About a month ago, we were in Abuja for the wedding between the daughter of Asembo Timon and the son of Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, the Deputy Governor of Nassarawa State. Of course the Abuja event was preceded by the traditional marriage in Port Harcourt a week before.
After settling in, Obele and I went to see Prof Azaiki, who was already with Chief Dr. Abiye Sekibo at the Hilton. I was touched when I learnt that the former Minister of Transport was in Abuja solely for the wedding of his friend’s daughter. Because I recollected that he was at the Port Harcourt event too.
At both events, speakers kept harping on the significance of cross regional marriage, describing it as essential for national rebirth. The speakers, clergy and dignitaries so stressed the importance, that my nationalistic passion was ignited. In a flash I thought to myself, if only I could marry again. The point is that we need to weave a compact web of relationship to deepen our unity.
For as we know the base of the Nigerian basket is weak. The bad tomatoes in the basket have released so much fluid that the base fabric is soaked. The result is the pain and shame we now live with. We therefore pray for more connections across the landscape.
I didn’t know that Chief Sekibo was gearing up to lead his beloved daughter down the Holy aisle too. What is more, he was giving his daughter to the son of our senior friend and leader, O.C.J Okocha, SAN, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
If Nigeria needs unity to heal, Rivers State needs it to prevent. So, Chief Sekibo and his friend OCJ Okocha have by their deed taken a step towards moving our people closer. This is so, because the naïve are quick to sow seeds of disharmony especially between the riverine Okrika and the upland Ikwerre.
Two major clans that if united would accelerate the progress of the state. The Ikwerre and Okrika have had a long history of social, cultural and trading relationship.
However, as was the case in ancient times, kingdoms with legendary warriors like the Ikwerre and Okrika did have conflicts, and always settled and returned to harmonious affiliation.
That was why when the colonialists arrived Port Harcourt and had to secure the city for administrative purposes, the chiefs of Okrika and Ikwerre were recognized and paid by the British Government. If the people were at loggerheads that peaceful negotiation would have been impossible.
Indeed, those who have similarities argue more, the Ikwerre and Okrika are famed wrestlers, so, contestation is natural. The Okrika and the Ikwerre have to reawaken the geniality of the past for the overall good of the entire state.
I believe strongly that all Rivers people should seek ways of truly improving the bonds that hold us together. And interethnic marriages are veritable means of achieving that.
Let’s encourage interethnic relationships because it reduces distrust and builds confidence. Even in politics, we are less hostile if we know that head or tail, we are one. Such bonding creates the marketplace ambiance. And you know, we don’t throw stones into the market.
I therefore congratulate the newlyweds and their families for getting us closer.