With the recent presidential accent to amend the Electoral Act, political activities at the state and national levels are expected to be upbeat. Hence, our correspondent spoke with Hon. Dason Nemieboka, the Chairman of the United Rivers Alliance, was the spokesman of the Dumo Lulu-Briggs Governorship campaign to get his views of the informal declaration for the 2023 governorship of the oil mogul and sundry political issues.
Que: Sir, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs has declared that he would be running for the governorship of Rivers State in 2023. What informed that decision?
Ans: My dear friend, don’t you think you are giving me a task beyond my capacity?
Que: But you are his ……
Ans: Friend and younger brother.
Que: I thought you were his spokesman and publicity secretary of the Accord?
Ans: Yes, I was both and more. I was Publicity Secretary of the Accord in Rivers State and doubled as spokesman of the Dumo Lulu-Briggs Governorship Campaign for the 2019 election. And like I said, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs is my big brother. However, the positions or responsibilities you referred to, are not permanent or indefinite in tenure or self-renewing.
So, I am no more the spokesman of any campaign, as none has begun. And I am not the Publicity Secretary of the Accord.
Que: So, you can’t speak about the High Chief’s declaration?
Ans: Of course, I can but not officially.
Que: So, how would you respond to his declaration …..
Que: Well, that may not be the formal declaration for the race.
Ans: Yes, that is definitely, not a formal declaration. But I can tell you that it is a welcome development. I say so, as a stakeholder. The people of the state had expected so much action from politicians who consider themselves fit and proper to govern us from next year. But it seemed that nobody was willing to throw his hat in the ring. And so, if Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs publicly states that he is interested in occupying the Brick House in 2023, he should be commended and encouraged.
However, I think his chat with the media at the Port Harcourt International airport was primarily to clear the air about his eligibility to run. You know there had been some rumors surrounding his disqualification from elective politics by his ascension of a prominent paramount stool of the Kalabari people. So much so that the Governor had to make refers to it, during the reception the Kalabaris held in his honour in Abalama.
Que: But, Chief Lulu-Briggs didn’t state the platform on which he would contest the governorship?
Ans: So, I should tell you?
Que: We are wondering, considering the fact that he and the Accord didn’t go far in the 2019 elections?
Ans: If Chief Dumo says, “I will run”, and didn’t tell you on which party platform, and you couldn’t extract that from him at the airport or anywhere else, then, you would forget it, because it may be strategic for him. Or do you want me to hazard a guess for you? Alright, he might run on the Accord platform.
Que: But the Accord…..
Ans: My friend, I will prefer if we discuss Rivers State or national politics instead.
Que: Alright sir, what do would you consider the implication of the just signed amended electoral act?
Ans: Improved electoral processes. Yes, it will not make us have the credible elections just yet, but we are definitely shifting away from the carry-go elections of the recent past.
Que: News just broke about a sudden change of guards at the APC national headquarters, can you comment on it?
Ans: What can I say? It is a political party, the ruling party at the centre, and so interests are high and intrigue complex. It is unfortunate but not unexpected. I would hope that the convention will finally hold on March 26. So, we can have clearer pictures of what the parties are offering us.
We anxiously want to know the formations, because that would determine our strategies.
Que: Please who are you referring to, when you say we?
Ans: We in the context, refers to the people of Rivers State who want to elect a governor that would give all a fair sense of belonging. We refer to those who believe in fairness, equity, even development and responsive governance. We are those who clamour for power shift, not just to satisfy sectional or ethnic sentiments, but to midwife the enthronement of mutual inclusiveness in progressive governance.
As the Chairman, of the United Rivers Alliance, we refer to URA and all such movements, pressure groups and political organisations.
Que: As a pressure group where do you stand with the PDP?
Ans: We are at the siddon look level. As a pan-Rivers movement, championing the institutionalization of equity and justice by the adherence of the principle of power rotation between the two sections; we have made adequate representation to the leadership of the party. We know that the buck stops with Governor Wike and his body language is still unclear. So, for now, we are watching them.
Just to note that even in the PDP we have an array of astute administrators and visionary leaders nursing governorship ambition. So, if the governor does what is right, they can pick from the plethora of available riverine aspirants.
Que: Can you mention a few?
Ans: Well, you are aware that the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo is interested in succeeding his boss. The distinguished Senator George Sekibo is warming up, I hear that Dr George Kelly is interested, as Chief David Briggs and a couple of others. I hope the governor would quickly throw his weight behind one of them.
Rivers people deserve ample time to evaluate candidates for the best result.
Oue: It is rumoured that the URA is a vehicle for the promotion of Dumo Lulu- Briggs’s governorship interest?
Ans: you just said it yourself, rumoured. I don’t work with rumours. But it depends. The United Rivers Alliance is campaigning the institutionalization of the principle of power rotation in Rivers politics. The URA rightly believes that after twenty-four years of upland governorship power should return to the riverine and later it should go to the upland and afterwards back. Now, that means, we want the next governor to be riverine. If that is what is DLB’s governorship interest it is in tandem.
We are advocating for a credible, honest and humane governorship. We want a governor who will reassure all Rivers people that we are one. And we are hoping that the major parties if not all should find such men or women, this time from amongst the riverine.
As you know, we have a couple of names flying across the parties and the United Rivers Alliance is for the best possible from the riverine stock this time. And so, Chief Dumo is in view, Dr Dawari George is running, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is also on the cards, Senator George Sekibo, Dr. Tammy Danagogo is there, Senator George Sekibo, Tonye Princewill, Tonye Cole and many others. So, the platform is for any of them.
Que: What if upland aspirants emerge?
Ans: There is desire, there is attempt and there is participate before there is emergence.
The leader of the APC in the state has pointed at the direction for his party, and that is leadership. So, you know that if you are not from the riverine LGAs and you wish or dream of becoming governor on that platform, you will sleep and wake up in June 2023.
And I can tell you that even Governor Wike, would be making a major political blunder if he attempts to support an uplander to succeed him. And I know he is wiser than that. Remember Governor Wike has been stressing that he will support only an aspirant who demonstrates capacity.
You can say he can find one with capacity anywhere, but the strategic would know where to rule the line between the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will. What is more both champions from Ikwerre are seeking higher office, so, even if anyone wishes to be greedy, his hands would be tied. Rivers people would only choose from the best possible amongst the riverine hopefuls. Trust me, what will happen in 2023 will surprise many. And it would be a pleasant surprise.
Que: Tell us, how do you assess the presidential aspirants so far?
Ans: The atmosphere is still very hazy. I believe that we shall record a few major upsets. You earlier pointed out what just happened at the APC. It will go full circle before we get the candidate from APC.
The PDP had concluded their national convention many months ago and still haven’t been able to take advantage of the confusion in the APC. So, you can see that they have internal issues too. I believe the Secondus ghost is still hunting. If things remain as they are, between the PDP and the APC the call maybe narrow. So, I think one may put out a joker and turn the answer.