Political activist and spokesman for Accord Political party, Rivers State, in the last governorship election, Mr. Dason Nemieboka, recently spoke to selected media men in his office in Port Harcourt on his political expectations for Rivers State and from Rivers politicians in the determination of the 2023 Governorship in the state. His answers to questions were as usual, blunt and confident.
Que: Sir, the Accord was in the news recently; it was reported that the party had emptied itself into the APC as all twenty-three LGA chairmen of the party went to join a faction of the APC in the state. What do you have to say?
Ans: Nothing for now. When something is put on nothing you get nothing.
Que: Are you saying that the Accord is intact in Rivers State?
Ans: Is any party really in tact? I mean the serious ones. You know why? Our politicians dislike the ideal. The ideal is that power not just belongs to the people but emanates from the people. And that is bad news to the typical politician.
I think the jobbers who tried to distract and stop the Accord in 2019 are being proactive.
Que: But in the last election, you were pointing your finger in a different direction. What has changed?
Ans: My brother, in this game, interest determines action. In the past, someone saw an opportunity and cashed in. He isn’t as hungry right now, as he was then. Naturally people would draw lessons. Others hungrier have to go to the market with the hot bread.
In plain language, those who purportedly moved into the APC are possibly a few members, who may have come to the realization that with Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs closing his wallet after the elections, they have to seek and find relevance elsewhere.
Que: So why is Accord relatively quiet?
Ans: I like the fact that you qualified it.
I think every party is quiet now. Those in the news are mostly for the wrong reasons, and that’s why they are trying to tar Accord with their brushes.
Que: Will Accord…………?
Ans: Please stop, you are speaking with me as an individual now.
Que: Ok. So do you believe that the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission would conduct a credible and acceptable election come April ?
Ans: I pray that they conduct the elections, because with the new normal in our politics, elections are no more about the ballot but the court rooms. That’s why we hear about all manner of court cases. But personally speaking, I have my doubts about the council elections slated for April.
I believe its going to be strictly a PDP affair, but if poorly managed it might also signal the beginning of the end of Governor Wike’s political family. Nobody can control everybody for so long. But like I said, this is my personal opinion.
Que: What do you think will be outcome of the ongoing APC membership revalidation exercise, especially against the current divide in the Rivers chapter?
Ans: Nothing serious. I think the problem is beyond mere political disagreement. I believe that going forward there would be some structural adjustments both in the APC and the PDP. There are too many strange bedfellows. I think the APC is threatened not by external challenges, just as the PDP won’t be defeated by any existing political structure in the state. I see the PDP being defeated by what may turn out to be an alliance of external and internal conspiracy.
We must begin to watch out for the opportunities that would give us our expectation in 2023.
Que: Is Chief Dump Lulu-Briggs still going to run in 2023?
Ans: I’m afraid I cannot answer your question. A man is busy trying to put his late father’s house together and is deeply involved in the funeral arrangements, with the rest of the elders, chiefs and members of the Briggs family, to give the mortal remains of his father, the late High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs a befitting burial and you want me to go and discuss elections with him?
Que: So with whom are you working for the 2023 governorship?
Ans: With all well meaning Rivers people and residents. We are not talking party, we are not talking individuals or languages or ethnicities. We are talking about the election of a peoples’ governor.
In 2023, Rivers people would restore the mutual consideration that kept us together from the civil war until now. The consideration that everyone is important and no one can go alone, that’s why the governor must be of riverine extraction.
Que: But whatever you do individually or collectively, you would require a political party on whose platform you can field your candidate.
Ans: Oh sure. That was why I hushed you earlier when you made me look like Mr. Accord.
You see, the political party isn’t a cult and shouldn’t be. Especially in climes where ideology is cheap. Our focus should be competence and not logos.
Que: So are you not going to compromise competence if you insist on a riverine governor?
Ans: Oh no. Let’s not as journalists mislead the people. There are eminently qualified and experienced administrators from all local governments who can give their best. Some are in Accord, APC , PDP and others. So, the issue isn’t about the party. In the same vein, there are a number of articulate administrators from everywhere in Rivers State, but because we are in a multi-ethnic state we must consciously weave ourselves together and do what is right in the overall interest of entrenching and sustaining equity and fairness.
That is why we are saying that after so long, power should return to the riverine so that Rivers people can elect from among the competent and credible aspirants that would emerge soon.
Que: But it appears that the riverine people are their own enemies. Even when the vote spread doesn’t favour them.
Ans: My friend, please let it register that riverine people have no enemies. Not amongst us, and certainly not our neighbours.
I have heard comments that portray a particular ethnic group as divided. Others say the votes are domiciled in certain areas. We are not fighting anyone, we are going to engage our Ogoni brothers, Ikwerre friends, Ecthe, Ogba, Oyigbo, and all others. So many have fears, but we have a duty to reassure all.
Yes, it maybe difficult to win the governorship election if all uplanders vote against the riverine candidate. But the same will be the lot of the Ikwerre, Ogoni or any other.
So, just as Okrika, Kalabari, Ibani, Obolo and other votes gave Ikwerre the chance to govern. We expect, Ikwerre, Ogoni Ecthe and all others to support the riverine candidate, regardless of party affiliation.
When they say the Kalabari man or Ikwerre man is like this or that, they are half-truths sold to achieve some parochial sentiments. Those manipulative narratives would be discredited and our legitimate demand would triumph.
We will shock you, if you are one of those who think 2023 would be another round of monkey and baboon politics. What is good for you is good for us. By God’s grace and with the support of all Rivers people it shall end in praise.
Que: So I ask again, how feasible is it for an ambition as serious as producing the next governor going to be achieved without depending on a political party?
Ans: Well, strategies are not for press discussion. However, I want to assure you that Rivers people will arise to the occasion. The mistakes of previous elections have been studied. We are building bridges, we need them and they need us.
We cannot afford to allow the enslavers of the Rivers man divide us. We all want a harmonious and evenly developing state, so majority of the uplanders are rooting for a governor of riverine extraction.
Que: What if Governor Wike decides to support either an Ogoni or Ikwerre candidate, and Minister Amaechi supports another uplander?
Ans: Well, if it were in the days of NRC/SDP we would say maybe God is against us. The truth today is that those are two great political tacticians, none is dull. They know that if they get too sentimental, then they might create problems for tomorrow and damage their legacies.
Outgoing governors get bogged down with several things as they move towards the end of their tenure. A wrong or wicked discussion or decision can cause avoidable conflicts.
I believe that with or without Amaechi or Wike, we shall do the right thing by God’s grace. However, I expect Amaechi to forget whatever misgivings and support one of the riverine aspirants from his list of dependable riverine stalwarts around him.
And Governor Wike too, from the experienced riverine administrators around him or indeed any capable, dependable and tested riverine political figure who has the requisite capacity, articulation and strategic vision to consolidate on the already achieved transformation, especially in infrastructural development and build on the existing structures to turn Rivers State into a mega city as a commercial and industrial hub and also enhance human capital and welfare development with provisions of jobs, quality healthcare and education for our children, youths and people.
Governor Wike is presently the father of the state and I want to believe that he would do everything possible to ensure that whoever will come after him in his party, must have the courage and possess the requisite capacity to defend Rivers State and continue it’s development from where he stops.