For the second time, Rivers State Government will play host to the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, as part of his official engagement since assumption of office in May 29, 2015.
The last visit was when he came at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to interface and interact with stakeholders in the Niger Delta on issues bordering on sustainable peace in the region at the wake of renewed bombardment and economic siege on the operations of oil companies in the region by militants.
Suffice it to say that the then visit provided a veritable platform that led to the eventual cessation of hostilities arising from pipeline vandalism and economic sabotage of oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
Some of the gains of the visit include the gradual rise in the level of oil production quota and increased revenue into the Federation Account.
It is a truism that those who must have advised or ill-advised President Muhammadu Buhari to apply the “stick” or “maximum force” approach were acting the biblical script during the reign of King Rehoboam when he conceded to the advice of his contemporaries to administer his subjects with the aid of the “Scorpion” as against the counsel of the Elders to be more humane in carrying out his responsibility as a King:
“And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s Counsel that they gave him; And spoke to them after the counsel of the young men, saying My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. – (I Kings 12:13 – 14)
It is high time the APC- led Federal Government began to see governance beyond politics if it must succeed and justify the confidence of all shades of people across the six geo-political entity called Nigeria. The office of the President must not be seen as an “APC property” if it is serious in dousing the rising tension and agitations in some parts of the country. The unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct but unity must not be expressed in the context of ‘conquered territories’ of the minority by the majority ethnic groups.
Rather than try mendaciously and fruitlessly to quell the views of the proponents of true federalism, restructuring, referendum or even the so-called Biafra agitators, the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency, be initiating programmes and actions that tend to encapsulate the interest and aspirations of all segments of the nation that are “aggrieved” by perceived signs of marginalization and injustice.
No marriage works by force. The husband must play his role as a loving man for the wife to submit herself for ‘erotic exploration’ or pleasure. I think the language of love attracts better than the threat of war.
Recalled that about two months ago, Governor Nyesom Wike was the first opposition Governor to invite the APC Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal to commission projects initiated by the Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt. This perhaps prompted the Sokoto State Governor and the Sultan of Sokoto to host Governor Wike during a Salah Festival in Sokoto recently.
This gesture by Governor Wike is worthy of commendation and emulation as it has the capacity to neutralise political acrimony and encourage healthy interaction and political cross fertilisation.
Perhaps, the visit by the Acting President is in keeping with the good example of Governor Wike as a man with a large heart and political maturity.
The visit is also an acknowledgement of Mr. Project’s (as he is fondly called) laudable effort in the execution of people-oriented projects that are beneficial to the masses. Also, Professor Osinabajo’s visit is indeed a political deodorant to ventilate and celebrate democracy in Rivers State. It is meant to promote sound initiative, development and the sagacity of a political leader whose passion for service and leadership has brought Rivers State to the forefront in the nation’s political history.
Consequently, the State APC should be happy that the Acting President is visiting Rivers State for good reasons and should resist the temptation to express political animosity over the decision of the Acting President.
This should also be a good moral lesson for the opposition in the State to sheathe their swords and join the State Governor to move the state forward like other States rather than continue to engage in political calumny and propaganda that are inimical to the peaceful coexistence and development of the State.
On its part, the State Government should ensure that its goodwill and political inclusiveness to opposition in the State is not truncated by selfish political gate keepers who are bent on creating political boundaries against fresh ideas and friendship.
The vision to build a New Rivers State is a collective task and all hands must be on deck to achieve it.
As Rivers people receive the Acting President to the State this Thursday, we must realise that in life, there is “a time of war, and a time of peace”. Eccl.3:8.
Posterity will remember everyone for the role he or she plays at every point in time.
Damgbor is a Director with the Rivers State Government.