Opinion | #RiversDecides2019 Lesson And Letter: The Cost Of Victory

By Ross Alabo-George

Congratulations to H. E Nyesom Wike for winning what should have ordinarily been a walk over, but ended up being hard fought, and with unnecessary casualty.

The story of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BC and the Battle of Asculum in 279 BC, during the Pyrrhic War comes to mind.

Plutarch, describing King Pyrrhus’ victory said:

“If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”

Like the governor, I am saddened by the violence and loss of lives. It dampened the sweetness of the victory. Even the victor, Gov. Wike, wept last night during a thanksgiving service; he went on to dedicate his victory to God and those who died.

In this victory, he had a lot to lose, and I saw the genuineness of his tears yesterday. As governor, everyone who was killed under your watch is a burden you must bear — whether they belong to your party or not. When your state is locked down two weeks after all other elections have been concluded, it cuts progress and the state suffers economic losses; and we continue to earn a not so good reputation for election violence. In fact, we lost to win.

We cannot continue with this kind of politics. It is too bloody and uncivil. The role of the military and FSARS is condemnable and evil. Those who allowed themselves to be used were desperate and wanted to reap from a tall tree they didn’t plant and couldn’t climb.

But in the end, we are brothers, and we will dwell in this same land. We must agree to higher standards in politics. With security agencies becoming thugs of war on election days, against the will of the people, the rope that we pull is our own progress.

There is too much desperation, blackmail and hate. It is time to heal.

This is Governor Wike’s second mandate. He inherited a very polarized state. It has even become worse in 2019. The governor has a duty to immediately start building the peace. As tough as it might be, there is no better time to leapfrog over the divisions and set a new agenda that will engender long term prosperity for the state.

With an overwhelming youth support, the governor must start his second term thinking JOBS. I encourage the governor to look to agriculture. His first term had no marked delivery in agriculture. The state needs potable water. Waste management and air pollution have become a major challenge in the state. A lot more focus is needed in what my friend, Larry Pepple, calls “soft infrastructure”.

Gov. Wike has been the most resident governor since 1999. He has no real business in Abuja and will only take an annual vacation out of the country. He is very in touch with masses. Though too much of a micro-manager, I can’t but agree with BudgIT that he has managed the state’s resources. All the projects he awarded are either completed or on-going.

Rivers state has been jinxed with governors who abandon the state in their second terms for Abuja. There is nothing wrong in higher political pursuits, but it should never be at the cost good governance and responsible leadership.

There were wild jubilations across the state last night, but in many homes, it was more of people being thankful that this cup has passed over us.

What the governor won was an immense and awesome mandate of the people. The AAC candidate; Mr. Awara won a short lived season of political limelight; Mr. Amaechi perhaps, won himself the “Thank You” he requested of Mr. President. But this victory is Pyhrric.

No one has to die on Election Day.

Ross Alabo-George is a columnist, computer scientist and social commentator based in Port Harcourt.