Physically excited by the conduct of the local government elections last Saturday, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, commended the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) for conducting credible Local Government Elections in the state.
The governor also commended security agencies for ensuring that the elections were peaceful by creating the right atmosphere for peaceful polls.
Speaking in an interview after monitoring the local government elections in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, Governor Wike said that the non-participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the elections turned out to be one of the reasons why the process was peaceful.
“Sixty-six out of 68 political parties participated, but no violence. That means that if APC had participated, probably we would have seen violence.
“Sixty-six political parties, no violence, no shooting, nobody has died. But if the APC had participated, they would want to coerce security agencies, they would do all manners of negative things like bringing cultists to shoot. You can see that nobody hijacked materials. Everything has been peaceful.”
The governor noted that the security agencies played their constitutional roles during the elections. “I have called the heads of security agencies and commended them for a job well done. That is what I have always said. Allow people to vote for those they want.”
He noted that the message to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is that they can conduct credible elections if they resist pressures from different quarters.
“INEC can be committed to do the right thing. Once they build confidence, every other thing will move on smoothly,” the governor said.
Governor Wike said that he was more interested in the peaceful and credible conduct of the elections than anything else.
“We have gone round two local government areas. The elections went on peacefully and they were credible. Election materials arrived on time, except for a few places. Like this, nobody will complain. Observers from across the board have commended the process,” Governor Wike said.
Meanwhile, there was a massive turn-out of voters during the elections held across the state’s 23 local government areas.
There was very minimal movement of persons in Port Harcourt and environs, as well as rural communities in far flung local government areas as people of the state observed the no movement order by the authorities from 7a.m. till 4p.m. yesterday.
According to the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Zaki, 15, 000 security personnel were deployed to patrol the state during the election, a move aimed to uphold law and order based on the tension that trailed the build up to the election.
Governor Nyesom Wike had in a live broadcast before the election, alleged of plot by some leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to perpetuate violence, an allegation that the party’s Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, dismissed.
But during the election yesterday, there was peace and orderliness across the state, including in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Asari Toru, the two most volatile local government areas during elections.
In some streets of Port Harcourt, some shops were open for business despite the no movement order, while street footballers capitalized on the voting exercise to turn car parks, roads and streets to football field.
Most of the candidates vying for the various positions at the council level were mostly members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who had been campaigning for months before yesterday’s elections.
While the PDP and many other political parties, including the Labour Party, LP, participated in the election, the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is the main opposition party in Rivers boycotted it, arguing that there is an unresolved matter in court centering on the conduct of the election.