It has been several days since I read a publication denigrating, disparaging and vilifying the Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS (Africa), FNIPR over the caution he issued to the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, His Serene Majesty, King Theophilus J. T. Princewill, after the latter received and granted audience to Bayelsa State Governor, His Excellency, Hon. Seriake Dickson, without prior notification to the Rivers State Governor.
I was utterly taken aback by the condescending remarks and vain arguments in the unsigned 23rd December, 2019 statement titled “Denigration of Royal Stool: Kengema Unity Forum Responds to Gov Wike” and emanating from one Kengema Unity Forum. The poorly worded, grammatically deficient statement essentially cast aspersions on the person of Governor Wike and haughtily sought to question His Excellency's constitutional powers to query and sanction the Amanyanabo. Suffice it to say that His Excellency did not write the Constitution and did not confer his official powers on himself. Perhaps members of the Forum need to be enlightened that, as in most other parts of the world, there no longer exists any absolute monarchy in Nigeria. Whatever the merits or demerits of that situation, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, like all other traditional rulers nationwide, is today subject to the law and the authority of the state.
Equally condemnable is the Forum's attempt to give a tribal colouration to the issue by describing His Excellency's comments on the Amanyanabo's conduct as an affront on Rivers Ijaws, which it certainly is not. They conveniently forgot to mention that Governor Seriake Dickson's originally proposed itinerary in the state included visits not only to the Amanyanabo of Kalabari but also to the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, another prominent Kalabari/Ijaw ruler of first-class credentials, and that the latter decorously denied audience to the would-be visitor when he found out that his own governor had not been informed. In any case, one wonders what tribalism has to do with breach of protocol.
It is on record that Governor Wike drew his Deputy Governor (Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, nee Harry) as well as the Secretary to the State Government (Dr. Tammy Danagogo) from the same tribe – Kalabari. A very risky political move in our clime! But this cut no ice with Kengema Unity Forum. Instead the Forum chose toallude to perceived personal hostilities between His Excellency and some other Kalabari sons, notably Engr. Tein Jackrich, Sobomabo Jackrich and an unnamed other (who the discerning reader would, on the strength of the elaborate description given, unmistakably identify as Alhaji Asari Dokubo).It was clearly a hapless attempt to attract undeserved sympathy, broaden the scope of the Forum's self-serving dissent, and brew conflict where there is none. That ludicrous machination merits no further comment.
A few words on one baffling issue, though. The statement lavishly eulogized Sobomabo Jackrich (a.k.a. Egberi Papa) and Alhaji Asari Dokubo as role models, heroes and leaders of Kalabari. Pray, what are the credentials of both men?
I wonder what or who the Kalabari man of today is glorifying as heroes. Is it ex-militants who murdered many of their own people in the course of a phantom self-serving so-called “Niger Delta struggle,”or unrepentant gang-leaders, gun-runners, oil bunkerers, and political thugs?
Does Egberi Papa even holda secondary school certificate? Asari Dokubo is a known two-time university drop-out. How could any sane mind ascribe to such a renegade pair the status of leadership over a tribe whichboasts of arguably more renowned professors, lawyers, doctors, engineers, bankers, politicians, businessmen, teachers, scientists, administratorsand other professionals per family than you would find in most other Nigerian tribes?
As a Kalabari man, I find it profoundly queerthat a Forum whichdescribed itself as the “promoter and defenderof the interest of the Kalabari nation in all spheres of human endeavour for sustainable and accelerated development” could make suchpreposterous, mortifying assertion. Would any member of the Forumtruly like his children to view Egberi Papa and Asari Dokubo as role models and take after them?But I hear someone say “birds of the same feather flock together.” So true. Such deranged, retrogressive mind-set! Little wonder Kalabari Kingdom, in spite of its glorious pedigree and heritage, is presently in a lowly state. We have allowed charlatans and other dregs of society to dictate to us. Reminds one of the incongruity, absurdity and paradox that the following two Biblical scriptures counsel against:
- There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceeded from the ruler:
- Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.
- I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.”
“Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.”
It is time we the Kalabaris set our preferences, ideals and priorities right. Extolling intellectually and morally bankrupt characters as leaders has not and will never get us anywhere.
Regretably, idle vituperations similar to those offered by Kengema Unity Forum have been expressed by a few misguided Kalabari sons whose vile spews the Forum quoted in its statement. Thankfullythe vast majority of Kalabari sons and daughters have greaterappreciation of constitutional hierarchy, official decorum and the fact that their governor's reservations about their monarch's conduct are neither personal nor ill-motivated.
All considered, it is scarcely indicative of wisdom for a weak child to disrespectfully speak in battle tongues in purported defense of his father and king who has conversely opted to stay mum.I know for sure that the Amanyanabo has official spokespersons who he would have instructed to comment on his behalf if it were necessary to do so.Need it be pointed out that this exuberant outward show of bravado contrary to the better judgment, peaceful disposition and strength of character of the king is deep folly and cannot be trusted?
It is gratifying that all the foregoing notwithstanding,our governor, as father of the state, haselected to bemagnanimous and overlook the boyhood excesses of Kengema Unity Forum, Asari Dokubo and their likes. I perceive that His Excellency appreciates that their cranky shenanigans are geared towards seeking relevance in the new Rivers State that is rapidly unfolding under his leadership. He obviously knows that they do not have any mandate to speak for the Kalabaris, as a delegation of true representatives of the Kalabari people have already paid him a solidarity visit and pledged unalloyed support for his administration.
Significant too is the fact that there has been no unwholesome word or action from our revered Amanyanabo of Kalabari himself. My conviction is that His Serene Majesty, ever regal and disposed to peace, has gracefully accepted His Excellency's caution in good faith. On his part, our governor, having only recently presented the state's 2020 budget which the State House of Assembly subsequently approved, must already be focused on delivering greater dividends of democracy to Rivers people within this new year and beyond, andis unlikely to let himself be distracted by the misdemeanors of children whose movements are not in tandem with their noble father's dance steps.But such unruly children should be called to order now, lest they irredeemably ruin the relationship between the Kingdom and the State.
Hon. Soberekon Clarke
Former Caretaker Chairman,
Akuku-Toru L. G. A., Rivers State.