Recently, Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan through a press statement made it clear that she was solidly behind, the Supervising Minister Of Education, Nyesom Wike’s quest to become Governor of Rivers state come 2015.
This has sparked a reaction from the leader of the defunct Niger-Delta People’s Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo. Dokubo has warned that any plans to impose Wike on the people of Rivers state will have a negative effect on the career of President Goodluck Jonathan and will ruin the chances of the People’s Democratic government in the state come 2015.
He said the plan by the first lady to impose Wike on the people was morally wrong in the light of the dominance of the political landscape of the state by the Ikwerre group, to which Wike belongs, in the past 16 years.
“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,” Dokubo stated in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP friday yesterday.
Mrs Jonathan had ignited a controversy over the governorship ticket of the PDP in the next election in Rivers State on Tuesday when she said Wike enjoyed her backing in his gubernatorial ambition.
The first lady, in a statement issued in a reaction to a report that she had dumped Wike for a candidate from the riverside area of the state, preferably one from her Okirika stock, in the countdown to 2015, said she was solidly behind the minister in his bid to occupy the Brick House, Port Harcourt.
She said, in a statement issued by her media aide, Mr Ayo Adewuyi: “In the case of Rivers State, the First Lady wishes to state categorically that the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, is the leader of PDP in Rivers State and he enjoys the followership of the people of the State. The First Lady is solidly behind Chief Wike.
“The people of Rivers State are also solidly behind Chief Wike and are prepared to follow him. It is therefore mischievous to insinuate that Mrs Jonathan is working to ensure that the governorship candidate comes from one of the riverine areas of Rivers State which may not be where the people are going.
“It is also imperative to state that the First Lady is always with the people and will continue to go with the wish and expectations of the people. Mrs Jonathan has not withdrawn her support for Chief Wike at any time and will always work for the interest and the good of Rivers people. As far as the First Lady is concerned, there is NO SHAKING in Rivers State.”
In yesterday’s interview, Dokubo insisted that Wike could not become the next governor of the state in view of the interests of the three ethnic clusters in the state.
He said an Ikwerre man had no business in Rivers Government House in 2015, adding that it would amount to political suicide for PDP to field Wike in the next election.
Dokubo said the Ogoni should be supported to produce the next governor in the interest of justice and fair play, adding that it is only the Ogoni cluster that has not produced the governor of the state.
“As far as we all know, there are three ethnic clusters in Rivers State: the Ijaws, the Igbos (Ikwerre is part of the Igbo cluster) and the Ogonis. After Bayelsa was excised from Rivers State, the Igbos have ruled for many years. Odili was an Idoni Igbo; he ruled for eight years. Omehia/Amaechi, who are also Ikwerres, by 2015 would have ruled for more than eight years, making over 16 years,” he explained.
Insisting that it is impossible for an Ikwerre man to emerge as successor of the incumbent governor Rotimi Amaechi, he said: “It is morally wrong for any anybody to say that Igbo cluster should produce the next governor in 2015. I am an Igbo man also, by virtue of my origin, and so I am not against the Ikwerre people or against the Igbo. I repeat, I am an Igbo man; I can narrow it down: I have Ikwerre blood flowing in my veins.
“Having said that, the next cluster are the Ijaws, made up of the Kalabaris, the Obolo and Ibani people, the Wakrike; Okirika is just one town in Wakrike, Ukoro and others. These people have produced a governor. In terms of local government spread, they are in 11 local government areas out of the 23 local government areas; the Igbos are spread in eight and the Ogonis in four local government areas.
“In terms of population, when you remove the cosmopolitan population of Port Harcourt and Obiakpor, which is about 80 per cent of the population, is non-indigenous of those local governments. That is old non-Rivers indigenes and Rivers indigenes, who are not indigenes of Port Harcourt and Obiakpor local governments. If you remove those populations, the Ijaws are the majority as a single block.
“When you look at that, for somebody to say another Ikwerre man should become governor is wrong. Yes, constitutionally, he has a right to aspire, everybody is free to aspire, but it is not moral, it is not right. Something can be legally right but it might not be morally right.”
Making a case for the Ogoni, Dokubo said the age-long domination and oppression of the Ogoni people must end in 2015.
According to him, it would be unjust and unfair to continue to exclude the Ogoni in the scheming for the highest political office in the state. The Ogonis are the only people who have never produced governor because the whole Bayelsa that left were Ijaw people, he stated.
“So if we are saying there should be justice in Rivers State… if we are crying against domination by others, we should not also oppress other people. The people that morally should be allowed to produce the next governor of Rivers State is the Ogoni cluster made up of the Ogonis proper and the Eleme people.”
Dokubo expressed surprise that Patience Jonathan feigned ignorance of the homogenous nature and political reality in the state by openly identifying with the minister to clinch the top job in the state in 2015.
“The first lady need not to be told that it is morally and politically wrong for her to support another Ikwerre man by 2015, after the Igbo bloc would have spent over 16 years. She has every right to support who she wants but that must be done in a morally and politically correct direction and manner.”
Debunking the claim of his Ijaw kinsmen to the coveted seat in 2015, he said: “The arguments of the Ijaws are weaker. That an Ijaw governor should come in 2015 is weaker because Ada George and Melford Okilo have been elected governor; they can say it was old Rivers State — even in old Rivers State, the Ogonis should be in the right position to contest for the governorship. Yes, I will prefer an Ijaw man to become governor any day, anytime but when you are fighting oppression, you should fight it anywhere you see it. When you fight discrimination, you should fight it anywhere you see it.
“And in Rivers State, I believe the people who have the moral authority to produce the next governor of Rivers State are the Ogonis.”
Dokubo, however, expressed optimism that the contentious issue would be amicably resolved by the relevant stakeholders at the appropriate time and “wiser counsel will prevail”.
Some elders of the PDP in Rivers State had, last week, warned against ethnicising the party’s governorship ticket.
In a release, signed by Chief Ferdinand Alabraba and Chief Maxwell Tasie Amadi on behalf of the group, the elders frowned at a situation where people were fanning the embers of ethnicity in their jostling for the gubernatorial slot in the state, adding that it could become divisive and detrimental to the unity of the party in the state.