- Trounces APC’s surrogate candidate, Biokpomabo
- PDP, Atiku, Obi say its victory for democracy
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
It was sweet victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday as its candidate, Governor Nyesom Wike, was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in Rivers State.
Wike’s victory was comprehensive; handing down an emphatic defeat to the All Progressives Congress (APC) backed Mr. Awara Biokpomabo of the African Action Congress (AAC).
At the end of collation yesterday, the State Returning Officer, Prof. Teddy Adias, declared that Wike polled 886,264 to defeat Biokpomabo, who polled 173,859 to come second.
The state went into a frenzy of jubilation after the announcement that brought to a close the contest held on March 9.
Out of the 21 local government areas where election took place, Wike won in 19, while Awara won in two. Elections did not hold in Abua/Odual local government area while no results were returned in Gokana.
Adias stated that Section 47(b) of the Elections Guidelines stipulates that where there is willful disruption of election as was the case of Abua/Odual, the electoral officer is empowered to enter zero as scores. He also said since no results were returned in Gokana as attested to by all party agents, the commission had to discard the results as it would be improper to rely on results from any source other than the one collated by the commission.
Adias also noted that the difference between Wike’s score and that of Awara was 712,405 while the total number of voters in areas where elections were cancelled or did not hold was 249,324.
“Nyesom Wike of the PDP, having satisfied the requirements of the law and having scored the highest votes is hereby declared winner and is hereby returned as elected,” Adias declared.
Reacting to the result, the state collation agent of the PDP, Chief Austin Opara, said the declaration of Wike as winner has finally brought to an end the anxiety and agony of the people, which has lasted about three weeks.
Opara, a former deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, said it was now time to rebuild the state and focus on healing of wounds inflicted on the people by selfish politicians.
He said: “Rivers people can now heave a sigh of relief that this process has come to an end and the people have spoken that Governor Nyesom Wike is their choice.
“It is now time for all Rivers people, irrespective of political parties, to join hands to rebuild our state and heal the wounds inflicted on our people by some selfish politicians.”
He commended INEC for a transparent exercise and security agencies for their commitment and sacrifice that made the exercise a success.
The state collation agent of the AAC, Mr. Nenye Kocha, also commended INEC for a transparent exercise within a reasonable time.
He, however, said the party would review the situation and issue a statement on the result announced.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has dedicated his victory to the people of the state, saying that he was overwhelmed by the total support and love they displayed during and after the general election.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt, after the declaration, Wike expressed gratitude to the people for standing by the PDP despite “the illegal actions of the enemies of democracy.”
“I want to thank the people of Rivers State for showing the kind of love we have never seen before. I thank them for showing the kind of support we have never seen before,” he said.
He thanked PDP members for their show of courage, despite intimidation by security operatives who wanted to change the will of Rivers people.
He said: “Those who died not because they were criminals, but because they wanted to defend their votes; we dedicate this victory to those who were killed.
“They protected our votes and they defended us. We pray God to grant their families the strength to bear the losses. We shall continue to support the families.”
He promised to run an inclusive government, which would accommodate all shades of interest.
“We have no other state. You may have mansions elsewhere, but there is no place like home. We must come together and build our state,” he said, adding: “We must make the state move forward. We must not continue to de-market the state. I cannot stay beyond 2023, but Rivers State will continue to be. If you believe you are from Rivers State, end this now.”
Wike also extended a hand of fellowship to his opponents, saying that nobody won or lost, but Rivers people won.
Also speaking, Imo State Governor-Elect, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, prayed God to strengthen Wike to continue to deliver for Rivers State.
Adamawa State Governor-Elect, Ahmadu Fintiri, said he was in Rivers State to share in the sweetness of the victory. He urged Wike to continue with his projects delivery.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, congratulated Rivers people for standing firm and insisting on the right thing being done.
Also, the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah, said the victory is not just victory for Wike and the PDP but indeed a victory for all lovers of true democracy as well as the good people of Rivers State even as he also described it as a litmus test for our democracy.
While dedicating the victory to God and the ever conscientious people of the state, Obuah further lauded the victory as unprecedented in the annals of the state, as according to him, it could only take God’s intervention to “survive the gang-up and the evil conspiracy” by those he described as enemies of the state.
PDP, Atiku, Obi, Okowa Say its Victory for Democracy
The PDP in its reaction described Wike’s victory as victory for the people of Rivers State and the triumph of good over evil.
The National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday stressed that the victory reinforced the confidence of the people in the resoluteness of asserting their democratic choice of leadership as well as standing in defence of their mandate to the end.
He noted that it also demonstrates that the will of the people would always prevail against every form of suppression as were eminently manifested in the desperation by the APC leaders, particularly, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to forcefully and violently take over control of the state against the wish of the people.
The presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, congratulated Wike.
The former vice president in a statement yesterday said that the party is blessed to have a political gladiator, such as Wike, on its side.
He added that the citizens of Rivers State are fortunate to have a genuine progressive return to extend the frontiers of progress and development for them.
Atiku said: “My hearty congratulations to Governor Nyesom Wike on your hard earned re-election. It gives me much pleasure to see a political force for good, such as yourself, overcome the anti-democratic forces of dictatorship and oppression.”
Similarly, the vice presidential candidate of the party, Mr. Peter Obi, congratulated Wike and the people of Rivers State for their delayed victory yet sweet in coming.
Obi said in a statement yesterday that all lovers of democracy must salute the resilience of the people of Rivers State who stood in defence of their votes.
He urged Wike to remain focused on the delivery of democracy dividends to his people and not get distracted by the needless bickering and provocation that greeted the election.
On his part, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, in Asaba said indeed in a true democracy, power truly belongs to the people.
“Although the Rivers State governorship election took a long and tortuous time, at the end the will of the people prevailed and I must thank INEC for doing the right thing in ensuring that the true results that emanated from the units were duly collated,” he said.
He commended the people of Rivers State for their unflinching loyalty and support for the PDP, assuring that Wike will deliver more projects for the people in his second tenure.