Jonathan Lokpobiri is a former chairman of the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, in the central zone. Apart from the fact that he is a brother to Heineken Lokpobiri, a former minister, the younger Lokpobiri is a voice and a force in the politics of Ekeremor.
In this interview with TNN, he speaks on the power sharing deal between Sagbama and Ekeremor and how the deal was rubbished. He also warned that the pact between the two local governments that make up the Bayelsa West Senatorial district may give way to chaos and crisis if Senator Seriake Dickson pushes for and gets a second term as senator.
Sometime this year, some Ekeremor people and even in Sagbama too, came up to say at a meeting that the zoning between Sagbama and Ekeremor for the senate seat was no more relevant and that Dickson should be allowed to continue for a second term as against the well-known zoning principle that guides the Sagbama-Ekeremor people in producing a senator. So, we are looking at this as an issue ahead of the 2023 election, what do you think about this?
Essentially, as a stakeholder from that senatorial district, I would like to approach this subject matter from two perspectives. First, from the position of moral justice. Now, my position on that is that I expect responsibleness from the character of the person of Senator Dickson. But because in politics, morality dies for individual ambitions to thrive, so I do not hope that he will have the integrity and the moral strength to say this was what I said, this was the platform upon which I rode into the senate.
If I were in his position, I simply would honour my own words and allow this to go. But on the other hand, as a politician, why I would also not want to kill myself in the hope that he will not honour his own words and then that of the generality of the people.
First, I blame my own Ekeremor people, especially some folks like the characters of former deputy governor, Peremobowei Ebebi and then other leaders like R.J Torlo and some other notable leaders who are political figures from the senatorial district. Why do I say so? This so called zoning was orchestrated simply to stop Senator Heineken Lokpobiri from going back, but because he’s my blood, whatever positions we say people will think we are being hurt or aggrieved by that decision. But, I can simply tell you that if that agreement was honoured, it would have been good for our people. But Peremobowei Ebebi who incidentally was the political leader from Ekeremor, who presided over this accord and sealed it on our people that from now on till death do us part, both Sagbama and Ekeremor would always have two-two tenures in either of the offices in National Assembly.
For me, as much as that their decision was totally hinged on hatred for one person, the decision in the overall was seen as something that will bring peace in the political class in the senatorial district, so I had no personal grudges against it. That was why when he called to see me over his ambition in 2019, I told him you are my political leader, as much as I disagreed with your method, you are one political leader that I cannot deny the authority you had as one of the highest political office holders from the senatorial district before the emergence of Dickson as governor from Sagbama. So, if you feel that in the best of your wisdom, this was good for the senatorial district and all that, we all obliged. So I expect you to honour your own word because at the moment you are seeking an election to the senate, the two terms of the senatorial district for Sagbama was still running. Remember you supported senator Ewhrudjakpo, after Festus Ogola lost a second term ambition, as at that time, it was almost in general knowledge that Ekeremor people shouldn’t even run because Sagbama had one more tenure left, and you supported the Sagbama own, because you felt there was a standing agreement. And then before even the expiration or the end of that tenure which to everybody belonged to Sagbama it was abhorrence to me to see you break your own rules simply because your ambition was superior to the understanding of our people. So I cannot just tell you that I won’t support you, we will always do everything to stop you, that’s what I told him.
What are your fears, maybe major stakeholders from the two senatorial district will say let’s abide by what we agreed before, what do you think will happen?
First, I have no fears, I am not a man that entertains fears, but I have concerns; the concerns I have is that today in the power equation in Bayelsa, Sagbama has that authority. It works for them so they can abuse the privileges they have by totally pushing aside every morality or every expectations of society, as long as power resides in their hand. So I do believe that they will use it effectively against Ekeremor people which is what is obvious. Now, the deeper concern I have for tomorrow is that because power is transient, because power is never static, power is not kingship where one family runs it forever, so power someday, somehow will gravitate towards the next people, and when they have it, because of the history these guys are desperately trying to create today, there will be no need whatsoever for us to come together as a people for an understanding.
Now, if I juxtapose these concerns to the modern reality someday in the future, I can tell you that one local government, out of desperation, can produce both the senate and house of reps because there is no law stopping us from doing so. A vicious, ambitious person like Dickson, somebody will either be governor or powerful or influential from the senatorial district either from Ekeremor or Sagbama but wherever the pendulum swings I can tell you for free that someday, if Dickson and his cohorts do not apply wisdom and rather pursue power, someday I can tell you for free it can happen either ways, either Sagbama or Ekeremor from the same local government, they can produce both the senator and the house of reps member and nothing will happen. That’s the ultimate part of it and then there will be no need. This brotherhood that we share as a people will completely die. So it will be a feast of the strongest, whatever you can take, take, that will be the end.
And if that brotherhood dies, who will you blame?
Well, if that brotherhood dies, nobody will be absolved. The reason is, if we don’t have what it takes to stop Dickson now and he pushes his desperate, his dangerous ambition, and then succeeds, the generations, maybe he probably may not even, this dangerous reprisals may not even happen in his lifetime, or sometimes it could even happen but even then, this danger, dangerous seed they are sowing will germinate and grow into a monstrous giant that will consume our people’s togetherness and it will become a vicious circle of dog eating dog, that’s likely what will happen someday in the future.