…Dickson can’t compare with me in terms of development—Wike
…Wike should stop interfering with Bayelsa politics– Dickson
…PDP faces tight rope in S’South with Bayelsa loss
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta
NOT a few were stunned at the recent eruption of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State against his Bayelsa State counterpart, Governor Seriake Dickson, who he lambasted among other things for visiting a monarch in Kalabari Kingdom, Rivers state, without the courtesy of notifying Government House, Port-Harcourt.
However, the fact that the visit under question took place in April, while his outburst came seven months after, the actual reason becomes confusing to those unaware of the undercurrents, but to those familiar with the intrigues, Wike’s outburst was not strange.
Both governors employed the age-long dispute between the two states over oil fields/wells (Soku, Rivers and Oluasiri, Bayelsa) as diversionary tactics to bamboozle the people, but they and other leaders of their party, People Democratic Party, PDP, know the real problem.
Dickson returns fire for fire
Wike actually drew the first draw blood when he launched a blistering attack on Dickson, who in response accused his Rivers colleague of deliberately inciting disunity in Ijawland in pursuit of a clandestine ethnic supremacist agenda in the politics of Rivers State.
“I want it recorded that Governor Wike is deliberately inciting disunity in Ijaw land because of his ethnic supremacist political agenda which he knows that Bayelsa, particularly Governor Dickson and my agenda will not support. That’s what he is doing.” Dickson also used the opportunity to debunk Wike’s allegation that he visited the Amanyanabo of Kalabari without following protocol, saying that he made sustained efforts to contact Wike without success and directed his Chief of Staff and the ADC to speak to their counterparts in Rivers, who promised to inform their boss of the impending trip, which they did.
Describing Wike in derogatory terms, Dickson, a former police officer and lawmaker said, “The governor of our neighbouring state, Governor Wike of Rivers State, who by the way is used to making careless remarks from time to time, went into his usual habit some few days ago. Let me put it on record, this is the first time I will formally respond to Wike in this formal way. I have always ignored with pain and regret all the previous vituperation and his attempt to belittle and intimidate this state and our leadership.
“His unfriendliness towards this state is not hidden. It is not just me, it is about our state and our people, he has done that a couple of times but I decided to stomach it for several reasons. Also, my involvement in the affairs of the Niger Delta and my commitment to the well-being of our people, made me to always shy away from having open confrontations with a brother governor, particularly of his state that is so closely tied to our state.
“Wike should stop interfering with the politics of Bayelsa State, you all know what he did in the PDP primaries and the roles he played supporting the APC in their federal takeover of our state, there are so many things he has been doing that I keep quiet about.
“Wike should learn to respect his colleagues for whom he has shown scant regards, not just for me, and Bayelsa. He is having oil wars with every state around him, with Imo and Akwa Ibom states. What is wrong with him?” Dickson added.
Wike opens up
With Dickson’s scathing response, Wike unleashed his withheld venom; “Oshiomhole said he (Dickson) used N100b to construct an airport, but he said it is N70b. He is leaving office in the next one and half months and the airport is not working. Dickson cannot in all ramifications compare with me in terms of development.” He said for a small state like Bayelsa, it was wrong for the outgoing governor to expend N70 billion on an uncompleted airport, when Bayelsa lacks good roads and basic Infrastructure. Speaking further on Dickson’s allegation that he was interfering in Bayelsa politics, Wike said before Dickson became governor, it was the national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus and King Turner that brought him (Dickson) to receive his (Governor Wike’s ) support.
Alleging that Bayelsa Governor was never committed to the PDP all through the elections, Wike said: “We are the only state in the South-South where President Muhammadu Buhari never got 25 percent. Buhari got 45 percent in Bayelsa state. So who colluded with whom? It is now that Dickson has realised that they played him. All those nocturnal promises were not kept. I challenge Dickson to ask his candidate, Senator Douye Diri the contributions I made. Is it because I did not pass it through him?
“Dickson planned for PDP to fail elections and he is now crying federal might. He assumed the role of God, nobody could tell him anything. During his second term election, people resisted the army, but this time, they left him alone. You cannot accord former President Goodluck Jonathan respect. Simply because Rivers state honoured Jonathan, Dickson became angry.
“Dickson concluded plans to join the APC but Timipre Silva and Heineken Lokpobiri blocked him. He knew I have strength, he would have consulted me but Dickson colluded with these people, so that EFCC will not arrest him when he leaves government. If you like, carry any level of propaganda; I will protect the interest of Rivers state.”
The governor stated that through the poor leadership of the Bayelsa state governor, the PDP Governors Forum and the PDP South-South Governors Forum failed.
The actual motive
Findings by Saturday Vanguard show that Wike’s anger against Dickson was caused by the latter’s shoddy handling of PDP affairs in Bayelsa and its subsequent loss to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the November 16, 2019 governorship election. The loss was not only a big blow to the PDP, which had been in control of the South-South since the return to civil rule in 1999, but also a letdown to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
PDP, which used to be in control of six states of the South-South lost Edo state when the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, snatched the state about 11 years ago, and the party was determined not to lose any other South-South state, but to retake Edo state, only for Dickson to commit blunder.
With the “capture” of Bayelsa, making APC to have two states and leaving PDP with four states, APC tacticians in the South-South, who praised Minister of State (Petroleum), Timipre Sylva, for his doggedness, are hopeful that they can exert the same prowess to take over either Delta, Akwa-Ibom or Cross River state in 2023.
A PDP chieftain in Bayelsa state confided in our reporter that, “This is the real reason why Wike is livid with Dickson. Truly, Dickson’s covetousness and his disdain for those that propelled him to power, believing he could go it alone turned out to be the undoing of the PDP at the poll. He practically foisted his candidate, Senator Douye Diri on the party through a flawed primary designed to actualize his ambition as against the wish of majority of the party stakeholders, including ex-President Jonathan.
“To make matters worse, he again forced his candidate in the person of Senator Lawrence Ewhrujakpor on the party as the running mate to Diri.
Dickson thought he could go it alone.
“Dickson, apparently buoyed by the confidence that he survived the 2015 governorship election described as one of the bloodiest in the annals of the state believed he could go it all alone and enthrone his successor.
“He, however, failed to realize that his victory in 2015 was due to the sentiment among the people that it will be an embarrassment for the PDP to lose at the centre with an Ijaw son as President and lose at the home front. Perhaps, the bitter feud between Wike and Dickson could have been avoided if the former had allowed stakeholders have their way during the September 3 primary of the party that produced Senator Douye Diri,” he said.
Aggrieved party chieftains told Saturday Vanguard, “The primary was designed to favour Diri, Dickson’s anointed candidate, as against many of the stakeholders’ choice, Chief Timi Alaibe, whose popularity and acceptability cuts across the various segments of the state.
“Former President Jonathan, who though did not openly endorse any of the aspirants jostling for the party ticket was favourably disposed to an Alaibe candidature. However, Dickson, according to informed sources, had zeroed in on Diri as his successor having worked closely with him over the years.
Refused pleas from OBJ, Jonathan
He reportedly shunned entreaties from former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other prominent Nigerians to support Alaibe. In a leaked audio recording that went viral, Dickson said he does not reward disloyalty and only governorship aspirants from his Restoration Caucus will succeed him.
Checks revealed that traducers of the governor have exploited his refusal of shift grounds to put the blame of the party’s defeat at the doorsteps of his Restoration Caucus, (Dickson political family).
Members of the group, who are mainly aides of the governor, regarded themselves as more PDP than those outside its fold, regardless of the consequences of their action on the fortunes of the party.
The leadership of the PDP in the state, which could have ensured that party supremacy reign over individual interest within its fold, watched helplessly, ostensibly because the governor foisted it on the entire members.
Thus, the chair and other executive members of the party looked the other way and egged on the Restoration Caucus when things were going bad. Dickson became so powerful that he decided who got his patronage. The Restoration family also boasted that the governor’s successor must come from within its fold, thereby precluding other gubernatorial aspirants considered outsiders irrespective of the sacrifice they made for the party when many of the Restoration Caucus members were nowhere in the PDP structure.
To some PDP chieftains, Dickson caused the loss of the state to APC after PDP’s dominance in the past 20 years because he imposed Senator Douye Diri on the party through a flawed primary designed to throw up the latter.
According to analysts, the people voted overwhelmingly for APC because Dickson, as Diri’s sponsor, did not show sufficient respect to Jonathan. In the first instance, Dickson did not consult with the political leader about Diri’s candidature. He just picked him in a stage-managed primary, aware that Jonathan was also interested in a different candidate, they claimed.
The last straw
Many stakeholders were not impressed with the process that produced Diri, making many faithful to dump the party. A large number of the party field commanders and tacticians moved to the opposition party while several others who chose to stay back were indifferent to the party during the election.
Even in the face of seeming trouble, Dickson was still boastful, saying that the defections to other political parties would have little effect on the fortunes of PDP on November 16.
Unruffled by the turn of events in the party, the PDP under Dickson watch was still upbeat about party victory at the governorship poll with or without those defecting to the APC, insisting that Bayelsa was a PDP state.
He boasted; “I led a party to victory against a vicious opposition. I alone can lead PDP to battle, I have done it repeatedly.”
Dickson’s intransigence that he could overcome the mines on the path of the PDP without other stakeholders and deliver his anointed candidate, no doubt, presented the state to the APC on a platter of gold.
We gathered that Wike and other PDP leaders who realized the prognosis expected the national chair of the party, Uche Secondus, to have taken steps in the overall interest of the party to stop Dickson’s imposition of gubernatorial candidate and disrespect to ex-President Jonathan, Obasanjo and others, who intervened, but the leadership pretended as if nothing was amiss.
According to our source, “His outburst was out of anger over the party’s loss of Bayelsa, and because of his disenchantment with the national leadership that took no action when it mattered most, he stated that their intervention in the feud between him and Wike was not welcomed. It’s like crying after the milk has been spilled when they were in the position to act, but did nothing.”