RIVERS RERUN ELECTION
RIVERS RERUN ELECTION
By Chinedu Agbebire
Nearly two years after the 2015 general election, the Rivers state legislative rerun election finally took place on December 10, 2016 with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) winning two senatorial seats while the All Progressive Congress (APC) won one senatorial seat amidst the usual Nigeria election features such as killing, maiming, ballot snatching, shooting, electoral frauds. Essentially the election aptly captures the array of desperation of the ruling elites at the expense of the lives of the masses. Despite several postponements of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the realities and outcome of the election still remain unchanged as it left on its trail tears, sorrow and death for the poor masses.
INEC had declared the National Assembly elections alongwith those of House of Assembly held respectively on March 28, 2015 and the April 11, 2015 inconclusive citing violence, electoral fraud and general insecurity. The same thing took place in the rerun election of the March 19, 2016. Again, the election was supposed to be held again on July 30th, 2016 but was later suspended due to the reasons cited above. The repeated delay of the Rivers rerun election itself shows how backward Nigeria’s capitalist democracy is.
By and large, the outcome of the election has changed the political landscape in the state with forewarnings for 2019 when the PDP’s Governor Wike is expected to be asking for re-election. Before now the ruling party in the state, the PDP, was in full control of the State House of Assembly. However with the December 10 rerun election for almost all the National and State Assembly seats, the opposition APC now has six State House of Assembly seats, three House of Representatives seats. This is aside winning a Senatorial seat in the Rivers South-East Senatorial district.
Rivers of Blood
Unfortunately the postponement of the election did not in any way stop rivers of blood from flowing. The inglorious election witnessed the death of hundreds of people including security operatives. Some of the victims of this murder were gruesomely beheaded. Aside the murder, there have reported cases of abduction. Equally, the Nigeria Police Force lost a DSP, Alkali Mohammed, in the course of the election. Also the Nigeria Army claimed that two of its men that were deployed during the election were missing. It must be noted that majority of the victims of these killings were poor and struggling masses while the elites themselves were insulated either by security operatives
Allegation and Counter-Allegation
Obviously the rerun election battle was personified by two elements; Governor Nyeson Wike of the Democratic People Party (PDP) and Chibuike Rotimi Amachi, the former governor of the state between 2007 and 2015 and current Minister of Transportation in Buhari’s All Progressive Congress, APC, government.
Wike’s allegation of the APC using security operatives to commit electoral fraud may not be far from the truth. But this does not exonerate Governor Wike of all electoral evils that he alleged Chibuike Amaechi and the APC of. For instance, one of Governor Wike’s henchmen, Hon. Chinyere, the Rivers state Commissioner for Urban Development, was accused of having fake result sheets at the Rivers East Senatorial district Election Collation Centre in Port-Harcourt. Moreover, an audio clip, circulated online, purportedly having Wike threaten to kill an INEC official for refusing to manipulate result despite having collected money from him aptly shows that Wike and PDP are no different from APC and Amaachi. The fact that Wike and Amaechi were previously in the same party, the PDP, shows that as far as the election was concerned there was no fundamental, political, division between the parties. They are just one and the same masquerading in different colors.
However what took place on December 10, 2016 was no way near a free and fair election. Actually it was a political fiasco. Virtually all the candidates had been in one political office or the other with little or no significant achievements. All they were and still interested in is the looting of the Rivers state collective wealth. This is not surprising given Rivers state’s oil wealth. With a population of 4.5 million people and vast potentials, Rivers state is as backward as ever. This is a result of the wanton corruption and looting of the state’s treasury by all past and present administrations including that of Amaechi and Wike.
If Governor Wike is crying foul today, it is only because as a masterâ€“election rigger himself who also used federal might while he was a minister under former President Jonathan, he is fearful that the December 10 rerun is a taste of the challenge his second term ambition would face in 2019. Similarly for the APC, winning Rivers state is crucial for elements like Rotimi Amaechi to return to political eminence in the state. It is equally strategic for political calculations of the APC for 2019 when the next general election is due to take place. Therefore whichever way one looks at it, the interest of the people of Rivers State is the farthest issue on the minds of the political gladiators in the December 10 rerun. And this most certainly would be the case come 2019.
The only way out for the working people of Rivers state, and indeed all working class and poor Nigerians, is the emergence of an independent mass working peoples’ party that is armed with socialist ideas and program. Only such a political party is capable of providing an alternative way out for Rivers state working people and indeed Nigerian working people and youth who are currently trapped in a political and economic nightmare. Given the urgent importance of building such a party, members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) together with some genuine activists, working people and youths have taken the lead by launching the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). We call on all well-meaning Nigerians who want change to end the current corrupt system to support the party both in helping build the SPN and in its current legal battle with the INEC to challenge its refusal to register SPN despite meeting all requirements as laid out in the 1999 constitution and the electoral act (2010).