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Rivers Guber: Hope deferred for Accord Party

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Lulu-Briggs

The quest by the Accord Party to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State may have suffered a major setback as its initial declared governorship candidate; Dumo Lulu Briggs was not duly nominated.

But with the lack of a competitive political candidate to take on PDP and its governorship candidate, the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike, the ruling party is set to hold on to keys to the Brick House in Port Harcourt.

With the exclusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the general elections, Lulu-Briggs, who is seen as the only one APC could align with to challenge Wike, has been entangled in a legal battle over his emergence as Accord Party’s governorship candidate.

Lulu-Briggs, who was once tipped to be the favourite to get APC governorship ticket, abruptly resigned his membership of the second most formidable party in Rivers State after the contentious primaries in which Tonye Cole was declared winner.

He hinged his separation from APC on the premise that some feudal lord had hijacked the party after he had worked hard with others to reposition the party and stabilise the leadership of the Minister of transport, Chibuike Amaechi, who was then under tremendous pressure.

He said: “The facts are known that we took steps to protect the party from sliding into a personal estate. If a strongman owns Rivers PDP and our leader in the APC by default becomes a feudal lord, then our state is doomed. I have nothing personal to lose or gain, but we have all to lose, if in a democracy we allow the aberration of overlords, hence my decision.”

Eager to actualise his aspiration of liberating Rivers from those he described as overlords, Lulu-Briggs opted not to return to PDP from where he defected to APC. Instead, he chose to pitch his political tent with Accord Party, where his ally, Mr. Nelson Baba Amieye, had secured the governorship ticket.

Crisis later erupted in Accord Party after the party’s national leadership decided to substitute Amieye, who was initially submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the Governorship candidate with Lulu-Briggs.

At this point, Precious Baridoo filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, claiming that he was duly nominated during the party’s governorship primaries on October 4, 2018 before his name was substituted with that of Lulu Briggs who did not participate in the
governorship primaries.

Last Thursday, Lulu-Briggs’ dream to wrest power from Wike suffered setback, as Justice Emmanuel Obile of the Federal High Court, declared Baridoo as Accord Party’s governorship candidate.

In his reaction to the court judgment, Lulu Briggs said though the conspiracy to stop him is strong, his passion for Rivers State is total.

“The path to freedom is not always easy and fighting against entrenched political system is never simple,” he said. “But we can do it with our collective will power. The task at hand may appear herculean, but it is achievable. We have enough strength and abilities in our heart and in our PVCs. We can reshape our future. It is up to us to determine our destiny through our votes. Of course, we can!”

The Director of communication, Dumo Lulu-Briggs Campaign Organisation, Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo, declared that the entire judgment has no legal standing, because the defendants were not given opportunity for fair hearing or given the opportunity to replace their counsel who withdrew from the case. To this end, he said a petition has since been written to the National Judicial Council against the judge.

He blamed Lulu-Briggs political ordeal on the malicious machinations of Governor Wike, schemes to knock out strong contenders in the governorship race.

He said: “Nyesom Wike’s connection in this dubious act is buttressed by the fact that Mr. Precious Baridoo’s counsel, Wori N. Wori Esq. is from the law firm of E.C. Aguma (SAN), the deceased immediate past Attorney General to Wike. Furthermore, Mr. Precious Baridoo got ‘elected’ as Rivers IPAC Chairman months after his purported nomination as Accord Party’s governorship candidate, a position known to be occupied only by the governor’s cronies.”

He said Lulu-Briggs’ faith in the Nigerian judiciary couldn’t be diminished by the obvious miscarriages of a few.
“We are focused and ready to not just vacate this scandalous judgment, but obtain the mandate which Rivers State people are eager to offer Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs.”

The Director of Information and Communications, Emma Okah, said the claim that PDP and Governor Wike were behind the crisis plaguing Accord Party merely depicts attitude of the opposition
political parties in Rivers, that whenever they suffer self-inflicted misfortune, they turn around and blame Wike and PDP.

“Here is the man (Lulu-Briggs) who contested the primaries of an election in another political party. When he lost in that party, he moved to buy the governorship slot of Accord Party, when they had already concluded primaries. Did Governor Wike cause him to lose election in APC? Did Wike ask him to go and shop for another governorship ticket? The whole thing is laughable,” he said.

The media aide to the governor, Simeon Nwakaudu, said: “Governor Wike is preparing for election and he has sold himself to Rivers people and he is confident of victory. He has delivered projects and he has been accepted in all the 23 local government areas. There is no reason to bother about anyone’s candidature. The Accord Party does not pose a threat to the PDP. In fact, the party is on ground and the governor has worked so hard to earn a well deserved second term in office.”

A political observer, Sandra Nwosu said PDP’s phenomenal success in spite of the obvious involvement of the military in the presidential and National Assembly in an attempt to emasculate the party offers a glimpse of the electoral mood in the states.

She explained that Accord Party’s failure in the state, which backed President Buhari in the last election to offer an alternative narrative of hope to the people, would make it tough for the Accord Party and its allies to mount a credible challenge against Wike.

She said: “If the result of the presidential and National Assembly elections are anything to go by, the Accord Party, which aligned with APC merely garnered 1,744 votes for the president. The APC scored a little above 150,000. So, even if they form an alliance, they won’t be able to defeat PDP. Lulu-Briggs’ personality may not be enough to defeat a formidable political adversary like Wike.”

She noted that even Lulu-Briggs hometown, Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, which was a theatre of war during the presidential and National Assembly elections, has for two decades been considered PDP’s bastion.

A political analyst, Norman Wokoma told The Guardian that Accord and the opposition APC would have suffered an ignominious defeat, if not for the intervention of the Army, which in some instances attempted to coerce electoral officers to write fake results in the just concluded elections.

According to him, with apparent lack of a competitive political party and candidate to take on Governor Wike, his second term in office could be declared a done deal.

On his part, Emma Okah said the advantage PDP has over all other parties in the state is that it has maintained strong party machinery, with internal conflict being minimal.

To this end, he said if Lulu-Briggs eventually wriggles himself out of the legal quagmire and contests the governorship election, he might find it an uphill task to defeat PDP, which is deemed the favourite.

“That shows their actions are not well thought out. They just act on impulse and then turn around to blame somebody. So, there is no truth in that statement. Governor Wike has no interest in what is happening in their party. If they like, let them form alliance, they won’t be able to beat Governor Wike. We have proven that in the last election, and in the coming election, we will do better. It is just like a rat waking up in the morning and declaring that he wants to devour a lion.”

Though the result of the presidential and National Assembly elections suggest a very visible setback for Accord Party, which unsuccessfully failed to establish indelible footprint in the last elections, Lulu-Briggs remains hopeful that if he participates in the governorship race, issues of rural disgruntlement and unemployment could swing ballots in his favour.

“Be rest assured and keep hope alive. Accord remains on the ballot and will win the March 9 elections,” he said.


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