Many compliments. I know that in the course of our disagreement I have not had any chance to speak with you and I choose to do so now in the light of the many allegations you made against me in the presence of the National Chairman our party Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Alhaji Farouk Aliyu, a valuable friend and colleague His Excellency Alhaji Wammako, former Governor of Sokoto State, and Hon. Braimah Chief of Staff to the National Chairman.
Under normal circumstances my response would have been copied and delivered only to these four persons who were present at the meeting when the allegations were made, but unfortunately the allegations you made at the meeting are now being shared and posted as facts all over the media even when I was not given any opportunity to respond to them at the meeting. This goes to the root of fair hearing and I feel I should be heard.
A lot of what you said was nothing but purposeful slander. Since you released these information to the press I have no option than to make my response to the public.
Let me say that I am pained beyond measure in taking this decision but having yourself brought these issues before the public you leave me with no choice. I will constrain myself only to the issues you raised. However, should any more issues about my character be raised in the public space I will respond in like manner.
Sir, before I proceed let me repeat what I said at the meeting which were:
That I remain grateful to you for every support and act of friendship that you have shown towards me and my family.
That I did not and will not betray you in any way. My decision to run for Governor of our state, a position to which you are not aspiring and cannot aspire does not constitute a stab in the heart.
That in the course of our disagreement I have tried not to respond to all the public things that you have said about me or to show you disrespect. If however I have done so inadvertently in any way I am sorry, and I apologize.
Throughout our relationship I have also done my best to add value to your life and your politics in any way I reasonably could and I will continue to do so.
The party should decide how best to properly conduct a primary election in which I as a member of the party can stand a fair chance since you as the leader of the party in the state has chosen to work openly against me. Let me assure everyone that if that is done and a candidate emerges I will file behind the candidate of the party, and contribute my own quota.
In your response rather than deal with these issues you made the following allegations which in my humble opinion were totally irrelevant to the purpose of the meeting and intended only to tarnish my reputation. I will list the allegations and respond to them seriatim.
In responding to these allegations I will not introduce any new issues neither will I try to defend myself anymore than necessary because even if every thing you have said is true, it still does not answer the question that was at the heart of that meeting which is why I cannot be allowed to participate freely in the primaries of our party.
Let me now go to the issues as raised by you.
You said that I arranged for my associates to write a petition against you and your wife to the British Police. My response is that not only is this allegation against me false but you know it to be false. You had earlier told Governors Lalong and Bello that I , Magnus Abe wrote the petition against you to the British Police, so your modification of your earlier allegation to now say it was my associates is an acknowledgment that your earlier position is unsustainable. I have never and will never go that far whatever may be our issues, not just against you but against any other politician, neither will I allow anyone else to do it. If you have any evidence to the contrary please bring it forward and I will withdraw from the race.
You said I was not elected by the minority party in the house of assembly but rather Dr Odili asked you to go and choose your team and you chose me as Minority Leader and imposed me on the house. That is not true. I was elected as Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the minority caucus at the home of Chief Ebenezer Isokariari, our Governorship candidate in the presence of Prince Emma Anyanwu. Those who contested against me were Hon. Ben Horsefall, Hon Adokiye Oruwari, and Hon John Bazia. Luckily all these actors are still alive and you have their phone numbers for ease of reference. The PDP position which you referred to is of course false to your knowledge, because no one ran against me on the floor of the assembly as the records will show.
You said I did not win elections in Gokana, and that Chief Victor Giadom brought out a gun and stuck it to the head of the Electoral Officer and threatened to kill him before results were changed in my favour. This is laughable, the name of the E.O and his phone number is available you can call him to ask if any such incident ever took place. The issue in the Gokana election was that party leaders in some wards who promised the Youth Corpers refreshments deliberately refused to keep their word to the personnel even when they had the means to do so. In anger and frustration a lot of the corpers started changing results or mutilating results in favour of PDP chieftains who came to take advantage of the widespread anger among the electoral personnel. Even then the action was not significant and could not have affected the ultimate outcome.Yes Chief Giadom got there and called my attention to what was going on. This was the call for which I thanked Chief Giadom. It had nothing to do with guns and before he called me several people had already called my attention to this deliberate sabotage by some of our party leaders. It is not surprising that these are the same persons that are opposed to me today.
You said I am a serial betrayer and I betrayed Chinwe Aguma, our late Attorney- General who was buried just a week previous to this meeting, and you also cited the case of someone standing trial for what happened during my elections that has been abandoned by me. Both stories are also false to your knowledge. For one the trial relates to an incident that occurred in Port Harcourt outside my senatorial district and it is not election related. For the other I was shocked that you could drag the name and memory of a friend who just so recently passed away into the midst of our party politics. However you said they should ask Igo Aguma his younger brother who is with you and who told you that I betrayed Late Chinwe. I will supply the phone number of Hon Igo Aguma for anyone to call him and ask Igo to give the details and particulars of this betrayal for public consumption. Till that happens I will respect the memory of my late friend and hold my peace. Chinwe was never a pretender, and no one could have used him to settle their personal political score if he was alive.
You said I deceived you into appointing Mr. Derek Mene as Executive Director in NDDC. I did not deceive you. I merely reminded you of the promise you made to me that in the event of an APC victory in 2015 that my interest in the national government will be placed above every other interest in Rivers state including your own interest. That clearly has not been the case. It was when I reminded you of that promise that you conceded to the appointment of Mr. Mene. I do not see how making an effort to keep a promise you made voluntarily and without preconditions can be said to be deceit.
You said I am working with Governor Nyesom Wike against the party and you mentioned two things to buttress your allegation. First, you said that when people went to court to protest against the High Court ruling in the case filed by disenfranchised party members in Rivers state, Governor Wike brought the Judge to the court in his car and stood behind the judge while the ruling was delivered. You quoted two senior police officers as your witnesses.
This of course is a lie.
You also said that Hon. Mpigi told you that Governor Wike gave me 34 million naira for my thanksgiving. This also is a lie from the pit of hell. I invited Governor Wike to my thanksgiving service for two reasons, one was because you chose to host a parallel event against me on the same day and second because I am Anglican and my Archbishop who was to preside at the service called me and asked me in the name of God to forgive the Governor and invite him. Wike did not give me a Kobo to host the event and I have never received 34 million naira from Wike. I am convinced that even at the time you were saying that, you knew that was not true. Governor Wike did not give you any money to host the Free Rivers event in Bori the headquarters of Ogoniland on the day I was holding my thanksgiving, neither did Wike take the decision to disenfranchise party members and refuse nomination forms to party members who paid money to the party to contest for positions in the congresses. To continually drag Wike's name to the crisis created by deliberate acts of injustice to others, is nothing but a cheap smear campaign. It will surely fail.
I was particularly sad when you told the National Chairman that I cornered all NDDC contracts in Rivers state. All contracts in NDDC are approved by the MD who is your friend. I have not cornered any contract at all from the Commission. It is on record that simple courtesies and favours extended to Niger Delta Senators including PDP Senators are not extended to me. The only issue you have with the NDDC is the fact that Mr Mene refused to lead the campaign against me in Ogoniland despite all threats and intimidation including the threat to hand him over to the EFCC.
You said I deceived you into sacking Mrs Ibim Seminitari so I could appoint Mr Mene. This is of course a chronological impossibility. I was one of the defenders of Mrs Seminatari even in our meetings and the issue of Mr Mene did not come up until the new board was to be set up. In other words Mrs Seminitari was sacked by the decision to set up a new board.
You said I am only a friend to power and I only followed you because you were powerful. Time will tell, because it is in the nature of power to move. So one day we will either leave power or power will leave us, then we will know those who follow us because we have power. When we started our political journey you did not have the power you have today. I can still remember several times when it was just me and you together during your battle to be Governor, and even more so when you we were fighting the power of Jonathan. If I was only a friend to power as you claim today, I would have moved on long ago. I have tried to live by some rules that is why I have decided to contest for the Governorship of our state even under this very difficult circumstances and against your stated decision.
You said Chief Victor Giadom told you that I did not support you when you were the court fighting for your mandate and you named some Ogoni leaders as those who came to tell you that the Ogoni people are not with me. I will refrain from mentioning their names here but you may make their names public if indeed they told you so. Please believe whatever is convenient for you today. It will not change anything.
Finally, I have tried to go over everything you said about me including the fact that if the story of my life is in ten chapters, you will occupy six of it. My challenge is that even if you said is true, I still cannot find the stab in the heart to which you kept making reference that necessitated this bitter war in the party. The only thing I can find is the fact that I insisted on my right to contest for the ticket of our party against your stated desire. In my humble opinion, that action does not constitute a stab in the heart of any true democratic leader.
I remain yours faithfully,
Delta State Governor Dr Ifeanyi Okowa was on Monday inaugurated as the Chairman of the special National Convention Planning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he assured that no matter the venue chosen for the Convention, the Committee will work round the clock to organise free, fair and acceptable convention. Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Elder Yomi Akinwunmi inaugurated the Committee on behalf of the Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
According to Governor Okowa, “I thank the National Working Committee and members of our party for finding us worthy to serve in this Committee; all of us believe that the party should remain united and focused; what is needed is a free and fair primaries to be conducted for all our aspirants, no matter where the venue is, we will do what is right and no one will have reason to complain; we believe we are capable of doing the work.”
“We do know as a party, that we are in critical situation as a nation, this is about the most important assignment of our party this year as the special convention will see to the emergence of candidate who will be our next President; we are grateful to God that we have credible party men who are contesting for the position,” he said. Governor Okowa continued, “when the process is credible and the election is free and fair, we will have buy-in of all the aspirants who will lead us into the campaign.” “We will put in all our best, all that is in us, trusting God, we will come out with a candidate in a free and fair manner that no one will complain,” he emphasised.
Elder Akinwunmi had said while inaugurating the Committee that Governor Okowa was chosen to be the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee because, “he is a thorough gentleman who conducted the best Convention ever had in Eagle Square, the international community wants to see the process that will lead to the emergence of the next President of Nigeria that is why we have chosen a man of integrity, a man of pedigree to work with reputable, tested and trusted men of our party to organise the Convention.” High point of the occasion was the unveiling of the Special National Convention Flag and presentation of appointment letters to members of the Committee which has the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi as Secretary.
...Says No Intention To Contest VP Seat
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that he will not be vying for the position of Vice President of the country as being speculated in certain quarters ahead of the 2019 elections.
The Majority Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule has described Barr. Mrs Ifeyinwa Aguma as qualified to serve the State as an Executive member of the State Council.
By Emma Okah
As Nigerians continue to live with the bitter pill of an incompetent but deeply partisan electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, it has become necessary again to predict the colour of the 2019 elections and the dangers that litter the landscape. Violence is central and so much of it is being cooked to be unleashed in Rivers State. Many Nigerians are satisfied with branding Rivers State a turbulent election area but only a few are asking the pertinent questions to understand the causes and the assailants.
A by-election was conducted in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on August 18, 2018 for a seat in the State House of Assembly with just 8 wards and 142 polling units. But this was disrupted due to heavy violence leading to suspension or cancellation by the (INEC). The disturbing observation seems to be that most persons reveled in the fact of violence, especially those who started it or felt the violence favoured them. They prided themselves as testing the microphone of violence. The violence resulted in disenfranchisement of voters and bad taste to voting. Worse, there seems to be much joy now in denying people their much-given rights to freely choose who should govern them. Unfortunately, there is no other place this is more celebrated than Rivers State, as it were.
This threatening scenario is being dismissed by people who simply say it has been like that since 1999. The danger that it poses today and what the APC is telling us today by justifying today's violence is that they have the apparatus of violence and that they are going to maximize it against their opponents, against the PDP, during the forthcoming elections.
The meaning of that is that everybody will have to be a victim of attack unless you allowed them to win. Also, the level that the APC is taking election violence in Rivers State has reached a very disturbing crescendo. It does not matter who is the perpetrator. No normal person can fail to see it so; that wrong remains wrong. Every well-meaning person should seek an end to what is not right and rebuild our society for the better.
It does not matter to me that something was wrong yesterday. If somebody was a victim yesterday, so, everybody must perish today, just for you to win an election? So, because things have changed, the victims of yesterday must visit wrong on the people? If that is allowed to stay, then we mean evil should have no end?
The police are constitutionally empowered to bear arms but it is not to maul over the populace. Violence, apart from discouraging people from voting, puts voters and electoral officers in danger. Imagine members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) being harmed. Nigerians must wake up to that reality. The same evil that is being perpetrated in Rivers State is now being exported to other states like in Ekiti when the police was used to intimidate a sitting governor. At the end of the day, you wrestle him down and arm-twist him until he is unable to defend himself properly, taking advantage of the coercive power of the state.
So, it looks easy to interpret that all you need to do to win election now is to spend all the money on the security, raise thugs, and the police will give the thugs covering power, cart away sensitive materials, snatch ballot boxes, and take away card reader machines. With that, you have paralyzed the voting process and you now come out with a result you have pre-written. Printing of INEC results is no longer a big deal. We saw it in Port Harcourt here and we shouted and arrests were made, but no person was punished. It is such impunity. The alert was not proved to be a lie, either. Instead, the case was transferred to police Zone 6, and the young man who was caught with the printed materials at 12, Isiokpo Street, D-Line, Port Harcourt Mr Atonye Peterside and his accomplices are walking the streets freely. They were all APC members.
When the re-run election involving Rivers East was held, the court relied on the result given to them by the police and rejected the one from INEC. So, where did the police get their own result? These came from the alternative results the APC printed. Nobody has been punished to this day. We are showing this example to Nigerians and that is why I am saying, there is a limit to how you can wrestle a man and bring him down in his house. A day comes when he can tell you, you cannot do that. Nigerians must look at this matter seriously.
To me, instead of wasting your resources to think you must win everywhere to retain your seat, you can still win without winning everywhere. A senator must not win everywhere to be senator. What is happening in Rivers State is the desire and wish of one man that wants to be seen as a pampered child; that wants to say he contributed so much to making somebody what he is today and must be so regarded and rewarded with a state. That is why they deploy SARS to obstruct elections in Rivers State and make it impossible for free and fair election to hold so they can declare for APC and claim that they won.
The Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and its State commander are the major problems in election rigging and violence in Rivers State. The Acting President (when the president was away) had said that SARS was going to be restructured. While we were still talking about that, the same SARS has come to demonstrate again that it truly is a satanic organization by disrupting by-elections in Rivers State. So, where so we go from there? What it means is that anywhere you discover that elections are not going in their favour, SARS will surface with thugs, giving thugs cover to go and disrupt it, leaving even unarmed security men at the polling units running for safety.
Many people feel that if this is how it will go, why are they going to be bothered breaking their neck when the centre will not allow the elections to hold and when all you will do is to risk the lives of those who came to do elections. The people of Rivers State should be allowed to vote people of their choice and not be intimidated with the police just to do the bidding of the APC because the FG has control of the security agencies, and is in control of officers who have the power to bear arms. This will not solve Nigeria's problem. This short cut to victory is slowly spreading to other parts of Nigeria because it met success in Rivers State. Despite that, the Rivers State Governor has continued to complain that the SARS we have in Rivers State and their Commander have remained in the state to do the things the Commander wants to do and the way he wants to do them as instructed, all to the detriment of the PDP.
Election violence does not just happen. The major cause is simple. Once you have this mindset and you set the stage where you will not allow people to vote freely to exercise their rights, people will resist you and there will be crisis. If they don't, then thank your stars, but in 99.9% of the cases, the people will resist you. What will make a man do this is because he is not going to win election under fair conditions. If you knew you were going to win, why would you disrupt elections? It is like trying to enter into a house through the window when the door is open. It is very important to bring these things to the attention of Nigerians before it is too late. Nigerians need to know that we are heading towards the path of perdition.
Many people have asked what should be done about this. It is the centre that has to act because Nigeria is represented by the FG. The National Assembly must do something about it and find a mechanism that can stop this. They must come up with a mechanism that would make this kind of action unattractive. Laws are made to address the problems of man. The statutes must make it impossible for anybody to tow this line of ignominy and stand laughing. That is why the present amendment to the Electoral Act is overdue.
The way elections are conducted in Rivers State portends danger to our people. Deriving joy from election violence is going to bring bitterness in this country especially Rivers State because the consequences will surely be huge, for everybody. Violence can only beget more violence.
Emma Okah is the Rivers State Commissioner for Information & Communications