Dason Nemieboka, Chairman, United Rivers Alliance is the journalist’s delight any day. He again spoke with our correspondent on topical issues around the governorship of Rivers State.
Ans: Very unfortunate. I say unfortunate because many are wrongly focused and so, none is very correct and none is very wrong. I give you an example, Theo Orji added his voice to the discuss. And what did he say? He invited Gov Wike to his son’s wedding and the Governor honoured it, he also invited Dakuku to another son’s wedding and Dakuku didn’t honour it. Therefore, Wike is better. Clearly that tells you that such characters have nothing to offer us. Only their selfish interests’ matter.
For instance, I’m inviting people to my niece’s wedding in Abuja and Port Harcourt, anyone that doesn’t come isn’t good enough? My brother, we should choose those we listen to.
Que: Sir, how do you react to the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu?
Ans: As a law-abiding Nigerian I am happy each time the catches up with a fugitive, criminal or even a suspect. My happiness stems from the fact that effective law enforcement deters crime and reduced crimes breeds peace which is a recipe for progress.
Now, to the specific, I think that Nnamdi Kanu was charged to court on 11 counts a few years ago, before he jumped bail. So, he has issues to clear. Then again, those in charge have described both his IPOB and its affiliates as terrorist groups so they are criminals. On that note, I will commend our intelligence and law enforcement agents for a job well-done. But would quickly add that they (security forces) should with the same zeal arrest all Boko haram commanders, bandits and other terror merchants. So, we can commend them for their sincere commitment to safeguarding Nigeria.
Que: Back to Rivers State, how would you rate the performance of Governor Wike in the last six years?
Ans: Is there anything I would say that you haven’t heard? I would rather pray that he remains focused to the end. We are anxious, not about our past or present but our future.
After building flyovers, we should build bridges. Flyovers gives the impression of jump-and-pass, but bridges give you a sense of inclusion. Connecting our various people. Odili as an uplander did the first political jump-and-pass. He jumped the riverine people and landed in another upland.
Governor Wike can only preserve his efforts by stabilizing the polity. And that he would achieve by supporting the election of a riverine in 2023.
Que: Is it about the Governor’s support?
Ans: The answer is not far-fetched; we live in a clime where almost everything is government dependent. Like Governor Wike and his men allured, when it was reported that the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Amaechi had confirmed that he would support the emergence of a governor of riverine extraction in 2023. It is not in the rights of any individual to determine who becomes Governor. It isn’t the right of the incumbent also, yet, it would be fool-hardy to assume that his influence is mirror. So, we would greatly desire and indeed demand his support. First for the principle of zoning between the two blocks because that is the clearest and fairest basis of power rotation.
That can then lead him to support any credible ijaw within his party with his political party with his structure and resources. Just as Hon. Amaechi has pledged. That way Rivers people would have the peaceful option of choosing between parties.
Que: So, how does the United Rivers Alliance intend to manage the process if both leading parties field riverine candidates?
Ans: Hmm, I’m sure you understand that issues of strategy are not discussed in the market square. Just so, you know. Those steering the wheels of the United Rivers Alliance have learnt from past efforts and experiences. We were foot soldiers when the Rivers Democratic Movement, RDM dictated the political rhythm in the state. In fact, after the death of the late Marshall Harry, when the then Governor wanted to properly end the activities of opposition as represented by RDM, he asked Dr Ipalibo Harry to invite ten key operatives of RDM and members of this alliance were there. The experiences of the Rivers Mainstream, the Rivers Consciences and other inter and intra party strategic efforts are working here.
We are working behind the scene and Rivers people will be pleasantly surprised by the cohesion, focus, resolve and spirit of purpose that the Ijaws will demonstrate.
Que: But does that mean that URA’s job would end with the selection of riverine candidates by the APC and PDP?
Ans: Of course, not. The political landscape is pregnant? How are you sure that the parties as you have them now, will remain as they are now in say December 2022?
Our focus now is to prepare for a major selfless engagement. We want the parties to read the times and know that it’s safer and easier to sail with the wind than against it. The URA will be there for the Ogonis, Etches, Ikwerres etc. the job is to unify Rivers people politically because it’s in everyone’s interest.
We are interacting with credible and serious possible aspirants. We have templates and we want to see capacity. We hope to work with them midwife a process that would sift the shaft from the wheat. At the appropriate time we shall advertise those who we know can take Rivers State to the next level indeed.
There may be those who’s strategy would be to sponsor spoilers from any section to distract, we are developing an antidote. So, our job is a handful.
Que: so, is the URA saying 2023 is exclusively for the riverine?
Ans: Justice isn’t sentimental. All Rivers people know what is right and fair, only the selfish try to alter truth for gain.
When you equate your interest with that of the people then, you might not see the glory of the village dew. Sometimes, we find someone saying it’s our turn because he feels he is the only one available from there now. Or someone who knows he can’t make it to the senate or House of Representatives saying it’s their turn; just to position for an appointment.
Que: What then, would be the stand of the URA on the rumoured 2023 ambitions of both Governor Wike and Minister Amaechi?
Ans: Good question. Charity they say begins at home.
You see, such national aspirations and calculations have direct bearing on the local politics. For instance, such considerations must have influenced the unequivocal declaration by the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to support a riverine in the governorship election in 2023. That’s like telling almost half the state that I am fair and rationale, so you need to support me. Someone else might say, well I better go against this position and see it I can take the other half along.
But I believe that Governor Wike is smarter, whether he is hoping to go to Abuja or not, it will be to his advantage to alien his party and resources behind a riverine. To be president, vice or even senator, both Wike and Amaechi must support riverine candidates to enjoy further riverine support.
To answer your question directly, URA would support nationally whatever party, candidate or offer that best suits Rivers interest and guarantees national cohesion in 2023.