•PANDEF sets up c’ttee to liaise with
govs, other critical stakeholders
•Govs Wike, Dickson’s quarrel
affecting unity of S’South govs
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta; Sam Oyadongha, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emmanuel Una, Ike Uchechukwu & Ozioruva Aliu
Governors of the six South-South states are, at the moment, unable to hold a meeting to take a joint decision on the setting up of a regional security outfit like the South West Security Network, ‘Amotekun’ launched, last week, by South-West Governors to enhance security in the region, Vanguard investigation has revealed.
Sources told Vanguard that the major reason the governors could not meet is the raging feud between the Chairman, South-South Governors Forum and Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson and his Rivers State counterpart, Governor Nyesom Wike.
It has been difficult for other South-South governors to take sides because of the personalities involved. Governor Wike refused the mediation of the national leadership of his party.
PANDEF worried, urges govs to unite
Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and other interested parties in the region are worried by the development.
National Chairman of PANDEF, a former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom state, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.), yesterday, appealed to the governors of the geo-political zone “to unite and forge common agenda in the best interest of the people towards strengthening the security and socioeconomic configurations of the region.”
He said, “We, therefore, encourage other geopolitical zones of the country, particularly the South-South and Niger Delta region, to emulate the South -West initiative, and adopt similar measures to complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies in checking insecurity.
“In this regard, PANDEF has constituted a committee to consult with critical stakeholders of the region, including the Governors and members of the National Assembly as well as traditional rulers and youths,” Nkanga added.
Wike unwilling to attend meeting with Dickson
It was gathered that Governor Wike, a powerful governor in the region is not prepared to attend any meeting with Governor Dickson, who is handing over in February to the newly elected All Progressives Congress, APC, Governor-elect in his state, Mr David Lyon.
There are indications that Lyon may not be at ease with any binding undertaking on behalf of Bayelsa State by Dickson at this critical time and would want to consult the Edo state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, also of the APC before taking any decision.
Wike and the State Information Commissioner, Paulinus Nsiri, were not forthcoming on reactions to the Federal Government’s disapproval of Amotekun, when contacted, against the backdrop of the same fate that befell similar Neighboring Watch set up by the Wike administration.
Though the governor has always held strongly to not giving up on operationalizing the Neighborhood Watch, established by a Rivers State law in the face of Federal Government disapprobation, he made no mention of it in the N23 billion he appropriated for security in the 2020 Rivers budget.
No comment from Dickson, aides
Bayelsa State government kept studied silence on the raging issue. Attempt to get the state Commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson and Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Fidelis Soriwei, to speak on the position of the state on issue proved abortive.
But a dependable government source told Vanguard that though the outgoing governor of the state, Hon Seriake Dickson, as the chairman of South-South Governors Forum, should have been in a position to rally his colleagues in the zone to a meeting on the way forward, but his tenure is already winding up.
“You do not expect much from Dickson who is on the verge of leaving office to champion a meeting of the zone on how to emulate the Southwest governors in setting a similar security outfit for the South-South.
“Also, do not forget Wike of Rivers State brush with Governor Dickson, his Bayelsa counterpart over the latter’s sympathy visit to the Kalabari monarch in the wake of the killings of Ijaw of Kalabari stock during the Presidential and governorship elections in Rivers,” he added
However, a two-time commissioner in the state and President of Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter comprising, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers), Iniruo Wills while lamenting the dilemma of the South-South, said: “As long as South-South governors fail to coalesce around regional development and integration, so long will it remain clear that they don’t understand their job description.
“There are existing platforms to foster that, including BRACED Commission and NDDC, which should put the region in a vantage position. It is up to them to either smell the coffee or continue failing or at best put up mediocre performances. They have an opportunity to succeed and keep a date with destiny. They should grab it and become stars of history.”
Ayade waiting for other S’South govs – Ita, CPS
Also in Cross River, Mr Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to Senator Ben Ayade, the Cross River State governor, who spoke with Vanguard, said he could not speak on the position of the South-South governors on Amotekun.
He, however, said, “If you say you have not seen the Home land Security, you are not saying the truth. They use similar vehicles with the Green Sheriff but the inscription on them is Homeland Security and they have been doing well in combating crime in the state.”
“Governor Ayade has led the way in this regard in view of the security challenges facing the state and he directed that the outfit should have its operational base in Calabar South, where crime is rife and they have been doing a great job.”
Okowa, Emmanuel, Obaseki hamstrung
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and his Akwa Ibom colleague, Udom Emmanuel were said to be concerned about the development as well, but there is little they could do, as the decision requires the support of all the governors, which is impossible to achieve with the rift between Wike and Dickson.
Governor Obaseki, as expected, is waiting for the other governors and the newly-elected Lyon to put their house in order before the governors can meet to take a decision.
Amotekun, part of restructuring we advocated – PANDEF
PANDEF in a statement, while supporting Amotekun, condemned the declaration of the outfit as illegal by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami
“It is very unfortunate and further exposes the parti pris of the Federal Government. If we could have uniformed vigilante groups all over the place in northern states, and nobody has said they are illegal; why should anybody declare Amotekun illegal? How can anybody say people should sit back and allow their people to be slaughtered?
“The fundamental objective and primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people. What the governors of the South-West geopolitical zone have done is basically a demonstration of seriousness and a keen commitment to the protection and security of lives and property of their people.”
We are prepared for Edo security, says government
In Edo State, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Paul Ohonbamu, told Vanguard, yesterday: “We already have the Operation Wabanizigan that is taking care of the security issues in the state. We took the initiative even before other states in the South-South region. We are watching developments in the South West, but we have already taken the initiative and Operation Wabanizigan is everywhere in every part of the state.
“In the case of spillover that is being feared happens from the South-West states, Edo State is ready. We already have our security operatives in place, but if other states are thinking of something different from our arrangement, Edo State is prepared to ensure the security of the state and the entire South-South region.”
Also, former Chief Whip of the Senate, Sir Roland Owie, has backed the establishment of the security outfit in the South West and urged other geo-political zones to emulate the gesture which, he said, would complement already existing Federal Government security structure.
He said: “I wish to congratulate the governors of the South West for the launch of Amotekun. The Old Western region took the lead in education and media development in the first Republic and now South West is truly answering their founding fathers’ names. I urge the remaining five zones to copy the South West in this regard because it will go a long way to bring peace, which we are all yearning for, to the country.”