Rivers rerun: How APC chieftains traded-off victory with Wike FeaturedWritten by EMMA OWHONDAH
Strange revelations that some chieftains of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State exchanged the victory of the party at last Saturday’s election for cash in a deal with Rivers State Governor, Mr. Ezebuwon Nyesom Wike, have triggered anger in the party. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had conducted a supplementary election for the Etche State Constituency 2 and the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency, respectively, on Saturday, February 25. The polls held in designated Units across the 29 Electoral Wards in the two local government areas.
As at the end of voting, despite pockets of violence in a few of the units, exit polls garnered by The Neighbourhood showed that Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke and Mr. Golden Chioma, both of APC were coasting home to victory. It was at that time that we filed the breaking news, “Rivers supplementary polls: Wike thrashed as APC wins everything”. However, when eventually INEC announced the results, shock spread across the Constituency. Questions soon cropped up as to what would have gone wrong between Saturday evening when voting ended in most PUs and Sunday morning when the results were declared in Port Harcourt? This is the story we have to tell which is that while Etche and Omuma voters were busy casting their ballots for candidates of their choice, some top-shots of APC had allegedly struck a secret deal the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The Neighbourhood findings included that the APC chieftains fingered in this deal are natives and are known to be very close to the leader of the party in Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, currently Nigeria’s Transportation Ministry.
The two men who allegedly sabotaged their party are reported to have ambition to vie for the senate in 2019 under APC. According to findings, they see their candidate for the House of Representatives, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke, as a stumbling block and so considered stopping him by every means possible, including undermining their general party interests, as a preferable option.
It has been uncovered that earlier in the day of voting, a certain chieftain of APC held a meeting in his house with a top PDP leader, where possibly the APC man revealed their war plans to his guest who quickly made away to connect Mr. Wike. When accosted by certain suspicious members of their party, the APC man sold a dummy that the PDP man in question invaded his house with soldiers. However, when the party members made a search, it was discovered that the man only deceived them.
Another meeting reportedly took place where a former Commissioner under the Administration of Amaechi struck a deal with PDP that everything was for sale as long as it would stop Nwuke and provide him with a clearer chance of picking the APC senatorial ticket for 2019. It was alleged that cash exchanged hands but it was impossible to confirm the amount. During all of those subterranean meetings, ‘results’ different from whatever voting outcome would be, were reportedly compiled by the PDP side.
With voting over and unit results compiled, working as agreed, PDP agents resisted efforts by INEC Returning Officers for the polls, Prof. Olatunbosun Odusanya and Prof. Omotola, from declaring the results at Okehi, headquarters of Etche local government, which served as Collation Centre for the polls. Their refusal created a stalemate which offered a window for them to send words across to Mr. Wike.
The governor moved to Etche Saturday night accompanied by Mr. Sergeant Awuse, Mr. Emma Anyanwu and other leaders of PDP. Meanwhile, nobody could account for the results generated from the field. Wike arrived Okehi in the night and quickly commandeered the INEC officials to move with the results to their Port Harcourt office.
At INEC office in Port Harcourt, Wike, elated at the development, joined the Collating and Returning Officers in collating and tabulating the results. Even though the electoral officials had earlier declared the elections inconclusive and had fixed Sunday or Monday for the last leg, INEC decided to announce the results which gave PDP victory.
However, the APC has given indications it would challenge the result as declared by INEC even as the rumbling continues over the sabotage by its own members. Its members are dazed that the fingered chieftains could swap the party’s hard-won victory for an ambition yet afar off. Aggrieved members are calling for the heads of those behind the trade-off with some who spoke to The Neighbourhood over calling for their expulsion from the party. According to a top APC source, creed had been the greatest undoing of the party in Rivers State. "Our greatest undoing since 2015 is not that Governor Wike knows how to win elections better than our parrty. But the fact is that APC has suffered insider sabotage anchored on the creed of a few", the senior source told The Neighbourhood.