The current political debacle playing out in the oil rich Rivers state is one that shouldn’t be treated lightly, or wished away, as doing so may jeopardize the continued existence and security of the state and everyone living in it.
In other to fully grasp, understand, and assimilate the import of the situation under discussion, it would do us a lot of good to first have some detailed information about Rivers state.
Rivers state was created on May 27 1967 by a military decree during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon. Rivers state has from the years of yore been a strong hold of any government in power, even right from the days of the colonial masters, before the military era, and down to the present democratic era. Its centrality and its fortress-like impregnability has been one of its greatest sources of strength.
Bordered on the sides by Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Anambra, and Delta states, Rivers state has become a point of connection to the aforementioned states, and has made it possible for business or commerce to thrive, as traders from all these states converge in the state to display and market their goods.
The state is a very large state, made up of Ogoni, Ijaws, and Ikwerre as the main ethnic groups, with other minority ethnic groups scattered all over the state.
Interestingly, Rivers state, which is also known as the treasure base of the nation, has 23 local government areas, 23 languages, and 23 members of the House of Assembly. The state has remained one of the major oil-producing states in the country.
This embattled state has gone through a lot of amendment and restructuring in the hands of the men who have contributed in building it to what it is today. From the military administrators of the state down to the civilian governors like Melford Okilo, Rufus Ada George, Peter Odili, Celestine Omehia, to Chibuike Amaechi and finally down to Nyesom Wike, this state has seen a lot, and I must say it keeps growing and getting better. Even when the government of General Sani Abacha carved out Bayelsa state from Rivers state in 1996 following cries of marginalization by the Ijaws, the state was still growing, as the people of the state were enjoying democracy, which is known as government of the people, and for the people, and by the people.
Painfully though, the relative unity and peace the state was enjoying is now being threatened by the looming cataclysm occasioned by the unconstitutional and undemocratic interference of some people in the state’s politics.
Rivers state has always been a boiling cauldron where politics is concerned, but the eyesore witnessed during the recently concluded presidential and governorship elections in the state is about to completely change the face of politics in the state and create a mayhem that may not be eradicated for many years to come.
Whenever some greedy and power-drunk group of persons desperately attempt to hijack power against the will of the people, the masses suffer, and that is exactly what is happening right now in the state, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has colluded with some people at the federal level to deny the people of Rivers state their right by trying to steal the mandate willingly handed over by the masses to Governor Nyesom Wike. Despite the glaring evidence that Governor Wike won the election, and the massive support of the populace before, during, and after the elections, the antagonists have decided to continue dancing their macabre dance, silencing their conscience, throwing caution to the wind, ignoring the voice of reason, and forgetting the age-long adage that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
These insatiable elements should be made to understand that trying or attempting to frustrate the masses and nullifying the wishes of the people is nothing but a deliberate effort at truncating justice and raping democracy. And the consequences are dire.
Rivers state belongs to the people, and it is only the people of the state that can decide whom to govern them. And they were unanimous in that decision when they massively voted Governor Wike as their governor.
At this juncture, it is only pertinent that the federal government and every opponent of the PDP government in Rivers state recognize and respect the will of the masses by swearing in Nyesom Wike as the elected Governor of Rivers state.