Home MIXED GRILL OPINION: RIVERS: A SEASON OF DEFECTIONS AND REVELATIONS, BY AFESIMAMA JUMBO

OPINION: RIVERS: A SEASON OF DEFECTIONS AND REVELATIONS, BY AFESIMAMA JUMBO

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George Santayana, the famous Spanish philosopher and poet, writing on
the lessons of history in Madrid in 1863, noted that “those who cannot

remember the past are doomed to repeat it”.
Evidently, there is a sturdy correlation between those immortal lines

and political developments in Rivers State today. To every student of

history, Rivers State and the gale of defections and revelations at

the moment capture the real meaning of Santayana’s well known and

all-time quote.
For me, the real tragedy for Chief Nyesom Wike and his motley crowd of

receding supporters is that they have learnt and remembered nothing,

despite their long years in politics. Again, like most philosophers,

Santayana shows us how fickle and forgetful the human memory can be in

moments of great crisis. Are we not once again travelling a familiar

but absolutely avoidable road?
But there is an interesting twist to the goings-on in our dear state.

For some of us who have followed Rivers State politics over the years,

we knew Wike’s cookie would surely crumble. The only novelty however

is the unfolding speed with which former members of the PDP are

defecting to the APC.
Unlike the past, these PDP defectors are now filling the gaps for us

and re-enforcing with their horrible tales, the violent and

dishonourable activities of the former ruling party in Rivers State

before, during and after last year’s general elections.
Part of the revelations of these APC returnees centre on

high-handedness, intimidation, threats and even death sentence, just

like Wike’s death wish late last year to officials of the Independent

National Electoral Commission, INEC and people of Rivers State.

Resorting to threats, not only to election umpires but also to his

people in a democracy showed how decrepit our society had become. In

an age when reason and compromise guide political process, I am

horrified with the embarrassing absence of civility and moderation in

the words of the occupier of an exalted office like that of a

governor. Sadly Wike, in his characteristic manner chose to live below

the expectation of his high office.
Unfortunately, this death threat from a governor already has

consequences. It appears to be giving rise to objectionable conducts

by some people who are emboldened by such pronouncement. Today, armed

robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality have continued

unabated in our state. But this death threat, I must emphasize, is a

national security matter and I hope those saddled with the

responsibility of securing Nigeria are watching.
Lately, I have also been reviewing comments by our brothers and

sisters who are rejoining us in APC after many months of fierce

political disagreement and acrimony. Some of them were Wike’s former

aides and close associates but there is a common thread that runs

through their stories. Their complaints are essentially that of

exclusion, intimidation and threats.
But I am not surprised. A leopard can never change its spots. The good

news however is that the stories of the returnees, horrible as they

are, inspire. Their awful accounts and experiences have further

strengthened our resolve and determination to change our state for

good by electing those who are prepared for leadership. Critical also

is the fact that these defections are helping to deflate PDP’s

contrived popularity and bloated ego.
I know Rivers State will rebound, just like Nigeria and we can see

the signs. It is heart-warming that members of other political parties

across our state can now gather without fear of PDP’s harassment and

intimidation. A few days ago, I read the touching story of how APC

members in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area celebrated their

first meeting that did record any form of attack in many years.
As a party, what the APC wants is freedom. There can never be a fair

political contest in an atmosphere of fear. In the last couple of

years, we bore the brunt of state sponsored violence and terrorism, a

situation that came to an unparalleled crescendo during the March and

April elections. But today, we are better, bigger and ready to effect

the needed change. I congratulate the returnees for their heroism and

patriotism. I also commend our leaders for their magnanimity in

keeping the gate of our great party wide open.

Jumbo, a public affairs analyst, is also a member of the APC.

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