Chief Albert Horsfall
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Elder statesmen and leaders in Rivers state have called on the people of the state and entire Niger Delta region to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan in the forth-coming presidential election.
The statesmen and leaders, under the aegis of Rivers Elders and Leaders Council (RELEC), said their decision to endorse Jonathan was not necessarily based on his achievements but to ensure that the Niger Delta region maintained its relevance in the governance of the country.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, Chairman of RELEC, Chief Albert Horsfall, said the group was not partisan but arrived at the decision to protect the interest of “Rivers people”.
“Our interest is to uphold at any given moment the interest of Rivers people and our state so that its integrity and the integrity of its people as a component and integral part of this nation will be respected, acknowledged and recognised,” he said.
Horsfall stated that if the people of the state were to base their decision on what Jonathan had done for them, the president would not get the people’s votes.
His words: “If we have made our judgment on the basis of how good he has performed or what we have gained as Rivers people today from his administration, our judgment will obviously be negative.
“But I would advise all of us, Rivers men and women and youths not to put our sentiments or judgment on what Jonathan has done or not done for Rivers State, or whether or not he has offended or negated our expectations and aspirations. But we must base our judgment on the political developments that had taken place since 1934 and had evolved on the emergence of Jonathan, a son of the Niger Delta, as Nigeria’s president.”
The former intelligence chief explained that since the people of the area came together to seek recognition as Rivers people, they have contributed to the political, physical, economic social and cultural development of the country and deserved to be given a special place in the country.
He explained: “The total contribution which our people have made in the construction and development of the Nigerian nation state and our persistent demand that we are given a deserved place of recognition and participation in the leadership of this country, we will find the reasons why we must vote Jonathan not for Jonathan’s sake at all but to ensure that the seat which we finally deservedly attained in the board room of the governance of Nigeria.
is not lost in midstream to the various peoples of the Niger Delta region including of course the Rivers people.
“We must not allow our tenure as chairman of that board of governance of the Nigerian state be truncated midstream because of allegations of one nature or another against President Jonathan and his administration. We must not be deceived to vote against the Niger Delta project! We must take it that we are voting for the objectives which prompted our people to fight for their right within this great country, Nigeria, and ensure that our place at the headship of that board room is not terminated prematurely or passed over accidentally or out of miscalculation on our part to some other persons from areas who have dominated governance of this country over the years.
“We must therefore vote for Jonathan, the only Niger Delta presidential candidate at the forth-coming elections in order to sustain the aspirations of our forefathers.
We are therefore not voting for Goodluck Jonathan per se; we are voting to sustain and maintain our deserved right as a responsible political, economic, cultural, etc. group within the comity of Nigerian ethnic nationalities.”
He challenged the people of the state to vote for Jonathan irrespective of their political leaning as that would help preserve the gains of the region.
“Therefore vote for Jonathan and if you ask yourself why you must vote for him, say it is because voting for Jonathan means voting to sustain the century-old Niger Delta peoples’ struggle and the dividends that have accrued from it,” he admonished the people.