The Killing Fields of Rivers State

My question to the people of Rivers state is this: for how long do you want to kill your brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the name of politics?

Amaechi and Wike are not used to electoral victory through the ballots. Something drastic must be done this weekend in terms of security to end the spate of political assassinations in Rivers State.

The Killing Fields of Rivers State

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

It is hard to comprehend the intricacies and complexities of politics in Nigeria. For sure it is not a normal scenario.

I am not about to change my mind that politics in Nigeria is crazy.

In recent weeks murders or political assassinations have been committed in Rivers State. It is not certain in which direction the investigations are going or if anyone will be prosecuted.

Lawlessness is still a common denominator for politics and several other areas of the Nigerian society.

Political assassinations are rampant in Nigeria and there are many unresolved cases across the country over the past decades.

Hence the Rivers State scenario is not an isolated occurrence. It is a trend that is not about to end soon considering the forthcoming governorship elections and the intrigues that may emerge thereafter.

If taken as a micro-representation of Nigeria or just a case study on its own, what is happening in Rivers State is an escalation of the stupid political processes that occur seasonally across Nigeria.

Sadly, the murders and assassinations that we have seen in Rivers State are products of the mindsets of many people in Nigeria who continue to see politics as a means to an end. To them politics is do-or-die.

To them, politics is a source of deep rooted hatred and the elimination or assassination of political opponents can even warrant ecstatic celebrations including thanksgiving services in churches and mosques.

Politics in Nigeria is generally heart-breaking and in the Niger Delta, very crude too.

The fund that INEC may have expended in organising elections in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria since 1999 may as well have been used for direct development programs instead of the elections.

Again, I am not saying that this crazy situation is peculiar to Rivers State or the Niger Delta alone.

However since the political assassinations in River State is not ending, it is reasonable to use it as a case study.

Typically, ascension to political position in the Niger delta region (if you like say for Nigeria) has always been by anointment. This means that there is usually a general consensus about who is selected or anointed to contest for a certain political post.

It is so organised (or disorganised depending on which side of Nigeria’s home-grown democracy you stand) that the opposition candidate is also aware that his opponent is already approved for the position.

In the remote places of Bayelsa, Rivers and other places in the delta, it is described as clan-to-clan rotation of political appointments.

If Godspower knows that it is the turn of his clan to be sent to the parliament in 2019, he could as well lobby within his family and probably do nothing in the years running to the elections. By implication he knew that when he gets to the house of parliament (state or local), he will become rich. He will share with his clan if he is not selfish.

In essence the political positions are shared and rotated. Governorship positions are not exempted from this arrangement. The settlement of the Odili-Omehia-Amaechi imbroglio can serve as an eye-opener in case anyone is in search of proof of this arrangement.

In furtherance of this, the Niger delta of Nigeria is not usually a place where elections are allowed to take place at voting booths or the votes from the booths are not significant.

The common practice is to find a secure or hidden location usually away from the mainland where heavily armed people are on guard. It is here that the fraudulent massive thumb printings do take place.

In the Niger Delta, as it is also common in several places in Nigeria, the rigged votes do not usually correlates with the number of registered voters. It is because the rigging is so intense that the perpetrators always forget to take the population of the people into account.

There are connections between the politics of the Niger Delta and the retention of the some of the world’s poorest people in what is arguably one of the richest places on physical earth.

The Niger delta remains underdeveloped despite the oil wealth of the area. The permanently corrupt federal government is partly to blame but the bulk of the blame rest on the custodians of the wealth that have been allocated to the region.

The representatives of the region have taken turns via federal and state government appointments to loot in the various regional agencies that have been formed for the purpose of developing the area.

There is also no commitment by the people who get into positions of authority to develop the local areas and the communities because of the way people are appointed to political positions with the collective mentality that it is the turn of a certain clan to “chop”.

May I remind my readers again that this scenario has a national dimension but with varying consequences and implications.

If one looks at the cases of former governors like Alamieyeseigha, Igbinedion, Ibori and Jonathan as few examples, one can get a glimpse of why most of the regions away from the capitals are still not where they should be considering the oil wealth that are looted away by these fraudulent characters.

Fast forward, Ameachi and Wike are from the same clan- the Ikwere clan.

The people of River states consensually know that it is the turn of another tribe to become the governor of River states. This is definitely not a democratic approach and in principle democracy is alien here.

Historically, political thugs and militants re-gained prominence in this region during the 2003 election season. It was at that time that PDP had already taken control of the region and armed the ordinary people, mostly unemployed.

The Obasanjo-Odili collabo would need to answer some questions if a probe is set up today. Similarly, some politicians should be answering for the escalation of Boko Haram terrorists in the north.

Since Amaechi and Wike are not on terms and Mrs. Jonathan is trying to fulfil a promise of electoral victory for Wike, hell is let loose on Rivers State.

Wike has a constitutional right to contest under the platform of his choice. His ambition is normal and healthy but it is taking place against a practice that is alien to the people who even with the PDP would have preferred a candidate not from Ikwere.

There are allegations that the Jonathans have helped Wike in bulldozing his way to the top of the PDP ticket in Rivers State. It is in Nigeria that you hear such things like “by special arrangement, Satan will see God”. Money can do anything in Nigeria.

Both Amaechi and Wike know how the game is played. However since they are on opposite sides of the divide, they are both clamouring that the votes should count. This is new because both of them are not used to electoral victory through the ballots.

In the recent presidential election, it appears that the Wike’s faction-the PDP won the process of counting rigged votes in the bush and presenting it on photocopied papers to INEC. Typical!

Rivers State has been boiling before and after that. APC has suffered more. Her membership is severely decimated by deaths at the top level. Blood is flowing in Rivers and the federal government is acting dumb.

Adopting violence as a way of resolving their political differences is not the best way for Amaechi and Wike. Both are adamant and egocentric on this matter. Personal vendetta is now above the interests of the parties and the will of the people.

The River State crises are not a “small” problem.

There is tension everywhere. There are soldiers everywhere but no safety nets.

As the 2015 elections days approached, APC rallies suffered violent disruptions. People have been shot and people have been killed.

In public places nowadays in Rivers State, it is almost tantamount to a death sentence to mention APC.

Jega’s led INEC accepted a number of disputable results in the just concluded march 28 presidential elections. One of the obvious ones, even as seen through the eyes of the INEC returning officer, was that of Rivers State.

INEC’s fact finding mission’s report on Rivers State as presented by professor Jega was a cock and bull story. Next time, he should tell it to the marines.

However his submission on Rivers State has both advantages and disadvantages.

Understandably, due to the intricacies mentioned in the first paragraph of this essay, Jega’s tactics was an appeasement of the PDP at their sorrowful hour and a subtle counter attack to the display of madness by one Mr. Orubebe.

The acceptance of the results from Rivers State has set the state on virtual fire because it means that whoever rigged best the gubernatorial election on April 11 2015 will capture the state.

PDP has the advantage in Rivers State as it was able to control and manipulate INEC/INEC’s official on March 28 2015. This does not mean that the APC was saintly during the process. One party just overpowered the other, that’s it.

If the presidential results from River States had been cancelled, the tension may have been reduced and probably for the first time since 1999, the people may just realise that the days of rigging are over.

Again, that is also a probability because it seems that the crazy people are on the rampage and dominant in Rivers State. Who knows which way the wind will blow?

On the other hand, cancelling the Rivers State election could also have led to the cancellation of the entire process because there were contestable anomalies and widespread irregularities.

Nigerians accepted the results; the people chose peace above all. It may mean that they know that man made processes will never be perfect.

Now, some reports from the ground in Rivers State will support a hypothesis that the people are not ready to be subdued by the Ikweres for 16 years (Ameachi 8, Wike 8).  It is this hypothesis that Wike is trying to disprove against APC’s candidate, Mr. Peterside.

But only when the votes are counted at the regular voting booths can the truth be known.

Tribal politics is killing Nigeria and it is about to drown the state of Rivers.

Unless Amaechi, Wike and Mrs Jonathan’s influence are taken care firmly by the law, things may get out of hand in River State.

In Rivers State, APC’s agents were barred from polling booths during the presidential election of March 28, 2015. Who gave this order?

Accreditation started at about noon in several places? Who stage-managed the general delay?

What is INEC putting in place and what are the roles of the security agents to ensure that normalcy prevails in Rivers State on Saturday the 11th of April 2015?

Will the army continue to stand by the PDP only or will they stay away and allow the people to vote?

Who will count the votes? PDP’s or APC’s agents disguising as INEC’s official?

Which votes will be counted? Will they be the votes from the booths or the votes from the creeks/bushes?

The most significant question should be put to the people of Rivers: for how long do you want to kill your brothers and sisters, your fathers and your mothers, in the name of politics?

Not until the Rivers run dry…..

aderounmu@gmail.com

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