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Engr Emeka Woke: Chief Of Staff Extraordinaire

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“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value” – Albert Einstein.
Two  state matters of importance, among others, which the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Engr Emeka Woke, had dealt with frontally, without fear of  intimidation or favour, present him as an officer worth his salt and deserving of commendation.
These matters which had the potential of portraying the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike in bad light to the unsuspecting public, have spurred me to give him thumbs-up, warranting this  article on his personality as an exemplary Chief of Staff, worthy of emulation.
Recently, Chief Emeka Woke stole my heart when, in very strong terms, at Opobo Town, the headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, during the grand finale of the just concluded “Operation Obtain Your PVC Sensitisation Rally” of the  Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in Rivers State, debunked the rumours making the rounds in the media by some Abuja-based or Diaspora Rivers politicians who cannot win elections in their wards, trying to blackmail and drag the name of our revered Governor, the Political Lion of Nigeria, the inestimable leader and, arguably, the strongest pillar and mainstay of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the mud.
To say the least, it is malicious and repugnant that these charlatans attempted to smear the immaculate image of the Pride of Rivers State, His Excellency, Governor Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS(Africa) and the forthright political class of the Peoples  Democratic Party in the State with lies that a meeting was held in Government House with the intention to harass, molest, intimidate and assassinate members of their splinter  group in the same party for holding different political views from that of the Governor on their Presidential flag- bearer.
To the credit of the Chief of Staff, the  allegations were undressed and dismissed as he declared them spurious, unfair, unfounded, unfortunate and mischievous evil concoctions aimed at causing disaffection and bringing the towering Governor, his unimpeachable administration and the formidable ruling party in the state to disrepute.
The maverick politician in his own right, affirmed the capability and capacity of members of the Peoples Democratic Party to resolve their internal differences and wranglings in Rivers State and elsewhere, and at any time, in peace which is the hallmark of a family bonded by love. He, therefore urged Rivers people in particular, and Nigerians in general, to disregard and discountenance the allegations and their fabricators whose main agenda is to de-market the  PDP and the State.
Of course, society watchers are in full agreement with the Chief of Staff on his timely and robust intervention and admonition since the two groups belong to the same political party that is contending to win the coming elections both in the State and at the centre. He clearly acted wisely as rumors of such magnitude, if not urgently nipped in the bud, could work against the interest of his principal, the party and the people of the State  at a time of tensed political atmosphere in the nation as the 2023 general elections beckon.
For good reason, it is expedient to advise that politicians at all levels should endeavor to rise above pettiness and present themselves as true leaders of the people by showing restraint in their public utterances so as not to cause disaffection or chaos within the unsuspecting public.
What renegade politicians should not fail to understand is that politics is a game that should be played by the rules and not to be approached as a do -or -die contest because only the living is guaranteed to play the game in due seasons, again and again.
It must, as well, be understood that success in politics is always a product of team work with established structures at Units, Wards, Local Governments, States and the Centre. It also requires the players to be on ground at the grassroots and not from the Diaspora, on pages of newspapers and electronic or social media.
One, therefore, finds it heartwarming that the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Emeka Woke, quickly, effectively and efficiently rose to the occasion in dispelling the dangerous rumours that such meeting ever held, reassuring and inspiring confidence that democracy is on course in the State and that those who are working to pollute the political atmosphere are identified, isolated and disarmed.
The second reason that endeared the Chief of Staff to me was another  proactive action he took some years ago. It was a similar scenario that tended to inflame passion and raise political tension in the State.
The case in point was that of ranting of one Chief Gani Toba, who went on Rhythm FM “‘View Point “ programme to blackmail and castigate the Governor and government of Rivers State on trump-up, frivolous and unfounded allegations of non-performance, ostensibly sponsored by detractors, traducers, naysayers and enemies of the multiple award-winning and serially acclaimed best performing governor in Nigeria.
On that occasion, Engr Woke  made his way into the studios of the radio station with hard-cold evidences of facts and figures to meet the blackmailer and debunked the white lies, while challenging Chief Toba to recant his wicked claims or face legal action.
Of course, those who tuned to the programme on the day were held spell-bound as the attention-seeking, self-styled Ogoni-born environmental activist was taken to the cleaners and his frivolous allegations completely destroyed without much ado.
It is worthy of note that since that singular bold, courageous and spontaneous reaction of Engr Woke, no one in the State has dared to brazenly brandish such lies and unsubstantiated allegations against the governor and the government, not Chief Toba or anyone else.
Certainly, that encounter sent strong signals to everyone, especially those who harbour evil motives against the government and its Chief Executive, that  a no-nonsense  Chief of Staff that would not condone misguided, ill-advised and deliberately fabricated falsehood intended to discredit and distract his boss, the Governor, was in office and alive to his responsibilities in the Rivers State Government House.
Political observers are of the opinion in many circles of discussion that the Chief of Staff  needs commendations for his proactive actions in times of potentially volatile happenings which might culminate to a breach of the peace in the State.
They say that he is a square peg in a square hole who had long synergised with Governor Nyesom Wike from the foundation of the NEW Rivers Vision and through to the 2015 general elections. He did not leave the side of the Governor during the turbulent and trying moments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when the All Progressives Congress (APC) held sway and dominated  power in the state.
In the face of the high challenge of wresting power from the APC in those days, Chief Woke, along with other like minds, kept faith with Governor Wike in the battle to overcome the odds against contending with the power of incumbency and coming out victorious when many could not stand the heat and capitulated.
He is an apostle, unapologetic loyalist, a Mente and scion of the political order of Governor Nyesom Wike, the toast and grandmaster of contemporary Nigerian politics, who has remained with his master in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from inception of political party formation in 1998.
Engr. Chukwuemeka Woke is, therefore, a well established political personality in Rivers State that needs little or no introduction. Simply known as  Chief Emeka Woke, he is well spoken of for his resilience, resourcefulness and bravery.
He was appointed by Governor Nyesom Wike, aka Mr. Quality Projects of Nigeria, in 2015, upon the inception of his (Wike) administration, and has kept his job till date.
Chief Woke, a proud son of Ikwerre Ethinic Nationality was a former elected Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, who was  during  his tenure as council boss, adjudged by political pundits as  meticulous, meritorious and frugal in the running of the affairs of the council. Many believe that these were the traits that attracted the eagle eyes of His Excellency, himself (Wike) a proven performer at that tier of government, in spotting him among others for appointment into this sensitive position of  Government.
His teeming associates describe him as a silent achiever, a man of the people, grassroots mobilizer, strict and straight forward, a philanthropist and a go getter. He is also regarded as one of the most popular and worthy political leaders in Emohua Local Government Area, who speaks  and the people listen.
Political pundits, public affairs commentators and society watchers refer to him as the undisputed head of the political engine room of Government House in the present administration.
He is among the most reliable and closest political allies of  the  Governor and his family; a confidant, political adviser and defender of inestimable value to the Governor on  government policies at any time.
Chief Emeka Woke is the 5th Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, since 1999. This political personality is definitely one of the hopes of the state in the years ahead.

By: Odinaka Osundu
Osundu, a public affairs commentator, resides in Port Harcourt.

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PDP Reschedules NEC Meeting For Sept 26

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slated September 26 for its second National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the year.
The date was announced by the party through its 2024 adjusted timetable and schedule of activities for congresses, which were released to party members and stakeholders on Monday.
Ahead of the September NEC meeting, the party has slated July 27 for the conduct of ward/delegate congresses to elect ward executives as well as three ad hoc delegates in 23 out of the 36 states of the country, including Abuja.
The timetable also disclosed that, among other things, the NEC is expected to ratify the list of executives that will emerge from the congresses.
According to the timetable, local government congresses to elect council executives and national delegates in 21 affected states are expected to follow on August 10th.
Recall that in April, the PDP held its first NEC meeting after acrimonious elections in 2023, where many of its high-profile members were involved in anti-party activities.
The party remains polarised, with some members supporting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, and others queuing behind the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Nyesom Wike.
The outcome of the election and issues surrounding the role played by its leaders led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, by his Igyorov Ward executives from the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
However, the effort to remove the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Illiya Damagum, to allow the North Central region where Ayu hails from to produce its successor was deferred to the next NEC meeting earlier slated for August, which has now been shifted to September.

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Edo, Ondo 2024: INEC Warns Personnel Against Corrupt Practices

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the success of any election largely depends on the professionalism and competence of those responsible for conducting it.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while warning its personnel against unethical and corrupt practices in the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
He spoke on Monday in Abuja at a lecture in honour of late Abubakar Momoh, former director-general of The Electoral Institute (TEI), from August 2013 to May 2017.
Prof. Yakubu, represented by the National Commissioner, and Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, warned that any unethical practice before, during and after those elections would incur severe punishments under the law.
The theme of the lecture was: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.’’
He advised electoral officers to be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity.
He said it was important for electoral personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.
“Moreover, the crucial role election personnel play in upholding the integrity of our democratic processes cannot be overstressed.
“The manner in which they discharge their duties and responsibilities affects the degree of confidence voters will have in the electoral process, which will impact their participation and turnout,’’ he said.
Prof. Yakubu said that to ensure credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate, INEC had always prioritised the professional development of its election personnel.
He said the commission identified effective and efficient electoral training as the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel.
“The commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The Director General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, in his remarks, said that INEC, in pursuit of its mission and vision, had prioritised professionalism toward achieving free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
“As we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo off-cycle governorship elections, the commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism”, he said.

 

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Reps Propose Rotational Presidency, Six-Year Single Term

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A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.
The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reform-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.
Hon Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”
Speaking on the bill, Hon Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.
“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”
The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”
Hon Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.
Hon Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”
The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.
On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”
Hon Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.
“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.
“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

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