By Lateef Adegbite
Nyensom Wike, a former minister of state, Education, during Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration and now governor of Rivers state and other members of the G5 or Integrity Group, opposed to Senator Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, continued stay in office may be counting their days .
The other G5 members who have entered into the bad book of the PDP Leadership over allegations that they have entered a deal with the rival Labbour Part and All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidates or the 2023, general elections include Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia, Ortom, Benue, Seyi Makinde, Oyo, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu.
Samuel Ortom, a former minister of state Industries, Trade and Investment during Jonathan’s Administration, and now governor of Benue state may have given insight into the position of the G5 when he endorsed Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and Flag bearer of the LP. He may have traded with caution when he said he will not join in his Campaign train because he is still a member of the PDP.
This is not so for Wike, the Rivers state governor and arrowhead of the G5, who had said that he will announce his preferred Presidential Candidate for 2023, general elections on January 5, 2023, and will join the political Pary and its Candidate in his state to state Campaign ‘’to tell Nigerians why they should vote for the person and nothing will happen’’. He may have weighed the party Leadership that they cannot do him anything.
But Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto, and Director General, PDP, Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, and who still see the G5 as ‘’my good Colleagues’’ may have given a hint of plans by the party Leadership to expel them to clip their wings.
The PDP Leadership may have exercised restraints in last couple of months in dealing with the erring 5 members, as a Law abiding party going by Governor Tambuwal Statement. He had said that the party will ‘’respond to whatever position the Group will take after January 5, 2023’’. Tambuwal, the Sokoto state governor and ATiku, political ally and right hand man had made it clear to those that cares to listen that as soon as ‘’the Group resolve on what to do, the PDP Leadership will then decide on what to do’’: Expel them.
Between late 2022 and now, there have been speculations making the rounds that the G5 have struck a deal with Obi, the LP Candidate and were said to have also held a secret meeting with Aswaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and Presidential Candidate of the APC, in London recently .
Daily Trust had reported that on Thursday, December 29, 2022, that Tinubu, the APC, Flag bearer for the 2023, general elections had struck a deal with the G5 in London. A close source to the APC Flag bearer had said that the meeting was held on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, at the London residence of the APC Presidential Candidate. Unconfirmed report shows that the parties are still fine-tuning the modalities for the alliance to form a government of National Unity that will benefit all the parties involved in the deal.
Many believe that G5 members cannot on their own enter into any deal with Obi of the LP or Tinubu, APC, without the input from the PDP elders that are backing them. Mention was made of Olabode George, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, during Obasanjo’s Administration and who has vowed to relocate to neighbouring Ghana if Tinubu wins the election and Prof Jerry Gana among others.
A recent Statement by Wike that ‘’God will never give power to the wicked and those who will sell off Nigeria in a fraction of a second’’ speaks bear eloquent testimony to the fact that it will never enter into any deal with Tinubu of the APC, particular.
He had recalled that the PDP Leadership had said that ’’there is trouble when there is no trouble’’. In an interview with a BBC Correspondent in London, recently, he had said that what the people are seeing in Nigeria is just an ‘’introduction to the trouble that is going to come’’., in 2023, described as a year of wonder by Enoch Aejare Adeboye a Clergy man and General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God., RCCCG in his New year message.
Given the tension in the polity the Nigerian President has charged Nigerians ‘’to resist attempt by politicians to disrupt the 2023 general elections. Appealing to the people ‘’to play their part in ensuring that the elections is credible, he has urged them ‘’not to engage in anti-state activities and other various acts that may affect the smooth conduct of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission’’, INEC.
Most Re. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Diocese, who was said to have also urged Nigerian electorates to fulfill their civic responsibilities has appealed to the people not to ‘’allow their stomach and pocket determine their choice of political parties and Candidates to vote for but be guided by the biblical counsel of Apostle Paul’’.
Even former President Jonathan , the Bayelsa state born politician in his new year message to Nigerians had urged the people to see ‘’the 2023, general elections as an opportunity to give birth to a new country’’. He was to have told the Nigerian electorates in the New year message that ‘’the ballot serves as the most suitable vehicle for achieving the shared dream of justice, unity and prosperity’’.
Daniel Bwala, spokesperson of Atiku Campaign Organisation, has accused the ruling APC of trying ‘’to sabotage the cashless policy introduced by Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to engage in vote buying’’ which is tantamount to inviting trouble in the 2023, general elections.
Bwala, who could not hide his feelings had said that what the CBN is only seeking is ‘’to improve free and fair elections in the country , using the 2023, general elections as a test case through its monetary policies but the APC is opposing it because the APC intends to continue with its electoral malpractices’’.
He had said that the APC which is used ‘’to snatching of ballot boxes and stuffing it with votes may no longer find it easy to do so with the National Assembly approved electronic transmission of results while votes are cast, casting and counting at the polling unit by INEC.
According to him, ‘’vote buying is one of the major problems that had affected free and fair elections processes in Nigeria over the years’’. Buhari may not have wanted to give the politicians room to make mockery of the 2022, Electoral Act, that has vowed ‘’to entrench an electoral process in the country that is free, fair and credible for Nigerians to elect their choice’’.
INEC may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when when it said that ‘’it has sufficient Bimodal Registration Systems, BVAS, to conduct the 2023 general elections in the 176,846 polling units in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Festus Okoye, the electoral umpire National Commissioner had said that the BVAS which will be ‘’the game –changer in relation to the elections is in place’’, an indications that it will be very difficult for the politicians to rig.
. He had said that over 1.4 million adhoc staff are being trained on the effective usage of the BVAS. The Commission may have started training the adhoc staff on how’’ to use the BVASA to avoid using people who don’t have any idea about the technology.
Note that the BVAS, which is a ‘’technological system that allows the Accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading of results amongst others is stipulated in the 2022 Electoral Act’’ that had been signed into Law by the Nigerian President.
Notwithstanding the arrangement that had been made by INEC for the 2023, general elections, Abdurahman Dambazu, a retired Army General and former Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, who incidentally was minister of Interior in Buhari’s first term in office had said that the Idigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a Separatist Group in the south east geopolitical region appears to be a major threat to the elections in the region.
The former minister had urged the security agencies to do everything within their powers between now and the February 25, 203, Presidential and National Assembly elections to dismantle the Group which he had described as a ‘’major event’’.
Only recently, the Eboyi state Police Command was said to have uncovered one of the biggest bomb factory in the region and allegedly recovered several Improvised Explosive devices, IEDS. He noted that in Benue and other north central states the challenges of the herders-farmers conflict and banditry in the north western region are also posing a threat to the 2023 general elections.
The retired Army General had described the insurgency in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe as a regional problem which affects all the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and which extends to other countries in the SAHEL, an indications that the country security challenges remains a problem that had to be settle to make the 2023, general elections a reality.