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Desperation in Rivers State


Rotimi Amaechi

One of the obligations of power is to use it for the common good and the overall survival of the state, for the benefit of society and humanity in general.

The State as an entity stands above individuals and individual interests. Whereas the State can and will outlive individuals, individuals are obliged to seek the growth of the state at all times. Empires have crumbled and individuals who have arrogated absolute power to themselves have ultimately licked the dust.

This is a recurring decimal in the human equation. Certain state institutions are created and empowered by the Constitution to preserve the dignity and sanctity of the system. The Judiciary is one of such revered institutions.

In the last twenty odd years, there have been rumours and allegations of the judiciary being compromised by desperate politicians.

This has eroded the confidence which the people have in that great institution. Desperation is a tool in the hands of the weak but mighty. It has no place, rather, it should have no place in democracy.

There is a desperate attempt to seize and manipulate the electoral process in Rivers State as evidenced by the elections that were initially declared as being inconclusive and later overwhelmingly won by incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP.

The antecedents of this debacle are well documented in the media. Suffice it therefore to say that for some reason the APC has not put its house in order.

The main gladiators both chieftains of the party– Rotimi Amaechi and Magnus Abe – are at daggers drawn. The elephants have fought a bloody fight and the grass of APC in the state has suffered. The suffering is indeed a mortal blow to the fortunes of the party in the state.

What is baffling now is the attempt of party officials in the state to cause the Supreme Court to reverse itself on its verdict on the APC primaries.

[FILES] Senator Magnus Abe

On Thursday last week the Supreme Court adjourned hearings on four appeal cases filed by Senator Magnus Abe against INEC and others, Mr. Tonye Cole against Abe, APC against the Peoples’ Democratic Party to 8th and 11th of April.

The APC is seeking a consolidation of all pending appeals. Abe wants the Supreme Court to make a definite pronouncement on the authenticity of the direct and indirect primary elections by APC, and to “determine which of the two appeals is known to the law and to be recognized by INEC”.

The matter could not go on because INEC was not represented, prompting a deferment till next week. I am not a legal mind; so I find this very confusing.

The elections have been conducted and INEC had announced PDP as winner of the gubernatorial elections. What purpose pray does this serve? Is the Supreme Court going to reverse itself and reverse the result of the elections? Where do the people stand? How do they count?

The APC as the ruling party has the obligation to uphold and protect the integrity of the nation’s social and political institutions as well as the systems. The President Muhammadu Buhari’s declared anti-corruption fight embraces all facets of our national life.

Corruption is not limited to a single form of activity. It includes rigging or manipulating a process in order to achieve a desired goal.

Corruption is when the power of the people expressed through the ballot box is not respected. Rivers State is a sore point. The display of state naked power during the elections shows desperation, and contempt for the workings of democracy.

The military which is sworn to defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria were drafted into the scene like a personal army. The international community has decried the presence and activities of the military in the Rivers State elections.

As we write the family of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe a lecturer at Ken Polytechnic Bori who served as PDP collation agent and was killed by a bullet allegedly fired by a soldier is still in mourning. Why the desperation to take Rivers State?

The internal process of nominating or producing candidates in the state was fraught with dictatorial tendencies.

In spite of a subsisting court order that no primaries should be held, the Amaechi faction went ahead to hold primaries. Seeing the lawlessness in the other faction the Abe faction also held its primaries.

At the Appeal Court both parties were declared wanting on the side of the law. As a result, the APC was ordered not to present candidates for the elections in the state. Yet, the Amaechi faction was determined to ‘win’ in the state.

This unprincipled use of parties a special purpose vehicle is antithetical to the letter and spirit of democracy. Yet the political class sees nothing wrong in all of this.

Rivers State has become a battle ground between warlords. The APC lost it when it could not put its house in order before the general elections. A house that is divided cannot fight its enemies. The courts should not be used either by design or default as the alternative to the voice of the people.

In my considered view, the desperation in Rivers State should cease forthwith. The gladiators who have lost the elections can only contest what is, not what is not.

The APC was not allowed by law to contest the elections. It would be preposterous to use the court to achieve its goal through the back door.

The learned judges in my view should judge the mood of the country. It will not serve the purpose of the law or the will of the people for a ruling to be set aside so that the result may be annulled and new elections conducted. Somebody somewhere is overreaching himself.

Finally, it stands to reason to assert that the Supreme Court being the highest appellate body in the land should not be inundated with frivolous requests by the political parties or individuals. Nigerians trust that august body to do justice by the Nigerian people.

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