• Philip Ezuma writes that the Rivers State rerun election into the Senate and House of Representatives is
    a battle for survival between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC

March 19 re-run elections in Rivers
State represents many things to many
people in the state, especially the APC
and the ruling PDP. The political parties
involved in the 2015 elections will contest
thirty-seven seats spanning federal and
state constituencies, three senatorial
seats, 12 House of Representatives
seats and 22 state assembly seats. This
followed the cancellation of the election
in many constituencies.
Unlike 2015 elections, which APC
described as horrendously flawed,
marred by widespread rigging and
violence and the tribunal and Court of
Appeal affirmed, the coming election
would be a different ball game. This
election is most likely to be determined
by the acceptability of the contenders,
especially the senators in their zones, their
pedigrees and quality of representation,
and how they impacted on their
constituents. In all three Senatorial seats,
12 House of Representatives’ and 22 state
assembly seats would up for grab by the
The result showed that former PDP
House of Representatives member, and
now the party’s senatorial candidate for
the Rivers South-East Senatorial district,
Hon. Olaka Johnson Nwogu, ousted
erudite oratorical senator, Magnus
Ngei Abe, of the APC. Abe and Nwogu
were formerly of the PDP, before Abe
decamped to the APC, alongside former
Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
Senator George Thompson Sekibo
(PDP Rivers East) retained his seat
against his challenger, Hon. Andrew
Uchendu, formerly representing
Emohua/Ikwerre federal constituency in
the House of Representatives, while Hon.
Osinakachukwu Ideozu, PDP, dusted
Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree, former
Speaker of Rivers House of Assembly
APC, for the Rivers West Senatorial seat.
But the re-run election would be
significant to both APC and the PDP in
many ways, especially now, that they
are on their marks again. For the PDP, it
would be a vindication of its claims that
the state is a PDP state, if it regains the
seats it lost to the tribunal and Appeal
Court’s ruling, especially as the Supreme
Court validated its governorship victory.
While APC’s victory will also vindicate
its claim that, it was robbed in 2015.
Besides, it will be a battle royale, as the
PDP battles to regain its majority in the
state Legislature, while the APC would
want to have its control, as a consolation
price for losing out in the governorship
battle, and to be in good stead, to
prelaunch back for 2019.
Although the re-run election at the
senatorial level would be contested by
as many contestants as the participating
political parties can afford. The battle
would be for six candidates of the PDP
and the
APC and promises to be another
watershed and springboard for Senators
Olaka Nwogu of the Peoples Democratic
Party PDP, and Magnus Ngei Abe of the
All Progressives Congress APC, both
contesting Rivers South-East Senatorial
district seat, and this is where the battle
would be keen and tough.
Senator Magnus Abe a lawyer
by training is currently the Senator
Representing Rivers South-East in the
Senate. He is also the chairman of Senate
Committee on Petroleum (downstream)
an unassuming, intelligent, politically
smart and calculative. Senator Abe, a
shrewd, but quiet political calculator,
first gained entry into the Rivers politics
and the state House of Assembly in 1999.
When he
weighed the political atmosphere, he
decamped to the ruling PDP, which he
later joined.
He was Commissioner for Information
in the former Governor Peter Odili’s
administration, SSG in the Amaechi
administration, and now a one term
Senator. The endorsement of the Hon.
Dakuku Peterside in November 26, 2014
as the favoured aspirant ahead of the
December primary election by the APC,
sparked off waves of disquiet and anger
in the Rivers South -East senatorial
district, especially in Ogoniland, which
boasts of being the second largest ethnic
group in the state, but resent the fact that
they have not ruled the state since its
creation in 1967.
Given the popularity of Senator Abe
in the state and the feeling that gained
ground that he was likely to clinch the
governorship ticket, some pundits and
analysts were proved right, when protests
rocked the state on Thursday, November
27, when the hope was dashed.
Protests erupted in different parts
of Rivers State as thousands of Ogoni
youths took to the streets and major
roads to demonstrate their displeasure
over the endorsement Dakuku Peterside
as the governorship candidate of the All
Progressives Congress, APC.
The Ogoni had a month earlier,
warned that any political party in the
state that failed to pick an Ogoni for
the governorship race should forget the
ethnic group’s vote.
Pundits saw this development as
a warning signal for the APC, from
one single major ethnic group that has
not tasted power at the governorship
level since the creation of Rivers State.
The youths were vexed that Amaechi
betrayed the Ogonis by dumping Senator
Abe. But deft political moves and rational
thinking intervened and Abe with his
supporters, was compensated with a
senatorial ticket of his party.
Observers of the politics of the Rivers
South-East believe that Ogonis now have
the chance to come together and rally
round Abe, a very vocal senator on issues
of the state, Ogoni and United Nations
Environmental Protection UNEP report,
and the cleanup of Ogoni land. They
also believe that the people of Rivers
South-East senatorial district should
shun sentiments and go for quality
If this standpoint is anything to go
by, then voters in the district would
be influenced by how the two major
contestants had been able to impact on
their people, the zone and the state.
Hon. Olaka Nwogu had been in the
House of Representatives for 12 years,
and spent six months in the Senate, while
Abe had been in the Senate for one term.
Like Abe, he had straddled the state
and national political turfs for long. He
was one time Chairman of Eleme Local
Government Area, a politician known to
have deep pockets.
The local government political
provinces that would vote for the duo
include Oyigbo, Eleme, Tai Khana,
Gokana and Bori Andoni, Opobo where
the Khana Gokana and Bori are core
ogoni Ogoni local governments.
The burden of Senator Abe lies in the
fact that, much as he wants to continue
to hold on to power, his people do
not really know him, hence the lack of trust. They accuse of the
political violence in Ogoni land,
occasioned by military invasion
and militarisation of the land,
and killing of the people.
One expected that the
articulate senator having lost
in the last election would
begin to mend fences with his
people. He needs a whole lot of
rebranding, damage control and
image laundry, and convince his
people to vote him.
Grapevine had it that, he
has been promised to replace
the current Senate President,
Senator Bukola Saraki, to
give the South South zone a
good sense of representation
at the centre if he wins the
re-run election. Also, he has
desired to be in the Senate,
while the Federal Government
implements the United Nations
Environmental Protection,
UNEP report on the cleaning up
of the polluted Ogoniland.
The APC federal government
having reneged in all its
promises to Nigeria is fast
losing support, acceptability
and popularity, the reason for
which the PDP is fast winning
all re-run elections nationwide.
Aware of the dwindling
fortunes of the APC, he needs
to hold something at hand, to
negotiate himself back to his
original party, the PDP. When
he realises that, the former
Governor Amaechi, his political
age mate, has achieved almost
all there is in politics, within a
short time, he gets even more
Observers further have it
that, since the validation of
Governor Wike’s election by
the Supreme Court in Abuja,
the Amaechi, now Minister of
Transport, appears to have lost
interest in the state. As if that
is not enough, the relocation
from Ekoronkoko, Delta State
to Zaria, Kaduna State of the
Federal Maritime University,
has made the entire Niger
Delta indigenes, irrespective of
political affiliation not to want
to see his face again.
Another hurdle facing
Senator Abe is the fact that his
intelligence, courage, boldness
and frankness intimidates
his contemporaries, and that
accounts for his losing the
governorship ticket to Hon.
Dakuku Peterside, considered
to be controllable. Hence, the
minister, from the heart of
his heart, would not want to
produce any politician from
the APC in Rivers, capable of
over shadowing him. This is the
reason Amaechi is less heard of
Apart from the political
hostilities there and the resolve
of the Ogonis to vote against
the Senator, he is not in good
relationship with political
leaders of the land, Senator
Lee Meba, Hon. Kenneth
Kubani, among others. This is
coupled with the manhunt for
ex-militant Solomon Ndigbara
and subsequent massacre of 17
people, including a pregnant
woman and a 12-year-old
schoolboy in Yegh and Bori
communities. The ex-militant
alleges that the Senator and one
Chief Mpigi tried to lure him
to the APC, and his refusal led
to the manhunt for him and
subsequent massacre in the
It must also be noted that
Governor Wike has so far posted
a five-star performance, since
inception of office, carrying
every part of the state along.
The impact of this performance
is that, the people will want to
reciprocate to the governor’s
inclusive governance, by voting
for all PDP candidates in the rerun
The Rivers State Resident
Electoral Commissioner, Elder
Aniedi A.I Kodiak affirmed its
readiness and determination to
use the full complement of the
Card Reader in the conduct the
re-run National and State House
of Assembly elections, for free,
fair and credible election.
Elder Ikoiwak made the
declaration in Port Harcourt, on
February 17, while addressing
political parties, on ways to
conduct free, fair and credible
re-run assembly elections in
the state. On the modalities to
apply for credible elections,
the INEC Resident Electoral
Commissioner REC noted, “We
shall use the newly modified
system of accreditation and
voting at once, and voting
begins at 8.00 am, and closes at
2.00 pm, and there will be no
voting by proxy.
He urged parties and
candidates to go and intensity
campaigns, to enable them win
their elections, while confirming
that the commission had the
right under the law, to postpone
election dates. The impact of the
declaration is that the impact of
federal might will be minimal.
One wishes that the erudite
speaker, charismatic politician
and distinguished Senator
would have time, to settle
these issues before March 19,
Assembly re-run elections

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