by Wale Odunsi
The lingering political crisis in oil-rich Rivers State, South-Southern Nigeria, is indeed a source of apprehension to every lover of democracy. Aside the fact that the electorates are the ones suffering the consequence of the stand-off, parties involved in the tussle have by their actions, further adulterated whatever is left of decorum and decency. At the moment, Rivers is a place where only the fittest can survive; chicken-hearted fellows have relocated either to Abuja or neighbouring states, even as some others have taken two or three steps backward to avoid getting hit in the crossfire.
Globally, disagreement between those saddled with the responsibility of leading the people is a norm, nonetheless, there’s always a convincing motive for such. In this clime, the case is mostly the reverse. Taking a critical look at it, why is ours different? Why do officials become worst enemies from best of friends, albeit on issues that wouldn’t positively add to us as an entity? Is there an end in sight to the much-talked about conflict in the land? Time, like they say will tell, but the same time has before now opened our eyes to a few things. I mean, certain events hitherto, gave us inklings to what we are witnessing these days in Rivers. Likening the entanglement to the proverbial instance, three prominent individuals constitute the hands of Esau, they point the way, during which their foot soldiers do the job of speaking in Jacob’s voice.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan:
Fondly called GEJ, he has been the topmost Oga at the Top for more than three years, two of which are a fraction of his elected tenure. His grouse with Rivers helmsman, Rotimi Amaechi, came to the fore about a year ago. The governor as chair of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, fervently disagreed with the Federal Government on issues including delay in disbursement of statutory monthly allocation, management of Sovereign Wealth Fund, creation of State Police among others.
Also, the President feels that the purported ambition of Amaechi is a threat to his, bearing in mind that the entry of another Southerner into a presidential (or vice presidential) contest may affect his chances. Come 2015, the doctorate degree holder in Zoology would not want split votes, either at the primaries or election proper.
Ezenbunwo Nyesom Wike:
He is the Minister of State for Education, a post he attained by the man he now perceives as an enemy. Wike hails from Ikwerre ethnic group, same as the incumbent Governor, who appointed him Chief of Staff. Wike desires to be called ‘His Excellency’, and though he has a right to run, his erstwhile boss had stated that after eight years on throne (two years from now), having another Ikwerre man replace him was unfair to other groups. The statement, which dealt a severe blow to Wike’s aspiration, is today deemed one of the reasons behind the ongoing skirmish. Not only did the Minister ensure that a duly constituted state People’s Democratic Party executive committee was ejected, he supervised the installation of his loyalists, apparently to position himself in the driver’s seat of PDP activities in the state.
Patience Faka Jonathan:
The fact that she was born in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers capital naturally suggests that she is interested in what goes on there. A permanent secretary in her native Bayelsa state, analysts view her grip in the political affairs of her state of origin, as a factor that makes it difficult to reach a truce that, in truth, is improbable.
However, the power she wields has grown skyscraping that she is now regarded as the liberator of Homo sapiens. Initially, many, including myself regarded her as an emperor; in fact, as far back as last year May, I referred to Mrs. Jonathan as “Her Imperial Majesty” in an article. That obviously was an understatement when compared to the recent re-baptismal by a legislator.
Honorable Evans Bipi, representing Ogu/Bolo constituency is the coordinator of the anti-Amaechi lawmakers in Rivers State House of Assembly. On the day he tried to lead a small band to overthrow a Speaker supported by over two dozen majority, he admitted that he is spearheading the removal of the governor for his audacity to “insult” the President’s wife. While being held by the state’s Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Bipi said:
“I want to sacrifice myself for Rivers people; I am fighting for justice. Why must governor came (come) and supervise (the) beating on my colleagues? Why must he be insulting the President, why must he be insulting my mother, my Jesus Christ on earth? I can’t take this!” he declared.
In the light of the above, the gait of the Madam First Lady is now fully understood. Who wouldn’t lock down federating states for days, when some people regard him/her as Jesus Christ? Who wouldn’t breach protocol and alight from an airplane ahead of a President of 170 million people, when some people openly equate him/her with Jesus Christ? Who wouldn’t request an amount that could solve the demands by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to construct a building, when Jesus Christ is his/her mate? Who wouldn’t be accorded the reverence conferred on Jesus Christ, when the spouse watches helplessly while unwarranted prerogative is brandished? Or does Mrs. hit Mr. behind closed doors? Even if my wife made 1000 sacrifices for me to attain a great position whatsoever, that doesn’t permit her to bully those I swore to serve.
To my media friends and others, the next time you people typeset Mrs. Jonathan’s name without prefixing ‘Jesus Christ’, I will sue…for billions of Naira!
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @WaleOdunsi