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Wike, Amaechi rivalry creates tension as residents engage in last-minute shopping

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[FILE PHOTO] Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

There was tension in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital yesterday when supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) besieged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s office.

To most residents of Port Harcourt, the 2019 election in the state is largely about the rivalry between Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

A visit to INEC’s office on Aba Road, revealed that the APC protesters carrying placards with different inscriptions, had besieged the office to register their grievances over non-inclusion of the party’s candidates in the ballot for today’s presidential and National Assembly polls.

Although, the protesters conducted themselves peacefully, they threatened that elections would not hold in Rivers their candidates do not participate in the exercise.

Since Police had earlier blocked a section of the Aba Road where INEC office is located, the protesters registered their grievances at the commission’s gate and left.

During the peaceful protest, a combined security team of police, army and civil defence were battle ready in case of breakdown of law and order.

Notwithstanding, there is anxiety among residents over possible crisis during the poll, even though security agencies have assured of peaceful exercise.

Speaking to The Guardian on electoral experiences in the state, Paul Peters said, “I don’t know where we will have a peaceful election in Rivers State. By Thursday we were already having protest. This is why some of us won’t be coming out on Saturday; I’m tired of electoral violence in this state.”

Not withstanding the protest, the INEC office in Port Harcourt has become a mini market, with residents making quick cash from INEC ad-hoc staff, journalists, election observers and security men, who were in the premises for accreditation.

From food vendors to street hawkers selling various items such as phone chargers and accessories, drinks, bottle water, wait and take passport photographers, recharge card sellers, the premises is booming with commercial activities. Even the business centre directly opposite INEC office, is feeling the impact.

At the Genesis Deluxe Cinema, GRA, fun lovers kept trooping in and out of the complex, while Jevnik Restaurant, opposite the cinema house, hosted families, who turned out to celebrate lovers Day.

Most nightclubs, restaurants and bars were not left out in the groove, as residents hobnobbed until the early hours of yesterday.

While politicians and INEC officials were engaged in last minute preparations ahead of today’s polls, residents went on last minute shopping yesterday, especially food items and groceries.

With a 12-hour restriction of movement today, most families had no option but to stock food items at home.


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