Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:23 pm
OKAFOR OFIEBOR/Port Harcourt
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has always declared that he does not know who will succeed him as governor in 2015 because of his belief that power is divinely ordained. However, he says that for equity, fairness and rotation of power among ethnic groups in the state, he will not support another Ikwerre son like him to succeed him.
Amaechi was referring to the gale of sponsored endorsements of Nyesom Wike, the Supervising Minister of Education, to succeed him. As the 2015 general elections get closer, Amaechi is advocating that the Rivers State governorship should be open to every ethnic group in the state other than the Ikwerre.
When chiefs and elders of Ogu/Bolo paid him a solidarity visit at Government House, Port Harcourt, he described Ikwerre politicians who are already beating the gun to take over from him as desperate people who should be rejected by Rivers people.
As at the time the governor was making his stand known, Wike, an Ikwerre, had not openly declared his aspiration for the office but his body language had been speaking volumes, attracting many groups to endorse him for the highest political office in the state.
The gale of sponsored endorsements seemed to have startled Amaechi, who cautioned other ethnic groups that if the PDP was bringing an Ikwerre man to run for governorship when an Ikwerre man [him] had run for eight years, it meant that the Ikwerre would perpetually dominate the governorship of the state. With the Ikwerre having about 1.1 million combined votes in Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt, in Ikwerre and Emohua local government areas, other ethnic groups will never have a chance of being governor.
“So only Ikwerre people, if they sit together they can be electing themselves always for governorship and I have told Ikwerre people that that young man whose ambition is blinding him must be thrown out; all Ikwerre people must rise against him and vote for a candidate from another ethnic group.
“If you people allow him and he succeeds, then forget your children, they will never be governor again because all it will take is when he finishes, another Ikwerre man will …tell Ikwerre people: ‘I’m your son, don’t allow these people take it from me,’ and Ikwerre people will back him. So we must show justice and ensure that it is equitably distributed. Even if you are one ethnic group of 20,000 persons, you have a right to the governorship of the state,” Amaechi said.
He said the Ikwerre people and other ethnic nationalities should work together to vote against the supposed Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant from Ikwerre ethnic nationality for next year’s election.
Amaechi said even the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state would toe the line of justice and fair play by not fielding an Ikwerre as candidate for the governorship race. “I will not support the governorship to go to Ikwerre in the APC. But as the governor of Rivers State and a frontline member of the APC, if I help to ensure that we don’t allow an Ikwerre candidate in the APC, it means that the way to protect yourselves and your children is to vote for that candidate and not for the candidate they are bringing in the PDP; because Ikwerre cannot govern for another eight years,” he emphasised.
Earlier, High Chief Jonah Tamuno, on behalf of Ogu/Bolo chiefs and elders thanked Governor Amaechi for his inspirational and courageous leadership. He expressed appreciation that the governor for providing democratic dividends to all Rivers people.
Tamuno, as well as Chief Frederick Anga and Chief Marshall Oforibo Kakaka, assured the governor on behalf of the people of Ogu/Bolo to remain firmly in support of his administration and leadership direction, especially as next year’s election approaches.
On 9 April , PDP representatives from Wakirike (Okrika) ethnic nationality, kinspeople of Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of the President, called on Wike to declare their support for his ambition to run for governor of the state. Making the call at the end of a meeting in Port Harcourt, they urged him not to hesitate in picking the governorship form and contesting for the position.
A statement signed by the leader of the group and member representing Ogu/Bolo constituency in the state House of Assembly, Mr. Evans Bipi, who is the leader of the five lawmakers who attempted to impeach Amaechi, noted that the minister had shown that he was capable of taking Rivers to greater heights.
In what they called “Mother of All Endorsements”, they assured Wike of their support, not only to emerge as the governorship candidate of the PDP but also as the next governor of the state.
“All members of PDP of Okrika extraction, comprising Okrika LGA, Ogu/Bolo LGA and parts of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State, are by this statement compelling Wike to pick the governorship form when they are out for sale and contest the governorship seat of Rivers State on the party’s ticket and he is sure to get the full backing of the Wakirike Ethnic Nationality,” the statement read.
The statement, which was signed by a former commissioner for Sports and state lawmaker, Mr. Boma Iyaye, Vincent Nemiobaka and Soe Dikibo, maintained that Okrika delegates would vote for Wike during the governorship primaries in the state.
“This is an unmistakable and irreversible endorsement. Furthermore, all Okrika delegates will vote for Barr. Nyesom Wike during the party primaries and subsequently, all Okrika votes are preserved to be cast for Chief Nyesom Wike when he eventually wins the PDP primary,” the statement added.
The PDP members from Wakirike described the minister as a man with administrative acumen and sterling leadership qualities, adding that Wike’s ‘unalloyed’ support to President Goodluck Jonathan and his (President) wife were signs that he was ripe to be the next governor of the state.
They, however, expressed the belief that the minister would yield to their call to vie for the position of the Governor ahead of 2015
Another group known as Orashi/Ogoni Alliance at a meeting in Omoku, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, nudged Wike to declare his intention to contest for 2015 governorship election in the state.
Other ethnic groups such as the Oyigbo, led by the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Desmond Akawor, followed suit in their call on Wike to vie for the state governorship seat under the flag of PDP.
Ambassador Akawor led some members of the party from the Igbo axis of the state to endorse Wike as the PDP consensus candidate for the 2015 governorship election. The group cited the Minister’s performance as a former council chairman, former Chief of Staff to Governor Amaechi as well as the construction of the gigantic Afam power station by the Federal Government as enough reasons for him to vie for the state’s plum job.
But the bland endorsements have elicited angry reactions across the state. The Ogoni ethnic nationality was the first to fire a salvo. Through their pressure group, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, they said they do not endorse Wike as the governorship flag bearer of any political party.
The President of the group, Legborsi Pyagbara, lamented that a few placated Ogoni politicians were bent on holding the nationality to ransom. Pyagbara, who spoke through his media and public affairs adviser, Bariara Kpalap, said the MOSOP was aware of the plot to frustrate the resolve of the Ogoni to fight its marginalisation.
Another group in the state, the Ijaw Women Forum, IWF, also aligned its voice with those against the purported endorsement of Wike for the office of governor in 2015. Spokesperson of the group, Rachael Adasi, said it is unacceptable, unfair and against common sense that Wike, an Ikwerre man, would succeed another Ikwerre man in the person of Amaechi after his leadership of the state for eight years.
Adasi, who is also the Woman Leader of Ijaw Youth Congress, IYC, said the next governor should be of Ijaw extraction, comprising Kalabari, Okrika, Bonny, Andoni and Opopo/Nkoro local government areas of the state.
Also another group that goes by the name Rivers Mainstream Coalition, RMC, called on members of PDP in the state to disregard the alleged endorsement of Wike. The group’s coordinator, Sotonye Ijuye Dagogo, said: “The Minster’s friends can support his ambition, but it does not mean the party has endorsed him as its candidate.”
An Ijaw elder, Chief Sara Igbe, said the endorsement of Wike would spell doom for the PDP in the 2015 election. Igbe, in an open letter to the national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, alleged that the party in the state has been hijacked by Wike through his Grassroots Development Initiative, GDI.
He advised the Muazu to intervene in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party and warned that Wike’s endorsement would spell doom for the party in the state.
Unlike PDP which political structures have been taken over by Wike’s GDI, the APC is waxing stronger across the state. The party’s structures are spreading across the 23 local government areas of the state.
It is observed that PDP has no administrative structures at the local government level. The party has only state chairman and secretary. It has no local government officials. Those that are coordinating the local government structures of the party are Wike’s GDI members.
Meanwhile, the leader of Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahed Asari Dokubo, has warned that any attempt to impose Wike on Rivers people will spell doom for the party and President Jonathan’s second term bid.
Asari, who spoke to a national daily, said the plan by the First Lady to impose Wike on the people was morally wrong because Ikwerre has dominated Rivers politics for many years and imposing Wike will amount to political miscalculation which would cost PDP and Jonathan dearly.
“To make Wike a governor in Rivers State in 2015 is not morally right. All the fellows endorsing him for whatever reason should know that it will injure PDP, it will injure Goodluck Jonathan. If Goodluck’s name is brought into it, that he is in support of the perpetuation of an Ikwerre hegemony in Rivers State, which is not right by population, which is not right under any calculation, it will injure him and PDP,” warned Asari.
A Niger Delta activist and delegate to the ongoing National Conference, Ms. Ann-Kio Briggs, has expressed worry over agitation from various ethnic groups in Rivers State over who will succeed Governor Amaechi in 2015, and charged political actors not to allow politics to tear the state apart.
Briggs said it would be unfair if either the Ogoni or Ijaw in Rivers State are not allowed to occupy the Brick House, Rivers State seat of power, from 29 May, 2015.
She stated that all true and well- meaning people of the state will not allow politicians throw the state into crisis, adding that justice, equity and fairness must be upheld because all the ethnic groups in the state jointly own the state.
The Niger Delta rights activist, who is a critic of Governor Amaechi and are not in the APC, seems to take this position on the grounds of equity and fairness.