Intrigues In Postponement Of Rivers Rerun Elections | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Intrigues In Postponement Of Rivers Rerun Elections

Posted: Jul 31, 2016 at 4:14 am   /   by   /   comments (0)








The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has caused untold casualties following the recent postponement of the legislative rerun elections in Rivers State. It however goes beyond the postulation that the action was taken in view of the insecurity situation in the state.

Penultimate Friday, the INEC office in Bori, Khana Local Government area of Rivers state was burnt by some unknown arsonists. Perhaps, this was the latest action that indeed prompted the electoral body to shift the election.

With the latest postponement, INEC has delayed the conduct of the rerun two times thereby generating flak in the political circle. The two major political parties in the election: All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have been trading blames on who is responsible for the destruction of the INEC office.

But residents of Rivers state particularly the Ogoni area know that no security situation could be so potent to the extend that it could prompt the shift in the poll about four months after the first rerun in March 19.

INEC National Headquarter has clarified why it suspended the planned Saturday legislative rerun election in the State. The spokesperson of the commission, Rotimi Oyekanmi while speaking on a live television program said INEC was disturbed that its office in Bori was burnt one day after Governor Nyesom Wike allegedly made inciting comment at a political rally in Etche Local Government Area.

Mr. Oyekanmi said in addition, the security reports from experts indicated that the state was not safe for the election.

Nevertheless, beyond the INEC’s shocking postponement of that election, there are other factors which must have led to the decision taken by the electoral body. Though, some of the affected candidates have been crying blue murder as they alleged to have spent so much resources doing campaigns and rallies in preparation for the election.

PDP in particular has been insisting that APC was not ready for the poll. This fear, some believe was made manifest when the Rivers south east senatorial candidate of the APC for the Senate, Magnus Abe was alleged to have been found frequenting the office of the INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu in order to cause another shift to the poll.

Abe generally has since denied this “damning” accusation, saying instead that “I am very popular in Ogoni”, Abe told me. “There is virtually no community you go in Ogoni kingdom that you will not see my signature. I am talking about my numerous projects. I am very popular and my opposition candidates and their parties know this fact.

“How can I work for the postponement of an election that I was too sure I was going to win and I will win any day, any time? Please, help me tell them that I am very ready for the election because I have campaigned very well”, Abe said through his media manager, Parry Saro Benson.

More so, the recent peace meeting between former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, now minister of transportation and Governor Nyesom Wike at the instant of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Abubakar Idriss and director, Department of State Security Service, DSS, was said to have also hinged on the election.

But it was and still remains the thinking of millions of Rivers people that such an important meeting was aimed at bringing a lasting peace in the state. While some persons insinuated that the parley must have been arranged for the two gladiators: Amaechi and Wike to shift grounds to give way for the peaceful conduct of the poll, others saw it as an orchestrated design for Senator Magnus Abe’s free passage to the Senate.

“I cannot see any genuine reason why INEC which is a federal government agency putting a date for an election without first considering the security situation in the state. Come to think of it, what security scare are we really talking about here?

“The moral burden for this whole thing rest on the military. To the best of my knowledge, I live in Rivers state and as an activist, this state is calm and quiet. I don’t think it is right for anybody to begin to blow the security matter of the state beyond undue proportion”, said Christian Lekia, of Niger Delta Coalition Against Violence, NDCAV.

A more fearful version about the sudden postponement of the rerun election in Rivers state is that if PDP wins more senatorial seats in the senate, it will affect the calculation in the National Assembly. Of the 109-member senate, APC has about sixty while its archrival PDP has forty nine.

Now, with the allegation of possible defection of the senate President, Bukola Saraki from the APC to PDP, many fear that if that happens, then PDP which already has an influential position like that of the deputy senate president, could sting the system for APC.

Last week, social media was awash with the story that Saraki had already defected to the PDP. Some described such a proposed decision as a political suicide, others were jubilant that it was a good riddance for APC’s awkward governance. And the sideline talks center on possible impeachment of President Mohammadu Buhari, a very unrealistic possibility.

Because APC as a political party would be happy to penetrate the south-south geo-political zone through members of the National Assembly, it could have been this factor that also played out in the indefinite postponement of the rerun election, not minding the sense of inequality it creates for the people of Rivers state.

The recent peace accord signed between Amaechi and Wike not withstanding, the two juggernauts are suspicious of each other.

Wike will very unlikely concede the Rivers south east senatorial district to the APC. The governors knows that Dakuku Peterside, DG NIMASA is from there. The incoming ED Finance of the NDDC, is from there. So having senator Abe who is also from there will constitute a handful of problem for the governor.

This explains why the Inter-party Advisory Council, IPAC, recently threatened that it would be tempted to head for the court should INEC refused to revert its decision of postponing the election.

Condemning the action, the state chairman of the council, who is also the chairman of PDP in Rivers, Felix Obuah, at a press briefing in Port Harcourt,  noted that the INEC was not doing the state any good.

“While the rest of the country are being fully represented in the National Assembly, and having quality legislation to move their respective states forward, Rivers state continues to suffer stagnation, and is denied its due representation, in all things,” the chairman lamented.

Obuah also observed that the commission shocked the council by unilaterally suspending the Assembly elections, without consulting the concerned political parties, to  explain to them the reason  the elections could not go on, as planned.

In his outburst, “this is suspicious, and clearly shows that, Nigeria’s democracy is still on trial by an electoral body?, that ought to be an unbiased umpire.

“There is no gain saying the fact that, our state has been relatively peaceful, with the residents carrying on with their businesses across the state, lawfully, and without any incident of skirmishes, in any part, as erroneously alleged by INEC,”,

Comparing Rivers state with others, where elections and re-run election had taken place, and also conducted by the same INEC, Brother Obuah described Rivers as a haven of peace, due mainly to the efforts of the state government, in providing logistic support to the security agencies, for maintenance of law and other.

“Security concerns are a national and indeed universal phenomenon, and not peculiar to Rivers state. To therefore anchor on, or hide under security concerns, to postpone elections long prepared for, for nearly one year, is to say the least, a blatant lie, and not acceptable.”

The IPAC therefore  ?called on INEC, to do what it described as ‘the needful’, by reversing that decision to disabuse the minds of majority of Rivers people and other political parties, that it was rather acting out an already drafted script by the APC.

The IPAC chairman also noted that, at the recent Peace Accord meeting organized by the INEC, penultimate week to the re-run elections, only the APC was conspicuously absent, and did not sign the peace accord, which all others present signed.

It will be recalled that, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),  Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, blamed the political class in the state for the postponement, accusing them of inciting statements?, that sparked off tension in the state.

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC, Barrister Glory Emeh has praised the leadership of INEC for being “sensitive, proactive and cautious about the security situation in the state thereby postponing the election.

“You cannot eat your cake and have it. We must all be alive before we begin to talk about election. INEC is at liberty to fix a new date for the rerun”, he said.