The Rivers Elections and Orgy of Violence By Jonathan Elendu

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The rerun elections for all the National Assembly seats and 22 House of Assembly seats were held in Rivers State on Saturday, March 19, 2016. As predicted, it was an orgy of violence in most parts of the state where the elections held.

The Police have declared 4 deaths and many wounded. The Police also told us they arrested many people. Even the youngest child in Rivers State knows that what the Police declared is only part of the truth. It is official deceit which the Nigerian State perpetrates against her citizens.

This weekend’s violence should not have come as a surprise to anybody as it was foretold. Even then, the violence started long before the elections and the cover-up commenced with it.

How many people were killed in Ogoniland when some soldiers attempted to arrest Solomon, a notorious militant? Of course the official figure of casualties, according to sources in Ogoni, is nothing near the reality.

INEC says it has postponed or suspended all its activities in Rivers State pending the return of calm to the state. This, in actual fact, is the postponement of the inevitable evil to a later day. Any day elections hold in Rivers State there will be violence no matter how many military formations are put in place.

Like a secret known to all, everybody is aware of what is motivating and propelling the violence. It is the struggle for supremacy between two political gladiators.
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State and current Minister for Transport is locked in a battle for supremacy with Gov. Nyesom Wike, his former Chief of Staff. The elections are all about them and not the people of Rivers State.
One is minister and the other is governor, what battle you may ask? The battle is for their political lives. Any politically aware individual in Rivers State would tell you that whoever wins the rerun election will dominate the Rivers political landscape for at least another 3 years, and possibly more.

There had been rumours that if APC wins majority of the seats in the Rivers State House of Assembly there was the likelihood of Gov. Wike being impeached.

On the other hand, you need not be a prophet to know that if PDP wins majority of the seats in the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly APC would be as good as dead in the state.
The implication is that Amaechi’s political fortunes will crash. He will be like a general without troops. Given that the Nigerian political system operates a winner-takes-all-take-no-prisoner style, anybody who knows Amaechi will tell you that this will be a fate not unlike death to him.

 

Indeed, it will be same for Wike if he loses. In Nigeria, political affiliations and party memberships are not borne out of ideological convictions or altruistic motivations. It is about what the individual can get for the moment. Which party or movement will do the best for me at the shortest possible time?
Hence, the loser in the Rivers rerun elections will start losing friends and ‘loyalists’ faster than a receding sea shore. Suddenly his followers will see the light and remember the ‘loving home’ that was their former political family. Decamping will follow in anticipation of filthy lucre.

A serving governor, especially in a state like Rivers can better implement ‘stomach infrastructure’ than a Minister who answers to the President. No matter how many Federal appointments a minister can swing to his followers it will not match the largesse of a profligate governor.

Nyesom Wike and Chibuike Amaechi have come a long way since they were introduced to each other by Igo Owhonda in the early 2000’s. Nyesom had served as a local government chairman and was not sure of regaining his chair at Obio Akpor.
Amaechi was then Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the heir of Gov. Peter Odili’s political family. Wike needed Amaechi’s closeness to Odili and the then Speaker obliged him.

The relationship between the two men blossomed to the extent that they forgot Igo, the man who brought them together. They may have left Igo out of their relationship because he had predicted that this day would come.

I know for a fact that Igo Owhonda, ironically, is not beating his chest that his prediction has come to pass. He is very sad at the turn of events in the lives of his two Ikwerre brothers whom he brought together.

Igo Owhonda’s emotions are shared by many in Rivers State. Amaechi and Wike are very prosperous young men. Their families are not caught in the crossfire when violence is unleashed by their followers on the streets of Portharcourt or other parts of the state. Their children are studying safely abroad or are escorted by armed guards whenever they venture outside the safety of their homes.

It is the common man and woman in Rivers State who bears the brunt in the fight between these two elephants. They are the ones who lose limbs, livelihoods, and sometimes pay the supreme price when violence is unleashed to sustain Wike and Amaechi in power.

In the past few days I have wondered how the orgy of violence in Rivers State can be checked. Maybe we should appeal to the two gladiators to sheathe their swords. You laughed. Me too.

I am not really a religious person, but permit me to refer to the Christian holy book, the Bible. It says that the ‘heart of man is wicked, extremely wicked.’
Chibuike Amaechi is a man I like to call my friend. I know that he is a very religious man. I know he is constantly surrounded by Priests. I know his wife to be a ‘prayer warrior’ who has tried several times to convert me. I have seen tears run down Amaechi’s face on hearing stories of suffering of people he doesn’t even know. I have known him to be a compassionate person even with his mercurial temper.
Nyesom Wike is a man you would describe as a ‘happy go lucky person.’ He laughs a lot and is known for his generosity. He is man who enjoys life. And I hear he has found religion in recent times.

How come the two men I described above, Amaechi and Wike, have an army of very violent people as followers? What is it they desire so much that is worth human lives? Why are they not appreciative of the blessings God has showered on them? And where does the Rivers man, woman and child feature in their scheme?

The sad reality is that the politics of violence and winner takes all breeds more violence, wickedness and selfishness. This kind of politics is the catalyst for corruption and by extension suffering for common folks.

The Rivers people should distance themselves from politics of violence which destroys lives and livelihoods. They must repudiate these parties that wallow in the orgy of violence.

Let every Rivers man, woman and child reject PDP, APC and their so-called leaders. It is time to take back the state from bloody hands that steal the peoples’ wealth and stain their hearts.

Email: jelendu@aol.com    Twitter: @jelendu1

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