Wike vs DICK­SON: AS In­ter­nal CRI­SIS HIT PDP’S Strong­hold

The Punch - - SUPER SATURDAY POLITICS -

As the feud be­tween Gov­er­nor Nye­som Wike of Rivers State and his Bayelsa State coun­ter­part, Se­ri­ake Dick­son, con­tin­ues un­re­solved, stake­hold­ers are of the view that the Soku Oil Wells is­sue is only be­ing used as a plat­form to vent their anger based on ir­rec­on­cil­able po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, CHUK­WUDI AKASIKE writes

Be­fore now, many in the South­south geopo­lit­i­cal zone were aware of the unity among the gover­nors of the zone. At a point, dur­ing the Ro­timi Amaechi ad­min­is­tra­tion in Rivers State, the BRACED Com­mis­sion was formed to foster unity among the six states that make up the South-south zone. BRACED then stood for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states. They did a lot to­gether and later met to re­view their states’ per­for­mances con­cern­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. To­day, the unity among the South-south states ap­pears to be erod­ing as a re­sult of hid­den and ob­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, which some be­lieve are in­flu­enced by ex­ter­nal forces. A sig­nif­i­cant but small ver­sion of the disunity that has played out among the re­gion’s gover­nors in re­cent times is the rag­ing feud be­tween the Rivers State Gov­er­nor, Nye­som Wike, and his Bayelsa State coun­ter­part, Se­ri­ake Dick­son. Again, not a few are of the view that the cause of the scathing and al­most ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences be­tween Wike and Dick­son goes be­yond the re­cent court rul­ing on Soku Oil Wells. Some an­a­lysts have linked this feud to the po­lit­i­cal gam­bit that cul­mi­nated in the emer­gence of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress as the win­ner of the Novem­ber 16, 2019, gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in Bayelsa State. It is also held in some quar­ters that while the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party faced some cri­sis be­fore the elec­tion over who should be the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the party in the state, Dick­son had in­ad­ver­tently or con­sciously stepped on many toes. It is be­lieved that the Bayelsa gov­er­nor’s ac­tion turned out to hunt the once in­domitable party in the state. Ob­vi­ously, Dick­son is be­lieved to have been wounded by the de­feat of his choice can­di­date, Douye Diri, who he felt did not get the sup­port of the en­tire PDP. Again, some PDP mem­bers within and out­side Bayelsa, who never wanted Diri as the party’s can­di­date, felt they could work against Diri’s as­pi­ra­tion. In all, there was bat­tle anger among the ma­jor driv­ers of the party in Bayelsa and even be­yond. How­ever, the lat­est court rul­ing on the Soku Oil Wells dis­pute which went in favour of Rivers State might have pre­sented it­self as an op­por­tu­nity for Wike and Dick­son to clash. The Bayelsa gov­er­nor had vis­ited the Amanyan­abo of Kal­abari King­dom, King Theophilus J.T. Princewill, an ac­tion that did not go down well with Wike, who in­sisted that his coun­ter­part should have fol­lowed pro­to­col dur­ing the visit to the monarch. Wike warned that the monarch, who re­ceived Dick­son, could also face stiff sanc­tions for an act he deemed dis­re­spect­ful. Wike said, “He (Dick­son) said he was com­ing to see Ijaw peo­ple in Rivers State and he would be hosted by the Amanyan­abo of Kal­abari and Amanyan­abo of Abon­nema. The Amanyan­abo of Abon­nema called me and said how could that be? The Rivers State gov­er­nor did not call me. The Amanyan­abo of Kal­abari did not call me. What he did was to roll out the drums to re­ceive the Bayelsa State gov­er­nor. “You can see how peo­ple are try­ing to di­vide a state. A fel­low gov­er­nor would come from some­where to cre­ate di­vi­sion. Al­ready, we have gone back to court re­gard­ing the Soku Oil Wells. This is the man who is claim­ing Kula oil wells and Soku. I have gone back to court and we will re­claim the Soku Oil Wells for Rivers State. This is the same man you claim loves you and you roll out the drums against pro­to­col.” It was not long after the Kal­abari in­ci­dent and Wike’s re­ac­tion that Dick­son or­gan­ised a live-streamed me­dia brief­ing, where he said that his Rivers State coun­ter­part was de­lib­er­ately un­der-de­vel­op­ing Ijaw ar­eas in Rivers. On this, a coun­ter­at­tack was launched al­most im­me­di­ately by the Rivers State gov­er­nor, who lam­pooned his coun­ter­part from Bayelsa, ac­cus­ing him (Dick­son) of work­ing against the PDP. In all th­ese, the is­sue of Soku Oil Wells was only men­tioned by the two gover­nors, while most of their al­le­ga­tion was based on per­for­mance, win­ning and los­ing the elec­tion. Speak­ing on the feud be­tween the two PDP mem­bers and Niger Delta sons, a fore­most en­vi­ron­men­tal rights ac­tivist and Ijaw in­di­gene, Annkio Briggs, ex­plained that the is­sue was about the Soku Oil Wells and pol­i­tics, main­tain­ing that the dis­agree­ment be­tween the two gover­nors was an in­di­ca­tion that there was no unity among the gover­nors. She pointed out that Dick­son should have em­braced pro­to­col dur­ing his visit to Kal­abari. Ac­cord­ing to her, the en­tire South­south re­gion would have a sense of unity if Bayelsa State gov­er­nor had de­cided that he and Wike should visit the Amanyan­abo. Briggs said, “The is­sue be­tween Wike and Dick­son are both on the Soku Oil Wells and pol­i­tics if you lis­ten to both of them. If Dick­son had de­cided to go to the Kal­abari King­dom with Gov­er­nor Wike, it would have shown unity among the South-south gover­nors and their peo­ple. But be­cause the Niger Delta gover­nors are not work­ing to­gether and with­out a joint fo­cus, ex­ter­nal forces come in to flex mus­cles with the mil­i­tary dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod. “Ev­ery­thing is pol­i­tics; even the Soku Oil Wells is­sue is po­lit­i­cal. You have to ask your­self that how did the Na­tional Bound­ary Com­mis­sion wake up one morn­ing to de­cide that the map that sep­a­rates Bayelsa and Rivers states is no longer the map used when they cre­ated Bayelsa State? “In the area of pol­i­tics, why did some PDP mem­bers boy­cott the rally in Bayelsa; you could see that there was a se­ri­ous boy­cott. Even be­fore the elec­tion was held, the PDP had given the go-ahead to Bayelsa peo­ple not to vote the PDP. How then can that be Wike’s fault? But what hap­pened in Bayelsa can­not hap­pen in Rivers State; the ma­jor­ity of Ogoni peo­ple can­not vote for the APC; it is the same in Ik­w­erre and Ijaw.” She, how­ever, called on the gover­nors in the South-south zone not to shy away from the truth, adding that there was noth­ing wrong for Wike to say what he ob­served po­lit­i­cally and oth­er­wise. She said, “Our peo­ple shy away from the truth. For in­stance, why would the gover­nors in Niger Delta be silent when the 13 per cent oil deriva­tion they are sup­posed to pay them is not com­plete? They are silent be­cause of po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion and not the in­ter­est of the peo­ple.” Lend­ing his voice to the feud be­tween the two gover­nors, the Pres­i­dent, Ijaw Youth Coun­cil, Eric Omare, stated that the episode was po­lit­i­cal and had noth­ing much to do with the Soku Oil Wells, which the court had al­ready taken a de­ci­sion. Omare added Wike’s po­si­tion could be out of worry that his Bayelsa coun­ter­part did not man­age the gov­er­nor­ship pri­mary well. He said, “Ob­vi­ously, from what Wike said, it is ob­vi­ous that the dis­agree­ment is be­yond Soku Oil Wells be­cause Wike asked if peo­ple knew what it meant for the APC to win in Bayelsa State. The APC win­ning in Bayelsa has a wider im­pli­ca­tion on the dom­i­nance of the PDP in the South-south. Again, the APC has also said it will use Bayelsa as a launch­pad onto other states of the South-south. To that ex­tent, I think that the is­sue is be­yond the Soku Oil Wells, but more po­lit­i­cally based on the threat posed by the APC through its vic­tory in Bayelsa State. “Be­yond that, I think it is not a good thing for po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to al­ways have pub­lic al­ter­ca­tions. Some­times, it is im­por­tant for po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to tell one an­other the truth. On the po­lit­i­cal an­gle, I am in agree­ment with the com­ments that Wike made. Peo­ple in author­ity need to be told when they have erred and that is what Gov­er­nor Wike has done to Gov­er­nor Dick­son. “Dick­son mis­man­aged the gov­er­nor­ship pri­mary in Bayelsa State and that led to the de­feat of the PDP. I am happy that Gov­er­nor Wike did not join the band­wagon to blame the PDP’S de­feat in Bayelsa on fed­eral might. It was not fed­eral might; it was the might of the peo­ple. Wike be­lieved that Dick­son played God and peo­ple left him (Dick­son) and God also left him.” Sim­i­larly, a Port Har­court-based lawyer, Chime Chime, told our correspond­ent that the loss of the PDP to the APC re­mained the bone of con­tention be­tween the two gover­nors, adding that Wike was not alone, but was the one that de­cided to speak out. Chime said, “The is­sue of the Soku Oil Wells did not start dur­ing Wike’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. I at­tribute the quar­rel be­tween Dick­son and Wike to the out­come of the Bayelsa gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion, where the PDP made a choice in the per­son of Timi Alaibe, But Dick­son, did not only refuse the per­son of Timi Alaibe, he also brought an­other per­son from the same sen­a­to­rial district with him. So, ev­ery­body that mat­ters in the PDP left him. In fact, for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan also left him. “But the loss of the PDP to the APC in Bayelsa does not mean that there is disunity among the gover­nors in the South-south. This dis­agree­ment is only be­tween Dick­son and Wike. Re­mem­ber that Wike said the best thing for Dick­son to do was to leave the party. The gen­eral be­lief is that the PDP will take over Bayelsa if the right steps are taken.” The Na­tional Chair­man of Pan Niger Delta Fo­rum, Air Com­modore Idon­ge­sit Nkanga (retd.), said the fo­rum was plan­ning to in­ter­vene in the feud and en­sure that Wike and Dick­son were friends again. Nkanga dis­closed that the aim was to find out if there was an is­sue of per­sonal in­ter­est that was in­flu­enc­ing the enmity be­tween the duo and find a last­ing solution to it in the in­ter­est of Bayelsa, Rivers and the en­tire Niger Delta re­gion. The PANDEF na­tional chair­man said, “We are al­ready talk­ing about in­ter­ven­ing in the feud be­tween the two gover­nors, but it is not some­thing for the me­dia. Be­fore now, we have met with them sep­a­rately. So, some­thing is be­ing done. Chief E.K. Clark has also worked very hard on that mat­ter. “I wouldn’t know if the mat­ter is be­yond the Soku Oil Wells, but what is most im­por­tant is the good of Bayelsa, Rivers and the Niger Delta re­gion. If there is any per­sonal thing that is in­flu­enc­ing their dis­agree­ment, we will talk to them so that they will play down on their per­sonal in­ter­est and look at the in­ter­est of the re­gion. That is what is up­per­most on my mind.”

•Dick­son

•Wike

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