Ahead of the 2023 governorship election in Rivers State, chiefs, elders and natives of Kalabari Kingdom have declared their support for High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, popularly called Egberipapa.
They say the former freedom fighter will join and win the governorship race insisting that he joins the governorship race to succeed Nyesom Wike as governor of the state.
The natives under the aegis of Kengema Unity Forum KUF, said Jackrich was most qualified as Rivers Ijaw man to succeed Wike in 2023.
Members of the Kalabari forum, in their hundreds, took turns to express their confidence in Jackrich at the meeting. This, they stated during the national confab of the group held on Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Jackrich’s compound in Buguma, headquarters of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area.
The meeting was attended by chiefs, elders, indigenes and residents of Kalabari Kingdom. Speaking in an exclusive interview with TNN, a chief in the kingdom who said the purpose of the gathering was to discuss the development and progress of the Kalabari Kingdom, described Jackrich as ‘David of Kalabari Kingdom’, adding that those who they trusted before now had sold out.
According to Baranga, “we are preparing to take over power by 2023. By God’s grace, like I have earlier said, coming together is the beginning. As you can see, we are grooming ourselves, trying to bring like minds that share same vision and bring up that formidable force to withstand external force.
“We will be united this time around. In the past, those who sold us on credit are those mischief mongers, with their mischievous character. But it won’t be that way this time around; the kind of persons coming onboard now are dogged personalities to fight to the end.
“ Chief Ambassador Sobomabo Ike Jackrich is our preferred candidate. Before now, as at 2015, he agitated for a Kalabari candidate. I am speaking to you as a Kalabari chief, so that is the pointer to the fact that he has been accepted.”
Reacting to the possibility of Wike plotting to have another Ikwerre man as his successor, Baranga said “they have their political games which they want to do, but we will face them and I believe that we will overpower them.
“We have been marginalized so much by the present governor of Rivers State; it’s sheer wickedness. No tangible project has been done by this present government, the Kalabari people are ruled out in the system. We believe at this point, we must come together in one voice to take over the Brick House come 2023.
“We are lacking so much, there are no good infrastructure here. Go out and see, most of our schools are dilapidated, no good electricity, pipe borne water supply, a lot of things have gone wrong and the government’s attention is not on this area. Since 2015, Wike came in for his first tenure, our general hospital is under renovation, and that place has been locked down since 2015 till date.”
Also speaking, leader of Ward 4, Mr. Timothy Barine said “we will do everything within our reach to make sure that when he declares fully, we will all support him to the last.” He also appealed to all Kalabaris to support him.
A woman leader, Hon. Mrs. Alaligba Douglas who spoke on behalf of the women said “God will grant us our heart desire. I tell you today 28th of March, that Sobomabo Jackrich a.k.a Egberipapa is going to emerge as the Rivers State governor.”
On his part, Jackrich appreciated all for their support, saying “it is only by God’s grace that we will win, all of you that are ready, and have said we should win, it will take the grace of God, with God’s support, we will win.”
“We are going to succeed, we are going to win, they will fight us but they will fail, when they come, we are going to stand together. This is geared towards deliberating on the socioeconomic and political development of Kalabari Kingdom.
“I commend and congratulate us all for the steadfastness, sacrifices and commitment to the course of our struggle to seeing to the betterment of Kalabari land by insisting and speaking to the conscience of the powers that be, the need for us to get what we truly deserve as a people, following our numerous contributions to the economic well-being of Rivers State.
“Even though our sacrifices seem not to have paid off at a great measure, however, we are grateful for the seemingly not too obvious successes recorded so far, especially with regards to recent announcement of the award of contract for the construction of the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari road by the Rivers State Government.
“It is important to state for the records that the Kengema Unity Forum is not in opposition or at war with the Nyesom Wike led Rivers State Government, neither has anything personal against the person of the governor and therefore, sees absolutely nothing wrong with constructively criticizing the government by insisting that the right thing be done at all times.”