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This Charade Of An Election

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The presidential election has come and gone but its effect leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. For the first time in Rivers State, some major local governments were held hostage by the army and other security personnel to prevent people from exercising their franchise.
No political pundit envisaged that there would be that huge number of causalities in Akuku-Toru Local Government area, especially in Abonnema.
Right from the Bridge leading to the town, entry into the community was not allowed even for journalists covering the election, and it took much discussion with a senior military personnel before phone calls were made to higher military authorities before journalists could gain entrance into the town. This was just an eye opener of what to expect on the date of the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Tension was everywhere.
The situation was not that different in Okrika, Ikwerre, Emohua, Bonny and Abua / Odual Local government areas. In Akuku-Toru local government area, the council secretary, Mr Tobins Tobins was alleged to have been whisked away by security personnel, the council chairman, Mr. Roland Sekibo also had to run for his dear life.
In other local government areas, council chairmen and even some commissioners had to go into hiding for fear of being arrested or detained.
In other states like Imo, / Professor Maurice Iwu, a former chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was picked up on the day of the election. A similar scenario also played out in Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Kaduna and Kano States.
February 23, 2019 to many voters and monitors was like a date with Satan. You live to die or you live to run. The risk was understood clearly that things will go wrong but not as expected and that was the big surprise.
prior to the elections, when INEC offices were going up in flames in Rivers State, Plateau, Akwa Ibom and Anambra States, nobody thought that there would be invasion of collation centres but this happened expecially in Rivers and Bayelsa States with electoral officials accusing the army of colluding with high ranking government officials in the APC to snatch and doctor result sheets. What transpired in Isiokpo, headquarters of Ikwerre Local Government Area was just a tip of the iceberg in the whole election. Despite threats coercion and mouth-watering offers, Mrs Mary Efeture Imayuwa and her Emohua counterpart, Mr Kenneth Etah refused to bulge or be compromised in declaring false results. They even narrated how soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army invaded the collation centres of Emohua and Ikwerre local government areas to snatch result sheets and in the fracas, had to shoot to scare away people. Same thing played out in Okrika with the soldiers acting as thugs.
Elections are supposed to bring out the best in us but when the system is seriously flawed like what happened last Saturday, then, serious questions need to be asked as to whether in Nigeria, our politicians are really sane. How come people who call themselves fathers and grandfathers still behave as common touts or whose diligence from childhood has grown to that of adulthood.
What type of message are we sending to children who also monitored the situation at home from their television sets or listen to radio that in Nigeria either their fathers or their fathers are serial election riggers?
To some, the outcome of the presidential election in particular was not a surprise as they opined that the stage for the disgraceful outing was planned in stages right from 2016. First, the ruling party had to discredit the PDP, Secondly, the judiciary had to be harassed, disgraced and rubbished. Thirdly, disobey court orders, and compromise the judiciary after replacing those who refuse to play the ball, the armed forces and other security operatives induce electoral officers, soothe, use thugs with backings by the army to disrupt elections, cart away result sheets, chase away the opposition and where they resist, shoot either to scare them away or kill.
But one thing remains paramount. Power is always transient. No matter the malfeasance or method used in gaining power, anybody on the seat or power will leave one day.
From all indications, the February 23 presidential election is the worst since the return of democratic governance in 1993. If the war against corruption is a song, then, electoral malpractice should be a hit theme. Nigeria is indeed a giant in distress. No political analyst will claim that the country is better than Equatorial Guinea in electoral matters. Countries such as Benin Republic, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and even Congo are by far miles ahead of us in anything to do with elections.
For how long will this charade continue even in places where Boko Haram holds sway with people chased away from their communities recording huge number of votes? Nigeria indeed is a funny country. No wonder we don’t have steady power supply or good roads.
The average Nigerian is very religious and if for example a pastor witnessed the last election in Emohua, or Ikwerre and saw a member of his church running away with result sheets and eventually is declared the winner and comes for thanksgiving in the church, will he as a pastor officiate in such a service? Is such victory from God or Satan. These are questions we should start asking ourselves.
Will this charade roll over into the next elections? Can we do anything to checkmate these challenges?
Holding elections every four years is not the problem, INEC is not the problem, the voter is not the problem. The problem in holding a free, fair and credible election has always remained with the elites. Those who hold the instrument of coercion, power at the centre. Rigging of elections or manipulating election results are always planned by top ranking politicians whose backing comes the centre.
Political parties use thugs as foot soldiers to disrupt the voting process especially where such a political party does not have wide spread support so we will continue to have this problem with us. Why is that in places such as Kwara State, Lagos, Borno, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe to name a few states, soldiers did not snatch result sheets but did so in Niger Delta states?
As we prepare for the governorship and House of Assembly elections, all the major political actors in Rivers State should not allow what happened last week to re-occur. The people killed were Rivers sons and daughters. They were not the children of politicians. Politics is not a do or die affair. But if this advice is not heeded, then, know that Nigeria’s democracy is in big trouble.
Social critics should also as part of their mandate be more involved in monitoring elections so that they can interact with actual voters and see things for themselves to really understand where the country is heading to.

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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LG Chairman-Elect Blames Insecurity On Parental Failure

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Chairman-elect of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Hon. Target Segibo has alleged that the prevalent security challenges in some communities of the local government area could be traceable to parental failure on one hand, and frivolous lifestyle of children and wards involved in crime and criminality in the area on the other hand.
Segibo, who was a pioneer member of the State House of Assembly between 1999-2003, stated this in Yenagoa, the state capital recently while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after receiving his Certificate of Return from the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC).
He indicated his continued desire to work for the peace and rapid socio-economic development of the local government, noting that having been actively involved in the politics of the area for decades now, he was more grounded in working on modalities towards ensuring enduring peace and unity in troubled communities of the area.
The Chairman-elect who also lauded the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, the state’s leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the electorate for finding him worthy to be elected Chairman of the local government, called on parents/guardiance not to renege on their primary responsibilities of watching over their children and wards, arguing that as the largest local government area in the state, Southern Ijaw should also be noted for peace and development.
“For over 20 years, I’ve been living peacefully with all my neighbours, both at home in Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw LGA and here, in Yenagoa.
“I’ve grown up children, but I don’t give them more than what they needed as students to go to school and stay okay as a father because I discovered that most of the security challenges we’re facing today in the Southern Ijaw LGA, and other parts of the state, is traceable to parental failure and children’s wanting to lead a frivolous lifestyle”, he said.
“As parents/guardians we should be able to know the kind of friends our children/wards keep. We must not pamper them. We must tell them that they have to do something legal to earn a living. We must question any source of sudden wealth and affluence on the part of our children and wards.
“But I want to assure our people of Southern Ijaw that as their incoming Chairman, when I’m sworn-in, having been actively participating in the politics and other activities of the area, collectively we’ll work to ensure enduring peace, unity and development of the LGA”, he added.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Bayelsa Assembly Grills, Confirms Diri’s Commissioner- Nominees 

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The Bayelsa State House of Assembly has screened and confirmed the first batch of Commissioner-nominees for Governor Diri’s second term State Executive Council.
The Tide gathered that the State Chief Executive in a bid to form his cabinet for his second tenure had earlier submitted a list of 14 names to the state legislature for confirmation as commissioners.
However, The Tide reports that only 13 out of the 14 nominees attended the constitutional exercise of the lawmakers.
Though no official reasons have been given, the immediate past Commissioner for Sports, who is also a former member of the state Assembly, Hon. Daniel Igali, was conspicuously absent during the screening exercise.
Inline with the House’s rules and Standing Orders, two other former members of the state Assembly who were also part of the nominees, Dr Gentle Emelah, immediate past Commissioner for Education, and Mrs Ebiwou Koku-Obiyai, were simply asked to take a bow and leave.
Following the exhaustive grilling, however, the immediate past Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr Biriyai  Dambo, SAN, his Finance counterpart, Mr Maxwell Ebibai, were confirmed.
Also confirmed were the immediate past Works and Infrastructure Commissioner, Moses Teibowei, Mrs Koku Obiyai, Dr Gentle Emelah, Ayibakipreye Brodericks, George Ekpotuatein Flint and Komuko Akari Kharim.
Furthermore, Mr Perepuighe Biewari, Dr Jones Ebieri, Barr. Peter Afagha, Mrs Bidei Elizabeth and Michael Magbisa received the nod to be appointed commissioners by the state lawmakers.
In his advice to the nominees shortly after their screening, Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Michael Ogbere, enjoined the Commissioner hopefuls to work as a team with those they will meet on ground, admonishing that they remain loyal to the government at all times.
On his part,  Leader of the House, Hon. Monday-Bubou Obolo, said the people of the state expect a lot trom them and that the House will do its best to keep them on their toes through its oversight functions while giving them the needed legislative support where necessary.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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NEC Meeting: PDP’ll Wax Stronger – Farah Dagogo 

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A former lawmaker representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Farah Dagogo, has described the outcome of the 98th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as another demonstration of the resilience of the party to weather any storm that comes its way.
This is contained in a statement released bythe Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the estwhile federal legislator, Ibrahim Lawal, at the weekend.
In the build up to the NEC meeting,  suggestions and permutations had been rife of the likelihood of the PDP running into another round of crises as the party tries to navigate a path for the North Central Zone to produce a substantive National Chairman to complete the truncated tenure of former Chairman, Dr. Iyiorchia Ayu.
Speaking on the sidelines of the NEC meeting that saw Umar Damagum retain his position as the party’s Acting National Chairman until the next NEC meeting scheduled for August, Dr Dagogo said those who genuinely have the best interest of the party at heart made timely sacrifices to keep the party firm and afloat.
The former member of the National Assembly said but for the political maturity and sagacity employed by the party’s National Leader and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, alongside other leaders, before and during the NEC meeting, the party would have ‘played into the hands of some individuals, who wanted the party to implode in order to improve their political fortunes’.
He expressed optimism that by the adjourned date of August, Damagum would have seen that  “it is in the best interest of the party for him to vacate the position for a more purposeful and result oriented leadership’’.
“ For me, the outcome of the NEC meeting was a win-win situation. Against all odds, the party came out unscathed and will continue to wax stronger.
“Yes, the Acting Chairman retained his position, but it is obvious to him now and others that it would be in the best interest of the party for him to vacate that position for a more purposeful and result oriented leadership by August.
“The so called tension generated in the build up to the NEC Meeting was actually orchestrated by the inordinate desire of some few individuals who wanted to thwart the sterling call by party faithful for a review of its failing leadership and directionless.
“ The Party however did not play into the hands of those individuals, who wanted the party to implode in order to improve their political fortunes. Thanks in good measure to the political maturity and sagacity employed by the Party’s National Leader and Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, alongside other leaders, before and during the NEC Meeting. We are where we are now because of their sacrifices and dedication to the party, “ he added.

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