Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Opposition parties in Rivers State have accused the State Government of underhand policies to muzzle them from campaigning and soliciting for votes through draconian Executive Orders,21,22.
Accord Party, among other opposition parties, said it received a letter addressed to the party by the Rivers State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development accusing it of changing the building of its secretariat from residential to commercial/semi-public without a permit from the ministry.
The Ministry stated that in pursuit of paragraph 5 of Executive Order 22, Rivers Accord should stop the use of the building for a party office and revert to the original use of the property and apply to the Ministry for a possible grant of a permit.
The State Government has therefore issued a seven-day ultimatum to Accord to leave its secretariat or be sealed off if the order is not complied with. Rivers Accord argued that it has occupied the said building that houses its State Secretariat since 2018.
It stated that other parties, including Peoples Democratic Party PDP, the ruling party and its Grassroots Development Initiative, GDI, have party/campaign offices located inside the GRA and have operated same without hindrance.
Accord pointed out that the recent promulgation of Executive Orders 21 and 22 has very little to do with the maintenance of law and order as claimed by the Rivers State Government. Rather they are intended to stifle the political space and deny the electorate their inalienable rights to vote their choice in the 2O23 elections.
The party further said the Rivers State government is twisting the law to serve the selfish aspirations of the ruling party and destabilizing opposition parties including the Accord.
Besides Executive Orders, the opposition parties, including the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Labour Party, LP, SDP and others accused Governor Nyesom Wike and his party, the PDP, of launching a direct attack on democracy in the State, using the Court and the instruments of state to eliminate political opponents.
In a press statement signed by Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo, Director, Media and Communication for
Dumo Lulu-Briggs Governorship Campaign Council says the party has decided to use all legitimate means to protect the rights of the party, its candidates and its members.
“Accord has come to stay in Rivers State and cannot be bullied in any manner.
“The current Rivers State government is notorious for acts of impunity, vindictiveness, high-handedness, tyranny and disrespect for the people of Rivers State.
“The Rivers State PDP is currently engulfed in self-imposed implosion made worse by the burden of an uninspiring governorship candidate. Faced with imminent defeat in 2023, the PDP is looking for undemocratic means to retain political power in the state”.
Accord, therefore, called on all members to ignore the threats of the PDP, keep calm and go about the campaigns without fear of intimidation.
The statement, therefore, called on the President, INEC, and security agencies to call Gov. Wike to order.
Speaking for the All Progressives Congress, APC, the former Minister of Transportation and leader of the party in Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi urged his supporters to resist intimidation by the PDP and mobilize for victory in next year’s general elections.
Amaechi points out that next year’s election will not be business as usual for the PDP, urging members of the APC to ensure massive mobilization across the wards of the State to enthrone good governance.
Amaechi spoke during a tour of Wards in Port Harcourt City Local Government area (PHALGA), on Wednesday.
Addressing supporters in Wards 17 and 8, where he received complaints of attacks by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on his supporters, the former Governor said, “Please, do not be intimidated by the PDP. I hear that they were going round to stop you from gathering. You must not allow them to stop you. They can only buy those without characters, they are afraid because there is no more writing of results.
“When you see a Governor shouting and panicking it means that he is afraid. If you see the ANAP Foundation poll by Atedo Peterside, it says 37% of Rivers people are undecided, what it means is that they don’t like PDP, they are waiting for APC. So, please go out and mobilize them to support you to win the election. When we win, we will empower our people, we will give scholarships,” Amaechi assured.
Speaking in Wards 5, 2 and 3, Amaechi said, “I decided to go round the wards in PHALGA to see how many you are. You need to do more mobilization for APC to win. If you sit at home, you will not win. PDP cannot win the election because they have not done well.”
Amaechi complained of attacks: “PDP supporters attacked our members and locked up the halls, so, we had to look for alternative venues. What I have come to do is to energize the party and tell you that there are benefits to winning. All of us must go out today to mobilize for victory. If we win, the current poverty you are suffering in the hands of the PDP government will reduce”.
Amaechi recalled that under his government that primary schools were built and free education was run for eight solid years. The same thing in the health sector, where there was free healthcare, and a dental hospital was built.
Amaechi criticized Governor Wike for “making noise” when commissioning flyovers. He said his administration built five flyovers, and people started using them without noise in name of Commissioning.
He enumerated”We built the Woji flyover, we built the Obiri/Ikwerre interchange, we built the Agip flyover, we built the Eleme flyover, we built the Eliozu flyover and we built them based on traffic counts.
“We realized that it was more important to build free schools than to build law schools for the federal government. When I left the government, I did not leave the government to be buying the whole State, I didn’t buy people’s property, I didn’t seize people’s property, I didn’t abuse anybody, I didn’t lie against anybody, I respected both the young and old because I knew that one day I would leave office. I created employment, I built the banana farm, I built the Songhai farm and I revived Risonpalm. I did all that just to create employment for our people. Today, they have lost control, Rivers State is the highest in terms of unemployment. If you want to enjoy these things again, please go out and mobilize so that we will win,” Amaechi explained.
Amaechi who spoke on Wednesday last week said, “Don’t accept to be intimidated, use me as an example. In 2015, they tried to stop me and I won. They seized our plane, and they stopped me from flying, I had no fears, I stood my ground. When I was campaigning for Buhari, they were abusing me, today they are the ones saying that Buhari is the best man.”
Unfortunately, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has disqualified Tonye Cole APC’s Governorship Candidate.
APC recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division seeking the disqualification of Candidature Cole on the grounds, among others, that is a citizen of the United Kingdom
Justice E.A. Obile of the Federal High Court 2, Port Harcourt entered judgement in favour of the PDP and disqualified Cole from participating in the 2023 elections.
In a press statement Ifeanyichukwu Dike, the APC state Legal Adviser
cited that some Sections of the 1999 Constitution under which the Court reached the decision do not disqualify a person who has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country or who has made a declaration of allegiance to another country provided that such a person is a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
APC said Cole is a Nigerian citizen by birth and is therefore qualified like every other Nigerian, to contest elections.
Wike in a swift reaction said the reason the former minister of transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and Mr Tonye Cole are plotting to come back to power is to have access to the State’s resources. He vowed that such an enterprise will never materialise under his watch.
Governor Wike, who spoke at the inauguration of the Rukpakwulusi/Eliogbolo internal roads on Saturday, said Amaechi’s criticism of the ongoing projects inauguration and flag-off in Rivers State smacks of envy and malice.
According to a press statement by Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State governor, Wike noted that Amaechi having failed to account for the $308 million proceeds from the sales of the State power plants by his administration, lacks the moral rectitude to speak on the affairs of Rivers State.
He queried why should his administration not celebrate when Amaechi sold the State’s gas turbine at the cost of $308 Million. When converted today’s dollar to Naira rate at even N500, how much will it be? What can you show for the money, certainly nothing.”
The governor urged Rivers people to be wary of the antics of the former Minister who desperately wants Mr Cole, his business partner, to become governor so that they can continue to loot the resources of Rivers State.
“All the gas turbines that Dr Peter Odili bought, where are they today? So you think Rivers people are foolish to see that you are bringing the person, your business partner to come and be governor so that you will continue to loot where you stopped. It will never happen.”
He advised the former minister to perish the thought that there will be a re-enactment of the 2019 foiled attempt to use the Army to rig the general election in the State in 2023.
Governor Wike who justified the media hype during the commissioning project recalled that on May 27, 2015, while he was still governor-elect, Amaechi who was then the State government had bragged at Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, that the incoming government will not have money to pay salaries and execute projects.
Wike boasted that his administration is not only paying salaries, pensioners, and gratuities that Amaechi did not pay, projects he failed to carry out. And so there should be celebration to let him know that nobody is God.
The Rivers State governor said it is disheartening that while as a federal minister, Amaechi never attracted any project to the State. According to him, Amaechi’s supporters have begun to desert him because he lacks integrity.
Wike further mocked Amaechi over the mass desertion of prominent members of APC and his inability to attract federal government projects to the State.
“I’m not the one who said people should leave your party. We have used projects to demystify you and the Federal government. They appointed you as a minister, what did you bring to this State? Even in your community Ubima, you said you are going to bring the University of Transportation, is it there? You said you are going to give us a narrow gauge rail line, have you given us one?”
“Why will we not celebrate? You promised the Kalabari people, you are going to do the Trans-Kalabari road, did you do it.? By the grace of God, this December, we are going to commission the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari road.
“Eight years in office, you said you are going to complete Andoni-Opobo Unity road. Did you do it? You run away with the money. By the grace of God today, we have completed the Opobo section and we are still working on the Andoni section.”
The governor reiterated that the whole essence of governance is the advancement of the welfare of the people. According to him, his administration is elated that the people of the two communities are happy with the construction of their internal roads.
“When I came to the village, it was a real village. All this place was forest and farmland, but today it is a new layout. We thank the government of Rivers state for helping us recover some of our land that had been acquired by the federal government, in fact, the colonial government.”
Okocha said the land where both the Bori camp (army barracks) and the Air Force base are located in Port Harcourt belongs to his people. According to him, “We expect them to pay us fair and adequate compensation.”
Our Correspondent reports the Court disqualification of Cole, APC Governorship candidate from contesting the election on grounds that he is of dual citizenship of United Kingdom and Nigeria in the case instituted by PDP, was to frustrate APC from being on the ballot.
APC has said that it will appeal the judgement there are subsisting Court judgements on citizenship.
The party said it appealed immediately and is very confident that justice will be done. The party appeals to the party faithful to remain calm and confident they will get Justice.
Still, on the allegation state government stifling opposition, the Gubernatorial Candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) in Rivers State, Sobomabo Jackrich, raised an alarm that the onslaught against opposition political parties in the state has assumed a new dimension.
Jackrich complained during the inauguration of the NRM party secretariat in Gokana Local Government Area, state secretariat was recently served an eviction notice by the state government asking them to vacate the facility within seven days or risk having the building demolished.
He maintained that no amount of intimidation from the Rivers State Government will dissuade the party from taking over Rivers State to end bad governance, adding like the #EndSars, the NRM is a Movement that transcends existing only physical structures.
On his part, NRM State chairman, Ibiyekaribo Peters, called on the people of the state to resist vote buying which is primarily intended to keep them under perpetual economic slavery.
Our correspondent reports that the chairman of the party in Gokana, Evans Deebari, and other leaders of the party in the LGA, state and national called on members of the party to work in synergy to ensure the victory of the party in the 2023 elections.
Still on the attack on the opposition parties and their Candidates, Senator Magnus
Abe, the Governorship candidate of SDP and his convoy were ambushed by PDP supporters close to Egberu, the community of Amb Desmond Akawor, the State Chairman of PDP in the Oyigbo local government area. The boys not only laid an ambush in the bush, but they also built a barricade on the road to block Senator Abe from advancing into the community to address stakeholders of SDP who had scheduled a meeting with him.
As security personnel on the convoy tried to clear the barricade for Senator Abe to pass, the thugs came out of the bush stoning them with bottles, sticks and stones. The thugs with rifles were set and positioned for a firefight.
It was then that Senator Abe, came down from his vehicle to address the boys thinking that reason would prevail.
Senator Abe courageously came down from his car and warned that no security personnel attached to him should open fire despite the provocation
The altercation was captured on video that went viral. Senator Abe accused Akawor, PDP of sponsoring party thugs to attack his convoy and stop campaigning for his community, Egberu. Abe was also stopped from having the audience of his supporters at Okrika Waterfront on Thursday 17th November 2022. Again in Degema, an attempt to stop the SDP campaign, was stiffly resisted,
In a swift reaction, PDP refuted reports that the party is sponsoring attacks on political opponents in the state.
.Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the Director General of the PDP Campaign Council in Rivers State, Felix Obuah, also debunked reports that the party is sponsoring thugs to attack political opponents. The most recent report was from Abe, who alleged that Akawor sponsored armed youths to disrupt his political engagement in Oyigbo Local Government Area where the PDP chairman comes from.
Mr Obuah said the PDP is too organized and does not have a competition in the elections that would warrant its involvement in political thuggery. He dismissed the reports of attacks as fallout of some of the internal wranglings in the opposition parties.