By Oraye St. Franklyn
I have just read a philosophically-flawed but creative attempt by a clandestine writer to pitch Rivers people against ourselves under the guise of seeking to isolate “two ikwerre brothers” whom the writer says are the problems of Rivers State. The writer of the piece other than put out a known name or at worse a sobriquet describes himself simply as “Ecclesiastical Scholar” possibly in an attempt to shield himself from the mischief being promoted by the piece.
I choose to respond to the piece not because it is effective in its plot but because I believe I have something better to say on the subject being poorly manipulated by the unknown Ecclesiastical Scholar who is merchandising political crisis.
However, l must first commend the writer for the creativity invested in dramatizing his politically-motivated plot. As a creative person myself, I’m courted to creativity irrespective of the foundation of its nuances as with this particular case. The point must be made that it is a well written piece. But one would have wished that such creativity was invested in promoting truth rather than political mischief and ethnocentrism. As such, it falls gravely below the mark of a truly creative piece worth its salt and descends into the delimiting precincts of a partisan and politically contrived purpose lacking any enduring philosophical value. Thus, abusing the social-engineering motif of creativity. And that is almost unpardonable.
Let me also say that there’s no crime in taking potshots at politically exposed persons or leaders. One would think that it comes with the terrain of politics and should be stomached by those who present themselves for political leadership or office. This response is not intended to query the right of the writer to criticize. Rather it is meant to critique the credibility of the criticism and expose the mischief of its unwholesome purpose.
By describing the political crisis in Rivers State as The Ikwerrelization of Rivers Politics, the writer descended below the depths of acceptable standards of political commentary into the dangerous alleyways of public incitement against Ikwerre people. It is not acceptable. The unknown cowardly writer should be reminded that around this same period in 1994, precisely between April and June, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. Most of the dead were Tutsis – and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus. To say that nothing best describes the living danger of ethnocentrism in politics or even xenophobia as seen in its damage to the South African society is to say the obvious. This is where true creatives would take exceptions with the use of creative works to promote antisocial values. It is completely out of sync with the motif and spirit of creativity.
The piece being responded to: ‘The Tyranny of Two Brothers’ is intended to demonize the person of Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the current Governor of Rivers State in the same shape and form as with Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, as two Ikwerre brothers being responsible for the bedeviled political climate of Rivers State. That analogy and presumption is faulty in many respects, chief among which is that between both personalities, only one, the latter is the aggressor.
There is not a single shred of evidence that proves even by the slightest inkling that Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is responsible for the political crisis in Rivers State. Going by the promoters of the piece, his crime was to present himself as being qualified to govern Rivers State and also of allowing Rivers people to accept him as such. Otherwise, what is really the problem?
Evidence after evidence abounds of how Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, President Buhari’s Minister of Transportation, has remained relentless in stoking political crisis in Rivers State simply because he, himself, wants to solely determine who becomes Governor of Rivers State against the wishes of the mass and majority of our people. If this is not the case, then what is Rotimi’s interest in Rivers politics?
Who locked down the courts in Rivers State for almost 2 years prior to 2015 to shutout litigants from accessing justice in the State? Who was behind the second but failed bid to lock down the High Court of Rivers State in 2018 in an attempt to deny litigants access to justice? Who leads the military and Police to kill Rivers people in every single election in Rivers State since the emergence of the Buhari-led government?
Both personalities cannot be painted in the same brush irrespective of their homogeneous ethnic background. The fact is, if it were Dumo Lulu-Briggs himself that was Governor without the approval and endorsement of Rotimi Amaechi, he would have still come under the fire and bombardment of Rotimi Amaechi, as did the courageous Magnus Abe, for choosing to present himself as being qualified to govern Rivers State. The issue has nothing to do with ethnicity. Rather, it is the bid by one man, with the support of the President, to determine the political future of Rivers State even if nothing is left standing as a result. Although I have been told severally that President Buhari does not endorse Chibuike’s excesses, I beg to differ that the evidence does not prove it.
It is unacceptable, dangerous and the highest height in the current cascading descent of values to make mischief and incite negative social action among Rivers people for the seeming political gain of a section of our society. Such gains can only be short lived, if they manage to gain traction.
The least courageous writers and, indeed, leaders and elder statesmen must do is to call out crisis merchants for what they are. It is truth that promotes reconciliation. Without truth there cannot be justice, without which there cannot be genuine reconciliation. Those who seek a change in the politics of Rivers State, which one must acknowledge as being overdue, must themselves first seek to promote truth. No attempt of retelling the tale of Rivers politics will obliterate the sordid details of how one man, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, wishes to be the fons et origo of the political ambitions of Rivers people and the character of Rivers politics. Such despotic disposition has no place in a democracy and those who excuse it by literary mischief or promote it by governmental connivance are the true enemies of both democracy, and, indeed, the masses and majority of Rivers people.
Oraye St. Franklyn is a Port Harcourt based attorney and also a media aide to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.