Bayelsa governor, Seriake Dickson, has warned his counterpart in Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, not to see Bayelsa as an annex of Rivers State.
“Let me put it on record, this is the first time I will formally respond to Wike’s childishness in this formal way. I have always ignored with pain and regret all the previous vituperations and his attempt to belittle and intimidate this state and our leadership.
“His unfriendliness towards this state is not hidden. It’s not just me, it’s about our state and our people, he has done that a couple of times but I decided to stomach it for several reasons,” Mr Dickson said on Saturday while briefing reporters in Yenagoa.
Mr Dickson’s remarks at the briefing is contained in a statement issued on Sunday afternoon by his spokesperson, Fidelis Soriwei.
The governor was reacting to Mr Wike’s outburst against his (Dickson) visit to a traditional leader in Rivers, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari kingdom, Theophilus Princewill.
The visit took place in April, almost eight months ago before Mr Wike came out to speak publicly against it two weeks ago.
Governor Wike had said Mr Dickson’s visit was a breach of protocol since the Bayelsa governor did not notify the “appropriate authorities”. He accused him of trying to destabilise Rivers State.
Mr Dickson said he visited the traditional leader to condole with him and his people over “the killing of Ijaw sons and daughters of the area during Mr Wike’s own gubernatorial election”.
Mr Dickson said he tried to reach Mr Wike but could not, and that his chief of staff and security detail, on his own directive, contacted the security details and a senior aide to the Rivers governor on his planned trip to Rivers.
“I want to make it clear as governor of this state, either me or any other person who will be governor, we don’t need Governor Wike’s permission to visit our traditional rulers and elders in Port Harcourt or any part of Rivers State.
“Since he doesn’t understand courtesy and is not prepared to show courtesy, then that courtesy will not be extended to him. Bayelsa is not an annex of Rivers State that he can intimidate at will,” the governor said.
The statement from the Bayelsa Government House quoted Mr Dickson as saying he would lead other Ijaw leaders “to participate in any activity that might be put in place to celebrate the foremost monarch, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari who would turn 90 in January 2020”.
He accused Mr Wike of having a hand in the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last governorship election in Bayelsa and also fighting oil wars with neighbouring states like Imo and Akwa Ibom.
He also accused Mr Wike of trying to destabilise Ijaw ethnic group in order to promote “ethnic supremacist political agenda”.
“The Good people of Rivers State should not be preys in the hands of Wike who want to promote disunity and hatred in Ijaw land because he is promoting an ethnic supremacist political agenda in the state.
“And I want that recorded, that Governor Wike is deliberately inciting disunity in Ijaw land because of his ethnic supremacist political agenda which he knows that Bayelsa, particularly Governor Dickson and my agenda will not support. That’s what he’s doing.”
“As we speak, because of the level of social and business interactions, most of our people and leaders live in Port Harcourt, and so I have been very reluctant since he started his unreasonable hostility towards us.
“I have been very reluctant even to respond publicly, out of respect for our historical ties, respect for the good people of Rivers State itself, whom he is misrepresenting, and the other point is yes Wike can attack Bayelsa, because he doesn’t have his indigenous Ikwerre people in Bayelsa State.
“But the Governor of Bayelsa has his indigenous Ijaw people who are major stakeholders in Rivers state. So as a result of these, for the past four to five years, since he started his childish and unguarded drunken behavior, I’ve been very reserved responding.
“But I have had to formally do so and Governor Wike knows that I’m not someone who shies away. I have had to hold myself because the Governor of Bayelsa represents much more than governorship of a state. Out of respect for our people in Rivers state, I’ve always held back, but this time, no, he has gone too far,” Mr Dickson said.
Disputed oil wells – the Soku oil wells – is fueling the rift between the two governors.
An Abuja Federal High Court reportedly declared that the oil wells belong to Rivers, but the Bayelsa government said such did not tenable since, according to them, the Supreme Court struck out a case brought by Rivers before it on the disputed oil wells.
Governor Dickson at the Saturday briefing insisted that the oil wells belong to Bayelsa, saying they are located in Oluasiri, Nembe Local Government Area of the state.
Bayelsa was created from the then Rivers State on October 1, 1996. The two states share a lot in common in terms of culture, tradition, and politics