From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Senator Magnus Abe, the former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District, has called on the people of Rivers to come out en masse and participate in the forthcoming local government council elections.
Abe made the call while speaking at a meeting of stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Port Harcourt.
The senator recalled that Governor Nyesom Wike has frequently advocated for free and fair elections devoid of federal might and force to influence election outcomes, challenging him to live up to his ideals by giving the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RESIEC) a free hand to conduct free and credible polls.
He objected to some dissenting voices in th APC that wanted members to boycott the election, insisting that political parties were formed as a vehicle whereby members could aspire and be elected to serve their people and condemned such insinuation as counterproductive.
Abe said: ‘The fact that we have different political parties does not mean that we are suddenly, no longer Rivers people. It is not correct, and that is not how to grow the state.
‘If we don’t come out to participate, how do we tell the world that the election was free or fair? How do we say what was wrong with an election we refused to take part? How do we make elections better in Rivers State, if we don’t come out and participate?
‘The requirement to contest in an election is that you should be a member of a political party and we are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and, therefore, eminently qualified to contest in the elections in Rivers State. It is our State.
‘The purpose of election is to serve the people. If they pick our people, they should be allowed to serve.
‘We are challenging the governor of Rivers State to organise the election in the way he said he wanted elections to be organised and let Rivers people go out and contest. Test their popularity for the people to decide on those they want to run the affairs at the grassroots. That’s the purpose of politics.
‘Wike has always talked about how he wants free and fair election without federal might and force, this is the time to show working.
‘We are challenging the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) to make the election free and fair, let Rivers people go out and contest.
‘I want to encourage any politician who wants to aspire to an office; this is the time for you to test your teeth. Even though you don’t win, at the end of the day, you learn valuable lessons on how to plan, organise, and grow in your political career.’
Abe vowed to continue in the pursuit of justice in the APC in order to promote a better model of politics in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the acting caretaker committee chairman of Abe’s faction, Golden Ben-Chioma, has called on their interested members to pick forms for both councillorship and chairmanship categories in the 319 Wards and 23 Local Government Areas, respectively, to contest the April 2021 council elections as announced by the RSIEC.
Ben-Chioma said: ‘We must make the best of this golden opportunity to shake off the toga of never-do-wells as have been the case in the past. APC Rivers State has not only come to stay but must move away from our inglorious past when we did not plan adequately for elections due to the actions of one man. This time around we shall not only participate but must also strive to win seats in the wards and local government councils.’
He advised the leadership of their rival faction to stop deceiving and misleading APC faithful in the state by creating false hope with the aim of continually and perpetually putting their political future in abeyance.
He stated: ‘This evil must stop now because APC is a political party with a primary duty to contest elections and not a social club that ends up with meetings, airport receptions, birthday parties, thanksgivings and burial ceremonies.
‘To the 2015 local government chairmanship litigants, may I remind them that the tenure of office for which they were elected into office had long elapsed and this current Local Government Council elections scheduled by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission RSIEC for April 2021, is the second in the series after their long-defunct tenure.
‘It is rather curious, but instructive, to note that those known forces urging them on and engineering them today to push in futility for the scuttling of the forthcoming Local Government Area elections, had all the opportunities in this world to save or at least help them, but failed to do so.’