Among many indigenes of Rivers State, there is agreement that our single most regrettable tragedy today is gross under representation.
This is direct fallout from the widespread violence and irregularities that marred the last general election in our state. So those who eventually emerged from that highly irritable election clearly were not our true representatives in conduct and bearing. They are also far below their predecessors, both in disposition and content.
Consequently, we currently groan as a people, under the nightmare of living with pretenders and ill-prepared representatives and political leaders across both the executive and legislative arms. Without any doubt, we are obviously among the very few states that performed woefully in terms of human capital in virtually all the elective positions.
For instance, nothing captures this representation calamity like this 8th National Assembly where our representatives have remained embarrassingly passive and lethargic, both at the Senate and the House of Representatives. In fact, this assembly, in conjunction with Nyesom Wike spent the last five months battling spiritedly to tarnish the good name of our illustrious son and our former governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who recently emerged as a Super Minister.
The poor representation in this assembly contrasts sharply with the 7th Assembly where our sons and daughters shone like a thousand stars, both on the floor and at committee level. For instance, we still remember with great pride, the interventions and impact of legislators like Senator Magnus Abe, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and Honourable Asita Okorie, among others, who were exceptionally active in the last assembly. The question then, is: who among federal legislators from Rivers State stands out today in the National Assembly?
The office of the governor and State Assembly are even more pathetic. I refuse to speak on the governor and Rivers State legislature because the reality could break the heart of even the strongest of men. These are indeed troubling times for us as a people but we must brace up to these disquieting moments or risk the dreadful consequences.
But how did Rivers State get to this sorry state? How come we are currently led by the blind? I am at a loss how we are coping with ‘leaders’ who lack basic education and knowledge, even in the simplest of things. Unlike most Nigerian states, Rivers had the rare privilege of early contact with the Western world, dating hundreds of years ago.
Today, all we have to show for this early exposure and the advantage that came with it are crisis, violence and jungle life that continue to diminish and retard our efforts at truly attaining our destined position.
But I am very convinced that God is not done with us yet. We are lucky to have the opportunity of a second chance which actually came by providence. Just as we survived the worst state-sponsored terrorism under the last administration, God has also given us another opportunity with the cancellation of the sham called elections, particularly the governorship. In a few months, we will undo the evil that was foisted on us by the depressing events of March 28 and April 11.
This coming re-run is therefore about justice and freedom. With this election, we will seek justice through the sanctity of the ballot box for the over 100 APC members who were murdered in cold blood for openly supporting their party. The re-run is also about freedom from over 16 years unbroken leadership by one particular part of the state.
But I wish to assure our people that there is absolutely nothing to fear again. The violence and intimidation of March 28 and April 11wilnever occur again; we regained our freedom when PDP lost the general election and that freedom has come to stay.
But more important, the coming election is about us and our battered image as a people. We must join hands to wipe out the embarrassing record of violence, impunity, mediocrity, waywardness, lethargy and all the vices that came with the last administration and the general election. And one man who represents our hope and collective interest is Dr. Dakuku Peterside, governorship candidate of the APC.
Peterside has the education, experience, exposure, temperament and the will to steer our state out of this troubled waters. That unassuming and knowledgeable young man certainly deserves our total support.
After all, leadership is for those who are ready and tested. So we have a duty to put forward, our very best candidates this time around. We must also use this election to support our sons and daughters in APC who over the years had shown capacity and competence. That is the only way we can truly return our dear state to where it rightly belongs.
Wonodi, a public affairs analyst and member of the APC lives in Port Harcourt.