- Minister’s action shows desperation, says PDP
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Barely two days to Saturday’s governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, the Minister of Transportation and leader of the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) in Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, has said the party would back the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Awara Biokpomabo.
In a swift reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has described the APC’s decision as a huge joke, describing Amaechi’s move as the height of desperation.
Addressing party supporters Wednesday at Eleme, Rivers State, Amaechi said, although the APC was still in court over its non-inclusion on the ballot for Saturday’s elections, it was pertinent to adopt the candidate of AAC considering the closeness of the elections.
Amaechi said, “this morning, the leadership of the party met and agreed that we will work with a party called African Action Congress, while we are still in Court to reclaim our mandate. So, on Saturday, we will vote for AAC. You must go home and vote for AAC. There should be no excuse not to vote because there will be security for everybody. You must prepare and make sure you win the governorship election.”
Amaechi enjoined the people to vote for the candidate of the AAC as there were numerous benefits they would derive from the government. “The moment you win the governorship election this Saturday and the governor is sworn-in in May; by June there will be local government elections. So, you should all go out and vote and make sure that you are not rigged out,” he said.
The AAC candidate, Awara Biokpomabo, hails from Kula community in Akuku-Toru LGA of the state. But reacting to the development, the PDP described Amaechi as desperate but warned that the state was greater than where a politician would put a stooge to be governor.
A statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications and spokesman of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Emma Okah, said the endorsement of AAC governorship candidate by Amaechi was the height of desperation, selfishness and an insult to the people of Rivers State.
“Worse still is his empty boasts that after installing a governor in May, he would dissolve the local government councils in June 2019, an evidence that the minister’s choice of AAC is purely to satisfy his inordinate ambition and desires,” he said.
He said the state was too big and sophisticated to be led by a “political kindergarten from a political party that is unknown in the state and chosen by the transport minister to serve as his stooge. It is even more irritating that the said candidate is an adopted houseboy of the minister and a candidate of a political party that neither campaigned nor opened office in any part of the State”.
Describing the actions of the Transport Minister as a joke taken too far, the PDP advised the Minister to try another trick as the present one is dead on arrival.
The PDP further advised the Minister to cut his desperation to overwhelm Rivers State, learn from history and save himself from endless embarrassment.
“Desperation caused the crisis in the APC; desperation robbed the APC of reconciliation and today, desperation has caused a former governor to beg a candidate who did not print posters let alone campaign in Rivers State to present himself for forceful installation as governor of Rivers State” Okah said, pointing out that the minister cannot do a third term by proxy no matter how he schemes and pretends.
Meanwhile, the state government yesterday raised the alarm that Amaechi and the GOC of 6 Division of the Nigeria Army were planning mass arrest of innocent Nigerians and prominent PDP members in the state. It said the essence of the arrests is to precipitate crisis and cause the INEC to postpone the elections in the state.
The government alleged that Amaechi wants use the vacuum created by the absence of arrested leaders and rig the governorship election and force a candidate of his choice against the will of the people.
Specifically, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Okah, revealed that the state Commissioner for Education, Dr Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, and members of his family were yesterday evening arrested by soldiers in Port Harcourt.
“We have been saying it repeatedly that the minister has been commanding the army in Port Harcourt to do unprofessional things and the crisis are spreading.
“He has been boasting that he has brought soldiers from Sokoto and other states to carry out his political agenda of disrupting or rigging elections on Saturday.
“Any arrested person would be kept behind bars till after the governorship elections in the state.
“A lot of prominent persons have been pencilled down for arrest. Some of them are former Governor of the state, Sir Celestine Omehia; Rt. Hon Austin Opara, former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives; state PDP Chairman Bro Felix Obuah; Elder statesman, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, former Chairman of UBA; Senator Okaka Nwogu; Chief Sergeant Awuse; Senator Lee Maeba; Dr Tammy Danagogo, former Sports Minister; Dr Abiye Sekibo, former Transport Minister; Ambassador Desmond Akawor, former Nigernian Ambassador to South Korea; Prince Emma Anyanwu; Sir Kenneth Kobani, SSG; Ejor N Ejor, Prof Blessing Didia, members of Rivers State House of Assembly; PDP candidates and National Assembly members elect; Alabo David Briggs, all commissioners and special advisers; local government council Chairmen, Senator Thompson Sekibo, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, among others.”
The government called on all PDP members in the state not to be cowed by the arrest but to be vigilant and resist any form of intimidations.