By Daniel Reyenieju O
“ Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
-Vicktor Emil Frank
Before Nigeria became independent of colonial rule, several attempts were made but they met a brick wall. As you are very well aware, internal strife was more of the problem than the occupier else we would have been sovereign before 1960.
Sixty years on, those ideals of unity are still alien even when we should know better and work towards utopia. Today as a nation, we are hemorrhaging all around and within our nation. The ulcers causing so much loss of national cohesion are self-inflicted and as those you have broadcasted makes for poor prognosis.
Delta State a little over a decade ago, was a place of bloodletting and if we take our history into cognizance especially for the remote causes of the war between tribe Itsekiri-Ijaw, Itsekiri-Urhobo- then we must be ashamed that we once had to fight bloody. Generations immemorial had inter-ethnic marriages. Ahead of their time, they knew the virtues of symbiotic living therefore, the victory of one was the victory of all and the loss of one was a loss for all.
On July 27, 2020, the Federal government named several railway infrastructure across the country after deserving Nigerians who had served the country. The wisdom behind the naming to immortalize them and have their names boldly engraved in our national psyche. The Delta State had some names on the list and some states had no living or dead citizen so recognized yet.
Critical discourse surrounding such magnanimous gesture should have been the values, ethos, and selfless sacrifices such individual have made to the development of Nigeria. Rather you chose to whip up ethnic sentiments about why Alfred Rewane should not have his name at the Ujevwu station in Delta State. The unpatriotic maneuver of Rewane as depicted in your writing is his failure at being Urhobo. 21st century thinking especially progressive ones believe that we are global citizens separated only by geography.
After the Kudirat Abiola was slain in pursuit of a free Nigeria, a street was named after her in Manhattan. It is called the Kudirat Abiola Corner. That she died fighting a noble cause that could resonate with anyone in pursuit of the common good made her so recognized and she was thus immortalized beyond seas and oceans away from her homeland.
In the same pursuit as Kudirat, Alfred Rewane also paid the ultimate price. His success in business might not have been enough to make the Forbes Billionaires list, but successful, he was. He was selfless with his resources, put his businesses on the line and his life was not too much to give for liberty.
That all you could practically use to discredit Rewane is his ethnicity is alarming. Are you hurt by the attainments of your country men if they are not from the same ethnic group as you? I strongly believe otherwise.
At signing off your writing, you boldly embossed your location – Ireland. You are there not as a second class citizen, but as a citizen of the world. Your pursuit in conflict resolution are perforated and need stitching because I do not want to believe that a divided world or Delta state, is what you want to bequeath to your descendants.
Education is emancipation, it illuminates darkness, it helps to sow the seeds of concordance and settle strife. Education makes us more than the thugs we would dismiss, it mounds our character and enriches the quality of air we breath. If the world you left behind in Nigeria was toxic, traveling to another nation and coexisting with other persons from different backgrounds and cultures should broaden your horizon on the things we could do right to strengthen our bond. A Rewane station in an Urhobo location should be binding.
Lastly, when Dr. Alex Ibru ran for governorship of Delta state under the now defunct UPN, Alfred Rewane, was a staunch supporter. He did not just support him in words but with the voting population and financial resources that the campaign needed. As budding youth at the time, I also joined the fray and campaigned within my means and strength at ensuring victory for the UPN thereby making IBRU, the first executive governor of Delta State.
You might not be aware but you must know that Alfred Rewane’s mother was from Ikweghwu, Agbarho and he was not one to shy away from his roots. To this day, the house he built there in Agharho till stands and I have visited.
The club you and I belong to may not be perfect but it strives for perfection by shunning myopic, ethnocentric and nepotistic mindsets. It is never to late to unlearn hate but it destroys like wildfire. I have known you for years but never knew this part of you, could it be said that you learnt this from Dublin, No no no! I doubt, it can’t be. Then when? Or are you using this attack as one that qualifies you for a chieftaincy title? What a shame!!!
Hon. Daniel Reyenieju O, a former House of Reps member writes from Warri