Every now and then, we hear folktales and read books that aim to pass different life lessons. I recently read a portion of the bible that echoed through my senses and I thought it wise to share. In the book of MARK 3: 25, Jesus said “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Some other version reads: “If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart”. This scripture is older than time and has proven to be infallible through generations. That explains why Abraham Lincoln borrowed it on the 16th of June, 1858 during the Republican State Convention in Illinois. His speech addressed slavery which was a major issue at that point in time. Part of his speech reads: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure; permanently half slave or half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved- I do not expect the house to fall- but I expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other……”
Those words have not lost credence in our present world. The importance of unity has never been more obvious; except you just woke up from a ten year coma. There have been a lot of changes and more are around the corner. The 2015 general elections in Nigeria underscored for the first time the role of opposition in Nigerian politics as offices were keenly contested; although their modus operandi is a discourse for another day. On the 5th of December, there will be a climax of something new to a people; the Ijaw people of the south-south. Bayelsa State was more or less a big family, and always a one party state, a fact which underscores their sense of loyalty; but for the first time in her recent history, this situation has changed. Their peaceful co-existence and sense of understanding is hanging by a thread because the current state of affairs is new and navigating these murky waters of opposition can be very tricky and most times leaves casualties in its wake.
It is imperative for all stakeholders in the future of the state to sit back and think through the whole essence of the exercise scheduled to hold on Saturday, 5th December, 2015. I have a few ideas and candidly, I wasn’t in a trance when they came to me. This is the real deal; we all seek happiness in life and will go the whole nine yards to guarantee it. The great news is that we can do more than that; we can be happy as a people if we seek peace, pursue our common wealth and guarantee a future for our children’s children that will equip them to compete with their contemporaries anywhere, any day and anytime.
Long before the advent of modern government institutions like the executive, judiciary and legislature, societies lived in peace and harmony with the use of different structures for the best interest of the people. One of such structures that have survived generations is the traditional leadership institutions.
There is a popular African saying that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. In truth, the grass in Bayelsa State is green and I must concede that elephants are never lacking. Fortunately, they have rarely fought; they have rather grazed as a family. For the first time, the survival of the ranch is not guaranteed because a battle is brewing and unlike George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, this is not the battle of the cowshed between the animals and the owners of the farm even though some would like to see it that way. As the D- day approaches, the gulf between the sides widens and the battle becomes even fiercer. It is difficult to anticipate the long term implications of what is happening, but it is easy to learn and emulate the gains of a conscious and united front as seen in cities and cultures we aspire to surpass.
In all these, we must never lose sight of who we are. We don’t have to make the mistakes of some classical examples of division littered in the history books. The traditional leaders, fathers, elder statesmen, and “big brothers” of the state need to send the right message to all the players. The message is that we are one family with a common challenge and need which can be overcome and met when we remain united. This is a drama we are going to perform for posterity to watch so let’s write a beautiful script come December 5th, 2015 because truly a house that is divided against itself cannot stand.