* APC, however, sees window for inclusion on the ballot
* PDP asks Rivers people to ‘punish’ APC with this anger
* Roads, markets remain scanty even at noon
* No flight in PH all day, plane sent to pick up Transportation diverted to Owerri
By Codratus Godson, Obinna Nwachukwu, Jeremy Godson, David Ejiohuo
Politicians from both sides of the divide in Rivers State seemed to still be in shock most of Saturday after the sudden postponement that came by 2.35am at night.
Most leaders from the state governor, Nyesom Wike, to the opposition leaders including Tonye Cole, Flag Ojukaye Amachree, etc, declined comments. Leaders of other political parties in the state such as Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord Party, Victor Fingesi of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Labour Party (LP)’s Isaac Wonwu, African Democratic Congress (ADC)’s Eniye Braide, or Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s Precious Elekima was able to make comments.
Some rays of hope for APC?
The ever-open top notch in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Kalabari prince, Tonye Princewill, said he was not supposed to speak for the party but associated himself with Festus Keyamo’s position, which is that the postponement could only be at PDP’s instance because the APC was ready.
Tonye Cole however admitted that the shift could help the Rivers APC get onto the ballot, a matter that has become protracted with the INEC. He said the party would take full advantage of the shift to get their candidates back on the ballot.
The chief, and chieftain of the APC in the state, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, in his response, sneered at the excuse of ‘logistics’ proffered by INEC, but said; “All the same, it is good for us in Rivers State as it will give INEC time to put us back on the ballot’.
Magnus Abe, another APC leader heading his faction that is in court with the minister’s faction, told newsmen that the postponement may be a sad development but that INEC must come up with strong explanations for this. He however agreed that it would be an opportunity for the party to put its candidates on the ballot. He had filed objection to the stay of execution that gave the APC a chance on the ballot but is also asking the court to declare him as the person to be put on the ballot. The court declined.
The PDP chairman in the state, Felix Obuah, seems to have broken free from the shock to issue the only statement in Rivers State on the postponement. His media aide, Jerry Needam, stated that the APC would not escape the furry of the masses, urging the people to bottle the anger and keep it till February 23 and March 9, 2019.
He stated that INEC has only succeeded in temporarily postponing the ‘doomsday’ for the APC, adding however that this doomsday’ cannot be cancelled. “It is an incontrovertible fact that Rivers people and indeed all Nigerians are united in the quest to do away with the APC. Postponement of the election or not, APC’s doomsday is inevitable and must come”.
Empty streets all day, no flights into PH
Meanwhile, the streets and markets of Port Harcourt remained half deserted even at noon. Some usually busy roads such as Odili Road and Ada George up to UOE Road were scanty with traffic. The busy Mile 3 and Mile 1 markets had few persons bussing around. Vehicles passed easily even at Ikokwu and Mile One.
No flights came to Port Harcourt all through the day and none took off. On other days, flights start from 2.30am till night. The plane expected to come and pick up the minister of transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, was said to have been diverted to the Owerri Airport probably due to hazy weather all through the day.
Signs of something wrong showed up Friday evening when INEC adhoc staff members could not gain access to materials to take off as usual. Many INEC workers usually start off by 4pm to enable them get to the creek towns of Bille, Krakrama, Bonny, Soku, etc.
This time, way after 6pm, they were still at the CBN House waiting for orders to access materials. INEC state boss, Obo Affanga, told newsmen that no material had escaped to anyone yet.
Did APC leaders truly plan to bomb the elctions?
The state government seems to be at a loss over its persistent allegations that they had intercepted tens of Hilux Vans by the APC at Choba to move into the state and attack sensitive spots the next day. The governor also personally said he had intercepted intelligence that the minister had positioned people to bomb INEC headquarters and RACs.
This may have prompted the massive presence of armoured personnel carriers (APCs) that blocked INEC state headquarters on Aba Road all Friday evening into Saturday. Now, with the postponement of the elections, it has been difficult to explain how the same people that planned to postpone an election were also preparing to bomb an election they knew would not hold.
An APC chieftain said; “It is either APC leaders in the state did not have hands in the postponement or if they knew about it, they could not have mobilized resources and evil men to bomb an election they knew would not hold”. It seems the postponement took both parties by surprise, sources opined.