Mr. Kenneth Kobani is the Secretary to Rivers state government. He, however, has a reputation that precedes his present position being a scion of one of the famed families from Ogoni land in Rivers State. Kenneth-Kobani The murder of his father, Chief Edward Kobani was one of the things that set the stage for the equally controversial judicial murder of the world-renowned playwright and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. There is no doubt that Kenneth has advanced beyond the setting his famed father attained in the politics of the Niger Delta. He has served twice as a commissioner in Rivers State, been a minister and is presently the Secretary to the State Government, a position that gives him oversight over all the affairs of the state government. It is that position of oversight that has roused him to rise against what he sees as an attempt to rubbish the image of the state.
He spoke against the assertion by President Muhammadu Buhari that Rivers State has become the country’s most violent state, Kobani in an encounter with Vanguard said: “You know I respect Mr. President very well. We must respect the President. If he is not given the right and proper advice then it is likely, he will make statements that will not be entirely true. Rivers state is not the deadliest state, it is certainly not. About 500 people were killed in Agatu, Benue State. I don’t think we had that number of casualties in Rivers State. You heard of Abia where they beheaded people. Kidnapping is reported in Lagos, Imo, and virtually all parts of the country. Look at the sad incident in Kaduna involving an army Colonel, who was kidnapped and killed. Unfortunately, the APC leadership in the state continue to lie to Mr. President, and I think the President need to be very conscious of these type of characters because they have a long track of misleading people.” Affirming that Governor Nyesom Wike was doing everything to redress the challenges of insecurity in the state, he said that most of the killings in the state were largely cult related.
Noting that most of the problems were inherited, he said: “We inherited multiple communal crisis encouraged by politicians from the other divide. When we came into office, we made sure we dealt with the problem of cultism that is a challenge in most parts of the state. “In Ogoni area, we have resolved the situation in Bomu community. The bad boys have all dumped cultism. Between Dege and Webiera communities is also another long-standing problem. We are trying to bring those communities together. We are resolving boundary disputes that are behind some security challenges already. On the last rerun elections in the state, Kobani alleged that military intervention in the exercise in his Gokana local government area and alleged inclusion of fake materials among the ones brought by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the exercise resulted in suspension of the election in the area and other local government areas in Ogoni. He described his arrest by the military on the day of the rerun election as an abduction, stressing that they bundled him into an Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC because he reportedly insisted that fake materials should not be used for the rerun elections. Continuing, he said the military violated court orders to have participated in the elections. “The military came to supervise the rigging. Tell me why the soldiers of Nigerian army whom we have been having very proud of will storm INEC and start ordering people to move photocopied documents to go and do elections, and when you object to it, they abduct you. Let them tell us what they arrested me for?” he charged. “I have not been told what they arrested me for except that they had an ulterior motive that results that were already written by the APC would be declared, and we refused, we resisted it and we will continue to resist it. “It is the right of Nigerians to resist election rigging. If our soldiers allow themselves to be used by some desperate politicians then what do you expect? I believe that they were misguided. I know the Nigerian army is a very proud institution. In the end, those who were responsible for misleading them will also be held to account.” Kobani reechoed it during the chat that fake materials were among materials allegedly brought for the exercise in his local government area Affirming that the violence during the election was stoked by the determination of the security agencies to take side against the PDP, he said: “There was no violence until they tried to force fake materials on us. We have protested the actions of the soldiers brought to rig the election, and we hope disciplinary actions will be taken against them.”. On how a peaceful rerun elections could be achieved in the eight local government areas where the exercise was suspended Kobani advised security agencies and INEC to encourage one man one vote anytime the rerun elections are conducted “It is one man one vote that we need. Security agencies, INEC should do what is right, and we won’t have problem. When fake materials arrive for the elections what do you expect? Or somebody goes to announce result that bears no relation with what happened then you are giving room for crisis