I will begin this part by first thanking all who have stood and continue to stand in my defense both privately and publicly even without having the full picture. Some of you have been the butt of unpleasant jokes and insults as well as I have been but you have remained relentless in your defense.
To you, I offer profound thanks and appreciation. It is also because I do not take your support and friendship for granted that I have chosen to write this long awaited Part 2 of our ensuing discourse.
As a public person especially one in the topsy-turvy terrain of Nigeria’s politics, it is not unexpected or unusual to be levied with allegations and accusations of unprintable and unfathomable proportions. The character of the politics itself dictates that. If you’re not accused of squandering a phantom amount of money, you are slammed with betrayal or disloyalty.
In my case, it is almost an inexhaustible list of unjustifiable offenses. It would therefore be surprising for someone like me in an active political role to either feign ignorance or plead immunity against this political trait.
An accusation of betrayal of Gov. Wike, former Gov. Amaechi or whomever else would be substantiated by facts. The public has been presented with no facts beyond the generous slamming of accusations of serial betrayals.
I have been privileged to serve Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general for 22 unbroken years, since 1998 when I was initiated into active politics by Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack as a Voter Educator. I was trained as a Voter Educator by him through the Transition Monitoring Group, which had the duty to prepare Nigerians for this democracy that we enjoy today and the then 1999 General Elections that would usher it.
Since then, I have played various active roles in strengthening, defending and purifying our democracy. In the course of doing these, I have had the privilege of working with political actors across divides and with clashing interests. If the charge of betrayal amounts to working against any of their interests to achieve the goal of strengthening, defending and purifying our democracy, then my guilt should be determined by the public, otherwise what is substance of the allegation of serial betrayal?
I will restrain from being explicit with details as the intendment of this piece is not to inflame passions or open healing sores but to illuminate and educate minds in order to build peace and strengthen and purify our democracy.
If betrayal amounts to working with one and then another to promote good governance and strengthen democracy, then aren’t we all guilty? Is that really an issue? Am I to regret standing for the best interest of Rivers State? God forbid.
I am a Christian although my detractors call me many other things. Again, this is not unexpected in the field of Nigerian politics. As a Christian I’m inspired by doctrinal teachings to build peace and promote harmony irrespective of humanity’s frailties. I acknowledge my own frailties and shortcomings in the course of exercising my civic duties and defending democracy.
It is the reason I, of my freewill and conscience, chose to make peace with a key actor of our political history as Rivers people, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the former Governor of Rivers State.
Making peace was necessary because I, admittedly, went beyond the line of decency in the course of doing either my work or performing my civic duty to Rivers State and Nigeria. On that score, I have apologized to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and made peace with him privately. Thankfully, he graciously forgave me. This is not the first time I would speak of this publicly.
It is also not the first time I would be speaking on the need for political actors to deliberately instigate peace for the development of Rivers State. Besides that I practice what I preach, no true Rivers person would deny the damage political crises have caused our State. The need for peace should therefore be more than commonsensical to stabilize our State and move her forward.
Reconciling with former Governor Amaechi, with whom, like many other political actors across political divides, I share a deeply rooted history, has thrown up expected consequences with a few rabid reactions and for understandably ‘good’ reasons. My response to those are simply that I am content with reconciling with the former Governor. It suffices for me as a person, citizen and Christian. Where it leads and what becomes of it are secondary matters.
However, it is gratifying that conscious political actors know that being in position (as in power) or in the opposition (as in out of power) are choices political parties make by the actions their stakeholders take or inspire. Being in power has its responsibilities just like being in the opposition. None should be perpetual except by choice of actions. For me, it will always be about what it has always been about: #RiversFirst, in the sense that it is about the #BestOfRivers.
As I said in Part 1, quoting Louis Brandeis, “The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” This is why the focus of all genuine lovers of Rivers State should be about decently engaging political and governmental systems, structures and actors, and ,by so doing, strengthening them to deliver better value for Rivers people in particular and Nigerians in general. I will continue to play my roles in this regard in line with the dictates of my political office as a private citizen.
Politics is not mortal combat. It is an intellectual work. It is an enterprise of winning heart and minds. Those who are not primed for it will continue to be its liabilities. Political Parties, too, as our dear Governor Wike says, are vehicles to power. Who will dispute the soundness of that fact? It should be so for you too whether you are just a citizen or an active politician.
No matter where you go with them, it is important to always remember the road that will lead you home; such that when you arrive, you must step down and work very well for your people. It must be about #TheBestOfRivers.