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2015: Why Kalabari Cannot Produce A Governor In Rivers State

WIKE & PRINCEWILLPolitical campaigns have began. Different political and interest groups have also taken side on whom to support in 2015 general elections.

Beside this, several elective positions are now opened for contest. No fewer than twenty (20) politicians both from the riverine and upland areas of Rivers State are eyeing the Brick House.

Among some prominent politicians who are gunning for the Brick House include: Chief (Barr.) Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, Dr. Tammy Wenike Danagogo, Chief Ebenezer Isokariari, Chief David Briggs, Chief Paworiso Samuel Horsfall, Senator Magnus Abe, Ex-Senator Lee Maeba, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Chief Hon. Ibinabo Michael West.

Others are Engr. Tonye Princewill, Mr. Tonye Cole, Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, Hon. Dakuku Peterside and Engr. Tele Ikuru.

Doubtlessly, Rivers State is politically divided into two zones: Upland and Riverine. The upland comprises the Ikwerres, Ogonis, Ekpeyes, Ogbas, Ndonis, and others, while the riverine people are the Kalabaris, Andonis, Opobos, Ibanis, Abuans, Oduals, Nkoros and several others.

The polarization of the state has also fueled lopsided development as most of the projects are being sited at the upland areas of the state.

Good and access roads are also constructed within the upland communities. For instance: the Greater Port Harcourt City Project, Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Bori Polytechnic, Monorail, Kessy Harrison Hospital amongst others are all sited in the upland.

Development suffers in the riverine communities despite their numerous contributions towards the economic growth of Rivers State particular and Nigeria as a whole.

Floods are dealing mercilessly with some of the riverine communities namely: Ke, Buguma, Bakana, Opobo, Oloma, Ayama, Abisse, Idama, and others may go into extinction, if government refuses to embark on shore protection in these communities. Due to absence of developmental projects and amenities, the rural economy in the Riverine area is going down day by day as youths and women relocate to upland communities including Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor.

As the 2015 general election comes closer, some political pundits strongly argue that for the purposes of equity and justice, the next Governor of Rivers State must come from the Kalabari axis.

While celebrating his tenth year anniversary on the ancient king Amachree’s royal throne two years ago, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari kingdom, HM King (Prof.) T.J.T Princewill, Amachree XI predicted that he would be the first Kalabari monarch to receive a Kalabari governor into his palace.

He called on the Kalabaris to sink their differences and work towards the unity of Kalabari kingdom. According to him the strength of the Kalabari man lies in unity, and not acrimony.

Some politicians also made case for a Rivers State Governor outside the Kalabari ethnic nationality. Their major claim is based on the rotation of the governorship seat among the three (3) senatorial districts namely: Rivers East, Rivers West and Rivers South East.

They carefully pointed out that since ex-Governor Peter Odili comes from the Rivers West Senatorial District, while the current Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is from the Rivers East, commonsense and fair play demand that the next senatorial district that will produce the Governor of Rivers State is that of Rivers South-East.

If the governor is coming from the Rivers South-East, it means that the Kalabari politicians are out of the race. And they might go for the position of a Deputy Governor.

Beside, the issue of the zoning system no serious contender from Kalabari kingdom of a position of a Governor come 2015. Almost all the Kalabari aspirants who are looking at the Brick House are without formidable political structures, hence working for Chief (Barr.) Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike unknown to them.

No doubt in his recent interview with the press, a former member of Rivers State House of Assembly, Chief Hon. Labomie Fubara Manuel declared that the possibility of a Kalabari man to become a governor in 2015 is very much slim. He suggested that the position of the governor should move to the Rivers South-East senatorial district, saying that the Rivers West Senatorial district which the Kalabari kingdom is part has produced a governor between 1999 to 2003 in person of Dr Odili. Chief Hon. Manuel urged all Kalabari politicians aspiring for the plum job to sink their ambition and work assiduously towards a governorship aspirant in the Rivers South-East senatorial zone in 2015.

Ex-Governor Peter Odili from the minority tribe of Ndoni clan was made a Governor of Rivers State in 1999 by some illustrious sons of Kalabari Kingdom. They were late Dr. Marshall Harry, Alabo T. O. Graham Douglas, late Chief P. G. Warmate, Chief (Dr) Ombo Isokariari and others.

The painful aspect of it, Dr. Odili contested against a prominent Kalabari son, Chief Ebenezer Ferguson Isokariari, who failed woefully even in the three (3) Kalabari speaking Local Government Areas. The year 1999 could have been the finest hour for the Kalabaris to produce a Governor, but greed and personal hatred beclouded their sense of reasoning.

In Buguma, and Abonnema, the headquarters of Asalga and Akulga respectively, some persons who resisted Odili’s candidature were brutally killed. Hoodlums and political touts unleashed mayhem on Kalabari indigenes who support their son, Chief Isokariari. People were running for their dear lives.

In 2003 general election, something mysterious happened as Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the flagbearer of the defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) surrendered barely three (3) days to the gubernatorial election. This gave Peter Odili a smooth sail to another fresh tenure in the Brick House.

Though several groups namely: The Kegema Unity Forum (KUF), Kalika and Kalabari Ene Bate are working seriously to actualize the dream of a kalabari man becoming a governor in 2015.

KUF is under the watchful eye of Comrade Sobomabo Jackrich, Kalika is headed by Mr. Ijuye Dagogo, while Kalabari Enebate is under the control of Chief Hon. Ombo Benibo. These three (3) socio-political associations doubtlessly are projecting a Kalabari governor come 2015.

The basic hurdles facing them are lack of financial resources, inability to reach out to other ethnic nationalities and several others.

With the current political events within and outside the state, the question now arises: Is it possibility for a Kalabari man to become a governor of Rivers State in 2015? Nobody can answer this but time will tell. ###

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