BY: Chioma Onuegbu
Senator Anietie Okon, is the pioneer publicity secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and a prominent voice of the party in Akwa Ibom State and the South-South region In this interview, he opens up on how the 2015 General Election in his view turned into an embarrassment for him.
Many had feared that the elections in Akwa Ibom would be violent, but it turned out not to be?
Akwa Ibom State was nearly was a major flashpoint, but with the studied management and manoeuvring of the leadership of this state, it was not.
You were also aware that there were hired thugs, we got them arrested by our youths and on the strong advise and the direction of the governor who is forever law abiding. They were even lucky if they were left in the hands of some of us they would have had their bodies floating in our rivers. You see the damning thing about it is that some of them said they were coming for burial. I wish the governor had allowed them to go for the burial.
Are you not worried about the delay in announcing the Rivers State 2019 election results?
To use the term worry is a gross understatement of the disgrace and depth of rot which the federal authorities have displayed to seize the authority to govern the oil-rich South-South states. This is particularly displayed by their incompetence and fumbling in the Rivers State matter. If they exposed anything like brilliance in their attempt to force another government on the people, it would have been tolerable. And the belief that sheer crude force will earn them the theft and custody of the mandate of the people leaves us and every self-discerning person completely aghast.
The management of the entire 2019 election of this country has been a source of major embarrassment. When you look at the population of this country and the number of credible intellectuals which have been produced by the various systems of education, it is a source of utter embarrassment; the level of incompetence, lack of brilliance and obvious discrepancies in the character of those that purported to have managed this election. And you want to compare the election with other smaller countries even along the West coast of Africa. At the same time, we had the elections; there were elections in Senegal. Before then there had been elections in two other countries, and also our closest sister country Ghana. And Ghana today is a shining example of a seamless transition from one government to another. So for us, it has been a major embarrassment. And for us to find ourselves below those standards of third world countries is the worst form of embarrassment to the sea of intellectuals, brilliant minds that populate Nigeria. And it is no thanks to the pre-meditated and global headed attempts to rig the elections and for people who stand up and trumpet integrity and transparency.
But with the situation, do you see your party, the PDP winning at the end?
No matter how long and whatever they tried to do the resolve the people is very clear. And I think right now there is the remaining shrank of integrity and credibility left to INEC, and that is why they are grabbing at it with all claws.
As a concerned stakeholder and elder statesman, what would be your advice to INEC on the situation?
I have no advise. Our position is very clear that the mandate given to Wike must be reinstated and reinforced. That could be the beginning and end of this country, and we know it. It is tottering on its borders. It was clear when they had some miscreants and pretenders, people who had plundered their mandate by the blasphemy they exhibited and brought to bear on the commonwealth of their people, those who boasted that in three hours they would deliver the entire South-South to the opposition APC.
Do you see the actions in Rivers State as an act of desperation by the APC led federal government to get the oil-rich states at all cost?
It is obvious. It is more than desperation if as reported they found it possible to move over 600 soldiers from Zamfara which is a hotbed for insecurity and banditry to Rivers to inflict disaster on the people of Rivers State.
In the first place, the law is very clear, that the army had no role in the management and conduct of elections. And then we saw live reports on their interference, the unlawful breach of privacy of individuals and the attempt to weave some stupid stories about some commissioners they found with money. And what is N200,000 or N250,000?
And you see the president is beginning to wash his hands off the carnage, otherwise, why will Army suddenly set up an investigation, why will INEC distance itself from the entire confusion that was generated by their muddled approach to managing the Rivers State thing. They thought they could use guns and harass the people. These are people who are ready to fight and defend their right, the endowment God has given to them. What they want is to lay their hands on the oil resources of this region. But they forget that normal human reasonableness, in the management of people who are better exposed and intellectually better endowed than those who by British malfeasance were given the majority number in this country. And they have failed to learn from it. How else do you explain that the NNPC is building four power stations in the north and not bothered about it? We shall see. That is why restructuring must come to be.
But the APC led- federal government that has been re-elected does not support the restructuring this region is clamouring for. Do you think it will see the light of the day?
The British themselves never supported our independence, so it is only a matter of time. They either be part of it or lose completely. Restructuring is the only answer to problems of this country, and it is not as if it is a strange thing. In the days of our fathers, there was true federalism in which the centre was sustained by the determined contribution from the parts, and that is what it is all about.
Whether President Buhari likes it or not, it will come through. And the electoral battle is not over. We are heading to as far as the Supreme Court, to regain the mandate of the people. There will be sanctions on them because the arithmetic did not add up. It is so obvious, and that is why they are finding it difficult to authenticate the results because in the first place these are things they sat down and wrote. It is like they are in complete variance with the real figures. And that is why the president refused to sign the amendment to the Electoral Bill which would have completely digitalized and upgraded the management of the results.