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Author Name: Ifeanyi Izeze
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2015: Ogoni Ministerial Nominee And The Magnus Abe Example
Author: Ifeanyi Izeze | March 16, 2015

Self interest is the bane of most men of admirable character who venture into the political arena. This lends credence to the mantra that “politics is a dirty game”. It was not dirty on its own but became dirtied by the crop of people that have colonised the space. In this country, until we learn to appreciate or even celebrate actions, big or small, that represent very positive and impressive shifts in the way we have carried on as a people, not too much good or rather sacrifice would be seen in our society.

The thunderous applause from senators across party divides that greeted the motion moved on the floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Wednesday March11 2015 by the senator representing Rivers South-East District, Hon Magnus Ngei Abe underscored what could best be described as a clear paradigm shift in what we are used to in our political circles. Watching the live proceeding at the Senate on television it was very emotional to observe that as Barr Kenneth Kobani appeared in front of the Senate, Abe did not see him but his people – the Ogonis back home.

It was really touching to the point of tears because it shows a genuine love and respect for ones people which to him far outweighed temporary partisan bickering. Sen. Abe's speech was nothing less, but wisdom and profound intelligence in display. He quickly remembered his deprived minority ethnic group back home, and that stood above party lines and primordial sentiments. Hear him: “...standing before you is Barr. Kenneth Kobani of a very marginalised minority in this country. He is eminently qualified and well grounded to serve this country at this time.

I wish to appeal sir, within the mood of this Senate that Barr Kenneth Kobani should be allowed to take a bow, so that this Senate can concentrate on some other matters. Thank you very much Mr President.” There was suspense everywhere. No one was sure what the senator would say. Being of the All Progressive Congress (APC) stock, will he kick against the nomination? Will he employ his undoubted oratorical prowess to sway his colleagues against the confirmation of his “political rival”? Will he lampoon, carpet and jettison Kenneth Kobani because of political affiliation?

He thought about their minority status. He thought about how his people have been politically marginalised. He thought about how his people have been economically strangulated. He thought about how opportunities have been deliberately limited to his people by wielders of power in Rivers state and Nigeria. Abe had no time to think about petty party rivalry of being of the APC while Kenneth Kobani is of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.

He was not mindful that what he was asking was for express confirmation of a man who would, few hours later, lead the PDP onslaught against him and his party in his village and local government. No, there was no time to reflect on the fact that it has always been reported and alleged that those tearing down his campaign materials back home were overzealous Kenneth Kobani “boys.” This Abe had no such time! How would anybody beat this that Abe preferred to see his people back home instead of the nominee of the President who otherwise would have been treated as bitter political rival that he actually is?

Will he be the person to deny his people (ogoni) opportunity to produce a minister even if it was for one day? He was, and is, the representative of Kenneth Kobani in the Senate- there are no two Ogoni sons at the nation's upper chamber of the National Assembly. But he chose to see the bigger picture beyond the narrow confines of party loyalty or rivalry. He saw ogoni instead. Whether anybody likes to hear this or not, the ogonis are too marginalized in Rivers State to be playing petty party politics with the interests of their people. Political parties have repeatedly failed them in Rivers state.

The ogonis have always been the ultimate casualties of their respective party loyalties. Abe has made the strongest case with this particular display that his re-election should not be looked at as a party thing, but for the interest of Ogoniland and all the peoples of Rivers South-East. This unique act by Abe should actually encourage other ogoni leaders to see themselves as brothers. The astute politician knew he was in the eyes of every Rivers man and woman when he rose to speak and therefore grabbed the opportunity with both hands to make a political gain.

No campaign is bigger than that. It was a clear demonstration of politics without bitterness. Other politicians should emulate this. Some politician's hearts are filled with selfishness and hate to the extent that they can't see anything good in others. Greed and hate has held our people back for so long. This role should be a model for the ogonis and indeed the entire country to learn from. Abe, not minding their party affiliation stood and pleaded with his colleague to allow his brother to take a bow and leave. He displayed great statesmanship by allowing the greater interest to guide his actions.

He didn't see the opportunity as a payback time but as one to give back to his marginalised ogoni people. No doubt, Abe has again proven that the Ogoni political struggle is not about him as a person. This is the gospel the quintessential parliamentarian preached to the younger ones. This showed clearly a man that understands the aspirations of his people- the very ones he represents. Nobody in Ogoni can doubt now that with Sen. Magnus Abe, the Ogoni dream is still very much alive? And walahi, if there were misgivings about his patriotism (Ogoniwise) in the past, this recent defense of an Ogoni son in a different political party has completely buried that.

The ogonis should be grateful to this Abe for standing up against the smallness of partisan politics in defense of their collective Ogoniness. The solemn task before every Ogoni man and woman now is to work together to send this asset back to the senate, irrespective of their party affiliations! This will definitely send out a strong message to those who had always thought they can use and dump the ogonis in the political calculations in Rivers state even in the larger national polity. With this spirit, does any Ogoni man needs to be further convinced that Abe's going back to the Senate will no doubt be purely to advance ogoni course?

(IFEANYI IZEZE:; 234-8033043009)

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