From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Disqualified and aggrieved candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who were supposed to contest for chairmanahip and councillorship positions in today’s (Saturday) local government elections in Rivers State, have foreseen doom in the party
The disqualified and aggrieved APC candidates, who are supporters of Senator Magnus Abe, while addressing journalists at the Freedom House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, said it was worrisome that their disqualification came as a result of a letter written to the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi.
Supposedly APC candidate from Degema Local Government, for the election, Ilamabo Mirilla, who read the statement on behalf of others, alleged that the minister and leader of APC in Rivers, in the letter to RSIEC, had told the commission that the party would not be part of the election.
They described the action of the minister as unfortunate, stressing that the unfavourable development came up after they had perfected all that were required by INEC for today’s election.
According to them, the recent judgement of the Supreme Court, which authenticated the legality of Amaechi’s camp’s executive, did not announce their disqualification from the poll.
Mirilla read: “As law abiding citizens and faithful of the All Progressives Congress, Rivers State, we followed due process, obtained and filled out and submitted the Nomination Forms and paid all the prescribed dues and levies and we’re cleared to contest and participate in the Local Government Elections scheduled for tomorrow (referring Saturday), April 17. All documents of our dealing with RSIEC to that effect are available in proof of that fact.
“In the letter, the Minister and the party said that the party would not be fielding candidates for the said local government elections. The letter States that they were saying so pursuant to the February Supreme Court judgement, which declared that they were the authentic Exco of the party. Based on that, the RSIEC decided that no votes cast for the APC shall count.
“For a party that has not won any major election since its founding in the state, and, in fact, did not participate in the 2019 general elections, the writing to RSIEC to stop us is pointer to a deeper political malaise in our beloved party, which malaise, if not excised, will spell doom for the party soon”.
They called on the national leadership of APC to go beyond “siddon look approach” in matters bedeviling the party in Rivers under the leadership of the minister for its survival.
According to them, the unfortunate impressions that had emerged since 2015, when they were told to withdraw from election till the present withdrawal from participating in the council poll, showed APC “is mortally afraid for competitive politics and electoral combat, which is the reason, in the first place, for establishing political parties. This, no doubt, will hurt the party electorally in the upcoming elections, if serious steps are not taken”.