*Warns against manipulation of Kogi governorship primary delegates list
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says the on-going protest by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Port Harcourt is aimed at preventing the manipulation of the results of the March 18, 2023 governorship and House of Assembly elections.
The governor noted that since the law allows political parties to access electoral materials INEC used in conducting the elections, the PDP in the State as a precautionary measure, is insisting on every party having access to the documents at the same time.
Governor Wike, who spoke during a media chat in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, explained that PDP was simply being proactive to prevent a recurrence of malicious altering of the will expressed by Rivers people at the polls in 2015 by the police and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“There is nothing that is abnormal about what you think is going on in Port Harcourt. What PDP is doing is just to be vigilant. Vigilant in the sense that precisely after the 2015 election, inauguration, we had problems that we never believed, and so we didn’t want a recurrence of that at the tribunal.
“It shocked us when we were in the tribunal that police tendered original result, not a copy of the original result, original result, and everybody was shocked. How would police tender original result and INEC had their own original certified true copy? INEC tendered their own, to our greatest surprise, the court accepted the police original result. It was surprising to us.”
Governor Wike, said the PDP is being extra vigilant because of the APC’s in Rivers State has a penchant to compromise security agents and some officials of INEC. According to him, the PDP is still astounded on how police procured original copy of INEC result sheets in 2016.
“Police brought original result sheet. It is unbelievable. The court accepted police own other than INEC. APC in Rivers State paid police. What we expected is that police should have a copy of INEC result. And how did they get the original result sheet with the same serial number?”
Governor Wike explained that the PDP does not trust INEC sufficiently and will want to be present when APC is granted access to all electoral materials used in the conduct of the 2023 governorship and House of Assembly elections.
“We are being extra-vigilant because we know what our opponents are capable of doing. All the plans, all the results they have printed to tender before the tribunal, we have it
“You are dealing with criminals and you must be extra vigilant. People can go to any length to procure documents and you will be shocked what you will see in the tribunal.”
Speaking on the on-going the plans by the opposition parties to produce the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, governor Wike declared that the State lawmakers will not be part of such disruptive scheme.
He disclosed that though he is not a member of APC, prominent members of the party interested in the office of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives have reached out to him to indicate their interest.
“People have come to see me. Wase (Hon. Ahmed Idris) has come, (senator Godswill) Akpabio has come, (Governor David) Umahi has come, Uzor Kalu has called me on phone from U.S severally. And what am I saying? I’m not from their party, but first of all, democracy entails that the majority should have their way.
“I have been hearing and reading where people are saying that the opposition parties are meeting to take over the leadership of the National Assembly. They won’t take it, it’s not possible. Even me, I will not support that.”
The Rivers State governor urged the opposition parties to allow the APC leadership to choose the leadership of the National Assembly because it is their entitlement. He urged the minority in both chambers of the National Assembly to form a robust opposition to challenge the ruling party.
“APC should still produce the leadership of the Assembly. Nobody should count Rivers state as part of the agenda to take over the leadership of the National Assembly. PDP can’t tell us that. Did they support us to win election? They can’t tell us that.
“I will not support that kind of move where you want to takeover the leadership of the National Assembly as an opposition, I won’t do that. There are so many politicians who are very selfish, I’m not one of them.”
The Rivers State governor has however, advised the national leadership of the APC to consider the diversity and complexity of the Nigerian State in determining its preferred candidates for the offices of the Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
On the crisis in the PDP, governor Wike said the devastating defeat of the party in the just concluded general election is a pointer that the suspended national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu really had no electoral value.
According to him, the G-5 governors agitation for rotation of elective and appointive offices based on the principle fairness, equity and justice helped to expose this salient fact about Dr. Ayu.
“We have exposed Ayu that he has nothing to offer the party. And from the results, it has shown that he has nothing to offer to the party.”
Governor Wike disclosed that the acting national chairman of the PDP, Umar Ililya Damagum recently called him and he expressed concern about attempt to manipulate the Kogi State governorship primary in favour of senator Dino Melaye.
“Changing delegates list to favour a particular person will further cause crisis in our party. Giving PDP governorship ticket in Kogi State to Dino Melaye is like planning to fail the election, because Dino doesn’t have what it takes to become governor of Kogi State.
“Tomorrow you begin to cry that you were rigged, but you’re already rigging yourself by changing the delegates list to favour someone who cannot win election.”
Special Assistant (Media) to Rivers State Governor
April 11, 2023.