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As PDP, APC Battle Over LG Polls In Rivers

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Cross section of Chairmen Caretaker Committees taking their oath of office at the swearing-in at Government House, Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

Cross section of Chairmen Caretaker Committees taking their oath of office at the swearing-in at Government House, Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

Tuesday, September 16,
2014, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi inaugurated caretaker committee chairmen of 21 local government councils in Rivers State at Government House with an assurance that democratically-elected officials will run the councils in Rivers State next year. This is the second time caretaker committees would be made to oversee the affairs of the local government councils since the tenure of the democratically-elected council officials expired in June.
Out of the former CTC chairmen, seven of them including those of Opobo/Nkoro, Oyigbo, Obio/Akpor, Omuma, Bonny and Emohua local government areas were retained, while new CTC chairmen were appointed into 14 councils Only Degema and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government areas were exempted as the tenure of their chairmen is still running.
While inaugurating the CTC chairmen, Governor Amaechi said the State would organise LG elections immediately after the national elections. While charging the new CTC chairmen to serve the interest of the grassroot, the State Chief Executive sounded a note of warning that any of them found wanting will risk removal.
The newly inaugurated CTC have since begun work in their respective councils, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State is crying foul and not happy that caretaker committees are still holding forth in the LGAs about three months after the tenure of the democratically-elected council officials expired. The party is equally worried that there are no hope of conducting polls at the third tier of government in the State before 2014 runs out.
Rivers PDP disagreed with Amaechi’s decision to conduct council polls next year immediately after the 2015 national elections. The PDP attributed Governor Amaechi’s decision to use caretaker committees instead of conducting council elections to the fear of defeat at the local government polls.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the party chairman, Jerry Needam, the Rivers PDP, challenged the state governor to a popularity contest through the conduct of council elections.
PDP had been the ruling party in Rivers State since 1999, but with the defection of Governor Amaechi, his executive and majority of the lawmakers at the State House of Assembly to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP lost its ruling status. Providing a critical searchlight on the activities of now APC-led government in the State is seen by PDP as a better instrument to position and launch itself back to political reckoning.
If there are doubts about the worry of Rivers PDP and what it plans to do in feasible future, the following statements said it all.
“The PDP regrets that it is the local government councils and the people that are at loss for not getting the leadership they deserve and by extension, are underdeveloped. We are on ground and ever prepared to engage Governor Amaechi and his All Progressives Congress in a free and fair electoral contest any day and are sure of coasting home in a landslide victory because we are genuine, caring, articulate and purposeful,” the statement added.
While PDP may be celebrating for taking APC and the Amaechi administration to task, Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya-led APC in Rivers State, fired back at the PDP.
In a statement in Port Harcourt, Ikanya blamed the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesome Wike and the lingering political crisis in the State for the delay in the conduct of local government elections in the state.
Apart from alleging that Wike engineered the political crisis in the state which has made it impossible for the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) to conduct council polls, Ikanya insists that “the non-conduct of the council elections in the State is not out of the fear of anybody or out of the fear of losing to PDP but for the sake of peace.”
Ikanya said the clarification has become necessary to correct the propaganda by Rivers PDP that Governor Amaechi did not conduct local government elections because he was afraid of defeat. Many may wonder why APC involved. The State APC Chairman alleged that Wike’s unseen hand manipulated the National Judicial Council (NJC) to favour the choice of Justice Daisy Okocha as the State Chief Judge instead of allowing the governor to exercise his constitutional powers to appoint a chief judge in the State in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That was the genesis of the crisis in the Judiciary in Rivers State. This has incapacitated judicial activities in the State. The fact remains that you cannot conduct elections without the judiciary because without a chief judge of the State who is expected to constitute an election tribunal to handle petitions that may arise after the elections, such polls would be an exercise in futility,” the APC chairman said.
Ikanya added that “if the PDP is actually serious about meeting its waterloo in the council elections in the state, it should prevail on Wike to stop the judicial crisis in the State by asking the NJC to allow the governor to exercise his constitutional powers to appoint the most qualified judge as the Chief Judge of the State.”
Like PDP, the APC also boasted that “if election is conducted today, the PDP would not win any councillorship position in any of the local government areas of the State.”
Justifying why Governor Amaechi cannot succumb to PDP’s challenge of conducting LG polls,  this year Ikanya said “the governor, as a man who has great respect for the laws of the land, cannot engage in an exercise that would be stalled halfway just because he wants to satisfy a non-existing party like PDP in the State.”
Beyond the issue of the council polls that have engaged both PDP and APc in war of words, the issue of who takes over from incumbent Governor Amaechi lies the intense agitation in the politics of Rivers State.
While the concern of Rivers men and women is raging without measure about who gets the governorship ticket of PDP, the same cannot be said of who becomes the State APC gubernatorial flagbearer. Right now, no fewer than 10 aspirants with posters are known to be jostling for the PDP governorship ticket, but nobody has formally declared governorship interest under the APC platform.
But the body languages of two APC Rivers members at the National Assembly, however, indicate that they may be eyeing the Rivers Brick House.
Whether PDP is “sure of coasting home in a landslide victory when election is conducted in Rivers State” or the APC believes that “the PDP cannot win councillorship seat in any of the local government areas,” the factor remains that tomorrow’s political race has begun in earnest and it takes the runner on the fast lane to arrive the destination point with good results. Which party gets the good result and picks the political crown of glory – PDP or APC? Only time will tell.

 

Samuel Eleonu

Cross section of Chairmen Caretaker Committees taking their oath of office at the swearing-in at Government House, Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

Cross section of Chairmen Caretaker Committees taking their oath of office at the swearing-in at Government House, Port Harcourt recently. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

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Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership

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Chief John Odigie-oyegun, former National Chairman, All Progressives Congress APC), has charged the party’s leaders to be more progressive and responsive to the people.
He said this at the public presentation of a book”APC’S Litmus Test, Nigerian Democracy and Politics of Change”, written by Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General, Progressives Congress Forum (PGF) in Abuja, yesterday.
“We are in charge today, a progressive government, a progressive regime, and I think it is proper that we show to the nation that when the people want some degree of change, “we should be responsive to it, we should address it, compromises have to be made, there’s no question about that,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that the APC document on true federalism was still being worked upon before its release.
Odigie-Oyegun said the ideas of people from different parts of the country would be different up to the extent that they would want to go with the proposals in the document.
He said it was however, necessary, vital and mandatory in the interest of the survival of the country that issues regarding federalism were addressed.
“We cannot continue to allow the subject to become something that threatens our nation at any turn.
“So, the earlier we address it, the earlier we show that as a party we are responsive to the feelings of the people, the desires of the people and the wants of the people.
“It becomes easier then, to diffuse the kind of stresses that the nation is passing through today,”Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that for those at the formation of the APC, the uniqueness of its Constitution and its manifesto promised change was meant by all members with their hearts and beings.
He said unfortunately, the forces of economics had made things not quite the way it was planned.
The APC former national chairman said there was need for the party members to do everything possible to keep it not just alive but very virile.
He added that in spite of general belief, the APC was one party that had put together things that meant hope for the country.
He said the fact that things were bad and people were angry and hungry was not questionable, saying that these were worldwide phenomenon.
Odigie-Oyegun decried the current security challenge in the country.
“It is my hope that we will begin to get control of the security of this nation,” he said.

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PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), House of Representatives member has enjoined Nigerian leaders to tow the path of justice, equity, dialogue, and rule of law in the country.
Rep. Toby Okechukwu, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, said this in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja to commemorate the Democracy Day
He added that such path would help to arrest worsening insecurity and arrest separatist agitations across the country.
Okechukwu said that opportunities still abound in preserving the nation’s democracy and reconstruct the union to a more workable piece.
He said that June 12 was designated Democracy Day in honour of a symbol of the nation’s democratic struggles, the late Chief MKO Abiola.
He added that Abiola was unjustly denied the opportunity to exercise an overwhelmingly popular mandate handed him by the Nigerian people on June 12 1993, but only to be celebrated at death.
“The greatest debt the governments and leaders of Nigeria owe every part of this country and every Nigerian is a sense of justice and equity according to the letters and spirit of our constitution.
“The golden rule of justice is to do unto others as you would have them to unto you,” he said.
 He called on the Federal Government to take conscious steps to do things that would promote national unity and earn it loyalty.
He also called on leaders to be proactive in creating a clement environment for peace to reign to arrest the present security challenges in the country.
Okechukwu commended the leaders of the South East and the Federal Government for the June 11, dialogue in Enugu to deescalate tension in the region.
He stated that it was a right step that should be sustained and replicated nationwide, while wishing Nigerians a happy Democracy Day.

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Democracy Day: PDP Lawmakers Wants Observance Of Rule Of Law

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has called for strict observance of the rule of law to improve democratic practice in the country.
The caucus made the call  in a statement by its Leader, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) last Saturday in Abuja.
Chinda called for an environment that would guarantee freedom of speech and standard operations for the fourth estate of the realm.
The lawmaker  stressed the need to place greater value on Nigerian lives and for decisive and pragmatic steps to end the avoidable deaths in the country.
He called on the government to restrain the Police and other security agencies from further unleashing violence on unarmed youths and other peaceful protesters.
“They choose to go out and exercise their rights in commemoration of  Democracy Day.
“June 12 is a symbol of democratic freedom and supremacy of the people’s power and should be respected by ensuring that all the tenets of democracy are adhered to in all ramifications.
“June 12 is not only about introspection, it is about renewing the commitments of all to the growth of democracy in our dear county.
“It is about ensuring that our country is never again enveloped by darkness, hemmed to the abyss by the sinister forces that threaten our collective rights and freedoms,” he said.
Chinda urged all Nigerians to hold on to democratic principles in spite of the challenges facing the country saying that “good will triumph over evil.”

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