Photo of Goodluck Jonathan and Seriake Dickson

A group, the Niger Delta United for Jonathan, has apologized to President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the booing of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State during a recent presidential campaign in Yenagoa, the state capital.

In a statement, the group explained that the booing of Mr. Dickson at the event was not meant to embarrass President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience Jonathan, and the PDP’s national officials. It also declared that, contrary to claims by the governor, Mrs. Jonathan was not behind the open humiliation of the governor at the rally. Instead, the group accused Governor Dickson of instigating insults against Mrs. Jonathan, whom they named “our mother.” Their statement also described the booing of the governor as a clear show of pent up frustration by the people of Bayelsa with Governor Dickson’s administration.

The group’s statement was addressed to President Jonathan and signed by its secretary, Azibaayam Iborisi, and public relations officer, Ebimiziewe Angalapele. The two-page letter declared that Mr. Dickson’s government was the worst in the history of the state in terms of inclusive policy, youth mobilization and empowerment, and respect for human rights.

The group remarked that “the open and loud booing” of Mr. Dickson was not sponsored by anyone, the governor alleged, but a spontaneous expression of frustration by angry residents from all the local government areas of the state. According to the group, “in spite of the scotching sun and later the rain, the oppressed people of your state patiently waited to show you how they feel about the Seriake Dickson-led administration,” the group told Mr. Jonathan.

“The people of the state feel bad about what happened, yet it could have been worse than that if it had not been your campaign outing, since we are seriously committed to working for your re-election. We believe that based on your own sense of fairness, you will look into the raging complaints that Bayelsa is now been run like Seriake's family estate,” the group stated.

The statement continued: “While the presidential rally was on, ‘Dickson's thugs’ were busy invading stores close by the venue, destroying pure water sachets that were on sale, just to avoid possible stoning of the Governor.

“We cannot deny him credit for some developmental strides, but the attitude and conduct of the governor is inimical to the unity and progress of the people of the state and the entire Ijaw race.

“Is it not [an] irony of fate that the sponsored insults against our mother, Dame Patience Jonathan, and the plans to publicly embarrass her at the event turned out to be emphatic public rejection of his administration as he was roundly booed even by those he had paid for the hatchet job?”

In a statement released after the booing incident, Mr. Dickson’s spokesman, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, claimed that the majority of the people of Bayelsa were behind the governor. The governor’s chief press secretary also accused members of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) and Women for Change Initiative as being behind the booing.

The governor’s allegation against Women for Change Initiative, a non-governmental organization promoted by Mrs. Jonathan, and TAN, which is also controlled by the First Lady’s loyalists, was an indication that the political rift between the governor and the president’s wife continues to grow. Mrs. Jonathan has reportedly vowed to support a replacement for Mr. Dickson in a future governorship election.

According to Mr. Iworiso-Markson, “Attempts by members of TAN and Women for Change and Development Initiative to boo and stone the Governor were drowned by the singing and drumming of pro-Dickson supporters, who were at the venue of the rally in their numbers.”

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