RIVERS CONSCIENCE INITIATIVE (RCI)
2023: RIVERS STATE ON THE BRINK
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
There is frightful danger ahead, visible enough to those who love Rivers State and care enough to look beyond narrow self-interest. Most Rivers men and women are dejected and wary about their future and that of their children.
Institutions of state have failed and are in advanced stages of decay. An increasing number of Rivers children are out of school and are roaming the streets. Retirees are not paid their gratuities. Many go to bed hungry and wake up unsure of the next meal. The elderly, the weak and the vulnerable are abandoned to their fate.
Politicians loot the resources of the state brazenly. They sell off state assets to themselves and convert public property to private estates. They secure governorship tickets for their business partners to cover their crimes. They disrespect the traditional institutions and treat Rivers people with disdain.
Since the birth of the Fourth Republic, every Rivers state governor has been profligate with state resources in the pursuit of wasteful presidential bid. Huge amounts of Rivers State funds are gifted to other states, political parties and private individuals.
Rivers State governors sponsor elections in other states of the federation and bankroll presidential elections. They are sought after as “beautiful brides” of Nigerian politics on account of the state resources that they share and squander so freely.
These Rivers State governors are shielded by a perpetual court injunction against the EFCC and another court ruling that gave the subservient Rivers State House of Assembly the exclusive right to investigate the finances of the State. The governors have had a free ride.
Rivers people are the casualties of this recklessness. Huge funds that could have made enormous differences in their lives, end up in private pockets. The people are robbed by politicians who derive authority to manage state resources from the people they rob.
The situation is dire and unless Rivers people rise up to the occasion and put a stop to the present course of events, the future will be too bleak to imagine.
IT WAS NOT SO IN THE BEGINNING
At creation in 1967, even under military governors, Rivers state grew into the envy of all. The Alfred Diete-Spiff’s administration delivered excellent governance to the people. The footprints of that “Golden Era” are still visible.
The magnificent state secretariat complex (that has gone into rapid decay and an eyesore under the current administration), remains an iconic reminder of the Diete-Spiff era.
The huge investment in human capital development produced the workforce that sustained the state for decades. This was achieved under a massive scholarship scheme that is yet to be paralleled in the history of the state.
Rapid industrialization, created jobs and opportunities for the teeming youths. Rivers State was a prime destination for foreign and domestic investment capital. Unfortunately, the industries that flourished in the 70s and 80s are now moribund, causing high youth unemployment and insecurity.
A strange political culture had since invaded the tranquility of Rivers political landscape. Governance is now for politicians and their friends without the people. The culture of egalitarianism, and fairness has given way to the era of impunity, greed, exclusivity and divisiveness.
Amidst the crude looting of public funds by the rulers, Rivers people are silent and aloof. The people whose resources are mindlessly stolen and plundered have remained silent. They have lost their voices to poverty and the so-called stomach infrastructure. They even endorse and applaud the very rulers that have weaponized poverty against them.
But this is the same state that produced courageous men and women like Chiefs Dappa Biriye, P.G. Warmate, GKJ Amachree, Opuogulaya, Obi Wali, E.T Dimiari, C. D. Orike, Emanuel Aguma, Napo Graham-Douglas, Ken Saro-Wiwa to mention a few.
A strange culture of silence now pervades the land. The people are cowed and in vice grip. Governors are elevated to the status of all-knowing gods, while the people are reduced to slavish acquiescence. Leadership is deified and sycophancy is the new source of livelihood for the political elite.
Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly feign dumbness. The traditional rulers, after series of shabby treatments by governors, have found wisdom in keeping their own counsel. The clergy concentrate on winning hungry souls.
RIVERS STATE MUST BE RESCUED
River State’s annual consolidated revenue could fund the budgets of several African countries. The state ought to be competing with Lagos at the national level and Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar on foreign scale. Unfortunately, the state has been seized by megalomaniacs who reign as maximum rulers.
Rivers people must speak up and take ownership of their destinies. No longer should an elected governor rule Rivers State as a serfdom.
The Rivers Conscience Initiative RCI, has decided to pick up the gauntlet. This non-partisan body recognizes the urgent need to sound the warning bell, speak truth to power and protect the interest of Rivers people.
The RCI is a child of necessity. It seeks to objectively speak for Rivers people, act as an unelected parliament of the people and stand as the conscience of the people.
The RCI will advocate and galvanize support for the rescue of the State from political marauders and restore it to the dreams of the founding fathers. The task is daunting but worthy.
The RCI calls on Rivers people to step forward and join in this course, for our state and for posterity. If nothing is done, the next governor will be far more wasteful than his predecessors.
THOSE ASPIRING FOR OFFICES MUST CLEAR THEIR NAMES OF CORRUPTION
The Rivers Conscience Initiative notes that the race for 2023 has been hijacked by persons with questionable characters. This is despite the availability of many decent and patriotic Rivers sons and daughters with proven competence.
The RCI therefore condemns political parties that have produced candidates of questionable reputation who are wanted by security and anti-graft agencies.
Accordingly, the RCI supports efforts by the current administration to recover misappropriated state funds and prosecute persons alleged to have looted Rivers State coffers.
The RCI deplores the present government’s ambivalence in shielding some persons from arrest by the EFCC while arraigning others. The humongous amount of money allegedly stolen by these persons belongs to Rivers people and all accused persons must answer for their actions.
The RCI therefore calls on the Rivers State governorship candidates of the PDP and the APC to first clear their names of allegations of corruption before seeking the mandate of the people. These very serious allegations are in the public space. Rivers people cannot accept a fugitive as governor.
The RCI further calls on Governor Wike to urgently cooperate with the EFCC to vacate the perpetual court injunction stopping the anti-graft agency from investigating Rivers State finances. The governor should seize the moment and show uncommon courage by leaving a worthy legacy in this regard.
This obnoxious injunction has made Rivers State a den of barefaced treasury looters and robbers.
Rivers State must be rescued.
- Kalada Wilson – Chairman
- Ken Izidor – Secretary
- Karl Chinedu
- Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo
- Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart