Rivers: Why Wike Shouldn’t Go About Peace Without Princewill

By Odimegwu Onwumere

In Rumundele Community of Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, the residents threw open party recently in jubilation that over 200 youth from two bloody cult groups that had terrorised the area for months with property worth hundreds of thousands of naira destroyed and many lives lost, have openly denounced their membership in the Community. In some communities in the state, cult-related activities were rife which compelled the state governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to initiate amnesty for the bigoted cultists of which, not only in Rumundele, many youths who were into gangsterism across the state, have embraced the initiative. Like the immediate past governor of the state, Chibuike Amaechi, Wike invariably inherited a volatile Rivers State in what have been as cult activities, militancy, piracy along waterways, political backbiting and hostage taking. Amaechi-led administration implored the services of security personnel with the code names, Joint Task Force (JTF) or Operation Flush Out, which moved in the streets heavily armed. But upon the presence of the security agents, the much sought peace was elusive till Prince Tonye Princewill waded in and took peace campaign personally to the creeks and hideouts where the boys took as their base for operation. So, with Amaechi recording half-baked peace with the presence of JTF, till Princewill came in and helped for the restoration of peace in Rivers State, Wike might not bring about absolute peace in the state with his amnesty initiative.

{Governor Wike}
{Governor Wike}

Prince Tonye Princewill, the Labour Party governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship election in Rivers state, may have diverted his attention from the politics of the state to other ventures out of principle but observers know that he was part of the foundation to the relative peace that the state is enjoying today and he should have a rethink or be appealed to help the present government of Governor Nyesom Wike to succeed because Princewill knows how best to go about peace.

In the event that Wike was declared the winner of the election, the voice of Princewill was up in advice that all political parties should be civil in any move for redress in the court of law and should not incite their followers into violence. This was given that the election in the state raised tension upon that the 3 major candidates that were contesting in the persons of Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress, Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party had signed an undertaken on January 22 2015 before a US Ambassador to Nigeria to ensure a violent free election.

Many political observers saw that move as the first in the political history of the state. Of a truth, Princewill has maintained that peace pact covertly and overtly by not citing comments capable of breaching public peace like some other person has been doing. Although, he has told truth to the people that the election was marred by irregularities. Since he’s not a lawyer, legal luminaries at the Supreme Court had said that Wike was duly elected and is the Governor of Rivers State; Princewill has since then, channeled his energy to his private business.

It is on record that by January 2014, which was regarded as the decisive year for the 2015 election, Princewill sued for peace and reconciliation among the many warring politicians in the state. Peace has always been Princewill’s insignia. His approach to a peaceful resolution may be connected to the fact that he is the son of King (Prof) Theophanous Jacob Tom Princewill, CFR, Amachree XI, Amayanabo Kalabari whom the junior Princewill shares the same birthday with. We cannot also say that he came about peace from the books he has read as he holds a Master of Sciences degree in Mineral Resources Engineering and distinguished Diploma from Imperial College, London, having had a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Port Harcourt. But in another look, majority of the sons of Kings and influential are known for arrogance. So, we may say that peace runs in Princewill’s blood and not because of his royal pedigree.

It’s observable that his strong political philosophy of equality and liberty might be his undoing political factor as he is an apostle of free and fair elections, when majority politicians think the obverse. He also believes in civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and a right to life, liberty, and property, as was captured by one of his former aides. He does not believe in politics of bitterness, with his popular mantra that “politics is too important to be left to politicians.” Hence, his venturing into politics in 2007 under Action Congress, after he returned from London in 2003, where he spent many years studying and doing business. That year was the pick of upsurge of militancy in Rivers State with his home town of Buguma boiling.

Princewill was chiefly the arrowhead that initiated peaceful movements that resolved the crises which saw to many people and companies packing, lives wasted and property worth billions of naira destroyed. For the love of Rivers State, Princewill refused to go to court against the Supreme Court judgment that favoured the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi against Sir Celestine Omehia; the later being a very gentle man. As a master of peace, Princewill made sure that all the political parties in the state come under an umbrella known as and called Forum of the Organised Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) in Rivers State. Over 43 political parties were in this forum and the state was calm from 2008 when the forum was formed to 2010 when Princewill moved to the Peoples Democratic Party, for personal reasons.

His peaceful dispositions and art in reconciling people saw him to becoming a member of the Rivers State Economic Advisory Committee in 2008, which Professor Nimi Briggs was Chairman. On July 7, 2008 the National Mirror, published the names of 40 Nigerians that, in its view, could fix Nigeria’s problems. It also published the pictures of the people in a publication titled, “Cabinet Reshuffle – 40 People who could Fix Nigeria” on page 6 of that edition. Princewill’s name was there.

By 2009, Princewill was on the Presidential Technical Committee on the Niger Delta and was Sub-Committee Chairman of the Niger Delta Subcommittee on Vision 2020 that was pioneered by the then President Umar Yar’Adua. For the love of humanity, Princewill tendered his resignation letter as a sign of protestation from the Vision2020 Committee when the military invaded Gbaramatu, in Delta State.

He continued with his peace move by founding the Princewill Political Associates (PPA); although as a political pressure group. He brought Ohaneze Ndi Igbo leadership into looking for ways to resolve the Niger Delta crises; a move he personally made to Enugu in 2009. On 29th June 2009, Princewill reconciled Alhaji Asari Dokubo with Amaechi. He proved the critics of the Eso-led reconciliatory panel wrong, by leading Asari to reconcile with Amaechi, although journalists as at the time said the reconciliation was “of an unproven issue”.

But spectators knew that Alhaji Asari was angry with Amaechi over statement by the later calling the then Niger Delta crusaders criminals. In a statement by Asari to Amaechi, he said, “I decided to follow him (Princewill) to visit you, the governor, today to demonstrate that apart from the issues highlighted above, I have no other grudge against you and to formally accept you as my governor and the undisputable Governor of Rivers State, as upheld by the Supreme Court.”

Amaechi explained his happiness and commended Princewill for this feat, saying, “My becoming the Governor of Rivers State, apart from being divine, was a calculated attempt to restore hope and actualization of the vision of the founders of our dear state in 1967. Today is one of my happiest days because no matter our differences, I admire Asari so much for his love for our region and his readiness to lay his life on behalf of our people; and I feel so bad that such a personality could not team up with me to contribute to develop our only state. But thanks to God who, in his infinite wisdom, decided to use Tonye to make this great reunion possible.”

{Prince Tonye Princewill}
{Prince Tonye Princewill}

Prince Tonye Princewill knows how to go about peace and he is tested and trusted in this area. Therefore, Governor Wike and Prince Princewill have to team up and see how they can lift Rivers State to the next level irrespective of party affiliation.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Tel: 08057778358. Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

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Essentialities of peace to nation building

By Odimegwu Onwumere
Tony Oyatedor is a veteran journalist and now, publisher of News Times magazine in the United States of America. He orated to journalists in June, 2015 that if he had the opportunity to set just one agenda for the government of General Muhammadu Buhari, the memo would be for the Buhari administration to work first on peace, not corruption.
Oyatedor was of the panorama that peace is an integral part of human existence without which staying healthy, being happy, memorising and meditating on what matter to mankind, espionage of nature and embracing animals, making out hours for reading, observing the realities of the cosmos, calculating the point where science and the spiritual meet, enjoying millions of money, houses, cars, clothes, gorgeous women, and every other acquisitive thing that life gives would have been a herculean task. It was against that conception that Mahatma Gandhi, the superlative leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India said that an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Regularly, with her huge natural resources and her smart citizens, peace was being endangered by some persons in Nigeria through kidnapping, terrorism, child trafficking, armed robbery, official sleaze and sundry issues. Hence, Nigeria is looking for peace at all cost, as successive governments have not sat on their oars in the fight against the monsters that truncate peace; efforts were being put in place to bring peace back to the country from the honeymoon that some persons regarded as do-nothing have sent it.
buharipics
(General Muhammadu Buhari)
Nigeria has been doing this knowing that peace requires an immeasurable laudable toil and the thorniest sacrifice. Nigeria knows that peace stipulates superior intrepidness than confrontation. Against that backdrop, it’s observable that Nigeria has always sought for peace amidst the squalls that bully her.
A testament was that at a dinner organised on his behalf in April 2014, in Abuja, for the unveiling of the Universal Peace Federation (a group with its 10 years experience and dedication in building a world of peace, freedom and harmony), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who’s the Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corporation and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, said, “No doubt, no meaningful development can be achieved without peace, stability and harmony. It is also true that peace is not mere absence of war, but it is a virtue that springs from force of character.”
Dr Chang Yang, the president of the group, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was hopeful that the leaders and people in Nigeria would embrace and support the UPF Peace Education initiative for Nigeria, which could inspire several actions for peace in Nigeria and put behind the story of violence and conflicts. What that meant was that from one organisation to individuals, the clarion call for peace restoration and building in the country was the song on virtually everybody’s lips.
 
Messages for peace to come back
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and individuals have seen peace as a top-quality idea. The Peace Initiative Network (PIN) was one group that was clothed towards the promotion of peace in Nigeria, since 2004. The PIN was bent on crusading peace, security, development, poverty eradication, human rights, democracy, governance and inter alia, protecting the vulnerable.
In June, the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole at the first session of the fifth synod of Diocese of Esan, Anglican Communion at St Andrews Cathedral Eguare Ekpoma where he was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, stooped and appealed for the reinstatement of peace, love and prosperity to the country.
In the same month, former Heads of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) in different developments called on Nigerians to support the government in its fight to stop the insurrectionary in the north-east region.
General Babangida made the call after attending the Eid prayer in Minna, the capital city of Niger State. Gowon on his part, made the appeal in Abuja, while addressing Christian pilgrims. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged the churches to start teaching Nigerians, how to use peace as their contribution to the country’s development.
General Abdusalami Abubakar said in a speech on May 25 2015, in Minna, while biding then Governor Babangida Aliyu farewell that unremitting peace which was ‘enjoyed after the general elections’ must be sustained by the General Muhammadu Buhari administration.
On May 29 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan, cheering in the civic reception organised in his honour by the Bayelsa government in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said that he would use the waiting part of his life for peace building across the country.
Hear him, “Having befitted so much from the rare privilege of serving, I shall dedicate the remaining part of my life to peace building in all parts of Nigeria. I will urge all to support the new administration to develop Nigeria and work with the state government to develop our own state.”
As if that was not enough, religious leaders have been meeting incalculably to discuss religious peace in the country. In their umpteenth argument, they saw that religious tolerance remained the magic-potion for national development.
 
How peace was persecuted
On June 20 2014, then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, represented by Special Services Officer, Alhaji Ibrahim Bamiye, at a forum in Lagos, dubbed – National cybersecurity forum –  confronted Nigerians with the bombshell that every 9 seconds, a Nigerian commits crime on the internet with a sharp rise in the indices of 0.9% in the 90s to 9.8% in 2014.
Uzochukwu Mike, a graduate from the department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, expressed in a public presentation on June 24, 2015 that among all, the causes of no-peace in Nigeria, with regard to kidnapping activities, were unemployment, poverty, corruptions, grievances, high quest for money and passively, ethnocentricism.
He wept, saying that Nigeria had unimaginable unemployment rate, which resulted to the unemployed taking to crime as a means to make a living. According to him, “A news publication company, Vanguard online news, reported on May 19, 2014, that an estimate of 60 million Nigerians are unemployed.”
Mike added that in the same year, Nigeria ranked 136 out of 174 on the list of the surveyed countries of corruption, which meant that the country was the 38th most corrupt country in the world in 2014, according to Transparency International ranking.
 
To get out of the conundrum
On August 3, 2012, Suhaib Mohammed, a freelance writer who’s writing on different niche, was aghast that the country’s unity was being woefully threatened by ethnocentricism, sentiments and religious fanaticism. He stressed that, that were the effects in a country with more than 250 ethnic tribes and various religious beliefs divided across geo-political lines – of Muslim North and Christian South.
He said, “Sentiment is one of the major problems that are threatening the cause of unity and harmony in Nigeria. The war of words and tribal feuds are being squabbled by Nigerians all over the country. We must stop making sweeping generalization on other ethnic tribes, and begin to reserve our emotions toward other ethnic groupings if peace and unity must reign in Nigeria.”
That was even as he highlighted the need for government at all levels to engage in massive public enlightenment, especially the ignorant and illiterate population, about unity and peaceful co-existence among the citizenry.
Centre for Peace Advancement in Nigeria (CEPAN), Nigeria, adopted that strengthening local capacities for sustainable peace and development in communities, promotion of peaceful coexistence and harmony among people of diverse ethnic and religious affiliations in communities, promoting peace education among children and young people in school and out of school, empowerment of women and youth for effective negotiation, dialogue and mediation, producing research and documentation, reducing poverty through the promotion of good governance were what the leaders of the country should look at for urgent eradication of the perceived absence of peace in the country.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers Stat. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

Franklin Roosevelt’s idea

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Two brothers were often seen fighting in the neighbourhood to the chagrin of Dad. They were not respecting their dignities. They welcomed violence and rejected peace, worth, manners, and admiration for life, and the neighbourhood.  Dad had to call them for talks someday.

“Do you know what the United Nations (UN) means?” he asked them, but they responded on the contrary.

franklin roosevelt

As I sat with them in the parlour, Dad told us that UN was established in 1945, during the Second World War. He told us that it was perceivable that the fear of fighting another World War might had been the major compelling factor for a man like Franklin Roosevelt to commence with the UN idea, intended to create an avenue for countries to engage in dialogue first, and desist from the temptation to take up arms against each other when provoked.

To make his point home, he also told us of the devastating World Wars and that the UN had so far managed to avoid another World War. He stood up and walked up to the boys, touched their shoulders, and lamented: “I still remember the deaths of almost a million people in the gruesome Rwandan genocide of 1994, as well as the wars in Somalia, Darfur, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, the Biafra-Nigeria war, the Second Congo War and, some other crises across the continent of Africa and, indeed, the world at large.”

In Dad’s judgment, the brothers should form an alliance like Roosevelt’s, which invariably had seen to no World War III. He sermonised that there would be no progress in the absence of peace. He also sermonized that nothing good could come out of tinkering and bickering order than annihilation and suffering. There could not be a better way to counsel us the youth order than Dad’s way.

As if we were not assimilating his references, he hit us again with the peace that never existed with terrorists since they attacked the United States of America on a September 11 that saw twin towers in the country to rubbles. He fired us over-again with the salvo of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack, which nearly extinguished Japan. As if that was not enough, Dad recalled the Berlin Wall in Germany, the Biafra/Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali wars…

“I want you the youth to have an agreement like The Peace of Paris (1783),” he said. “Do you know what that means?”

“Perpendicularly no,” was the response.

“It brought to an end the American Revolutionary War. America, Great Britain, France and Spain signed treaties.”

After I listened to Dad make those words some years back and the brothers left the house thanking him and never had to fight again but lived in harmony, had I come to understand that if peace is maintained among individuals, the family, village and the country will be at peace. I realised that the world needed more preachers of peace than they need preachers of religion.

Dad was a diplomat like the Indian Mahatma Gandhi who walked the souls of millions of Indians with his peaceful preachments for their liberation. Dad’s approach to reconciling the brothers without any cynical measures reminded me that if the countries of the world could approach each other like Dad did and understand each other like the brothers understood Dad, the world would be free of all the unnecessary rancours that had characterised it.

Poverty, racial and religious jealousy would be sent on an errand and people would live with each other in harmony.

What was perceived as Roosevelt’s paramount preconceived-notion, which was that with the creation of the UN, the tendency of US, perhaps, losing in balance again as was the case in the 1930s, could be avoided, Dad brokered peace which I have seen provides opportunity for people to relate devoid of creed, race or religion. I’ve come to know and, as well, been telling people that with peace, friendliness and co-existence, the world is second to none.

(First published: http://www.masterpeace.org/blogs/post/franklin_roosevelts_idea).

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Orji Kalu and the G-7 Governors

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Reconciliation of differences is one thing that Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who was a former governor of Abia State, is known for. Without mentioning names, he has reconciled the low and mighty in and outside the shores of Nigeria. Exactly one year, this dude offered in November 2012, to settle the Federal Government, FG, and the spinelessness Boko Haram, when many who were mentioned in the mediation-list turned down the offer, for frivolous excuses. But Kalu said no, he must emancipate all in the society, so that nobody or group would be thinking unitarily, because he believes in the realization of universality.

With the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the defection of five governors from the fold to the All Progressive Congress, APC, reminds one of an Igbo adage: When a hero is killed in his village war, he shall come to be remembered when outsiders invade the village. The defection of the five governors makes one to remember the admonishment by Dr. Kalu, urging the leading leaders of PDP to resolve the crisis. He saw the former VP Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Bamanga Tukur as seasoned politicians, who had what it takes to resolve the political differences, before things fell apart.

OUKng

While Kalu’s advise was widely respected and published in many media platforms, yet, the politicians and PDP he advised did not toe the line of Nelson Mandela, whom Desmond Tutu was credited to as saying: Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC’s military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge.

Let’s not say that Kalu has semblance of Mandela, but they share things in common which are, reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge. Kalu believes in the philosophy of Roy Barnes: We are all one – or at least we should be – and it is our job, our duty, and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek the salve of reconciliation.

But this is not the mindset of an unrefined Nigerian politician, who sees Reconciliation as something that does not require changes of heart and spirit, but expulsion of members from political parties, backbiting, brickbats, tinkering, bickering, sorcery and what negative agenda have they.

This is why the country has not recorded meaningfully, socially and economically, as in change. Kalu would say that for the country to move on, there should be symbolic practical action to achieve greater goals and not about animosities and immensely passion for hatred, which have characterised the way things are done in this clime.

There is a matrix, which Kalu always reminds people. It is the statement that a house divided against itself will, obviously, not stand. Appealing to the leaders of the PDP, Kalu had wept that it’s not in the interest – both as founders and joiners of the PDP – to bring down the house they laboured very hard to build. But, what has come over the PDP today? The centre can no longer hold and it is no longer at ease. However, Stefan Zweig had made us to understand that in history, the moments during which reason and reconciliation prevail are short and fleeting.

What has befall the PDP reminds one of the comment by Barbara Boxer, which suggests: Since 1980, we’ve used reconciliation 22 times, and out of those times, Republicans used it 16 times. So, earth to my Republican friends, you can have your option but you cannot change these facts. They’re in the Congressional Record.

Notwithstanding, Kalu should not stop in his effort to reconciling aggrieved persons or groups. We know him as a man who would always forgive those who wronged him even before the persons would come to plead for forgiveness or leniency.  He should make the powers that are to see that the overall relations between the political parties in the country should develop in favour of the country and not for persons, because of national reconciliation, unity and reunification.

Dr. Kalu has told the world that reconciliation without justice is however mumbo-jumbo. This is why many crises and developments in the country have lingered. An example is the injustice allegedly done to the subsidy fund. Ihe ojuo in Igbo means, bad thing in English. So, President Goodluck Jonathan made us to SUFFER subsidy removal only for the money (N634 billion Kerosene subsidy) to be fingered is missing. Anyway, are the banks also missing? Ihe ojuo, ajoka!  Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has told the country that the reformation the citizens should be praying for is not the reformation at any cost, but reformation based on principle and on justice.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348057778358

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com