The Political Imbroglio in 2011 Rivers Election

By Odimegwu Onwumere
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Things happening in Nigeria today call for sober reflection, especially in the political sector. A lot of people are dying on daily basis. There is no food, no good road, no sound education system, and all that, except looting of the public wealth and sensibility of Nigerians by politicians who were supposed to be calling the good-shots of the next agenda that would take Nigeriaforward. The Fund for Peace survey results of the USA Think-Tank in conjunction with the Independent Research Organisation, ranked Nigeria15th out of 177 of the most failed countries that were surveyed in the world recently. Kidnapping is rife. Apart from many Nigerians raising their eyebrows on this, Senator Jibril Aminu said recently that Nigerians were safe during the civil war than the state of things today in Nigeria. “I just hope that nobody kidnaps me one of these days. Because all they are talking about is kidnapping, kidnapping, kidnapping in Nigeria. You remember the Civil War? While they were fighting around Awka, people were having parties in Lagos, in Kaduna and so on. You understand me. This is not like that now; you do not feel so safe anymore. That feeling of, I am-not-safe, is more than during the Civil War, particularly the latter part of the war. Most of us were away from it...” he said. With that, all hope seems to be lost, with many Nigerians now living on mirage, an act occasioned by the many hopes politicians had given to Nigerians which end-product is 'to no avail'. The political imbroglio in the country is getting out of hand. From Abia State to Abuja, from Lokoja to Lagos, all stories are the same: smelling stories, with the PDP-led government vowing to hold the nation's political sphere for 60 years of uninterrupted PDP's democracy.

But most especially, the level of powerplay in Rivers State of the tumultuous Niger Delta is getting out of hand with the state's powerbrokers or stakeholders now encamped with political calculations against the 2011 elections in the State that is two years ahead today. No one is to be blamed, but the political undemocratic party called the PDP. It is regrettably that the party which claims to be the largest political party in Nigeriacannot win in a clean-bill election except it rigged elections. But that pattern seems to be coming to an end with a lot of Nigerians today brazing up to halt this ugly situation.

Most recently was the BIRTH OF COALITION OF DEMOCRATS FOR ELECTORAL REFORMS (CODER), which was made, known to in Nigerians in Abujaon 30th July, 2009. “Nigerians unanimously acknowledged the need for sustained engagement towards actualising the Electoral Reforms of the Justice Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee. CODER recognizes that the electoral reforms, present amongst other unique opportunities, an avenue to overhaul the electoral management process to ensure a free and fair election come 2011 and stoppage of the rigging tactics of PDP being the only strategy known to them to remain in power,” said Mr. Suage Alexander Badey, the Rivers State Chairman of the Action Congress (AC).

In a latest development, the coming together of 43 opposition political parties in Rivers State was said by many observers to be an eye-opener for the PDP-led government of the state come 2011. Albeit, there are speculations that the state leader of the Action Congress (AC) and the BoT chair of the 43 political parties which parades with the name as Forum of Organised Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP), Prince Tonye Princewill, who is the panacea for political stability in the state by accepting to run a Unity Government in the state, was allegedly given the sum of Two hundred million naira (N200, 000, 000) by the Governor Chibuike Amaechi-led government of the state to achieve that single act of al the political parties in the sate to come under one cathedral called FOOPP, an act people from the Princewill camp have denied as the imagination of the accuser. Dr. Ikanya, a faithful to Princewill was said to have reiterated that this claim was a plot hatched by detractors to discredit the FOOPP. “Although government is bound constitutionally to fund the opposition within reasonable limits, Amaechi unlike his predecessor Odili, is a prudent manager of state government funds. It is this absence of exchange of lucre that further maintains the integrity of the FOOPP coupled with its leader Prince Tonye Princewill's avowed refusal to accept any assistance in this regard from the Governor”.

With Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, who was one time Commissioner in the Amaechi government heading FOOPP in Rivers State, there might be no room for the PDP to breathe well in the 2011 elections only if the FOOPP would live with its assertions. According to reports: Dr. Ibiamu has stated that the major factors leading to the formation of the Forum include the need to restore peace, stabilize governance, provide quality leadership to the people of Rivers State and most importantly have in place a viable body to checkmate government excesses especially in the area of fund. It was said that he made this statement among others while fielding questions on the Political phone-in-Talk show View Point on Rhythm Radio 93.7 Port Harcourt on Saturday 1st August 2009.

The powerbrokers are watching with optimism if the averred statement by Dr. Ibiamu that forming the FOOPP had also become expedient as a means of discouraging and ultimately preventing some unscrupulous politicians who hitherto had abused political opportunities in the past from hijacking any of the 43 platforms to use as a vehicle for unleashing further havoc on the State, would hold waters. Rivers people are also watching if the FOOPP would be the hijacker of the state's democracy contrary to its statement of avoiding any cankerworm coming through any of the parties to hijack their democracy.

Reportedly, Dr. Ibiamu went further to state that opposition no longer exists solely to criticise the government in power for the fun of it, but also- as is now obtainable by the FOOPP model in Rivers state – to join forces with the incumbent administration to expand the scope of ideas on how to improve governance in the State.

Hear Dr. Ibiamu: We have no state other than Rivers State. And with the state of insecurity prior to the swearing in of Amaechi as Governor, coupled with his call on all Rivers sons and daughters to join him in rebuilding Rivers State, we have no regrets for taking this step that will ultimately reposition the state to adequately surmount every conceivable challenge of governance.”

Perhaps, for things not to repeat itself was why Mr. Badey said, it is regrettable and sad that under PDP watch, Nigeria has found itself in a quagmire of failure…Nigerian cities are in a big mess, ravaged by human tragedies occasioned by the incompetence of PDP Government. Only recently, His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, AlhajiMuhammad Sa'ad Abubakar captured the mood of the nation, when he stated thus, “We can never develop in this present situation. Nothing in Nigeriais working – no light, no water, no good roads, our security situation is poor and the worst of it all, no food. All what we are experiencing in the country is a result of corruption and injustice. Crimes everywhere, kidnapping and all forms of criminal acts are on the increase. How do we grow in this situation?” he queried.

Contrary to that belief, Dr. Ikanya, said that we did not join the unity government to abandon our parties' ideologies and manifestos, but to assist the PDP-led government in developing the state. "What we are doing is to complement the government to make sure that there is peace and development. We do not have to fight the government in power in order to be called opposition parties. We can make our input on the issue of governance as stakeholders.

However, it is not only in Rivers State that people are akeptical about the PDP-led Nigerian government; the Nigerian populace is nostalgic about the PDP's unfolding undemocratic governance. But throwing more light on the essence of the Unity Government in Rivers State, Mr. Garshon Benson, Secretary General of FOOPP and the State Chairman of DPP, who was also a Panellist on the show of Rhythm Radio 93.7, gave the issue an international outlook, “... In Zimbabwein the last general elections, the leading political parties decided to go into unity government (power sharing) to save the country from disintegration. This proves that the most important consideration is the state of the nation not political platform. President Barack Obama's Cabinet is made up of Democrats and Republicans; General Colin Powell a respected Republican endorsed Obama a Democrat for the presidency citing his ability to inspire change in America. Israel is well known for its unity/coalition government in the interest of the country no matter the party that wins the majority votes; the FOOPP is in the unity government of Rivers State to save our State and to ensure judicious use of our scarce resources”.

Notwithstanding, observers of the Rivers State politics are of a keen view come 2011, if FOOPP was set up to distract the people of Rivers State or it was formed to rise up to the occasion against the PDP-led government of the state. Because, the Rivers State AC had said that it was aware of the sinister plot by the likes of Dr. Peter Odili and Dr Abiye Sekibo – erstwhile Governor and SSG of Rivers State respectively – to hijack the Rivers State AC in an attempt to destabilize the administration of its indefatigable Governor Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi out of envy that the Governor is exhibiting that Rivers State can work again after Odili and Sekibo's abysmal tenure in the State. The AC said that Odili and Sekibo can be assured that it will defend all that the government has achieved and done to make Rivers State AC the most sophisticated and compact political party in Rivers State, even with its members blood if necessary, So, the duo should just look for another platform to stage their futile and sinister comeback plot to the State. Only time will tell.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. 08032552855

“Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most people will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mathew 24: 12-13).