- Over successors
By Ohia Israel
Five state governors are said to be in cold war with the first Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, over an alleged planned imposition of those that will succeed them come 2015.
As gathered the states are Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Bauchi, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers, it is also believed that the First Lady has anointed some aspirants for the governorship tickets.
According to a National Daily not DESERT HERALD, a highly-placed source with deep insight into the challenges facing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: “We have a crisis at hand, pitching some governors against the First Lady. It is a cold war which will soon become a major one, if President Goodluck Jonathan does not intervene.
“Even Bayelsa, the President’s state, is not spared the looming crisis.
Narrating further the paper said that in Bayelsa State, the First Lady is said to be backing the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic and Social Events, Dr. Waripomowei Dudafa, for governor of the state. But Governor Seriake Dickson’s supporters are believed to be unhappy with the push for Dudafa, a plot that has become public knowledge.
Dudafa was Commissioner for Local Government under former Governor Timipre Sylva. He was to be nominated as Dickson’s running mate in the last election, until the decision was changed.
“In spite of denial by the Office of the First Lady, there is already a campaign office in Bayelsa for Dudafa called ‘The New Dawn.’ This is a derivative of The New Phase, which was Sylva’s campaign structure,” the source, who pleaded not to be named because of what he called sensitivity of the matter, said.
Dudafa’s purported endorsement has created tension, such that some Bayelsans are having a rethink on their support for the President, it was learnt. The source said as a sign of this, the large turnout of party members and Bayelsans welcoming the First Lady to the state has shrunk.
Dickson, however, said Dudafa’s candidacy is a mere “rumour”. He does not think the First Lady is working towards supplanting him. But Bayelsa is not the only state where the First Lady’s influence has sparked a cold war.
In Akwa Ibom, the First Lady is alleged to be teaming up with ex-Governor Victor Attah to back the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Umana Okon Umana, from Uyo Senatorial District on the state as Akpabio’s successor.
Umana’s candidature is against the state’s zoning formula and power rotation pact. Akpabio is said to be unhappy about this.
Eket zone is favoured to produce the next governor, Umana is from Uyo district that produced Attah. The governor is said to favour the SSG, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, although commissioners for Justice and Local Government are also in the race.
In Rivers State, Mrs. Jonathan is alleged to be interested in installing Senator George Thompson Sekibo, her kinsman from Okrika, as governor. There are fears that the First Lady may dump Minister of Education Nyesom Wike who has been the arrowhead of the “gang-up” against Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Said a source: “Many stakeholders are not happy that Wike, an Ikwere man like Amaechi, might be sacrificed in the end after leading the anti-Amaechi battle. “The party is also thinking of facing a dilemma in Rivers State because power ought to shift to Rivers Southeast, which include the Ogoni and the Kalabari.” The thinking in Delta State is that the First Lady has sympathy for a woman as Uduaghan’s successor.
It was learnt that there is a plan to use Delta State for the experiment to produce the first woman governor. The source said: “The anointed candidate is the Chief Executive of NSITF, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme. “We learnt that a former minister and the wife of a former chairman of the PDP have been recruited to make a case for Olojeme,” another source said.
In Bauchi, Governor Isa Yuguda is opposed to plans by the First Lady to impose the Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, as governor. “We may witness a repeat of what happened in Bauchi State in 2007 if Mohammed is eventually made the candidate without Yuguda’s support. The opposition will gain from it,” said the source, who pleaded not to be named.
“Yuguda wants to produce his successor and the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, may not allow him because this is his own opportunity to take control of affairs in his state,” the source added.
Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State is battling to convince the party to pick his successor. One of those believed to be in Orji’s consideration is the General Manager of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), Aba Zone, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
But the First Lady might choose between an oil magnate and a retired military chief, although the businessman is rated higher. “The First Lady’s mother is from Abia State; she sees herself as a stakeholder in the state,” the source said.
In Kwara State, Mrs Jonathan’s preference for Senator Gbemisola Saraki is creating tension in the party. Some stakeholders plan to work for the All Progressives Congress (APC), if the popular wish is not respected. The First Lady’s Media Assistant Mr. Ayo Adewuyi, in an electronic mail to our correspondent’s enquiry yesterday, said: “The First Lady has no plan and she is not planning to install any governor.
“There are party processes for primaries and election of governorship candidates and, to the best of my knowledge she is not a member of the party organs responsible for that. It is, therefore, another calculated attempt by mischief makers to use her name for their selfish interests.
“It is also expedient to state clearly that the First Lady does not meddle in the affairs and selection process of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Consequently, there is no way she can dictate or install anybody in political offices. In the case of Rivers State, the First Lady wishes to state categorically that the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, is the leader of the PDP in Rivers State and he enjoys the followership of the people of the state. The First Lady is solidly behind Chief Wike. The people of Rivers State are also solidly behind Chief Wike and are prepared to follow him.
“It is, therefore, mischievous to insinuate that Mrs. Jonathan is working to ensure that the governorship candidate comes from one of the riverine areas of Rivers State, which may not be where the people are going. It is also imperative to state that the First Lady is always with the people and will continue to go with the wish and expectations of the people. Mrs. Jonathan has not withdrawn her support for Chief Wike at any time and will always work for the interest and the good of Rivers people.
“The First Lady is also portrayed as positioning some other candidates to take over from the incumbents in Bayelsa and Bauchi States in an attempt to pitch them against the governors. “Dr. Waripomowei Dudafa is not only a son to the President, but his employee and very close to the family. Dr Dudafa is not ready to quit his job to contest the governorship election. Similarly, the FCT Minister has been a competent and loyal appointee of Mr. President. Both of them are loyal to Mr. President and their governors.
“They are sons of the First Lady, as the mother of the nation, who also has very cordial relationship with the governors in question and will never interfere in any process that will lead to the emergence of governorship candidates in the states.
Meanwhile, a statement by the First Lady recently, has said that she is solidly behind the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, to take over from the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, in 2015. The statement also claimed that the people of the state are solidly behind Wike and are prepared to follow him.
Though she claimed that she does not meddle in the process of selecting candidates for the ruling People’s Democratic Party, the President’s wife described Wike’s ambition as faith accomplished. She was reacting to a news report that indicated that she was planning to install three governors in Bauchi, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
The statement read, “While we consider this a figment of the imagination of the writers of the spurious story, it is also expedient to state clearly that the First Lady does not meddle in the affairs and selection process of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Consequently, there is no way she can dictate or install anybody into political offices. In the case of Rivers State, the First Lady wishes to state categorically that the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, is the leader of PDP in Rivers State and he enjoys the followership of the people of the State. The First Lady is solidly behind Chief Wike. The people of Rivers State are also solidly behind Chief Wike and are prepared to follow him.
She described the report that she has abandoned Wike as the handiwork of those she called mischief makers who are bent on promoting bickering and animosity among people who have always been together working for the improvement of Rivers State, saying such should be discountenanced.
“Mrs. Jonathan appeals to the governors of Bayelsa and Bauchi States to ignore the mischief makers who are bent on disrupting the peace prevailing in those states. The First Lady is a mother of peace who believes in the supremacy of the party and democratic principles at all levels and does not dump her friends because of politics, whether they are contesting or not. She therefore, urges all Nigerians to uphold the truth at all times, and not be swayed by actions of mischief makers,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Leader of the defunct Niger-Delta People’s Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo, has frowned at the recent comment by First Lady, Patience Jonathan that she would ensure Nyesom Wike become the next governor of Rivers State.
The Activist vowed that any attempt to impose the supervising Minister of Education on the people of Rivers State would jeopardize Jonathan’s political career.
“To make Wike a governor in Rivers State in 2015 is not morally right. All the fellows endorsing him for whatever reason should know that it will injure PDP, it will injure Goodluck Jonathan. If Goodluck’s name is brought into it, that he is in support of the perpetuation of an Ikwere hegemony in Rivers State, which is not right by population, which is not right under any calculation, it will injure him and PDP,” Dokubo warned in a recent chat with newsmen.
Reacting to the First Lady’s assertion, Dokubo declared that Wike cannot become the next governor of the state. According to him, an Ikwerre man has no business in Rivers Government House in 2015, adding that it would amount to political suicide for PDP to field Wike in the next election.
He voiced his conviction thus, “As far as we all know, there are three ethnic clusters in Rivers State: the Ijaws, the Igbos (Ikwerre is part of the Igbo cluster) and the Ogonis. After Bayelsa was excised from Rivers State, the Igbos have ruled for many years. Odili was an Idoni Igbo; he ruled for eight years. Omehia/Amaechi, who are also Ikwerres, by 2015 would have ruled for more than eight years, making over 16 years,” he explained. Dokubo insisted that it is impossible for an Ikwerre man to succeed Governor Rotimi Amaechi who is also from that region.
Hear him, “It is morally wrong for any anybody to say that Igbo cluster should produce the next governor in 2015. I am an Igbo man also, by virtue of my origin, and so I am not against the Ikwerre people or against the Igbo. I repeat, I am an Igbo man; I can narrow it down: I have Ikwerre blood flowing in my veins.
“Having said that, the next cluster are the Ijaws, made up of the Kalabaris, the Obolo and Ibani people, the Wakrike; Okirika is just one town in Wakrike, Ukoro and others. These people have produced a governor. In terms of local government spread, they are in 11 local government areas out of the 23 local government areas; the Igbos are spread in eight and the Ogonis in four local government areas.
“In terms of population, when you remove the cosmopolitan population of Port Harcourt and Obiakpor, which is about 80 per cent of the population, is non-indigenous of those local governments. That is old non-Rivers indigenes and Rivers indigenes, who are not indigenes of Port Harcourt and Obiakpor Local Governments. If you remove those populations, the Ijaws are the majority as a single block.
“When you look at that, for somebody to say another Ikwerre man should become governor is wrong. Yes, constitutionally, he has a right to aspire, everybody is free to aspire, but it is not moral, it is not right. Something can be legally right but it might not be morally right,” he added.
However, the First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has refuted media report suggesting that she is maneuvering politically to install three aspiring governorship candidates in Bauchi, Bayelsa and Rivers States in the 2015 general polls.