The raging war between the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi and the Minister of Niger Delta, Chief Godsday Orubebe, has started creating ripples among the ethnic nationalities in the South-South region as some ethnic leaders have reportedly began to review their support for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigerian Tribune investigation showed that the 2015 agenda is at the root of the stand-off between Amaechi and Orubebe, in which case the Minister of Niger Delta was earlier quoted as accusing the River State governor of showing disrespect to the person of President Jonathan, while Amaechi fired back by referring to Orubebe as a failed minister.
Findings are, however, indicating that the war between the two South-South leaders have started exhuming some pent-up anger of some ethnic nationalities in the South-South geo-political zone against the president, who is now being accused of bias in his relationship with ethnic groups in the zone.
Jonathan, it was generally alleged, has used the past two years of being in the saddle to over promote the Ijaw ethnic group, far above others in the South-South, to the extent of making the rest of Nigeria believe that the Ijaws are the only ethnic group in the region that deserves the attention of the Federal Government.
The president was also accused in many states in the South-South zone of low performance, especially because his government failed to make progress in the construction of the East-West Road considered as strategic to the economic growth of the Niger Delta, notwithstanding that contracts for the road construction had been awarded severally by the government.
The alleged little attention paid by the government of President Jonathan to the Niger Delta, coupled with the president’s inability to spread Federal Government-appointments to other ethnic nationalities in the South-South region, were said to be causing some of the stakeholders sleepless night, hence, their increasing favourable disposition to opposition parties.
In separate press statements, the non-Ijaw ethnic groups, have been expressing disappointment with the attitude of President Jonathan with regard to his avowed desire to develop the Niger Delta, in line with his transformation agenda, noting that there had been no visible project to count on in the South-South states at the instance of his government.
Meanwhile, in a chat with the Nigerian Tribune, Chief Edwin Clark dismissed allegations of ethnic bias against President Jonathan on South-South matters, contending that the president has never considered any ethnic group above the rest as alleged.
For instance, in a statement signed by the Secretary of Urhobo Progressive Union, Elder John Onojakpor, Jonathan was accused of romancing with those it said had been making troubles in the region, rather than credible individuals, who had assisted him to ascend to the office of Nigeria’s president.
The statement took exception to the attitude of Jonathan to other ethnic groups stating: “How can the largest ethnic group in Delta State, the second largest in Niger Delta and the 6th largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria be treated as if we are nobody by the government of President Jonathan.”
In the same vein, a leader of Isoko ethnic group in Delta State, Spanner Okpozo, was quoted as lamenting that the ethnic group had not been treated fairly by the government of President Jonathan, and hence called on the president to produce evidence of what he has done for his people, notwithstanding the initial support they accorded him to be president.
There were also reports of crack in the camp of ex-militants in the Niger Delta, following allegations of neglect of many of them by President Jonathan, as a result of the alleged open bias he has been showing to the group headed by Government Ekpemukpolo, popularly referred to as Tompolo.
An ex-civil rights fighter and militant, Asari Dokubo, has also been an arrow head of critics of President Jonathan from the Niger Delta, as he had variously launched tirades against the president on the basis of low performance. Asari Dokubo has been a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), a party now neck-deep in talks with other opposition group to oust Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party PDP out of power by 2015.
Already, the governor of River State is being branded as the main arrow head of the opposition to the regime of President Jonathan following the sustained hard stance he has allegedly been keeping against the president and the manner he has reportedly been mobilising the Governor’s Forum against some policies of the Federal Government.
Although, Amaechi has severally denied nursing a presidential ambition against 2015, the views generally held about his politics have been that he has been scheming to emerge as a running mate to likely presidential hopeful from the northern zone of the federation.
The low popularity of President Jonathan in the south-south is also said to be the reason he has not obtained full support from all the governors from his zone, as he can only count on two, out of the six south-south governors; Sir Goodswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa as his main supporters.
To shore up more support for the president in the southern state of the federation, however, the Leader of Delta State Elders, Chief Edwin Clark, has been putting finishing touches to plans to covenne a Southern Politicians’ summit, scheduled to hold in Enugu today, to concretise plans on the Jonathan’s presidency ahead 2015.