News

June 9, 2024

How Jonathan, wife, others forced Wike on Rivers – Clark

Wike

Wike

By Henry Umoru, Abuja

Federal Commissioner for Information and South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark said after the tenure of Rotimi Amaechi as Governor of Rivers State in 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience pleaded with the people in a different outside the state to support Nyesom Wike for governorship even though it was the turn of the people of Ijaw.

According to the Elderstatesman, aside from God, the biggest players who supported Wike to rise to his political level today, are the Ijaws, including himself, just as he said as Amaechi’s government came to an end in 2015 after 8 years, the Rivers Ijaws again insisted that it was their turn to take over governance in Rivers State and this time, the consensus was general among the people.

The Ijaw National Leader said that at this point, all Ijaw people under the leadership of four times Minister, Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas insisted for an Ijaw man to take the lead against the backdrop that this was only fair and just and so many Ijaw sons and daughters with all manners of qualifications presented themselves, adding that almost all of them had held top positions, both at the states and federal levels as no one doubted the fact that it was the turn of an Ijaw man.

In an Open letter dated 9th June, 2024 to Senator George Thompson Sekibo, the Senator who represented Rivers East and made available to Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Clark who warned him on the need for caution in overstating the role of Wike in Rivers Politics with regard to the Ijaws, said that at that time, the people of Ijaw emphasised that it would be very unfair for them being the majority to be shut out for a period of 16 years and another Ikwere man taking power to make it 24 years, but former President Jonathan pleaded and pleaded with them that they needed to give Wike a chance during an election year in which he was seeking to return to office at the centre.

The Leader of Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF wrote Sekibo in response to his press briefing recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa when Sekibo and others visited the Ijaw National Congress, INC leader, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, just as he copied President Bola Tinubu; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator George Akume and Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara.

Recall that Sekibo who spoke on behalf of the leaders had said that the Rivers Ijaw People’s Congress, RIPCO are in support of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCT, Abuja, Chief Nyesom Wike who has demonstrated his love for the Ijaw nation contrary to claims in some quarters arising from the political crisis rocking Rivers State.

Sekibo who has noted that the narrative that Wike hated the Ijaws was not true, said that out of his love, Wike gave more federal appointments he attracted to Rivers to Ijaw leaders and recalled that during his administration as the governor, he appointed Ijaw people into strategic positions.

Clark who noted that it was a shock to the entire Ijaw people in Rivers State and in all the other states, but they had to softpedal and supported Wike to contest in respect for Jonathan and his wife as well as for the sake of peace, said that as at that time, Wike’s highest position before coming to Abuja was as Local Government Chairman and later Chief of Staff to Amaechi who was his kinsman.

According to the Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in subsequent time, Amaechi appealed to Jonathan to make Wike a Minister which led to his emergence as Minister of State, Education, and later acted as the Minister when Prof. Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i was removed as the minister.

Clark who asked Sekibo and his group to exercise caution in the way and manner they go about with the affairs of the FCTA Minister and former governor of Rivers State, accused Wike of being a man of contradiction and inconsistencies from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP primaries where he vowed to support whosoever emerged as candidate, to his vow not to be minister, to his scathing excoriation of the All Progressives Congress, APC which he likened to a cancerous party, saying that everything Wike supposedly stood for have been repudiated by his fickle mindedness.

The letter read, “I am sure you will be surprised to receive a letter from me, your father, a step which I often do not take. But I have decided to communicate with you and your fellow brothers and sisters the day you launched a group, Ijaw Peoples Congress.

“This is due to the fact that I recently watched you as leader of the newly formed group during your visit to the President General of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Benjamin Okaba in Yenagoa on Tuesday, 4th June 2024. As expected, Prof. Okaba has briefed me thoroughly about the visit in my capacity as Chairman of Board of Trustees of the INC and leader of the Ijaws.

“It is on account of the above that I am writing to put things in proper context because a number of wrong information was communicated both in your speech and subsequent television interviews as it pertains to the roles played by various persons, particularly your principal, Chief Nyesom Wike as it concerns the Ijaws.

“As God has kept me alive and have seen my 97th birthday barely two weeks ago, I owe it a duty to educate you, younger ones on the true course of events as regards the politics of Rivers State, the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large, whenever the occasion calls for that.

“I became closely associated with the politics of the Niger Delta in the early 1950s under the leadership of Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye. As a matter of fact, we were all part of the Zikists Vanguard within the NCNC political party before Chief Dappa-Biriye went on to form the Niger Delta Congress (NDC) in 1959. We all moved with him and I became one of the leaders of the youth wings of that political party.

“Although my own part of the Ijaw people was in the then Western Region, we all came over to then Eastern Region to campaign rigorously for various candidates and succeeded in getting Chief Melford Okilo elected as a Member, House of Representatives under the NDC. Again, under leadership of Chief Dappa Biriye and others as Sir Udo Udoma and Dr. Okoi Arikpo, we all fought for what was known as COR State (an acronym for Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers Province).

“Again, those of us who were politically active in the COR State from the Mid West were in the front line of this political movement, which did not succeed but continued to play on until the Midwest Region was created as the fourth region in the country in 1963, and Rivers State was created in 1967 among eleven other States.”

On how Jonathan, wife forced Wike on the people, Clark said, “As Amaechi’s government came to an end in 2015 after 8 years, the Rivers Ijaws again insisted that it was their turn to take over governance in Rivers State and this time, the consensus was general among the people. All Ijaw people under the leadership of four times Minister, Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas insisted for an Ijaw man to take the lead.

“This was only fair and just and so many Ijaw sons and daughters with all manners of qualifications presented themselves. Almost all of them had held top positions, both at the states and federal levels. None doubted the fact that it was the turn of an Ijaw man. Therefore, when the then First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, sent Barr. Nyesom Wike to me to intimate me of his ambition, and solicit my support, I did not give it because I felt it was against the laws of fairness and natural justice. I insisted that it was unfair and unsellable for another upland person to be Governor again, immediately after three upland persons in succession.

“The next visit to my house was by some Ijaw chiefs from Rivers State including His Excellency Chief Rufus Ada George, former Governor of the State, Chief A. K. Horsfall, former Managing Director, OMPADEC, and former DG, DSS/NIA, and HRH E. M. B Opurum, Onyi ishi Etche. They insisted that President Jonathan should be invited into the meeting. Fortunately, he responded to my call and joined.

“At that occasion, they emphasised that it would be very unfair for them being the majority to be shut out for a period of 16 years and another Ikwere man taking power to make it 24 years. President Jonathan pleaded and pleaded with us that we needed to give Wike a chance during an election year in which he was seeking to return to office at the centre.

“However, Barr. Wike was supported by the then President Jonathan and his wife. Although this was a shock to the entire Ijaw people in Rivers State and in all the other states, for the sake of peace, we supported Wike to contest the election.

“Perhaps we need to remember again that Wike’s highest position before coming to Abuja was as Local Government Chairman and later Chief of Staff to Amaechi who was his kinsman. In subsequent time, Amaechi appealed to Jonathan to make Wike a Minister which led to his emergence as Minister of State, Education, and later acted as the Minister when Prof. Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i was removed as the minister.

“Nyesom Wike knows, that aside from God, the biggest players who have supported him to rise to his political level today, are the Ijaws, including myself. I am sure he knows the roles I have played in his political ascendency. There is, therefore, no need to be apologetic to Barr. Nyesom Wike, when there is no offence.

“Nyesom Wike is indeed a man of contradiction and inconsistencies). From the PDP primaries where he vowed to support whosoever emerged as candidate, to his vow not to be minister, to his scathing excoriation of the APC which he likened to a cancerous party, everything Wike supposedly stood for have been repudiated by his fickle mindedness.

“The 2015 election was particularly tough due to the emergence of APC in Nigeria and in Rivers State as a strong force. At that time, the former Governor Amaechi had moved from PDP to APC and presented Dakuku Peterside, a prominent Ijaw son to contest the election. This notwithstanding, we abandoned our son, Dakuku and supported Wike.

“Secondly, the election was very fierce in Okrika and the Kalabari areas and could have stopped Wike from becoming the Governor but the Ijaw people stood face to face with the military with guns and in some points, confronted them even with women going nude to pursue the Wike election. For instance, in Ogu, where the women protested against military violations of the election. I reproduce here an excerpt of how the Vanguard Newspaper of March 30, 2019, reported it:


“Election: How women used menstrual blood to stop soldiers in Rivers. Alarmed Nigerian soldiers were forced to abandon their mission to hijack ballot boxes during the March 9 Governorship/House of Assembly elections when a leader of the protesting Ogu/Bolo communities in Rivers State, out of desperation, sprinkled blood from her drenched menstrual pad on military patrol vehicles and by some mystical interference, the engines refused to kick…


The protesting women leader and Vice Chair, Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area … confirmed she took off her heavily soaked menstrual pad, squeezed the blood all over Army patrol vehicles and the drivers could not start the vehicles. It was mysterious…. the Nigerian … had to pour a bottle of dry gin on the military vehicles and prayed or rather uttered incantations before they started. Following the strange incident, soldiers left, (in panic), aborting their mission to cart away ballot materials ….” Barr. Wike acknowledged this when he said “God used protest by Ogu/Bolo Women to secure my 2019 Election”. Ogu is an Ijaw land.

“Worst thing happened in Abonnema, also an Ijaw land, when young promising young boys lost their lives during the 2019 elections in the defence of Barr. Wike, when there was a shoot out between them and soldiers.


There was no time the Ijaws asked Wike to bow down and worship them all through his 8 years as Governor of the State. This was because they did it for justice.

“Our revered leader, late Pere Harold Dappa-Biriye, an Ijaw man, played a leading role in the creation of the first 12 States in Nigeria. He is, in fact, the father of statism in Nigeria, after he muted to the then Head of State General Yakubu Gowon, that in order to resolve most of the hydra headed problems facing the country at the time, it should be moved from regionalism (Eastern, Midwestern, Southern and Northern regions), to States.

“He informed me that the Head of State asked him to go to the north and discuss his ideas with his friends there. He obliged and the northerners were in sync with the idea. That was how General Gowon created the States on 27 May, 1967. Pere Dappa-Biriye did not do this just for the Ijaws, but for equity and fairness for all in the country.

“Even after the creation of the State, the Ijaws have always played a leading role in its liberation, sustenance and viability. One of such instances was when two United Kingdom trained young Ijaw graduates, Boardman Nyanayo and George Amangala, who were lecturers at the Federal Government College, Warri, came to see me at my residence at No. 16, Robert Road, Warri, to inform me that they have resigned their appointment as lecturers, and were returning home to join the federal forces to fight against the rebel forces to liberate Rivers State; that I should pray for them.

“I was downcast, because just a few days before that day, Midwest State had fallen into the hands of the rebel forces. And it was seeming as though Rivers State will follow suite. In a foreboding emotion laden voice, I prayed for them and they left. At the same time, Maj.-General Isaac Adaka Boro, a freedom fighter, who was earlier sentenced to death but volunteered to join the federal forces and was, therefore, freed, also enlisted into the federal force, to fight for the liberation of Rivers State. About 140 of these Ijaw sons enlisted into the federal force. At the end they all died. The only survivor was Capt. Samuel Owonaro, who was however, confined to a wheel chair in his home town Kaiama, Bayelsa State, until his death, as a result of injury sustained on the battle field.


“My dear son, the Ijaws have made sacrifices for the survival of, and growth of all tribes in Rivers State, including Barr. Nyesom Wike, without expecting the beneficiaries of such Ijaw kind gestures to be excessively sublime towards them, or expect them to lay on the ground for Ijaws to step on them.

“In Mid West State, I became one of the most prominent Ijaw political leaders and a close ally of then Governor, my boss, Col. Samuel Ogbemudia, as Commissioner of Education in 1968. We therefore interacted closely with Rivers State as neighbouring States, both with large Ijaw populations, especially with Rivers led by then Navy Commander Alfred Diette Spiff, an Ijaw man, as Governor. In his government serving as commissioners were Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, Commissioner for Works and Prof. Lawrence Ekpebu, Commissioner for Finance.


It was these two then governments of Midwest and Rivers State that commenced the building of the famous and all-important East-West Road, before it was taken over by the Federal Government. Unfortunately, this road has ‘defied’ completion since then.

“In the course of the Ijaws fighting for people of all tribes, it was almost a daily occurrence with all the political actors seeing ourselves as one. Moving thereon, I became Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Information and was one of the most prominent Ijaw people in the Federal Executive Council apart from Chief Wenike Briggs from Rivers State, an Ijaw man, who served as Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Education and Nabo Graham Douglas, SAN, as Federal Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.

“Three of us fought severally for our people at various times and in the South-South and the Niger Delta. Finally, when politics came up again leading to 1979 return to political alignments, it was part of my efforts as I participated in virtually all the meetings of the NPN that led to the emergence of Chief Melford Okilo as the candidate of our party in Rivers State. We came to campaign actively for him and assisted in playing the delicate politics between the Ijaws in Rivers State (Riverine) and other ethnic groups, more popularly known as “Upland”.