From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Despite a presidential directive that there should be a ceasefire in the on-going media war between Bayelsa and Rivers states over the Soku-oil wells, there seems to be no end in sight to the face-off between Governors Henry Seriake Dickson and Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Bayelsa and Rivers states respectively. Dickson yesterday advised Amaechi to tell his people the truth.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was dragged into the fray by Kalabari chiefs, had on Monday cautioned the two governors from engaging in any further media war to allow for the reconciliation meeting slated for Friday in Abuja. However, Amaechi had after the President’s directive at an event in Port Harcourt, stated that the attempt to cede what he called Rivers oil wells to Bayelsa was unconnected to fears being expressed that he was planning to contest the 2015 election with a Northern presidential candidate.
Dickson, in a veiled response, challenged Amaechi to tell the people of his state the truth over the oil derivation received in the face of lingering disputes involving the two states in the last few years. According to him, the Rivers State government had received about N120 billion wrongfully in the past few years to the detriment of Bayelsa State. Speaking at the inauguration of the State Boundary Committee in Yenagoa, Dickson said since Amaechi insists he is fighting for Rivers people, he should be able to tell his people the truth concerning the issue.
His words: “But since my counterpart in Rivers State has made it a communal affair, I believe that he will help us at this point to tell the people of Rivers State and particularly the people of Kalabari kingdom, whom he claimed he is fighting for, the truth. The basis of our recent claims is that the Government of Rivers State in the past couple of years has wrongly received about N120 billion that shouldn’t have been paid to Rivers State.
I hope he will also tell the government and the people of Rivers State and particularly the Kalabari people about the refund that was contentiously agreed and effected in favour of Rivers State to the tune of about 15 or 16 billion naira thereabout, which he got about a month ago. I want to therefore use this opportunity to call on our law-abiding people, the Nembe clan and Kalabari kingdom, both of who are Ijaw people, not to allow the unity of the Ijaw nation to be affected by the antics of people who want to play politics with anything and everything.
I want to assure you all that we have existing structures to resolve our differences”, he said. Dickson who said boundary issues were sensitive matters, urged the Rivers State Government to allow the appropriate federal agency responsible for proper delineation to determine the boundary between the Kalabari people of Soku and Oluasiri in Nembe.
He stated that it was wrong of the Government of Rivers State to be making unnecessary claims despite on-going meeting and resolution over the years involving derivation states with complaints. While stating that the N15 billion paid to Bayelsa State recently was a justified payment from its oil revenue, he called on the people of Kalabari and Nembe not to allow themselves to be drawn against each other over the matter that is receiving attention at the federal level.
Dickson called on the people of Nembe and Kalabari in Rivers State to remain calm in the face of the dispute, adding that that the two clans were Ijaw and should not be seen as engaging in communal clashes.
He urged the State Boundary Committee headed by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Gboribiogha Jonah (rtd) to sensitize the communities involved in the boundary issues not to take laws into their hands, but follow the rules in resolving disputes.