July 16, 2013 – Re: Political Violence In Rivers State House Of Assembly – Let Our Elders Speak Like Statesmen
Democracy can be defined as a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held, free elections. This kind of government guarantees the freedom of expression. However, when the freedom of expression is undertaken in a way that will invariably undermine peace and democratic principles, it is important for peace-loving Nigerians to draw attention to this anomaly and possibly, rectify it.
The recent political developments in the Rivers State House of Assembly, which gave demonstration to the most horrifying display of political violence has attracted all shades of opinions by politicians, government functionaries, civil society organizations, opinion leaders and the general public.
President Jonathan in a statement, appealed to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and all other parties of the state to put the interests of the Rivers State and the nation above their personal ambitions. He further urged those involved in acts of political violence to show greater respect for the constitution and the rule of law.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG in its reaction warned that the incident portends danger for democracy.
Political watchers and well meaning Nigerians have called for restraint by all parties involved. However, it is both reprehensible and lamentable that some of our elder statesmen, who should be seen as pacifist, peacemakers and build-builders are doing the exact opposite. These individuals are further fanning the embers of discord by their divisive utterance
The comments made by Professor Tam David-West, and Professor Wole Soyinka linking the First Lady to the political disturbance in Rivers State does nothing to help the fortunes of the state. Rather, it is capable of sowing unnecessary seeds of hatred and mistrust.
Many Nigerians where shocked to see images on their television screens of a lawmaker being battered and bludgeoned on the head with a heavy object, reported to be the mace of the State Assembly, the very symbol of authority of the hallowed chamber. The lawmakers, identified in news reports as Michael O. Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor II Constituency had blood streaming down his face, neck and clothes. It was a sad and gory sight. This primordial act of sadistic brutality carried out on the lawmaker was not condemned by the duo, rather, they preferred name calling.
Professor Tam David-West is gradually being infamously known for the deterioration in the logic of his statements. His views therefore often reflect the onset of senility. As an indigene and elder statesman of Rivers State, he should be at the vanguard of perusing and sustaining peace in his state. He has no business linking Dame Patience to the crises in Rivers State simply because she is a daughter of that State. Like every Nigerian, she is free to visit her State whenever she wants. In the case of her recent visit, she went to attend the burial of Pa Desetima Nyingierefaka, her paternal grandfather, who died at the ripe old age of 92 years. She attended other events which included the solemnization of holy matrimony of her junior brother and the Commissioning of the Yitzhak Rabin International School and Resource Centre in Port Harcourt. During the commissioning, she also received an award from the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for African Development for her successful advocacy for women empowerment and her pursuit of peace on the continent. The award was formally presented to the First Lady by Mr. Yuval Rabin, the son of Late Prime Minister Rabin.
We advise our elders to stop calling names in the Rivers State imbroglio, whether it is the name of the President or his wife.
Rather, these grand old men should try to preach the gospel of peace. They should be the guiding light for us all, especially the youths of Nigeria; they must not fail us or themselves by behaving in a manner that suggests that they may have been compromised or worse still, they want to perpetuate discord in their communities. We only have one nation so we must all work for peace.
We want to look up to our elders and we therefore expect them to be exemplary statesmen promoting peace in our dear nation.
About the author: Drego Ali is a freelance journalist bases in Lagos