By Simeon Nwakaudu
We are back to the days when Armed Robbers are daring, devilish and heartless. The days when armed robbers write letters to residents giving them the day, time and how they will rob them. In such heart shattering letters residents were reminded never to bother informing law enforcement agencies. If they did, it was at the risk of their lives.
With the “capture” of Bayelsa State by the forces of “Tatatata”, apologies to Kogi, these political armed robbers have written an explicit letter to other states, threatening to rob them in broad daylight. One of the robbers even wrote that after the robbery, nothing would happen. He pointed sheepishly to the scenario in Bayelsa State.
It must be stated very clearly, Rivers State is not new to the poaching antics of the APC. If anything, it has been a state of permanent interest for the APC. Right from 2015, the onslaught against Rivers State has been multifaceted and brutal.
After the 2015 General Elections, the APC at the National Level declared Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, a caretaker Governor. They told anyone who cared to listen that they had perfected plans to sack the Rivers State Governor through the Judicial System.
This was the song on Pro-APC Nigeria Info, The Nation Newspapers, Punch, Channels Television and other Pro-APC media outlets. Stories were concocted to create the impression that Governor Wike wouldn’t survive the political war. They were confounded when Governor Wike’s election was confirmed by the Supreme Court. The next goal as they declared in their several outings in the media was to take hold of the Rivers State House of Assembly and facilitate the impeachment of Governor Wike.
Governor Wike took care of Rivers State for four straight years, entrenching unprecedented development which endeared him to the people. With the benefit of hindsight, the APC and their media mercenaries were right. Governor Wike takes care of Rivers State with an unequalled commitment and love that promotes unity and development.
TESTING OF POLITICAL WEIGHT VIA ENDLESS RERUN ELECTIONS
Almost all the seats of the Rivers State House of Assembly (2015-2019) were nullified and open for rerun. Same for the National Assembly seats.
The APC had unfettered access to the Federal Security Agencies for the rerun elections. Well over 57000 security personnel were deployed to Rivers State and these security personnel were under the control of the Minister of Transportation. Federal SARS and the Nigerian Army Personnel were direct field agents of the APC.
They flexed muscles in the media, announcing the number of gunboats, helicopters, sniffer dogs, armoured personnel Carriers and special forces that would be deployed to conquer Rivers State. The Minister and his associates licked their lips in anticipation of a total control of the Rivers State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Wike. With planted reports and commentaries, they created the impression that a fait accompli had been foisted on Rivers people.
Then came the series of rerun elections. Governor Wike’s outstanding performance spoke on his behalf. Rivers people resisted the compromised military and F-SARs. They stood their ground in different state Constituencies around the state. Despite the billions of federal resources expended through the NDDC for the unpatriotic project, the PDP got overwhelming majority in the State House of Assembly. It won majority of the National Assembly Rerun Elections.
On December 12, 2016, Rivers Special Anti-Robbery Squad Commander, Akin Fakorede, under the directive of former IGP Idris attempted to rob the collated results at the Rivers East Senatorial District. These Police operatives beat INEC, but were resisted by the people.
When this mandate robbery attempt failed, the Police High Command took a step never imagined. They colluded with INEC to cook up results outside of the authentic results declared at the Senatorial District Collation Centre.
It was right here in Rivers State that the APC started using security agencies to cook results, abduct electoral officials and engage in unprintable crimes against democracy. Majority of these videos are in the public domain. Akin Fakorede, APC’S Former Election Commander in Rivers State was indicted by INEC’S Committee that assessed the rerun.
RE-ELECTED BY RIVERS PEOPLE
This was the most outstanding election during the 2019 Election Corridor. Election held on March 9 and Collation of results concluded on April 3, 2019. This unprecedented election took so long because of the conspiracy of political armed robbers to rob the Rivers mandate.
If the APC Federal Leadership had succeeded with that coup, by now several political analysts, observer groups and media organisations would have been paid to justify the robbery. Rivers people refused to be a story told by electoral traders who only believe in any government in power at the federal level.
Governor Wike’s re-election was a product of God and the people of Rivers State. They resisted the full weight of the Nigerian Army as led by the then General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarhem. Many paid with their lives, but Rivers State emerged victorious.
The world watched in total shock few days to the election as the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi declared war on Rivers people. This was done in the presence of the President and on live television. The threat to unleash war was executed. But it failed woefully.
Instead, the reputation of the Nigerian Army was destroyed in the waters of Rivers State. The International Community was compelled to call out the Nigerian Army for the failed attempt to rig Rivers State.
In case you have forgotten, it was during the Rivers State Governorship Election that soldiers of the Nigerian Army were caught on video in a failed attempt to invade the Headquarters of INEC in Port Harcourt for the purpose of carting away already collated results. If they had succeeded that day, we would have had our version of Okene and Nembe. Recall that it was in Rivers State that F-SARS operatives led by Akin Fakorede were captured on live Facebook Video attempting to cart away collated results from Bori where they murdered Dr Ferry Gberegbe.
Have you forgotten the clash between Ogu/Bolo women and soldiers scaling the fence to rob collated results? What about the Okrika Collation Centre encounter and the vigil by leaders of Port Harcourt Local Government Area at the Collation Centre. All across Rivers State, the people partook in the making of history.
INDICTMENT OF THE NIGERIAN ARMY PERSONNEL BY INEC OFFICIALS
Nigerians watched in utter dismay as three Local Government Electoral Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) indicted soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army for orchestrating electoral violence, snatching election materials and criminally colluding with APC leaders to concoct results during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
These weighty indictments of the officers and men of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army by the INEC Officials confirmed earlier intelligence that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarham was neck deep in the killings of Rivers people and manipulation of the elections.
Mrs Mary Efeture Imawuya INEC Electoral Officer of Ikwerre LGA, INEC Electoral Officer for Emohua Local Government Area, Kenneth Etah and INEC Electoral Officer of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Leo Okon who addressed the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Centre at Elekahia were unequivocal in their indictments of the soldiers and their criminal activities during the elections.
These Electoral Officers are staff of the Federal Government of Nigeria. They are staff of INEC and were victims of the criminality of the 6 Division.
Despite the televised confession, the authorities swept everything under the carpet. Not a single security official was brought to Justice. Not even one supporting thug was prosecuted.
CLAIMS OF FAKE SECURITY PERSONNEL
All through the 2019 General Elections in Rivers State, soldiers and F-SARs personnel were captured on video working desperately to derail the will of Rivers people . They snatched electoral materials and abducted electoral officials. They engaged in very unthinkable acts.
It came to a head on March 10, 2019 when soldiers of the Nigerian Army attempted to invade INEC Headquarters to snatch already collated results, when they sensed the defeat of the APC backed Candidates.
When the British Government and other notable international agencies raised the alarm, the Nigerian Army claimed that those who attempted to rig the Rivers 2019 polls were fake soldiers.
Recall, the Police High Command gave a similar excuse after former INEC Indicted FSARS Commander, Akin Fakorede invaded the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Centre.
This same excuse has played out in Bayelsa and Kogi States. Without equivocation, the security agencies have transformed into the rigging machine of the APC. Once you fall prey, you are gone.
Every single rigging technique that was used in Bayelsa and Kogi States was tried in Rivers State. Countless battalions, over a hundred gunboats and attack helicopters were deployed for the rigging of Rivers 2019 General elections and they failed.
When Governor Wike first presented himself to be considered by Rivers people, the first theory was that of upland-riverine dichotomy. But Rivers people and the PDP at the time opted for a performer who has state-wide acceptance to defeat the immediate past failed Rivers State Governor.
Endless propaganda and concocted stories failed to yield any fruits. Rivers people stood their ground and voted Governor Wike.
Ahead of the 2019 General Election, the same Rivers APC concocted the non-payment of pension falsehood. But Rivers people knew the truth and voted enmasse for Governor Wike.
There was this false theory that projects were only sited in Port Harcourt/Obio/Akpor axis. But through his campaign across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state, it was laid bare that every local government area had key projects in the area of roads, healthcare facilities, education, water, security and rural development.
Several empowerment schemes were implemented across the state on a polling unit basis. There was also an empowerment scheme for civil servants with contracts strategically awarded to reach different strata of the society.
2023: FRUITLESS FINGER POINTING
Like they did in 2015 and 2019, the leaders and members of Rivers APC have started their fruitless finger pointing. They care less whether the time is ripe or not.
By their calculations, they have already won the 2023 elections. But if you know the Rivers APC, they made similar boasts ahead of the two previous elections. Infact, their leader sang and danced to a war song while claiming victory for the 2019 elections. Since the conclusion of the elections, he has been sneaking in and out of town.
The cornerstone of Wike’s political sustenance is the people. He has a direct link with Rivers people. That is to say the Rivers State Governor is at home with different classes of Rivers people. The privileged and the less privileged. He is at home with all the ethnic nationalities of Rivers State. He is at home in all Local Government Areas of the state. In all polling units of the state, he is firmly rooted with the people.
This is the reason why all plots against Governor Wike continue to fail. He relies on his direct links with Rivers people to remain politically relevant. Governor Wike continues to build on his friendship with Rivers people. This will continue.
The first 100 days of Governor Wike’s Second Term witnessed the Commissioning of projects for three weeks. In several other states, governors only addressed well-attended press conferences. Several other projects are lined up for Commissioning across the State. Rivers State is still a major construction site. Governor Wike is still developing a New Rivers State.
While the moribund opposition continues to rely on external help to tackle Governor Wike, Rivers people will continue to stand with a people’s leader.
THE ARMED ROBBER’S LETTER
These guys in need of military/police help to come to power are simply political robbers. They are eating off the root of democracy as they repeatedly use the military to cart away election materials and results. By pointing at rigged elections as their route to power, the APC has once again written the robber’s letter to Rivers people. Like in 2016 and 2019 when Rivers people looked them in the eye and disregarded their threats, they will continue to fail. They have nothing to offer.
After about five years in power, APC has no signposts of projects in Rivers State. They only engage in needless propaganda and falsehood, whilst the party milks NDDC dry. Rivers people will always side with Governor Wike, a development-oriented who delivers at all times.