Tinubu's Advisory Misstep In River State Crisis: The Psychological Impact Of Excluding Speaker Ehie And Faction - What Were You Thinking?

Source: Prof. John Egbeazien Oshodi

In the aftermath of President Bola Tinubu's advisory role in attempting to bring an end to the prolonged political crisis in Rivers State, a complex network of emotions and perspectives has unfurled, shedding light on the intricate interplay of human psychology and political dynamics.

Your advisory role, undertaken with the noble intention of fostering peace, inadvertently stumbled upon a grave misstep that warrants careful consideration. The exclusion of pivotal stakeholders, notably factional Speaker Ehie Edison, from the pivotal peace meeting raises poignant concerns about the very foundations of inclusivity and fairness in the resolution process. This oversight, however unintentional, has the potential to exacerbate existing tensions rather than offering the soothing balm of resolution.

In the recent rendezvous at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, where key political figures, including yourself, Nuhu Ribadu, National Security Adviser a former senior police officer; Rivers Governor Siminalayi Fubara, former governor turned Federal Capital Territory Minister Nyesome Wike, and the factional Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule, engaged in intensive talks, a semblance of a truce seemed to emerge. The resulting eight-point resolution, a document bearing the signatures of major stakeholders, outlines directives ranging from the withdrawal of lawsuits related to the political turmoil to the re-presentation of the 2024 appropriation bill by Governor Fubara. It also underscores the importance of recognizing the leadership of the Rivers State House of Assembly, reinstating remunerations for its members, and ensuring the independence of the Assembly in selecting a location for legislative activities. Other critical issues were also addressed, marking a notable step towards potential political stability in the state.

However, the underlying concerns and discontent expressed by various quarters hint at the delicate balance that must be struck for true resolution. The exclusion of Ehie Edison and the potential imbalance in representation pose challenges to the perceived fairness and efficacy of the resolution process.

As we navigate the intricate waters of River State's political turmoil, it becomes imperative to introspect and course-correct where necessary. In recognizing and rectifying this advisory misstep, we lay the groundwork for a more inclusive, transparent, and ultimately effective path towards lasting political stability. The journey ahead demands a delicate balance, acknowledging the diverse perspectives that define the political landscape of Rivers State and fostering an environment where every voice is heard, every concern is addressed, and the foundations of democracy stand strong.

The intentional exclusion of factional Speaker Ehie Edison from the peace meeting convened by you reverberates with profound psychological implications, extending beyond the realms of legality and constitutionality. This omission is not just a procedural misstep; it strikes at the very heart of emotions, potentially igniting sentiments of alienation, frustration, and deep-seated mistrust. Mr. President, one might have anticipated the seasoned insight of Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser and a former senior police officer, to underscore the imperative of including both factional speakers in this civil matter. In many African traditions, when a civil matter arises, the involved parties are summoned before the head of the community or elders to present their cases, ensuring fair judgment. So, I may ask you again, sir, what were you thinking?

This stark omission raises unsettling questions and exposes, in plain view, a significant error that resonates keenly with the discerning Nigerian populace.

Public perception plays a pivotal role, and if a substantial faction perceives marginalization, it has the potential to sow seeds of widespread discontent. The erosion of trust in the legitimacy of the peace resolution efforts becomes a critical concern. Overcoming the psychological fallout becomes a prerequisite for long-term reconciliation, necessitating deliberate efforts to address the emotional toll of exclusion and rebuild a sense of trust and inclusivity in the political process.

This exclusion not only exposes a glaring leadership error but also unravels significant human and psychological implications for all stakeholders involved. Beyond the legal and constitutional intricacies, the essence of inclusive dialogue in conflict resolution processes cannot be overstated. The exclusion of key representatives, such as Edison, signals a fundamental lack of recognition for the diverse perspectives and concerns within the intricate political landscape of Rivers State.

From a human standpoint, this exclusion risks deepening existing divisions, amplifying the sense of injustice, and fostering an environment where viewpoints are perceived as disregarded. Psychologically, individuals who find themselves excluded from pivotal discussions may harbor sentiments of resentment and skepticism, questioning the sincerity of the entire resolution process. The absence of their representation may cultivate a belief that their interests are purposefully marginalized or overlooked.

Addressing these profound human and psychological dimensions becomes imperative for a more inclusive and sustainable path towards political stability in Rivers State. It requires a conscientious effort to rectify this omission, ensuring that all significant parties are afforded a seat at the table, and their voices are not only heard but genuinely considered in the quest for a comprehensive and equitable resolution.

Nigerians have taken to social media platforms to express their discontent over Bola Tinubu's intervention in the Rivers State political crisis. Many perceive it as undue interference in the internal affairs of a state. Social media, functioning as a mirror reflecting the collective psyche of the nation, showcases a diverse range of emotions, from discontent to outright displeasure. This outcry underscores the fundamental human desire for autonomy, fairness, and a system that respects the distinctiveness of each state within the federation.

The reported resolution, perceived by some as biased in favor of Governor Fubara and his allies, has ignited regional and ethnic tensions. The directives could be seen by some as undemocratic and one-sided, reflecting a broader sentiment of dissatisfaction, particularly among the Ijaw ethnic nationality. The psychological impact of such perceived bias can deepen existing divisions and erode trust in the political process.

The potential constitutional errors and deviations from established principles can contribute to a sense of unease and erode public trust in the democratic process. To navigate the complex web of human emotions and psychological responses, it is imperative to address the root causes of discontent. Rectifying the omission of key stakeholders and fostering a more inclusive dialogue are crucial steps. Leaders must recognize the diversity of perspectives, acknowledge the emotional toll of exclusion, and work towards rebuilding trust.

The perceived closeness of the majority of the people present in the meeting to Governor Wike adds a layer of complexity to the agreement, suggesting that the resolution might be one-sided. Such situations can evoke skepticism regarding the fairness and inclusivity of the negotiated terms. Clarity on the motivations behind the resolution and its potential impact on the broader political landscape will be essential for a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Governor Fubara’s emotional declaration that "no price is too high" for him to pay to ensure peace in Rivers State, following his attendance at a peace meeting in Abuja brokered by President Bola Tinubu is noteworthy. The peace pact generated angry reactions upon his return to Rivers State, with many describing it as one-sided and potentially aimed at facilitating the governor's removal from office through impeachment. The characterization of the peace pact as "one-sided," "heavily skewed," and "manipulated against Governor Fubara" underscores the perceived dissatisfaction and discontent among some stakeholders regarding the fairness of the resolution. This situation adds another layer of complexity to the political dynamics in Rivers State.

The exclusion of the factional Speaker Ehie Edison from the peace meeting raises concerns about the inclusivity and fairness of the resolution process. Leadership errors, such as not inviting key stakeholders from all factions, can contribute to a lack of trust and satisfaction among various parties involved. In situations of political crisis, it is crucial for leaders to foster an inclusive dialogue that considers diverse perspectives, promoting transparency and a sense of fairness.

Moreover, this exclusion poses a challenge to the effectiveness of peace resolution. By not including all relevant stakeholders, the outcome of the peace talks may lack the necessary buy-in from key factions, rendering the resolution less likely to be accepted or implemented. Tensions could escalate instead of de-escalate if parties feel their concerns have been dismissed or undermined.

To pave the way for lasting political stability in Rivers State, it is imperative to acknowledge and rectify such leadership errors. This involves actively seeking the inclusion of all significant parties in future discussions, ensuring that diverse voices are heard and respected. A more inclusive approach not only addresses immediate grievances but also lays the foundation for a sustainable and cooperative political environment. By recognizing the importance of every faction's representation, leaders can rebuild trust, promote understanding, and work towards a more harmonious future for the state.

Individuals who perceive themselves as excluded from crucial discussions may experience feelings of alienation and betrayal. This can lead to heightened mistrust not only towards those who orchestrated the exclusion but also towards the entire peace resolution process.

Speaker Ehie and his faction represent a group with its own set of beliefs and interests. The exclusion may intensify a sense of unity within this group, fostering a stronger "us versus them" mentality. This dynamic can complicate future negotiations and collaborative efforts.

Perceived exclusion can fuel resentment and frustration, potentially escalating tensions rather than resolving them. Individuals who feel marginalized may be less willing to engage in future discussions, leading to a further breakdown in communication.

Overcoming the psychological impact of exclusion is vital for long-term reconciliation. Rebuilding trust and fostering a sense of inclusivity will be challenging, requiring deliberate efforts to address the emotional toll of exclusion.

The psychological fallout of the one-sided invitation goes beyond legal or constitutional concerns. It influences how individuals perceive the fairness of the process, their willingness to engage in future dialogue, and the overall climate for reconciliation. Addressing these psychological aspects is crucial for creating a sustainable and inclusive path toward political stability in Rivers State.

The potential unconstitutional nature of the President's interference in the internal state political issues, coupled with his role as a unifying figure for the nation, raises valid concerns about the unintended consequences of such actions. If the President assumes the role of a political father for the entire nation, yet his interventions are perceived as one-sided or biased, it risks exacerbating existing political, ethnic divisions, and state-level distrust.

Constitutional principles are essential for maintaining the delicate balance of power and autonomy between federal and state entities. Any deviation from these principles can lead to a perception of overreach, diminishing the credibility of the presidency and eroding trust in the democratic process. The potential for increased political, ethnic divisions and state-level distrust underscores the importance of careful consideration and adherence to constitutional norms in any conflict resolution efforts.

Moreover, the unintended consequences of such interventions may include a loss of faith in the impartiality of the presidency and a deepening of regional and ethnic fault lines. To avoid further polarization and foster genuine unity, a more inclusive and constitutionally grounded approach is crucial. This involves engaging all relevant stakeholders, respecting the autonomy of states, and ensuring that conflict resolution processes are perceived as fair, transparent, and in accordance with constitutional principles.

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria, to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American-based police and prison scientist and forensic, clinical, and legal psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical psychological services in the USA; and a former interim associate dean and assistant professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings. In 2011, he introduced state-of-the-art forensic psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C. and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. He has taught at various universities and colleges including Florida memorial University, Florida International University, Broward college, Lynn University, and a contributing faculty member at the Weldios university in Benin Republic, Nexus International University, Uganda, Nova Southeastern University and Walden University in USA. He is a Human Rights Psychologist with a focus on African related environments. [email protected]

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