Rivers re-run: How APC proved bookmakers wrong — Nwuche
By Abbas Jimoh | Publish Date: Dec 16 2016 2:00AM(Daily Trust)

A former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche, in this interview, gives reason for the feat by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in last Saturday’s national and state assembly’s re-run elections in Rivers State. Excerpts:

Your party, the APC, seems to have done somehow well in the re-run in Rivers State. What happened since Rivers is presumed a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stronghold?

The APC has always had tremendous support amongst the masses in Rivers State because many of the leaders in the party had impacted positively on the lives of the average Rivers man, especially their constituents. Some leaders were members of the state assembly, speakers of the state assembly, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and some were even deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. How can all these people not have followership that will translate to electoral victory? No state can be rightly described as a fortress for any particular political party. It depends on the leadership of the opposition party, particularly if they are prepared to admit leaders with followership. The APC, besides the strengths of its original leaders, has also admitted new leaders who are grounded in Rivers State.

The success recorded in the polls is, therefore, not surprising to me. The heavy security presence enabled our supporters to come out en masse to vote as opposed to the past elections where they were intimidated and many murdered in cold blood. Many of us spoke up and urged the federal government to secure the lives of our poor people. I am happy that the government is now addressing the security situation more aggressively and the law enforcement agencies are more focused and appear to understand the sophisticated and organised crime pattern better.

I particularly wish to commend the doggedness and determination of the Rivers South East senatorial candidate, Magnus Abbe, for being undaunted in spite of the challenges and finally emerging victorious. I am certain he will be an influence for good, both at the Senate and in his native Ogoni land and Rivers State as a whole.

How will you rate INEC and the security agencies, especially in view of the PDP accusations against them?

From what I saw, the security agencies, from the army, police, SSS and civil defence, were very professional and were only concerned in maintaining security; to allow people exercise their franchise unmolested as opposed to what happened in the recent past. INEC must also be commended for doing a good job and being an unbiased umpire in the electoral process which makes people’s votes count. How can you accuse the INEC of bias when they have declared winners from both the APC and the PDP? Most observers already knew that candidates like Magnus Abbe would win in free and fair elections in their areas any day, and they were so declared by INEC.

Niger Delta elders recently visited the President to discuss the renewed restiveness in the Niger-Delta region. Do you think this will stem the problem in the region?

I believe that the dialogue between our President and our leaders under the leadership of Chief Edwin Clark is a very welcome development and I commend both the president and our elders for the initiative, as nothing can be gained from destruction and war. I also want to use this medium to once again appeal to our youths to maintain the peace and stop the destruction of oil facilities as we are the ones bearing the brunt of these destructions to our ecosystem and the attendant insecurity and unemployment because of the movement of industries and businesses out of the Niger Delta Region.

The renewed agitation has highlighted many issues of continued marginalisation of the oil producing areas despite the 13 percent derivation that has accrued to the states since 1999, and despite the fact that one of our sons has occupied the Presidency of Nigeria. My colleagues and I in the 1999 assembly were instrumental in compelling the federal government to commence the implementation of the derivation formula. But our people have not seen commensurate development from those resources that should have transformed the six Niger Delta states into mini Dubai. There is also the lack of participation of Niger Delta people in the ownership of oil blocks and involvement in oil services and the commanding heights of the oil and gas sector.


 
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