Rivers: 2011 Polls and the rising agitation for a tremendous transformation

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Again, very soon, the Nigerian populace will be going to the polls to elect their new leaders, and those who don't care whether the electorates votes count or not will rig their selves into their unmerited political offices. Against that backdrop, because they didn't have the will-power of the electorates at heart, they will never rise to the occasion to better the lots of the people; the pressing needs of the people. And this is why the electoral reform calls for urgent attention, putting everything the Uwais-led electoral reforms panel had penned down in place. Where this electoral reform is not put in place, I am elected to say that the next year's election will not be free from irregularities.

Those leaders who have not performed know themselves, even that it was said that no one fails in an examination he sets. But we can't forget that conscience is a good judge no matter how a man tries to pretend he is hard. Those leaders who have worked credibly know themselves. But we can't because some leaders have worked, then we should be recycling leaders in the political offices in Nigeria? We need change so that we could have different persons with new ideas or ideology.

According to a recent survey by a group of youths in Kalabari, Rivers State, they buttressed that their sons and daughter in the Diaspora's unconnected habit in coming home have been a fat bane why the Kalabari kingdom seems to be gasping for the breath in the Nigerian political tussle. As a result, they mandated their sons and daughters in the Diaspora to come home and salvage Nigeria from the political cesspit it is presently into come 2011 elections. They have sent out clarion calls to their notable children domiciling abroad for this great task. One such Kalabari son who has honoured the youths' invitation was Dr Biobele Diboye-Suku (Ph.D).

Dr. Suku was held by the youths in high esteem in a town hall meeting recently in Port Harcourt, described as a “progressive platform” Dr Suku has voyaged from for the exalted seat of the governor of Rivers State come 2011.

Dr. Suku said: “I have not come to vie for the governorship of Rivers State come 2011 as a Kalabari man but as a Rivers man, though of the Kalabari and Ikwerre extraction. My parents are Kalabari from Buguma and I was born a few miles from Emohua, a tiny settlement called Eli-Isreali, now a thriving Christian community. I spent my formative years in Rumuche and attended the Baptist School in Rumuakunde. I am as Ikwerre as any other Ikwerre man and still fluent in Ikwerre. I am very proud of my Kalabari and Ikwerre upbringing. My favourite Ikwerre dance is the Erebu Dance. But the most important point I want to make here is that to me there is not a Kalabari, an Ogoni, Okrika, Etche, Abua, Andoni but there is one indivisible Rivers State. I have not and will not have the option of restricting my loyalty on the basis of the above categorization. It is my belief that a true leader must look beyond 'native of' in making decisions”.

Dr Suku continued: “That's why I believe that more than at any time in the 43 years history of Rivers State, it is time for CHANGE. We need to move away from the socially and ethnically divisive policies of the present Amaechi-led administration. The adversarial attitude and snobbery of Amaechi is tearing the State apart and putting one ethnic group against another. Social divisions has widened since Amaechi came to power. Amaechi's government has been undermined by his elitism, aloofness, snobbery, cronyism and complacency. The Rivers people want change, deserve it and urgently need it. It also needs purposeful, virile, balanced and fresh leadership which Dr Biobele Diboye-Suku is waiting to provide come 2011. The Amaechi chapter of eight years as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and now four years as Executive Governor must be brought to a speedy close in 2011 and pave way for real change to take place in Rivers State. Only with a new government with a sense of purpose can Rivers State start to create a dynamic, welfare, caring just, fairer and inclusive society for all, not the few. Dr Diboye-Suku is ready to take over the mantle of leadership”.

He was not economical with his perspectives when he told the youths, “I want to indicate that my campaign slogan for the 2011 Election in Rivers State is MANDATE FOR CHANGE IN RIVERS STATE 2011 : A MODERN WELFARE, CARING AND FAIRER SOCIETY FOR ALL, NOT THE FEW.' Having said that, my leadership or followership pedigree goes back to when I was appointed Prefect in, Kalabari National College, Buguma”.

Having had the leadership qualities from birth, the bookish Dr Suku, an academic, orator, philanthropist, town-worker is a man that is surrounded by people to tap knowledge from, anytime. For the quest of broader education, he went to the United Kingdom in 1979 landing first in Aberdeen, Scotland wherefrom he proceeded to Liverpool and London where he attained Ph.D in Public Administration.

According to an account, in his university days, he was into the campus politics and was elected President of the Nigerian Student Union in Liverpool. He didn't just fold his hands as many presidents do today. As a unionist, he founded The Buguma Community in London in 1988 which served as a catalyst and wake up call to other communities. He didn't stop there, he proceeded and amalgamated all the Nigerian Student Unions in Liverpool and represented post graduate students in the University Senate. The propellant to these feats he achieved were, “I was dismayed when I arrived in London from Liverpool in 1988 that there was nothing on the ground for people to meet and rub minds together about the development of our country and communities,” the account reports.

Going down the memory lane when the youths were curious to know his own quota of contributions, apart from the ones mentioned above, before coming to say he wants to vie for an election in Nigeria, Dr Suku told the enlarged soiree but not the least that, “I started my working career in London in 1988. I served at various government departments including Health and Employment, with the Council in Education and Leisure. I have also worked in the private sector in Housing and Homeless Department and Youths. I did a lot of voluntary work with my free time in the community ranging from organizing the black community to take part in community affairs to improve their lives to helping the vulnerable members of the society. I founded a registered Charity in 1993 to promote literacy and the provision of books and libraries in Nigeria. I have donated thousands of books to schools since then and a library is in an advanced state of construction in my home town of Buguma that would be opened to the public free of charge when completed”.

Having travelled to different parts of the world to attend conferences and conventions, the last, but not the least, was the Kalabari National Association Convention in Houston, Texas, USA in May 2009. In that conference he was officially invited, Dr. Suku delivered key note address that nipped many people's headgear. He met Rivers sons and daughters which included Hon. Michael West.

Hon. West is member, Rivers State Assembly and had been said he knows how to use his Buguma Constituency 2 fund well. It is no coincidence that Buguma is the same town Dr Suku came from. “Dr. Suku is a man to beat come 2011 gubernatorial election in Rivers State,” the Kalabari youths said.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Author, Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]