Without anyone needing a sooth-sayer to predict the likely scenarios that would play out in Rivers State come 2023, one only needs to take a critical look at the fate of the two main political parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
While the PDP appears to be consolidating on its victory in the 2019 elections, the APC does not seem to have recovered from its failure to present a single candidate to contest that election. In the aftermath of the 2015 general elections, the APC acted as an opposition party and used the next two years to consolidate as a party that was primed to contend for power.
Although the disagree-ment between former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, had started to manifest, there was a semblance of order in the structure of the party that gave some the false hope that the party could carry the day come 2019.
What followed in the next two years before the election was like a Hollywood movie in which Amaechi, Abe and their supporters disagreed on the party’s leadership structure to the point that they went to court and allowed the matter to get to the Supreme Court.
The failure of the gladiators to agree and the manner in which they fought till the Supreme Court ruled that the party could not field any candidate for the election, to a few party faithful who displayed some level of neutrality throughout the crisis was too disturbing and therefore a trigger to either form their own faction or move to the ruling PDP.
The situation was permitted to degenerate to Hon. Igo Aguma, a staunch Amaechi ally, heading to court to take over the party’s leadership. Consequently, the battle for the party’s leadership moved from two main factions to three, which does not augur well for the party.
Rather than the political actors in the APC working as a team towards 2023, the leaders have decided to take the feud to different dimensions.
This is believed to be the reason why an ally of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Hon. Chidi Lloyd, who was the Majority Leader in the 6th and 7th Rivers State House of Assembly, during Amaechi’s two terms in office, decamped to the PDP.
Although Lloyd may not be in the category of the state’s heavyweight politicians, he was vibrant and influential in the Emohua Local Government Area politics
Perhaps, only a few political watchers knew that Lloyd’s heart was no longer in the APC until he stormed Government House, Port Harcourt, in the company of elders of his community that had gone to pay a solidarity visit to Governor Wike. It was during the visit that Lloyd announced his defection to the PDP.
Governor Wike seized the opportunity to reconcile the lawmakers that fought in 2013. Speaking at the event, Lloyd said the reconciliation was ordained by God and restated his earlier apology to Hon. Michael Chinda and his other colleagues over his role in the crisis at the State House of Assembly.
He described his action in 2013 as a mistake of the head and not of the heart and thanked Governor Wike for his benevolence which led to total reconciliation. Responding, Hon. Michael Chinda thanked God for keeping them alive to witness the reconciliation and also lauded Governor Wike for his role in ensuring that he remained alive after the incident.
Chinda, who observed that Lloyd misunderstood him on the day of the crisis, said he had already forgiven him since December, 2013. He also urged parliamentary leaders not to promote issues that would lead to crisis in their service to humanity.
Also speaking on the issue, Hon. Evans Bipi, who was factional speaker after the fight described Lloyd as a man with a large heart and thanked him for coming back to his roots.
Reacting to Lloyd’s defection to the People’s Democratic Party, the APC faction loyal to Amaechi described it as “good riddance to bad rubbish.” A statement by Ogbonna Nwuke, Acting Publicity Secretary of the APC faction, noted that the action of Lloyd did not come to the party as a surprise.
Nwuke said: “For years, our supporters have been watching the dance steps of the former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly. It is regrettable that the Emohua-born politician, whose activities have been less than desirable has taken a decision to stray from light in order to embrace darkness. We have equally listened to his comments and we are amazed that his hunt for the ‘feeding bottle’ that Wike controls could drive him to such a lowly height…
“We state categorically that the exit of Hon. Lloyd would have no effect on the fortunes of the APC. On the contrary, APC members in Emohua Local Government Area are jubilating over his exit. All politics, they say, is local, and these party men and women who are in a happy mood right now know who is who,” Nwuke reacted.
From all indications, the APC in Rivers State seems to be deluding itself as a party that is waxing stronger as Hon Ephraim Nwuzi, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Diaspora, representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency moved from the PDP to APC.
However, the reality on ground is that as the Rivers State APC continues to battle its demons, the PDP under Gov Wike continues to consolidate on its 2019 electoral success and is determined to advance towards 2023.
When the state executive of the PDP paid him a courtesy visit a few days ago, the Governor described the APC as a party that made a lot of promises before coming into power but failed Nigerians by not fulfilling its promises.
The governor said: “Nigeria is hoping on PDP because the APC has failed Nigeria. This is no more time for promises. You have promised and you have failed. There is nothing to try you again. Nigerians have realised that it is better they stay with the PDP that has the interest of Nigeria at heart than a Party that gives excuses everyday. You know there are problems in Nigeria and you made promises, asking Nigerians to vote for you and for five years, nothing has changed…
“Let me say clearly that this is no time for politics. My concern now is to make sure we deliver all the promises we have made to the people of the state. When politics comes, we will have our report card to show the people. “It has never happened in the history of this country. Within one year, a state government will construct five flyover projects at the same time.”
Wike urged the party executives to show more love to the party by being loyal and committed, just as he urged them to do their best in consolidating the gains of the party in the state.
He said: “I plead with you all to work cooperatively with the chairman and be united. We are going to work together to draw up a plan that will make us more effective. Let nobody deceive you to attend any meeting anybody will call because he wants to run for governorship. We have not come to that point. I have just stayed one year in office in my second tenure.
“We are working for our party to be united to make sure that APC does not have a breathing space in our state. “There is nothing the APC can say to Rivers people today as the reason they should be voted for. Whether it is the Federal Government, or their political appointees, they have nothing to tell us.”
Also, a few days ago, thousands of APC supporters in Etche Local Government Area dumped the party for the PDP.
Governor Wike, who addressed them, urged political leaders of the PDP in the area to work together for the overall interest of their people.
He said he made a promise to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party during his second term inauguration and would not allow further divisions in the party.
He called on the leader of the party in Etche Local Government Area, Prince Emma Anyanwu, to carry all members of the party along in the scheme of things.
“The leadership of Etche PDP should stop further disagreements and work together in unity. I do not want to hear anything like returnees.
“The people of Etche Ethnic Nationality have lost a lot of things because of division. You should see the overall interest of Etche far above personal interests,” he said.
Just as in 2019 when a war of attrition between groups loyal to Amaechi and Abe and the consequent legal battle which climaxed at the Supreme Court prevented APC from fielding candidates, observers believe that the party still has a very long way to go to position itself for a robust contest in the 2023 polls.
By: Enoch Epelle
FG Tackles UK Parliament Over Attack On Gowon
The Federal Government has berated a UK parliamentarian, Tom Tugendhat, for accusing a former Nigerian leader, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, of stealing during a debate on the #EndSARS protest in the House of Commons.
The government also rebuked the UK parliament for acting in an uninformed manner in recommending sanctions for Nigeria over the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate during the protest.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a meeting with online publishers in Lagos yesterday said the knee jerk reaction of the House of Commons was informed by fake news and disinformation.
He lambasted the chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons Tugendhat, for being “ignorant’’ and “flippant’’ in his accusation against Gowon.
“It is most disheartening that parliamentarians in a country with a history of upholding the finest ideals of democracy will act in such an uninformed manner on an issue such as EndSARS.
“The quality of the debate at the British Parliament on EndSARS was under par.
“Fake accusations based on fake news and disinformation were levelled against the Federal Government by poorly-informed participants at the debate.
“One MP even accused former Nigerian leader, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), who served this country to the best of his ability, of stealing half of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Sheer Ignorance! The flippant MP, who unfortunately chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons, did a great disservice to himself, the committee he chairs and the entire parliament by allowing himself to be misled by fake news exponents.
“Fittingly, the British Government has distanced itself from him,’’ he said.
Tugendhat, a Conservative Parliamentarian for Tombridge, Edenbridge and Malling had during the debate which led to the recommendation of sanctions against Nigeria, accused Gowon of stealing and money laundering.
“Now some people will remember when Gen. Gowon left Nigeria with half of the Central Bank, so it was said, and moved to London,’’ the MP had said.
Mohammed stressed that the twin evils of fake news and disinformation aggravated the recent #EndSARS protest and the aftermath.
He said the reactions of some countries were informed by fake news and disinformation, and varying figures of those purportedly killed in the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“For example, parliamentarians in Britain put the figure of those killed at 10, CNN first reported 38 and then lowered the number to 1.
“And DJ Switch’s numbers cascaded from 78 dead to 15 to 7!
“Even an international broadcaster like CNN was misled by fake news and disinformation.
“But CNN has itself to blame for relying on unauthenticated videos which it took from social media
“Now, CNN is seeking to save face by trying to clarify its report, which was not only inaccurate but failed the simple test of balance and fairness,’’ he said.
The minister recalled that the government had petitioned CNN, asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its so-called investigative report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.
Senate Confirms Yakubu As INEC Chairman
The Senate has confirmed the appointment of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the second term of five years.
Recall that the Senate had received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for a second and final term in office.
Following the request, the Senate Committee on INEC, led by Senator Kabiru Gaya, made the confirmation at the plenary yesterday.
Senators who spoke before his confirmation also described him as highly qualified for the job.
Meanwhile the Senate has advised that President Muhammadu Buhari to replace the service chiefs following the killing of 43 farmers.
The senate President, Ahmed Lawan told Buhari to immediately restructure the country’s security architecture in order to fight against insurgents and secure lives of citizens.
“I urge the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately initiate the transitionary process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions;
“I urge the President to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.”
The Senate President also advised the President to immediately set up a probe panel into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency.
“The President should ensure all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground; Impress on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighboring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroon towards reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“Finally, as a way of proffering long term solution to Nigeria’s existential security challenges, the Federal and States Government must adequately address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation,” Lawan added.
Lagos By-Elections: INEC Delivers Non-Sensitive Materials To LGAs
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State, says that it has delivered non-sensitive materials for the Saturday’s Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II House of Assembly by-elections to all the five affected councils in the area.
INEC spokesman, Femi Akinbiyi, told newsmen yesterday in Lagos that the commission would soon receive the sensitive materials for the elections.
Akinbiyi said that the receipt of the materials would be in the full glare of the political parties’ representatives, election observers and the media.
“The non-sensitive materials have been delivered to various local governments already, and they have been batched into various registration areas (Wards).
“We are not leaving any stone unturned in our preparations to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable by-elections on Saturday in Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe State Constituency II,” INEC PRO said.
Akinbiyi said that the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Sam Olumekun, has advised the people to come out en mass to exercise their franchise on Saturday in a peaceful and orderly manner.
He said that the commission was poised about conducting elections that everyone including all participating political parties would be proud of.
He said that INEC in collaboration with security agencies had made adequate arrangements for smooth and safe conduct of the election.
The Tide source reports that the five local government areas that make up the Lagos East Senatorial District are Somolu, Kosofe, Ikorodu, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.
Candidates from 12 political parties will be contesting in the Lagos East Senatorial by-elections while eight candidates will be contesting the Kosofe Constituency II, Lagos State House of Assembly by-elections.
The contestants for the senatorial election are: Muyiwa Adebanjo, Action Alliance (AA); Ms Mercy Adeoye, African Action Congress (AAC) and John Kome, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Others are: Adebowale Ogunlaru, Action Democratic Party (ADP); Adetokunbo Abiru, All Progressives Congress (APC); Olusola Babatope, Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Mrs Florence Trautman, Labour Party (LP) and Ms Adijat Lawal, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The rest are: Babatunde Gbadamosi, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Akin Olukunle, National Rescue Movement (NRM); Saheed Aluko, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Taiwo Temitope, Young Progressive Party (YPP).
The eight contestants for the Kosofe Constituency II bye-election are: John Akerele, AA; Sadiq Olawale, AAC; Wasiu Saheed, APC; Adekunle Oladapo, LP; Muyideen Agoro, NNPP; Ademorin Adelaja, NRM; Sikiru Alebiosu, PDP and Mrs Mary Abojeh, ADC.
The two by-elections, slated for December 5, became necessary following the demise of the former occupants who were members of APC.
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