It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today, to address the issue of our collective political future and the bad precedent that has been set by our current governor, Nyesom Wike, over his actions towards the presidential candidate of the PDP Atiku Abubakar and his supporters in Rivers State.
Recall that of all the 5 Governors in the G5 group, the only state where Atiku did not campaign was Rivers state and this is because of the overheated polity that has lasted since the constitution of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council. Supporters of Atiku Abubakar have been attacked, hounded and vilified openly by elements within the Rivers State Government. For non-supporters of Atiku Abubakar in Rivers State, this may seem to excite you in the name of politics, but we really should look beyond our noses into the horizon of the consequences.
As we approach the national elections, it is important that we take a step back and consider the implications of the governor’s actions. The Rivers State governor openly admitted to “chasing them away” in reference to disrupting on-site planning of the PDP Presidential campaign in Rivers State, Senator Lee Maeba barely escaped with his life during this disruption and coupled with the constant physical attacks on members of the PCC, Atiku Abubakar announced a cancellation of the Rivers State Presidential campaign.
Recall that after having approved the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium for the use of the PCC, the Rivers State Government later retracted the approval. A few days later, the Governor retracts the disapproval and reverts to its original approval. This back and forth reeked of uncertainty, which led to the PCC opting to use a private property as stated earlier.
Now, Rivers people. Let us take a moment to think.
Imagine for a moment if a northerner were to stop one of our own sons from campaigning in his state in the future. The uproar and the outrage would be overwhelming, and the precedent that has been set by Governor Wike would be the cause of it.
It is in really bad state that out of 36 states and the FCT, the only state where a Presidential campaign was canceled to avoid unnecessary violence is Rivers State.
This situation is not just a matter of politics, it is about the reputation of Rivers State and the future of our political prospects in Nigeria. Governor Wike’s antics have not just destroyed the reputation of Rivers people, but it is also destroying bridges for upcoming Rivers politicians in national politics.
No matter how you look at it, the tenets of politics include sportsmanship. This is why Governor Ugwuanyi, a member of the G5 received Atiku Abubakar in Enugu State regardless of their current differences. Governor Ugwuanyi showed a character the Rivers State Governor clearly lacks, an excellent spirit of sportsmanship.
It is important to note that former Rivers State governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi also came second in his party’s presidential primaries, yet even as he is not openly supporting his party’s candidate, he has never hounded or vilified Tinubu’s supporters in Rivers state.
This is a testament to his maturity as a politician and his respect for the democratic process. The people will decide their leadership at the polls.
Former Governor Odili also lost a presidential ticket bid in 2006, but he is still respected amongst his peers in national politics. This shows that losing a political bid does not mean the end of a political career. It is possible to lose with dignity and grace.
Governor Wike’s fight against Atiku is not a fight for Rivers people, it is a fight for his scuttled personal ambition. His enemies are not the enemies of Rivers people.
It is important to remember that Governor Wike will leave office in May 29, but the damage he has done to our collective political future in Nigeria will last for decades, whether Atiku wins the presidential elections or not.
Rivers state politicians across all parties need to remember that posterity will come for them all as they remain silent in light of these actions. It is time for us as a people to rethink our national image. We are not thugs.
In conclusion, I would like to end with a quote from the former American President, Abraham Lincoln, who once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Governor Wike has been given power, and his actions have shown that he lacks the character to lead with dignity and respect.
It is time for us, as a people, to take a stand and protect our political future.
Let us not be remembered as the generation that allowed our political prospects to be destroyed by a lack of vision and maturity. Let us be remembered as the generation that fought to protect the future of our children and the reputation of our great state.
To Rivers Youths, I call for peaceful elections in Rivers state and beg you not to put your lives on the line for any politician. Let us carry ourselves with dignity, respect and fairness to one another.
There will be life after the general elections and we should not be a tool for political violence. We must not forget the consequences of our actions.
Whether you’re voting APC, LP or PDP, we all desire a better Nigeria for our collective future, let us remember that the goal of elections is not to settle political scores that don’t concern us, but the elevation of nationhood and democracy.
As former US President John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Let us take this time to repair the damage that has been done to our collective political future before it is too late.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I hope it will inspire us all to take action and ensure a better future for Rivers State as a people and in our place in the Nigerian State.
Brian Dennis is a socio-political commentator from Degema, Rivers State