By Egufe Yafugborhi
The two major political parties in Rivers State were yesterday locked in a hot exchange of words over their differing positions on nearly all issues pertaining to the governorship election in the state.
The reactions came with the affirmation by INEC that it would again start the process of collation of the results of the election conducted on March 9 on April 2.
Remarkably, the state will be passed over in the supplementary elections holding in some states tomorrow. No reason was given for the decision to isolate the election in Rivers till April 13.
Though the All Progressives Congress, APC is not involved in the elections it has become a major influence in the election with its endorsement of the African Action Congress, AAC candidate, Biokpomabo Awara.
Yesterday, the APC was among the first to respond to the developments saying through its spokesperson, Chris Finebone, “INEC is up to some mischief clearly pointing to a clear determination to rig the overall result of the March 9 elections in favour of Gov. Wike and the PDP.
“The signs are visible enough to the blind and loud enough to the deaf. All the shenanigans so far exhibited by INEC only go to confirm that fear. In any case, the APC will subject the recent announcement by INEC to meticulous scrutiny after which the party’s position will further be made public.
“As a major stakeholder in the Rivers State political space, APC received with mixed feelings INEC’s timeline for concluding the governorship and state assembly elections that started on March 9 and the reasons are simple.
“The supposed umpire went ahead to announce that collation for 17 LGAs had been concluded as against the records provided by our situation room. And to make matters worse, INEC refused, failed or neglected to name the said 17 LGAs where it claimed collation had been concluded.”
“Secondly, INEC curiously announced that it has dropped four LGA Collation Officers confirmed to be PDP card-carrying members without the umpire clearing the air about the status of the LGA results the four ad hoc personnel supposedly collated,” he said.
The PDP speaking through its chairman Bro. Felix Obuah, however, welcomed the development even as it called on INEC to be on guard and play a neutral role in the election and collation of results.
In a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesman, Jerry Needam, the chairman of the state chapter of the PDP said:
“Even though we frown at the length of the timelines issued by INEC for the collation, declaration and conclusion of the election processin Rivers State, we received the news with optimism. Rivers State PDP is waiting patiently for theprocess to be concluded because the people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted for our party.
“We urge Rivers people to remain calm as the mandate they freely gave to Governor Wike and the PDP on March 9 will be affirmed at the end of the Collation Process. Victory for the PDP will come at the end of the exercise. Rivers State is PDP. The people massively voted for the PDP as all the figures indicate.”
Rights activist and Port Harcourt based lawyer, O.C. Higher King while questioning INEC’s refusal to disclose the results for 17 LGA results at its disposal said, “One question that begs for answer is, what has changed and what value has INEC added to the results between the 10th of March, 2019 till the day INEC informed the Rivers people what it intends to do towards completion of the electoral process in Rivers? This INEC is indeed preposterous.
“For me, initially I thought releasing the results as collated on the 9th of March, 2019 and conducting fresh polls in the violent disruptions affected areas would have been in the best interest of the parties and Rivers people, but I have now come to the inescapable conclusion that fresh polls will suffice.”