Due to the diverse scenarios and dynamic politicking, directly or indirectly, that involved the outgoing President Good luck Jonathan, his wife Patience Jonathan, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, PDP gubernatorial candidate Chief Nyesom Wike, the governors forum, Rivers’ State assembly and the controversial former Rivers State commissioner of police, Joseph Mbu among others; no state in Nigeria during the last 4 years has been on a consistent spotlight like Rivers State. The state was also identified as violence and crisis prone in the build up to the presidential election of 28th March 2015. As expected it delivered in that direction when Gov. Amaechi following alleged missing of results sheets in most polling units of Rivers state called for the cancellation of the election in the state even while it was still going on. Rivers state also was the only state that massively demonstrated for cancellation of the national election results.
With the presidential results announcement veering toward APC despite the Rivers state results; it allowed APC stalwarts some breathing space to strategise. They could allow a loss in Rivers State today, for a bigger prize tomorrow. They tactfully held back, watching and strategising for a non-rancorous conclusion of the election at federal level. Pursuing to the letter for cancellation of Rivers state result by APC would have provided a platform for PDP to demand also for cancellation of election results in some northern states thereby jeopardizing the announcement of the results and leading to a vicious cycle of crises the end of which no one could imagine. Make no mistake about it with the expected reformation of judiciary under president- elect General Muhammadu Buhari; many national assembly members would lose their seats when election tribunal begins seating. Nigeria is indeed a blessed country because many times it seems it’s about to fall from a precipice, it has always managed to fall back.
The question buzzing around the ears of many at this moment is that given all that have transpired and that is still happening in this particular state including loss of lives for four years who will Governor Amaechi hand over after the governorship and house of assembly election on 11th April 2015. Will Gov. Amaechi be handing over Chief Nyesom Wike of PDP or Dr Dakuku Peterside of APC? Will leaders of APC – Gov. Amaechi, Dr Dakuku Peterside and Sen. Magnus Abe resort again to call and demonstration for election cancellation instead preparing well for PDP? The dynamics has indeed changed and the smiles beaming out from Amaechi after General Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election can attest to that.
Personally, assuming that the election went President Goodluck Jonathan’s way, I do not believe that Chief Nyesom Wike will win Rivers state election in a free and fair election. Firstly, never in the history of Nigeria both at federal and state level has a zone occupied power for more than eight years consecutively. That will happen if Chief Nyesom Wike from same zone as the governor wins the governorship election which will leave a sense of injustice and a sour taste in the mouth of citizens of River state. It will be the same zone being in power in Rivers State for at least 12 years or 16 years if he wins and gets re-elected in 2019. Going by what is on the ground; most Rivers state citizens were standing behind President Jonathan but equally want equity and justice to be done by ensuring that power moves fairly to the riverine area of the state. However we know that justice and equity have been sacrificed on altar of personal ambition of some politicians like Chief Nyesom Wike who with the backing of President’s wife and in collusion with Felix Obuah led PDP state executives imposed himself as the Rivers state governorship candidate. PDP as a whole is suffering today due its politics of division and imposition of candidates contrary to the norm and will of the people.
Secondly, with the federal might behind Wike now whittled down, APC is more positioned to win on April but the leaders should not take it for granted and must not be caught napping. With APC success at national level people naturally flow with the winning side as certain groups like Afenifere that endorsed President Jonathan are now shifting or modifying their stance towards General Buhari. Furthermore I am not sure any army or police officer despite the role they played on March 28 election will not want to be on the side of APC or at least be impartial any of which will favour APC during the governorship election on the April 11th. The same applies to the resident electoral commissioner of Rivers state who cannot afford to be partial furthermore.
Gov Amaechi and his party should put their ears on the ground to discern what PDP is up to this time around. Given the turn of events at the federal level he should send his men around to fish for information from PDP members who may be sincerely willing to jump ship like his deputy did few weeks ago. In warfare and also in politics no matter how strong your opponent is you will always be a step ahead if you have prior information of their scheming and plan and match them as well. In addition even before the Election Day he should extract commitment from Rivers resident electoral commissioner that all results sheets must be present at the polling units during election to be signed by all agents after counting of vote. He must ensure that their agents are well represented in all the polling units and equipped to collect evidence and ensure fair election.
Last year after PDP primaries, some Rivers state council of elders gave ultimatum to PDP to substitute Chief Nyesom Wike’s name with for another contestant from Riverine area. That call went unheeded. The fact remains that many rivers people across the divide are disenchanted with imposition of Chief Nyesom Wike as PDP aspirant but chose to be diplomatic and quiet about it to avoid being seen as speaking against the president or his wife. Now that the president has lost presidential election I believe that they will cast their votes without fear or favour to ensure justice and equity since other zones have spent eight years consecutively at realm of power at the Brick House. But Rivers State APC must work hard taking advantage of the momentum on their side to ensure that Dr Dakuku Peterside wins the election on11th April 2015.
With nothing much at stake again after losing the presidential election, it is also possible that the presidency will deploy everything within their disposal in a last battle to ensure that PDP wins Rivers state. Similar to the last fight we see in movies, Gov. Amaechi should prepare and equip his team to for such a fight in a peaceful way taking on what PDP may throw at them and not be caught napping again.
Governorship Election in the South East Nigeria
With APC winning the majority in the senate and imminent change of power I do not know where South East zone stands in the current calculation giving that PDP swept all the senatorial posts in the zone. Imo State seems to be the only state where APC could win the governorship election .However it presents a position of dilemma for its citizen comes 11th April 2015 governorship election. To ensure equity and justice power should naturally move to Owerri zone where governorship candidates of PDP and APGA -Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Capt Emmanuel Ihenacho respectively are certain to share votes from the zone. On the other hand to ensure that at least a state in south east has a stake in the new political climate and not in the opposition; they may have to decide to vote for continuation of Gov. Rochas Okorocha with undertaking from him to ensure that power must return to Owerri zone in 2015. Whatever is the outcome in a free and fair election let the citizens choose their leaders without coercion in Rivers and Imo States as well as other states of federation comes April 11 2015.
Dr Chidi Uba is a medical doctor and writes from the UK.
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