Chairman of the Integrated Niger Delta Congress, INDC, and Managing Director, Nidro Oil and Gas international services limited, Hon. Alabo Ibanibo Victor Don Pedro is an elder statesman from Kalabari, in Bakana of Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
He was one of those who galvanized votes for the governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike against the Riverine born APC candidate, Dakuku Adol Peterside in the 2015 election.
In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, he expressed disappointment with the leadership style of governor Wike while urging him to spread development across every nook and cranny of Rivers State.
You were so optimistic that Wike will deliver on the Trans-Kalabari road; it’s five years already. Are you still hopeful?
Honestly speaking, when we look at it, in our gatherings, in our meetings, in our community meetings, we sit down, we are talking about the government of today, we are saying that Wike coming into power is not an accident, it’s like something that the Lord has planned it to be and that such person will come and do a good job without creating minority, without creating fear, without creating doubt and without creating oppression but the way we are looking at him as our governor, the man we trusted, the man that we worked for, the man that we see that if tomorrow comes, tomorrow will be greater than that day we are seeing is not the same anymore.
Why, did anything change or you just didn’t see it coming?
Well, why I am saying so is because as a person, I have been crying for over five years, I have been crying on different papers, giving insight to the governor, to people of this state and the Niger Delta that for you to be great, you need to take very good steps and take the bull by the horn and sometimes people say you bite more than you can chew or chew more than you can swallow. The Trans-Kalabari road is a very laudable project, it is capable of increasing the profile of the governor and other governments that will come and the past governments, all will be happy of what Trans-Kalabari has come to be, in the sense that we are clustered, that is Rivers State, we are clustered in one place. If you create for instance, before this government and before the government of Chibuike Amaechi, we have been pleading and preaching of urban development, we are preaching, Degema, Bori, Bonny, Onelga and all these old cities that have enough land to be developed in Rivers State like Lagos. I am interested in Lagos, Lagos used to be known as Ikeja central alone, now Lagos is expanded, now they are talking about New Lagos, where people have not thought of, where people have not dreamt to go. Now, Trans-Kalabari is to expand Rivers State. Once Trans-Kalabari road is created, you will see along the coastal line, there will be creations, there will be houses, businesses, there will be companies even along the road, the area will be busy, alive and people will migrate from the city, the state capital to these places, open more places for people to come in. When there is a move, other people will come in and expand the city. If you make Trans-Kalabari, take a boat and see, you will see that today Lekki is an ocean that was sand field. Epe is an Island that was sand field, today Epe and Lekki joined together are now slated to be a new city in Lagos and this has created little Dubai for Lagos, so what are we creating? We are clustered in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, we are clustered, take a look at now, if God forbid, if we have a war, or earthquake or tsunami or one thing or the other in this place I’m just talking about, you will see that people will die, it will be disastrous even safety of whatever that will evacuate people will not be there because we are clustered in one place, just like when you cluster gas line to collect gas or crude oil, we are clustered in one place and it is not good for a developing state or nation like Rivers State.
So, our able governor that we love so much, in Abuja those days when he was a minister, we have seen tomorrow that this is going to be a man that is going to work for everybody not only Ikwerres, not only the Kalabaris or Ijaws.
Are you saying that by his actions he is governing just the Ikwerres?
That’s what we have seen, we have seen that he is working for just the Ikwerres, that is what I, a business politician who have been seeing what is going on, especially when it concerns a man I love so much, I love this man, I love him, I cannot compare him to anyone that has ruled before. We expected that he is going to make the state for everybody not for one tribe or local government or group.
Those expectations made you canvass, support Wike over Dakuku and Dumo, do you have regrets now?
I will not say that I regret for not voting for my own brother, Dakuku and voting for Wike, I will not say I regret.
Why, don’t you think Dakuku would have delivered the dividends of democracy to the Riverines?
Well, I will not say I regret because it is then my decision, my organization, INDC, the Integrated Niger Delta Congress, great Kalabari Kubri, I united all these people and told them that we are going to work for Wike because of my opinion about him. He doesn’t know me, the time I met him was when he was a local government chairman, when we voted and worked for him, but since that time, I created that love, our organization created that love. For us, it was Wike or never. But now, a lot of my organization members, my vice president are not happy, I said don’t regret, let us sit down, like a name of a dog, “sit don look”, let us sit down and look critically what is going on because this is not the Wike we worked for.
Invariably, if there were a third term you wouldn’t have supported him again like before?
To be honest with you, there will be no third term that’s number one and if he wants to go to third term, either him or his translated, somebody he is going to bring, it will be very difficult because you have to look, we know that these days individual vote is no longer counting, money and the barrel of gun are working but I don’t think in future it will be the same because civilization is changing. They call us zoo, we want to be civilized, nobody wants to sit on the fence anymore.
How can this be achieved when the Riverines have remained divided?
Yes, that saying is a little bit correct that the riverines are not united, that is why we created great Kalabari Kubri for Kalabari axis and Ijaw united family, this is to create awareness for all the riverines to tell them enough is enough, let us teach people how to fish than give them fish to eat. What am I trying to say? Don’t take money because of hunger, let us create a man that will do the right thing, build cities, create infrastructure, bring security to make us live longer. The Ijaws or the Kalabaris will be united, you remember the Ikwerres of those days, did you know that Ikwerre will be like this before? Time after time, God wants to develop them, God wants to work for them, He bring the Kalabari people, He bring other people to help them grow and that is what we are seeing, so the Riverine will be united, it will take a little time, people should not take us for fool, is the bread and butter they share that is making them to divide, divide and rule is making them create division within themselves.
Wike is very passionate about Ikwerre people against other groups in Rivers State. Would you say there was there a time the Ikwerres were marginalized?
There was never a time like that because at my age, you know, at time past, the Ikwerres was naïve, they were not much in career, they were not much in education, they were not much in civil service, all they know was “Ala Ndam” their land, but at the end of the day they are the same people that sell the land to outsiders to people and use the money. So nobody marginalized, it is civilization, because of their culture, because of the life, the pattern they came to see. Otherwise we have great men that have passed, Chinua Achebe, Obi Wali and a lot of great men that are from Ikwerre, that the governor of today, Amaechi and the rest of them, Omehia, they were young ones, growing like us.
If you are sitting face to face with governor Wike, what will you tell him concerning the fact that he has three more years as it pertains to the Riverines?
Yes, my advice to him is that we still have three more years to go, project will come, project will go. I urge him to look inwards because the life we live today is not ours, it’s God’s life, we are all his people. He is the governor of Rivers State; he represents Rivers State, he is our governor, he should spread the projects, spread it, see that every nook and cranny of the 23 local governments is fairly treated for the purpose of continuity tomorrow. He should look inward and touch all the local government. He still has three years, he should start up the Trans-Kalabari road, Rivers State as a whole will rejoice and he will never be forgotten for good.