Rivers State has always been thrown into a volatile state during general elections. Though the seat of power is in faraway Abuja, Rivers State has always been one of the key states in the country by virtue of its strategic position as an oil rich state, and a major interest in the presidential election has always been about access to the oil wealth in the Niger Delta.
Nigerians are on the march again for the 2023, general elections and the polity is seriously heating up with the two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC breaking into factions. While this is not unexpected, the violence that is brewing underneath is not acceptable.
Rivers citizens are looking forward to a change of guards but not through a process that will set their state on fire. For many years now there has been a running battle between the former governor, Chibuike Amaechi and his brother, Nyesom Wike and following the parties’ primaries, acrimony has increased with serious crisis within the two parties.
The concern here is that in pursuing their political interests, there must be sanity in the state. The country is moving forward with a fire of awakening and all that is needed is a level playing ground for all to showcase what they have to offer so that the electorate can freely choose who to represent them.
This is why the recent pronouncement of Governor Wike warning hotels against allowing politicians to use their premises to groom and meet with alleged cultists sends a wrong signal. Politicians in this state have always met with cultists and they know hotels are not their meeting points. We do not want a repeat of past acts where sitting governors sealed up opponents’ premises/meeting points under the guise of not paying tenement rates, hosting criminal meetings, and all that.
If anything, the threat by the governor to pull down and seal off hotels and private property identified as purported meeting places of politicians and cultists will heat up the polity and return the state to the dark days when it was labeled the “Rivers of Blood.”
The state needs to consolidate on the current peace and security it enjoys and nothing should be done no matter how politically expedient it might seem, to subvert the situation. The losers will not only be the politicians and their followers, the entire state will lose enormously not only in the likely loss of human lives and property, the economy will suffer and it will take a much longer time to get things back and regain the confidence of investors. Let all work with a sense of responsibility. The civic space is large enough for everyone, and must be left open for all legitimate and lawful players to use.
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