Having written several articles on the current macabre dance and political crisis rocking Rivers State and x-raying its effects on the future political developments of Nigeria if not checked, I do not see further need to come up with another piece on this subject despite new challenges that need to be addressed. Even the poser by Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka ‘that the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny’ could not sway me otherwise. However, while I was in this state, I opened a daily guide from the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) titled ‘Open Heavens’ and was confronted with the bold title for the day titled, ‘Danger of Silence’.
The Spirit of God jolted me in a manner that seems to mean that no tangible result has come out of my past write ups on this issue, as peace still eludes the State, and the need to soldier on; especially given the nature of the new piece you are about reading and the fear of being misunderstood.
Undaunted by fears knowing full that peace in Rivers State and Nigeria is very close. Again, I took solace in one of Prof Soyinka’s quotes, “I think that feeling that if one believed absolutely in any cause, then one must have the confidence, the self-certainty, to go through with that particular course of action”.
If the above quote could not do the magic to sway me off my fears then the question of Edward Abbey that, “How could anything non-controversial be of intellectual interest to grown-ups?” and the encouragement from Marvin Harris came handy when he stated thus; “I don't see how you can write anything of value if you don't offend someone”
President Jonathan and the Macabre Dance of Rivers State Politics
This road is one I don’t like driving on, considering the stand of the President and his aides that he does not want to be mentioned with the current impunity and untoward political developments going on in Rivers State. George Orwell, one of the finest authors of all time, in one of his works woke me up when he said, “Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss.” As if I am not been cautious enough, Criss Jami reminded me in his two quotes that, “If you have to say or do something controversial, aim so that people will hate that they love it and not love that they hate it.” And “To be truly positive in the eyes of some, you have to risk appearing negative in the eyes of others.”
Though, I am not a victim of Ezea Pound stand that, “If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good” but for some strategic reasons, let me stay action on this topic to later stage of this article and instead use this opportunity to, in a way, assess present President Jonathan.
Jonathan: The Journey So Far.
The faulty start of this administration based on the disrespect of the zoning policy of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and insecurity challenges occasioned by the wicked activities of the Islamic sect, Boko Harams sect coupled with the ‘unpreparedness of Dr Goodluck Jonathan for the office he currently occupies, due to the nature of his selection to run for the office of Vice President with late President Musa Yar’Adua and how he became the nation’s number one citizen as a result of President Yar’Adua death the Doctrine of Necessity that ushered him formally as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria were some of the initial challenges that slowed down the smooth take off the administration. His initial plan before General Olusgen Obasanjo selected him to run was to re-contest gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, while late Yar’Adua desire was to retire to classroom as a lecturer.
This seemingly setbacks did not in any way constitute as an obstacle to President Jonathan unflinching desire to contribute his quota towards building a Nigeria of his dream. President Jonathan holds the transformational pledge of promising less, but delivering more. His vision is anchored on his transformation agenda anchored on driving the country on the premise of Continuity, Consistency and Commitment (3Cs). Accordingly, it was the disregard for the 3Cs that had resulted in rising unemployment, inequality and poverty. But the regime has come forth with a holistic agenda aimed at the transformation of the Nigerian state with a strategy that gives cognizance to these 3Cs in the life of the administration.
The transformation plan draws its inspiration from President Jonathan’s electoral promises, the Vision 20:2020 and the first National Implementation Plan (NIP). The agenda is based on a set of priority policies and programmes which, when implemented, would transform the Nigerian economy to greater heights.
Job Creation, Macroeconomic Framework and Economic Direction, Infrastructure Development, Public Expenditure Management, Governance, Justice and Judiciary, Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy, Power Labour and Productivity, Health Sector, Education are some of the sectors the government has made some remarkable impact under this adminstration.
Though space would not allow one to highlight all the achievements of the incumbent, but suffice it to say that in more ways than one both impact and vision have been remarkable. Our transportation system, particularly his commitment for reviving the rail system in Nigeria leaves no one in doubt that things are changing for the better. The establishment of new Federal Universities within two years located at Dutse, Dutsin-Ma, Kashere, Lafia (Nassarawa) Ndufu-Alike-Ikwo , Otuoke (Bayelsa), Oye-Ekiti (Ekiti State), Wukari, Gashua, Yobe State; Birnin Kebbi (Kebbi State) and Gusau in Zamfara State is unprecedented in the annals of governance in the country. In the past two years, according to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minster of the economy, Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the government have built 68,100 housing scheme across the six geopolitical zones of the country and now produces 28 million metric tons of cement, but needs only 20 million. So Nigeria is now a net exporter of cement. On power, 34 independent power producers have gotten licenses, three have actually commenced works and power supply has improved in many Nigerian cities. According to her (Prof. Mrs) Sure-P, Federal government earned N180 billion in improving child delivery, trained 9,000 midwives. The Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line will be completed in 2013, with more to follow by the end of the year. Her Inland cargo depots now handle over four million metric tons rising from 2.9 metric tons. Our banks and stock market are now stronger. Perhaps what needs to be done now is to see how the banks can lend to individual real estate developers at lower interest rates. Power, aviation and agriculture can now import at zero import duty, exchange rate is stable (N155-160), reserves are rising, inflation has reduced, our economy is growing- Nigeria’s economy growing at 6.5%, one of the fastest in Africa.
According to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Ballot box snatching and thuggery have become almost extinct and that it is the President’s deliberate policy to listen and respects the views of Nigerians. The negative deployments of freedom of expression, which has left Nigerians bolder and more asserting, and the President the most criticized in the world, is the cost of the President’s deliberate policy of openness, “In the last two years, the civic space have been expanded, “achievements of the government promoting the rule of law, integrity of state institutions and rights of citizens are legendary and that within eight out of 14 strategic targets set by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 have been achieved.
A Conducive atmosphere for improving and encouraging private partnership with government have made more to industries springing up and producing made in Nigeria goods, including Proforce–armored vehicles, Obajana – Cement, and Innoson – motors, creating jobs and transforming Nigeria.
Reveling in some of these feats recorded by the present federal administration, Nigeria’s Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo at a recent public function said, “Our public institution are being rebuilt, our National Assembly is vibrant, our judiciary is truly independent and our press is feared all over the world and that government has in the last two years placed a special premium on the rule of law and expanding the democratic space but most importantly that President Goodluck Jonathan has exhibited good leadership qualities.”
The Bond between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi:
Reminiscing on the political crisis in Rivers State, I took time out to study the gladiators not minding their denials. The word bond means something that binds, fastens, confines, or holds together a cord, rope, band, or ligament, something, as an agreement or friendship that unites individuals or peoples into a group.
According to Cathrine Beecher, “The principle of subordination is the great bond of union and harmony through the universe and according to Rainer Maria Rike, “I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.
A statement by America’s first lady, Mrs. Michella Obama readily comes to mind in capturing the bond between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi. “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values, like you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond; that you do what you say you're going to do. That you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them and even if you don't agree with them.”
According to the facts available to me, these two great exponents of democracy from Niger Delta shares similar family background – raised in humble families and experienced the pains of being educated by poor parents. President Jonathan won the hearts of Nigerians with his expose that he was that student who trekked to school without a shoe, while Governor Amaechi had a sandal and one pair of trouser which he washes by every weekend to be uses the following week for the major part of his undergraduate days, even as the two political leader are products of the unique University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT and are among the big Port Harcourt boys.
Although President Jonathan is the older of the two, Amaechi have been in politics right from his days in the university, culminating to becoming the only Nigerian that was a Speaker of House of State House of Assemblies for eight years and have the singular credit of becoming the Chairman, Conference of Speakers in Nigeria while he was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and later Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, NGF as governor of Rivers State. President Jonathan on the other hand is the first PHD holder, (not honorary) to preside over the affairs of the country and the only Nigerian that left the academic environment where he was a Lecturer after having a stint with the defunct OMPEDEC and rose to become a Deputy Governor (Bayelsa State that was). Few years after he became the Governor of that state and few years after became Nigeria’s Vice President and President afterwards all of these without contesting a single election. While Chibuike means God is my Power and Amaechi Nobody knows tomorrow while on the other EbeleChukwu which is the name of the President means “God’s Mercy”.
While President Jonathan as the Vice President of Nigeria was suffering every humiliation in the hands of the cabals during the Umaru Yar’Adua led administration. Amaechi was the only Governor in Nigeria very visible in the office of the then Vice President and when President Yar’Adua passed on, Jonathan was been pushed around, Amaechi was among those at the forefront of ensuring that Vice President Jonathan assumed office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when the National Assembly out of their wisdom came up with the Doctrine of Necessity.
When the election of 2011 came up, Governor Amaechi not minding some other options available to him opted to rally round the supports of other Governors to ensure that President Jonathan won the PDP ticket and during the election proper, Amaechi delivered two million votes from the state to ensure that President Jonathan got elected as the 14th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Not done with all these affection to his own brother whom he shares some invisible bond not known to many Nigerians, he went ahead even while President Jonathan was the Vice President to ask him to nominate candidates to his Cabinet in Rivers State, this resulted to the nomination of Professor Israel Owate, who was the President’s classmate as the Commissioner for Education. Unfortunately, he could not drive the vision of the governor on education as fast as the governor wanted, so he was dropped. The governor requested from Mr. Vice President then a replacement. Again he nominated Mr. Moses Ahubele who manned the Ministry of Empowerment and Employment Generation till he died as a result of some health condition in the later part of 2010. After the 2011 general election, Amaechi requested from Mr. President and he graciously nominated Mr. Charles Okaye, who still serves as the Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community-related Affairs.
Who could believe that a person of this status based on his impeccable relationship and respect and love he exhibited towards his own brother the President could be haunted, humiliated, scourged, frustrated and his State turned to war zone even while his brother is still the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is the irony of life. Just for the records, these are some of the humiliations Amaechi was meant to go through – The plane of the Rivers State Government was grounded for no just cause, the PDP Structure in Rivers State was removed from him, his election as the Chairman of NGF duly certified and acknowledged worldwide is in the process of annulment, he was suspended from a party he so much love and spent so much to build, if not for the providence of God he would have been illegally impeached by five Legislators in a House of 32 members; a Police Commissioner by name Mr. Joseph Mbu was posted to haunt, hoard, insult and abuse him publicly calling him a despot, Governors that came to visit him were stoned. In the eyes of Nigerians, he stands as a great man while in the eyes of those haunting him he is a personal non grate.
What could have brought this in a relationship assumed to have been perfect! Barr Achinike Godwin William-Wobodo the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State on Inter Governmental Affairs who holds an LLM in Criminal Law and Practice and currently pursuing a PhD in Money Laundering and Anti-Corruption Law came in to assist, according to him, “the induced situation is caused by third party elements, who are either driven by the hunger for power or jealousy. The seeming situation is induced principally by two classes of persons, those driven by hunger for power which represents the group in Rivers State, and those driven by envy, which houses external factors. For instance, the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, my friend and brother, is at the centre of the group opposes to Amaechi’s style of governance and bent on wrestling power from the governor. My worry is not that they seek to wrestle power from him, because that basically is politics. My quarrel is the approach: the crude, undemocratic and uncivilized manner that they are going about it. In the process, they have undermined the rule of law, breached the peace of Rivers State and are threatening a breakdown of law and order.
The second category are persons who are driven by envy and the rising profile of the governor and the only way, to them, to break the rising profile of Governor Amaechi is to pit him against the president and hiding under the cover of the Presidency. For these persons, I think and honestly too that they have proven that they are not men enough to personally handle their affairs”.
President Jonathan and the Macabre Dance of Rivers State
Having listened to some of the funny and flimsy excuses posited by the Media Chiefs of President of his not involvement in the macabre dance of Rivers State and the counter claims by the Senate Committee that investigated the crisis and many great Nigerians indicting him over this I wonder what type of people actually make up a media Team of the President that ought to be proactive in its defense of Mr. President but have succeeded to generate poor publicity and name calling on Mr. President. With due respect to the much both Dr Reuben Abati the President’s spokesperson and The Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupr are doing the duo have not managed President’s media affairs well enough. Yes, Mr. President may not be involved in this sad developments in Rivers State and should not be mentioned for such ugly incidents seeing what his administration achieved in the rule of law by given the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC free hands in its affairs and how the elections in Edo, Adamawa, Sokoto, Ogun, Ekiti was done and how he duly acknowledged the winners of those elections coupled with other factors. All these great feats nosedived when he started playing games with the outcome of the last NGF Election duly won by Gov Amaechi and instead of improving on his democracy credentials he allowed himself to be used by some confused political gladiators and elements in his cabinet to play host to the Jang Faction of the Governors Forum that shamelessly lost the election. After the futile attempt by the funny five Law Makers from Rivers State to impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan-Amachree. The purported new Speaker, Hon. Evans Bipi was seen attending a function in the State House in Abuja. Before this funny attempt Mr. President played host to most of the key actors pushing or rather instigating the RIVERS State crisis at the State House in Abuja. Weeks to the full war against the peace of Rivers State, the First Lady was in Port Harcourt interacting and dinning with most of these key actors in this dance and all and all Nigerians are told of the non-involvement of the Presidency in all these. Let us assume that is the case, why is it that after the House of Representatives that investigated the grounding of the Rivers State plane and after four months the plane is still grounded? Why is it that after all the calls by both the National Assembly and other concerned Nigerians that the Police Commissioner of Rivers State, Mr. Jospeh Mbu is still in Port Harcourt executing his sad project in the State? Why is it that up till now only the Majority Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly, Chief Chidi Llyods is being investigated and kept under detention for the past ten days while those who instigated the crisis in the House are going about their businesses. Is this not the issue of the owl crying in the night and the child dying in the morning? Let us bring decorum and equity to prevail on this issue and stop playing politics with the lives and peace of Rivers State.