Rerun: Global Spotlight On Rivers | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Rerun: Global Spotlight On Rivers

Posted: Mar 19, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Amaechi, Wike In Supremacy Battle

Daniel Abia, Port Harcourt

Today, Saturday, March 19, 2016, Rivers state would become the cynosure of all eyes. This is as the much anticipated rerun legislative elections are already on the way. Today’s election is basically to test the popularity of only two politicians in the state: Governor Nyesom Wike and former governor, now minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.

Though both men are not contesting any known elective position in the election, they are captains of two irreconcilable troops and would want to prove some sort of point as to who controls the political soul, spirit and body of Rivers politics.

Prior to this elections, allegations of rigging, threats, killings and other violent crimes had generated enough fear in the minds of residents of the state including visitors. It is on the basis of this fact that interested parties in the state have been attracted to devote keen interest on today’s poll which is like a repetition of the 2015 presidential election between the former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Interested parties like the fifty four (54) nation states of Africa, local and international business class and fifty out of the one hundred and ninety five countries of the world with keen economic interest in Rivers state, will be monitoring today’s democratic exercise with unquenchable passion.

These countries have varied percentage of business interest in the state especially Port Harcourt, West African oil and gas hub. Great nations like United States, Britain, Japan, China, Canada among many others have huge investments in Port Harcourt. They will therefore want such investments to thrive no matter what atmosphere, hence today’s election will, to a large extent define the credibility of the federal government’s readiness to conduct a free and fair election in the years ahead.

Allegations and Counter- Allegations

However, in the past few weeks running into this election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been shouting on top of the roof that the federal government controlled All Progressives Congress (APC) had concluded plans to use the Nigerian Army to rig the election.

The party lamented the redeployment of troops from the 2nd Brigade, Nigerian Army to Bori in Gokana and Yeghe, in Khana local government areas respectively to quell an alleged unrest which could have been contended by the Police. About nineteen people were killed in the process including an eight month pregnant woman.

APC on its part, claimed that the deployment of the troops was in order. Their argument was that the soldiers were merely exercising their constitutional duty of fishing out “a notorious” gun runner and ex-militant General, Solomon Ndigbara who is also known as Osama Bin Laden.

Throwing the first salvo in the renewed rivalry, Amaechi accused his successor, Governor Wike of lacking the political will and capacity to govern Rivers State.

Amaechi said, “Wike lacks capacity to govern. Somebody who just knows how to steal money is a bushman. Wike said, I am corrupt. He should bring evidence to show. I will bring evidence to show that Wike is corrupt. Wike did the Rukpokwu/ Eneka road during my tenure he did not complete it. I gave Wike the contracts to do all the roads around Aristle House(a hotel in GRA) but he failed to do them, I gave him fourteen schools to give to Obio/Akpor people, he stole them, he lacks character”.

He went on to say, “When I was the governor, one thing that I kept thinking of was how to chase these criminals away but under Nyesom Wike, he meets with them. If Wike does not secure you people, the federal government will secure you. If he doesn’t want to be ignored he should go and secure you people because federal government will no longer tolerate these killings in Rivers State. They will no longer have the Police they had. They will no longer have the Army they had, we pray that INEC should be neutral, your job is to match out and vote for APC ,we will not write results like Nyesom Wike , so go back to your wards and do door to door”.

Also, in Akuku/Toru local government area, Amaechi told his party supporters to be courageous in exercising their franchise without fear of intimidation.

“You see, it is not enough to provide security because if there are no votes we will lose, the implication therefore is that all of you must come out and vote for APC so that we will win the election. There will be enough security on the election  day, there will be enough security to protect lives”, he reassured.

However,  Governor Wike  has also alleged plot by Amaechi and INEC National Commissioner,  Mrs. Amina Zakari  to swap authentic  results from polling  units with  fake results  on March 19, 2016.

Wike  also declared  that any attempt  by the former  Governor  to move around polling booths  on election  will be vehemently  resisted by the people who will publicly  disgrace Amaechi  for violating the  electoral guidelines.

Speaking during the grand finale of the Rivers East Senatorial District campaign rally  of PDP  at Elele  in Ikwerre LGA, Governor Wike  said: “All those who plan to swap  result sheets, may their souls rest in peace. Nobody will rig in Rivers State. Anybody  who thinks Amaechi  will give them result sheets to swap, should be  ready to swap their dead bodies. I have told the REC, you were here before, you can’t play games with  me “.

He informed  that the  University of Port Harcourt Vice Chancellor was compelled  by Amaechi  and  APC  leadership to draw up  a list of  INEC  Adhoc staff dominated by  former APC  caretaker  committee  chairmen and confirmed APC  members to organise  the rerun  elections.  He announced the  names  of  the  APC leaders on the list  of Adhoc  staff.

He noted that he had written a formal letter with proofs and details  to INEC  National  Chairman,  complaining  of the issue.

The governor said that President  Buhari  should not  allow Amaechi  cause crisis in the state because  of  his personal  interest.

In his remarks, National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff stated that the Rivers State was a PDP state where the people were satisfied with  the  performance  of  the  Governor.

Deputy National Chairman of the PDP,  Uche Secondus described  Amaechi  as a confirmed “thief” who stole Rivers monies  which he used to finance APC National campaigns.

Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah alleged  that  Former  Governor  , Rotimi Amaechi was the Chief sponsor of cultism in the state.

All Eyes  On  Rivers

In taking further steps to forestall possible rigging of today’s rerun, the Rivers state government had before today petitioned fifty countries with business interest in the state to pay attention to this election.

Authored by the state commissioner for information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, the petition reads in parts, “I write on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State, Nigeria, to inform you respectfully of the imminent danger posed to the peace and stability of Rivers State, by the actions and provocative utterances of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“In the run-up to the re-run legislative polls billed for the 19th of March 2016 in Rivers State, leaders of the APC, notably, Mr Dakuku Peterside, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and others, have resorted to intimidatory tactics and are openly inciting violence against members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and anyone who holds a different political perspective in the state.

‘In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment recently affirming Governor Nyesom Wike as the duly elected governor of Rivers State, among other PDP victories, the APC has ratcheted up its dangerous rhetoric.

“In a widely publicized media interview, Chief John Oyegun the National Chairman of the APC has castigated the integrity of the Justices of the Supreme Court, declaring, “Something is fundamentally wrong in the judiciary”.
Oyegun also made the bizarre suggestion that all oil-producing states of the Niger Delta region were prized assets to be acquired at all costs by the APC.

“We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country”, Chief Oyegun said.

“In a series of media interviews that began with an appearance on “Focus Nigeria”, a TV programme on African Independent Television (AIT) in Abuja, and with radio stations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister for Transportation in Nigeria, continues to use language that is both inciting and dangerously divisive.

“There are media reports, not denied even by the APC, that Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who has threatened to “do battle” with the PDP and the people of Rivers State during the polls, was accompanied into Port Harcourt last week by over 500 fully-armed military special forces.

“Mr. Amaechi has himself publicly threatened to “flood” every polling unit in Rivers State with soldiers in a bid to rig the elections in favour of the All Progressives Congress.

The Commissioner also alleged that homes of key leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party are being routinely raided and vandalized by Mr Amaechi’s goons. And plans have already been perfected to arrest all leaders of the PDP in Rivers State 48 hours to the elections on the19th of March.

“With a population of 4.5 million people, Rivers State is the oil and gas metropolis of Nigeria. The eruption of violence in a State with strong multi-ethnic fault lines could cripple Nigeria’s ailing economy, and reverberate across the country’s borders.

“We therefore call on the Government of the Peoples Republic of China to urgently initiate and maintain pressure on the Federal Government of Nigeria to allow free, fair and violence-free elections in Rivers State on the 19th of March 2016” the statement said.

Buhari Talks Tough

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed decisive punishment for sponsors of violence in the state, describing the killing of people over political differences as primitive, barbaric and unacceptable. Speaking during an interactive meeting with Nigerians resident in Equatorial Guinea, said he had given the security services clear directives in this regard.  According to the president, “henceforth, government would deal decisively with perpetrators and sponsors of violence, irrespective of their status in the society. Violence in any form will no longer be tolerated before, during or after elections.”

Also, the Nigeria Police said it has put adequate measures in place to ensure a violence-free poll today.  To this end, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP),  Solomon Arase has directed the AIG in charge of Zone 6 Calabar, AIG Adisa Baba Bolanta to relocate to Port Harcourt for pre-elections preparations with a view to ensure a conducive environment for free, fair and credible election.

However, a clear indication that the election may be bloody occurred on Thursday when gunmen ambushed and killed two men of the Nigerian  Army.

A statement by the public relations officer of the 2nd Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Captain Eli Lazarus confirmed that “at about 11am on Thursday, 17 March 16 troops on patrol in Abonnema, Degema LGA of Rivers state had a fierce encounter with a group of unknown gunmen suspected to be sea pirates.

“Our men displayed extraordinary gallantry, unfortunately, an officer and a soldier who sustained various degrees of injury during the encounter lost their lives. We are in pursuit of the criminals and we will surely get them”.

The statement enjoined residents of the state to go about their business as the Army would continue to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure sustainable peace and security of lives and property of everyone in the state.