Rivers Brick House: A chance for Kalabari is an omen of consolidation and development

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Agreeably, it would seem parochial to some people, to discuss Rivers or Nigeria’s politics on the basis of ethnic rotation, or based on topographical dichotomy and zoning. Of course, it sounds academically okay to dissuade such considerations in this 21st century as many would like to think. Others would even consider it nice and modern to project individual merit and capacity above deliberate distribution of opportunities and functions along ethnic, tribal or religious lines. I agree too, but I dare to say that recognizing these lines doesn’t pose a danger as much as precarious it is to not recognize them. It is the logical need to recognize and fuse our divisional realities into governance that precipitated the philosophy of ‘Unity in Diversity’ which summarizes our constitution through federal character provisions.

For a country that has recorded series of agitations right from formation, the dominating idea which sustainably defines the synonyms of justice, fairness and equity is the degree at which ethnic and tribal sentiments are addressed and satisfied during the distribution of power, functions and opportunities. In other words, the primordial emotions of historical and cultural distinctions still persist no matter how we try to dodge them.

The western democratic philosophy is supposedly a humanist summary of tenets designed to protect individual and minority rights everywhere in the world. Yet, it is a proven fact that Democracy as an ideology, harbours some inherent contradictions necessitated by the impenetrable nature of certain cultures. Democracy has protected the individual rights just as it has also created a class society and deepened sectionalism and the fear of marginalization by the majority in terms of group rights.

The protection of group rights is one of the critical factors that hold Nigeria together as a country. It is no wonder that groups measure their loyalty and commitment to the Nigerian cause based on their assessment of group based economic and social security vis-à-vis the distribution of power and the allocation of the commonwealth.

As already observed, advocates of meritocracy and efficiency will opine differently on the matter of ethnic balancing and inclusiveness but the fact of its sensitivity with regards to Nigeria’s national unity remains sacrosanct.

I can say that it is on the basis of the submissions above that a conscious effort was made towards ensuring that ethnic rotation and quota system in Nigeria are guided by, and woven into a broader North-South dichotomy. This rotational idea also goes down to the grass-roots; including Rivers State and its local components. And as for Rivers State, this time it should be a RIVERS-IJAWS, at least for the consideration of the age long Rivers state power rotation arrangement structured into a distributive scheme of Riverine-Upland Dichotomy and even further into ethnic or tribal groupings.

And for the reasons of preparedness, demonstration of goodwill and genuine support for others over the years; from Alabo Graham Douglas, Late Marshall Harry-Odili time to this present day with supports and corporation from the Late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, Tam David West, Prof. Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, Late Justice Karibi Whyte, High Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, etc., my case is for Kalabari specifically. Without any intention of relegating the input of other groups, the Kalabaris have really been very cordial, supportive, friendly and yet consistent with their political drive and vision. This argument is further supported by the emphatic declaration by the current Governor of Rivers State, E. N. Wike at Abalama wherein he sated that he has received tremendous supports from Late O. B. Lulu-Briggs and has enjoyed harmonious and productive relationship with his son Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs despite having different political views and not being in the same political parties. The governor is not alone in this assertion; there are several of such testimonies also coming from other political camps.

Lastly, it is important to note that the distribution of power along group lines is an appreciation of the beauty in our differences and is aimed at sustaining fairness, equity, inclusiveness, development and stability.

Uche E. Woke writes from Port Harcourt.

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