Nothing could have prepared the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and, indeed, the entirety of the national body of the APC for the shocker they received on the occasion of Mr. President’s visit to the Niger Delta for the much anticipated flag off of the Ogoni clean up and other impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
Whilst one can agree that the event, which had Vice President Yemi Osinbajo representing Mr. President, was no less a success with the representation, it obviously did not have the intended political effect it was anticipated to have, had Mr. President been physically present.
The reasoned absence of Mr. President for undisclosed cause although a big blow to the APC, necessitated the public appreciation of the event as a serious governmental intervention rather than a partisan and political occasion as it was made to look by the party.
It had been said in closed quarters, and was also a reasonably well known fact, that the APC in Rivers State was poised to use the momentum generated by the symbolic flag off of the clean up of Ogoni by the physical presence of the president for political gains, especially as regards the inconclusive and pending senatorial election in Ogoni.
But, Mr. President’s presence by proper representation, did not gain the desired traction and could not, in the party’s plot, translate to political mileage. The incident was an unforeseen or, perhaps, unintended accident as the visit did not resonate with the locals in the way the party would have wished.
In the real sense, however, one would say the APC asked for too much when it desired to make ‘njakiri’ and political mischief from a well thought-out intervention by the federal government.
Perhaps, Mr. President saw through the plot and decided to stave off political heat that could have been re-ignited by his visit to Ogoni or that the elements that had always favoured well-meaning sons and daughters of Rivers people, was again on their side. No matter what, however, the APC suffered a big blow.
Funny enough, regardless of how the APC plays down the debilitating effect of Mr. President’s represented presence at the Ogoni clean up flag off ceremony, their silence since the event, and for good reason, would continue to speak volumes in utter disappointment and regret.
But had stalwarts of the party, some of whom are officials of the federal government and some of whom, quite queerly, have senatorial portfolios without being elected, worked in concert with the state government that had partnered the federal government to ensure a thorough clean up of impacted communities and played down on partisan politics, perhaps there would have been mutual benefits on June 2, 2016. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case with the crestfallen mien of APC partisans.
Today’s headlines and for the annals of history is that at a time of great political strife, there was such a man as Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who put aside divisive considerations to support the clean up of Ogoni and the comprehensive development of Rivers State. This is the story that history books will tell.
At that time, little or nothing will be known of APC partisans. Governor Wike stood for Ogonis as he would stand for other people of Rivers State, in spite of concerted attempts to deny him the role, and that, friends, is the mark of statesmanship beyond politics or partisanship.
The very last of the cards, the most important card, has been played by the APC and the plot was neither regained nor sustained. It’s game over.
Rivers State finally moves beyond politics to be positively impacted by governance. The lesson for all is that Mr. President would rather address issues of governance or nothing at all than condescend to parochialism and vain politics. I believe, the point is made and well taken.
Let’s make progress.
Oraye St. Franklyn is a barrister-at-law. He is senior special assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Social Media. He is a strategic communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He tweets from @RealOraye. He is also on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.