AS the rerun election in River State is about 24 hours to be conducted, the state may soon be turned into a field of war as the utterances by many of the political gladiators in the state and the nation at large, are becoming tougher against one another.
The Minister of Transportation and the leader of the All Progressives Congress in the state Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday, said the legislative rerun would be an election of the lives of APC members. The party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, declared that the Federal Government was on a mission to rescue the state from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They both spoke at the APC mega-rally held in Port Harcourt to conclude the party’s campaign for the rerun exercise, even as the state chapter of the PDP cautioned the APC leadership, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police against any attempt to scuttle the conduct of a free and fair exercise.
Oyegun said, “The December 10 legislative re-run symbolises our mission to rescue the people of Rivers State from an oppressive regime. The entire national leadership of the party is here. President Mohammadu Buhari is with the people of Rivers State.
“We have heard your cry. We feel your pain; we are pained by your anguish. Enough is enough. All we ask of you is to come out on Saturday, December 10, and vote for all APC candidates. The APC-led Federal Government is poised on rescuing Rivers State.
“And Rivers State will be rescued. I am happy with what I have heard you say, today. If they push you, push them. If they slap you, slap them. Don’t be afraid. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. The Federal Government has provided enough security to ensure a peaceful election”.
Also speaking, Amaechi, the immediate past governor of the state, called on APC supporters not to be afraid and ensure that their votes were protected, adding that he would not entertain any excuse on result sheet snatching, and that party faithful to retrieve any election materials taken away during the exercise.
“This is what is called election of our lives. You know I have never spoken like this before. Do not kill anybody, but don’t allow yourself to be killed. We also have to protect ourselves.’’
“I don’t want to hear that they snatched the result sheet from you. If they snatch it, collect it back from them. My phone will be switched off; nobody should call me. The only time you will call me is from 6pm when you have won the election,” he said.
Also, the chairman of APC Election Campaign Committee and the Kano State governor, Alhaji Mohammed Ganduje, urged APC supporters in the state not to take cover whenever they were shot at, adding that the should not hesitate to shoot back at their attackers during the election.
Reacting to the statements by the APC leaders, however, Rivers PDP chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, alleged that an agreement was signed by the state leadership of APC, security agents and INEC to scuttle the electoral process on Saturday by subsisting results sheets at the election.
Obuah, in a statement by his media aide, Jerry Needam, said certain persons, allegedly hired and equipped for the assignment, would cause crisis in each of the collation centres to enable the security agents come in under the pretext to calm the situation and while the melee lasts, the fake INEC result sheets will be substituted for the genuine ones.
He, however, warned against any attempt by the APC, INEC officials and security personnel to scuttle the election issues in Rivers by taking sides in the election and, or indulging in any act(s) that would cause crisis in the state.
“Let me restate that we are ready for this election, having campaigned adequately, demonstrated that we have all it takes to give our people quality leadership through Governor Nyesom Wike’s landmark achievements in one and half years which our good people of Rivers State have seen and acknowledged and are willing to reciprocate by filing out in their numbers on Saturday to confirm.’’