Rivers: Towards Genuine Reconciliation


There is no debating the issue that Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, struck the right cord, when in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement that permanently sealed the fate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) from having a shot at the general elections in the State, extended the olive branch to opposition elements in the State, and appealed to them to join hands with him to move the State forward.
Of particular importance is the fact that the Governor had specifically called on the Minister of Transportation and former Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to join hands with his administration to develop the State, contending that Rivers State stands to benefit more if all leaders are united.
His words, “Although the present politics of acrimony and bitterness may have strayed from the noble path of the past, I still believe that we should be of better standing and working together for our state and our people. I, therefore, appeal to the APC and the Minister of Transportation to join hands with us to move our dear State forward. We cannot as leaders continue to remain divided and expect government to deliver on its responsibilities to our people”.
Governor Wike had also promised to run an inclusive government in his second term. Interestingly, the Governor put his words to action, by taking practical steps to prove that he was sincere, to actually oil the wheels of the peace process. First, members of opposition political parties in the State were appointed into the Transition and Inauguration Committee for his second term.
As if that was not enough, the state government recently dropped the murder charges hanging like the sword of Damocles on the neck of the factional State Chairman of APC, Mr Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
Expectedly, Rivers people and political watchers in the State recently heaved a huge sigh of relief, when the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Andrew Uchendu, ostensibly holding brief for APC and Amaechi, in apparent reciprocity of Governor Wike’s gesture, at a news conference in Port Harcourt asserted that the opposition party had accepted the olive branch extended to it, albeit with some veiled conditionalities.
Indeed, going by Senator Uchendu’s proposition, keen political observers in the State were tempted to believe that the peace process initiated by Governor Wike was truly on course, and that it was a matter of time for all the political gladiators to come together in the true spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Incidentally, Mr. Amaechi’s comments on Channels Television, last Tuesday, unfortunately threw spanners in the works of the peace process, and to a certain degree, punctured and rubbished the APC’s claim that it was truly committed to peace and reconciliation.
Amaechi had said, “There is no war going on between Wike and me. What is going on between Wike and me is the fact that he wants to run a second term. The fact is that he ran the first term in which people were killed. Today, he is accusing the Army and not the police because they refused to take bribe from him”.
Obviously, these words are weighty enough to ignite another war of words, to inflame passion and stoke the fire of hate and acrimony among the political gladiators in the State. We make bold to state that this is not what the state needs now, and that Amaechi’s comments do not depict him as a true statesman who should be interested in peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and the general wellbeing of the state and her people.
The Tide strongly believes that Amaechi’s comments leave a sour taste in the mouth, and have the capacity of truncating the peace process. That his grouse with Wike is that the latter wants to run a second term is infact, hollow and infantile. We say so because the State has gone beyond that level as Governor Wike’s second term has today become a fait accompli, going by the political indices on ground.
As the Governor rightly pointed out, it is not the place of the Transportation Minister or any individual for that matter to decide who becomes Governor of the State or who runs for a second term in office. Only Rivers people have the prerogative to make that choice at the polls.
Indeed, Governor Wike’s olive branch to his challengers and others is the right way to go in times like this so as to retrieve the State from the seeming throes of insecurity and other development challenges staring it in the face. It is, therefore, incumbent on Amaechi and other stakeholders to drop their war drums and toe the path of peace.
Nonetheless, it is important for all political gladiators in the state to be cautious and circumspect in their utterances and actions to actually make the peace initiative work.
We have no iota of doubt that the state government is sincere in its peace overtures but it would also not be a bad idea if it looks into some of the grievances of the opposition with a view to achieving the much-desired genuine reconciliation. Today, Rivers people need peace and development more than anything else.