There is a Nigerian proverb which says, ‘where there are elders children would not roast grasshoppers thinking,it is cricket’. Simply put, in the presence of elders ,children are monitored and corrected whenever they err or go astray.
The elderly, as used here,are persons between the age of 68-80 and above, with little or zero attarchment to materialism. Age comes with wisdom, so, the elders are believed to be endowed with wisdom. They are not usually influenced by the affluence of the world. They are always objective in their opinions and utterances no matter who you are to them or who they are to you. They will always call out on you whenever you err. They are hardly political party card carrying members. Even when they are, they don’t hide their feelings when their political parties embark on ventures that are anti people.
Most of the times, the elders are usually retired civil/public servant who served their state or country honorably without corruption records, and are financially independent. Some other times the elders are successful business men/women,whose business activities are independent of the state or federal government.
These elders are respected in their various communities and local governments .Community members look up to them for directions. Their financial independence was a great source of respect for all and sundry,including politicians.Infact,politicians aspiring to contest for any political office,in the state,visit them at their homes and receive advise from such elders. The respect for the elders subsist, even when the politician is in office as governor, senator etc. The elders were not known to be soliciting for political appointments or beg political office holders for any form of favour.
During the two years (1990-1992) or thereabout governorship of Chief Rufus Ada-George, the elders were there and played their elderly role. The elders were also there when chief Dr. Peter Odili wasconsulting and campaigning to be governor in 1999. The elders played their elderly role through out Dr Peter Odili first term[1999-2003].
The second term bid of Dr. Peter Odili witnessed the disintegration,and basterdisation of the elders and their role. Having been lured into politics by the then political gladeators, the elders became polarised, divided and segregated. They became enemies of theirselves as they joined the then two known political parties . PDP and SDP. When eventually Dr. Peter Odili emerged as governor of Rivers State, ,those elders who supported Dr. Odili, were appreciated with state contracts and other privileges of the state. While those who were opposed to Dr. Odili were seen and treated as enemies. Eventually, the elders were drawn into politics and became politicians. They lost their hithero respect from the politicians. By the end of governor Odil i second term, the elders had become puppet in the hands of the politicians.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi chibuike inherited these puppets from Dr. Odili and further enhanced his position as the puppetman . Amaechi abandoned the dis favoured elders,calling them, the opposition. The favoured elders became contractors and suppliers to the state government. They became dependants and as such, surrogate of the governor. They lost that independence which gave them the capacity to call the governor to order. The fear of losing their government contracts made them applaud whatever the govenor does even when it is obvious that the governor is wrong. Whenever the dis favoured elders tries to speak against the wrong acts of the governor, the favoured elders would be sponsored to counter them.
The few elders who are made commissioners or given other appointment as advisers, would not bother advice the gorvernor because the governor do not need their expert advise or suggestion. They are mere senior errand’ boys’ of the governor. The governor personally appropriates their ministry’s budgetory allocations.
The emergence of Chief Barr. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike as the governor of Rivers State, completed the total annihilation of elders in Rivers State. The circumstance under which wike emerged as the State governor, was such that the elders were polarised along party line. With so much money available to the two gladIators ,the elders totally lost their relevance. They became tools powered by naira to do things they knew were wrong.
Today ,elders in Rivers State are addressed in the most disrespectful manner by their sponsours, depending on which side they belong (Wike or Amaechi) without any regard. Elders of Rivers State, today, can be called upon by any of the two, at any time and be asked to grant press interview in favour or against their master’s opponent . The elders of Rivers State have lost their relevance and the state is suffering for it
The consequence, is that Rivers State is a conquered State, run as a private enterprise of His Dictatoral Excellency. Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike.
All instititutions of the State are dead. Only the executive is alive and no one is talking and talking seriously .Both the legislative arm and the judiciary are now instruments of the Executive. The rightS of the ordinary citizen to complain alowed are also caged by the Executive.through the use of the Nigerian police to prevent them from protesting. The people of Rivers State now live in fear and apprehension
Politice being the only viable industry in the State, no one want to speak out as everyone is waiting for his own opportunity to partake in thS share of the state fund.