Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, has lambasted his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike accusing him of inciting ethnic disharmony in Ijaw land to promote “wicked clandestine ethnic supremacist agenda” in the politics of Rivers.
A statement signed by Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, said the governor spoke at the weekend during a live media chat in Yenagoa.
Dickson said Wike was merely using the disputed oil wells between the two sister states as a subterfuge to create disunity and cover up his deliberate policy to under-develop Ijaw communities in Rivers State while pretending to be their champion.
The governor described his counterpart’s comments on the disputed oil wells as reckless, childish and uncivilized with an evil intent to attack age-long bonds among brothers.
Dickson insisted that Wike’s vituperations and unwholesome behaviour towards him and the people of Bayelsa could no longer be condoned after years of restraint.
He said he had tried over the years to restrain himself from responding to the unprovoked and unguarded remarks and excesses of Wike out of respect for the Rivers people.
He warned Wike to stop looking at Bayelsa as his conquered political empire and dismissed the Rivers governor’s claims that his state owned Soku oil wells.
Dickson explained that while Soku is a Kalabari (Ijaw) community in Rivers State, the disputed oil wells are located in Oluasiri, Nembe local government area of Bayelsa.
He said that Ijaw leaders made sustained efforts to forge solid bonds of unity among the peoples deign that Wike was trying in vain to destroy the relationship.
Dickson said that his government led a Pan-Ijaw agenda, which culminated in the building of solid bonds of unity across the six states comprising Ijaw indigenes.
He further said that Wike’s reckless expansionist agenda led him to start needless wars with all the neighboring states of Imo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and more to come to the detriment of the unity of the Niger Delta and the South South.
He said Wike over the years engaged in needless antagonism against him and Bayelsans over the years and condemned his recent unprovoked outburst concerning an area with a very volatile history.
Dickson said it remained an issue of grave concern to Bayelsans and the Rivers people that their governor lacked the capacity to appreciate the grave implications of his intemperate outbursts and actions.
He also referred to the Supreme Court decision on the issue that directed the National Boundary Commission to carry out a fresh delineation and demarcation exercise in the affected area.
Dickson, however, reminded Wike of how the Rivers delegation led by its deputy governor at the time, Tele Ikuru pulled out of the exercise in 2013.
He called on the Ijaws in Rivers state not to fall for the antics of Wike to destroy the long standing relationship between them and their kith and kin in Bayelsa adding that there was no intent to annex any part of Kalabari land and any other place.
He said: “The Good people of Rivers State should not be preys in the hands of Wike who want to promote disunity and hatred in ijaw land because he is promoting an ethnic supremacist political agenda in the state”.
Dickson further derided Wike for his allegation and scathing remarks that he visited the Amanyanabo of Kalabari without following protocol.
He explained that he visited the foremost traditional ruler in April 2019 to condole with the people on the killing of Ijaw sons and daughters of the area during the Wike’s own gubernatorial election.
He noted that he made sustained efforts to contact Wike without success and directed his Chief of Staff and the ADC to speak to their counterparts in Rivers who promised to inform his boss of the impending trip.
He stressed that any governor of Bayelsa State, and leader from the Ijaw nation did not require Wike’s permission to visit Ijaw traditional rulers, leaders and elders in Port Harcourt or any part of Rivers State for any purpose whatsoever.
The governor said that he planned to lead other Ijaw leaders to participate in any activity to celebrate the foremost monarch, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari who would turn 90 in January 2020.
He said that while it was a normal protocol in a cordial atmosphere to extend courtesies, such conditions could not apply in an abnormal environment encouraged by Wike over years.
He said: “The Governor of our neighboring state, Governor Wike of Rivers State who by the way is used to making careless and very childish remarks from time to time, went into his usual habit some few days ago.
“Let me put it on record, this is the first time I will formally respond to Wike’s childishness in this formal way. I have always ignored with pain and regret all the previous vituperations and his attempt to belittle and intimidate this state and our leadership.
“His unfriendliness towards this state is not hidden. It’s not just me, it’s about our state and our people, he has done that a couple of times but I decided to stomach it for several reasons.
“Also, my involvement in the affairs of the Niger Delta and my commitment to the wellbeing of our people, made me to always shied away from having open confrontations with a brother governor, particularly of his state that is so closely tied to our state.
“As we speak, because of the level of social and business interactions, most of our people and leaders live in Port Harcourt, and so I have been very reluctant since he started his unreasonable hostility towards us.
“I have been very reluctant even to respond publicly, out of respect for our historical ties, respect for the good people of Rivers state itself, whom he is misrepresenting, and the other point is yes Wike can attack Bayelsa, because he doesn’t have his indigenous Ikwerre people in Bayelsa state.
“But the Governor of Bayelsa has his indigenous Ijaw people who are major stakeholders in Rivers state. So as a result of these, for the past four to five years, since he started his childish and unguarded drunken behavior, I’ve been very reserved responding.
“But I have had to formally do so and Governor Wike knows that I’m not someone who shies away. I have had to hold myself because the Governor of Bayelsa represents much more than governorship of a state. Out of respect for our people in Rivers state, I’ve always held back, but this time, no, he has gone too far.
“And so I want to use this opportunity to condemn the way and manner he threatens and shows disrespect to our leaders in that state and I want to particularly respond to what he said concerning my visit to our revered leader and father, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, who will be 90 years next year.
“And I want to make it clear as governor of this state, either me or any other person who will be governor, we don’t need Governor Wike’s permission to visit our traditional rulers and elders in Port Harcourt or any part of Rivers state.
“Since he doesn’t understand courtesy and is not prepared to show courtesy, then that courtesy will not be extended to him. Bayelsa is not an annex of Rivers state that he can intimidate at will.
“If we are quiet, it’s because it is strategic, especially with me as the oldest governor even in the south-south, but this nonsense from Wike must stop.
“Wike should stop interfering with the politics of Bayelsa state, you all know what he did in the PDP primaries and the roles he played supporting the APC in their federal take over of our state, there are so many things he has been doing that I keep quiet about.
“Wike should learn to respect his colleagues for whom he has shown scant regards not just for me, and Bayelsa. He is having oil wars with every state around him; with Imo and Akwa Ibom states. What is wrong with him?”
– Credit: The Nation