“The Perceived Challenges Facing The Rivers State Action Congress (RSAC) ”
Good afternoon, Gentlemen of the press,
The Rivers State chapter of the Action Congress (RSAC) is happy to be with you today. We, the enlarged EXCO, and the entire membership of our party in Rivers State are grateful to all who are present at this event and wish to thank those who, though not present with us, are with us in spirit.
This event seeks to address issues that are affecting our great party in the State, especially as they have to do with the series of anti-party activities of some of our members (known in many quarters as cross-carpeting to other parties) both at the national and the state level. It also seeks to address the concerns of our party over the poor state of governance by the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), and more importantly, the need for credible elections come 2011.
The burden of change is not a charge but a responsibility that we all as Nigerians must live up to. This now brings to our mind the good efforts, over the years, the gentle men of the press have put in making sure that good governance and transparency are achieved in our democracy. We should agree that the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), more than any other union, has been at the fore in initiating and agitating for a genuine democracy in our country. Press men have in many occasions been unjustly incarcerated and at other times lost their colleagues in painful ways to the arrogance of blood thirsty persons masquerading as leaders in our polity. We congratulate you for the courage you have sustained and exhibited to this moment even at the risk of not only losing your lives but that of your loved ones.
The Rivers State Action Congress (RSAC) implores you to continue in this spirit of patriotism by joining us along with other civil society groups and well meaning Nigerians who have come to identify with the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), which is the brainchild of our very revered leaders in the party in the persons of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Tom Ikimi, other national leaders and our various state party chairmen and many others including the literary icon of repute Prof Wole Soyinka who have laboured assiduously in ensuring that the report of the Uwais panel on electoral reforms is implemented for the benefit of our electoral process which will certainly provide the needed springboard for the electorate to determine their leaders at various levels of governance.
RSAC, which undisputedly, is the major opposition party in the state, has come a long way under the leadership of Prince Tonye Princewill, our gubernatorial candidate in the 2007 general elections. The Party, in the aftermath of the said election, which is well known to have been rigged by the PDP, proceeded to the tribunal.
The efforts of our great party in correcting the fraud that characterised the 2007 general elections met a brick wall as the ruling party (PDP) employed all tools of governance at their disposal in subverting the peoples wish. While this was going on, another drama was unfolding within the PDP under the Governor Celestine Omehia administration. The Supreme Court upturned an earlier decision of the appeal court and declared Governor Chibuike Amaechi the rightful occupant of the government house, Rivers State, on 25 October 2007.
This came at a time we all knew Amaechi had been expelled from the PDP. Amaechi being a child of circumstance, and not belonging to any political platform at the time, embraced all other political parties in his desire to have a spectrum of ideas and contributions that will enable him move the state forward. Our Party understood the tide of events and being stakeholders with a strong intent to bring succour to the long suffering people of our dear state quickly embraced the idea of a unity government.
This was predicated on the fact that Rivers State in the first instance belonged to us all and Amaechi having no political platform needed all the support that was necessary to ensure that the dividends of democracy reached our people. This decision of ours which appeared unpopular at the time but today with all the visible changes going on in the state has proven that change if positive and consistent with the times is a vital tool for progress. Today, RSAC'S alliance with the ruling PDP has not only brought sanity to governance in the state, but has turned around the infrastructural development of our dear state.
This feat, though remarkable, was not easy as the party had to on many occasions criticised the Government, which most time weren't appreciated unless it became a public discourse, hence our resort to confrontations on issues we felt otherwise through the media and other fruitful methods.
GOVERNOR AMAECHI'S 32 MONTHS IN OFFICE
While today's forum is not intended to critique the Amaechi administration, we can't help but mention a few salient points here.
The Amaechi administration, relative to the previous PDP government, has had more resources at its disposal and has equally made some landmark achievements especially in the area of infrastructural developments. However, the RSAC scores the Amaechi administration a pass mark of 5/10.
The socio-economic situation has not shown a correlated improvement relative to the improvement in resource allocation to the Rivers State. There is gross disempowerment of Rivers Workers. All ministries are on contract thereby rendering the civil service who are the rightful custodians of the public service near redundant, even the Rivers State sustainable development agency which should be monitored effectively by the relevant Ministries is allowed to function independently most times to the disadvantage of the Rivers people.
We as partners in the unity government have at various times expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of development in the educational, power, health and housing sectors. It is noteworthy however to commend the administration on the vision of the greater Port Harcourt city project and the radical approach to road rehabilitation which is reducing traffic congestion on our roads.
The Action Congress has consistently been committed to its manifesto by ensuring that its promise to the electorate is consistent with its programmes and policies. This is evident in our controlling states of Lagos and Edo. In our bid to further ensure that the principles of fairness is actualised in governance come 2011 by which time we should have wrestled power from the PDP, the idea of a Mega Party was muted with the aim of getting divers minds of various political callings but progressive in content to come together under one umbrella and challenge this unacceptable gang of shameless assembly of men and women, very unpatriotic, self imposed leaders with no scruples acting under the PDP that is known to be undemocratic, corrupt and oppressive.
This great idea collapsed like a pack of cards for so many reasons but prominent amongst them was the presence of undemocratic elements within. This brings the issue of Atiku Abubakar readily to your discerning minds. We had hoped that his years of interacting with the Action Congress would mould his political thoughts and activities progressively but we soon found out that our efforts couldn't yield the desired expectation. It was tantamount to teaching and old dog new and appropriate ways of life. Atiku's prevaricating tendencies, an attribute he imbibed during his earlier days in the PDP soon emanated and put-paid to all attempts at making him a progressive. This unfortunate attitude with its ripple effect lead to the collapse of the Mega Party and the subsequent decampment of Atiku Abubakar to his former retrogressive state .Having moved to PDP, some of his appendages joined him in their bid for relevance not minding that their action was like burning a picture to obtain its ashes. Some of those who joined him in this misadventure include Prince Tonye Princewill, Chief Peter Okocha, both gurbernatorial aspirants of the Action Congress party in the 2007 elections from Rivers and Delta states respectively. Their ant-party comments became more pronounced by the day. Prince Tonye Princewill was at various press interviews, quoted describing the Action Congress as a party without ideology. He did not stop at that, he went further to import signatures of key members of the party without their consent to collaborate his intent to join the PDP. RSAC frowns at this intolerable act.
The State Chairman of the party with it enlarged EXCO comprising all local government party Chairmen from 20 local government areas of Rivers State with the exception of 6 members of the CTC and three local government party chairmen( namely Bonny, Gokana and Port-Harcourt LGA'S) who have joined Prince TONYE Princewill in their prevaricative journey to the PDP hereby dissociates ourselves from the anti-party activities of the above mentioned persons(see attached) and state emphatically that at no time did we collectively or individually subscribe to this indecent search for relevance to join the leprous assembly known as PDP. The Rivers state AC describes Atiku's movement as a shift from progressivism to retrogression.
THE WAY FORWARD
Rivers State Action Congress remains undivided and focused in its programmes. We hereby call on all party loyalists to remain steadfast. We are about to commence registration/revalidation exercise of members and unleash our programme of activities for the rest of the year in preparation for the 2011 elections. In accordance with our constitution, we must be upright and democratic in every aspect of our dealings. There is no time for laxity. This is a time to look inwards and identify any mole and agent of retrogression amongst us, capable of diluting our rich progressive content. All vacuums created as a result of the exit of key officers will be immediately filled in line with the constitution of our great Party.
We hereby call on all progressive minds of our dear state to come forward and take advantage of the registration exercise that will commence soon. We very much believe that your inputs will be felt much more as you join us more than it may be felt if you contribute from the sidelines. Action Congress remains the party to beat come 2011. We would be fielding credible candidates that possess the patriotic zeal not only to serve but serve with humility, immense visionary attributes and a good sense of responsibility and purpose.
The unfortunate behaviour of some of our members as earlier stated has been of great concern to the leadership of the party. As custodians of our party and in line with the constitution of the Action Congress we hereby categorically state as follows:
1. That the State Chairman Hon Suage Badey never approved of the purported decampment of Prince Tonye Princewill and his cohorts to the Peoples Democratic Party.
2. That publications portraying Hon Suage Badey as having signed a document to the effect that Prince Tonye Princewill should move to the PDP is a forgery and misleading to the good people of Rivers State.
3. That the 20 local government party chairmen of our great party, Action Congress Rivers State chapter with the exception of the party chairmen of Bonny, Gokana and Eleme local government areas dissociates themselves from members of the party who have decided to join Princewill in the ridiculous and shameful decampment to the PDP.
4. That all members of the party that have made misleading statements describing the party as lacking in ideology either vocally or by association have engaged in anti-party activities inimical to the growth of the party in the state.
5. That Prince Tonye Princewill and all other members of the Action Congress Rivers State chapter (as attached ) who have contravened articles 9.1 and 9.2 of the Action Congress constitution are hereby today the 28th day of April, 2010 suspended from the party for their disloyalty, disorderly behaviour and disrespect for the party's constitution. This intolerable conduct amounts to anti-party activities, which is completely at variance with our guiding principles.
We wish to express our profound gratitude to all present today especially our friends from the media house, our dear Rivers people and party faithfuls for sparing out time today and to assure that our determination and zeal for a better Rivers State cannot be diminished by blackmail but rather, would be re-kindled by it.
A speech delivered by the RSAC Chairman, Hon. Suage Badey at the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Port Harcourt, Rivers State secretariat, Port Harcourt, on 28th April, 2010.