All is now set for the planned grand civic reception organised by the Kalabairi ethnic nationality in honour of Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, The event which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, February 5, 2022, at Abalama, the traditional meeting point for the Kalabari nation whenever crucial decisions concerning the corporate existence of the nation state are at stake, promises to showcase the best of the legendary Kalabari hospitality.
It is expected that governoment officials, members of the traditional institution and people of the indigenous Kalabari local government areas of Asari-Toru, Akuku- Toru and Degema will congregate at Abalama in their colours to receive the serial award winning Rivers State Governor and Africa’s Power of Sports (PoS) with a heart of gratitude and appreciation.
Also expected not to be missing in the august gathering at the ancient city is the crème de la crème of Kalabari extraction in politics, industry, academia, professional callings, etc, to whom the development of the kingdom is a top most concern.
Describing Governor Wike as a, ‘’ Friend closer than a brother,’’ the Kalabari people insist that the event is organised to honour, appreciate and celebrate his Excellency for his love, magnanimity and benevolence to the Kalabari Nation evidenced by his prodigious, visible and indelible footprints of developmental efforts within the kingdom.
Among the developmental initiatives and interventions embarked upon by the Wike administration in the Kingdom are: the completed Abonnema/Obonoma bridge; the completed rehabilitation of Nyemoni Grammar School (NGS), Abonnema; the completed construction of Abonnema Ring Road; the ongoing Abonnema/Obonoma Sandfilling/Land Reclamation; the completed Rehabilitation of Abonnema General Hospital, the completed Abalama Sandfilling/Land Reclamation; the ongoing Rehabilitation of Kalabari National College (KNC); the completed Rehabilitation of Degema Zonal Hospital; the completed Reconstruction of Obama High School, Bakana; the completed Reconstruction of Community Secondary School, Tombia; the ongoing Reconstruction of Community Secondary School, Obuama; the ongoing Rehabilitation of Kalabari Girls High School, Buguma; the completed Rehabilitation of Maryhood Bridge, Buguma; the completed Rehabilitation of Buguma General Hospital; the ongoing construction of Trans-Kalabari Road and the ongoing Kula Sandfilling/Land Reclamation.
The other leg of the reason for the convocation of the rich Kalabari culture in the expected pomp and colourful ceremony is the notable key governmental positions occupied by illustrious sons and daughters of the kingdom. Top in this category is the second in command to Gov Wike for the entire life of his administration, Her Excellency, Dr (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, Deputy Governor of Rivers State; Dr Tammy Wenike Danagogo, Secretary to the State Government (SSG); Hon. Damiete Herbert-Miller, Commissioner for Power; Hon. Osima Gina, Commissioner for Transport; Hon. (Mrs) Tonye Briggs-Oniyide; Commissioner for Culture and Tourism; Dr George-Kelly D. Alabo, Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects; Mr Igonibo Thompson, Director-General, Rivers State Bureau on Public Procurement, amongst others. Also of particular note is the naming of the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School after the late foremost jurist, Dr Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas (SAN).
Faulting contrary sentiments credited to one Dr Sokonte Davies, a factional chieftain of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State, Dickson Senibo said it was regrettable that some people were bent on giving political colouration to the well intended programme borne out of a sincere demonstration of gratitude to a governor who has impacted positively on the Kalabari people.
Senibo pointed out that contrary to what Dr Davies wanted the world to believe, the decision to hold a reception for Gov. Wike was not a political affair but a resolution of the Kalabari Ethnic Nationality Council of Traditional Rulers.
“ Three revered kings, representing the three Kalabari Local Government Areas sent the letter of invitation to the Executive Governor of the state and an organissing committee was set up to plan the event. As such, it is quite surprising and disturbing that Sokonte Davies will fabricate stories in a brazen attempt to deceive the public, Senibo said and urged Dr Davies and his co.Abuja-based political sojourners to return home with an open heart to see and appreciate the good things Governor Wike is doing to change the ugly developmental narrative in Rivers State.
Also describing Dr Davies’ statements as ‘’a huge lie’’ and ‘’gruesomely disappointing’’, Hon. Enemi Alabo George, clarified that ‘‘The Kalabari civic reception was carefully thought out by the traditional institution of the Kalabari Kingdom in appreciation of the Governor’s love for the Kalabari people and his development efforts in the Kalabari Kingdom, especially the Trans-Kalabari Road project.’’
According to Hon. George, who is also the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee for the event,’’ Other administrations promised the Trans-Kalabari Road but could not deliver. Nyesom Wike came and delivered on his promise.
“For this and much more, the traditional institution felt we should thank and appreciate the Governor. The traditional rulers approached leaders and stakeholders of the Kalabari Kingdom. We were randomly chosen as a committee to plan this event.’’
Hon. George, who is also a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Aari/Toru Constituency 1 said,‘‘The traditional rulers left strict instructions that this was a pan Kalabari affair and not a political affair. This is what in fact influenced the choice of Abalama Community as the venue’’, adding that invitation to the occasion was extended without consideration for political party affiliation.
“ I personally dispatched Sokonte’s information/invitation letter, which he received and sent apologies saying he would not make it due to his boss’ turbanring event in Daura. Same was communicated to the committee. Other APC stalwarts were invited. Some promised to attend, while some gave reasonable excuses, especially the event in Daura,’’ Hon George said, adding that Dr Davies should render an unreserved apology to the Kalabari traditional rulers and the entire Kingdom for his shocking, embarrassing, disappointing and shameful public statements from someone who should know better.
However, happening at a time when political activities towards 2023 general elections are in full swing, political pundits have refused to be swayed that the civic receptions that are held in honour of the governor (Ogonis recently held theirs) are completely devoid of political motives. In fact, they predict that more of such event are very likely to be organised by more ethnic nationalities who are angling to be favoured by the state’s chief executive for a shot at the highest political office in the land come next year.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Kalabari ethnic nationality strongly desires to produce the successor to Governor Nyesom Wike just like the Ogonis and others, even though individuals from the Kalabari stock, particularly those in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have understandably shied away from publicly owning up to their interests and ambitions.
As this all-important event holds tomorrow, therefore, political observers will be watching to see if the Kalabari ethnic nation will muster the courage to openly request Governor Wike’s support for their quest to clinch the coveted office of governor of Rivers State in 2023. It will, indeed, be interesting to see what the governor’s response will be, if that petition is made after all.
Whatever happens though, the immutable fact is that Governor Nyesom Wike is eminently deserving of all the encomiums and laurels he will be decorated with by the Kalabari people for his administration’s benevolence toward them.
By: Opaka Dokubo
Electoral Act Amendment Bill Not Yet Signed – Presidency
President Muhammadu Buhari has not signed the Electoral Act amendment Bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly, sources in the Presidency have confirmed.
Before the return of the President to Abuja last Saturday, after a two-day visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi, several online news platforms had reported that he had signed the amended electoral law.
When contacted on phone by The Tide source, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who just returned to the country with the President, said: “Yes, I have also read it. They know something we don’t know. They have their sources we don’t know.”
Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, House of Representatives, Hon Umar El-Yakub, doubted the authenticity of the reports.
According to him, “he (the president) couldn’t have signed it yesterday (Friday) because he was out of the country and he couldn’t have signed already because he’s just entering the country.
“I also cannot tell you that he will still not sign it or will not sign it. He’s the President. But if it will be signed later, we will all know,” he said.
The amendment is important to the participation of statutory delegates at the primaries and national convention of political parties, having been excluded from voting and being voted in the previous amendment signed into law by the President.
Political parties are required by the Electoral Act to submit the lists of their delegates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seven days to the national convention.
Should the president refuse to sign the amended electoral bill, the statutory delegates cannot participate in the coming primaries which most parties fixed for the end of this month, leaving only elected delegates to elect presidential, governorship, and legislative candidates.
Statutory Delegates Out, Elected Delegates Now To Pick Presidential Candidates
With clear signs that President Muhammadu Buhari has no plan whatsoever to sign the amendment to Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 sent to him by the National Assembly last week, the statutory delegates pushed out by the Act have turned out to be the biggest losers in the intense political game.
Section 84(8) recognises only democratically elected delegates, stating, “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.”
The Senate and the House of Representatives had penultimate week passed the amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates as voters during primaries, congresses and conventions of all the political parties.
With the President hesitant to sign the amendment, it means only national delegates elected at the local government congresses will determine presidential flagbearers of the parties.
Likewise, only the five delegates elected from each ward for the state congresses will vote to elect governors, senators, House of Representatives and states’ House of Assembly members for the APC. For PDP, it will be the three delegates elected from each ward.
So, statutory delegates, including elected councillors, local government chairmen and their deputies, party chairmen in local government areas, state and federal lawmakers (current and former), governors and their deputies, President and Vice President, National Working Committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries, are no longer voters at the primaries.
The largesse they had been enjoying from all the aspirants at various levels seeking their votes – presidential, governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and states’ House of Assembly – has come to an end.
Many are struggling to face the reality and hoping that the President will still sign the amendment by today.
But analysts countered this, saying, “With the seven-days INEC rule for parties to submit their list of delegates before primary elections, new election amendment is now out of time, even if it gets presidential endorsement.”
Our source, over the weekend, gathered that the APC had already submitted its list of elected delegates to INEC, while the PDP had partially complied, to beat the seven-day deadline.
The PDP has scheduled its presidential primary for May 28 and 29, while the APC will elect its presidential candidate on May 29 and 30.
As things stand, the APC will elect its presidential flag bearer with 2,322 democratically elected delegates, based on three National delegates per local government area.
The PDP will elect its presidential flag bearer with 810 delegates based on one National delegate per local government area and one each per state to cover the physically challenged.
Power to determine those that will emerge as candidates for various elective positions has now returned to the state governors as they determined those on the list of elected delegates sent to INEC.
2023: Group Raises Fear Over Oshiomhole’s Eligibility For Election
A group under the aegis of Concerned Afemai has expressed fear that Mr Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, maybe ambushed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should he win the Edo North Senatorial District seat or the Presidency in 2023.
The group made this known in a statement by its coordinator , Mr Steven Asemah, and spokesman, Mr Ojo Evbouan, which was made available to newsmen in Benin on Saturday.
The group noted that the former Edo State Governor, having collected forms for two elective positions in the same political party may not be eligible or suitable to vie for any election in the party.
The group which stressed that it had already registered this through a protest to the national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), cited several controversial legal landmines that Oshiomhole may face.
They noted that to save the party the embarrassment it would face, implored that his (Oshiomhole’s) nominations for both the Presidency and Senate be stepped down.
“The validity of individuals picking dual nomination forms within the same nomination process of a political party is a controversial political habit that is exposed to legal challenge anytime.
“Consequently, Oshiomole’s dual aspiration (for presidency & senate) within APC 2022 nomination process, is a disregard for internal democracy, APC constitution, INEC Guidelines, Electoral Act 30,35,115d, 115k &.1999 Constitution.”
The statement titled: ‘The controversies of oshiomole’s credibility to contest apc primaries’ further states:
“We wish to draw the attention of our party to the serial controversies vis-a-vis legal burden hanging on Adams Aliu Oshiomole, especially relating to his non-credibility to participate in the ongoing APC Nomination Exercise for the 2023 general election.”
The group also disclosed the issues surrounding Oshiomole’s membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC. “The authenticity of Oshiomole membership status after his suspension remains an unsettled fundamental issue.
“Although on June 20th, 2020 the suspension letter was purported lifted by 17 Ward Executives but if the case was withdrawn from court, that does not validate the membership status of Oshiomole. If the suspension was lifted, did it duely comply with Section 21C(I & v) of the APC Constitution.
“In view of the precarious opposition status of APC in Edo State, where the ruling PDP under a draconic Governor Godwin Obaseki may lay ambush on the electoral prospects of APC if Adams Oshiomole is considered for nomination.
“We therefore advise the APC appeal screening committee to curtail avoidable technical losses of APC in Edo-North (which remains the only APC stronghold in Edo State).
“The Appeal Committee should review and step down Adams Aliu Oshiomole from the ongoing 2022 APC nomination process” the group said.
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