Let me begin this post by thanking everyone who virtually joined hands with us to pray for peace in our dear Rivers State. We have come through a traumatic and horrendous time, akin to surviving a war. But God in His unending and unmerited mercies heard our prayers.
Thousands of Rivers women committed themselves to incessant prayers against the violence that almost engulfed Rivers State during the gubernatorial election. And not only our women. Our family and friends, who live far away from us joined us to pray. Our men prayed too because the times were quite perilous and very frightening, to say the least. And God has answered and continues to answer us.
In the course of the ensuing crisis, precious lives were lost. Rivers men and women had their promising lives cut short in terrible circumstances. We can never forget those who paid the supreme sacrifice in this electoral crisis due to no fault of theirs. We pray that God grants their souls eternal and peaceful repose.
It is my aim here to call on all Rivers people and indeed, all Nigerians within and outside our shores, to continue to pray until we pray out the evil of violence in Rivers State back to hell where it comes from.
This reminds me of the story of the Liberian Women Mass Action for Peace. In 2002, they mobilised thousands of Liberian women and through prayers and peaceful protests, they pressured the warlords of Liberia to the signing of the peace accord in 2003. Shortly afterwards, in 2005, Liberia had a democratically elected President.
After two terms of President Sirleaf’s government, in 2017, general elections posed another threat and danger to Liberians as politicians threatened fire and brimstone if they lost election. Then these women moved in again. Every day in the weeks leading up to Liberia’s election, scores of women wearing white t-shirts and blue-and-white wrappers gathered in an open-air tent set up in a field in the capital city of Monrovia. They were there to fast and pray for peace.
From sunrise to sunset – in oppressive heat and torrential rain – the women sat or lay on mats on the ground, sometimes praying silently and sometimes chanting or singing. Eventually, despite all the anxiety, tension and fear of the return of violence to Liberia, there was a smooth transition of power from President Sirleaf to the current Head of State, President George Weah.
With a theme, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” which later became the title of an award-winning documentary, these women trusted God to resolve a conflict that had defied human wisdom. This led to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the leader of the group, Leymah Roberta Gbowee in 2011.
Violence is truly from hell. We have chosen peace against violence in Rivers State. Peace is the gift of God. Peace is the beauty of life. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the bond of a family, the togethernes of a community or society.
Peace is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth. That is who we are. People of peace and warm hospitality. Peace makes the heart beautiful and the individual graceful. Peace is the perfect posture of the soul. We can’t have violence in place of peace.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships, the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.” And we cannot bequeath anything less but advancing civilization to the younger generation.
As we rise above the storm to embrace the sunshine of peace in Rivers State, let us remember that hatred and bitterness are both lethal poisons that slowly kill the bearer. Hatred paralyses, confuses and darkens our hope for a better and greater tomorrow. But love will rather enhance and increase our chances of success in every sphere.
Great people of Rivers State, family and friends within and outside our boundaries, thank you once again for praying so sincerely and please let us all keep praying for peace in our beloved Rivers State in the absence of which there can be no meaningful progress and prosperity. God bless and keep you and your families always, Amen.
From Her Excellency,
Hon. Mr. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike,
The Wife of His Excellency,
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike CON. GSSRS. POS (Africa),
The Governor of Rivers State.