Is Kalabari Cursed?

Honestly, I can’t stop to wonder if Kalabari is cursed as a people … they cry about lack of modern amenities and creeping poverty… they complain about

“Governors must restore the human dignity of Ijaw and Niger Delta people” by Bobo Sofiri Brown
You Bastard; What More Do You Want Governor Wike to Do!
Who is Oppressing Rivers people?


Honestly, I can’t stop to wonder if Kalabari is cursed as a people … they cry about lack of modern amenities and creeping poverty… they complain about unemployment and youth restiveness… they are inflicted with teenage pregnancy, disease, crime and criminality… they say their towns and villages are inaccessible by road and lack higher education facilities… but they can’t come to terms with the issues that bring these woes upon them.

I don’t know of any other people in the entire creation that inflict injuries on themselves like the Kalabari. The Kalabari politician can’t afford to see one of his own as governor of Rivers State if that person is not him. Once the whistle is blown, he jumps without control into the governorship race as locust do on rice fields, then fi-a-am, with the same speed he had earlier declared for the race, he suddenly transforms into an aggressive supporter of another non-Kalabari candidate and negotiates for peanuts.    
The question is: Apart from acquiring personal wealth and comfort what landmark achievements has any Kalabari politician brought to Kalabari land as a Deputy Governor, Speaker or Commissioner?
These offices are okay if they come as results of the equitable rotation of political power with other ethnic nationalities. But the Kalabari politician jostle for them just to deny one of his own the prime seat of governor.  
In 1979, of the five political parties: NPN, UPN, NPP, GNPP and PRP, Kalabari sons emerged as governorship candidates (flag bearers) in three. These were Chief Wenike Briggs – UPN; Dr. M.T. Akobo – GNPP and Barrister Oruwari – PRP. Another Kalabari son, Chief Onoh Graham-Douglas was the running mate in NPP.
But what happened? Prominent Kalabari politicians spearheaded an overnight gathering at a hotel in the Borikiri axis of Port Harcourt and came out with the resolution that Chief Melford Okilo of the NPN should be voted for en masse. Kalabari abandoned all of their own.
In 1999, of the three registered political parties: PDP, APP and AD, a Kalabari son, Chief Ebenezer Isokrari emerged as the flag bearer of APP and was a formidable contender for the governorship.
But what happened?  Prominent Kalabari politicians in PDP frustrated the ambition of Kalabari governorship aspirants like Dr. Ibiapuye Martyns-Yellowe. Kalabari politicians demonized Chief Ebenezer Isokrari and made sure that he did not only fail in Kalabari land but in the entire Rivers Ijaw land.
The Kalabari penchant to inflict political injuries on itself and self-destruct is legendary. They reject their own with so much gusto and fanfare.
In 2015, over 13 Kalabari governorship aspirants swamped the political field shouting “Kalabari for Governor”. 
But what happened? These Kalabari governorship aspirants refused to listen to any talk about stepping down for one another. When they eventually got shortchanged, almost all of them switched support to their tormentor-in-chief, Barrister Nyesom Wike of the PDP even when the APC had a Rivers Ijaw son, Dakuku Peterside.
As the biggest Rivers Ijaw clan, Kalabari self-destructive politics is the reason Rivers Ijaw is unable to find the proper bearing in the politics of Rivers State. It is the reason Rivers Ijaw communities are overlooked by successive administrations in the state. It is also the reason Rivers State has lost its pride of place in the comity of Nigerian states. In Kalabari Rivers State died.
2019 is in the horizon and Rivers Ijaw including Kalabari is again in focus but the question on the lips of many is: Will Kalabari support its own? Will Kalabari support Rivers Ijaw? Will Kalabari provide the much needed leadership?
Already the rat race for deputy governorship and commissionership has begun and a handful of Kalabari politicians in the PDP and their selfish and lazy counterparts in the APC have started sermonizing on why Kalabari should again support non-Ijaw candidates in 2019.
They tell anyone that cares to listen that Rivers Ijaw including Kalabari, is too disunited, too poor and too weak to produce a formidable candidate for governor.  Yet these are supposed to be the descendants of brave Kalabari warriors of old and I can’t stop wondering if Kalabari is cursed as a people. What has become of the self-worth and bride of the Kalabari?
What unity if I may ask, existed in Ikwerre land and how united were Omehia, Amaechi and Wike for them to emerge governors in succession? Have Kalabari politicians fought against themselves as fiercely as these three Ikwerre men? 
But let those who want to sell their birthright for a pot of portage be told that Rivers Ijaw has produced elected Deputy Governors in Sir. G.T.G. Toby (1999-2007); Engr. Tele Ikuru (2007-2015) and Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo (2015-2019) yet no Rivers Ijaw community can point to any significant development in 20 years. Certainly, the same cannot be said of the areas that produced the governors. Rivers Ijaw has occupied the office of the Deputy Governor enough. They have occupied the office of Speaker enough. Let these offices go to other ethnic groups that are yet to produce them. Kalabari must stand out and support one of their own or lead the campaign for a Rivers Ijaw governorship for 2019.
By Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo
June, 2017

COMMENTS