“How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky? How many times can a man turn his head, pretending that he just doesn’t see” – Bob Dylan.
Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam! That’s the way Ogoni, Ikwerre, Kalabari and Okrika say “Enough is enough”.
Etche, Ekpeye, Ibani, Engenni, Ogba, Abua and Ndoni have words in their various native tongues, to say “Enough is enough”.
So are Egbema, Andoni, Ndoki, Odual, Degema, Omuma. They also have words in their languages to say “Enough is enough”.
Not four, not eight, not sixteen but twenty-four years by 2023. Rivers State has been adrift this long, yet we have not heard voices screaming Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam!
WE ARE IN A SORDID STATE OF AFFAIRS
It was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the USA that said:
“The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors“.
But in Rivers State like in the rest of Nigeria, the reverse is the case. The safety and happiness of the people have been subjugated to those of the rulers.
Rivers State governors since 1999 increase the cost of governance excessively. They build and furnish lavish residential quarters for all arms of government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. They expand their fleet of vehicles and approve large sums of money and mansions as retirement benefits for themselves. They legislate the massive plundering of public coffers into law.
The happiness and economic wellbeing of the people have since taken the back seat in governance. Vast majority of Rivers people are poor and homeless, the elderly are abandoned, our youths are jobless and a large percentage of our children are out of school.
Astonishingly, Rivers people are strangely silent. They are yet to yell Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite ee! Ibiam. They are yet to say in their various languages “Enough is enough”.
Since 1999, Rivers State has been governed by governors who didn’t tell the people anything before they became governors. Neither did the people ask for anything. They became governors and ruled the way they liked. They just govern like that … Just like that and the results are there for all to rue.
Rivers State that was once the envy of Nigerians on account of its peaceful ambience, beautiful culture and the general wellbeing of the people, has lost its glory.
Port Harcourt (the garden city) that was the second home for most Nigerians and an investment haven for multinationals is now a shadow of its former self.
Rivers State is now known for poor and brash political leadership. The state is ensnared by impunity in governance, lingering insecurity and general social disorder.
It is littered with dead and dying industries. Bedeviled by mass unemployment and sprawling poverty. It suffers from river and air pollution. Its critical infrastructure, like the Rivers State Secretariat Complex are in advanced stages of decay. Schools and hospitals are dilapidating.
BUT WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?
Confronted with the devastating effects of twenty-two years of rudderless governance (1999-2021), Rivers people are yet to shout, Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam! They only murmur in their closets.
Traditional rulers, chiefs, elder statesmen, top politicians, entrepreneurs, men, women, market women and youths are yet to voice the deep anger welling inside of them. They are yet to scream “Enough is enough”.
Why are Rivers people so silent? Why are big politicians, rich businessmen and businesswomen, elders and traditional rulers quiet? Why do their hearts boil but their mouths shut? Why can’t they shout Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam!?
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” – Thomas Paine (1776).
Rivers State is on the verge of a New Dawn that requires that we all stand up to be counted. We must therefore come together and scream on the rooftop that enough is enough. Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam! is our battle cry. It is our chant for 2023.
Tell it on the mainland, in the rivers and in the mangroves. Shout it in the city of Omoku. Publish it in the streets of Port Harcourt and Bori. Spread it in all the towns and villages. Write it on billboards, posters and flyers. Print it on T-shirts and face caps.
We must stand up and shout enough is enough to imposition of candidates in 2023. We must resist the flouting of internal party democracy by the so-called leaders of political parties. We must punish any imposition with the power of our votes.
We must scream Aeleera! Ozulem! Ibite e! Ibiam! to another governor from Ikwerre ethnic nationality in 2023. Rivers State is a multi-ethnic state and all the component parts must have a sense of belonging.
The shout of Ozulem! should be loudest because the present crop of Ikwerre political elite are burning their candle from both ends. They are eroding the future of Ikwerre politics.
Ikwerre youths should shout Ozulem! on top of their voices. It is their political future that is being usurped by the current selfish political elite.
Rotation of the governorship and other political offices would ensure inclusiveness, justice and peace in a multi-ethnic state.
However, rotation of political offices must not be at the expense of proven competence, quality and character. There are competent persons in all the ethnic groups in Rivers State.
We must therefore reject mediocrity in governance. We must say no to the drafting of unwilling persons into leadership. Rivers State deserves the best.
Shout Aeleera! to the emasculation of Local Governments, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Scream Ozulem! to secret budgets and excessive discretion in governance.
Yell Ibite e! Ibiam! to another four to eight years of poor governance.
These are the times that call for bravery and sacrifice. We have the power in our votes to make history in 2023.
In the next one hundred years, let this generation be remembered as having raised its voice to say “Enough is enough” when it mattered the most.
AELEERA! OZULEM! IBITE E! IBIAM!
May God be forever glorified!