Alaowei Broderick Bozimo is former minister of Police Affairs and leader of the Delta Ijaw for Governor 2023 Movement in Delta State.
In this interview, he reacted to the propaganda by the Urhobo of Delta Central Senatorial District making concerted effort to misconstrue the message of the movement. Excerpts:
Tell us, what is the present stage of your consultative visits to other ethnic groups in Delta state in the quest for a governor of extraction in 2023?
Thank you Chancel for giving me this opportunity to speak. First, it is very important that I make this basic clarification for the umpteenth time, that the group that I lead, Ijaw for Governor 2023 Movement, does not canvass and has never canvassed the zoning of the governorship position in Delta state on the basis of ethnicity simpliciter. Doing so would be tantamount to admitting that zoning in any guise, either on ethnic, zonal or any other form is operational in Delta State at the moment.
The movement’s position from its inception in May last year is an appeal to our brother Deltans to consider supporting a governor of Ijaw extraction come 2023, reasons being that: First, Ijaw have always supported other major ethnic groups in the state in this regard; Ijaw supported Chief James Ibori massively to become governor in 1999, Ijaw also supported Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan because he was presented to Ijaw by the leader of the then PDP, Chief James Ibori. This political gesture, Ijaw embarked on sacrificially in spite of the fact that Dr Uduaghan was of Itsekiri ethnic minority when in a fair contest Ijaw would have won the primaries being the second largest ethnic nationality in the state.
Again, in the current dispensation, it’s a notorious fact that the massive support for the current governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, by the Ijaw made all the difference in his emergence as governor of the state. Details of how this was accomplished have been ably disclosed in the media only a few weeks ago by no other personality than the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, leader of the South-South/Middle Belt Forum and leader of the Ijaw nation, in the person of Chief (Dr) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark OFR, CON. Chief Clark unarguably is the oldest and most experienced living politician in Delta State with a reputation of unashamedly speaking truth to power at all times, no matter whose ox gored.
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Secondly, the peace and stability enjoyed in Delta State and indeed Niger Delta has been achieved through the cooperation and instrumentality of the Ijaw people of Delta state, nay, Niger Delta at large. Consequently, the contributions of Ijaw to the stability and economic growth in Delta State and Nigeria as a whole is indisputable.
Consequently, Delta Ijaw quite fairly and justifiably decided to throw their hat in the contest for the gubernatorial seat in 2023. The Ijaw quest is therefore, not based on ethnic rotation as falsely propagated by some section of the state. Therefore, it is axiomatic the Ijaw quest is well-grounded.
The fervent prayer of this movement is that the PDP under the indefatigable, smart, resourceful and energetic leadership of Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa should provide a level playing field for all contestants in the 2023 gubernatorial primaries. Ijaw do not seek any special favour other than be given equal opportunity to contest . Again, Ijaw also refused to be side-blinded or ambushed into a situation where they are robbed of an opportunity to contest in a fair primaries in the guise of a contrived, non-existent zoning arrangement.
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Power rotation never existed in Delta State on the basis of Senatorial Districts or zones, neither by agreement nor by custom or convention, written or unwritten. As I’ve been singing from day one when we started this campaign, that everybody is free to contest on a level playing field.
I’m almost relieved to hear from the D-C 23, the Asagba of Asaba and prominent Deltans saying that zoning will be useful to usher in peace and stability. But the point I keep making is this, as at today there’s no zoning and if you want to introduce it, as far as I’m concerned, it’s okay provided the mechanism for enforcing it are there, but not zoning by lip-service.
So, for a section of Deltans to pretend and say zoning is a thing that Ijaw are saying on the basis of ethnicity is not true and I needed to respond to it as soon as possible. This is because falsehood, when traded consistently, assumes the toga of truth and I will not allow that happen to the Ijaw project.
Again, my understanding of zoning is that you zone in your heart. This is because on the day of the primaries, you decide in your heart who to cast your vote for, and whoever that emerges winner is considered the party’s choice. That has been the zoning principle so far.
But for the zoning plan, which seems acceptable to Deltans in various senatorial districts, let all modalities for its application and sustainability be worked out for adoption in future primaries. As for 2023, the PDP should provide a level playing field for all contestants.
Some group of Ijaws are siding with the position of Delta Central in their agitation to produce the state governor in 2023; what’s your group doing about it?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing. Everybody in Ijaw nation cannot speak one voice pressing for a governor of Ijaw extraction in 2023. Nigeria practices democracy, and freedom of speech and association is entrenched in our constitution which is our grund norm. Therefore, any Ijaw man or a group has the freedom to express divergent views on any subject within the ambit of the law.
But let me say this, the position of the movement that I lead, which we’ve canvassed in various consultative meetings with community leaders, traditional rulers and stakeholders of various ethnic nationalities across the state, has received the approval and endorsement of a vast majority of the Ijaw nation. However, there’s no way you cannot have one or two dissenting voices within the Ijaw community who, for “Egina-beni” sake, will sing a different tune and that’s only natural.
The Ijaw National Congress (INC), Ijaw policy makers both in Nigeria and in the diaspora have come out in an open and stout support for the position of the movement. So also, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, has come out energetically to support the movement, traditional rulers, women groups and spiritual leaders including Christian, traditional and others have come out to support and pray for the movement.
The leader of Ijaw nation, Chief Clark, has also come out and appealed to the leadership of the PDP to ensure a level playing field for all aspirants, and that’s all we ask for. As democrats, majority Ijaw voices will have their way and the minority voices will have their say, that is the essence of democracy.
Has your group decided on any of the Ijaw governorship aspirants, do you see any potential choice among them?
My group is not in the business of tipping or screening anybody for governor, no, not at all. Our mandate as I have said repeatedly, is to promote the idea that Ijaw ethnic group, this time around, should be supported to produce the governor in 2023. We don’t campaign for any individual. However, at the appropriate time, Ijaw nation will put forward their preferred aspirant to take part in the contest.
What’s your message to the people of Delta Central in regards to the Ijaw quest to govern the state in 2023?
Ijaw will continue to plead with our brothers to understand our position and support us. Nevertheless, by the special grace of God, an Ijaw man will mount the Osadebe House in 2023 because God Almighty is a God of truth, justice and fair play. The justice of the situation demands that on a level playing field an Ijaw aspirant will win.
Again, with my experience in life, for anybody to come and tell me that Ijaw should wait till 2031 and it will be handed over to Ijaw on a platter of gold, Ijaw does not buy into that! A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Power belongs to God and which human hand can give power to a fellow human? The answer is capital NONE, your arm of flesh will fail.
Your finally words
I want to re-emphasize our position that Ijaw people are interested in producing the governor in 2023, and that PDP should give everybody a level playing field. We believe that the Smart Governor, who has been decorated as one of the best organizers of party primary conventions, as he did in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, will create a level playing field for all aspirants and will replicate the Port-Harcourt miracle. I think PDP will toe the path of justice, fairness and a level playing field for all.