The people of Nigeria’s South-South geo-political zone on Saturday, January 27, 2018 gathered in Port-Harcourt at the behest of Project Nigeria Movement to deliberate and articulate their position on the vexed issue of restructuring. The event did not quite live up to expectation as the region’s elected and appointed political office holders went into hiding and stayed away. The Governor of the host state, Nyesom Wike was absent and so were the Governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta and Edo states. Serving senators and House of Representatives members were also absent. So were members of the different states Houses of Assembly. The region’s leading intellectuals and activists who are the most articulate crusaders of restructuring were also not in attendance!
However, what was important was that stakeholders met with great enthusiasm and took a position. The title of this piece was the catch phrase that resonated throughout the event tagged a summit. Its originality derived from the speech of His Royal Majesty Alfred Diette-Spiff, the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass and first Military Governor of River State (1967-1975). HRM Diette-Spiff, a retired Navy Commodore was one of the most prominent and enduring stakeholders in the Obi Wali Conference Centre venue of the summit that Saturday. When the exigency of the Nigerian Civil War, necessitated the creation of River State in 1967, the burden of steering the affairs of the new state fell on the shoulders of the young 27 years old Navy officer. The position of River State during the war was tenuous and precarious. It was a zone of deadly contention between the two warring sides because of its centrality to the nation’s oil wealth and its location as a port. Diette-Spiff lived through it all and administered the state until the putsch of July 1975 sent him packing. In retirement, he remained active in the struggle to remediate the Niger Delta region.