiative as the fire is still burning and need to be quenched before it consumes the entire state and even the region.

We need to ask ourselves: what has the elders (political) of the state done to resolve this degenerating tussle? Where are the royal fathers and even the clergy? The insinuation that Amaechi is a dictator and does not listen to anybody is outright self-deceit and not acceptable because no matter how big a son grows, he can never outgrow or rather be senior to his father. We are still a people with traditions and norms. The question is: has Amaechi always behaved like this even before he became the governor or he changed after his first tenure? Who has ever called the two brothers (without bias) for settlement? And at what point did Amaechi and Nyesom stop listening or taking advice from credible elders of the state and region?

There is one clear attribute of the Amaechi- Wike/Jonathan fight and it is very worrying. Every disgruntled politician in Rivers state, South South and even the entire country are cashing -in to the Rivers political crisis to be resurrected for relevance and thus rather than seek for peaceful resolution works to worsen the crisis. Where were all these people while that the problem between Amaechi’s NGF and President Jonathan and now Wike, was amenable and not developed to this level?

My worry is for the ordinary peace-loving citizens and residents of Rivers state and the entire Niger Delta who on the long run will be at the receiving end in this evolving anarchy.

It’s time we stop all these solidarity and protest marches because it is not going to force Amaechi out or install and interim government. Today it is Amaechi and tomorrow it’s going to be whoever and then whosoever has sympathy for Amaechi and some of his loyalists then would change to the other side and start their own anti-whoever daily protest marches. And if you did it under Amaechi, you will be ready to tolerate other people do it when you form your own government. If you don’t, you know what would follow!

Now, what were the Northern Governors Forum people looking for in Port Harcourt? First and foremost, Amaechi’s political problem is 99 percent domestic and only a sincere domestic solution can address it. The national angle is the slimmest side of the crisis. How is the Northern Governors’ Forum going to help Amaechi reconcile his differences with erstwhile members of his political family at home? You see that everybody is just using the opportunity of this feud between Amaechi and Wike/Jonathan to make cheap political gains.

Is it conventional for governors and politicians to pay solidarity visits to their colleagues in other states, abandoning their own responsibilities and even greater political problems at home?

Without mincing words, the northern governors’ visit to Port Harcourt was to only compound Amaechi’s problems at home and with Jonathan- this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It was the most unproductive in the arrays of solidarity visits and protest marches that have come to characterize the Rivers political space of recent because there was virtually no need for it as it only buttressed the smear campaign by the Ijaws against Amaechi.

Still on the absurdity in Rivers state politics, has it occurred to anybody at all that suddenly Rivers state is seeing thousands of youths “manufactured” to cause trouble in the anti-Amaechi protests and even some too on the governor’s side?

The question: If such number of youths (majority of whom were former militants) are still available for this kind of assignments, who then were the ex-militants that were rehabilitated and sent to school by the Kingsley Kuku-led Federal Government Anmesty Programme? This is a very serious angle to the entire political crisis because it’s not only a Rivers issue but a matter to look at in the entire Niger Delta. Nigerians were told the amnesty programme has succeeded in stamping out militancy by productively engaging former militants. But what we are seeing in Port Harcourt proves contrary to the claims by the amnesty implementation committee.

This is a serious poser for both the Federal Government’s Amnesty Committee and the Ministry of Niger Delta. Does it mean the billions of Naira spent by the federal government to rehabilitate the former militants were not after all applied for the purpose? Or does it mean the amnesty programme did not incorporate ex-militants from some areas? The civil society and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should come in here on the selective amnesty application of the federal government’s largess.

There is one thing that is sure in this whole crisis and particularly to the governor: “Bros this sickness is not unto death but that the son of man be glorified.”

(IFEANYI IZEZE, Abuja: [email protected]; 2348033043009)

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