■ Lauds security agencies, RSIEC
Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) for conducting credible local government elections across the state.
The governor also commended security agencies for ensuring that the elections were peaceful by creating the right atmosphere for peaceful polls.
Speaking in an interview after monitoring the elections in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, Wike said that the non-participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the elections turned out to be one of the reasons the process was peaceful.
He said: “Sixty-six out of 68 political parties participated but no violence. That means that if APC had participated, probably we would have seen violence. Sixty-six political parties, no violence, no shooting, nobody has died. But if the APC had participated, they would want to coerce security agencies; they would do all manners of negative things like bringing cultists to shoot. You can see that nobody hijacked materials. Everything has been peaceful.”
The governor noted that the security agencies played their constitutional roles during the elections.
“I have called the heads of security agencies and commended them for a job well done. That is what I have always said. Allow people to vote for those they want,” he noted.
He said the message to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was that they could conduct credible elections if they resist pressures from different quarters.
“INEC can be committed to do the right thing. Once they build confidence, every other thing will move on smoothly,” the governor said.
Wike said he was more interested in the peaceful and credible conduct of the elections than anything else.
“We have gone round two local government areas. The elections went on peacefully and they were credible. Election materials arrived on time, except for a few places. Like this, nobody will complain. Observers from across the board have commended the process,” he added.
Meanwhile low turn out of the electorate characterised the elections as a result of the early morning rain. The downpour also caused late arrival of the electoral materials to the various polling units.
At about 10:30am when Sunday Sun visited the RSIEC’s Registration Area Centre (RAC) for Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, located at Saint Andrew’s State School, Diobu, Port Harcourt, materials were yet to leave for the various units and wards.
The exercise in Ikwerre Local Government Area went on smoothly. In some of the wards monitored in Ikwerre LGA, the voters conducted themselves peacefully and there was no intimidation by security operatives.
Some of the electorate, who spoke with Sunday Sun at Ikwerre LGA Ward nine, Unit 12, in Omagwa, expressed happiness that the election was free of violence.
The chairmanship candidate of Ikwerre LGA, Samuel Nwanosike, who spoke at his polling Unit in Ward 12, expressed satisfaction with the exercise.
Nwanosike, who is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of PDP, said: “What you are seeing here is that the people of Ikwerre LGA has confidence in the election process and they are very interested in the third tier of government. They believe that this is the government that is closest to the people and the government that will give them immediate dividends of democracy that will better their lives. It is not surprising that they turned out en mass to cast their votes and by the grace of God, they will get their wish.”
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC has stated that it was not interested in the outcome of the LGA polls across the state.
The state chairman, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, told journalists on phone, that APC still believes that the tenure of the sacked APC chairmen had not lapsed pending the outcome of the matter in court.
But the lawmaker representing Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. Barry Mpigi, shunned the directive of his party and voted in the election.
Mpigi berated members of the APC for boycotting the election, describing it as unfortunate.
“My name is Hon. Barry Mpigi, a chieftain of the APC. As you can see, I just finished casting my vote. The APC refused to participate in the election because of the endless crisis that rocks the party. Today, we are not talking about party; we are looking at dividends of democracy. His Excellency, Nyeson Wike, has performed very well and because of that, Tai people are not ungrateful people. We have said that he deserves another tenure.
“The only reason Tai people may do a rethink is if the gubernatorial ticket is given to any Ogoni son. We don’t need deputy governor or whatever. In the absence of the gubernatorial ticket for an Ogoni son, I hereby urge Tai people to support Wike till 2023,” Mpigi said.