By Omeiza Ajayi
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress APC in Rivers state, Prince Tonye Princewill has slammed the state governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike for threatening sanctions against the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King Theophilus J.T Princewill, Amachree XI, over the visit of the Bayelsa state Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson to the kingdom in April this year.
This was as Gov. Dickson explained his visit to the kingdom, saying he was there to commiserate with the families of Ijaw people who lost their lives in the 2019 general elections.
In a statement signed by Achi William-Wobodo on behalf of Princewill and made available to Saturday Vanguard in Abuja yesterday, the former governorship candidate said Gov. Wike was disturbed as a result of the fact that his antecedents were about to catch up with him.
The governor had while addressing visiting Kalabaris leaders at Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday alleged that the monarch deliberately allowed the outgoing Bayelsa Governor to use him to promote divisiveness, as cold war lingers between both states over ownership of the Soku and Kula oil wells in some boundary communities.
Princewill said although he had resolved never to again join issues with the governor, but not when his actions and inactions form the basis for judging the Ikwerre people as an ethnic group in Rivers State.
“In quick succession, Governor Wike has made two statements which many consider provocative and insensitive, coming from the person of the Governor. The first was contained in an audio recording wherein the Governor was quoted to have allegedly and publicly bashed and dared those who criticize him for undermining other parts of the state in his development plan, if any exists at all. The second was his outburst against the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, an action which many consider disrespectful to the Ancient Stool.
“I am here by the King’s hospital bed in Port Harcourt where he has been for almost a week now, so you can see why my priority is not responding to Wike. The King will be 90 in a few days, so if a small boy speaks, his superiors do not always have to answer him, especially if he is the garrulous kind.
“Yes, I have heard what he said and I saw the video where he was fidgety, unsteady and accompanied by that slurred speech. I watched it well. It appears that he doesn’t understand that everything is not politics. I think we should pray for him and put him in God’s hands. I will be doing it daily.
“Rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength. His tenure is almost over. At the appropriate time, he will feel my response.
“Governor Wike’s outburst over Governor Seriake Dickson’s recent visit to Kalabari Kingdom during a traditional festival of the Kalabari people hosted, as it were, by the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, HRM, Prof. T.J.T. Princewill reminds me of the Christian teaching of ‘what you sow you shall reap’; the mystics call it ‘Karma’ and the poets refer to same as ‘retributive justice’.
“I must say that Governor Wike’s reaction to that visit was simply a coalescence of Karma, fear and hypocrisy. Time and time again, Governor Wike puts himself out to the public as a man who does not take what he dishes to other; a man who would not accept from the same measure with which he serves others. That is not an acceptable character in Ikwerre Land.
“In the build up to Governor Wike’s gubernatorial ambition and whilst he was shopping for coalition against the then Governor of Rivers State Rotimi Amaechi, now Minister of Transportation, Governor Wike as the Minister of Education (State) accompanied the same Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to same Kalabari Kingdom, visiting both the Amanyanabo of Kalabari HRM, Prof. T.J.T. Princewill and Amanyanabo of Abonnema King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel on two different dates. Governor Dickson (with Wike as Minister) visited HRM Princewill in December 2013 and King Bob-Manuel in January 2014. Both visits were certainly without reference or deference to the then Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.
“I recall vividly the particular day Governor Dickson in company of Minister Wike (as he then was) visited King Bob-Manuel. It was on Sunday, 12th January 2014. Their convoy crossed Governor Amaechi’s on the Obiri Ikwerre-Airport bye pass road. Wike’s convey that day had two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). I still recall clearly the equanimity with which Rt. Hon. Amaechi received the details of Dickson’s visit then. In Amaechi’ words: ‘Dickson is first a citizen of Nigeria, if he comes to Rivers State in his private capacity and does not want to be disturbed, I shouldn’t lose sleep about that. All I can do is to ensure additional security around his route. As we saw, they have enough security’. That was how Amaechi took those private visits of Dickson to Kalabari Kingdom, even though Wike ceased the opportunity to lie to Kalabari people about the dispute between Rivers State and Bayelsa State over the ownership of Soku Oil Well, a testimonial that shall live with him forever.
“Apart from Wike, others who accompanied Governor Dickson in those visits in 2013/2014 include Prince Uche Secondus National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (then Deputy National Chairman), Bro. Felix Obuah Rivers State Chairman of PDP, Hon. Tammy Danagogo, current Secretary to Rivers State Government (then Minister for Sports), Prof. Edmund Alison Oguru, Secretary to Bayelsa State Government at the time, amongst others.
“Governor Wike’s reactions to Governor Dickson’s visit to Kalabari Kingdom re-enforces an Ikwerre adage which says that ‘a person who hunts human-head does not allow another person with machete to be behind him’. Unfortunately, both nature and the universe go in circles, thus whatever goes around comes around.
“In conclusion, let me refer to Governor Wike as my brother, after a very long while; and to advise him publicly not to completely destroy the political integrity and goodwill that the Ikwerre people (our fathers) sacrificed to build. The privileges that Wike brags with today, either as Governor or as an “Ikwerre man” took the Ikwerre people 40years to achieve, and must therefore not be destroyed by some acts of indiscretion. Ikwerre Elders must never lose sight of how we got where we are today. A word is sufficient for the wise”.
We contacted Wike, but…
Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa state Governor, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, however, dismissed claims that his principal entered Rivers state without the traditional courtsey of informing the sitting governor.
He said; “Over 40 Ijaw youths were murdered in the Rivers election in February, 2019. The only Governor of Ijaw extraction in Nigeria, the Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, a member of the prestigious Kalabari Ekine Sekiapu Club, visited Buguma in April to commiserate with the Amayanabo of Kalabari.
“Before the visit, the Governor made efforts to reach his Rivers State counterpart, but when he couldn’t get him on the phone he contacted the Chief of Staff to Gov Wike to inform him. No new visit has taken place. When did it become a crime to mourn with the bereaved in Ijaw land?”, He queried.