Rivers Election: Give Peace A Chance | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Rivers Election: Give Peace A Chance

Posted: Mar 18, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Rivers State rerun election into the National and State Assemblies, which is scheduled to hold this Saturday March 19, would offer the people of the state another opportunity to vote for the candidates of their choice. But there is palpable apprehension as members of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and their followers are threatening the peace of the state by their unguarded utterances. This is most unfortunate! Recall that in December 2015,the Rivers State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal nullified the election of the Speaker Owaji Ibani and 21 other members of the state assembly. The tribunal also voided the election of 10 members of the House of Representatives and the three Senators representing the state in the Senate. All the lawmakers are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The invalidation of the election by the tribunal was affirmed by the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal due to  “failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to comply substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act and other guidelines for the March 28, 2015 National Assembly Election in the conduct of the polls.”

The election reportedly led to destruction of lives and property. This obviously is regrettable because after 16 years of continuous democratic practice in the country, Nigerians expect a peaceful and orderly conduct of elections in the state in particular and the country in general. The fact that Nigerians and indeed the residents in Rivers state are now apprehensive over the conduct of the rerun election is condemnable and should not be allowed to continue. That is why this Newspaper wants the security agencies to be proactive in intelligence gathering to nip in the bud possible outbreak of violence. They should avoid partisanship and be neutral in their dealings during the rerun election. INEC must conduct a free, fair, credible and acceptable election that would prevent the losers and their supporters from discontentment and agitation. Indeed the Electoral Umpire must be impartial and allow the votes of the people to count.

The contestants and their supporters should not consider the election as a do-or-die-affair, rather they should perceive it as the only democratic means of getting the mandate of the people. They should emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan who confessed during the 2015 presidential election, “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”. Again, they should realise that there are winners and losers in every contest, therefore the losers should imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and concede defeat with philosophical calmness! The various players in the forthcoming election should know that the world is watching to ascertain the growth of democracy in this country. So, the rerun should be used to show case the deepening of Nigeria’s democracy after 16 years.


Therefore, traditional rulers, religious leaders, political stalwarts, parents and stakeholders in Rivers State should appeal to their children not to be willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians who may want to use them to foment violence during the election. If lives and property are destroyed in the outbreak of violence it is the people of the state that would suffer the loss. They must realise that Rivers State belong to them and if they should destroy it they would have no other state of theirs. Also lives wasted cannot be reclaimed and property destroyed would require money to restore; money that could be channelled into other sectors that would impact positively on the lives of the people.

It is noteworthy that the cost of conducting rerun elections in the country has become very expensive. Only this week, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, noted at a National Conference for Justices of the Court of Appeal and Election Petition Tribunal that it has become “more challenging to manage rerun elections arising from candidates’ disqualification” stating that “after wasting time and resources, the outcome of such election, did not make any material difference to the original result declared by INEC, which made substantial compliance with the Electoral Act”. Against this backdrop we urge the major players in the election: the contestants, Rivers State and Federal Governments including security agencies and INEC to ensure that they conduct the election according to the rules to avoid nullification. Rivers State must not become another “wild, wild west”.