The presidential bid of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, received a late boost on Thursday when leaders of former Niger Delta militants across the seven states in the region endorsed his candidature and that of his running mate, Yusuf Baba-Ahmed, for president and vice president respectively.
This was the decision the group arrived at after a meeting that took several hours in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, despite warnings and pressure from the state governor, Nyesom Wike, and strong Tinubu campaigner, Asari Dokubo, also a former agitator.
Wike has directed all structures of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state to mobilise and vote Tinubu following schism in the PDP.
The leadership crisis in the PDP which made Wike and his counterparts in Oyo, Enugu, Abia and Benue to boycott the presidential campaign of the party was for Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP National Chairman, to resign.
His refusal to resign forced the governors who are members of the G-5 to throw their weight behind different candidates for the presidential election.
Asari on his part warned the militants not to support anyone other than Tinubu but all pressures failed as the ex-militants rose from their meeting to declare their support for Obi in a communique they issued.
The meeting which included all major ex-Niger Delta militant leaders, their representatives in alliance with a new think-tank of oil producing ethnic nationalities of the region, called PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, to withdraw from the election.
They also warned against rigging in the election.
The meeting which was held under the aegis of Conference of Ex-militants for Niger Delta Industrial Rebirth, declared in a 10-point communique, that, “Today, we the undersigned ex-militants of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, being of well-known public identity, in full alliance with our elder statesmen and leaders of the Oil Producing Ethnic Nationalities for Good Governance.
“The glaring and crystal plain conclusion was reached that Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party has the highest governance intelligence quotient, creative industrial competence, resourceful innate integrity, compassionate potentialities and propensity to decisively implement practical solutions to the well documented myriads of leadership failure, epic environmental degradation and traumatic corruption which have impeded real development of our Niger Delta region for too long.
“Having come to that unanimous and unequivocal conclusion, we hereby passionately appeal to every ex-militant, youth, women group and leadership of ethnic nationalities of the region to come to terms with the rationales we have given above.
“Accordingly, we ask you to join us deliver every scrap of ballot paper that arrives the soil, shores, creeks, cities, towns, camps and hamlets of our Niger Delta region for Mr. Peter Obi and his amiable running mate, Sen. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, as the next President and Vice President of Nigeria come February 25, 2023.
While we acknowledge that the Nigerian constitution gives every citizen of voting age the franchise to vote the candidates of their choice, we cannot pretend to understand and applaud those few rebels and renegades for sale among Niger Delta ex-militants, youth groups, ethnic nationality leaders, traditional rulers and sundry citizens who have shamelessly endorsed and claim to align with the presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Abubakar Atiku.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state without reservation that Atiku Abubakar is an unfeeling Fulani who, having found a like-minded traitor in the visionless governor of Delta state, Mr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, has demonstrated to all peoples of Southern Nigeria his historic contempt for all southerners and political arrogance by breaking faith with the moral principle of North-South power rotation.
“An unwritten political code of conduct which has been in place for 24 years for the immaculate purpose of equity, sense of equality and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians of our two coordinate hemispheres.
By arrogantly insisting on running for President of Nigeria immediately following the eight years of catastrophic, genocidal and traumatizing misrule of the sitting Fulani president, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and his fellow Brutus, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, should know that they have gambled out the last political home run of their political careers.
“Their only remedy is to summon the courage to withdraw from the presidential race within the few hours remaining to the polls of February 25 and in so doing make the epic history of turning from villains to heroes at the nick of time. The choice is theirs,”
Those who attended the meeting are CENDIR, Oporoza House, Ijaw Leadership Stakeholders Working Group, the Movement for Survival of Ijaw Ethnic Nationality of the Niger Delta, Ogoni Renaissance and Urhobo Progress Vanguard.
Others are Edo Posterity Summit, Isoko Equity Agenda, Kalabari Vision Vanguard, Ndokwa Progress Roundtable, Ondo Akatapa Oil and Gas Watch, Niger Delta Coast Guards, Niger Delta Riverine Security Network and Niger Delta Congress.
The communique was signed by General Commander Tabu Obriki, Commander (Land and Sea) Abel Tariah, Mega Senior Prefect 1 Chief Long John Ebikaribo, High Chief Commander Solomon Oga, Marine Capt. R.S. Uduboh, Marine Capt. E.J. Dein, Marine Capt. E.G. Ebikeme and Marine Capt. M.N. Emberru.
Others are Tonye Wokoma, for Oil Producing Ethnic Nationalities for Good Governance and Elder Timi Kaiser-Wilhelm Ogoriba.
They said the declaration was made in alliance with a new body of Niger Delta elders, leaders and stakeholders known as Oil Producing Ethnic Nationalities for Good Governance, after what both bodies described as six months of painstaking and inclusive consultations since mid-September, 2022 across the seven Niger Delta states.