My dear people of Rivers State
As we all know the next round of Presidential and National Assembly general elections has been fixed for next Saturday 16th February 2019 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly general elections will come up on the 2nd of March 2019.
Despite the pervasive skepticism, the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have repeatedly assured Nigerians and the international community that these elections would be free, fair and credible.
This is the outcome we all expect as Nigerians. We therefore hope that the Federal Government and INEC would fulfill its much-flaunted promise by conducting free, fair and credible elections across the country.
As I have repeatedly said, the coming general elections are fundamental to us as a State and as a people. They are about our progress and our future. They are about the hopes and aspirations of the present and future generations.
As a State, we have wandered in the wilderness of hopelessness and despair for the last four years and these elections have presented the golden opportunity for us to be liberated from the shackles of neglect and place our country and our State on the path to meaningful peace, security and progress.
I therefore urge all eligible voters from Rivers State to come out and vote on the 16th of February and 2nd of March 2019 for the candidates and parties of their choice.
Clearly, freely exercising our right to vote is a God-ordained task we cannot deny ourselves for us to avoid the stagnation, pains and tensions of the last horrific four years.
God loves us as a State and we must not fail to thank Him for the violence-free political campaigns as well as the prevailing peace in the State, which must be sustained to advance our collective security and progress.
I wish to remind us once again, that we are one people with a common destiny. We may belong to different political parties but there is no other State we can call our home, except Rivers State.
It is therefore incumbent on us as leaders and followers, irrespective of political or other affiliations, to continue to work together in brotherhood to build and advance the progress and prosperity of our State and our people with all sense of responsibility and commitment.
Against this backdrop, we are worried by the repeated infantile threats by the APC and in particular, the Minister of Transport and Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi at last Tuesday’s APC Presidential Campaign to unleash needless violence on the State during the general elections.
Having woefully failed to foist his business partner and political godson on the State, Rotimi Amaechi would rather have the State destroyed than to allow the people to exercise their franchise by electing leaders of their choice from among the political parties and candidates that have been cleared by INEC to contest the general elections in the State.
Consequently, credible intelligence has linked Rotimi Amaechi and his cohorts in the factionalized APC to prevent the peaceful conduct of the general elections in Rivers State with the support of some unpatriotic military and police officers.
The security officers have been detailed to provide effective covert and overt operational covers for Rotimi Amaechi’s armed militants and thugs clad on military camouflage and fake police uniforms to bomb INEC offices, cart away or destroy voting materials at Registration Area Centres, and disrupt the voting processes across the State on a scale that will force INEC to abruptly call off the elections on grounds of insecurity.
Several Hilux vehicles painted in military colours and gunboats donated by the Executive Director (Technical) of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hon. Sokonte Davies have already been handed over to the militants to aid and enable them carry out the ferocious attacks on the State and inflict the most devastating havoc on lives and property across the State.
While we sympathize with Rotimi Amaechi over his frustrations and loss of political relevance in the State, his present political travails, painful as they are, do not justify his criminal conspiracy with security agencies and misguided militants to unleash terror and violence on a peaceful State he once badly administered.
It should be noted that crisis within the APC over their largely mismanaged primaries was not limited to Rivers State. They have crisis in Abia, Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Ogun and Zamfara States, among others.
Yet, as sane human beings, the affected Governors or protagonists in these conflicts have not taken to arms or threatened to destroy lives and property or destabilize their States as Rotimi Amaechi has plotted to inflict on Rivers State and its people.
Unlike Rotimi Amaechi these other personalities recognize the fact that the lingering disagreements are about internal maneuverings for control of the APC State structures and candidates for the general elections, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the generality of the State and its people.
It is therefore most unfortunate that instead of using the internal party mechanisms to settle the festering crisis before it was too late, Rotimi Amaechi chose to act with impunity and is now hunted by the unpleasant outcomes of his arrogance and disdain for due process.
Even at that, the Supreme Court has spoken and the only rational path left for Rotimi Amaechi is to recognize the fact that justice has prevailed over impunity.
He should therefore be politically matured enough to accept the consistent decisions of the Courts in good faith; eat the humble pie; put his severely broken political enclave in order and prepare for the next general elections.
There is no doubt that Rivers State is peaceful and ready for the general elections and nothing should be done by any private or public persons, agencies or institutions to upset the prevailing peace and set the State on fire with dire consequences of unknown scale and magnitude given the strategic position of the State in the economic sustenance of our country.
I wish to therefore to appeal to the conscience of the Minister for Transport, as a brother and fellow compatriot, to stop stoking the drumbeats of violence and allow the prevailing peace to continue in our dear Rivers State.
At this point, let me remind us that these are strange and tempting times in our political experience that call for utmost vigilance and maturity in our response to the willful provocations from the APC and the security agencies, who are clearly working together on a well choreographed script to destabilize the State and prevent the general elections from holding in the State.
The only way we can avoid playing into their hands is to remain peaceful and go about with our lawful activities even in the midst of extreme provocation and refrain from returning violence for violence.
May I call on the international community, particularly the United Nations, the European Union, ECOWAS as well as the governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom and France to hold Rotimi Amaechi, his cohorts in the factional APC and the compromised security officers responsible for any electoral and or related violence in Rivers State during and after the general elections.
Furthermore, as we get set for the general elections we cannot stop seeking God’s intervention in the face of the obvious threat to our collective peace and security in the State.
Accordingly, I hereby declare Friday 15th February 2019 as public holiday for every Rivers person to fast and pray for God’s intervention in ensuring that the generally elections are peacefully conducted in Rivers State.
I cannot end this speech without conveying my heartfelt condolences to the families of the fifteen persons who lost their lives from the stampede at last Tuesday’s APC Presidential campaign rally at the Adokiye Amiesemaka stadium Port Harcourt.
To lose 15 innocent and lively persons are deeply distressful not only to the immediate families but also to their communities and the entire State. These are active and productive people who still have a lot to offer to the wellbeing of their families and the progress of our State.
This sad situation calls for sober reflection and penitence, especially on the part of the APC, which brazen negligence in crowd control and at the facility was directly responsible for the tragic and irreversible loss of these innocent souls to the cold hands of death.
However, it is rather unfortunate that in the midst of this avoidable tragedy that they brought to the State and the families of the deceased, Rotimi Amaechi and the APC are still threating to unleash further violence and destruction on Rivers State and her people. What a pity?
We will all miss them as we join their loved ones to say goodbye and pray for the peaceful repose of theirs souls in heaven and the fortitude for the immediate families to bear the irreparable loss.
Finally, I wish to thank the people of Rivers State again for your prayers, support and cooperation since we took over the levers of governance.
Thank you and God bless Rivers State.