Mrs. Tepikor Anastasia
was the candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the April, 2015 governorship election in Rivers State. Mrs. Tepikor is also the state chairman of the NCP. Now she serves as a caretaker committee member in Oyigbo Local Government Area.
Opaka Dokubo met with her in Port Harcourt and she spoke about her ambition to be governor, her service at the local government council and other political developments in Rivers State and Nigeria at large.
Why take up both positions as chairman and governorship candidate of the party?
People actually indicated interest to fly the flag of the party in the governorship election but I took it upon myself to consider what they were up to. If I interviewed you and saw you were not up to any business and the you really wanted to contest, you really wanted to win, nothing stopped me from giving you the ticket. I tried as many that came who wanted the ticket of the party and I asked them to find out their vision for Rivers State, what they wanted to do for the state or they just wanted the ticket to go and look for settlement. I discovered many were not serious.
We decided as a party that anyone that must run on our platform must see it as an opportunity to serve and not to be selfish. That was why at the final moment, I decided to take it up. I also believe that what a man can do, a woman can do better.
So, how did the election go for you?
I thank God, first and foremost because if you have not been involved in something, you may not have what to say about it. My involvement was not a mistake neither is it something to regret about.
I tried and I thank God. It is not everyone that will win at the same time. That I did not win did not mean the end to life. I think there are other areas that I can be of assistance to society and I should focus on that.
Someone must emerge winner and once that happens, there shouldn’t be problems because no matter how many times you do it, only one person will emerge winner at a time, someone has emerged and we thank God for that.. what I think is needed of everyone else is to rally round and support His Excellency.
I didn’t take it as a do-or-die affair from the beginning but if I had decided that I want to die for it based on certain statements I may have made, indeed I would want to die with the outcome. But it is selfishness that will make someone to say I want to die over an issue that you know that it is people who give the mandate. If you know that it is the people who give the mandate and they did not give to you this time, it does not mean that they would not give to you next time.
What is your own take about the conduct and outcome of that election?
See, I am a Christian, I don’t believe anyone can achieve and sustain anything with his strength. The Bible says “the arm of flesh fails”. So, if your trust is on God, then you will wait on God and if He wants you to be, one day you will be. Whatever God has not given to you, you cannot take it upon yourself.
Coming back to what you have asked, some people say the election process was marred, it was flawed.
The election took place and I voted in my area. In fact, I was the first to vote in my unit. As a candidate, I was given that opportunity and it was peaceful.
One thing is certain, there is no election, whether in Nigeria, Africa or any other part of the world that is free of issues. If that be so, then ours should not be seen as out of place.
I know that gradually we will overcome the challenges that come with elections because I know that the last election was an improvement on previous ones. The difference is clear and it is obvious that we’re maturing. I am looking forward to the future when we will embrace electronic voting system where you vote with your system and it captures you, one man one vote. With that one, no one can rig.
But for now, the system is not so adequate for us not to observe the challenges that we have, they will happen.
Did anybody or party induce you to take that outcome of the election the way you have taken it?
Nobody lured or induced me with anything. Who doesn’t want a good thing anyway? If I had emerged as governor today, infact, my rapport with you will be a different one, it will not be at this level. I would have loved it.
Truth is that if you were not serious from the outset, you would not be expectant. People often asked me “madam, what if you win” and I had always said “that’s what I’m expecting”. If I don’t have the mind of going to win, why should I come out in the first place?
Nobody settled me and nobody lured me into acceptance of any settlement. I came out believing that it will work out the way I wanted but since it didn’t work out, I shouldn’t be fighting. As I said earlier, in the end, we should be looking forward to how we can make the state work in which ever way we can be of service. And that is way we have said to his excellency “you have tried, you won’. Of course, somebody must win. The tradition in other spheres is that when somebody wins, others go round to congratulate the person and if this happens elsewhere, it should happen in politics too.
In the event of a governorship re run, would still be part of it?
When we get to that bridge we will cross it. I want to be silent about that for now. But let me use the opportunity to clear the air about the appointment I have to serve at the local government as a member of the caretaker committee. That appointment was given to me in my capacity as the chairman of my party in the state. Many state party chairmen were so appointed and I appreciate that.
How do you feel being a member of a local government caretaker committee when you wanted to be Governor?
I will still come back to tell you the God factor. If you don’t have God settled in your heart, you will never be at peace, you’ll never be contented. It is that discontentment that makes people to fight and kill themselves. It you are a peace loving person, you will not allow people to die because you want to be there. If it is about the people, then it must not be about you. It must not be about you at the detriment of the people you want to serve.
If it is really about service that made you come out in the first place, then you should be ready and willing to serve at whatever level even as a cobbler or whatever. I believe that whatever I am given, I should do it well. God knows how to promote me from there. It is God that makes people. I am looking forward to a bigger position.
Is your governorship ambition forgotten or is it still alive?
My governorship ambition is very much alive. Just as you asked, how do you reconcile a situation where someone who wants to be a governor takes up a position as a caretaker committee member of a local government, sometimes I also reason like that too. But as I told you, I have peace.
If you look at human reasoning, you will think and get worried over things. But God sees your heart and He knows what you really want and He knows how to take you there. It doesn’t matter how He goes about it. I think I am happy the way I am and happy that I am moving forward. There is nothing that cannot happen. I still have that ambition. I am working and packaging myself.
What would be your recipe for acceptable legislative rerun elections in Rivers State?
I will like to tell everyone to have a mind that is settled. This coming elections will not be a do-or-die affair. If that is settled, people will know that their votes will count. One thing I want to advise is that they should take away the mind of winning at all cost. I insist that the huge presence of the military during election scares people and it doesn’t make the process free because some people will not come out at all to vote.
The presence of the military or the prevalence of force also sometimes brings out what is latent in people. Many times, someone who is criminally minded may not wake up to it until an atmosphere is created for it. The presence of force all over the place may make others to also want to use violence. That is the angle I am looking at it. I pray that coming elections will be free of violence.
I think that if Rivers State is relatively free of the heavy presence of the military, everyone will be encouraged to go out and vote. That does not mean there should not be security made available. But such security that will become a threat is no more security and as such should be reduced. Looking at what happened in Bayelsa and the rest, it is very likely that too much military presence will affect the electoral process negatively.
What is the position of your party on this fight against corruption so far?
This is my opinion as chairman of the party in the state because I will not speak for my national headquarters: Naturally I hate corruption and that’s the reason I joined the NCP in the first place. NCP is known to have a very high integrity especially when we had our founder, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. He was somebody that had integrity and didn’t like corruption.
It is true that corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation and if someone has come to say he wants to fight corruption it is not a bad thing. But how do you fight and whom do you fight is the next question.
The only challenge I have with this issue of corruption being fought by our president is that it seems skewed. Charity, they say, should begin from your own home. When you begin from there, then people will take you more seriously.
I go back to the Bible which says that judgment will start from the church. Whenever I see my children and others doing wrong, I usually begin with my children to set example for the others. That is how it should be. On this issue of fight against corruption in Nigeria, I will speak out loud to say that it is skewed, it is biased kind off. Look at the people that have been really dealt with, it has just been one sided and that is not a good way of fighting corruption. If you must fight corruption, let it touch every angle. I am not happy about this selective fight against corruption.
And what’s your take on the military operations against suspected criminals in Rivers State?
Again the question is how? Fight against crime and criminals is a welcome development anywhere because we need peace and security. But how do you go about this? Prior to this time we’ve never had a situation where the federal authorities will give instruction and before you know it, security men will invade everywhere. Indeed, if it is the federal government that is doing this,, permit me to say that it is very bad. I think that anything that has to do with the security of the state should come from the state. This very one that is happening is very political and it is not too good. Even when the situation was intolerable, we did not experience it this way. If it is a security matter, they should go after them but not individual men that are politicians that should be hunted.
APC Chieftain Warns CAN Against Dogara, Lawal
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have been called upon not to drag the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) into their dispute as this will negate the principles of CAN in maintaining peace in Nigeria.
The call was made by the Plateau State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Mr. Yakubu Dati, in a statement to newsmen.
Dati said the duo were creating division among Christians with CAN, which seemed to support their antics since the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, chose former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as his Vice Presidential Candidate.
“But it is now an open secret that the position of CAN, may have been influenced by the duo, purely out of vendetta against the APC presidential candidate, for not looking their way to pick his running mate,” Dati alleged.
The Commissioner emphasised that CAN was established to make peace reign in the country by settling ethnic and religious crisis in the country and it has efficiently carried out this responsibilities over the years.
He noted that since CAN has elected a new leadership to steer its affairs, it is pertinent to offer the body a word or two of advice to save it from being used by politicians to achieve their selfish aims, more so “as we are on the cusp of another political season.”
“It is no longer news that immediately after the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu picked former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate, that CAN took a position on the matter siding with certain APC members, especially former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara who lost out in the quest to be appointed running mate to Tinubu, to reject the ticket.
“They forget that it was Asiwaju Tinubu who nominated David Babachir Lawal as Secretary to the Government of the Buhari administration as a mark of respect for the Adamawa born politician. Left for Tinubu who was then one of the national leaders of the APC, Babachir would have continued in office and probably even retained the position in the second tenure of the Buhari administration like his kinsman, Boss Mustapha has done, but for the notorious “grass cutting” controversy that eased him out of the government,” he said.
Dati also noted that notwithstanding this, “the Jagaba of Borgu, in an attempt to rehabilitate the sacked former SGF, gave him the responsibility of shortlisting possible vice presidential candidates for him.
“But even that simple task was twisted to favour certain parochial interests. Babachir recommended the Northeast and Northwest for the position to the detriment of the North Central geopolitical zone, which is the hub of Christianity in the Northern Nigeria.”
The Commissioner explained that this ostensibly, was to foreclose the consideration of Plateau State, which paraded the only Christian Governor of APC in Northern Nigeria.
“Interestingly, the Babachir committee recommended Senator Kashim Shetima as tops on their list and the APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, simply acted on it. When confronted with these facts on national television, Babachir confirmed it, stating however that it was a draft!
“As evidence that Babachir was not sincere in his recommendation, he immediately took advantage of the religious fault lines together with Dogara, the other aggrieved VP hopeful who lost out, ignited the Muslim- Muslim controversy and unwittingly recruited CAN into the fray,” Dati alleged.
He also said that there was no way Tinubu would have picked either Babachir Lawal who hails from Adamawa State or Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State because of the implications to his electoral fortune, adding that Adamawa where Babachir hails from and Bauchi, Dogara’s home state are both PDP controlled States.
Both men, in spite of their positions and enormous resources at their disposal, have consistently failed to deliver their respective states to the APC. “This is unlike Tinubu who always delivers”, he said.
“Due to the hullabaloo generated by the duo of Babachir and Dogara, the Asiwaju has gone ahead to pick Simon Lalong, the Governor of Plateau State and Chairman of Northern Governors Forum to lead his campaign as the Director General.
“This choice is based on Gov Lalong’s enviable track record of fairness regardless of tribe, religion or creed. His excellent management of men and resources resulting in the restoration of relative peace in the once restive Plateau State has projected him to national limelight.
“As a Knight of the Catholic faith, Gov Simon Lalong also resonates with the northern Christians whose fears have been allayed. Those trying to rock the boat by insinuating that his appointment is an attempt to ridicule Christians were the same lot that campaign vigorously against Christians candidates, including an ordained pastor, at the APC primaries.
“The APC northern Christians are now energized, more than ever before, to pour themselves into the campaign,” the Commissioner said.
He also explained that religious bodies should be accommodating to all adherents without allowing themselves to be led by the nose by those who remember the association only when their selfish interests are at stake.
“Religious leaders should be wary of being reduced to lap dogs of politicians. This is the real challenge before the new leadership of CAN,” he advised.
Alleged Certificate Forgery: Court Fixes Sept 7 To Hear Suit Against Tinubu
A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed September 7 to hear a suit seeking the disqualification of Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), from contesting in the 2023 elections.
The plaintiffs, four APC chieftains, are asking the court to rule that Tinubu is ineligible to run for president in the 2023 presidential election as the party’s candidate because he allegedly submitted false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a 33-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by one Ibiang Miko Ibiang, the plaintiffs averred that Tinubu falsely swore to an affidavit in 1999 in which he claimed to have attended St Paul Aroloya Children Home School, Ibadan -1958-64, and Government College, Ibadan -1965-68 and presented the same to INEC.
According to the plaintiffs, the deposition is untrue. They claimed in his INEC form for the 2023 elections, Tinubu refused to include any information about his primary and secondary schools in order to hide the false information he had provided to INEC.
The plaintiffs are praying the court to determine “Whether having regard to the provision of sections 1 (3); 4(1)and 2; 14(1),(2)(a), and (c)and 42(1)(a)and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the provision of section 29(5)of the Electoral Act, 2022 as enacted by the 4th defendant which modified the provision section 31(5) of the Electoral Act,2010(as amended) is not ultra vires the 4th Defendant and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatever”.
“Whether having regard to the decision of the supreme court in the case Modibbo Vs Usman (2020) 3 NWLR(PT.1712)470 and the provision of section 137(1)(j) the 3rd defendant has not presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the 1st defendant and thereby disqualified from participating in the forthcoming 2023 presidential general election,” they said.
Upon the favourable determination of the questions, the plaintiffs are asking for “a declaration that the 3rd defendant (Tinubu) has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the purpose of seeking to be elected into the office of president of the federal republic of Nigeria”.
“A declaration that the 3rd defendant stands disqualified from participating in the 2023 presidential election as a candidate of the 2nd defendant has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the purpose of seeking to be elected into the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“An order disqualifying the 3rd Defendant from contesting or participating in the forthcoming 2023 presidential general election as a candidate of the 2nd defendant.
Ruling on an ex parte application, Ahmed Mohammed, the judge, granted an order for substituted service on Tinubu after the plaintiffs’ counsel, Goddy Uche, told the court that substituted service has become necessary because all attempts to serve the presidential candidate proved abortive.
The court ordered that court processes should be served on the national secretariat of the APC and that such service shall be deemed as having been properly served on Tinubu.
He adjourned the case to September 7 for a hearing.
Be Wary Of ‘Obidients’ Antics, Nnamani Cautions Constituents
The Senator representing Enugu East in the National Assembly, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, has again cautioned his constituents against succumbing to antics of supporters of the Presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, otherwise called Obidients.
He charged his supporters not to bow to pressure to vote for Obi based on sentiments.
Nnamani enjoined his supporters to remain steadfast with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its candidate Atiku Abubakar and all other PDP candidates in order to restore hope and emancipate the people from deprivation.
The federal law maker said this in a statement he signed in Abuja, on Monday.
Nnamani cautioned against “Greek gifts” from the Obidients canvassers as that would negatively affect the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chances to produce state Governors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives and state House of Assembly.
The Senator likened the Obidients movement to the story of the Tortoise who borrowed feathers from other animals to enable him fly to attend a feast only to appropriate what belongs to everyone to himself alone, claiming to be everybody .
He said, “ That is exactly what they want. To borrow from every body and turn round to appropriate everything .
“Do not give them your feathers, let them Stay on the ground where they belong. Your feathers are the structures they need. Call their bluff.
“ Our party and platform is PDP. We must stand firm. We must not be swayed by the Obidient sentiments and vote Labour Party . If we blur the distinction , it will be difficult to reverse .
He further said, “ remember these Obidients advocates are noisy , loud , intolerant, proselytizers, condescending but less than 0.25 percent of over 200million Nigerian population. At least Osun state 2000 votes for Labour Party bears it out.
“ Why should we establish foundation and beech head for others . We cannot allow Obidients to inherit our labour in the PDP .
“In battle , do you give invaders your beech head to land and now seek to drive them away .
“We have to be on the alert because they are luring us into false sense of complacency using subterfuge.”
He explained that the boundaries are clear, so also the differences , “we are Ebeano and our political party is PDP, our symbol is umbrella not Labour Party
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