Wike blames APC for deliberate electoral reform sabotage
Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt.
Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the ruling All Progressives Party APC of deliberately sabotaging the electoral reform amendment before the 2019 general elections because of selfish political interests.
He said it was the party that dissuaded President Muhammadu Buhari from signing the electoral amendment act into law claiming that, if he did, he would lose the election.
The governor observed that several attempts to achieve a credible electoral reform had been marred by overriding personal ambition of persons with vested political interest within and outside the National Assembly.
Wike who made this statement during an interview with a television station in Pott Harcourt, said any attempt at the amendment of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly would be mere charade if the card reader was not to be used to determine the validity of every vote cast.
He added that because most National Assembly members were often preoccupied with the next election, they tend to skew the Electoral Amendment Act to benefit their interest and that of their political party.
Wike stated; “Why didn’t the president sign the last amendment Electoral Act. Why? Because APC, as a party, had informed the president that ‘if you sign this electoral amendment, you are likely to lose the election. Therefore, don’t sign it.’ And, of course, the president did not sign the electoral amendment Act.
“I am not carried away by the antics of the National Assembly. They all know what will make the country to move forward. One, make the election transparent by ensuring that all votes are counted. You can achieve that by allowing the card reader to function so that the figures recorded on the card reader should tally with the transmitted figures.”
On the appointment of new service chiefs, the governor advised them to shun politics and concentrate on strategy that will enable them to expeditiously end insurgency in the country.
Governor Wike noted that lots of Nigerians had lost confidence in the former service chiefs, thus, the clamour for President Muhammadu Buhari to sack them.
Governor Wike who applauded the president for eventually listening to the cry of the citizens, advised the new service chiefs to preoccupy themselves by mapping out strategy that improve the security architecture of the country.
“They must understand that challenges are enormous and so they have a lot of work to do. They should not concern themselves with politics. Part of the problem we had with former service chiefs, was that they were involved in politics. Instead of concentrating on the security of the nation, they were very much involved in politics. Nobody can deny that fact. The moment you politicise security, then you are bound to have problems.”
Governor Wike accused former chief of army staff, General Tukur Buratai of political bias. To buttress this, he cited the arrest and detention of recruits of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps who were undergoing training at the National Youth Service Corp Orientation Camp at Norwan in Rivers state by the Nigerian Army on the directive of the then chief of army staff.
“So many states were setting up their own security outfit, the chief of army staff, (General Buratai) allowed it. He never, for one day, said ‘look we cannot allow this.’ When Rivers state, by law, set up Neighbourhood Watch to give intelligence to security agencies, he came into politics. Even when we wrote to the army, we wrote to the police. The police and Department of States Services were the one training the people.”
He urged the new service chiefs to bear in mind that though they were appointed by the president, their oath of office and oath of allegiance is to obey the constitution of Nigeria.
The governor described as erroneous President Buhari’s claim that the security situation in the country has improved far beyond what the situation was when he assumed office in 2015.
“Things have gone very bad. Everybody knows that insecurity has reached the level where everybody was saying change the service chiefs. If it was good, nobody will call for their sack. Even in his party, the APC said the insecurity has gotten to a level we cannot bear again.”
Governor Wike pointed out that despite the withdrawal of $1 Billion, estimated to be above N450 billion from the Excess Crude Account to procure armament to fight the insurgents, security has continued to deteriorate.
Speaking on the issue of community policing, the governor noted that both the federal government and the police high command are playing politics with the scheme.
“If you want this country to move forward, it is important that the states must take control of security apparatus of their state. I know the local governments, I know the communities, I know the families. So, I should be able to say this is what we should do in policing these areas. Therefore, the need for community policing is necessary, but what is the problem is that the federal government comes up to say, they will support community policing, but where have they supported it.”
“The police itself will say, oh we are interested in community policing. Let me tell you what happened in my state. They said they want to do community policing and they called traditional rulers to seek their cooperation.
“Do you know every name submitted by traditional rulers, local government, the police changed everything. It became political.”
Governor Wike disclosed that a committee had been set up to work out a possible framework for the establishment of a South-South security outfit. According to him, when the committee is done, the chairman of the South South Governors Forum will announce the outcome.
On the rumour that he intended to run for the office of the president in 2023, the governor said his political detractors were behind the recent circulation of his posters in Abuja.
“Since December last year to this period, we are commissioning projects. So, people are now believing that with the commissioning of projects, he may have intention to run for president.
“They have money to print posters for me. I thank them for telling Nigerians that they want me to run for president. No Nigerian can say I have ever met him, discussed with him that I want to run for president. That does not mean I am not a qualified person, but I have never come out to say I want to run.”
The governor said that though it is his constitutional right to aspire for the office of the president, his present interest was delivery of dividends of democracy to Rivers people.