From Mike Odiegwu, Bayelsa
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday accused his Rivers State counterpart Nyesom Wike of inciting ethnic disharmony in Ijawland in pursuit of a supremacist agenda.
He said he did not need Wike’s permission to visit the Ijaw in Rivers State.
Mike had threatened to sanction the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, an Ijaw monarch, for hosting Dickson, without his permission.
But, Dickson said Wike did not deserve to be extended any courtesies due to his actions.
The Bayelsa governor alleged that Wike was using the disputed oil wells to create disunity and to cover up “deliberate underdevelopment” of Ijaw communities in Rivers by pretending to be their champion.
According to him, Wike’s comments on the oil wells were reckless, childish and uncivilised, adding that there was an evil intent to attack age-long bonds among brothers.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Governor Dickson saying during a media chat that Wike’s vituperations towards him and Bayelsa people would no longer be condoned after years of restraint.
The governor, who said he has been restraining himself from responding to Wike’s unprovoked and unguarded remarks and excesses out of respect for the Rivers people over the years, warned him to stop seeing Bayelsa as an annex of his political empire.
Dickson dismissed Wike’s claim that Bayelsa was laying ownership claim to Soku, explaining that while Soku is a Kalabari (Ijaw) community in Rivers, the disputed oil wells are located in Oluasiri, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
He said Ijaw leaders like him have made sustained efforts to forge solid bonds of unity among the people which people like Wike and others cannot destroy.
Dickson said he led a pan-Ijaw agenda, which has culminated in the building of solid bonds of unity across the six states to which the Ijaws are indigenous, which Wike considers a threat.
He stressed that this existing bond of unity, represented by the indomitable Ijaw spirit, cannot be threatened or broken by Wike no matter how hard they try.
He said further that Wike’s expansionist agenda has led him to start needless wars with all the neighbouring states of Imo, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa to the detriment of Southsouth unity.
Dickson condemned what he called Wike’s needless antagonism to him and Bayelsans over the years and his recent unprovoked outburst concerning an area with a very volatile history.
He said it remained an issue of grave concern to Bayelsans and indeed the Rivers people that their governor cannot 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 in the affected area. Governor 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 not to fall for Wike’s antics 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.
Dickson said: “The good people of Rivers State should not be preys in the hands of Wike who want to promote disunity and hatred in Ijawland because he is promoting an ethnic supremacist political agenda in the state.”
On Wike’s allegation that he visited the Amanyanabo of Kalabari without following protocol, Dickson explained that he visited the foremost traditional ruler in April to condole with the people on the killing of Ijaw sons and daughters of the area during the gubernatorial election.
Dickson noted that he made sustained efforts to contact Wike without success and directed his Chief of Staff and the aide de camp (ADC) to speak to their counterparts in Rivers who promised to inform his boss of the impending trip, which they did.
He stressed that any governor of Bayelsa State and leader from the Ijaw nation did not require 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 he planned to lead other Ijaw leaders to participate in any activity that might be put in place to celebrate the foremost monarch, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, who would turn 90 next month.
He said while it is normal to extend courtesies, such conditions cannot apply in an abnormal environment encouraged by Wike over years.
His words: “The governor of our neighbouring 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 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 shy away from having open confrontations with a brother governor, particularly of a 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 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. 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 behaviour, I’ve been very reserved in 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 the governorship of a state. Out of respect for our people in Rivers, 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 annexe 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 Southsouth, but this nonsense from Wike must stop.