Several decades ago, when I was extremely young and extremely reckless and didn't give a hoot at the slightest chance to enter the house of friendship with anyone, I relished every opportunity I had to make friends with boys and girls from parts of our country we have since known as Cross River State and Rivers State respectively. Of course, boys and girls from elsewhere - Igboland, Yorubaland and Hausaland, including the Middle-belt - were among those with whom I equally swam in the streams of friendship. I will at any time always remember with fondness my erstwhile friends from Cross River State and Rivers State on account of their edifying humility and exemplary respect for others that their economic and political ill-managers and oppressors mistook for docility - the docility of those who allow themselves to be oppressed by others. I was at different times a Higher School Certificate (HSC) student and a university undergraduate when the friendships I am referring to blossomed.
Then we used to say with admirable pride that our bond of inter-ethnic and inter-regional friendships was our olive branch to our country. But there were some among our school-mates who accused me, a Mid-Westerner, of befriending misfits. And the "misfits" were those outside our Mid-West of elegant, wise and well-endowed people who would always resist oppression, exploitation, abuse and every act of un-freedom. My friends outside our Mid-West region (and state) were also called "chickens" because they were wrongly seen as fragile ones who allowed their resources to be misused and ill-used without even the tiniest words of complaint or protest. Some fellows even referred to them as "Snail without a shell" for the already stated reason.
But this was years ago. This happened decades and decades ago. Nobody today even in his wrong senses would call any Rivers denizen a "misfit," "chicken" or "Snail without a shell." Rivers people are ever ready now to turn day to night. All those who have been violating and exploiting their land and wealth would now know that yesterday's "misfits" and "nitwits" are now brave and wise ones.
This year's elections, presidential, senatorial, house of reps, gubernatorial and state assembly elections, have clearly said and announced it loud and clear that Nyesom Wike and his Rivers people of valour henceforth will bond fruitfully to heal every rift, every division, every schism, every abuse, every insult, and every cruelty in their land of numerous rivers of wealth. What Nyesom Wike and his men and women have achieved this significant year of flowing blood everywhere will forever be in the songs and poetry of the people - born and un-born. Those who died for democracy in Rivers State this year have not died in vain. They have proved by their death that a cause worth dying for is not only worth dying for but must also be died for with pride and dignity - no matter what.
Wike and his people withstood and weathered the storms of war forced on them by raw-hearted men who are betrayers and back-stabbers of the people, to boot within and outside the homeland. And the philosophy that shaped the thoughts of the raw-hearted ones was the un-refined philosophy of greed, schism, destruction and pure and impure evil - that caused blood and blood to flow and flow in the jungles and creeks and rivers. Yet after all said and done, Governor Nyesome Wike has held the olive branch to all the people of Rivers State. The man has surprised even his detractors and his stoutest enemies by calling for reconciliation that is true reconciliation. Only a brave and wise man, who is a truly brave and wise leader, will do what he has done. He and his team are not doing this out of fear or out of any political calculation or psychological weakness. They are doing this because they are statesmen and stateswomen who are truly brave and truly wise at the same time.
They have proved to all and sundry that they are not ones to run from the fields or creeks or rivers of war and blood. They have demonstrated also that they are worthy warriors in the high court, appeal court and Supreme Court of our justice system - meaning that they are extraordinary warriors who are equally committed to the rule of law dispensed in the temple of uncontaminated justice. Brave and wise Governor Wike must also possess the heart of gold - to boot. A man who has passed through all we know him to have passed through yet he still possesses the large heart of a leader who is a true and genuine forgiver who wants everybody to join him to re-build Rivers State that must cease to be spoken of as Rivers of Blood.
If you hated the Rivers Governor before now, you must change your opinion of him now. If you disliked the man before now, you must like him now. If Wike's name meant notoriety to you before now, it must now mean to you a man of true renown. And all who are on his team as band of associates must be positively recognized as his cohorts of brave, wise and broad-hearted people. Now let me urge Wike and them thus: Erect a monument of remembrance for all the fallen ones who defied death for the living to live. Their sacrifice must remain in the hearts of all as true sacrifice all living persons in the land from generation to generation must carry in their living hearts.
As I write this, I remember all my friends of more than four decades ago from Rivers State. I repeat what I must repeat: Who but fools will now regard my friends as "misfits," "chickens" and "Snail without a shell"? My friends' people can shout, scream and bite now real hard. They are brave and wise now as any brave and wise people can be. My friends, wherever you are now, I relish our bond forever.
And dear, dear Ken, dear, dear, dear Ken Saro-Wiwa, my wonderful elderly friend of latter decades, and all his fellow heroes and compatriots, who were compelled to leave us before their time, must turn well now in their graves. I love you all my Rivers friends because you are lovable. And congratulations to you Governor Nyesome Wike and all your fabulous people of Rivers State who must be emulated henceforth in all our battles and wars against oppression and enslavement from anywhere. As you begin a new journey in the familiar roads, paths, fields, creeks, rivers and jungles of battles and wars, may you journey well and leave behind solid legacies that will last centuries and outlast centuries. Even the coming one will ever be proud of you. And who is the coming one? Relax!