INEC’s Legislative Rerun Puts Rivers On Edge Again | Independent Newspapers Limited
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INEC’s Legislative Rerun Puts Rivers On Edge Again

Posted: Jul 17, 2016 at 4:19 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Rivers State has remained a hot spot of Nigeria’s politics since the former Governor Rotimi Amaechi defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the now ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). In doing so, he fell out with his former friend and associate, now Governor Nyesom Wike, who stuck to the PDP, through which he, on the recommendation of Amaechi, became a minister in the cabinet of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Since Amaechi’s defection, he and Wike have remained at daggers drawn. Wike and the PDP worked tooth and nail to snatch the Rives State from the grip of APC and Amaechi. Since then, the state has remained a battle zone whenever an election is held there.

With the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) planning to conduct legislative rerun elections in four states of Rivers, Imo, Kogi and Kano, the most challenging, arguably, seems to be that of Rivers, given the number of seats involved in the federal parliament and the volatile nature of the state.

During the previous inconclusive election, several lives were lost, while there were destruction of properties. Lives of the electoral officials were also under threat while there was massive snatching of INEC sensitive materials, including ballot boxes and papers. Arms and ammunition were freely used by thugs believed to belong to both major parties.

Thus, as the July 30 legislative rerun election in Rivers State draws near, the PDP and the APC have again come on each other’s jugular. Investigations indicate that each of the parties and their candidates have been engaging in verbal war either to win the sympathy of the voters and/or damage the public image of the others.

It will be recalled that INEC had postponed elections in eight local government areas of the state, especially in the Rivers South East senatorial district, which has Senator Magnus Ngei Abe of APC against Olaka Wogu of PDP.

Last week, APC had stunned the public with an allegation that Governor Wike had been a long time business partner with the INEC resident commissioner, Aniedi Ikoiwak. Both men had since denied the allegation.

Few days back, PDP revealed that Senator Abe had been sighted in the headquarters of the INEC in Abuja on several occasions. His mission in INEC was not known, but it might not be unconnected with the forthcoming election.

PDP has vowed severally that it would sweep the election because it has engaged in vigorous grassroots campaign. This is as the APC has been doing much of talking in the print and the electronics media.

The popularity of both Magnus Abe and Olaka Wogu cannot be compared. While many believe that Senator Abe has enough crowd and popularity to win the election, others maintain that the silent campaign being engaged by the PDP can give the party the needed victory.

Governor Wike had earlier sworn that Abe would never win the election. According to him, his democracy dividends in Ogoniland recently are enough to make PDP win the election.

On June 2, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report implementation. That exercise was indeed a big boost to the APC candidate and to Senator Magnus Abe in particular. But, more than one month after, the euphoria of that exercise has greatly whittled down with many people saying that it was another political jamboree by the APC.

Ultimately, responding to the flag-off exercise, the Rivers State government, which is under PDP, immediately commenced the dualisation of the Sakpanwa Road, a major road network in Ogoniland. Virtually every known voice in Ogoniland has commended the Wike government for the gesture of expanding the road, which before now, had caused so much accident.

Observers however believe that PDP is condemned to win all the remaining seats in the coming election. It is believed that with all the “intimidation and harassment in the March 12 rerun, the party won the majority of the positions it did.”

However, Barrister Ayanfe Adekunle appealed to INEC to shelve the idea of conducting the rerun election into the legislative seats in Rivers State until security situation improves. According to him, “since 1979 I have been witnessing elections as adult, I have never seen a kind of violence that was perpetrated in Rivers in the last election.

“I want to appeal to security agents in the area not to allow the election to hold now because the two gladiators in the election, Rivers State governor, Nyesome Wike and Rotimi Amaechi have shown that they are not men of peace and they are for violence to get what they want not minding the human lives affected.

“Until peace is restored permanently in the area, there should be no election and that is the price the people of the state must pay for their act of violence.”