Interviews

2015: Chief Fred Alasia Opens Up On Rivers Guber

ALASIAQuestion: Sir, what is your name?

Answer: My name is Chief Frederick Sunday Alasia. I am a Chief made from my village.

Question: Are you a titled Chief Sir?

Answer: I am a titled chief, recognized in my community.

Question: Sir, can you give us a little bit of your profile?

Answer: I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Superior, USA, Bachelors, Masters in 1981 and I’ve been very much involved in Rivers State politics.

I’m the only man alive that has produced two governors. I was the secretary to Zebulon Abule’s Campaign Organization and you know he won before power above disqualified him. I was the executive secretary of the Restoration Team that brought Dr. Peter Odili to power. There is no other person in Rivers   State that has done it twice. By providence, I was executive secretary of Odili’s Restoration Team and Abule. Though there were   other people working, but I was also involved in the process.

Question: Sir, you were the former Chief of Staff under whom?

Answer: I was the first Chief of Staff in Rivers State under Dr. Peter Odili.

Question: There is some level of tension in the State now over which area should produce the successor to the incumbent governor. Some say upland, riverine and vice versa. What is your position on this?

Answer: My position is simple. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 169(B) says that a governor can only be nominated or become a governor on the basis of spread and what is spread? It means zoning.

Let me give you an example. Take the whole Kalabari 3 LGAs, Ikwerre3½ LGs and Ogoni 4 LGs. If they all agreed and voted on zoning to favour a person, that candidate will lose because they do not have the spread to secure electoral victory. Spread again means if you spread butter on bread, it goes all around. It is written there in the constitution as amended in 1999, so there is no National   Common Entrance. It is simple, straightforward. Those who are arguing against want to deceive themselves.

Question: You know in the country today, the states have three senatorial districts, Rivers West produced Governor Odili. Rivers East has the incumbent governor, Chibuike Amaechi and Omehia was in the saddle for few months and if you consider Chief Rufus Ada-George from same senatorial district, what is your take on the clamour for Rivers South-East Senatorial District to produce the next governor?

Answer: It is their turn, because the West has produced, the East has produced; it is now the turn of the South-East. Now I want to point out one thing, that is in relation to the Ogonis.

The Ogoni group should leave it, because a Caretaker Chairman is a Chairman. Was Ken Saro Wiwa not appointed sole administrator of Bonny territory which extended to Netugbene? So he was the first governor, on the principle that caretaker committee chairman is a chairman.   Ukpabi Asika was sole administrator of Enugu territory, will he say he was not a governor? Let us not deceive ourselves it will come back to them again, so that there is equity.

I have looked at the situation at this state during Odili’s campaign. Odili came from Rivers West and APP brought Ebenezer Isokariari from the same Rivers West. Odili chose his deputy from Opobo, while Ebenezer chose his from Gokana. Rivers people endorsed Odili and he won the election. What is causing the friction is greed. Some argue that it has to come from their side and so on and so forth if not they will be too old by the time the rotation comes back to their zone.

Question: So what you’re saying is that Ikwerre is out of the contest?

Answer: Ikwerre is totally out. I mean, how can Obio/Akpor produce a governor after Ikwerre LGA? Ikwerre ethnic nationality has 3½ LGAs. They have to discuss with others, you understand.

What I see the Ikwerre fight over is Ishi Mbam and Azu Mbam politics. You know that it is the only politics going on between them. There is the northern part of Ikwerre that has produced the governor. In the House of Assembly, one Ishi Mbam man has flogged an Azu Mbam man. In the Judiciary, they say Azu Mbam woman, “You, take over!”and the Ishi Mbam man said no. Wike says Ishi Mbam man has become governor and he too wants to become governor. Did we escort Ikwerre to this world?

Let’s see the demarcation between Azu Mbam and Ishi Mbam.

The people close to Port Harcourt are Azu Mbam, while the people further to Port Harcourt are Ishi Mbam. Have you heard of an Ahoada man fighting? Did you hear of an Opobo/Nkoro man fighting? No.

I know that some parts of Obio/Akpor like Ogbogoro and others are regarded as Azu Mbam.

What I am telling you is that what seems that there is trouble is just Ikwerre. It just happened like during the cult wars. Everybody took sides with some group. Was that not the crisis?

Question: You were part of the process, politically that brought Zebulon Abule and Dr. Odili on board, and the likes of Desmond Akawor came on board. What are your views about them?

Answer: Akawor was not part of the process. He just came in between.

Question: The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan handed Wike to Dr. Odili, leader of PDP in Rivers State. Having worked with Odili, what is your take?

Answer: After Abule, I worked for Odili. Odili is free to make his decisions, but if you look at history, I am surprised. Was it not this Wike during Esho panel that they nearly killed Odili? It is not long ago. Why should the First Lady handover Wike to Odili? It does not make sense. The first lady has no business in Rivers politics.

Question: What is your advice to the contenders in Rivers guber race?

Answer: The piece of advice is as follows: if you have never worked in the private or public sector for a minimum of 15 years, you are not qualified to run Rivers State, because if you are running an NGO or private business, and you’re the CEO, you would have collectively for a minimum of fifteen years, believing that you are leading people and a group.

Question: You said a while ago that the governorship position should go to Rivers South-East. Do you have anyone in mind?

Answer: No, but remember when you’re doing your analysis, the only people I said should step out are Ogonis because Saro Wiwa was Sole Administrator and former Commissioner for Education in the Old Rivers State. He empowered all Ogoni people in a scholarship scheme abroad and they are still reaping the benefits. You cannot deny it.

Look, if certain things did not happen, we won’t know the truth. The Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro axis should produce the   next governor for fairness and equity. A clear understanding is that the Kalabaris will emerge after the Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro must have produced and the Deputy will come from Ogoni and this will correct the zoning arrangement.

Question: Some have said, the State should not be run along ethnic lines; that the tenets of democracy should allowed to evolve around. What is your take, Sir?

Answer: There is no country in this world that is made up of ethnic nationalities that does not have this type of zoning arrangement.

Question: Let me go back. How do you know that this person is not qualified?

Answer: Throughout primary school in respect to leadership, you were not made a monitor. You went to secondary school, they didn’t see any leadership in you, because you were not made a prefect. You went through university, and there is no sign of leadership quality in you.

The leadership potentials in human beings are not hidden. What we have now is (RIG) Rat in Government. They just want to “thief”!

It is clear and straight. Kalabari, forget it. Ikwerre, forget it. Ogoni forget it. A lot of Ikwerres believe it is not their turn, otherwise so many Ikwerre people would have vied, but they know it is not right. What I am saying is like Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colours”. Every piece is small, but you can sow it together to get a beautiful cloth.

Nyesom Wike, leave this thing. You started at local government. The name of your local government is Obio/Akpor. After you finished, the chairmanship of your LGA should have gone to Akpor. You gave it to your own brother instead. Is that what you want to replicate in Rivers State?

Question: Rivers State is very complex. Don’t you think leadership should go to those who appreciate, other than zoning?

Answer:   I told you that the Nigerian Constitution, section 169(B) talks about spread. Look, me that is speaking, I’m from Ahoada-West, riverine area of Ahoada-West LGA. We say we are riverine, they say no, we are not salt water, so on that basis, let the truth be told. This man that is coming, this man that wants to be governor, has he worked?

In the Nigerian society, there is what I call…

Yoruba is Yoruba. Did the Yoruba defeat the Bini? Did the Binis defeat the Ibos at war? Did the Ibos defeat the Igalas, and did any tribe in Rivers defeat the Engennis in any war? No, so we are dealing as equals. The fundamental word of equality is spread.

Question: Why is the emphasis not on development of Rivers State, but where the person comes from?

Answer: Emphasis is about development of Rivers State. If you have not worked for up to 15years, get out. How can somebody do monorail? If you want to take it straight, you will destroy the flyover. If you take it to Ikwerre road you will discuss with railway and discuss with the Federal Government. If you take it along Ikwerre road, you will destroy houses and discuss with the Police authority, which is Federal Government. Where did you plan for it to go? Because at some point you will definitely discuss with Federal Government. Why take action and think everyone will fall in line?

Question: What is your advice to the would-be governor in 2015?

Answer: I don’t have any advice, when the man if he wants to be a governor and has worked for at least 15years with experience, he is already set in his way, so it is easy to advice. We will discuss responsibly. Look at Shekarau, a teacher; Ada-George worked in Shell, but when your first appointment is governor, it will not help us. If it is your father’s business, will you give it to someone who is new?

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