From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has suggested that the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to boycott the April 17 local government election in the state was to avoid further electoral defeat in the state.
The governor made the remarks in Port Harcourt at the Isaac Boro Park during the PDP flag-off campaign for the April 17 local government elections in the state.
He pointed out that while PDP has numerous infrastructure projects spread across the 23 Local Government Areas of the State that have endeared the party to the people at the grassroots, the APC cannot boast of a single project in the state since 2015.
Governor Wike suggested that to avoid a looming electoral defeat, the leadership of the APC has decided to boycott the polls.
Wike used the occasion to appeal to those who had aspired to be councillors and chairmen but failed to realise their political aspiration not to be dispirited, but to join hands with other stalwarts to ensure the victory of the PDP in the forthcoming local elections.
‘I know, we may have taken wrong decisions, but what is important is that there is no one decision that can go down well with everybody. So, I want to plead with all of you, who had the intention to be councillor, I want to plead with all of you who had the intention to be chairman, that you are not a councillor, you’re not a chairman today, does not mean, you’ll not be tomorrow,’ he said.
‘But, if you believe in God, everything is possible. So, nobody should worry; that today, you’re not a councillorship candidate; that today, you’re not a chairmanship candidate; but you never can tell that you’re not a councillor, you’re not a chairman today, but you can be a governor tomorrow. You can be a member of National Assembly tomorrow. You never can tell.
‘Therefore, for the interest of our party, let all of us unite and work together as a team and deliver for our people those we have chosen as councillorship candidates and those who have chosen as chairmanship candidates.’
The governor advised the PDP chairmanship candidates to, if elected into office, remain in their respective council headquarters to govern their people.
He warned that the state government would not tolerate a situation where council chairmen spend more time in Port Harcourt, the State capital.
‘Remain in your local government, leave Port Harcourt alone. If you are chairman of Gokana, remain in Gokana. If you are chairman of Khana, stay in Khana. If you are Akuku-Toru chairman, stay in Abonnema,’ Wike warned.
Governor Wike declared that since his assumption of office in 2015, he has never tampered with the finances or bothered himself with revenue accruable to the state’s local government councils.
He warned that it would no longer be business as usual, as he would not fail to embarrass chairmen who fail to deliver for their constituents.
‘It is not going to be business as usual. If God has given you opportunity, why don’t you stay with your people? I will make sure you remain in your local government, if you don’t do anything, I will embarrass you,’ he said.
The governor stated that some persons within the PDP were conspiring against the state, warning them that the state has the capacity to ruffle the party, having delivered the highest number of votes for it in all the general elections since 1999.
Governor Wike announced that the leadership of the party had decided not to give the party’s flag to the Obio/Akpor local government chairmanship candidate, Mr George Ariolu, for gross indiscipline.
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo, declared that the PDP would sweep the council polls because of the sterling performance of Governor Wike’s administration since 2015.
The State Chairman of PDP, Desmond Akawor, explained that the party’s councillorship and chairmanship candidates had passed through the screening process and were prepared to replicate Governor Wike’s developmental agenda at the grassroots.
Former Rivers Governor Celestine Omehia advised the candidates to conscientiously ensure they represent the party well at the grassroots by emulating Governor Wike’s zeal to create a new Rivers State.
Similarly, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, and Sergeant Awuse, expressed optimism that the party will sweep the polls, saying: ‘Rivers State is PDP and PDP is Rivers State.’