2015: Rivers PDP Elders Knock-off Wike, Restate Zoning
Former minister: 'Jonathan Can't Stop Me”
Political leaders in the Rivers State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met Wednesday night in Abuja to seek a peaceful way to select their governorship candidate for next year's election.
At the end of the marathon meeting, the leaders agreed to urge President Goodluck Jonathan and the party leadership to make zoning a key determinant of who becomes the next governor of the state.
The resolution may have scuttled the governorship aspiration of the immediate past minister of state for education, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi, whose tenure is expected to terminate next May, is from Wike's senatorial district. Both men are Ikwerre.
Should Wike get the PDP ticket and is elected governor for the next eight years, the Ikwerre would have governed the state for 16 years, a scenario the other ethnic groups, notably Ijaw and Ogoni consider a nightmare.
The former minister had Tuesday reportedly boasted before amazed party leaders and supporters, that nobody, including President Jonathan can stop him from becoming governor.
The former minister, who has a reputation for making unguarded outbursts, reportedly made the comments at the commissioning of his campaign office in Bori, traditional headquarters of the Ogoni.
Last month, the former minister was caught on tape urging PDP faithful to ensure that President Jonathan does not win in 2015. He has not denied make such pkea.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that the elders recommended that, in addition to senatorial districts, the riverine/upland structure of the state be key considerations in zoning determining who succeeds Amaechi.
They also proposed that the “illegal” ward and local government executives of the party be axed for caretaker committees.
The reasoning, it was gathered, was that aside Brother Felix Obuah, state PDP chairman and his secretary, no other party position was upheld by the court order that sacked Governor Chibuike Amaechi's loyalist-chairman, Chief Ake.
The Obuah-led executive had over the months refused to bow to pressure to conduct congresses to replace ward and council executives sacked by the same court that ousted Ake.
At least 24 persons from Rivers State bought the party's nomination form, making it the state with the highest number of PDP governorship aspirants.
At Wednesday's meeting which held at the Abuja Sheraton hotels, party leaders from the state agreed that zoning be key consideration in choosing a flagbearer.
The meeting was chaired by First Republic minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark.
In attendance was a member of the party's Board of Trustees, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Alabo Dagogo Fubara, notable lawyer, B. M. Wifa (SAN), Senator Silas Nuniel and Barrister Obi Njoku.
Also in attendance was the leader of Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Alhaji Asari Dakubo, among other prominent Ijaw, Igbani, Ikwerre and Ogoni political leaders.
A former governor of the state and Wike apostle, Dr. Peter Odili reportedly backed out of the meeting upon realising that most party leaders are opposed to his candidate.
Wike served as council chairman during Odili's tenure as governor. The former governor is reportedly bent on staging a political comeback as senator. Sources claim he is relying on Wike, whom he now calls “Leader” to bankroll his senatorial project.
In his opening remarks, Clark said he was moved to intervene in Rivers State the same way he has in several south-south states, in the collective interest of the zone.
The foremost Ijaw leader expressed worry that the festering crisis in Rivers PDP could harm the party in the 2015 state and general elections.
He said that it was wrong to speak of injustice at the national level and yet promote same at the state and council levels, stressing, “injustice to one is injustice to all.”
Chief Clark lamented that “ambitious politicians” had through inordinate ambitions, sown the seeds of disharmony amongst the peoples of the state he said had been known to live in harmony.
“We are here to discuss the transition into 2015 so that people who have voluntarily been living together in peace and inter married before and after the white man came can continue to do so.
Sadly, we now have ambitious politicians who have come in to create some cracks. This is very dangerous and giving the signal of crisis and destruction. That is not the Rivers State we know,” noted the elder statesman.
He continued, ” In the past we had grievances arising from land disputes, and sometimes communal crises, but they've been settled.
“We are here to find peaceful transition to 2015, and to find peace, many things will have to give and take. Nobody is an island unto himself. Injustice to one is injustice to all. Justice to one is justice to all.”
He warned, “we have iscovered that the governorship election will not be an easy one if we do not dialogue and negotiate- give and take positions. That is the only way we can have a crisis-free election in 2015. Meeting is to find a way at arriving at a peaceful understanding of a free and fair election.”
Chief Clark said it was wrong to employ what he said was double standards in nominating the next governor of the state, advising that the principle of zoning adopted in other states apply to Rivers.
“I don't like double standards or using different yardsticks for different strokes. If what is practiced elsewhere is practiced in Rivers, there will be peace.
He blamed former Governor Peter Odili for reneging on a 1999 promise to, at the end of his tenure in 2007, shift power to riverine part of the state.
“I wrote a letter dated 23rd November 2006 to Odili reminding that we had resolved that there be a peaceful transition in 2007.
“There are those who believe that what we have holds fast; that as long as you are a governor you can hand over to your son. Others say, no, let it spread. Let it go round. That is what we should discuss,” he declared.
Clark advised his audience, which included governorship aspirants Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Tonye Princewill, Beks Dagogo-Jack, Lancelot Anyanya, among others, to embrace peace.
“What I've told you about how Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became president shows that what is yours will always come to you. No quantity of machetes will bring it your way. Rivers is too precious for our personal interests.
“We should think of the presidency we got on a gold platter. If Rivers which gave him over two million votes in 2011 is in crisis, President Jonathan won't get that number of votes. We need the Presidency more than we need the governor. Place Nigeria first. Place Rivers first. Place Jonathan above your personal interests,” he advised.
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