The power of incumbency still plays a major role in the Nigerian politics; it still guarantees an incumbent the power to ‘re-elect’ himself or herself into office if the electorates do not want to elect him or her. The desperate quest for the incumbent to ‘re-elect’ himself or herself breeds violence, intimidation and humiliation of the opposition in a shenanigan bid to win. This, Rivers State did not give peace a chance, as was recorded, tyrannical features characterized all the elections that held in the state. We could remember that prior to the general elections, Rivers State was listed among the beehive for violence. The tension did not abate even as Governor Chibuike Amaechi put protocol aside and did alantan dance to the admiration of the unsuspecting crowd during when the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) acting National Chairman, Dr. Bello Mohammed, handed him the party’s flag to fly in the April election.
The people cannot be ruled by force, and tyrants can never be part of democracy. The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Rivers State had said that the April 9 National Assembly elections in the state was marred by massive electoral fraud, and called for the cancellation. The party, while addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, shortly after the NASS election, fingered certain individuals that allegedly perpetrated irregularities and violated electoral laws during the elections. Hence, the party called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to commence the immediate arrest and prosecution of the fingered. The party also called on the authorities for the immediate removal of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Aniedu Ikoiwak. But who cared? The INEC boss was told to effect his removal for allegedly aiding and abetting electoral malpractices in the state.
Many of us were surprised when the issue of electoral fraud was in the news in the state, as the party also expressed shock that despite the alleged high volume of electoral irregularities that took place during the election in Rivers State, Jega was mute to mention Rivers State as one of the states that required thorough investigation of electoral fraud. Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, running mate to Sir Celestine Omehia, Rivers State APGA’s gubernatorial candidate, who addressed the newsmen, was disappointed by what is today called ‘peaceful elections’ in Rivers State. According to him, it is saddening to say that electoral irregularities took place in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Bayelsa and Delta States, compared to what played in Rivers State. And Jega investigated these mentioned places, without Rivers State?
Mr. Jerry Godfry and Mr. Precious Barido, who are the state chairman and secretary of the party complained in a statement both of them signed, of police brutality and criminal intimidation by government officials during the elections. The APGA condemned and labeled the state government officials, stating that they were seen sharing money at polling stations. As if that was not enough, the party also said that the government officials were seen moving freely with armed (thugs?) escorts physically intimidating voters. Therefore, Jaja insisted that the April 9 election showed that Rivers PDP had the highest rigging propensity in the country?
While many Rivers people were waiting to breathe fresh air from the allegation of electoral fraud that characterized the NASS elections in Rivers State, their INEC said that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won all the 32 seats of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the April 26 governorship and state house of Assembly polls. The controversial Ikoiwak, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, was it who said the results were announced at various constituency levels and thereafter forwarded to INEC office in Port Harcourt.
“The electoral law stated that only governorship election result and the presidential elections result would be announced at state and headquarters of the commission respectively,” said Aniedi. He further stated that the results of the House of Assembly elections were made public before the governorship election result, adding that INEC was happy with the way and manner residents of Rivers State behaved throughout the general elections.
While Aniedi said the commission was compiling lists of (few?) cases of electoral offences recorded during the exercise and would prosecute the suspects soonest, the Rivers State Governor Amaechi of the PDP is just smiling. He is smiling because he has been ‘re-elected’ for a second term in office. They said that he polled 1,178, 529 votes to ‘defeat’ his opponents in the gubernatorial election. The candidate of the APGA, Celestine Omehia came ‘second’ with 112,528, while the ACN, Abiye Sekibo ‘got’ 60,240. Declaring the ‘results’ in Port Harcourt, the Returning Officer in the state, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph (Ajienka), said that 1,401,464 votes were cast, 141,4064 were valid and 27,995 were rejected . On hearing this, many people said that the result was not acceptable, alleging that there was massive rigging and that the opposition would challenge the results in court.
The State Government had said before the gubernatorial election that some attempts by candidates of opposition political parties in the state to smear the image of Governor Chibuike Amaechi, was disclosed to it. Chief of Staff, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, made this disclosure through a jingle on radio. Wike, who’s also the Chairman Amaechi Re-election Campaign Organisation, accused the ACN and APGA, governorship candidates and their supporters of planning to cause violence in the state due to what he termed, the frustration of losing the National Assembly and Presidential elections. Na wa o! Wike.
For Wike, APGA and ACN had devised desperate, dangerous and devious plans to orchestrate violence and to manipulate the electoral process. Wike said that they also uncovered plans by ACN and APGA to impersonate security personnel to intimidate and harass his party agents at polling units. He advertised that in furtherance of the alleged plan, they procured fake army and police uniforms to infiltrate the ranks of security operatives; Wike said that APGA had taken a step further by procuring the illicit services of plain clothes police operatives from Zone 6 in Calabar to storm Rumuigbo on the day of election… (What a politician without conscience!)
While Wike commented for his paymaster and in defense of his job, the Acting Chief Press Secretary, Blessing Wikina, also added his voice that the government alleged that opposition politicians had spent sleepless nights in the studio, trying to cut and join clips of speeches and pronouncements of Governor Amaechi, made at different occasions, on different days, into a jingle that would ultimately give the impression that the speech was made at a particular forum; that “the governor had promised war if not re-elected in the governorship election in the state”.
The Amaechi Campaign Organisation later advised us to ignore the purported jingle and focus on the task of voting for the only candidate (Amaechi?) that can bring about positive changes in the state. Like Amaechi danced alantan, his supporters have also joined in the dancing fray, as he was declared the ‘winner’ of the April 26, 2011 gubernatorial election in the state.
But those that were not declared winner are probably wreathing in agony. Not even when Supreme Court ruled, making Amaechi governor, that many Rivers people have been sad as they were when Amaechi was declared ‘winner’ of the April election. Amaechi cannot apparently give any reason for his joyous mood in the declaration, just as he was during the presentation of the flags at the rally to governor
ship candidates of the party.
Amaechi has always sung Christian songs in any fora, before delving into his comments. But has he any justification of being a Christian he professes owing to the alleged irregularities that many Rivers people said that his officials carried out on the elections ground? This is Amaechi who always recalled how he was denied a place on the Rivers politics in 2007, because former president Olusegun Obasanjo said that as the party’s candidate, he had what was termed k leg! Amaechi always recalled this event with so much emotion. He always said that those who wanted to play ‘God’ made all effort to stop him from becoming governor but failed. So, is he now playing ‘God’ to stop some people? Remember what happened during the PDP gubernatorial candidate primaries under Amaechi in Rivers State? That is a story for another day.
Amaechi today has any justifiable stand in the judgment of his Rivers people in not engaging in electoral fraud in the future because people have said that he rigged himself into office for the 2nd term? Rivers people can speak or even shout of his ‘achievements’ in office. Namely, the Greater Port Harcourt project, the remodeling of schools, improvement in security, massive road construction among others, but these are not the criteria for not being transparent in an election. Anybody can say that between 2003 to 2007 the security situation in the state was very bad; they should recall that Amaechi was Speaker of the state house of assembly for the eight years of the insecurity, in retrospection from 1999. Cult groups held sway in the state, in Amaechi’s speakership, and were like laws unto themselves, when he was a lawmaker, and the residents slept with two eyes opened for fear of their lives.
The ugly state of things then forced most companies and people to close shop in the state, and many politicians are being made to close their political shop today because of Amaechi’s divisive politics. When would things turn around for the better in the state under Amaechi? Rating Amaechi in the area of power is Shylockian, without first rating his surly relationship with the present PDP members and those he frustrated to leave the party in the state. Regarding Amaechi, there is less or no human resources improvement in the state since he came on board, except those of his allies, who now comment on the government success in the health and education sector, and praisesing that his administration has built over sixty primary health centers round the state and has also commissioned several model schools, (without any auditing of his government for years now). He is also doing well in rigging of elections?
This is Amaechi that has nothing to show for some schools in the rural communities where there are no teachers; these schools are run by corps members. Have the Rivers people not expressed bitterness with some of the demolitions carried out by the Amaechi-led government in the early life of his administration? People like the Publicity Committee Chairman of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organisation, Mr. David Iyofor, would always welcome and say that he has always boosted and enhanced development, but this is Iyofor who was alleged could not bring out fund to foster the media members of his team during the re-election campaign of Amaechi; Iyofor allowed the campaign to exist in his mind instead it would exist on the pages of newspapers.
The strategy already being put in place by the campaign organization to ensure the governor gets re-elected in the April gubernatorial polls as was reported of Iyofor, is the election that is today allegedly characterized by fraud. This goes to show the level of unpopularity Amaechi is among the Rivers people all around the world. He has performed creditably, but he is not credibly everywhere, in the minds of people. And many people should wonder and ask, Amaechi’s 2nd term without opposition: which way Rivers State?