I bring you greetings from Port Harcourt. Fortunately, from my location, no hippos are in sight.
Your place in history is securely established. You are one of the very few that have been consistent through the decades in your stance. Every regime since independence has felt your bold presence. Your mastery of words is extraordinary…so good that people are afraid of replying you (for fear of exposing their lingual deficiency – by the way, I face that risk too). Prof, you are one of the few that excelled both in the academic world and the audacious realm of activism. At my age, you were already declared an enemy of the Nigerian state for daring to stand hand in hand with truth. Time has proved you one of Nigeria’s finest, and no one can negotiate that. It is in the light of this remarkable persona that I am bothered by your position on the rumble in the deltaic plains of Rivers State. Your summation, I’m afraid, is uncharacteristically one sided.
In your press conference, you brought to fore the brash affront to arithmetic rules, where 16 became greater than 19 and more recently 5 outnumbering 27. Prof, I share in your disgust. My discipline exposed me to mathematics beyond the ordinary. In all my romance with the subject, the only aspect of math that made provision for this absurd is found in the O LEVEL topic – Inequalities. However, that is only applied in finding unknowns and where a solution is only reached if it satisfies a condition (if the inequality is true). In these political equations at hand, there were no variables (unknowns) but constants – 35 and 32 respectively. Therefore 5 > 27 and 16 > 19 cannot be solutions to the political inequalities, respectively. Take this to CERN, take it to NASA, It defies both logic and mathematics, and I cannot agree any less with you as to the absurdity.
However, this numerical tragedy is not more disgusting than the show of shame at a chamber that should boast of hallowed men, and not the hollow species we saw on TV, Tuesday last. We saw a pro-Amaechi law maker hack down a colleague almost to the point of death. They said he was provoked. What manner of provocation should make a legislator act in such berserk manner (exponentially disproportionate to the magnitude of provocation)? Or is this the real case of failure to get the swamp out of the hippopotamus as you stated in your follow up? Also, no provocation should make the executive governor put himself in harm’s way in the manner in which he did. Imagine if anything had happened to him. We also saw a man clad in Police uniform and another, both alleged to be the Governor’s aides, joining in the melee. However, I find it surprising that you didn’t reserve any choice word of condemnation for these acts of brigandage. You traced everything to the door step of the first lady, who at that time we read in the papers, was many time zones ahead in China. Prof, that is not a complete picture neither is it a fair assessment.
In your press conference, you described the first lady as a domestic appendage of power. Coming from a constitutional perspective, yes this is understandable for there is no phrase or compound word called “first lady” in the constitution. Prof, similarly, the constitution makes no such provision for a tier or arm of government, either implicitly or explicitly, called “Nigerian Governors Forum”. Unfortunately, the NGF is fast becoming another tier of government. It is as much a travesty as 16 > 19 portends. They gang up and stampede the President, deplete the excess crude account with reckless abandon and protect the political estates of members. In fact, they are fast becoming an electoral college for Presidential Elections – they pull the strings, provide the candidates from amongst them, and nominate the delegates at the primaries, etc. This is a threat to our brand of democracy. On a personal note, I’m afraid we lost our dear governor to this same body, for since he became the chairman of this group, things have slowed down back in the swamp. It’s been an expensive distraction thus far. Prof, you were silent on these things…or is there a part 2 coming?
Prof, the battle in Rivers State is set in the murky waters of the swamp. When the mace becomes the weapon, then you can imagine the level of deterioration. Like you mentioned, there are all manner of exotic species enmeshed in the messy swamp; some are buoyant carnivores, others pretentious parasites. Beatifying one at the expense of the other is plain travesty. I am inspired by your metaphorical wonder (of hippos, swamps, etc), the hippos with their physical presence and sheer brute dominate this battle. But you see, if a vet wants to capture the hippo, he won’t come charging at the hippo with bare hands and expect to subdue it. He’ll apply a tranquilizer and put it to sleep and the hippo becomes his for the treatment. Prof, your role as a statesman puts you in the stead of our dear Vet. We expect you to apply the intellectual tranquilizer of a statesman rather than diving in to the murky swamp. You are too much of an icon (one that I personally adore) to take sides with these politicians. Whichever side, whichever way, they carry dirty baggage from the swamp, one you’ll not be proud to be seen with from hindsight. Going personal on characters in the conflict without addressing all-sides of the real issues of the conflict will only fuel further conflict, and even leave you exposed to all manner of attacks from all sorts.
Finally Prof, from your last statement, you seem to have a good line of communication with the Governor. Please tell him we miss his old self. Tell him we miss that era where he was jumping on his power bike to inspect projects and ensure contractors were working. Tell him to stop these unnecessary battles, that he’s misappropriating energy in the process. The second part of the principle of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted from one form to another. Yes, our Governor has converted his positive energy into a negative one for unnecessary fights that is not of benefit to Rivers people. At the moment, he is at war with a legion; unbeknownst to him, he’s dragging us all with him into these murky waters. The continuous throbbing of the hippos increases the turbidity of the murky waters, and the masses are at the receiving end of all of this. When the Commissioner for Information in any state becomes busier than the Commissioner for works, it’s a curious sign of a flaming Rome. That is the situation the state is in at the moment. Even the man on the street in Maiduguri knows the name of the Commissioner of Information in Rivers State.
Please tell him not to listen to these sycophants around him urging him on to vain battles. They only qualify to be his friends because they are operating on the Chinese adage – The enemy of your enemy is your friend. We thought he’d learn from the mistakes of his ex-boss in this regard. Tell him to heed the advice of Afenifere or the wise counsel of Orji Uzor Kalu. Tell him that the real battle is to fix our infrastructure and ensure the dividends of democracy will trickle down to every home. We need our Governor to be focused like he was before. I traveled about 54km on the election morning just to make sure I vote for him because of what he did in his first two years in office. Today, he is held down by inertia. Nay, he’s actually decelerating and resonating negative energy. He’s everywhere but nowhere!
Prof, by the way, the hippos and the manatees you mentioned are endangered in our swamp. The reckless activities of oil companies have chased them to extinction. We will be glad if you can help us lend your voice in this regard as well. Prof, you have been a blessing to Nigeria, and posterity will always treat you with honour.
R. Tombari Sibe