NIGERIA’S ELECTIONS MANAGEMENT BODY, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Wednesday, announced the suspended governorship election result of Rivers State. Incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike was declared winner with whooping 886,264 votes. He defeated his makeshift river, Biokpomabo Awara, governorship candidate of African Action Congress, AAC, who polled 173,859 votes.
Rivers state governorship election was stalled due to violence that erupted as results were being collated. INEC said the incidents were triggered by soldiers and thugs who disrupted the electoral processes. It suspended the collation and declaration of results of the election for over three weeks, and commenced collation on April 2, and declared the results April 3.
Biokpomabo Awara, governorship candidate of African Action Congress, AAC, who trailed Wike with distance far figures, was visibly not on ground in Rivers State, before March 9, governorship election. Political analysts observed that Awara’s campaign presence in Rivers could not live up to “fifteen percent”. His presence in campaign rallies was not noticed, billboards and other physical campaign presence of Awara were also not noted in the state.
Biokpomabo Awara’s sudden wave in the 2019 governorship tuff in Rivers State became noticeable when, under clumsy arrangement, Nigeria’s Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi – an indigene of Rivers State, two terms governor of the state, key member of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, and arch-rival of Nyesom Wike, adopted Awara as the governorship candidate APC supporters in Rivers State should vote for at the election.
Nigeria’s lower and highest courts nullified fielding of candidates by All Progressive Congress, APC, for all elective positions in Rivers State for the 2019 elections. By judicial pronouncements, the coast was clear for the re-election of high performing Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State – nicknamed “MR PROJECT” across the country and beyond. Even having APC’s candidates in the ballots for Rivers State, could not have stopped Wike’s victory.
Expectations of Rivers State people to have rancour free, fair and credible elections were dampened when, Rotimi Amaechi, began to fan ember of war for the elections in the State at campaigns. This was despite judicial pronouncement of APC’s ineligibility to feature candidates for 2019 elections in the State. Thereafter, relatively unknown Awara, in the political scene in River State, began to resonate, riding on his untidy arrangement with Ameachi.
Then came the 2019 elections in Rivers State. It became battle ground – worse in the history of elections in Rivers State, according to political analysts, and comments by national and foreign elections observers. The elections were “militarised” occasioning deaths of innocent citizens, who were either on elections duties or exercising their voting right. INEC suspended collation of result for March 9, governorship election in Rivers State as a result of violence.
Against precipitated odds, victory came Governor Wike’s way, expressly given to him by the people of Rivers State through their ballots. His political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, statement by Kola Ologbodiyan, National Publicity Secretary, described Wike’s re-election as “victory for the people of Rivers and triumph of good over evil”.
Wike’s record win with over 700,000 votes margin, according to Ologbodiyan, “speaks volume of the resilience of the people of the state in the face of intimidations, harassment and manipulations by oppressive forces”. He said the victory reinforced confidence and resoluteness of the people in asserting their democratic choice of leadership, and standing in defence of their mandate.
Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the PDP, wrote on his twitter handle @atiku: “Congratulations Governor Nyesom Wike. It gives me much pleasure to see a political force such as yourself, overcome the anti-democratic forces of dictatorship and oppression. I am sure you will continue the pattern of good works for which you have become renowned”.
Uche Secondus, National Chairman of PDP, in a statement by Ike Abonyi, his media aid, commended the resilience of party members across the country, particularly, elected ones, for extraordinary show of capacity to resist and withstand what he described as “brutality, blatant intimidation, harassment and political terrorism”. He said PDP was proud of all its flag bearers and their conduct during and after the elections.
Chukwunenye Kocha, AAC party agent, after Wike was declared winner by INEC, said the party would study the results before taking any decision. Kocha, said the party stood for peace. Would further maladroit backing of AAC candidate by Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi against Nyesom Wike, in the face of the overwhelming margin of victory, pull any string for Awara? This is left to be seen.
Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman, All Progressive Congress, APC, had earlier stated that APC was not in any alliance with any political party for the governorship elections in Rivers State.