•RIVERS Politician, Prince (Dr.) ADELEKE-JONES ADEWOLE
The non-indigenes resident in Rivers State are battling for recognition in the political setting of Rivers State. During the administration of the Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, non-indigenes collapsed their various structures into Indigenes Without Border and they were able to have a powerful voice in that administration. A few of them were appointed into the state cabinet and even headed some parastatals in the state.
On Wednesday, 31st August 2022, City People Magazine’s Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, EMEKA AMAEFULA (+234(0)8111813069), had an exclusive interview with Dr. Adeleke-Jones Adewole, the Epe, Lagos State-born Co-ordinator of Rivers State Non-Indigene Supporters of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He made clarifications on the leadership tussle in the Rivers State APC and in the Asiwaju Presidential campaign structure in Rivers state now that the distinguished Senator Magnus Ngei Abe has decamped to the Social democratic Party (SDP). Read on.
May I meet you?
My name is Prince (Dr.) Adeleke-Jones Adewole. I am an indigene of Epe from the clan of Omojoda in Lagos State. By the special grace of God, I am also the Co-ordinator of the Rivers State Non-Indigenes Group for Asiwaju.
How did you develop interest in politics?
I developed fanatic interest in politics through my participation in the days of former Governor, Dr. Peter Odili. I was with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I worked for the party. At the time, we had the issue of k-leg that brought the factions of Barrister Celestine Omehia and faction of Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to clash and led to our following Amaechi to the APC. So, I have been playing politics right from that time till now.
You are talking about 22 years ago, and you look this young, how did you mix up with the big wigs in Rivers State politics?
Well, I look very young, but age-wise, I am not young. For personal reasons I would not want to state my age here. But those who have worked with me would be able to testify on my participation in politics.
What is your academic background?
By the special grace of God, I am an alumni of the University of Port Harcourt. I did my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Port Harcourt. I did my Masters there. And at the same time, I did my doctoral degree Ph.D at the University of Port Harcourt.
What is your area of discipline?
What is your position in the All Progressives Congress nationwide?
This question is a very good one, in the sense that I have been an agitator for a position of non-indigenes in the state APC. Well, it is not just APC alone, so it is in other parties in Rivers State. The non-indigenes are not included in the party structure. I don’t know where a system like that operates, where you have an APC structure that has only indigenes of a state. That is the absence of inclusion. You now tell them, non-indigenes rally yourself. And when you say non-indigenes rally yourself, you don’t give them what would enable them to participate fully in what is happening in the APC. You only give them instructions such as: ‘Okay, this is what we are doing now, go and do so and so, so thing’. And I have said this time and again that party politics was never played like this. Where can you find this kind of participation? The segregation between indigenes and non-indigenes is an embarrassment. We cited the example of Lagos State. Go to the Lagos party structure and you will see the Igbos, you will see the whole house in one party structure from the Chairman to the last ex-Officio. Go to Abuja, in the national body, you will see the same thing happening there. As at today, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is the party National Chairman and we still have the National Secretary, Senator Omisore. That’s a Westerner and a Northerner. The National Vice- Chairmen also belongs to the same structure. But here in Rivers State, there is no non-indigene in that structure. So, the non-indigenes group has been playing politics outside the party structure, they are not holding any position or office.
So, we have been participating in politics in Rivers State as non-indigenes without a recognised leader. I am one of their leaders when it comes to the structure in the non-indigenes group of APC. I hold a co-ordinator position.
Is it of the APC or another sub-group supporting the Presidential candidates?
Yes, it’s a sub-group, I hold the position as one of the co-ordinators of Rivers State’s non-indigene group for Asiwaju. Here, we have so many factions of non-indigene groups. We have the socio-cultural group of the Igbo, the socio-cultural extraction of the Yoruba, the socio-cultural extraction of the Hausa. I represent the interests of the Igbos, the Ijaws, Edos, Akwa Ibomites, Cross Riverians, and the entire Yoruba ethnic group, and the Northern ethnic group. I encouraged them to have Rivers State non-indigenes groups.
What have been your activities to sensitize members, since the mobilization of the permanent Voters Card (PVC) exercise registration and other updates?
We have been doing the needful. We have been doing all that it takes, to sensitize everyone. If you watch my publications in the local dailies, you will read my words of encouragement there. I have spoken on how we moved from ward to ward, I am talking about 319 wards in the state, to make sure that we create support for Asiwaju. In so doing, we urged people to get their PVC. I took time to canvass support for Asiwaju by taking people to the INEC office to register for their PVC.
Now that Senator Magnus Abe has defected to the SDP, who is the leader of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Supporters Vanguard in Rivers and Bayelsa States? Is there any leadership vacuum?
Let me say this, that before now, yes, the distinguished Senator Magnus Abe was championing the cause of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and he did very well. I was part of that group then. Those of us who have interest in Asiwaju all rallied round to champion the cause of Asiwaju. Abe was leading, but at a point, he moved to the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The question now is, is Abe, SDP, still campaigning for Asiwaju? That’s the question. But for me, I don’t think so. I want to be clear. I don’t think so, because whether we want to believe it or not, he’s no longer in APC. And there is no way you can convince me that someone who’s no longer in APC would work for APC, because he’s also having his own problem to shoulder in SDP. So, are you saying that somebody who is not working for APC, would APC work for him to emerge? It’s not true. So, the narrative is not clear to say that distinguished Senator Magnus Abe is in SDP and he’s working for Asiwaju. I think I disagree with that.
There’s a co-ordinator of Asiwaju Presidential Campaign in Rivers State, who is recognized, but he is an ally of Senator Magnus Abe, Is he still a member of APC in Rivers State?
From the official perspective, he has not said that he is no longer in APC, I am talking about Chief Tony Okocha. Officially, he still claims to be in APC but undeniably, he associates with the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Is that not anti-Party activity?
Erheee ! My people will say something in our language “Oju to mo ni ri, ko ni se a laiso pe oun o mo ni” meaning “ the eyes that have befriended someone in the past, will not deny not knowing the person.” So, the eyes that be friended somebody in the past will not deny knowing that person. As I said officially, that Chief Tony Okocha has not officially presented any letter to APC that he’s no longer a member. But undeniably, he has affinity with the SDP in Rivers State.