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When death came knocking for peace lovers

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SIR: I love Rivers State and the people. I met many sophisticated people there, from the waterside areas and uplands, to chiefs and the average joe. My two children in a civilised country would have been partly indigenes of the state, for they were both born there. But they aren’t, because we are not civilised.

My love for the state notwithstanding, Rivers State has not been lucky to have had very good leaders in this fourth republic. The same way Cross Rivers and Lagos have, probably. Here is a state where many people who reside in Port Harcourt cannot go to their communities for fear of cultists, kidnappers and angry brigades who have overrun local communities, committing all manner of debaucheries, tolerated only in failed nations with no government like Yemen, Libya, Somalia and others.

Yet the body language of the politicians in Rivers State does not bespeak action to reign in these bad people, to brown them off for good. The problem of Nigeria cannot be solved by the class of politicians that we have in this fourth republic. Many not only lack the ability for office but also experience.

Politicians who do not care about development and whose threshold for associating with bad boys is very high instead of very low.

When you disrobe real chiefs and install others who once had a devil-may-care attitude then you should expect malevolence to the type not only in Omoku but elsewhere in Nigeria. In Nigeria some bad men who are reputed to have carried guns against the state are members of legislative assemblies. In many places, some bad men are now traditional rulers. Sometimes, I wonder what kind of politicians these politicians are in this country.

I wonder why we should blame the police for the rise in wicked criminality in Nigeria, without deferring to the debauched politicians who are the arrowheads in the first instance. Someone mentioned to me that Linus Okorie is desirous to become governor of Imo State and I asked: can he carry guns? Does he have a militia somewhere to carry out a killing order? Not in war to supplement a regular army but to beat the be-jesus out of political opponents turned political enemies.

Why must gunnery be associated with politics? Why should people who went to church to pray on New Year Eve die on New Year Day caused not by a sudden earthquake, tornado, any other unavoidable accident but by some psychopaths who orchestrated a well thought out, planned attack on civilians coming out of church. How are these fellows in the Niger Delta, different from Boko Haram or Fulani Herdsmen, both their bete noires?

The saddening part is that this ghoulish event will never be a watershed for change, for synergy between politicians in the state and the federal government and of politicians of all political party divide to move Rivers State forward. Many may still die in the coming days. You will never hear of any fillibuster to demand for justice in the state legislative assembly.

Now you see why Royal Dutch Shell contemplates to move its headquarters away from Rivers to Lagos, why companies are closing shop, people relocating, why LNG moved its ship repair services to Badagry and Dangote cited his refinery not in the Niger Delta but in Lagos. Instead of addressing the real causes, the politicians celebrate victimhood and grand conspiracy by the west and Federal Government against them.

Go to Rivers State before Christmas up until the New Year and you will see a state locked down, no activity as all strangers would have travelled out of town. The natives are hardly entrepreneurs and don’t fill the void created by the absence of settlers on whose charge the state and people live on. No thanks to future-blind politicians in Rivers State, the economy of the state survives on rent seeking and not on industry. Go to Edo and Delta states at Christmas and you will notice a difference. The economy is in the hands of the local people.

Puzzlingly, countries bothered by the sea or those with access to the sea are very rich. Why not Rivers? Annoyingly, at election time, sooner now than you may think, these politicians will go out confidently campaigning for votes even with dead bodies at their backyard. People they swore an oath to protect. What is worse is that they will get the Annie Oakley from the same people that they treat as invalids. And come again with no clear cut agenda but Buckley’s chance for development.

May the soul of the dead, rest in peace. Amen.

Simon Abah.


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