Rivers Governorship Election: Why INEC Has Questions To Answer?

By Nwangwu  Uba

Mahmood  Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and his National Electoral Commissioners,   have questions to answer  why it is taking them too long to conclude the final Collation and announcement of the governorship and state Assembly election  conducted in the oil rich Rivers state on Saturday , March  9, 2019.

 Virtually all the states of the Federation, including   Bauchi, Benue, Plateau , Kano and Sokoto states , where Supplementary elections were held on Saturday, March 23, 2019 and Adamawa, which had its Supplementary    on Thursday, March 28, 2019, had already known  their governor elects but Rivers state case was still hanging.

  Yakubu, the INEC  Chairman and his officials have been going front and back , setting unrealisable targets for final Collation and announcement of the result. From Suspension of the announcement of the result on Sunday, March 10, 2019, suspension of the announcement on the excuse of  disruption of the process  by Security operatives who had plotted to hijack the ballot boxes to Monday, March 11, 2019, it has turned to a waiting game

The question on the lips of  people is: What is so special about  the Rivers state election that a new timetable has to be  released for  the Collation and announcement of the result to be finalised?.  Another question begging the question is: what is the guarantee that  the Commission, would stick to the time table without cooking  up another excuse of the  matter being in Court  to  extend the timetable to a future date? .

Adams Oshiomhole: National Chairman, APC, Speaks With Both Sides Of The Mouth

Political watchers believe  that there are people beating the drum in Abuja for INEC and the security agencies operatives to follow. Accusing fingers are being pointed at President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, who won his re-election bid  and Adadams Oshiomhole,  a former governor of Edo state and National Chairman of the party. The duo  refusal to speak out on the Rivers state election controversy had given people the impression that they supported  what is happening in the state to forestal Nyesom Wike, the People’s Democratic governor of the state from being re0elected to occupy the Brick House. government House in the state.

The arrowhead of the plot, Felix Obuah, the Chairman of PDP in the state  had said was Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state and minister of Transportation, who served as APC, Presidential Council Campaign Council, PCO.

Amaechi may have given room  for people to believe that that  APC , are behind the crisis in the state with the alleged tacit  support given to Awara Biokpomabo , governorship Candidate of  African Action Congress, AAC, which   be treated as a case of ant-party activities but it was over looked  by the party leadership , an indication that they support  his actions in Rivers state to ensure that Wike did not return to Brick House, on May 29, 2019.

 Biokpomabo,  may have been emboldened to challenge the Rivers state gubernatorial election in Court with the backing of Amaechi who has the ear of the party leadership and the  Presidency inAbuja.Oshiomhole may have issued a  disclaimer, when he said,  the ”APC,  IS NOT supporting any political party in Rivers state”.  An angry APC Chairman said, he was not ”aware of the endorsement  of any governorship Candidate  in the state since  party  did not participate in the eercise. Tonye Ole, a lagos basedmulti-millionaire oil Petroleum Products dealer, who owns two major tank farms in  Lagos, was supposed to be the governorship Candidate of the party but was stopped by the Supreme Court, which gave gave judgment in a case brought against his emergence as the party Candidate by Magnus Abe, a former political ally of Amaechi and a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many believe that he may not be giving the correct information, as Biokpomabo, the AAC, Candidate, still see himself as governor in waiting in the state.

 Given the apprehension of  people of the state over the continued delay  in the release of the remaining governorship election   result and the  fear that it may be manipulated, , INEC,   may have been forced to come out  with a timetable that  that  would  facilitate the release.

 As part of the timetable,  the Commission Chairman and his key officials had earlier  met  on with  Ibrahim Abubakar Adamu, acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, Magaji Binchi,  Director General, Department of State Secuty, DSS, Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General  and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, and the leadership of other security Agencies to seek their support for the smooth conclusion of the electoral process in the state at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Going by the time table  released by INEC,  for the conclusion of the electoral process , in the Niger Delta state,   it also met with  the stakeholders in the state  to solicit their support to accept the outcome of the election  without fomenting trouble in the state.

 The  Value News learnt that  the  decisions reached at the  meetings with the Head of the various security Agencies  and the stakeholders  would guide the Electoral Umpire  on the next step to take to facilitate the release of the result.    A s a prelude to the coverage of the collation and announcement  of the result , the Commission   has set Sunday, March 31, 2019,   for revalidation of party Agents , local and international observers. This is to avoid rushing on the day of collation and announcement of the result.

It was gathered that  Yakubu, the INEC Chairman and his National Commissioners ha d  set Monday, April 1, 2019,  for the  issuance of  new guidelines  for resumption for  collation of the governorship  and state Assembly election results in the state.

Prior to the suspension of the Collation and announcement of the results on Sunday, March 10, 2019, due to the apparent confusion created by the soldiers and policemen deployed to guard the Collation centre  sevix  local  governt Areas result had  been announced , with Nyesom  Wike , of the ruling  PDP,  in the state leading the park.

The Commission  is optimistic that the  timetable released for the conclusion of the electoral process in state  would be religiously followed  to facilitate the   resumption of   the exercise  at the Collation centre in PortHarcourt, the venue that was said to have been  unanimously agreed  with the stakeholders  at  their March 30th meeting  in the oil city between Tuesday, April 2 and  Friday, April 5th, 2019.

The  perpetrators of the electoral crisis in the state may have won the heart of INEC officials,  with their complaints that  there was massive rigging during the conduct of the  elections in some locations that that the Commission has  set  April 13th, 2019, for Supplementary election  where necessary Political Observers believe that INEC and  DSS,  officials are working closely together to frustrate the will of the people.

The Commission  may have  known the implication of manipulating the will of the people that after reviewing the situation that led to the suspension of the  Collation and announcement of the result in the state   had said there was ”no basis  for the action taken  and thus shifted the announcement to  Wednesday March, 20th, 2019. That was how far it could go.

The DSS, may not want to be linked to  the  crisis in Rivers state which had delayed the announcement of the  state governorship  result.   In apparent reaction to the allegations being leveled against  the Agency by critics of having a hand to the crisis, Peter  Afunanya, the DSS , Public Relations Officer , on Friday,  March 28, 2019,  issued a Statement,  exonerating the  Service from the problem in the state.  Afunanya  disclosed that  the” service  was working   according  to the” law and will”  never worked against INEC  as it has be alleged”  He insists that  ”as  a professional  agency , it will continue to adhere  to the principles of Justice and fairness”. The DSS  Spokesperson   may have assured the people of the state  that they have no cause to worry  as the service would continue to partner with other security agencies  and stakeholders to ensure a level playing  ground  for all the contestants.

 The DSS Image maker could beat his chest that there would been any problem that would forestall the Collation and announcement of the result this time around   because  of the assurance by the Heads of the various security agencies at the Tuesday, March 19, 2019, meeting that officers who would be deployed to the state  to oversee the final Collation and announcement of the result   would  be ”apolitical ”. They were said to have assured the INEC officials  that   they would conduct  themselves as true professionals to facilitate the conclusion of the electoral process.

Note that  the Commission had earlier promised   that between  April 2nd and 5th, 2019,  everything  concerning the governorship and state Assembly election  in Rivers state would be a foregone conclusion. Again, Yakubu and his National Commissioners, based on security reports, may have realised that this is not  feasible as it was  extended to another  date . Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman , who is taking the heat, has said that latest by April, 19, 2019, the governorship and State Constituencies result would be announced .

 Many believe that  that if  the Commission  could be to the April 13th and 15th, 2019, for the final Collation of Constituency results in various locations,  there would never be any obstacle  in releasing the governorship result, which Wike, PDP, governorship Candidate believes , he will win, because of the widespread  support of the party in the state.

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