By Stephen Ubanna
The last may
This is because the Commission which had earlier promised to complete the electoral process in the state on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, appear to be in a horn of dilemma to continue the collation process that would facilitate the announcement of the result to know the next occupant of the Brick House which is the name the government House, in Port Harcourt, the state Capital is known.
Political watchers fear that Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and National Chairman, of the Commission and his National Commissioners including the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state may be acting out a script to frustrate Nyesom Wike, the incumbent governor of the state who had contested the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from being announced the winner of the election despite clear indications to that effect.
Recall that security operatives had provided the enabling environment for INEC, to suspend the collation and announcement of the results on the eve of Sunday, March 10, 2019, with a promise to resume on Monday, March 11, 2019. It turned out to be an empty promise that was not meant to be fulfilled.
The leadership of the PDP in the state , according to party sources are not sitting by to watch Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state and minister of Transportation and other Chieftains of the state who are out to manipulate the election to have their way. The party had accused the APC Chieftains in state of ”spreading false hood regarding the conduct of the election in the state, to force INEC , to declare it as inconclusive in order to give room for the conduct of a supplementary election alongside Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
.An aggrieved Felix Obuah, the PDP , Chairman, in the state, who is not happy that Amaechi , the minister of Transportation and President Muhammadu Buhari , political ally, is using some APC Chieftains in the state to ”work against the will of the people” with his cohorts at Abuja and thus, has vowed to resist their plot.
Appealing to the minister’s hangers on who had thrown away the ”overriding interest of the Rivers people just to line their pockets with free cash” to have a rethink, and side with the people of the state, he insists that the people will resist any attempt to manipulate the mandate freely given to Wike, for another 4-year term in office.
Obuah disclosed that the six elders of the state who signed the” bribe -induced Statement against the governor to scuttle the will of the people of the state on March 9, 2019, are known ”card carrying members of the APC”. He disclosed that they are confirmed members of the minister’s anti-Rivers team in Abuja.
According to him, the petitioners were politicians who are on the payroll of the minister , described as the godfather of the APC, in the state engaged by him to spread falsehood on the electoral process in the state. The Rivers state born politician may have chosen to sabotage Wike’s re-election bid as his initial plan to impose Tonye Cole , a Lagos based businessman, as the governorship Candidate , of the APC , in the state failed to materialise as the Supreme Court ruled against it in an ex parte motion brought against it by Magnus Abe, and 22 other aggrieved members of the party in the state.
It was gathered that as part of the minister’s spoilers role, he had mobilised the party members at the first instance to support Awara Biokpmabo, the governorship Candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, floated by Omoyele Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters Online based in NewYork, United States, US, in the March 9, 2019, election in the state.
Given the fact that the AAC Candidate, may not have made any appreciable impact in the election, Amaechi, may have resorted to plan B, to create total confusion to force INEC to suspend the collation and announcement of the result. He got it right and the Commission bowed to his antics. The Commission discovered after reviewing the situation found there was no basis for the suspension of the collation and announcement of the result that it shifted it to Wednesday, March 20, 2019. The Commission may have known that the electoral process would be disrupted again if there is no proper security arrangement. This is because of the minister’s strong connection to the various security Agencies in the country.
Perhaps, to cover all loopholes that might be exploited by the trouble shooters in the state, to disrupt the collation and announcement of the result this time around, Yakubu, the INEC boss , had extracted a promise from the Heads of the various Security Agencies at their inter-agency security meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 to ensure that their officers who would be deployed to the state for the exercise remain neutral and conduct themselves as professionals.
Festus Okoye, a National Commissioner and the Commission Spokes person , also disclosed that in the search for a lasting peace in the collation and announcement of the governorship and the remaining six Constituencies state Assembly results, the Commission met with the stakeholders , where they had agreed that Port Harcourt , the state capital should be used as the Collation centre and announcement of the results. Based on the assurance from the respective Heads of the Security Agencies and the Stakeholders, the Commission had said that between April 2nd and 5th, 2019, everything about the governorship and state Assembly election in the Rivers state should be concluded.
Prior to the soldiers intervention to disrupt the Collation and announcement of the result in the state, Wike, the PDP, Candidate was already leading in the 17 local Areas , which result has been released. There are indications that he will also win the remaining six local government Areas , yet to be declared because of the believe in political circles that there is only one party in Rivers state: PDP, as the other parties were described as” birds of passage” including the Amaechi controlled APC , in the state.
There are fears that what is laying out at Bauchi state may repeat itself in the state. In Bauchi state, Mohammed Abubakar, the incumbent governor who has the mandate of the Katsina state born Nigerian President had gone to Court to stop the Commission from going ahead with the conduct of the Supplementary election in the Tafawa Balewa local government and other affected areas in the state on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The governor may have gone to Court to forestall the Collation and the announcement of the result which may likely produce Bala Mohammed, the PDP Candidate and a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, as the next governor of the state. The Commission had used the lead margin principle to declare the election in the state inconclusive. The signal from the state shows that the Amaechi, the arrowhead of the plot to torpedo the governorship and state Assembly election in the state and his team are not yet done with Wike and PDP in the state..
Already, there are fears of a prolonged legal battle that may delay the Collation and announcement of the result going by the ruling on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, on the ex parte motion filed by the Counsel to the Aggrieved AAC , Candidate, at the instance of Amaechi, the minister of Transportation asking the Court to prevent INEC , from resuming collation and announcement of the results.
The good news was that Justice Inyang Ekwo, was said to have refused to grant the order . The AAC, governorship Candidate , however, have heaved a sigh of relief when he was asked by the Court to put the Commission on notice to show why the order should be granted.
This may have forced Biokpmabo, the AAC , governorship Candidate, and his legal team including his undercover supporters in APC, both at the state and Federal level to go back to the drawing board to fine-tune their legal document to put INEC on notice on notice on why the INEC, should stop the collation and announcement of the Rivers result. do as directed by the Court.
Indeed, not many people are surprised at what is playing out in the state. Note that Amaechi, started playing the drum of war in the state during the electioneering Campaign when Buhari, was in the state to canvas for votes and the present the party Candidates for the National Assembly to the electorate. He had watched him but that was how far he could. It is not surprising why people are not moved that he has not said anything about what is happening in Rivers state, barely two weeks after the conduct of the governorship and states Assembly election.
Many believe that he kept away from the conflict in the state being roped in the crisis but allow INEC and the Court to do their job. The question on the lips of most people is: Why do Amaechi and his cohorts in APC want to take over control of Rivers state from PDP by force?. They believe that the huge budgetary allocations and share of the 13 percent derivation coming to the state as an oil producing state may be the bone of contention as the minister is desperate to install a stooge as governor of the state.
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