By Akanimo Sampson
THE frosty political relations between Transportation Minister Chibuike Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe, is generating severe heat in the Ogoni axis of Rivers State, with Ogoni elders openly warning the minister against aborting their governorship bid in 2019.
The obviously angry Ogoni elders are bracing for war against the minister and the All Progressives Congress (APC), alleging that their area has been systematically excluded from juicy positions of power.
Amaechi is said to be favouring the riverine bloc of the state to produce the next governor on the platform of the APC. His favourite political associate for the job is the NIMASA Director=General Dakuku Peterside.
The Ogoni are not willing to yield to the minister, warning that APC risks rejection in their territory. The Ogoni are a people of 500 000, with an area of 650 square kilometers, resulting in a very high population density. Notwithstanding, the fertility of the area allowed them to make a good living as subsistence farmers and fishing people.
But, this lifestyle has been threatened by oil pollution. According to the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), ‘’the once-beautiful Ogoni countryside is no more a source of fresh air and green vegetation. All one sees and feels around is death.’’
The threat to the Ogoni people started when the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, discovered oil there in 1958. Since independence in 1960 the Ogoni situation is yet to improve – being a minority ethnic group. They have never had an effective say in Nigerian politics.
Analysts however, say one of the factors hampering the Ogoni struggle is the organisation of the Nigerian state. Historically, the Nigerian region has been dominated by three large ethnic groups – the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Ibo. The post-colonial history of Nigeria has been marked by massive instability, including a number of coups, as a result of conflict between ethnic groups.
Accordingly, MOSOP elders are expressing concern, and branding reports credited to Amaechi vowing to truncate the Ogoni governorship quest by stopping Senator Abe and enthroning a riveriner as governor of Rivers in 2019.
Secretary of the MOSOP Council of Elders, Bari-ara Kpalap said the minister was allegedly insisting that it was not yet the turn of Ogoni to become governor of the state.
‘’This is most unfortunate. We are therefore, calling on Amaechi to jettison his hateful and oppressive stance against the Ogoni people. We will also like to warn that the APC risks rejection in Ogoni if it fails to heed this advice’’, the Ogoni elders said.
The rest of their political testimony went thus: ‘’We condemn the transport minister’s ignoble position. The stance would not have mattered to us but for his adopted divisive, acrimonious and dangerous methodology in the attempt to scuttle our political dream. Having earlier agreed to, and reassured Ogoni leaders at a meeting of his support for the Ogoni governorship drive, the U-turn demonstrates crass double-standard, reflecting unreliability.
‘’It is also a devious stab to pitch Ogoni against our riverine brothers. However, we are encouraged by the fact that Ogoni destiny is not in Amaechi’s hands. We recall that the ex-governor weathered tremendous opposition to his gubernatorial ambition, yet he became governor of the state.
‘’Former governors Rufus Ada George and Dr. Peter Odili likewise experienced similar fate but they triumphed. Since Amaechi is not God but merely playing God, he cannot reverse God’s resolve.
‘’It is on record that the erstwhile governor of Rivers State at a meeting with Ogoni leaders held in Government House, Port Harcourt in December 2014 swore to support and champion the campaign for an Ogoni governor of the state after the 2015 gubernatorial election. The meeting was held in relation to the failure of the APC to allow an Ogoni contest the 2015 governorship poll as the party’s candidate, which was traced to the resistance of ex-governor Chibuike Amaechi.
‘’In attendance were but not limited to King G.N.K. Gininwa, King Barnabas Bagia, MOSOP president, Legborsi Pyagbara, KAGOTE president, Dr. Peter Medee, Senator Abe, Chief (Hon.) Lebari Mwara, Hon. Barry Mpigi, Hon. Maurice Poronen, Chief Victor Giadom, Hon. Innocent Barikor, Prof. Sam Nwideedu, Prof. Barineme Fakae, Justice Peter Akere (late), Prince Biira and Comrade Menele Nziidee”, Kpalap said.
‘’The minister, we must say, has gravely goofed and a man who speaks from the two sides of his month is more dangerous than danger hence the Ogoni people must be smart and respond adequately to the challenge if we must halt external dictate and ensure our political liberation. It is saddening that the fact that since the creation of Rivers, no Ogoni, in the face of acknowledged, unsurpassed quality, has not held the position of Governor, Deputy Governor, Chief Judge and Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, yet former governor Amaechi insultingly and spitefully considers Ogoni unripe.
‘’This appalling, repressive and spiteful political war being waged by Amaechi against Ogoni, without doubt, is an exterior trial to our political leap and Ogoni must bravely resist it. However, his stance clearly unmask an ethnic script aimed at crippling the cohesive wings of the Rivers State chapter of APC by dividing and weakening the party against effective challenge to win back the state’s governorship seat in 2019 knowing fully well that APC would not avail its governorship ticket to an Ikwerre. This strategy satisfies their ethnic blueprint of holding on to power for a long time in the state to engender satisfying consolidation of political, economic and social domination of other ethnic nationalities in the state without regard to implications.
‘’It was this same abiding compliance with the said ethnic agenda and personal hatred for Ogoni that informed his influencing APC’s choice and fielding a minority in minority as its gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 Rivers State governorship election, a contest that community, political numerical strength was an added advantage. No wonder the party was roundly defeated. Similar situation is looming and unless the party shakes off the transportation minister’s menace, this sad political history may be repeated.’’