Let us believe that as soldiers on peace mission have fallen victims of the madness in Rivers State, the authorities will be sufficiently shocked into eschewing politics and doing the needful to restore sanity in that strategic state. Reports indicate that a Major in the Nigerian army and another soldier were murdered in cold blood by some unknown gunmen. They were said to have been on patrol when they were gunned down in an ambush. As investigation progresses, the security agencies are working on the assumption that the gunmen are pirates even as observers, familiar with the rhetoric and grandstanding of politicians there, infer that the gunmen may possibly be merchants of evil on the payroll of either of the political camps.
Ever since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), scheduled the rerun elections into the state’s House of Assembly, the people’s hearts have remained on tenterhooks, worried stiff as to what to do to safeguard their lives and property as the political gladiators slug it out in a macabre dance of death.
This is perceived as a continuation of the battle for supremacy between the Governor, Nyesom Wike who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The scenario has remained since the former soul mates parted ways and engaged themselves in a battle that is threatening to consume the state they both claim to be serving. The ballot box and the judicial process that went on to the Supreme Court were not sufficient to resolve whatever the issues are they are fighting for or against. Now they are resorting to self-help that is taking everyone back to the Hobbesian state of nature where life is “nasty, brutish and short.”
Obviously, these self-seeking politicians and their gangs will claim to be doing what they are doing in the interest of the people of the State. The killing, maiming, destruction of lives and property as well as the emotional torture the people are experiencing as the politicians struggle to retain power of command and control over the resources of the state are likely to be explained as part of the development strides the hapless citizens voted for and expected to gain as the fabled dividends of democracy. But they cannot be.
At the moment, the extent of the perceived aloofness of other stakeholders as the disquiet persists presupposes that they may have given up on the wellbeing of the down-trodden in that resource rich state. If not, it is difficult to imagine why the traditional rulers, in particular, have not seen the urgency of intervening in the altercation. If they have been compromised, then that will be immensely disastrous. But if the royal fathers are withdrawing into their cocoons as a result of the failure of past efforts to mediate, then they don’t deserve to be called fathers
Ordinarily, we would have urged the federal government to move in and arrest the situation before it escalates. But we cannot make that call for the simple reason that it is seemingly an interested party whose mediation will be open to misinterpretation. With the killing of these unfortunate soldiers, we pray and hope that the military will not embark on a vengeance mission as was the case in Odi and Zaki-biam. Should that occur, Wike and Amaechi will surely be held responsible. We, therefore, appeal to them to sheathe their swords in the interest of peace.