By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
PORT HARCOURT- ACTIVISTS and former agitators in the Niger Delta, were weekend, divided over Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, with regards to the governorship election in the state, which was suspended by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
While a section of the agitators called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put Amaechi, under control before he plunges the nation into another full-blown oil war, another set called on all sons, daughters and elders of Ijaws of Rivers State to support Amaechi in his quest to enthrone equity by ensuring Awara Biokpomabo of Africa Action Congress, AAC, emerged governor of the state.
Some agitators under the auspices of 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, in a statement by self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, said: “There may be a full-blown oil war, if our rights, aspiration and determination as a people to use our Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, to choose or elect our preferred candidate and representatives are further trampled upon.
“We want to warn that anything short of declaring the will of Rivers people, who came out in their numbers, devoid of intimidation and killings, stood out to ensure that their PVCs count must be respected. Anything short of the peoples’ will would lead to a full-blown oil war on the Nigerian economy, until this administration elapses.”
However, two Ijaw groups, rooting for AAC governorship candidate, Biokpomabo and supporting Amaechi, urged INEC, yesterday, “not to bow to any intimidation and ensure that Biokpomabo is declared the winner in the governorship election in Rivers State, which was suspended by INEC due to security reasons, but now going to restart, since he is already leading.”
The groups are Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, led by Austin Ozobo and Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, NDSWON, led by Dickson Bekederemo.
They said: “It may shock you to know that since the inception of democracy from 1999 till date, the Ijaw ethnic nationality of Rivers State has not occupied the political seat of governorship, despite its dominant population.”
“It is, therefore, morally unjust and abominable for any Ijaw youth, man, woman or elder to oppose the quest of Amaechi in his determination to enthrone political equilibrium in Rivers State.
“We are aware that some of our Ijaw youths, activists and elders are under the payroll of Rivers State Government. It is our concern that we should not sacrifice our Ijawness on the altar of quest for stomach infrastructure. The effort of Amaechi to enthrone an Ijaw man as Governor of Rivers State is noble and commendable.”
However, continuing, the 21st Century Youths, through Ebi said: “We condemn in strong terms the desecration of democracy in Rivers State and Niger Delta by the Minister of Transport and the Nigerian Army and caution President Buhari to hold him back.
“The Nigerian Army has allowed itself into partisan politics, thereby, degrading our once proud and respected armed forces to disrepute by indulging in ballot box snatching, intimidation of the people, to the extent of barring and refusing international observers from monitoring the elections in Rivers State because of partisanship and self-aggrandizement.
“It is so shameful that a government that prides itself on integrity and fighting corruption would allow itself to be ridiculed by indulging in election rigging and its army, snatching ballot boxes, intimidating and trampling on the people’s dignity and liberty to freely choose their leaders in a democracy.
“We are bold to say that election rigging and intimidation of the people, not to freely exercise their rights in a democratic process, to freely choose their representatives and leaders, is worse than corruption.”