The Chairman of the United Rivers Alliance, URA, Hon. Dason Nemieboka, is a calm and easy-going writer and political analyst, who recently caused a stir, as he dumped the Accord for the All Progressives Congress, APC. Our correspondent spoke with Hon. Dason on the sidelines of the recent Rivers APC special thanksgiving service.
Que: Hello sir, good to see you. Congratulations on your appointment into the APC Rivers State Publicity Committee.
Ans: Thank you my brother.
Que: When did you join the APC? Because in 2019 you were the State Publicity Secretary of Accord and spokesperson of the Dumo Lulu Briggs Governorship Campaign, when and why did you cross carpet?
Ans: Well, I had been party less for a while now. You are correct about my services to the Accord and Chief Dumo’s governorship bid in 2019. However, this is 2022 and a lot of water must have gone under the bridge.
You know life is an institution that trains us endlessly. What you know yesterday may prove inadequate for today’s challenges. After the 2019 elections I realized that our effort was at best emotional. A lot of strategic gaps and there was clearly no exit strategy, so many didn’t know if they were in a political party or not.
Then some of us got involved in the just clamour for the election of a riverine governor in 2023. To effectively function in that capacity the key drivers of that process agreed that we would stay neutral until such a time when it is clear that both big parties or at least one has adopted a credible riverine aspirant as it’s candidate. So, I functioned without commitment to any political party. We were interfacing with stakeholders at various levels. We encouraged all who felt they had chances.
However, you know that as individuals, people have preferences for individuals. Yet, we managed to work for almost three years we kept focus. Even when the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi went to the front of my house in Ogu to announce that he as leader of the APC would support the emergence of a riverine governorship candidate in their party, we refused to jump into the party. However, we also noticed that the PDP under the influence and leadership of Governor Wike was unwilling to make a policy commitment.
We noted that his unwillingness to commit was a trick to hold down his party members and indeed the people of the state. Yet, we refused to declare a formal support for the APC because a candidate has not been elected. So, a few individuals championing the demand for the level of a riverine as governor thus decided to join the party that was sincere enough to stand up for justice and equity. I therefore joined the APC in appreciation of the leader’s principled stance on the very touching issue.
Que: Did you formally resign from the Accord? And what was the reaction of your former principal?
Ans: I am sure you mean, Chief DLB?
Que: Yes, how did Chief Lulu-Briggs take your crossing back to the APC.
Ans: Well, DLB is my elder brother and we relate as such. We are in politics and the driver is the interest. I informed him and gave him my reasons and moved. I am sure that he understands.
Que: We gather that the inclusion of Oraye Franklin and you as members of the APC Publicity Committee didn’t go down well with some members of the party.
Ans: Are you sure that those sentiments are not from opponents. You know the PDP social media hands are meddlesome and mischievous. That would be unfortunate if true. But serious leaders know that what is important is competence. If you know that a man would bring value to the table and you want to worry about emotions then you have a problem.
I know that Oraye is smart and very talented, and I doubt if anyone would regard me as a pushover. I have been managing high profile political images and systems. Beyond journalistic trainings I have continued to be retrained and updated in communication and public relations. If you must know, I was hired by the former Deputy Speaker for Houses of Representatives on a recommendation twenty years ago.
I am eminently qualified to serve as even a presidential spokesman. I came with value and that is what should matter. So, the question would be what do they want. Better communication or poor publicity?
Que: Sir, now that the Minister for Transportation has declared to run for the office of the president, would the riverine and Ijaws generally support him?
Ans: And why not if not. Even on the radio today, you heard our announcements. Amaechi is the most detribalized of all governors we have had. He was fair to all parts of the state. Everyone enjoyed his time as governor. The schools, health centers are spread all around. The students who travelled to study were from all LGAs. The infrastructure was for all. The security was for all. The 13,000 teachers employed were not from Ubima but everywhere.
I can assure you that we the ijaws in Rivers State will work hand-in-hand with the Ikwerre, Ogoni, Ecthe, Ogba, and all to deliver our state to Amaechi and the APC in 2023.
Trust me an Amaechi candidacy would win all Ijaw lands as well as the entire region.
Que: But Governor Nyesom Wike is also gunning for the Presidency too.
Is that how low the office of the President of Nigeria has been reduced? I hear talks of our governor threatening his party members about not giving their ticket to Atiku. I heard him say, he is smarter than (those former south-south governors who wasted tonnes of money chasing the presidency) so, he can’t be fooled.
Yes, Governor Wike until recently was not interested in occupying the office of the President, so he went to Bauchi to urge Bala Mohammed run because he is the best man for the job. If Bala is best in the PDP, why should we promote less than the best?
And very seriously, do you think that Rivers people would leave Amaechi and support Governor Wike? You know they are not on the same level.
Que: You are the one saying so. Why do you think Amaechi would be preferred over Governor Wike?
Ans: We are all Rivers and so, the drama and grandstanding can only fool those viewing from outside.
Let me ask you, who is the focus of this governorship?
Que: You tell us?
Ans: I know that during Amaechi’s administration the people was the concern of government. Today, we have a Governor who sees a foreign construction company as more important that the people. Everyone and everything exist for the pleasure of Julius Berger. We serve a company that is above our laws. That maltreats our citizens and yet cannot be checked.
No, we can’t give Nigeria an unpresidential gift. We want the president to come from Rivers State but one that will make us all proud and expand infrastructural development across the country.
Que: Are you saying this because you are now in the APC?
Ans: No. I am saying so, because we have tolerated the maladministration for seven full years. And it would be unfair to allow the rest of the country experience the high-handedness.
Where on earth have you heard an elected official tell his people “Ntoor?’ Look, even those in the PDP know in their hearts that they are under a yoke and are only smiling to cover their shame and pain.
I will tell you this. Last year or so, Governor Wike went to my home town. And in his excitement for the role played by Ogu women for his re-election in 2019, he announced that he had awarded a road contract to link Wakama-Ama to Ogu. As the people cheered, he told them he would be back on Boxing Day, December 26, 2021 to commission the road. Promising to jug on it, to indicate that it was a short stretch.
Then, on the 27th of December 2021. Governor Wike arrived Ogu for a social event. Sadly, the Governor failed to do what decency expects, tender an apology. Even, the elite and political leaders of the community, couldn’t find the voice to remind him.
Que: Is that why you think Governor Wike isn’t suitable for the presidency of Nigeria?
Ans: Governor Wike’s suitability is debateable. His social media aides would continue to deceive themselves, but truth is, the man simply loves power for power’s sake. We want a president, who would do the job because he loves the people. Amaechi suits that billing.
Que: Let’s talk about the governorship ticket in the APC?
Ans: Oh good. As stated earlier, that’s what won me. By the stance of the leader, we have a credible and strong enough platform. All that is remaining is the party primaries that would lead to the election of the governorship flagbearer. And when that happens, we shall roll all efforts in to ensure the victory of the party.
Que: Which of the aspirants do you think will emerge in the APC?
Ans: Tough one. Well, in 2015, we fielded Dakuku Peterside, we worked hard but lost it. Don’t ask me what happened. In 2019, the party was to field, Tonye Cole but for the unfortunate plots (please don’t ask me about that now). And now in 2022/23 we have a number of credible aspirants in the APC.
There are Dakuku Peterside, Tonye Princewill, Dawari George, Tonye Cole, Sokonte Davies, Mina Tende and Francis Ebenezar. There are a few more but these are those I can remember easily. It will naturally be tough because they are all good guys, but I think that Dr. Dawari George has a few more qualities going for him.
He enjoys multi strata support base, energic and visionary, he seems to have the least political baggage. Because we can’t field more than one candidate for the office of the governor, I would imagine that the delegates give us the best possible.
Que: And what if your preferred candidate doesn’t get it, would you leave?
I have answered your question. Difficult as it is, I have told you that I believe the leadership and membership of the APC entrust Dawari George with the task, if they see what we see. You can’t therefore ask me what happens if he isn’t chosen?
It will be a party decision. You are seeing the passion of the people here, therefore, you can guess that APC is now revived. It can win elections with this spirit. If the party decides to field anyone else, APC can still take Rivers State next year.