Wike, OBJ List Path To Sustainable Democracy In Nigeria
Amidst the deepening anxiety, tension and expectations preceding the forth coming general elections in Nigeria, critical stakeholders have raised concern over the imperatives of a smooth transition to strengthen democratic culture in Nigeria.
Among the key stakeholders who raised their views on the way forward for Nigeria’s democracy were the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, and former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who spoke at the Port Harcourt International Conference, sponsored by the Rivers State Government with the theme: “Deepening Democratic Culture and Institutions for Sustainable Development and Security In Nigeria”, held at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Addressing the conference, the Rivers State Governor said Nigerians are desirous of a credible transition process with the 2023 general elections becoming the litmus test to actualise the dream of an egalitarian society and political leadership emanating from popular choice.
Governor Wike noted that Nigeria’s evolving political history has been prone to some institutional challenges that had hampered the processes but urged Nigerians to keep faith with democratic culture by ensuring that the 2023 general elections make a difference in other to avert a further drift into political disequilibrium and social disorder.
Governor Wike noted that Nigeria’s former President, late Umaru Yar’Adua acknowledged that the election that brought him as President was fraught with glaring irregularities and promised some electoral reforms in the country.
According to Governor Wike, the anomalies in Nigeria’s political transition grew unabated with litigations trailing the outcomes of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections, as the compromise of the electoral process by the electoral umpires negated the principles of fair contest and denied citizens their constitutional rights to elect the leaders they could trust and hold accountable to stewardship.
Thus, the emergence of leaders outside the people’s will, he noted, was illegitimate and bred autocracy , abuse of political power and constituted existential threat to the peace and stability of the nation.
“None of the defeated contestants believed they lost fairly and blamed the umpire, the security agencies and politicians for undermining our democracy with brazen electoral fraud.
“In Rivers State, we battled the military in 2016 and 2019 re- run and general elections with pure courage and determination to secure our victory and retain our mandate with the sweat and blood of innocent citizens”, Wike said.
Governor Wike emphasised that deepening democratic culture and institutions for sustainable development and security in Nigeria can only be achieved through a credible electoral process anchored on popular will, not a skewed process that undermines the will of the people.
Governor Wike expressed hope in the new electoral law, especially with the provision of the use of technology as a measure of checking electoral frauds. He added that political parties must also conform to democratic norms through their internal practices and external electoral behaviour.
He charged Nigerians to move out of the culture of indifference and docility and be courageous enough to stand for justice, participate actively in the democratic process and defend their votes, and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the security agencies to be impartial in the discharge of their functions.
In his key note address, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said despite Nigeria’s chequered political evolution with twists and torns, there was still hope for a more credible and sustainable democratic process in the country.
Speaking on the topic “Respecting the Principles of Democraty”, the former president said Nigeria needed a strategic move to deepen it’s democratic culture.
To strengthen the country’s democracy, Obasanjo said political leadership should not be opportunistic but laden with a high sense of responsibility with critical stakeholders such as the intellectuals and technocrats playing pivotal roles in the polity as opposed to a system that favours minions and other characters lacking in leadership acumen.
He also cautioned against the arm-twisting and gauging of the opposition, stating that such tendencies could stifle the country’s democratic growth. He pointed out that the democratic practice exhibited by Nigeria’s political class has deepened contradiction, negative coalitions, distrust, disloyalty and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies all over the country.
By: Taneh Beemene
Reps Summon Army, Defence Chiefs Over Benue ‘Assault’ By Troops
The House of Representatives has summoned Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, and Faruk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff, over the alleged involvement of some soldiers in the assault of residents in Gboko, Benue LGA.
The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution during the plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Mark Gbillah, the lawmaker representing Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency of Benue State.
Speaking on the motion, Gbillah alleged that on March 18, officers of the 401 Division invaded Old Barn Hotel, Gboko, in army trucks and “viciously assaulted and brutalised several persons and guests”.
He said the officers, about 20 in number, were dressed in military uniforms but “without any identifiers such as nametags, any form of personal identity or ranks”.
“The military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explaining such cruel and inhuman treatment,” he said.
Gbillah said Kpam Sokpo, a lawmaker representing Buruku Federal Constituency was also attacked by the soldiers.
“Despite introducing himself as a serving member of the House of Representatives, the soldier rather poured more invectives on the honourable and ordered his subordinates to slap him and in an attempt to defend himself from the unprovoked assault, about 20 soldiers pounced on him and others with guns and brutally assaulted them. This resulted in serious injuries on his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, both arms and legs.
“This same team of soldiers were allegedly responsible for the extra-judicial killings of at least two persons in Gboko in two separate instances on the same day”, he said.
The motion, which was not debated, was adopted when Idris Wase, the presiding officer, put it to a voice vote.
The army and defence chiefs are expected to explain to the lawmakers the circumstances behind the “unprovoked attack and why these military officers did not carry proper identification or inform the civilians about their mission.
“And to brief house about actions currently taken by military authorities to investigate the unprovoked assault on residents of Gboko, including honourable Kpam Jimin Sokpo and the shooting to death of two persons in Gboko on 18 March 2023.”
Kalabari Voted Massively For PDP In Appreciation Of Gov Wike’s Goodwill – Council Boss
The Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, has stated that the people of the Kalabari Ethnic Nationality voted massively for the Rivers State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sir Siminialayi Fubara, and all the National and State Assembly candidates of the party in the just concluded general elections, to show appreciation to Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Council Boss, who disclosed this during the commissioning ceremony of the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road, noted that the Kalabari people have benefited more from the Wike led administration than they had done from any other government since the creation of the State.
He said that though some persons from the Kalabari extraction threw their hats in the ring in the governorship election, the Kalabari people rather opted for Sim Fubara to demonstrate their appreciation to the governor for his magnanimity towards them.
The DELGA helmsman further stated that the Kalabari people were overjoyed with the actualisation of the first phase of the road project, adding that the crowd of people at the event came to say ‘thank you’ to the governor for linking six island communities, that were hitherto inaccessible by road, to the mainland.
Earlier in his address, the Amanyanabo and paramount ruler of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, Ekineye Gbobo, Owukori IX, while thanking Gov. Wike for the milestone achievement, noted that the governor had lived up to the title of Se-Ibidokibo 1 of Kalabari (one who does good for the Kalabari people), bestowed on him during the grand civic reception, held in his honour by the people of the ethnic nationality.
The Monarch, who is also the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Benue State University, particularly thanked the governor for elevating several chieftaincy stools in Kalabari and recognition of incumbents, as well as executing several notable projects in Kalabari land and prayed God to give the governor the grace to continue to stand by and support the Kalabari people, even after he leaves office.
In his address, Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike thanked the Kalabari people for what he described as their “wonderful performance” during the just concluded governorship election.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the people of Kalabari, making up the three LGAs for the wonderful performance you showed in the last election”’ he said.
Former Deputy Leader Hails Gov Wike Over Sir Fubara’s Emergence
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has received commendation over his examplary leadership qualities that led to the emergence of Sir. Siminialayi Fubara as Governor-Elect elect in the State.
Former Deputy Leader of Ikwerre Local Government Legislative Assembly, Hon. Amadi Jacob made the commendation while exchanging views with journalists on Wednesday at Elele in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
According to him, the victories of Sir Fubara, Allwell Onyesoh and Boniface Omerengwa in their respective positions was a clear testimony of good leadership by Gov. Wike.
“ I sincerely thank the electorates for coming out en masse to vote for all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in the State, especially in Elele town.
“I use this forum to congratulate the Governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara , Chief Allwell Onyesoh and Boniface Omerengwa for their landslide victories at the polls.
“We have no doubt that they will perform creditably in their respective positions”, Jacob said.
The former Deputy Leader who is also one of the leaders in Ward 4 in the area expressed the confidence that Sir Fubara would consolidate the good works of Governor Wike following his track record as a civil servant.
“I also thank the Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Council, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike for his role during the elections.
“Besides, the appointment of Chief Mike Elechi as member of the Rivers State Civil Service Commission is highly welcomed”, he stated.
By: Tonye Orabere
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