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I welcome you all to my residence,and I am genuinely flattered that you came to seek my guidance across party lines on the upcoming elections. Especially since I left the National Assembly after 4 years in 2003, you and many other Ekpeye socio cultural groups, including Ekpeye Youth Congress, have always visited when ever I come home to rub minds on the plight of our people, especially our youths who are mostly unemployed.Another round of electioneering is upon us, and we must vote wisely bearing in mind our experience as individuals and as an ethnic nationality.

In your opening remarks many of you had asked why I have been silent for a while. Well I was engaged in some Introspection, and most often it’s not public statements that produce results but quiet consultations. Afterall what issues haven’t I addressed in my many years of involvement in our polity, from oil and gas reforms for the empowerment of our youths, the protection of persons with disability,the dialogue on our membership of the WTO, restructuring along the lines of the first Republic that enabled the region’s to achieve rapid socio economic development etc.Ibadan in the old western region is reputed to have built Africa,s first TV network, amongst other achievements of both the Northern and Eastern Regions.

Besides these we had given our mandate to representatives at various levels and it’s important to allow them space to perform their obligations to the populace before jumping to early commentary. Most times those elected and appointed are uncomfortable with those who do not hold any elective or appointive office running frequent commentaries. It is however now time to take stock of the performance of those we elected, and those in appointive positions and to gauge how well they have performed, and whether they deserve our further support.

Let me start this discuss with my elementary understanding of democracy and representation,and the electoral cycle which in our country comes once in every 4 years.

Democracy is a form of Government that allows the masses to choose their leaders in a free, fair and credible electoral processs, that ensures the will of the people is accurately reflected in those that eventually emerge. This is why it’s very important that INEC as the arbiter of this long hallowed democratic principle must be a fair and untainted arbiter,and must indeed be like Caesar’s wife “without blemish”. The people on their part must turn up en mass and take time off their jobs to focus on this process in the next one to two months. It demands sacrifice of our time to educate each other on our choices,and to ensure that those we vote for can diligently carry our aspirations and represent them in a manner that benefits us as a people. As voters we must turn up on time at the polling units, cast our votes without fear, intimidation and non violence and vote for our preferred candidates,and ensure that we remain at the polling units untill the results are announced and we record same.To vote and leave for home,the farm or other pursuits is not an option. We have the next four years to do all those things,and must now focus on one thing only i.e; electing those we want to represent us in the next four years.The four years from 2015 has now elapsed and we know very well the characters and performance of all those that represented us,either in the National Assembly, the State Assembly, as Federal Ministers, heads of parastals etc. We know how they have conducted themselves by virtue of the offices they occupied on account of our votes. We know those who have aided the development of our people and built their human capacities, and those that have used their positions as tools of oppression and disempowerment of our people,and those that see any upcoming Rivers sons and daughters as threats and device all means using their offices to destroy them, through false allegations, intimidation and targeting of their businesses. We must not allow any place for parochial and self centered leaders in our state any more,and we must ensure this through our votes.

This is a unique opportunity for we the masses to reclaim our state,as never before have our votes meant so much than now. With the near equal strength of the two main contending parties in terms of their spread across all our 23 LGAs, there will be no more rigging like in the past when we were all in the same party.Our voices will be heard loud and clear this time. My focus on today’s discussions is Rivers State,as all politics is local and state politics is the foundation of national politics.

Our father’s collectively laboured hard to win this state, where they expected that all their children will be stake holders.We must not allow a few to make themselves emperor’s because we had blessed them with our mandate to preside over our affairs. With the resources they have amassed they are now playing God, and want to determine who rules us till eternity. We must say no to this.In pursuit of this agenda, they have cut down our sons and daughters in order to muffle dissenting voices and ethrone their puppets as our leaders. We must say No to this.Those sons and daughters presenting themselves for elections must demonstrate that they are independent and not fronts for our oppressors, and we must not waste our votes on proxy candidates but cast them for people that will have the love of our state and people at heart.Those that will not only build infrastructure but build our human capacity, by supporting our youths with employment, our business men with contracts and ancillary props to actualize their potentials and employ our youths.The ready example of Lagos comes to mind, where we have seen governance as a catalyst not only for the development of the state but for the building of its human capacity. A new Rivers state is possible.

Let us vote for those who are open to advice and would not feel that they know everything just because we have empowered them with our collective resources. Lets vote those that will respect our elders, leaders,vwomen, youth and show empathy to them and use their positions to enhance their welfare. Lets vote those that will bring development and not strife to our people and our state.

Every Rivers man, woman, youth are equal stakeholders in the Rivers Project, and let none, no matter how powerful claim to be the only stakeholder. We should no longer allow our state to be the footstoll for personal ambitions of individuals that have no space for our people’s interest, and seek to subjugate and enslave Rivers sons and daughters.

We should elect or support leaders that have the self confidence to uplift other Rivers sons and daughters,leaders that can allow a thousand flowers bloom in the words of Mao Tse Tung. Leaders that can allow other candles shine,knowing that the more the candles the brighter the room and by extension our state. Not leaders who believe that you must put out other candles,in order for them to be the only light in the room. Such leaders can not help the development of people and out state,and we should be wary of supporting this kind of leaders or those they endorse.

To our brethren across the various tribes and brother states,we say you are welcome to join in the Rivers Project,but identify our interest and those that accurately reflect them, and use them as the points of contact for your intervention in our project. Rivers people desire development both in terms of infrastructure and human capital,and we need Peace to achieve these and more.

To the members of Ekpeye Youths, New Era and other groups here present who cut across all the political parties from APC, PDP, APGA, SDP etc go out and vote your conscience and protect your votes.Let us in choosing remember those that have remembered our people and treated them justly, and lets also remember those that have not treated us and our people well.The Ikwerres, Ogonis, Kalabari, Igbani, Abua etc are our brothers and sisters and we must collaborate with them in making our input in the Rivers Project.

Continue to see politics as a contest of ideas for the development of societies, and not physical combat,name calling,hate speeches and denigration of opponents,and maintain your friendships across party and tribal lines in order to build a better Rivers state and Nigeria.

Do not succumb to the purveyors of violence,but peacefully vote and protect your votes. Rivers state will have peaceful elections.

God bless you all.

Thanks Excepts of Hon Nwuche’s comments at the interaction with Socio cultural/Political groups in Port Harcourt prior the 2019 general elections.

M. Ezebuesor
Media Assistant to Hon Chibudom Nwuche