* APC launches ‘Kick Out Wike’ project’
* Wike says no man born of women or gunboats can remove him
* Courts keep delisting more parties
* Army leads security agencies for action
* INEC accused, undecided?
By Ignatius Chukwu (Culled from BD Sunday)
In most other places it is called election, in some others it is called crisis, but in Rivers of Blood, it is called ‘war’. Election is war here.
Now, hopes that the governorship election in Rivers State would be a walk over seem to dim every hour. Not even the additional knockout from the ballot of Accord Party (AP) candidate, Dumo Lulu-Brigs, actually a long standing All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and financier, by another Rivers High Court would make the election a walkover.
The APC continues to keep hope alive even after not participating in the last week election for the National Assembly. The party continues to tell its members that it had hope a court would revamp their ballot slot. For that reason, the party keeps fighting to create a space for itself.
Now, the mood is high in APC circles as something like fear seems to build up in PDP camps following the presidential election results that did not only return the APC in power at the centre but drastically reduced the strength of Rivers State and the PDP in the state to deliver huge votes to their presidential candidate.
This seems to prove to the APC that their formula was working, which seemed to be to whittle down voting strength of the PDP and find a way to gain advantage, like they do in the English Premiership where smaller teams try to disrupt the flow and rhythm of the bigger team and look for a shock goal to inflict maximum injury.
Operation Kick Out Wike on the way?
Now, the APC has concluded plans to launch what it calls ‘Kick Out Wike’ project which would lead to a mega rally and procession starting from the Isaac Boro Park in the heart of the Garden City in what seems to be a show of strength. A party chieftain and Chibuike Amaechi diehard, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said: “I pray that as we kick-off the ‘Kick Out Wike’ project, let us all unite under the leadership of our leader, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and rescue Rivers State from the hands of Wike and his people”.
Eze was full of praises for the people of Rivers State who stood against all odds, intimidation, propaganda and forces in the Wike’s administration to come out en-masse to vote for President Buhari not minding the cancellation of six Local Government Areas that would have catapulted our votes to the level of a party trusted by the people of Rivers State.
No man born of a woman, no gunboat can dethrone me – Wike
Gov Wike seems to be an election war general. He is called high Tension, Bulldozer, and Action Man. Whereas there is a General Officer Commanding troops in Port Harcourt in the Nigerian Army, Wike is regarded as a Commander of the Masses. His election network is seen as second to none in the south-south and east.
Now, he was won over 98 per cent of candidates of other political parties in the state, if he did not sponsor them to those positions in the first place. The APC has been dealt deadly blows at the courts across Nigeria and some party chieftains claims its all Wike’s hand. Now, the Accord Party where one major force ran to has been shattered in another court and his name delisted in the ballot.
Magnus Abe, regarded as Amaechi’s biggest lieutenant, and the Snowball of his team, has been encouraged into a warfare which has dealt deadly blows to the party. Many say they can hardly see who is standing against Wike. Yet, there is a shadow war many are yet to see.
Now, in the heat of violence and shooting in Rivers State, Gov Wike says no man born of woman, or any size of gunboat, can stop his victory on March 9, 2019. Gov Wike spoke in Government House on Thursday when the Socila Democratic Party (SDP) guber running mate, Christopher Udume, led others to decamp to the governor’s party, mere nine days to election.
Responding, Gov Wike said that his re-election has been secured by God and the good people of Rivers State. He said that with the defection of the SDPDeputy Governorship Candidate of SDP, the party no longer has a Governorship Candidate because of the constitutional requirement for election.
“God in his infinite mercies has given us victory. Nobody born of a woman can stop us from victory. It doesn’t matter the gunboats or armoured personnel carriers, God is with us.
“Anybody can plan against us, but you are planning against God. I cannot be afraid of any man because He who is with us, is greater than them”, he said.
The governor said all the schemes against elections in Rivers State will fail because the state is PDP.
Governor Wike thanked the former leaders of SDP in Rivers State for committing to peaceful elections in Rivers State. He urged other leaders to abandon negative destructive tendencies and join in the development of the State. The Governor said though enemies of the state are not sleeping, they will continue to fail.
“Enemies of the state are not sleeping, but no power can bring this state down. God is working for this state. What you have done is in the interest of the State”.
Courts hold bigger votes
In the war of attrition called Rivers politics, the courts have played major roles for over 10 years. It was the Supreme Court that made history in 2007 by awarding electoral victory to a man that was not on the ballot and was rather in exile during voting. The Supreme Court determined that it was the PDP that won the election and not really Celestine Omehia. In that strange interpretation, the court declared Amaechi the governor, five months after Omehia had governed.
Now, when Amaechi was at war with Goodluck Jonathan and Wike, he saw the Rivers Court positioning to aid his impeachment and shut down the courts for one year. Wike was to reopen them in 2015 and appointed the same judge the National Judicial council (NJC) recommended but rejected by Amaechi and instantly became a judicial hero in Nigeria. When the security agencies stormed judges quarters at night, Wike was miraculously passing their way and mobilized for rescue of the judges.
Besides, former governor and Amaechi estranged godfather, Peter Odili, whose wife is a justice of the Supreme Court, returned as Wike’s godfather. The governor has won many cases in various courts in the land, mostly against Amaechi and his APC.
The APC has been delisted and stay of execution has not been obeyed. The Accord Party where an APC chieftain ran to and where some sections of the APC hoped to run to for a war against Wike has been shut down too. It is difficult to see where the APC would find a footing to win the state’s governorship on March 9, 2019.
The APC has however taken the position of a man on the ground who fears no fall, thus unleashing forces that may spoil the broth for everyone. They hope to win their place back on the ballot. They thus fight to make the elections inconclusive to see if their hope in the judiciary could be real. Some say the fall of Walter Onnoghen at the apex of the Supreme Court could mean a thing or two in the Rivers imbroglio.
Army leads security agencies for action.
Gov Wike has for week continued to raise alarm that soldiers may decide where victory goes in the Rivers elections. The consistent accusations seem to get to the nerves of the 6 Brigade Division in Port Harcourt.
The governor has pointedly said the Army worked for APC, the Army said they stopped Wike’s thugs and his armed Neighbourhood Wach operatives. The Army has paraded government officials allegedly offering bribes to soldiers and caught with election materials. Wike has denied all and fought back gamely, saying the Army should first clear their names in what he had accused them such as ballot box hijacking, killings and other allegations. The Abonnema shootout has remained an issue where both the state government and the Army pass blames.
Over 56 governorship candidates have agreed with Wike and accused the Army, Friday, March 1, 2019. Their spokesman, Ihunwo Samuel said; “We the Rivers State Gubernatorial Candidates of all the political parties for the 2019 general elections collectively express our concern over the militarization of last week Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections and condemn the brazen violence, snatching of election materials, harassment and abduction of electoral officers and the wanton killings of innocent persons by the Nigerian Army in Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru, Ahoada West, Andoni, Bonny, Degema, Emouha, Ikwerre and Okrika Local Government Areas of the State.
“Of course, the partisan involvement and subversive activities of the army, especially the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigeria Army, Mayjor General Jamil Sarham and his unpatriotic band of soldiers in last week’s Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections are well known to the entire world. Indeed, it is on record that the disruption and snatching of elections materials at Okrika was led by one Captain Inuwa, the Aide De Camp to the GOC 6 Division of the Nigeria Army, Major General Sarham. Regrettably, in spite of the hue and cry over their murderousactivities in last week’s general election, the army is again, neck deep in the plot to unlawfully assist the APC to disrupt and prevent next week Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections from holding in Rivers State.”
They candidates have demanded total exclusion of the army from performing any election duties in Rivers State as we do not want more of our people to be killed in cold blood as they did in last week Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections. “We call on Mr. President, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chairman of INEC in the name of God to ensure that the army is prohibited from election duties in Rivers State.”
INEC, the whipping boy?
The INEC in the state has been remembered as the cause of everybody’s woes. When any party is doing well, INEC is a great umpire, when things go bad, its INEC that has sold out.
The APC knew the background of the man appointed to head INEC as Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in the state, Obo Efanga, and did not object. Now, the party’s supporters are calling for his head.
They have unearthed social comments and posts made by Efanga when he was an activist and have used them to show he had never held Buhari in any high esteem. Efanga had consistently pointed out in his posts where Buhari made promises but did not keep them. That is the refrain in the region. This has cast him in the image of anti-Buhari element.
They APC ceaselessly points to how Rivers INEC quickly obeyed court orders to delist APC but when stay of execution was given twice, he failed to re-list the party’s candidates. They hold this against Efanga too.
As the election came, may camps have said the other camp supplied the electoral officials more. In this, INEC and Efanga are in the middle, burning on both sides. When the results came, both sides accused INEC of compromising.
Now, the forum of Gubernatorial Candidates under the aegis of Coalition of Governorship Candidates in Rivers State have exposed secret the secret moves by INEC aided by the APC in Rivers State, to scuttle the rescheduled Gubernatorial and House of Assembly Elections in the State.
Ihunwo Samuel said the coalition intercepted what he called another heinous plan to advance the partisan interest of the APC. The plan, according to them, is to deliberately omit a political party on the ballot and give room for annulment at the tribunal.
“We join the people of Rivers State and the rest of humanity to say in clear terms that: enough of the killings, disruptions of the electoral process and massive disenfranchisement of the people of Rivers State by INEC the army as they did in last week Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.”
How the elections go in Rivers State on March 9 or any day it may hold, dangers are high that crisis may erupt. This is because, in Rivers State of today, election seems to be war. The loser flees into exile, the winner becomes the new mannor and rules with iron hand.