President Goodluck Jonathan has denied allegations made the Kalabari National Forum and some traditional rulers from Rivers state that he is involved in plan to cede five oil producing communities in Rivers to neighbouring Bayelsa state.
The two groups had staged a protest in Abuja where they accused the President “of interfering in a boundary dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa states.”
In a statement by his spokesperson, Reuben Abati, on Tuesday, Mr. Jonathan, a native of Bayelsa state, described the claims by the River state groups as “irresponsible and most unfortunate” because the leader of the protest was a former minister.
Abati said all the agencies referred to by the protesters as aiding the process are ‘independent’ bodies who don’t take orders from the president.
“There are laid down procedures for resolving inter-state boundary disputes,” Mr. Abati said. “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”.
He also claimed, the matter has never at any time been brought before either the President or the Vice President.
Blackmailing the President
Mr. Abati also said the protest is nothing but an attempt to blackmail the president and cause disaffection between him and his Ijaw kinsmen.
“The school-boy style protest is an attempt at cheap blackmail. We find the motive deplorable” Mr. Abati said. “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”
Political enemies at work
Mr. Abati said the protest is a handy work of the president’s political enemies who wants to use the issue of boundary demarcation to cause crisis between the people of Nembe and Kalabari who are both of the same Ijaw stock.
“President Jonathan appeals 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,” he said.