I am sure it came as a rude shock to most of us when we first got the news about the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the February 16 and March 2nd 2019 general elections despite its repeated assurances to the contrary.
2. As most Nigerians have rightly pointed out, these were elections INEC had prepared for four unbroken years and for which they had spent billions of tax-payers money to organize.
3. INEC knew the unquantifiable cost in time, efforts, human and material resources already wasted or put into the electoral process by the nation, political parties and the generality of Nigerians.
4. INEC also knew that millions of Nigerians had already travelled from other parts of the country to their communities to exercise their votes just as local and international observers had also deployed their personnel across the country to monitor the elections.
5. Here in Rivers State, our people had equally travelled to their various communities at their own cost and ready to fully participate in the elections only to be disappointed by the sudden postponement.
6. Contrary to the excuses being fed on the public, we heard on good authority that the chairman of INEC was unduly pressured by the APC-led Federal Government to postpone the general elections.
7. Sensing correctly that it was going to lose the general elections if held on the 16th of February 2019, the APC-led Federal Government ordered INEC to set in motion the process to stagger the general elections by withholding elections in Rivers and other strategic States like Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Kwara States to some other dates.
8. The resistant by the Chairman of INEC and the international observers to that evil directive and the ensuing confusion affectively clogged INEC's preparations, especially in the timely distribution of election materials to local government areas across the country.
9. For instance, here in Rivers State, the APC-led Federal Government deliberately refused to allow the election materials already in the custody of the Central Bank to be distributed to any of the 23 Local Government Areas on the bland excuse that some misguided APC members were demonstrating at the State's INEC office.
10. It is relevant to mention that there was no rational connection between the demonstrations by the APC hired thugs and the overarching national interest to deploy election materials to the Local Government Areas in preparation for the Saturday elections.
11. Yet, some security personnel, including serving military officers were sent into the Central Bank's premise by the APC-led Federal Government to prevent INEC from distributing the elections materials to the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
12. Furthermore, even when the elections was yet to take place, the security agencies, especially the Police went about indiscriminately arresting supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Khana, Gokana and some other Local Government Areas of the State in spite of the repeated assurance of neutrality by the Acting Inspector General of Police.
13. These and other deliberate infractions of the law, the electoral process and the peace in Rivers State in the intervening period go to confirm my earlier statements and repeated assertions that the APC-led Federal Government was bent on foisting the postponement of the general elections on the people of Rivers State.
14. Against this background, let no one be fooled by INEC's halfhearted admission of responsibility for the unparalleled decision to postpone the general elections barely six hours to when polling was due to open nationwide.
15. We very much appreciate the international community and the various country missions, whose spontaneous outrage truncated their original plan to isolate and prevent Rivers State from participating in the general elections with all the other States of the country.
16. In the circumstance, I wish to call on the international community and especially our partners in the free democratic world, including the United States, the European Union, France and the United Kingdom not to abandon the people of Nigeria and to continue to put effective pressure on the Federal Government to allow the rescheduled general elections to peacefully hold in Rivers State on the new dates they have fixed.
17. As a government, we have worked hard and invested so much to ensure the prevailing peace, security and progress in our State and we will not fold our arms and watch idly while some unpatriotic elements among us conspire with our enemies to subvert the will of our people to be governed by a government freely elected through fair democratic processes.
18. In the same vein I wish to appreciate the people of Rivers State for the pains you've had to endure in the rational and just cause to terminate the APC-led Federal Government and usher in a new era of peace, hope and progress for our country.
19. I urge you to remain calm and steadfast in your belief that though the dark night might seem long, the waiting is almost over as daylight is just by the corner and shall surely manifest in our State and the nation in a couple of days.
20. At this critical point of the struggle no sacrifice would be too much to demand of every one of us in our collective quest to liberate our country from the destructive path; otherwise we may have to live with the unpleasant consequences of our inability to effect the change that we all need in our country for another four horrific years.
21. Let us therefore not be dispirited by the postponement but rather be re-energized thereby to actively and enthusiastically participate in the general elections by coming out in our millions to vote for the candidates and parties of our choice on Saturday 23rd of February as well as Saturday 9th of March, 2019 respectively.
22. Thank you and may God continue to bless and prosper Rivers State.