Many in and outside Imo State may not like Senator Rochas Okorocha. It may be because the man is flamboyant or arrogant in the eyes of some Nigerians. It may be that Okorocha thinks he is cerebral and confident, or that he is plainly an unrepentant nuisance from the standpoint of others.
Whatever anyone thinks, whatever he has turned out to be, the man isn’t someone who could be easily ignored.
It was Governor Rochas Okorocha who, midway into his first tenure, brandished a rather arresting slogan, “My People, My People”.
Could it be the chant of a people’s governor who understood the power of the people? Or the chant of someone amused by the perceived weakness of the people?
No one could say at the time, but the thought of such a slogan was unique and Okorocha who may have happed at a new way of relating with his constituents pressed ahead.
Of course, there was no way the governor’s chant would go without an appropriate response. So, admirers of the governor broke into chants of their own.
From the grounds of any public gathering, his admirers chanted, “My Governor, My Governor”. The slogan made in Imo for the Imo audience has since caught up, spreading like a bushfire nationwide.
With apologies to Senator Okorocha as he now is; apologies to his supporters who obviously own part of the patent over the slogan, “My Governor, My Governor”, let me borrow a bit of that slogan.
The incumbent Governor of Rivers State is one of the governors who are serving in office. As Governor, Wike is my governor. So, let me address him as “My Governor, My Governor.”
I hear My Governor, My Governor, has concluded plans to name a handful of overhead bridges that are under construction in Rivers State after some Ikwerre communities. What an achievement that is, My Governor, My Governor!
Kai! Nyerisi, there is none like you!! Not even President Trump with whom you appear to have fallen in love would dare do what you are trying to do in Rivers State.
Choi! Power Karila su wene!! Let me salute your courage, for you seem to thread where angels would not even dare.
It would be wrong to address you as a maximum leader. That would be largely disrespectful and crude. I think for our purpose, it would be best to describe you as a decisive leader and the “Owa Okani I” of Ikwerre Kingdom.
Subtly you began the Ikwerrenization of Rivers State with the renaming of markets built with public funds.
The Mile I Market got a new name and so did the Fruit Garden Market which you commendably rebuilt.
Nobody raised a voice. The Rivers people simply looked on in amazement as their governor began a new journey.
There were people, true Rivers people who easily shrugged it off and said why not when weary eyes started studying the dance steps of His Excellency.
As we speak, not many of them are amused, especially now that we seem to have an overdose of what is regrettably turning out to be an agenda of the Ethnic Ikwerre.
I am an Etche man whose mother is from the Ikwerre stock. As a person, I am bewildered by the mere thought of it. Can this be happening in a multi-ethnic society such as we have?
I have tried to go around like a deaf person. Something in me rebels. I have tried to go dumb, but it is difficult to look the other way.
I have thought my kindred in Ikwerre were more accommodating than any group of people that I have seen.
Somehow, I am worried that their access to power is gradually leading them astray. How can any Ikwerre man, after 16 good years that his brothers have been in the saddle, be dreaming of occupying Government House? Have the rest of us become slaves?
It is worrisome that at the pinnacle of power where he operates, My Governor, My Governor is probably being goaded to think that the best thing to do is to summarily turn Rivers State into an Ikwerre State.
The Rivers people had gone to the polls a few months ago to elect a Rivers Governor; a functionary who would defend Rivers interests and where possible place food on their breakfast tables.
As things are, the people simply succeeded in drafting someone who would rather be seen as an Ikwerre Governor instead of a Rivers governor into Government House.
It is clearly astonishing that at this point of our evolution, it is not the people who are saying that the Ikwerres have an overbearing agenda. It is the Ethnic Ikwerre, after tasting power, who appear to be paving the way for such ugly thoughts.
If you are in any doubt, what would you say about the actions of the State Governor who is openly suggesting that we are soon to enter a new era when the rest of us would bow to the Ikwerrenization project?
Recall that a few years back, shortly after an Ikwerre, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi finished his assignment as Governor, another Ikwerre who claimed to come from Ikwerre South indicated interest to govern the rest of us.
Some of us thought then that the idea of consolidating power in one ethnic group was wrong, but God was kind. He gave the Ikwerre another Nyerisi. With a few years to go to the end of his eight-year tenure, there are hints that yet another Ikwerre, possibly from Ikwerre Central might be warming up in the wings.
Those who bore my mother would think that their son has come out openly against them. They may think I should not be the one to write about these things. They might even believe that I am about to incite the rest of the Rivers people against them.
Rather than destroy them, let me say my intention is to save them. To dominate others in perpetuity, to act as if others do not exist, to hold unto power because they believe they have what it takes may prove to be their undoing in the long run.
There were times, many years ago that the Ikwerre aspired for power. Those were the days of the old Rivers State.
Many still remember how the Ikwerre were denied power; how they toiled night and day to arrive at the point where they are; and how other Rivers people came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to deny the Ikwerre of the right to occupy Brick House.
What has happened to the conscience of the Ikwerre? Why would some of them now spread the thinking which suggests that the Ijaws did that and nothing happened? What happened to the doctrine of turn-by-turn which runs this country, a doctrine that we had embraced in Rivers State as the best step forward?
What is happening to the Ikwerre intelligentsia, those great minds who could say white is white and black, black? Why are they watching as this generation of the Ikwerre embark on a suicidal journey that would turn out to hunt them? Why are they silent?
My Governor, My Governor, I do not imagine that the things that I talk about are strange to you. I do not believe that you are unaware of the possible backlash that is to come.
We must speak truth to power, speak truth to our people at this time of great trials. That is why I think you are walking the corridors of power at this time, perhaps in accordance with the will of the Almighty.
The Germans thought many years ago, they were strong enough to rule the whole world. They were wrong in the first attempt and wrong in the second.
Power is like an intoxicant. It holds men captive and turns them into dictators. It points the way forward and could point the path to destruction. Which explains why philosophers have hinted at the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Those blessed with power inherit a task to cure the many ills of society; not to add to the enormity of problems in their quest for dominion.
I can imagine that there are people who would tell you how saucy I have become, who would hint at how daring I have become in addressing you. My Governor, you are the leader and I believe that you have the wisdom to see through these things.
Your place in history shouldn’t be that of an ethnic bigot. It should be that of a leader who laid a solid base for the Rivers society.
Those who tell you that the Ethnic Ikwerre must take every thing mislead the Ikwerre nation. How can the Ikwerre, on an account of their population say that the Etche people whom they address as their brothers cannot occupy the Senate? Can this be seen to be fair? At what point would my brothers, the Ikwerre realize that they are beginning to alienate themselves from other Rivers people?
My Governor, My Governor, it is time to inspire men to think deeply; time say to “My People, My People” who are Ikwerre to think again. We need to be our brothers’ keepers.
We need to set aside greed, embrace a culture of healthy collaboration and cooperation in order to promote stability, steady growth and development.
Upon a principle of evolution and devolution has Nature built His world. It is a principle that many ignore at their peril, but it is a principle which ought to raise positive vibrations that man needs to overcome obstacles that are created by him.
Those who love Ikwerreland; who believe in the Rivers project must wake up. The temptation to have it all; to take it all; spreads through Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Emohua and Ikwerre Local Government Areas, and good Ikwerre sons and daughters must resist it.
Dappa Biriye had told me in an interview many years ago that states had lost their manhood. Biriye was bitter that the states he spent time advocating for had developed a penchant for going to Abuja cap-in-hand to beg for crumps.
Biriye is long gone, but I can only imagine how the Abaji Da as we came to know him would weep were he to be here to see what his beloved Rivers State is turning into.
Our common wealth cannot become the exclusive preserve of one tribe. Our future as Rivers people cannot be determined by one tribe.
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