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Ijaw leaders split over support for kinsman Peterside in guber race

By Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt
09 April 2015   |   9:06 am
AHEAD of Saturday’s governorship election in Rivers State, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Rivers Elders and Leadership Council (RELEC) have endorsed the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dakuku Peterside.

IjawAHEAD of Saturday’s governorship election in Rivers State, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Rivers Elders and Leadership Council (RELEC) have endorsed the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dakuku Peterside.

The two groups hinged their endorsement of Peterside, an Ijaw, on the need to sustain the rotation of power between the upland and riverine parts of Rivers State in order to ensure equity, fairness and justice.

Citing a resolution reached in October 2013, June and September 2014 respectively, the INC President, Boma Obuoforibo, said the council had resolved to endorse only a governorship candidate of Ijaw extraction without prejudice to political party, in the spirit of fairness, good faith and good conscience which have guided Rivers people in electing past leaders.

The INC at a press conference in Port Harcourt yesterday explained that in line with the time honoured principle of power rotation, it has decided to endorse Peterside of the APC as the preferred qualified candidate of all.

“We urge all Ijaw people of Rivers State and appeal to our Rivers brethren in the upland parts of Rivers State to cast your votes for Dr. Dakuku Peterside. Ijaw people have, in the past 16 years, made sacrifices for the corporate cohesion of our dear state because we have held firmly to the belief that Rivers State is greater than each of its component parts and certainly greater than any individual,” he said.

A mild fracas however broke at the venue of the event shortly after the INC leadership had finished endorsement of Peterside. A group of Ijaw leaders from Ogu/Bolo and Okrika Local Government Areas of the State kicked against the INC decision. They argued that the choice of Peterside was not unanimous.

RELEC chairman and former national director, State Security Services, Mr. Albert Horsefall, said the choice of Peterside, is based on equity fairness, owing to the fact that the riverine area of the State has not produced a governor since 1999. He also insisted that the the State cannot afford to remain in opposition to the Federal Government.

“Therefore it is the considered directives and advice of the RELEC elders that all Rivers people should vote Dakuku Peterside for governor. And accordingly urge Peterside and all other Riverine candidates to enter into immediate consultations to collaborate in order to avoid splitting the votes for single riverine Candidates” said Horsefall.

He explained that Rivers State does not need another all-powerful authoritative Governor who will drive the state as his personal estate, that everyone shall have to look up to for existence and survival, such as the State has had in the past. According to him, all that Rivers State needs is a Governor of this state that could be held accountable to the citizens?

“Has it or has it not been the tradition in this State that we do not allocate the principal offices of the State Authority, e.g. Governor, Federal Minister, Chief Judge to persons from the same ethnic community? That is what would likely happen if you vote in another Ikwerre, as Governor of the State. Governor Rotimi Amaechi is very likely to bag a major job at the Federal Level, and we strongly appeal to the President Elect to give him a very important job at the center, such that would reward us and enable us share the benefit of the Federal Largesse which we richly deserve but has eluded us in the past six years,” he said.

On the outcome of the just concluded presidential election, Horsefall, said the people of the Niger Delta must not goad or encourage youths to project or be involved in more acts of lawlessness, violence or defiance. He explained that all the region needs now is to make friends and negotiate from her position of strength with her natural wealth and talent to get the most out of the country.

“Now that the north has shown that zoning should be thrown overboard! We, along with our other brothers of the Niger Delta should seriously bargain to receive the 21 % derivation which eluded us at the national conference,” he added.