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New Mandate: By God and Rivers People

By Simeon Nwakaudu

There are several Biblical Guides to  courage and victory in the face of extreme ungodly obstacles. One of such guides is the one recorded in Numbers that involved Caleb. 

By Simeon Nwakaudu

There are several Biblical Guides to  courage and victory in the face of extreme ungodly obstacles. One of such guides is the one recorded in Numbers that involved Caleb. 

As I tried to internalize the fundamentals of the victory of the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and other PDP candidates in the 2019 General elections, the refrain from a  hymn that flowed from that Biblical Verse played through my mind. 

The Bible recorded that Moses sent spies to Canaan and they returned with a damning report. According to them: "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them" . The giants on the way to their victory seemed insurmountable. 

Despite this damning report, two gentlemen had a different report.  A report centred on the capacity of God to surmount ungodly obstacles. 

"But a Caleb and a Joshua said, They’ll be as bread;We are able to go up, possess the land ahead".

The story of Rivers State during the 2019 General elections is a replay of this biblical account. It was the unconstitutional tale of Federal Conspiracy against the peace loving people of the state. It was a vicious criminal attempt to subvert the will of Rivers people through orchestrated state violence, mischief, organised terror, staged propaganda and unholy conspiracy. 

The giants of negativity were unleashed on Rivers State and her people. An election  that was touted as a walk over, emerged as the worst case of state violence and international embarrassment. 

The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi set the tone for the terror. He established the deadly template in the presence of the President during the APC Presidential Campaign Rally in Port Harcourt. 

He sang an Igbo war song and released the orgy of state validated attacks on Rivers people, simply because  they wanted the state at  all costs. 

In the presence of the Commander-in-Chief, Amaechi threatened the peace and security of Rivers State. He sang  an Igbo war song used to decimate the lives of people: "orule mgbe anyi gawa anya onye ujo abiala nge anyi na awa anya; when literally translated means, it is time to go violent and anybody who is a coward should not join us".

Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara and Former Rivers State Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru after the presentation of the Governorship Result Sheet by the Party Agents on Wednesday

The general elections came and the Nigerian Army and F-SARS were available to make good the threat. They carried out their acts of electoral criminality with such brazen impunity that the entire world was alarmed. The military invaded Rivers communities as if there was war. They cared less if they were captured on video. After all, they were sent by the Federal warlords.  There was practically no restraining voice of reason.

Massive Vote of Confidence Despite Threat of Death Rivers people used the 2019 General Elections to make a clear statement. They passed a vote of confidence on Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the PDP.  They resolved to stand with a Governor who stood with them all through  good and bad times.

They used the general elections to insist that their voices must be heard, irrespective  of the deployment of soldiers to cart away  election materials and results. They stood their ground in defence of democracy.  Many paid with their lives as they were gunned down by deadly trigger happy soldiers working for the Minister of Transportation. 

Rivers people voted across the 4442 Polling Units of the State, voting for Governor Wike and PDP Candidates.  The votes garnered by the PDP is a product of four years of direct interaction,  empowerment,  projects delivery and commitment  to the development of Rivers State. 

At every turn, Governor Wike was always on ground to defend the people and promote  their welfare. Therefore,  Rivers people saw the elections as an opportunity  to payback.  They saw the opportunity  to encourage  leaders to stand with their people. 

In Ogu/Bolo,  Okrika,  Port Harcourt City, Obio/Akpor,  Eleme, ONELGA, women,  youths and elders trooped  out to the Collation Centres to stop soldiers  from robbing results. 

The Ogu/Bolo LGA Collation Centre video that has since gone viral is one of the clear instances.  Angry  women stood up to criminal soldiers and stopped them from robbing collated results.  

In short, Rivers people took direct responsibility for the defence of their votes. They made sure that their votes counted  . Several persons died in the process. One of such persons was the PDP Khana State Collation Agent, Dr Ferry Gberegbe who was killed by F-SARs operatives during the Collation Process. 

Like Austin Opara declared,  Rivers people defeated AAC/APC/Army/FSARS Alliance.  It was a victory of Rivers people over brute force. 

The Role of Governor Wike's "Deliver Your Polling Unit

When it became obvious that the Nigerian Army had posted a politician,  Major General Jamil Sarhem to coordinate the activities of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army,  Governor Wike re-strategised. All across the 23 Local Government Areas,  he launched  the "Operation Deliver Your Polling Unit".

This political strategy is built on victory at the Polling Unit.  Under this scheme, a politician only gets Government recognition if he is able to deliver  his polling unit.  Once you lose your polling station,  you lose relevance.  

Following  this, local meetings were held in all the 4442 polling units of the state. These meetings were across political lines. Governor Wike personally  attended these meetings at his Unit 7, Ward 9 in Obio/Akpor LGA. This  strategy gave the people ownership  of the election process.

Everywhere across the state, Governor  Wike encouraged Rivers people to own the process. 

This was made easy because the Rivers State Government placed 88,840 Rivers people on monthly welfare stipends across the 4442 Polling  units.  The 23 Local Government Areas also had another 100,000 Rivers people under the welfare packages for monthly reach-out. These welfare packages were such that that these less privileged Rivers people got their bank alerts directly.  There were no middlemen  to divert funds meant for the people.

Federal Might Invasion of Collation Centres 

This fact needs to be emphasised.  The collation process of the Rivers State Governorship election was disrupted by the Nigerian Army otherwise known as the Federal Might.  For the first time in the history of the country, soldiers misbehaved in very terrible proportions.

It was bad enough that the soldiers  attacked Local Government Collation Centres . But it was out rightly distasteful that the launched a massive  attack at the Rivers State Governorship Election Collation Centre on March 10. They planned to abduct  officials of INEC and subvert the will of Rivers people. 

The soldiers were stopped  from invading the Rivers State Governorship Election Collation Centre.  It was this violence that led to the suspension of Collation.  

Victory over anti-democratic forces

Former Vice President and PDP Presidential Candidate,  Atiku Abubakar captured  the essence of the Wike victory.  He described the victory as hard-earned noting that the governor overcame anti-democratic forces.

He said: “My hearty congratulations to Governor Nyesom Wike on your hard earned re-election. It gives me much pleasure to see a political force for good, such as yourself, overcome the anti-democratic forces of dictatorship and oppression.

“The Peoples Democratic Party is blessed to have a political gladiator, such as yourself, on our side. The citizens of Rivers state are fortunate to have a genuine progressive return to extend the frontiers of progress and development for them.

“And I am favoured to count you, Governor Wike, as my friend and brother, and Rivers state as my second home.

“As your victory is savoured by men of goodwill all over Nigeria, I am sure you will continue the pattern of good works for which you have become known.

“Nigeria needs men like you. Men who can remain firm, unbowed and resolute in the face of trying times".

The implications of the Wike victory are far beyond Rivers State. It serves as a major encouragement  to all pro-democracy  groups to resist the evil of Federal Might  by insisting on the  solid  entrenchment  of democracy.  It emphasises  the absolute need to check the excesses of the Nigerian Army and subject them to their constitutionally  defined roles.

Most importantly,  it emphasises  the power of the people and the need to always endure the manipulative  tendencies  of Federal Might. 

Wide-Spread Acceptance and People's Victory 

The joy of the Wike victory is its wide-spread nature. It cuts across all the ethnic nationalities of the state. Even in the two local government areas where the Governor lost, it is on record that the results were unfortunately robbed at the point of Collation by deadly soldiers. 

The widespread nature of the  victory  of Governor Wike is a reflection  of his outstanding state-wide siting of projects.  For every local Government area, Governor Wike made it a point of duty to locate key projects.  No single LGA was left out in the mass rollout of projects.  Governor Wike made it a point  of duty  to  challenge  his opponents  to cite one LGA starved of projects during his first term.  In the course of campaigns, he made it abundantly clear that the second term will be more projects-rewarding . Governor Wike emphasised  that the second term will be placed with empowerment of more people. 

Dedication of Victory and Caution to Elected Officials 

This is one area that Governor Wike has displayed emotion. His love for Rivers State and her people run deep.  The people on their own have shown him true love, fraternity and friendship. 

He has dedicated  his victory  to God and Rivers people who died in the defence of democracy.  Governor Wike has been clear on how he wants Rivers elected officials  to repay the loving electorate. He insists that all elected officials must be loyal to Rivers  people and the PDP.  To him, any attempt  to betray the love of Rivers people will attract spiritual consequences. 

He said:   "I want to thank the people of Rivers State for showing the kind of love we have never seen before.  I thank them for showing the kind of support we have never seen before. 

He thanked PDP members for their show of courage, despite intimidation by security operatives who illegally  wanted to change the will of Rivers people.

"Those who died not because they were criminals, but because they wanted  to defend their votes. We dedicate this victory to God those who were killed .

"They protected our votes and they defended us. We pray God to grant their families  the strength  to bear the losses. We shall continue  to support the families.

"We will not disappoint the PDP. We will not disappoint  Rivers people.  We shall continue to serve. 

"If anybody does anything  contrary as a member of the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, the blood of those who died will visit them. I will never betray PDP".

To the Federal lawmakers,  Governor Wike had this to say when they presented  their results to him.

Rivers people celebrating the victory of Governor Wike

He said:   "I want to thank the people of Rivers State for showing the kind of love we have never seen before.  I thank them for showing the kind of support we have never seen before. 

He thanked PDP members for their show of courage, despite intimidation by security operatives who illegally  wanted to change the will of Rivers people.

"Those who died not because they were criminals, but because they wanted  to defend their votes. We dedicate this victory to God those who were killed .

"They protected our votes and they defended us. We pray God to grant their families  the strength  to bear the losses. We shall continue  to support the families.

 "We will not disappoint the PDP. We will not disappoint  Rivers people.  We shall continue to serve. 

 "If anybody does anything  contrary as a member of the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, the blood of those who died will visit them. I will never betray PDP".

A Message of Peace,  Unity and Development 

For Governor Wike,  this is strictly about Rivers State.  It is about the peace and development of Rivers State.  No single individual is greater than Rivers State.  
At the victory celebration,  he used the opportunity  to extend a hand of fellowship to his opponents.  He urged them to join hands with him to consolidate the  development of the state. Governor Wike said that the political struggle must stop in the interest of Rivers State. 

He said that he will run an inclusive government, which will accommodate all shades of interest. 

"We have no other state . You may have mansions elsewhere, but there is no place like home. We must come together and build our state.

"We must make the state move forward . We must not continue  to de-market  the state. I cannot stay beyond 2023, but Rivers State will continue  to be. If you believe you are from Rivers State, end this now",  he said

Solidarity and Goodwill 

The show of love and support for this pro-people victory have been overwhelming.  Political leaders from across  the country have expressed  profound happiness over the eventual turnout of events.

Imo State Governor-Elect, Emeka Ihedioha prayed God to strengthen Governor Wike to continue to deliver for Rivers State. 

Adamawa State Governor-Elect, Ahmadu Fintiri said he was in Rivers State  to share in the sweetness of the Rivers victory. He urged Governor Wike to continue with his projects delivery. 

PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus congratulated Rivers people for standing firm  and insisting  on the right thing being done.

A word for INEC and Police

It will be uncharitable to ignore  the decent constitutional role played by INEC in all of the struggle by Rivers people to re-elect their Governor.  This whole process ended in praise because INEC resolved to stand on the side of the law. The forces of darkness threw everything  at INEC.  Horrible propaganda,  deadly force from Federal Might and several ungodly armtwisting techniques.  In all, INEC remained resolute.

For the police, the resistance they offered on March 10 at the Rivers State Governorship Election Collation Centre was key. If soldiers of the Nigerian Army had succeeded in invading that facility,  they would have held INEC officials  hostage and compelled  them to declare cooked results. To the glory of God, the policemen on duty stood firm and stopped the anti-democratic forces. 

New Rivers, People's Mandate 

Like Governor Wike has continued to say, Rivers State is a hundred percent Christian State.  God used the people to re-elect Governor Wike. 

Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo  polled 886, 264 votes to defeat Biokpomabo Awara of AAC who got 173,859 votes.The margin of victory  is 712, 405 votes. It was the undiluted will of Rivers people,  which will go down in history  as the beginning of a New Era.

In this dispensation,  the people have through God taken control of the mechanics of power. Whoever desires power in Rivers State must seek the face of God and approach  the people for their endorsement  through the ballot. Rivers people by their 886, 264 votes for Governor  Wike have shown that power cannot be found in Abuja, Federal Might or Manipulative Tendencies.  They have proved that power resides with the people at the 4442 Polling Units.  From these polling units they have extended their mandate to His Excellency,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON, GSSRS, POS) to lead them for the next four years.