The open lack of nationalism in the Amaechi government

by Odimegwu Onwumere

Nationalism and patriotism intertwine. Encarta Dictionaries defines Nationalism as independence, autonomy, home rule, self-rule, self-government, separatism; and Patriotism as loyalty, partisanship, nationalism, jingoism, xenophobia, chauvinism. However, different people have different perceptions of the two words. The perception of one Christopher Dawson is that, the sublimated idealism of the Enlightenment, the spirit of the League of Nations and of the United Nations Charter has not proved strong enough to control the aggressive dynamism of nationalism. Alija Izetbegovic’s own perception of nationalism is that, Bosnia is a complicated country: three religions, three nations and those “others”; nationalism is strong in all three nations; in two of them there are a lot of racism, chauvinism, separatism; and now we are supposed to make a state out of that. One Emily Greene Balch was quoted as saying that, a second characteristic of our time is the prevalence of nationalism. This is still spreading, affecting new communities, more peripheral regions and so-called backward peoples. But having observed Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State within these three years he is governor, he hates people who practice what Amos Oz said in his quote that, the Same Sea is set precisely in this Israel, which never makes it to the news headlines anywhere.

What has elicited the above definition and perceptions by different people of nationalism is the intention Amaechi has made to run for a second term in office. This, it was said, to enable him consolidate on the policies enunciated by his administration. Since then, some people are not pleased with the intention. They have defined nationalism in the words of one Lance Henriksen, who was quoted as saying that, corporate nationalism to him is a little bit like what would have happened if Hitler had won. It’s scary stuff. It’s totalitarianism in a different form, under a different flavour.

While some people may hold onto that peevish definition, this writer strongly believes in the words of John Raleigh Mott, which said that, extreme nationalism and Bolshevism have broken up the old world, a new world is in the making. It is literally true that old things are passing away; all things may become new, granted we have wise, unselfish, and determined guides.

Yes, the new world has been set in Nigeria with Amaechi’s governance, not minding the speculated frosty relationship between Amaechi and President Goodluck Jonathan. It is only a loyal governor like Amaechi who could accuse the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of seeking to coerce him into supporting Jonathan ahead of the 2011 presidential election, which he threatened to mobilise the people of the state against EFCC. The speculation, as we knew, came when Jonathan’s wife, Dame Patience publicly embarrassed the governor at a public function in her hometown, Okrika, accusing him of insensitivity to persons, she described as, “my people.” Against that backdrop, Amaechi showed maturity in the words of Juan Cole: “I also argued before the war that the administration was underestimating Arab nationalism and Iraqi nationalism, that it was not going to be as easy to rule Iraq as they thought.” Jonathan wife’s nationalism proved one Peter Singer right: “I believe that nationalism is a very strong force, but there are other forces operating; there are tendencies pushing towards a larger picture, especially in Europe, I think; but I still think nationalism is real.”

This writer believes that Amaechi’s definition of nationalism is not about the politics of separatism and militancy as wont by many sycophantic politicians who operate under the guise of these above words mentioned as patriotism; Amaechi operates policies of fundamentalism and fanaticism, but many people misunderstands him.

Amaechi had often disclosed that he is not a criminal-politician and does not have a godfather, which this writer sees as the reasons many people see him as a separationist, by relying on certain godfathers to challenge him in the next year’s election in the state, but it was certain that Amaechi would defeat them as long as the polls are free and fair.

Everybody should speak his mind on what he believes is the truth and just, as Amaechi had always said. We have to always apply the words of Arthur Henderson: “I do not believe that the values which the Western democracies consider essential to civilization can survive in a world rent by the international anarchy of nationalism and the economic anarchy of competitive enterprise.” And in the words of Amaechi: “We must reform the country. I have never said any day that I don’t support the president. Never! All I have said is that for me in Rivers State, we desire reform here and that reform I will pursue. Those who want to cart away Rivers money should wait after my tenure. What is EFCC doing here? They never came all these while. Today they are here. Why are they here? Let’s say EFCC is doing their job. They have a responsibility to go after those who are corrupt. But there is a judgment of a Federal High Court which says EFCC cannot come to Rivers State. Is EFCC above the law? I have been appealing (to EFCC) for the past two years. Go and discharge that judgment. They have not been able to go and discharge that judgment. They are only living in disobedience… is this country not a country of rule of law?”

This could be why one Peter Singer was quoted as saying, “I don’t think nationalism is alone holding the field; it’s in contention with a lot of different things.” We then heard sources hinted that EFCC had brushed aside subsisting court judgement, and moved operatives into Rivers State. On this, many Nigerians bemoaned that there are certain things in life that can’t just but leave a sour taste in the mouth. They said that they did not believe it at first, but they did when one of the council chairmen confirmed that some EFCC officials have begun to harass those in the Rivers State government. Nigerians said that if they put the timing of the failed attempt to form a parallel PDP exco in the state beside the First Lady’s blunder, any right-thinking official of EFCC should have learnt from Rivers State how not to witch-hunt.

It is not for the interest of “unity” but for the interest of “nationalism” in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that, many faceless politicians in Abuja are threatening the peoples’ Governor Ameachi that he is a “separationist”. Wouldn’t they refrain forthwith? Ameachi is regarded as God’s chosen agent of change. Nigerians say that, this time, agents of Satan cannot stop him! It is imperative Nigerians learned from the words of one Bell Hooks: “I have been thinking about the notion of perfect love as being without fear, and what that means for us in a world that’s becoming increasingly xenophobic, tortured by fundamentalism and nationalism.”

The Abuja politicians that are perceived sworn political enemies of Amaechi should learn from the words of Robert Jackson: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act.” The Abuja politicians should stop defining nationalism in the words of Tom Metzger: “In Europe the right wing is bogged down in Nationalism in most cases and still fighting so called Reds.”

The sequence of political issues in Rivers State has reached many ears and Nigerians had said that the activities of Jonathan’s wife and her cohorts are totally unacceptable. Nigerians had said that these politicians must take cognizance of the fact that political power does not amount to political rascality. Then, the Rivers

people said that, they know of their interest in the state and would fight to resist their “Abuja Nationalists” approach. Rivers people commend the bravery and gallantry of Amaechi.

If Amaechi has been practicing nationalism nepotism and favouritism, Rivers State by now would have been doomed in total extinction, an act known of their “Abuja Nationalists” alleged involvement and support for killer militants. They should stop being the brain behind this Lilliputian gang up against Amaechi. One observer, reacting to a comment, though warned: “It’s the human nature; we don’t appreciate what we have. Amaechi should be supported by all Rivers people for he has performed wonderfully well compared with all his predecessors, after Spiff… The President cannot be preaching the Rule of law while watching EFCC display all forms of lawlessness. Please, Mr. President, be careful with the Abuja politicians for I believe Rivers people know who their true leaders are.”

Imperative, it is, to remind us that just when President Goodluck Jonathan Camp was perfecting strategies to win more governors to its fold ahead of his declaration to contest 2011 presidential poll, it was Amaechi who said that President Goodluck Jonathan has nothing to worry about whether governors in the Peoples Democratic Party will support his bid to win the party’s presidential nomination. This was widely publicised. Amaechi made the comment during the inauguration of the newly elected executive council of the Ijaw Youth Council at the Alfred Diete Spiff Sports Complex, Port Harcourt. Amaechi called on all Nigerians to support Dr. Goodluck Jonathan if he should declare to run as president in the forthcoming general elections. Amaechi was represented by his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru at the occasion. He described Jonathan as the best Presidential material the country has for now. Amaechi particularly urged the northerners to support the South-South in its effort in ensuring that Jonathan becomes President in 2011 as the South-South had always supported the north since 1963 for the Presidency of the country.

What has been amazing this writer is that no one has been speaking the ills of General Gusau the way they do of Amaechi despite the fact that the Gusau was the National Security Adviser (NSA) who had made up his mind to throw his hat into the ring for the PDP presidential ticket despite the fact that President Jonathan would also run. Yet, it was also gathered once upon a time that four Governors namely those of Sokoto, Niger, Kwara and Rivers states were opposed to Jonathan presidency in 2011, but proves above have proved the opposite about Amaechi on the crew. This could be why one Arthur Henderson was quoted as saying: “In some states militant nationalism has gone to the lengths of dictatorship, the cult of the absolute or totalitarian state and the glorification of war.”

Nigerians are wondering what this is all about! When have people become this selfish? But even at that, has Amaechi no right to disagree on certain national issues again? What these “Abuja nationalists” cynics forgot was that, according to Amaechi, almost all the governors elected on the platform of the party were at Jonathan’s declaration, which showed that he would win the party’s primaries. Amaechi’s words: “The President invited all of us (governors) and we came to honour his invitation. I can say that we all came in large number was a testimony that Mr. President has our support.”

Until now, this writer was always thinking when it was that Nigerians were ignorant of moral values. Do we define “nationalism” as corruption, oppression, murdering, nepotism, jingoism? Etc. How could “dead people” want Nigeria to be left out and inline label Amaechi as not a “nationalist” because he doesn’t belong in their bandwagon laced with yesmen agenda?

Nigerians have a definition of nationalism apart from the above definitions by Encarta Dictionaries, and that is wrong. They misinterpret nationalism for unity. And Amaechi likes the later. It’s time we stopped seeing unity as when Amaechi brings out and spend the N27billion he had said was reserved savings of the state government, which had accrued from the monthly N1billion compulsory saving. Unity should not mean that Amaechi should stop the direction that the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, should commence the process of recalling Degree certificates awarded to some graduates of the institution who had failed some courses but had the courses waived to enable them graduate. Unity should not be when Amaechi asks his wife, Judith, not to have joined the rest of the world to mark the 2010 world Aids day. Unity should be that Amaechi should have said that he would not deliver a keynote address at the Professor Chinua Achebe African Colloquium 2010 organized and sponsored by Brown University Boston, one of the Ivy League Universities in the United States. Unity should not be when Amaechi stopped the European Union (EU), which indicated interest in collaborating with the states of the Niger Delta area towards the development of the region. Unity should not mean that Amaechi would have stopped directing that the Rivers State Government may pay fine to Property owners in Rivers State who do not get their Certificate of Occupancy within the stipulated period (45 days) from date of payment. Unity is not when Amaechi stops saying that deeper understanding is required in solving the crisis and injustice in the Niger Delta or noted that it was necessary to draw a clear distinction between nationalism in the Delta and outright criminality which must be dealt with unsparingly.

We should take the words of Ryszard Kapuscinski, who was quoted as saying that, in the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions; but the Soviet case is different, because you had systematic murder, like the Holocaust. We should take the words of Said Musa, who was quoted as saying that, independence did not mean chauvinism and narrow nationalism. We should take the words of Richard Aldington, who was quoted as saying that, Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill. We should take the words of Albert Einstein, who was quoted as saying that, Nationalism is an infantile disease; it is the measles of mankind. We should take the words of George Orwell, who was quoted as saying that, Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception; and Charles de Gaulle, who was quoted as saying that, Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.

Nationalism is evil!

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