With the 2019 election fast approaching, one of the factors believed to be key in deciding victory is the upland and riverine dichotomy. In several political spheres, many are of the standpoint that the upland part of the state has produced so many governors and that come 2019, the riverine must make it to the Brick House in Port Harcourt.
This therefore forms the basis of the internal campaigns as each party shops for candidates to stand as flagbearers. Several political stalwarts toe this line of thought and have wooed many followers to their side in readiness for the upcoming primaries, and the election proper.
The upland and riverine dichotomy is a zoning formula that divides Rivers state into two. Those from the riverine access their communities through the waterways, and are predominantly fishermen, while those from the upland areas are basically farmers.
The upland had produced governors such as Dr. Peter Odili, Celestine Omehia, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and currently NyesomEzenwo Wike. Among those preparing to occupy the Government House next year, Wike and Senator Magnus Abe are from the upland areas, whereas Pastor Tonye Cole and Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and Dawari Pepple hail from the riverine part of the state.
Abe seems to understand the weight of the upland, riverine dichotomy when he asserted that he was a riverine man. He explained that as long as he is Rivers state, he remains a riverine man.
Notwithstanding the clamour for the zoning formula, previous elections show that it has not been binding, which is why some treat it with levity. After Odili's tenure as governor, an upland man, it was expected that a riverine man would succeed him, but Omehia emerged, even though his election was subsequently upturned by the Supreme Court which also brought in Amaechi, another upland man, as the rightful governor.
Again, in the last 2015 election, Wike won as an upland candidate irrespective of the campaigns in favour of having a riverine candidate represented by Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
From the foregoing, the upland, riverine dichotomy comes to bear whenever elections are around the corner, it dies afterwards. Or, is it that the riverine communities have not been fielding credible candidates, capable of gaining acceptance of all the people?
Currently, the pressure of having a riverine governor is mounting. How it would go is left for the electorate to decide. But certainly, it is not a concept to be toyed with.