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‘To INEC’s tent, oh election observers’

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Abia


Why must there be ‘Nigerian factor’ in everything about us as a people? Dear INEC chair, are you aware that your collation centre in Port Harcourt was almost a makeshift building? Forget what you saw on TV sir, the hall where the results of the Rivers State election were collated was an uncompleted building. Oh yes.

From all indications, that construction work must have started few days to the election, even when the time table was rolled out years before. While INEC officials, ad-hoc staff, observers, media and security agencies roamed the premises in preparation for the polls, it was work-in-progress as bricklayers were busy laying the blocks. In fact, on the election eve, constitution work was still on going. Only God knows how the electrician managed to bring power into the windowless hall for collation. In fact, the hall was eventually covered with tarpaulin, no roofing!

As it turned out, on the day of collation, it rained. If not that whoever was awarded the contract to provide the tarpaulin went for quality, it would have been a mess. And with the gubernatorial elections few hours away, who knows, it might still be, ‘to INEC’s tent, oh election observers.’

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Police pass police
If you were anywhere around the INEC office on Aba Road, Port Harcourt during the last presidential election, chances were that you encountered one or two police officers; both mobile and regular police. However, you can’t miss that fierce looking mobile police officer; he stood out from the crowd. It’s not just about his broad chest and large frame, the guy is loaded; gun, jackknife, bullet proof, helmet, teargas, grenades…all manner of items dangling all over his body, he looked battle ready.Merely looking at this officer sends fear down the spine of visitors; he hardly spoke to anyone, he never laughed. Even when some officers bowed to the law of nature to take a nap, this dude kept patrolling up and down as if he was going to get extra pay.

Really, police pass police.
In Rivers, ‘stay and protect your vote’ is the rule
It’s no longer news that the presidential election in Rivers State was marred by crises and killings; every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that already. However, the lesson is that voting in River is one, protecting your vote and ensuring it counts is another.

As election results kept trickling into the INEC office in Port Harcourt, some stakeholders and party agents made it a point of duty to escort their results for fear of hijacking. Prominent among these escort men is Tonye Princewill, a chieftain of the APC. Dressed in jeans and black polo shirt, with fez cap to match, Tonye followed his result from Asari Toru LGA till it landed in the INEC office. Obviously, he must have learnt from past experiences.

“My brother, we were very prepared for them. You know, in Rivers, what they do is, when they see you have forces to fight back, nobody will tamper with your result. They came, but we pushed them back. In Rivers, after voting you must protect your vote. We had to follow the result down to Port Harcourt to ensure nobody tampered with it. We are on ground,” he boasted. Indeed, by the time the result from Asari Toru LGA was announced, APC got 8,180, while PDP got 3,175. Now, the big question is, how can one protect his/her vote with bare hands, amid heavy gunfire from political thugs and militants? Dear Tonye Princewill, over to you sir…

Body no be firewood
With a public holiday on Friday, while movement on Election Day was restricted from 6:00am to 6:00pm, residents of Port Harcourt, indeed, prepared for a long weekend. Apart from shopping for food items and making sure they got enough fuel to power their generators, guys took the preparation to the next level.

In Port Harcourt, The Casablanca located at No. 2, Sani Abacha Road, GRA Phase 2, has remained the night club to beat in the Garden City. It is the gathering point for fun seekers, who go there to relax in a cozy environment. Besides, the area has become a major hub for call girls. So, on this day, as a result of no movement, it was bad market for the girls.

In a bid to survive, the girls came up with a special promo; pay for Friday night and enjoy till 6:00pm on Election Day. Indeed, it was a smart decision that paid off, as some guys were encouraged to make ‘adequate preparation’ for the election weekend. Who no like better thing? After all, body no be firewood.

There are two political parties in Rivers, Wike and Amaechi
Forget the number of political parries on INEC register, in Rivers State there are just two political parties. No, forget about PDP and APC, that’s just a matter of platform. In Rivers, you are either a member of Wike political party or you are for Amaechi political party. It doesn’t matter the platform both are now, if Wike decided to move to another party, the battleground will change; the same with Amaechi.

Make a list of all prominent gladiators in Rivers State election and you will find that they are for either of these former friends-turned enemies. So, the real battle is about how many people you can pull to your side; both men have become more powerful than Rivers State itself.

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INECTonye Princewill
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