No sane Nigerian can dispute the fact that the country is facing tough times. Times, so challenging, nothing short of financial discipline, political tolerance, prudent management of scarce resources and indeed selfless service are required of those the people look upon to offer leadership.
It is a period that demands optimum protection and maintenance of existing infrastructure, build capacity and inspire the people to give of their best in hope that the period will merely be a phase that would soon be history.
These indeed are times when governments and the people alike must unite in fight against unnecessary controversies likely to cause insecurity, strife and indeed further destruction of an already creeping economy.
Last week, Nigeria’s Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said the dark days are over. But no Nigerian that patronises the market place would share same sentiment, for, it amounts to telling a blind man that there is salt in his soup, when there is none.
Truth is, many states cannot pay workers’ salaries. More than a bunch is in arrears of close to eight months, while others who manage to meet their obligations to their workforce do so at great pains and at the expense of other competing needs, like the much required infrastructural update necessary to attract investments and boost internal revenue generation.
These indeed are times when, even the Federal Government borrows to pay its staff, with doubts hanging around the full implementation of the 2016 budget. With the free fall of the Naira against other major currencies, a virtually dead manufacturing sector and with inflation rate hitting an all time 17 per cent high, it should dawn on all that all is not well.
At times like this, to allow any form of insecurity, protestations and violent conflicts would be putting salt upon injury. It indeed would be a perilous voyage to encourage any miscarriage of justice or promotion of partisanship that would push those denied justice seek alternative reliefs.
This is because such can threaten security and ultimately breed insecurity. Where such insecurity holds way, where crime blossoms where injustice reins, where lawlessness replaces rule of law and where impunity takes the place of order, all other positive efforts take back seat. Investors are threatened, and the local economy at the risk of getting stalled.
These are why none should venture any action or inaction capable of engineering chaos, crisis, insecurity and strife. These indeed are why the concerns recently expressed by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike concerning, ‘flawed’ police postings and ‘glaring efforts’ by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the forthcoming re-run elections in Rivers State, must be addressed and fast too, to prevent the agitated from seeking alternative reliefs.
Last week, the governor pointedly accused the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu of moves to scuttle credible re-run elections in the state by holding secret meetings with the state’s All Progressives Congress, with APC Chairman, Chief Davies Ikanya, Senator Magnus Abe and others on July 19, this year. According to the Governor, the INEC boss might have concluded plans to postpone the July 30 elections over fears of defeat expressed by the APC leadership, or rig the elections in favour of the APC.
Wondering why anyone would be happy to destroy Rivers State just because he or she wants to satisfy the politician who funded APC national elections through Rivers resources, the governor lamented:
“They are frustrating elections in Rivers State because of one man who sponsored APC. They have posted electoral officers from APC states to rig elections and they want to accede to the request of the Rivers APC to post out the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
“But the truth is that nobody can rig elections in Rivers State. The INEC Chairman only has the power to postpone elections but he has no power to rig elections here.
“As I speak to you, 7.30 to 8pm, on 19th of July, 2016, the APC Chairman, Davies Ikanya, Senator Magnus Abe and others, were with the National Chairman in his office.
“Rivers State is key to development of this country. Will they continue to deny us representation at the Senate and majority of the constituencies of the House of Representatives?”
These are serious concerns. Even more worrisome is the alarm raised by the governor over recent postings in the Police Command, which he described as politicized.
According to Governor Wike, the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) recently posted Mr. Akin Fakorede, a Police officer formerly in-charge of the state’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad and who allegedly distributed fake SARS uniforms to APC thugs during the March 19, re-run elections leading to the death of several innocent Rivers people. He also accused the same officer of embezzling N18 million meant for the rehabilitation of armoured personnel carrier before he fled the state, after the last re-run.
Governor Wike also accused the IGP of posting back to the state, one Mustapha who ran away from the state after giving false testimony at the Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal. According to the governor, that ‘APC Witness’ has now been posted to head MOPOL 56 in Bori, one of the battle-ground locations, in the July 30, rerun elections.
He added that the Police High Command also reposted to the state, one Stephen Asin, an officer formerly in charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, after same officer had allegedly declared publicly that he would destroy the security network in the state. That Asin, the governor alerted, is now to head the Police Operations Department in the state.
The governor said, ‘my interest is for the security of the state to be sustained. We are enjoying relative security in the state and I will not fold my arms and allow anyone destroy the security of the state through the posting of politicians who hide under Police uniforms’, he said.
These are serious accustations that ought to attract the urgent response of both the Police High Command and INEC. This is because one wants to resist the temptation of rushing to the natural conclusion that silence means acceptance. In this case, acceptance of the governor’s concerns as true in every material particular. Even so, I pray am wrong.
This is because, one of the greatest incentives to strife and conflict, is the attempt to impose one’s ambition on others, even when as one time United States President Abraham Lincoln once warned, ‘no one is good enough to lead another man without that other’s consent.’ The crises that characterised the elections in Bayelsa State last year, where, several lost their lives, is traceable to same conflict of interest.
Delta State is now boiling on account of renewed insurgency by a new group of militants, Bayelsa sleeps with only one eye closed, Cross River is facing challenges of criminal gangs. To push Rivers State into any form of disturbance would not be in the interest of the country, and its economy.
While one is reluctant to agree with the governor that APC leaders’ meeting with the INEC Chairman is wrong. What is wrong is the INEC chair’s refusal to grant same audience to the PDP leadership or even return the governor’s call, just as didn’t the new IGP.
Also curious is the timing of the postings and the calibre and character of those involved. The choice of officers, obviously APC-friendly, if records of the last Governorship Petitions Tribunal are any leads to go by; indeed raises eyebrows and portend a special assignment. Such job cannot be apolitical, unless INEC and the Police convince the people otherwise.
INEC in particular, must realise that once the populace loses confidence in its impartiality, it shall brew discontent which in turn gives birth to resistance. Such resistance very often rises up to become civil, even militant disobedience. As supposed umpire, INEC must resist the temptation to support one party against another or one candidate against the other.
Such would, without doubt, heat-up the polity; incite the civil populace against the institution and by extension government, a volatile scenario none should wish for. And not of all places, Rivers.
Rivers is a very strong factor in the economic equation of the country. Its peace should not be sacrificed on the altar of political compensation. The people should instead be allowed to vote according to their conscience and let the people alone determine who represents them.
In spite of what Abuja politicians may wish to accept, Rivers State has enjoyed relative peace and progress. That is why it has become a destination of choice for frontline professional bodies to hold their conferences in the state. The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) are merely two of such bodies that consider Rivers as peaceful.
This should not be sacrificed for the likely desire of a group to win the elections by hook or crook, through armed Policemen and soldiers and through fake election results. These can only elicit protests, even violence which scope and consequence cannot be predicted.
My Agony is that some politicians in Abuja still believe that election results written in hotel rooms can be declared, unpopular candidates can be made popular overnight and that elections can be rigged in Rivers State.
In my over 33 years in the business of minding others business, I have come to the conclusion that politicians can only rig successfully, where, they enjoy, at least a marginal majority of the electorate. To attempt to rig when the opposite is true, is to replay the Bayelsa governorship elections debacle. Not at these tough times, please.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
AFRD: Fubara To Launch 2024 Emblem Appeal Fund, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has announced the launch of the Emblem Appeal Fund in commemoration of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) in the state.
A terse statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, last Friday, said that the event would take place on Tuesday, November 28, at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt by 11am.
The State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, is expected to be the Special Guest of Honour.
In the statement, the government invited members of the Nigerian Legion, military, police, para-military, traditional rulers, captains of industry, multi-national organisations, government officials and the general public to the event, urging them to attend the programme in the interest of the state.
The statement read in full: “The Government of Rivers State is pleased to invite members of the Nigerian Legion, Rivers State Command, the Military, the Nigeria Police, the Para-Military, Traditional Rulers, Captains of industries and multi-national organizations, Government Officials and the General public to the Emblem Appeal Fund Launching in commemoration of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in the State”.
“Please, invited guests are requested to be seated by 10:30 am as we come to celebrate and support the veterans and their families”, the statement concluded.
Fubara, Obi Cubana Visit, Condole Oborevwori On Mother-In-Law’s Demise …Congratulate Delta Gov On Appeal Court Victory
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, last Friday visited his Delta State counterpart, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, in his country home in Osubi, Okpe Local Government Area to condole with him on the passing of his mother-in-law.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Rivers State, Boniface Onyedi, in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Fubara eulogised the virtues of the late Mama Agnes Avwenyotoma Tager, whom he described as a woman of virtue and substance, whose demise has come at a time her services were most needed as the mother of the state.
He urged the Delta governor and his wife, Deaconess Tobore Oborevwori, to take solace in the good life their late mother lived.
The Rivers governor also used the occasion to congratulate Oborevwori on his resounding victory at the Appeal Court which confirmed his electoral victory.
Also in Osubi with Fubara to condole Oborevwori, was popular business tycoon and socialite, Obi Cubana.
Fubara Pledges To Support, Collaborate With NDDC
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has promised to collaborate and support the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in its efforts to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region.
Fubara spoke at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, during a courtesy visit by members of the NDDC Governing Board, led by the Chairman, Mr. Chiedu Ebie.
The NDDC team included the Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku; Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Alabo Boma Iyaye; Executive Director, Projects, Sir Victor Antai; Executive Director, Corporate Services, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, other members of the Board and directors of the commission.
Fubara said: “I am very happy that you have done the right thing by paying this courtesy visit. I assure you that we are ready to collaborate with all Federal Government agencies committed to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“The speech of the Chairman, Mr. Ebie, shows that NDDC has already identified more than 90 per cent of the problems facing the region and is ready to solve them.”
The governor said that the Rivers State Government would support the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to bring hope to the people of the State and Niger Delta region.
He pledged: “We are going to support you to enable you discharge your duties and I pray that your tenure will record more successes than the previous boards.”
Responding to the issue of duplication of projects as highlighted by the NDDC chairman, the governor advised the commission to avoid cases of duplication of projects, stating that it was very necessary to consult the states before embarking on projects in their respective territories.
He said that by identifying the problem, the NDDC had shown that it was ready to address the challenge, which according to him, had often caused some frictions between the states and the commission.
Fubara assured the NDDC Board members that his government was open to partnership and collaboration in the execution of projects.
He urged the commission to embark on projects that would add value to the lives of the people of the region.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the NDDC Governing Board, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, thanked the Rivers State Government for hosting the Commission since its inception in 2000.
He said: “The NDDC Board was inaugurated on November 16. As our host governor, we thought it wise to pay you this courtesy visit before holding our inaugural meeting.
“We need to create a new life in the NDDC and collaborate more with development partners, including the state governments and other stakeholders in the region to achieve our objectives. I know that we have had problems with duplication of projects.
“Henceforth, representatives of the states in the NDDC Board must be in constant touch with their state governments and ensure that projects are based on needs assessment.”
The NDDC chairman assured the governor that the new Board would work in synergy with governors in the nine states covered by the commission.
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