Ahead of 2023, the Ogoni and Kalabari ethnic nationalities in Rivers State have merged in order to wrestle power from the upland section of the state which has held sway at the helm of affairs in the State.
They are currently realigning and have agreed to a treaty to work together to ensure that power rotates to the Riverine section of the state in the next political dispensation.
Leader of Sociopolitical Pressure Group, Kengema Unity Forum, Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich who led other stakeholders of the Kalabari Kingdom at the strategic meeting between the two ethnic groups held in Degema Local Government Area, said the glaring realities of political marginalization and lopsided development of the state has informed the need for the Ogonis and the Kalabaris to work together to achieve their political and economic freedom.
According to him, “It is however, unfortunate that the Ogonis though, being part of the upland section of the state, and hosting several multinationals and also playing host to some of the nation’s key assets like the NNPC and a refinery, has been one of the worst hit in terms of environmental degradation, socioeconomic and political marginalization”.
However, according to the political history of the state in the past twenty two years, it will only be fair to consider the Riverine and most specifically, the Kalabaris to have a shot to occupy the Brick House in the next political dispensation of the state”.
“The Kengema Unity Forum which is the mouth piece of the Kalabari people, therefore seizes this medium to appeal to you our Ogoni brothers and sisters to lend us your support to enable us achieve this lofty height”.
“If God tarries, by His grace, at the end of two tenure of eight years, we also promise to rally round you to ensure that the Ogonis occupy the Brick House”.
“As I asserted earlier, the issue of upland/riverine power rotation has become very necessary following growing concerns of concentration of development in mostly a section of the state”.
“For instance, we have seen the construction of eight flyover bridges cited in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor”.
“It is however worrisome that non of the projects of such magnitude were captured in any budget of the state”.
“Governor Wike who has spent half of his lifetime in politics ought to know better that no matter the good motif behind carrying out a capital intensive project, government cannot unilaterally expend the resources of the state outside the fiscal policy framework or budgetary allocation for such project”.
“This singular act of the governor clearly shows that he does not seem to be under any form of obligation to give account to the people of the state on the way their collective resources are being recklessly expended on their behalf”.
“At what point did Governor Wike suddenly realize that Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor needed eight flyover bridges to be constructed in less than one year after he had meticulously crafted and submitted the 2021 budget on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly, which was passed into law afterwards? What was the urgency for?”
“Well, let me help us out here because I know the reason why he seem to be so much under pressure to cover the whole of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor with flyovers”.
“Sometime last year, Rivers People through the auspices of the Network for the Defense of Democracy and Good Governance – NDDGG, called out the Rivers State government to give account for funds worth 118Billion Naira withdrawn over Zenith Bank counter by officials of the Wike led state government, as published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC in the front page of the Nation’s Newspaper”.
“On that regard, the NDDGG wrote several letters to the state government demanding for accountability, but no response on the whereabouts of the said funds”.
“The NDDGG then dragged the state government to court over the matter of which is still pending before the court”.
“Meanwhile in its response, the state government has done everything humanly possible to hunt down members of the NDDGG by conceiving plans to frame me the leader of NDDGG and ours members up with criminal allegations in order to get us out of the way”.
“More so, as a way to desperately justify the expenditure of the said 118 Billion Naira, Governor Wike began construction of flowers everywhere in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor”.
“It does not matter how long it will take, but we believe that Governor Wike will give account to Rivers people whether he likes it or not”.
“The governor’s lopsided development was clearly demonstrated in the recent commissioning of Sakpenwa – Bori road. A project that is yet to be sixty percent completed”.
“With the enormous contributions of the Ogonis to the socioeconomic well-being of the state, it is sad that there’s no government presence in the Ogoni axis under the Wike led administration”.
“Only reputable firms like Julius Berger, Lubricks Construction Company and others, handle projects in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, but when carrying out projects in other LGAs of the state, the contracts will be awarded to friends and allies for political patronage, then they would in turn sublet these contracts to local artisans and manual labourers who do not have any track record of expertise”.
On his part, Ex-warlord and freedom fighter, Mujahid Asari Dokubo said political freedom of the two major ethnic groups of the state was inevitable as they have agreed to work in synergy.
He urged the people to be resolute and steadfast to ensure that power rotates to the riverine, adding that the fit will not be attained without being willing to make sacrifices.
On their part, Ogoni Stakeholders including the leader of Ogoni Liberation Initiative, Reverend Dr Fabike Douglas, President, South South Youth Initiative, Saviour Oscar, Human Rights Activist, Barr Isaiah Kenwi in their response agreed to work together with the Kalabaris saying so far as the future was well defined.
They expressed regrets that despite the numerous contributions of the two major ethnic groups to the socioeconomic well-being of the state, there was no government presence in their areas.
The event was attended by respected traditional rulers, women groups, religious leaders, youth associations and captains of industry from both ethnic groups.
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