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Rivers Guber: Intrigues, Unveiling Of The ‘Battle Axes’

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2014 politics in Rivers State
ended not without major milestones in the activities of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the general elections slated for next month nationwide. But what started as gossips, political talk shops, then intrigues among the leadership and top notchers of APC and PDP, however, entered the crucial stage at the last quarters of 2014 when the political parties settled for their respective standard bearers.
First, it was the Rivers APC that unveiled its flag bearer for the gubernatorial race through a consensus arrangement that saw the emergence of Dakuku Adol Peterside, representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro federal constituency at the House of Representatives.
Unlike PDP in Rivers State where no fewer than 20 aspirants are known to have indicated interest in being Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s successor, it was a rumour mill sort of in the state APC of who had his eyes at the Rivers Brick House after the incumbent occupant. The rumours centred around Dakuku Peterside and Senator Magnus Abe majorly, but both of them or any unknown pretender(s) incubated their governorship ambitions, perhaps for fear not to incur the wrath of “Oga at the top.”
The visit of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to Rivers State to solicit the support and votes of Rivers APC delegates to the party’s presidential convention/primary, however, provided the opportunity for Governor Amaechi and leader of APC in Rivers, to open the lid on the choice of APC’s governorship candidate and the lot fell on the Opobo-born politician, Dakuku Peterside. The consensus choice of Dakuku Peterside was ratified at the APC’s ‘yes-vote’ primary that followed days later.
Dakuku Peterside’s choice and his emergence as Rivers APC governorship candidate sparked protests by youths in some major streets of Port Harcourt. The youths believed to be of the Ogoni extraction had protested over what they called ‘dumping of Senator Magnus Abe for Dakuku Peterside for the APC gubernatorial ticket in Rivers State” and the alleged reneged of Governor Amaechi in his purported promise to the Ogonis to use their son (Abe) for the ticket.
Though, the protests did not record any casualty, it was a day the police and other security operatives would not forget in a hurry of how they worked assiduously to prevent what would have resulted in a major breach of peace around Government House, the seat of power. Acting in a manner that all was well, the camp of Dakuku Peterside promptly exonerated the Ogoni youths in their involvement in the unfortunate protests, but the dust generated is yet to settle. Political observers argue that it may never be the same again between APC and the Ogonis despite moves to reconcile the irreconcilables arising from the choice of Rivers APC governorship candidate.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial aspirants in Rivers did not hide their ambitions right from onset. They came in their numbers and when the whistle was blown for the intent and nomination forms, over 20 aspirants applied for the governorship ticket of the party. The screening committee that examined all the aspirants for the job gave its verdicts; clearing the former Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike and a few others and disqualified the bulk of the aspirants. Those cleared alongside Wike were Lee Maeba, Pawariso Samuel-Horsfall, Dumbari Ben Dimkpa and Atamuno Atamuno.
Nothing beats like politics but the losers did not allow the undercurrents of politics to carry them away just like that. They trooped to Abuja and protested to the appeal panel that subsequently gave them a clean bill of health to contest the governorship primary of PDP in the state. Bekinbo Dagogo-Jack, Tonye Princewill, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Nemi Walson-Jack, Bernard Mikko, Don Baridam, Dein Ajumogobia, Lancelot Ayanya and Sampson Ngerebara were among the aspirants cleared by the appeal panel to try luck at the primary.
At the Rivers PDP gubernatorial primary held at the premises of community secondary school, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Port Harcourt, 16 of the governorship aspirants boycotted the primary on December 8, 2014, alleging that processes leading to the primary were faulty and unacceptable.
But the boycott did not in any way invalidate the result of the primary that saw the former minister of state for education elected overwhelmingly as the PDP battle axe for what the party called ‘rescue mission.’ Rivers PDP explained that it was determined in every legitimate electoral means to recover its lost mandate to APC following the defection of Governor Amaechi and the state apparatus to APC, hence the need for a rescue mission.
Wike, a two-term chairman of Obio/Akpor local government council and former chief of staff to Governor Amaechi determined to change the direction of the political wind in the state, he and the Felix Obuah-led PDP leadership in Rivers, however, adjusted the political seat and sails, apparently to reach the destination point of recovering Rivers State  from APC. That prompted the setting up of peace committees across the three senatorial districts to go all out and mend fences with the aggrieved members towards enhancing the party’s electoral chances. though a hard nut to crack, the Rivers PDP is optimistic that it would overcome its challenges as it did in the past before the general elections proper.
Even as the PDP leadership has not given any thing to chance to keep its house in order before the d-day, protest is still far from over. Only recently, Chief A.K. Horsfall-led Kalabari elders’ forum reopened the old wound when it gave a seven-day ultimatum for the national working committee (NWC) of PDP to substitute the governorship candidature of Wike with any Kalabari candidate in the interest of justice and fair play.
The reaction of Rivers PDP leadership over the ultimatum was prompt and understandable. In a press release, Obuah in an unmistaken terms accused Horsfall’s forum of playing the script even as he said what the forum asked was not feasible going by the transparency of the primary.
Barring any last minute somersault which many believe is not likely to happen, both the PDP and the APC appeared set to go into the governorship contest having baptized their candidates – Wike (PDP) and Peterside (APC) for the battle of Rivers Brick House.
As Wike and Peterside secured the driving seats of their respective parties, they also chose co-pilots or better put running mates for the governorship race. While Wike presented a female from Degema-Kalabari axis of Rivers State, Peterside unveiled a male from the Orashi area of the state.
Presenting Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo , in a bold attempt at wooing women in the state, Wike explained that he decided to choose a woman as his running mate because of his desire to create room for women to play active role in the political and economic development of the state.
Though, the task of choosing his running mate took Wike some time because of what he described as “rot in the governance in the state,” the PDP guber candidate said the history of the state was awash with the input of women, but regretted that none had been given the opportunity to hold an office as high as that of the state deputy governor.
The time, according to Wike, has come to give women the chance to play active role in the politics of the state, and this informed the choice of Dr. Banigo whom Wike described as a rare breed and a leader with uncommon traits to join in the task of rebuilding the state.
“The Rivers PDP is determined to move away from the primordial era of treating women with disdain and indignity. We want to move away from the acts of our opponents, who relish giving out token to women. As a step, the Rivers PDP decided that a woman should occupy the post,” Wike said, while presenting Dr. Banigo – a senior medical practitioner, ex-permanent secretary, former Head of Service in the state and Secretary to the State Government.
Banigo, in his acceptance speech, expressed gratitude to the party and Wike for picking her as his running mate. The smile at her face did not betray her loyalty and commitment to drive along with Wike to Government House, God’s willing.
Pleasant luck came the way of Honourable Asita who hails from Okaki in Ahoada West LGA of Rivers State as he was picked as Peterside’s running mate. Asita, a former commissioner for youth development during Dr. Peter Odili administration, is currently a member of the lower chambers of the National Assembly.
Adjusting to political realities, Buguma-born prince, Tonye Princewill did not allow the blow of political faith lie him low when he lost out amongst others at the PDP guber race. He moved on: this time to the Labour Party (LP) where he subsequently edged out other contenders in the race and secured the LP guber ticket.
Now that the coast is clear of who and who are contending for Amaechi’s shoe, it stands to reason that the acceptability of the political party in the state, the meaning the contenders bring into play and of course, the candidate’s grassroots support will largely determine which party and governorship candidate that will carry the crown of glory at the end of the day.

 

Samuel Eleonu

Dakuku Peterside, APC Guber Candidate and Nyesom Wike, PDP Guber Candidate

Dakuku Peterside, APC Guber Candidate and Nyesom Wike, PDP Guber Candidate

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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