As the 2019 Governorship race approaches in Bayelsa State and political groups and parties perfect strategies to clinch the ticket, the kinsmen of former President Goodluck Jonathan from Ogbia area of the state are trying all they can to unite in order to secure development plans under Governor Seriake Dickson and grab the coveted seat at Creek Haven. OSA OKHOMINA in Yenagoa examines the strategies and chances of a unified Ogbia kingdom
What does a former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson have in common with the issue of unity amongst the Ogbia people of Bayelsa State?
Technically, they both possess the political will to advance the interest of Ogbia people in the polity of Bayelsa come 2019/20.
While Jonathan and the old political order from Ogbia seem to have taken the background seat in the politics of the kingdom, others including political appointees within the cabinet of Dickson have taken it upon themselves to unite and forge ahead for a shot at the Governorship seat after Dickson completes his second tenure in 2020.
Ogbia, sometimes referred to as Ogbinya, with a population of over 266,000, according to the 2006 census, and located at the Eastern flank of the state, is home council of many prominent politicians such as Jonathan and the Late Senator Melford Okilo.
For the pro-Unity group, within Ogbia kingdom, led by the State Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Hon.Daniel Markson-Iworiso, the time to unite is now.
Markson-Iworiso, and many other political office holders, agreed that lack of unity in the polity of Ogbia has led to political losses in positions, develoent and youth empowerment.
A check showed that though it was the process of the Ogbia nation in wrestling, in the defunct old Rivers State, that brought the kingdom to prominence, the successive political achievements under the Late Melford Okolona and Jonathan, positioned Ogbia Nation as a force to reckon with in terms of governance.
In the present day Bayelsa, with the loss of Jonathan and the revelations of misapplied development funds meant for Ogbia by known Ogbia indigenes have caused a wide division, hatred and disunity.
For some Ogbia indigenes, their loyalty is for Jonathan will earn them future political position despite their known disloyalty to Dickson.
Others believed that the rising cordial relationship between Governor Seriake Dickson and Former President GoodLuck Jonathan is needed for the advancement of the Ogbia Nation.
The unity amongst the Ogbia people that made them the most cohesive minority groupings in Bayelsa that has produced the highest numbers of political appointees including a Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and President, within the 17 years existence of the State.
Now, the indigenes of the great Ogbia kingdom, serving in the cabinet of Governor Seriake Dickson, are out to unite their kinsmen and form a formidable force in the political future of the state.
This decision has co-opted Dickson into unity plan for proper development of Ogbia land. His inclusion may however be based on his chieftaincy position in Ogbia land.
Unknown to many, Dickson's love for the Ogbia Kingdom, is clearly shown in the political appointments made into his cabinet with Ogbia indigenes occupying the highest in number and position.
While many attributed the Dickson's love to the robust relationship between him and Jonathan, others including members of the opposition parties insisted that the intelligent human materials needed by the Dickson-led administration abound in Ogbia land.
Aside from successes achieved by the Dickson's administration in making the right political appointments, the issue of state government development in the Ogbia axis seems to be slow or falling into the wrong hands.
Some political observers, who agreed with the assertion, agreed that this was the same failure noticed during the Jonathan reign as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So many projects allocated through some indigenes but none implemented and not visibly on ground. This and many other issues have created distrust and disunity among the once united Ogbia brothers.
This was confirmed by the National Chairman of Ogbia Brotherhood, Hon. Benson Agadaga. He agreed that most of the cases of disunity in Ogbia were caused by the political class from the area.
Putting aside the failures of the past, Governor Seriake Dickson, through his aides such as the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the member of the State House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 2,Hon.Gibspn Munalayefa, the chairman of the Ogbia Restoration Caucus, Chief George Eto Okirinya,the State Commissioner for Special Projects, Fred Obua and that of Chieftaincy and Community Development, Saviour Ibegi, have embarked on campaign for the unity of Ogbia people for proper development.
A Youth leader from Ogbia and the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Youth Development, Hon. Osaanya B. Osaanya organized a massive rally tagged "Ogbia people for Governor Dickson."
The solidarity rally, which was organized for the State Governor, Hon.Seriake Dickson was to appreciate the six years performance of his administration and the N1billion earmarked for infrastructural development in Ogbia kingdom in Ogbia Local Government area of the State.
Ogbia Indigenes, numbering over 10,000 and made up of youths under the Ogbia Youth groups, stated that though the people of Ogbia have followed the performance of the Governor Seriake Dickson administration in the area of political appointments, education and infrastructural development, the decision by the administration to set aside N1billion development vote to Ogbia kingdom is welcomed and commendable.
The solidarity rally was witnessed by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Kemela Okara, the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the member of the State House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 2,Hon.Gibspn Munalayefa, the chairman of the Ogbia Restoration Caucus, Chief George Eto Okirinya,the State Commissioner for Special Projects, Fred Obua and that of Chieftancy and Community Development, Saviour Ibegi,
Leader of the Ogbia Youths and Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Youth Development, Hon. Osaanya B. Osaanya said the solidarity rally was an opportunity to thank Governor Dickson for appointing more of their sons and daughters into key positions in his government.
Osaanya added that among other things, the completed model school and the N1 billion recently earmarked for the repair of internal roads in the area and other projects has further demonstrated the governor's love for them.
He assured Gov. Dickson that the youths of the area will continue to support his government and play their part to bring an end to all forms of crime and criminality, stressing that only an atmosphere of peace will attract meaningful development.
The youth leader therefore enjoined youths of the area to shun kidnapping, pipeline vandalism and other vices but rather avail them of the opportunity by embracing the various empowerment scheme he is set to introduce.
"We have come out today to appreciate the governor, His Excellency, Hon. Seriake Dickson for what he has been doing for us. It is clear and evident for us to see. Our resolve to thank him is hinged on the fact that he has done well and will still do more.
"Not just in Ogbia, Dickson has in the last six years made Bayelsa a center of attraction, Building significant and legacy projects. We will give him more support and work to maintain peace in Ogbia kingdom" he said.
The Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Kemela Okara lauded the youths for organizing themselves in such a peaceful manner and for coming out to show solidarity and support for the governor, adding that the restoration government will do more for them.
In their goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Special Projects, Fred Obua and that of Chieftaincy and Community Development, Saviour Ibegi charged the youths not to be distracted as they are the future of Ogbia kingdom and gave them kudos for organizing the 10,000 mega unity rally.
On his part, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson expressed delight at the way and manner they conducted themselves, noting that the unity of Ogbia people is not negotiable and their support for Gov. Dickson will remain unshakable.
Iworoso-Markson said the N1billion earmarked for projects in Ogbia kingdom will become through direct labour and it will involved many sons and daughters of Ogbia kingdom, " Ogbia people are not ungrateful people. We know how to appreciate those that have done us well. Okolona did well and he became our hero. Governor Dickson is another Okolona. And Gov. Dickson is a good man."
"Ogbia cannot be an island unto itself. We have to come together and attract development. Gov. Dickson is committed to the development of Ogbia kingdom. Those people trying to divide us are not from Ogbia. Ogbia does not have enemies. If the enemies of Ogbia people wants to use you, reject them. "
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman of Ogbia local council, Ebinyo Turner pointed out that better days are ahead for the youths while the member representing Ogbia constituency two in the state assembly, Munalayefa Gibson described Dickson as a leader per excellence and appealed to him to include the Ayama road to the list of projects that is about to commence in the area.
In his message, the member of the State House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 2,Hon. Gibson Munalayefa, noted that though the people of Ogbia Kingdom would have asked the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson to increased the earmarked N1billioj for development " we commend and say thank you to the Governor for the various projects he has embarked upon."
As a follow up to the Ogbia unity rally for Governor Dickson, the Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, an indigene of Opume in Ogbia, visited the Paramount Ruler for Ogbia Kingdom.
Markson-Iworiso, who spent most of his life in Lagos and barely speaks Ogbia, was full of respect for the Ogbia Monarch and expressed concern over the noticeable disunity in Ogbia land contrary to the history handed to him by his father.
Earlier in his speech, he told the King of Ogbia Kingdom that his visit was to clamor for unity in Ogbia Kingdom.
Iworiso-Markson informed the Traditional ruler and eminent Ogbia Chiefs including the National President of the Ogbia Brotherhood, Chief Benson Agadaga said there is the need for Ogbia people to be more united and support one another in order to attract more development to the area.
According to him it is only when the people are united that they can talk about meaningful development and urged everyone from the area to work to end the current bickering that has brought so much division among them.
While calling on the monarch to convene a meeting of stakeholders to discuss critical issues affecting Ogbia kingdom, Iworiso-Markson also appealed to him to use his position to unite the people more.
He said "I have come to present myself to you as a son of the land and also use this opportunity to inform you of my willingness to contribute my own little quota to the development of Ogbia kingdom. The development of Ogbia is paramount to me, irrespective of our differences, our affiliations, we must work to achieve peace and development. These are two key factors to make a people move forward".
He thanked the Ogbia monarch for the fatherly role he has continued to play and used the opportunity to drum support for the Restoration Government headed by Governor Seriake Dickson.
King Dumaro Charles Owaba, the paramount Ruler of Ogbia Kingdom , while responding to Hon. Daniel Markson-Iworiso , dismissed the claims by some politicians in the state that the indigenes of Ogbia communities and kinsmen of the Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan are against the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
According to the Traditional Ruler, though the Ogbia people contributed to the emergence of Governor Seriake Dickson in 2012, the relationship have blossomed and have led to more political appointments and development in Ogbia kingdom.
His Eminence, King Dumaro Charles Owaba, who is also the Obanobhan, the 3rd of Ogbia kingdom, thanked Gov. Dickson for what he is doing for Ogbia people and appealed to him to use part of the N1 billion earmarked for internal road projects in the area and open up the Ayama road, stressing that it is a very important project to Ogbia people.
He pledged the support of Ogbia people to the Restoration Government, pointing out that his kinsmen played a major role to the emergence of Dickson as governor in 2012 and therefore will continue to support the
He said for coming to him to pay traditional homage, Iworiso-Markson has demonstrated loyalty as well as humility and prayed God to guide him as he continues to serve the state in his capacity as commissioner.
"For coming here today, you have shown sincerity to contribute to the development of Ogbia which I am championing. I agree with you that the current challenge of the kingdom is unity. If we are united we can produce another president of Nigeria" he said
Also unveiled to further cement the unity move is a football tournament that will involve youths from over 52 communities of Ogbia local Government
Thirty-Two football teams from various communities of Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are expected to participate in the Governor Seriake Dickson Unity competition tagged "the Ogbia Challenge".
The football tournament, which is sponsored by the leaders of Ogbia Local Government Council led by the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Daniel Markson-Iworiso,is expected to be competed for by teams representing communities from Ogbia Kingdom.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, said the tournament was organised to unite youths of Ogbia kingdom who seems divided along political and social line.
He said the tournament is expected to unite and divert the attention of youths of ogbia communities from issues of cultism and drug abuse.
According to him, "the tournament will used as a unifying force. And to promote and discover new talents that will contribute to the football growth of Ogbia and Bayelsa State at large."
He also said football scouts and legends have been invited to support the tournament.
Most of the speakers at the unveiling of the tournament Mascot, including the Ogbia Caretaker Chairperson, Naomi Goli, the State Commissioner of Power, Chief Jim Ogbolo and the Paramount Ruler of Ogbia Kingdom, His Eminence, King Dumaro Charles Owaba,commended the organiser of the tournament and prayed that it achieve the desired aim.
The Ogbia Monarch,represented by Chief Jonny. O. Jonny, noted that the football tournament will place the kingdom in the forefront front of sports in the state.
Earlier, the consultant and Coordinator of the Football tournament, Mr. Lawrence Alabrah and Chief Emma Ekpokoba respectively, announced that 32 teams are expected to compete in two phases and top qualifiers will meet at the quarter finals.