A former Minister of Petroleum Resources under the military regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha, Chief Dan Etete, has vowed to personally lead the battle against the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, if she does not desist from meddling in the politics of Bayelsa State.
Mr. Etete made this known at an event to mark his 70th birthday at the weekend in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The ex-minister said rather than busying herself with President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election matters, the first lady was pre-occupying herself with scuttling the re-election of the state governor, Seriake Dickson, in the 2016 governorship election.
The First Lady, an indigene of Okirika in Rivers State, is allegedly not favourably disposed to Mr. Dickson getting a second term in office and has not hidden her desire to see the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters, Waripamowei Dudafa, succeed him come 2016.
What used to be a mother-son relationship between Mrs. Jonathan and Dickson turned sour when the first lady surprisingly ‘resigned’ her appointment last October as a Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service – a move interpreted as a sign of discontent with the governor, who gave her the appointment in the first place under controversial circumstances over two years ago.
However, in what appears a move to clip the first lady’s growing opposition to his re-election, the governor recently fired two of her allies from his government for allegedly actively participating in an event organized by Mrs. Jonathan. Those sacked were, Marie Ebikake, former commissioner for local government and Remi Kuku, special adviser on Federal Government projects. Mr. Dickson has since denied their sack had anything to do with their attending the event and maintained that his relationship with Mrs. Jonathan remained cordial.
The governor also banned, to the surprise of many, the activities of a pro-Jonathan group, Transformation Association of Nigeria, TAN, accusing its members, including a former deputy governor of Bayelsa State, Werinipre Seibarugu and Remi Kuku, of “promoting politics of subversion and needless division” in Bayelsa State.
Some youth groups had also warned Mrs. Jonathan not to accompany the president to the state for his presidential campaign rally on February 5.
Speaking on the first lady’s meddlesome activities, Mr. Etete wondered who appointed her the “lord over Bayelsa to determine who becomes governor and who doesn’t”.
“I am using this opportunity to warn the First Lady not to make the mistake of trying to dislodge Governor Dickson to impose a thief and a criminal as Governor of Bayelsa State”, Mr. Etete said at the event also attended by Mr. Dickson.
“It is a known fact that Dickson has performed beyond the expectation of most Bayelsans, and that out of nothing but sheer jealousy the First Lady and her cheerleaders want him out to pave way for their selfish interests”.
The former minister accused Mrs. Jonathan of being jealous of Mr. Dickson’s performance as governor since 2012.
Affirming that he had been away from the state in the last 15 years, Mr. Etete said he still kept a close observation on political happenings in the state.
He further lambasted Mrs. Jonathan for failing to appreciate Mr. Dickson’s efforts to assist her husband (Mr. Jonathan) succeed as president.
He said, “We have Governor Dickson working his heart out to galvanize support for President Jonathan’s second term in office. On the other hand, the First Lady is aligning with all the opposition elements in the state to create crisis for the young governor.
“Her aim is to return to power the same thieves and criminals who failed the state in the past, and turn back the hands of the clock for this great state”, Mr. Etete said, adding “we won’t allow such to happen”.
Also speaking at the event, a former Minister of Information and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, a close-ally of President Jonathan, said “By God’s grace, I’ll celebrate my 90th birthday here in Bayelsa in 2017, during Dickson’s second term in office”.
Gov. Dickson, who expressed gratitude to Ijaw leaders for their support since he assumed office, said everyone who truly loved Nigeria should support the president’s re-election bid.
Apparently referring to the first lady’s activities in Bayelsa State, the governor said it was an irony that some people would claim to be rooting for the president’s re-election bid and at the same time causing confusion in his (president) home state.
“You can’t claim to be for Mr. President and yet be sabotaging his home state”, he said.