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Ides Of November From Bayelsa

What becomes of the common man in the unfolding scenario in Bayelsa? How do we ensure that the new regime does not follow “I Pass My Neighbour” mentality and further worsen the quality of life and human index standards of the Ijaw man, woman or child? The signs are ominous!

Someone said former President GEJ taught Governor Seriake Dickson a lesson with this November election. Really? It may be so but don’t buy this account as a solution to the challenges ahead. Yes, there was a melting point when Governor Seriake Dickson’s conduct made his former “god fathers” helpless & provoked public anger . But they had been so from the day he was sworn in to do a second term, without GEJ as President of Nigeria. The PDP, APC, APGA or any party does not control any Governor or legislator in Nigeria.

Like a true Emperor, a Governor claims the entire arena of decision- making to himself. Every seating Bayelsa Governor appears to jump into that bandwagon: Isnt that what all Governors do since 1999? They are Emperors and act it with gusto! They become gods in their own little territories.

Teaching someone a lesson suggests that you are in control. The situation unfolding in Bayelsa now in my view, appears to be a sad continuation of the classical “Crackers biscuit metaphor” . Check Odili & Amaechi, Tinubu & Ambode, Jonathan & Timipre Sylva, etc. The list is endless. The drama by GEJ  and Seriake Dickson, now is only a “narrative continuum”: When you break Crackers biscuit, it hardly comes out as neat pieces! In Nigeria it often tends to leave those around the dining table who broke the biscuit, with far less pieces than they imagined. They make do with a survival scramble for the pieces on the floor. The winner takes it all!

This happens where the winner becomes the owner of the party & government. That is what we learn from the recent US experience with Donald Trump as President. He has literally swallowed the Republican Party as Michael Bloomberg argued in Businessweek of October 14, 2019 edition titled “Trump Won’t Stop His Abuses of Power”. In my view President Buhari should file claims for the US to pay intellectual property rights on Donald Trump’s playbook. It is a stolen copy of field notes that belong to Nigerian politicians from 1999.

Like a Nigerian politician, Donald Trump simply created a Republican Party after his own image. He never plays by the rules of the party, unlike Ronald Reagan or the George Bush lineage that followed party discipline! Donald Trump is buying over the party by demolishing everything he met. He deploys freely the theory of brinkmanship in politics. He puts all Republican elected officials on a rolling barrel. And they become beholden to him.

Same story in Nigeria since 1999. Our politicians appear to be OWNERS of the party once they “win”. So the only rules they go by, are the rules of the OWNER ( the man of the moment).

 Bayelsa after Seriake Dickson, cannot be any different. The emptiness of Nigeria’s politics is driven by the hidden force of “I Pass My Neighbour” mentality since 1999. The “Winner” tends to take all, and reduces the rest of us to praise singers or an angry audience watching by the sideline. With time, the tension and struggles to play Emperor, will damage the big masquerade and he will leave the arena with a tragic limp.

And the loser? It includes the one time winner. In this Bayelsa case, the owners of PDP in the state lost the “people power” which resides in our abused electorate. Bayelsa workers were denied of a future to be proud of. Pensioners are not even on the Governor’s discussion list. The State was reduced to Yenagoa and no more! Did you see the video footage of polling activities on TV? In Amassoma & other places, people were lining up in knee-high flood water to vote. Government abandoned them all through! They sleep in canoes. 

So on election day, the people simply looked the other way. They allowed those who showed more muscle, to throw their Emperor’s government down by any means possible.

When the public tends to dislike the opposition more, they shout and throw themselves in the line of fire to chase the hungry hawks away. That was what happened in 2015 in Rivers State. Despite the power of incumbency under Governor Amaechi’s brand new APC front, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike snatched the office of Governor of Rivers State for the PDP. And in 2019 the same people put their lives on the line in different communities to fight off the hurricane of Federal might against Governor Wike.

Can the new man be the People’s Emperor to reverse the anguish they suffered under Governor Dickson? That can only happen where the people are organized as strong stakeholder groups to set the agenda of governance. Professional groups, Labour associations, Women organizations, Social platforms and Business fronts need to stand up to push a coherent public agenda that will create a high productive and decentralized economy for the state

Those who think “it is their own turn” now to benefit from the intoxication of political power, won’t let it happen. Are we prepared to fight to break the feudal system which PDP started and has passed over to APC? Or we should prepare to raise Almajiri groups in Brass, Nembe, and everywhere else that has a corridor to the Atlantic. Concluded.

Amaopusenibo Brown, veteran journalist and former National President of NIPR is the  CEO of Grain Consulting.

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