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
CVR: Traditional Ruler Tasks INEC On Mass Mobilisation
A traditional ruler in Elele community, in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Mike Elechi, has called on the indigenes of the community and the state to participate in the Continuous Voter’s Registration (CVR) to enable them choose who will govern them in the next general elections.
Sir Elechi also used the opportunity to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission to organise stakeholders meeting in his community, saying that such interactive session would shed more light on the importance of the electoral process.
Elechi stated this in an interview with journalists in his home town over the weekend, saying that the call became imperative following the hardship faced by the citizens as result of bad leadership in the country
The former Permanent Secretary said although he was yet to see the commencement of the exercise in the area, he, stated the need to organise stakeholders meeting by the electoral empire which would achieve the desired objectives.
According to him, INEC has by this exercise provided an opportunity for full participation of those above 18 years who were not registered during the last exercise
The Chief Executive Officer of Vintage Farms, said INEC had provided yet another platform for eligible voters to register and vote out bad government led by the federal government.
“As I urge INEC to carry out adequate sensitization ,it behoves those above 18 years to register and vote and as well be voted for.
“Get your voters card to enable you throw bad governance into the dustbin.
“It will also help us get out where we are now.”
Elechi pointed out that his community has a large number of voters in Ikwerre Local Government area, stressing that concerted efforts should be made to ensure that the exercise was in the area .
By: Akujobi Amadi
Diri Cautions Appointees Over Early Politicking
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has cautioned his appointees against early politicking ahead of the 2023 elections, saying he would not hesitate to sack any of them found wanting.
Speaking before commencement of the weekly state Executive Council meeting in Government House Governor Diri frowned on the activities of some of his appointees, which he said were hitting up the polity ahead of the 2023 elections, stressing that it was too early for open politicking.
A statement by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted him as saying despite people having the right to aspire to any political office, the time was not ripe for politicking.
Diri reminded his appointees that the administration lost considerable time last year due to COVID-19 and needless litigations, stressing that it was in a hurry to deliver on its campaign promises and would not afford to waste time politicking.
He wondered why appointees would be involved in open politicking when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not even released a timetable for elections.
The state helmsman urged members of his cabinet interested in open politicking at this time, especially those from Bayelsa West Senatorial District, to resign or be ready to be sacked.
He called on all those involved in the early politicking to immediately withdraw and follow the directives of his administration, saying his government was not ready for politics at this time.
“I find it very difficult to believe that appointees in this government have already started open politicking.
“Yes, it is the constitutional right of anybody to contest but even the Bible tells us that there is time for everything. At this time, we are trying to stamp our feet to meet up our campaign promises to our people.”
“I hereby caution all those involved to immediately withdraw. If you are prepared to continue with this government, you must listen to the music of this administration. We are not prepared to start politicking from this year”, he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Diri has also sworn in two new Special Advisers.
They are, Alabo Ozubide, Special Adviser, Legal Matters, and Onuma Johnson, Special Adviser on Non-Indigenes.
While congratulating them, he said their appointments were based on merit and in line with his campaign promises, charging them to avoid friction with commissioners,just as he reiterated that their cooperation with commissioners would deliver development to the people of the state.
“We promised that when elected, we would appoint a Special Adviser from among non-ndigenes. This appointment is in fulfilment of that promise. We believe that you will be able to synergise and gather non-indigenes together.
“Often, we see role conflicts between special advisers and commissioners that duty bound to implement government policies. You as special advisers should cooperate with them,” he said.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
PDP Urges Nigerians To Embrace E-Registration Of Members
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Nigerians to embrace in its online membership registration scheduled to begin in August.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan made the appeal during a news conference on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ologbondiyan urged Nigerians to visit www.iampdp.com for the online registration at the comfort of their homes.
He also expressed delight over requests from Nigerians and the interests they were already showing for the online registration.
Ologbondiyan urged Nigerians to come to PDP and own the process.
The PDP spokesman also commended Nigerians on the way they embraced the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) online ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
He said “PDP is happy to hear the INEC saying no fewer than one million Nigerians have completed their online pre-registration.”
Ologbondiyan said the way Nigerians embraced the CVR showed they were dissatisfied with governance in the country and ready for 2023.
He urged Nigerians of voting age and those yet to register for Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to continue with the CVR.
He said “We appeal to those who are educated, especially members of the PDP to encourage others to participate in the ongoing CVR.”
Ologbondiyan also urged Nigerians to register to enable them to vote, pointing out that people should know it is their rights to vote.
Asked how PDP would conduct its e-registration with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) recent comment on Nigeria network covered, Ologbondiyan said as far as PDP was concerned, every part of Nigeria had network coverage.
“From the information we have received from all our members across the 36 states and across the 774 local governments area of the country, there is no where that we have received a report that they cannot carry out online registration.
“Even INEC has come out to say that they have no problems with online registration.
“We are happy that INEC has come out to reveal that not less than one million Nigerians have so far participated in the Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise of the commission,” he said.
On inquiry over the role of the National Assembly members on electronic transmission of election results, he said the party would meet its members in the National Assembly to review their participation.
He said “The PDP is calling a meeting between the party and caucus in the National Assembly to review the participation of members in the legislative activity of the National Assembly as it concerns the voting on transmission of results.”
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