This is beyond where one stands on the matter of zoning of governorship in Rivers State between riverine and upland. It is about acting according to the dictates of decency, good conscience, justice, fairness & equity.
These were the hallowed principles that persuaded the likes of late Chief Marshall Harry, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas and other notable Rivers Ijaw leaders to decide that power must go to the upland in Rivers State. Power eventually landed on the laps of Dr. Peter Otunaya Odili, a medical doctor, in 1999.
I must mention that after my exclusive chat with late Chief Marshall Harry in 2001, I was convinced beyond doubt that late Harry and his riverine colleagues in the State had a stranglehold on the PDP at those formative years, a hold strong enough to help them foist a riverine candidate for governor in the manner and character it was done in the Old Rivers State before the creation of Bayelsa State. But they chose to let power go to the upland. They went further to look for the funds that would ensure that Dr. Peter Odili won that election and became governor in 1999. Prominent riverine sons such as Mr. Henry Mac-Pepple in those hey days of his Adamac Group, (amongst others) lent generous financial support to the project because of the personal drive by late Harry.
Dr. Peter Odili served as governor for the constitutionally allowed eight years. By a twist of fate, Dr. Odili was succeeded by another uplander, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. He also served for eight years as governor. It is not lost on me that the unhidden desire by Amaechi for a riverine governor to succeed him, was anchored on the full weight our political history placed upon his conscience. It didn’t happen in 2015 for reasons we all know. That Amaechi is still of the opinion that those sacred principles displayed in 1999 should abound in the hearts of politicians today, cannot be denied.
In 1999, late Chief Marshall Harry and his mates, responded to the indwelling discomfort imposed on their humane conscience to, not only let power go to the upland but worked assiduously to realise the mission. This they did despite that the strings to swing it to the riverine then were firmly in their hands. They listened to their good conscience and acted aright.
Sadly, 22 years after, it seems that men of power in Rivers State (except Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi) are determined to deaden their conscience and are plotting, manoeuvring and fighting ferociously to ensure that elements of riverine in the politics of Rivers State do not smell power at the level of governor again. The sanctimonious path treaded by late Chief Marshall Harry & his folks now appear a disservice to their successors like us. Our only takeaway is that it is getting clearer that never should men without conscience be allowed to get close to power ever.
Senibo Chris Finebone wrote from Opobo Town, Rivers State.