[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is not only a shame that the electoral crime against Ekiti people at the behest of the Federal Government is being celebrated by them as Nigerians continue to express shock at the brazenness displayed in undermining the will of Ekiti people, but it is also quite pathetic that unscrupulous elements who perpetrated the crime are openly rooting for a repeat of the action in Rivers State. One is not surprised in all these. Just sad that open criminality has come to define governance under the leadership of the All Progressives Congress and, as such, largely corrupting public morals.
That said, one is a bit perplexed that those calling for the militarization and rigging of elections in Rivers State have so quickly lost touch with history. In fact, one is drawn to fits of laughter whenever the absent-minded masturbators of political debauchery allege that Governor Wike was forced to power by military fiat under the command and control of the Jonathans, and would be ousted by the same strategy. They celebrate the outcome of the Ekiti robbery as a foretaste of what is to come in Rivers State and across Nigeria in the 2019 General Elections, albeit, without a sense of history and at so short a time.
While the claim that Governor Wike was installed by military fiat has continued to serve as a narrative of consolation for the defeated and habitually lying All Progressives Congress chapter of Rivers State, the State’s electoral history document a different narrative. Rivers people voted massively for Governor Wike. Some of those who voted, did so on the basis of the betrayal of Jonathan by the then Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. Jonathan’s election was conducted earlier. He sacrificed it for the greater good of Nigeria. His sacrifice on the basis of a controversial win by the opposition sent a wave of resentment against Amaechi and his APC in Rivers State. Amaechi could not but lose his bid to install his stooge as Governor of Rivers State. It was the direct consequence of his betrayal of the Rivers national political interest. His loss has nothing to do with the military just as was the case for Gov. Wike’s victory.
Fast forward to the political drama that followed the unjustified judicial annulment of the electoral victory of Rivers people by the courts at the behest of the Federal Government and with Amaechi playing a central role. Rerun elections were called for almost all the legislative seats in the State with the sole aim of militarizing the polls and installing APC stalwarts as winners. The Gubernatorial victory was also annulled by lower courts until it went to the Supreme Court, which to the glory of God served justice to Rivers people.
Thisday Newspaper of December 9, 2016, a day to the first scheduled Legislative election reported thus: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/12/09/rerun-polls-apc-unleashes-full-weight-of-federal-might-on-rivers/
“The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) admitted yesterday that it came to Rivers State with the full complement of the federal might to ensure the success of the party in tomorrow’s federal and state legislative rerun elections in the state.
This came as the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, described the polls as “the election of our lives” and called on APC members and supporters to defend themselves if attacked on Election Day.
Addressing an APC mega campaign rally for the polls at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt yesterday, the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, declared that the party brought the federal might to Rivers State ahead of tomorrow’s polls.
No fewer than 10 state governors, ministers, members of the National Assembly and other party bigwigs attended the rally.
APC state governors that attended the rally included Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi).
Also present were Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), as well as Ondo State Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his deputy, Hon. Ajayi.
Odigie-Oyegun said: “As you can see, we came in full force; the whole federal might is here. We have the governors here today. Our senators and other members of the National Assembly are here today. Our women leaders are here today to pass one message.
“That is because we respect you, our members in Rivers State. We respect the courage of our members in Rivers State; we are behind you. We want to let you know that we have heard your cries; we have seen your anguish.
“The message is simple: enough is enough, enough is enough. This is the beginning of the rescue mission in Rivers State.”
They even went as far as abusing our government with the most denigrating statements.
“We now have a blood-thirsty regime in Rivers State. I am glad with what I am hearing: if they push you, push them. If they snatch a result sheet, snatch it back,” said Odigie-Oyegun.
Also addressing the rally, Amaechi called on members of the APC not to allow members of the PDP to intimidate them during the rerun elections.
He said: “This is the election of our lives. Before, I used to tell you, please, don’t fight. What I will tell you today is do not kill anybody but do not get killed. My friend in the army says if you hear the sound of a gun, it is not meant for you. The implication therefore is that if you allow them to shoot, you will die.
“It is not only them that have the right to life, you also have a right to life. I don’t want to hear that they shot me and took away result sheets. If they take result sheets from you, collect it back from them. You know I have never said anything like this before.”
Amaechi called it the election of their lives. Meaning if they lost, they were finished; they were dead. To ensure that they won that election, Thisday further reported that “Ahead of the elections, the IG, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, [appointed by outgone President Jonathan] announced an increase in the number of policemen deployed in Rivers State for the exercise to 28,000.
Idris, who made the announcement in Port Harcourt while addressing security agencies in the state, said a total of 28 gunboats had also been deployed to secure the waterways in the state, while 20 police dogs, and 26 units of riot police had also been deployed.
He further said that a total of 350 patrol vehicles to be manned by riot policemen and the Rapid Response Team (RRT) were being deployed with a medical team in the event of emergency and checkpoints to check the movement of arms and fake officers during the election.”
What was the outcome of the election? APC suffered a terrible bloodied nose and landmark defeat. In the few places they managed to steal seats, it was done at the cost of lives. Today, those victories are worthless, tasteless and meaningless to both the APC and Amaechi as a person, as the acclaimed winners are now mostly in the PDP or battling with Amaechi for survival within the APC. Amaechi wept and is still weeping.
Effectively, the election of their lives killed them in spite of the humongous presence of security agents brought into Rivers State to tilt the balance. They failed. APC died. The next round of Reruns didn’t bring any change to the fact that Rivers State was and remains a PDP stronghold.
To therefore think that what was done in Ekiti State was being done the first time is completely shocking and laughable. Rivers people have fought the full weight of the Federal Government and we won them. The dynamics of Rivers politics are not the same with Ekiti State. Most of all, in Rivers State our people know that their votes represent their lives and future and therefore protect them by escorting them to be properly entered on INEC website. There are too many incidents of how corrupt INEC officials were tackled by Rivers people. There’s no need to recall them. The few slips in which our mandates were stolen cannot be repeated, and the fact is that we have never suffered defeat and by the grace of God, never will.
Those who expect a dramatic change to the established voting pattern of Rivers people should think again. Votes are about choices and when a people choose, their choices must be respected. Those who have a penchant for stealing votes, and working for those who do so, should accept the condolences of Rivers people in advance when they visit the State in 2019 to ply their trade, if their wishes would be to deny Rivers people the fruits of their labour and the express expression of their solemn choices.
Oraye St. Franklyn is a barrister-at-law. He is senior special assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Social Media. He is a strategic communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He tweets from @RealOraye. He is also on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.