As the country approaches another general election, the Ogoni people of Rivers State are making demands from major political parties in the state to give their governorship tickets to aspirants from Ogoni land.
The Ogoni people who are found in the Rivers South-East Senatorial zone District of the state have not had the opportunity to rule the state since it was created.
The riverine terrain where their communities are located and the perceived lack of unity among their leaders are said to be part of the reasons why they have not been able to secure the leadership of the state.
But two of their prominent sons, former Senator Magnus Abe and House of Reps member, Dumnamene Robinson Dekor, are now in contention to lead the state, with different groups routing for them.
A Rivers State House of Assembly aspirant in 2019, Warisenibo (ESV) Sofiri Gladstone Dappa, explained that the Ogoni’s quest for governorship was long overdue.
He said, “Their demand is explicitly genuine, without mincing words.The only calculation that puts them off is the upland and riverine dichotomy adopted donkey years ago in Rivers.
“If we go by that, they will have to wait for a Riverine Ijaw candidate to occupy the Brick-House before them, as the Ijaws are another marginalized ethnic group in Rivers State.”
On the issue of whether they will get it or not come 2023, Sofiri said it depends on the political party they want to use to actualize their desire.
“Well, it depends on which political platform. Parties are vital vehicles to achieving aspirations. So, they have to be deeply rooted in the internal politics of the major political parties.
“Party internal politics is the only factor that may deter them, nothing more. Politics is not religion, no pity-party.
“I am in support of any riverine governor; the upland has ruled for so long with Odili, Omehia, Amaechi and Wike,” he stated.
He urged Ogoni leaders to engage other ethnic groups in dialogue and also get themselves involved in the local politics of all major political parties in the state.
A legal practitioner from Ikwerre Local Government of the state, Barr. Iheme Mpi, urged the Ogonis to present “credible candidates” for the 2023 election instead of saying it is their turn.
In the words of the PDP chieftain: “Everyone has a right to pursue his or her course. But for a state to limit its scope for leadership to a particular region would mean limiting it’s choice for a credible leader and that will not make good reason.
“So, if it is because they have never produced a governor let them present a candidate and tell us why he should be voted in.”
He also listed conditions under which an Ogoni candidate can be in serious contention for governorship.
“If only they can sell ( their) preferred candidate and get majority of the other regions to support such candidate because they cannot do it alone.
“They should get a candidate that will show independence from the federal government, not an errand boy as it is showing now.
“Someone with a mindset of his or her own, not necessarily dancing to the tune of the centre but not confrontational.
“No man is without a past, so the past worthy activities of the candidate must outweigh the bad ones.
“They should endeavor to liaise with every region, present a sellable candidate and campaign through every supporter regionally, ” he said.