Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs is the governorship candidate of Accord, one of the 18 registered Parties. He is considered one of the front runners for Rivers Governor in the 2023 election. A Kalabari from Abonnema, he has run for governor severally, always stopping short of the actual elections. In 2019, his effort was cut short by a court judgement brought against him and the party by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Scorched, but not deterred, he and the party have recently won the cases and are set for the elections of March 11, 2023. He has been able to literally build the party from scratch and in this round seems ready to go all the way. National Point’s Ibiba DonPedro, got him to speak on the campaigns, the recent attacks on his campaigns rallies and the multiplicity of candidates of Kalabari extraction in the race to Brick House.
How is the campaign going?
Now, I have been able to get a platform for myself and they thought the platform lacks structures but, they have seen over time that this man has been able to build this fully, slowly. So, now we have people contesting the House of Assembly, National Assembly seats, in the three Senatorial districts.
And it’s not just about you alone as an individual, don’t you think?.
No, it’s not about me. Now, whether or not they have the chance to win,
But, there’s the fact that these people have the interest of running. Now, when they took us to court and they saw that we took our matters seriously, we got three senior advocates to prosecute our cases. They brought three different cases against us, one against the National Assembly members, and against the House of Assembly members and then brought one against me, even though my own primary was the same day with the House of Assembly. INEC published our names with that of the House of Assembly. You would think that when they brought action against the one for the House of Assembly, they would bring one against me, For the first time, our party got judgement at the federal level, the same place they say Wike controls the judiciary. Our case was so overwhelming that, there was nothing they could do. The judges said their hands were tied, that was a clear indication for Wike, that it’s over. At that point, he knew that this was a serious ticket. Wike came out with his several orders, order this and order that and I told my people, you know what? Campaign is actually about the people, it is not all about bringing party members and bringing some people from different local government and you converge them at a place and you address them. We will take our message to the people, since Wike said we cannot use the schools. For alternative, we do road shows into the communities, without using their halls. We use the same opportunity to visit markets. We will get there and talk to the ones we can talk to, knock on doors, do door to door. And when we began to do that, they saw how the ordinary man on the street was embracing me. More than a movement, you know, that Obi movement? You see people almost want to mob me and that is what they are afraid of. You see when these persons see me and I speak to them, they are able to know that indeed that I am in this election. They’re not saying, ah! he is not contesting or he is going to stop at some point, no! They carry all kinds of rumour, but when they see me in their communities, they say, oh he is on the ballot, he is really contesting. When I put the Accord vehicle on the road and I bring out my head from the vehicle and people see me, their mood will change. You know a lot of them will poison their minds and say the Accord people are not running for the election, but now, they are seeing me. I will stop at the markets, I will knock on doors. I have started distributing cards and all that. Seeing that this is serious, they saw when we did our final rally. We did our final rally, PH was literally shutdown, in fact we had applied when Obi did his own rally at Elekahia stadium. Now, we didn’t know and they had sent the police….
Oh, you were to use the place, the same venue?
Yeah, the same day but we didn’t know. We were to go to Mile One, Education, take to the bridge then come down, go to the Creek Road Market and that was our itinerary but, the police denied our application, and I got the denial at about 10pm the night before and I tried to get across to the police. The Commissioner of police who said that, “Oh, there was another rally and said, ‘ There will be a clash” and I said, Ok, can we get the next day and the next day happens to be the 23rd and he said “Ok fine”. So, I quickly told my people that the rally was not going to hold the next day but, on the 23rd. Now on the 22nd Obi rally at the Elekahia stadium didn’t get traction and I was called that “people no go for Obi rally, people don go for Christmas o, you sure say we no go postpone our own” I said Ok, no wahala, and then we came out ,you can contrast what happened on the 22nd and the 23rd; People came out with their vehicles and some walked all the way to town. When they saw the road show, they were surprised. When we went to Ahoada, it was the same thing, we went to Ikwerre it was the same thing. So, they began to worry. We went to Ogu/Bolo it was massive, Okrika shutdown, I went for a burial, the community came out, they were singing and chanting.
Now, I am asking myself, where is this coming from? So, I compared it to the ones I have been doing over the years and people believing that this is someone who truly cares about them. All they wanted to know, was that I was on the ballot. All they tried to do with these distractions and all that was to make it impossible for me to campaign for people to see me, but the reassurance that I am on this ballot that no court will stop me. In fact, when people saw that I was in court they said no he won’t be in the ballot because the last time they used the court to stop me. So, when they said I was in court, people said, ah, it has happened again. So, when I won the court case, people were energised and they said, “Ah, so him win eh?” So, they see the embrace, If I were the opposition, I would be worried and say where is this coming from? So, that is where we are with regards to the campaign.
I went to people in Bonny, in fact the moment we got to the gate, they stopped us and we said, why? They said we wore our cap, we wore Accord cap and we said we were not going to campaign, we were going to the market to see how people are faring. So, one guy came that he is the CSO, that he will only allow 15 persons, that it’s a market if they steal things, that he will only allow 15 persons and I said Ok, no problem. Only15 of us were allowed into the market and the moment I walked into the market and the Bonny women saw me, the place changed they started chanting” Our governor, our Governor, Your Excellency, Dumo”. So, I just went and bought garri, “how much is the garri? Oya put for people” and she was putting for people next thing, the Chairman came with policemen and said sorry, you’re not allowed by the executive order and I said how? He said the market was built by the PDP for the Bonny people and I said I am in the market buying things for Bonny people, what is the distraction? What is wrong here now? I am not even asking them to vote Accord, I am not saying anything about Accord, I am not campaigning, just that there are people wearing Accord cap on the scene and I said can’t people wear Accord cap in the market? Are you saying people wearing PDP cap are not allowed to enter the market? CSO why would you stop your people? Most of them are also Bonny people and then, they said, you know it’s against this, against that, it was getting very very rowdy, on the 24th of December; and I told them, You know what? Let’s leave so that we don’t get into a fight and destroy things. That this my campaign whether by design cannot cause people their peace. And there are policemen on the other side and the supporters. If anything happens, people can get injured, So, let’s leave, that was how we left Bonny market. So, we went to Etche, the same thing, they tried to stop us. They had gone early and then destroyed our Accord office and our posters. So, we moved to Chokocho because of the attack on our party office. So, we turned again and started going back to the campaign office. When we got there, all kinds of things, it just tells you how they are taking us seriously.
On the concern about the many Kalabari candidates in the race for Governor and the calls for a merging of structures
Now, to the Kalabari thing, a group of Kalabari women came here about two or so months ago. Elderly women, some in their seventies, some in their sixties, a few in their fifties, expressed the same concern like you expressed. That they will like to see how we can all come together to present a common candidate. Any of such move I am in 100% support, if we can do that, so we will put our foot forward. Myself and Tonye we have sat down and I have agreed that well, we will look at what’s going on, then we will take a position. However, I now worry about the utterances that Tonye is making, that Tonye goes out and tells people that this campaign is between Sim and himself only. So, me, Dawari, Magnus they don’t matter?. Tonye had come to have a conversation with me, that as we go on, we will look at the strengths and take a position. But to say that I am not even in this race, why should I even listen to you when you come back, you have already ruled me out?, All of this my effort, you can not rule me out. There are 18 of us contesting in this election at least from all indications, they say at least there are four candidates in Rivers State, they added me there, and he had said that time and time that this election is between him and Sim. When tomorrow he wants to come back and I tell him no conversation, people will wonder why. You have to give me my due. At least, you came to my house and spoke with me and said look ‘There is a need to collaborate with me at some point, between you and I you know we are family, we will look at ways to win this election, and we had that conversation.