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Dark Days Ahead …Checking Political Violence In Rivers

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When, one time President of the United States of America (USA) Abraham Lincoln once said, “no one is good enough to govern another without that other’s consent,” he was merely underscoring one of the most valuable ingredients of true democracy. By its nature, Democracy ought to be a process whereby a leadership is chosen for the people by the people before such leadership can qualify to be called government of the people.
That being the case, the people must be courted like a bride by political parties and ambitious politicians. For, no sane man brutalises his bride-to-be to coerce her into marriage.
In fact, the main responsibility of a political party is to articulate programmes and policies it intends to sell to the electorate and through persuasive appeal, earn the approval of the citizenry. Such a process must be idea-based and bereft of incitements or appeal to violence.
But in Nigeria, politics has assumed the status of war where anything and everything must be done to ensure victory, including assassination of opponents.
That tendency has left behind countless unresolved political murders ranging from those of Chief Bola Ige, one time Minister of Justice, Dr. Marshall Harry, National Vice-Chairman, South/South of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Late Chief Aminasoari Kala-Dikibo, National Vice Chairman, South-South of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
These are merely few of countless other politically motivated deaths of ordinary Nigerians, among them defenceless men, women and children. Those are victims of inter-party rivalry resulting in violence.
After the blood-bath that attended the outcome of the 2011 Presidential elections, it was reasoned that most Nigerians must have learnt their lessons. They ought to know that violence does and cannot win elections.
In fact, no one’s ambition is worth any human blood, a reason why faith-based organisations, civil society groups and indeed well-meaning political leaders have relentlessly preached against violence of any kind, in the process leading to the 2015 general elections.
Candidates of the two dominant political parties, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC have themselves preached against violence and repeatedly advised their supporters to play the game according to the rules.
But recent happenings in Rivers State leave a sour taste in the mouth. Barely, weeks to the first set of elections, there are very disturbing signals of a violence-prone electioneering with attacks on political opponents.
Last week, APC supporters from Khana Local Government Area on their way to the flag-off of the Presidential campaigns at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium at Igwuruta, were attacked, wounding two in the process. The wounded are still recuperating in a hospital in Port Harcourt.
While media reports described the assailants as unknown gun-men, it is usual for the affected party to point accusing fingers at the opponents. This was indeed so in that instance.
Just at the weekend also, a vehicle carrying the PDP candidates for the House of Representatives and House of Assembly, Bright Gogo and Adams Dabotorudima respectively and a former councilor Hope George, all from Okrika Local Government Area was attacked also by unknown gun-men. In the process, Mr. George was shot at and killed.
While many believe that to be an armed robbery attack, it is not unlikely for the victims to point accusing fingers at perceived political opponents even if the victims were dispossessed of money they had withdrawn from the bank, a moment earlier.
As if these are not enough causes for worry, the APC secretariat in Okrika Local Government Area was last Saturday night attacked with locally crafted explosives, suspected to be dynamites. This is in spite of the fact that the structure is a rented one and naturally does not belong to the political party.
Residents of Abam-Ama where the structure stands said the impact of the explosion was deafening and sent shock waves in nearby communities. The property itself, was severely touched while, a second dynamite was diffused early Sunday morning by the anti-bomb squad of the Police.
All these portend danger to free, fair and credible elections and require the urgent intervention of the law-enforcement agencies. Culprits in all the instances should be identified and brought to book and in a timely fashion.
These are times when, criminals may also capitalise on the distrust among political parties to commit crimes and make same where political colouration to attract reprisals. Unless the security agencies are vigilant and more proactive to the dangers we face, there is no telling the magnitude of violence that await Nigerians in days and weeks to come.
For instance, Nigerians expect answers to the questions raised by the recent violent attacks. We expect that some suspects are being trailed or already arrested. Nigerians expect to have information about efforts being made to track-down persons bent on militarising an ordinarily civil political process.
For the elections to be credible, the Nigerian electorate expect the security agencies to be apolitical, thorough and committed to their primary responsibility of safe-guarding lives and property. They must identify soft political targets and fashion pre-emptive devices towards warding off criminally minded misfits.
More importantly, the police must not consider any defaulter, a sacred cow in the handling of their mandate. This is because; the greatest incitement to crime is the hope of escaping punishment. So, if the foot soldiers of any political parties are convinced that they would not go unpunished if caught, it will discourage the tendency to be violent.
For now, the situation raises more questions than answers and unless the security agencies brace-up for the fresh challenges posed by the rising politically motivated violence, it can only get worse in days and weeks to come.
On their part, political parties must avoid the temptation of hurriedly blaming attacks on political opponents without awaiting proper police investigation. Such can only encourage avoidable reprisals and counter attacks which will do no one any good. They must continue to preach peace to their supporters as violence cannot guarantee favourable political outcome. Instead, it ignites a ring of lasting enmity, hatred and further violence.
Truly, no one’s ambition is worth such level of animosity and hatred. Unfortunately, those who die in the process are not children or wards of the candidates but other gullible young men and women who feed on violence and indeed other defenseless men, women and children very often caught in the cross fire.
This should not be the case. Politicians ought to be civil and responsible in persuading the electorate to accept them and their programmes as a means of forming government at various levels. Such a process ought to be violence-free and be conducted in such a manner that ignites followership and support.
My Agony is that the body language and public statements of some political leaders are not only ready incitements to violence, they have made the political process wear the semblance of war, which must be won, At All Cost. The do or die disposition of such leaders is indeed the spirit that truly fuels the violence primarily, the rest is secondary.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

Tunde Bature, Rivers State CP and Suleman Abba, IGP

Tunde Bature, Rivers State CP and Suleman Abba, IGP

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Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.

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Stop Constitution Review, CNG Tasks NASS

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, called on the National Assembly to suspend the review of the 1999 Constitution, describing it as ill-timed and uncalled for, particularly in the face of the growing agitation for Nigeria’s break-up.

It also urged the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to organize a Biafra referendum as the final step towards the separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria.

This was part of the presentation which CNG made before the leadership of the National Assembly against the backdrop of the disturbances created by certain interest groups in the South-East, in the form of the agitation for a separate state of Biafra.

Briefing journalists in Abuja after the presentation, CNG Spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that the Biafra agitation in the South-East had turned violent, alleging that the aim of the unrest in the region was to instigate reprisals by northerners against people from other parts of the country.

He said, “We demanded the immediate suspension of the ongoing exercise for the review of the 1999 Constitution and to concentrate on the first priority of determining who and what actually constitutes Nigeria as a nation in the present circumstance in which the Igbo, by taking up arms against the Nigerian state for the third time, have foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“In order to achieve the final separation of the Igbo from the rest of Nigeria, we also demanded the NASS to organize a referendum by seeking the cover of the same Doctrine of Necessity invoked by Nigeria’s federal parliament that paved way for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s takeover by declaring the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua unfit.

“We further demanded NASS to prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to invite the United Nations as well as the African Union and ECOWAS, to initiate the process of self-determination to mandate the Biafrans out of the Nigerian union by leveraging on the several relevant international treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“Today, everyone can see that the diabolical scheme planned and exhibited in the actions and clamours of IPOB, supported morally and politically by the vast majority of the pliant and affrighted Igbo elites, politicians, traditional rulers, business persons, and the larger population of this ethnic group has pushed Nigeria to the precipice.

“We are convinced that this renewed violent determination of the Igbo to see through the secession of the South-East from Nigeria is now real and cannot be avoided or deferred any longer without terrible consequences.

“In order to avoid such mishaps and unnecessary devastation on all sides, particularly the South-East whose leaders and agitators are now bent on driving it over the brink into a catastrophe, CNG is of the view that resort to available means of actualising the separation of the South-East from the rest of Nigeria is today a vital task that must be undertaken by all.”

Suleiman also argued that in order to prevent a descent into another civil war, and to forestall mass killings and untold sufferings, CNG has committed to the call for a referendum that will finally separate the South-East from Nigeria.

He added, “In this connection, we are hoping the NASS will come up with a framework to be agreed upon in the course of the referendum and its final implementation in the South-East or any enclave that wishes to secede from Nigeria.

All identified indigenes (Igbos) of the enclave or entity that called for secession (South-East) must leave the territory of Nigeria and assemble in their designated enclave for the purpose of the exercise.

“The outcome of the referendum shall be final, irreversible and shall not be reviewed or reconsidered for any other reasons. Citizens of the breakaway enclave shall be deprived of any automatic rights to return to the territory of the rump Nigeria, or to be admitted to live in any of its parts.

“We are aware that all this while, the North continued to bear the brunt of the violent agitations for secession with equanimity, stoical calm and resignation.

“Therefore, as the CNG recommits to the pursuit of a final constitutional separation with Biafra, we urge the North to remain the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits with the assurance that the good will ultimately prevail over evil.”

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PDP’s Performance Has Diminished APC In Rivers, Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says with what his administration has achieved, and is still doing, in terms of delivery of critical infrastructure, nobody in the state needs to talk about the All Progressives Congress (APC) anymore.
The governor made the assertion at the flag-off of construction work of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass Road project, yesterday, in Port Harcourt.
Wike explained that the previous administration politicised the reconstruction of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern-Bypass road and actually failed to accomplish it.
The governor said he has defied those political intrigues, and has genuinely interfaced with the people to understand the economic benefits a dualised road in the city centre could attract.
According to Wike, with the level of infrastructural development around Ogbum-nu-Abali, there would be a spike in the value of property and enhanced economic activities.
“I know that the people of Ogbum-nu-Abali resisted the dualisation of this road because of lack of information. When I met with the community leaders, they said look, they have houses bequeathed to them by their grandparents.
“I told them that whether they like it or not, if I don’t dualise it today, tomorrow somebody else will do it. And you don’t know who is coming.
“So, it’s better done now that I am a governor than when you don’t know who is coming. And the economic benefit of this road is too much, which you may not understand now.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that the entire Old Government Residential Area (GRA) has been given a facelift with quality road projects.
“This is the only place remaining. Old GRA cannot be like that and then we will leave this place. We have done the Rebisi flyover, the Oru-Abali flyover. There is no way this place will not be dualised at all. It’s not possible.”
Performing the flag-off, the member representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 1, Hon Kenneth Anayo Chikere, said the formal flag-off ceremony has ended several speculations about the possibility of executing the project.
“This day witnesses the eventual actualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project. Thank you governor for the Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern Bypass Road project!
“Thank you governor, for the Ogbum-nu-Abali internal roads, completed, commissioned and profitably in use. Thank you for being a worthy son and governor! Thank you for the exemplary leadership, the infrastructural and human development in all sectors.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, while giving the project description said the dualisation of the Ogbum-nu-Abali Road will extend all the way to the ongoing Eastern Bypass dualisation.
“Today, Ogbum-nu-Abali Road is a 7.3m wide single carriage way, with a cross section of approximately 8.5m width inclusive of the drains on either side of the road. After reconstruction and project completion, we will have a cross section of 18.1m width on the axis extending to Eastern Bypass and 17.35m width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
“This cross section is made up of 2 carriageways, each measuring 7.3m wide, both of which will be separated by a median of 1.5m width along the extension to Eastern Bypass and a median of 750cm width along Ogbum-nu-Abali Road.
It includes 1m wide drains on either side of the road, and of course, street lighting to ease movement at night as well as enhance security.
The commissioner said, the project like many others commissioned or ongoing will be built to design specifications aimed at guaranteeing minimum life-span requirement of 30 years.

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