President Goodluck Jonathan has debunked reports linking him to a border dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states. A statement Tuesday night said by Reuben Abati, the presidential spokesman said “Our attention has been drawn to a publication in some newspapers today about a protest staged by the Kalabari National Forum and some monarchs in Abuja, in which the so-called protesters accused President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of interfering in a boundary dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states”.
The protesters , according to Abati, alleged directly and through innuendoes, that there are plans to “cede five Rivers state oil communities to Bayelsa with the connivance of various Federal Government agencies under the watchful eyes and supervision of his Excellency, Mr. President whose home state, most ingloriously, is the direct beneficiary.”
“We consider these allegations irresponsible and most unfortunate considering the status of the persons who reportedly championed the protest. The statutory agencies being referred to by the protesters do not take orders from the President; they are independent bodies. Besides, there are laid down procedures for resolving inter-state boundary disputes” the statement said.
According to Aso Rock, Nigeria’s Presidential Villa,in this particular case, the dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states predates the Jonathan administration, and has been a matter for consideration by the National Boundary Commission, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and other relevant agencies, long before now. The matter has never at any time been brought before either the President or the Vice President.
“The school-boy style protest is an attempt at cheap blackmail. We find the motive deplorable. It is all the more surprising that a man of Alabo Graham Douglas’s stature, a former Minister who ought to know what is right, will team up with a group intent on causing disaffection between the President and his Ijaw kinsmen”
The presidential statement also said “We advise the Kalabari National Forum, its members and hidden sponsors, to avoid the temptation to instigate conflict between the Nembe and Kalabari people of Rivers and Bayelsa states, who are both of the same Ijaw stock. The statutory agencies assigned the responsibility of resolving boundary disputes should be allowed to do their work.”
President Jonathan then appealed “to the good people of Rivers and Bayelsa to refuse to be dragged into the politics of conflict being orchestrated by individuals pursuing a hidden agenda. The Federal Government, under President Jonathan’s watchful eyes and supervision, remains committed to the promotion of fairness and justice in the interest of all parties concerned.”