Nigeria’s ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its main rival, the All Progressives Congress, APC, have once again enmeshed in a characteristic war of words against each other over their roles in the violence that accompanied the registration exercise of APC on Tuesday.
Launching the accusation, the Rivers State chapter of APC accused the Grassroots Development Initiative, GDI, of working as the political machinery of Supervising Minister for Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike and some PDP Stakeholders to unleash mayhem and disrupt its membership registration exercise, which began on Wednesday in 4,442 political units across the state.
It alleged that the evil plot was hatched during a meeting in the house of a GDI chieftain in Obio Akpor LGA, Chief Timothy Nsirim, where GDI and PDP leaders were directed to attack the registration centres within days of the exercise and were assured that the Police had been fully briefed and would not intervene.
“When we first got intelligence reports on the planned attacks, we initially did not attach much importance to it, but we were proven wrong when some of our registration officers and innocent citizens of Rivers State who turned up to be registered by APC as the exercise took off today were attacked by thugs hired by PDP and GDI”, SSA Media and Public Affairs to the Interim State Chairman, APC Rivers State, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said.
“To our shock, our registration units in Tombia, old Bakana all in Kalabari axis of the state and Woji Ward 6 in Obio-Akpor LGA the Local Government Area of Chief Nyesom Wike were all attacked.
“Our Degema LGA Supervisory Committee Chairman for the Registration exercise and former Chairman Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Mr. Ben Orugbani escaped death when his house was shattered with bullets in the old Bakana, just for accepting to ensure that this type of politics of odium and violence is stopped in Rivers State”.
Eze, on behalf of APC, urged people of the state not to be intimidated, as they have the right to register and freely associate with any political party of their choice. He directed the party’s registration officers to continue with the exercise without fear on Wednesday, and urged the Police to protect its registration officers and the innocent citizens who wish to register with the party from the hands of hoodlums who think that politics is all about violence and intimidation.
“We at the same time wish to warn GDI and PDP to have a rethink and avoid pushing us to the wall as nobody or group has the monopoly of violence”, he added, commending Interim Chairman of the party in the state, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya for acting as a true leader by refusing to be intimidated and going out to monitor the registration exercise in Port Harcourt, Obio-Akpor, Eleme and Ikwerre LGAs.
Ikanya himself expressed happiness with the huge turnout of people for the exercise, enthusing that the reign of the ruling party in the state is finally petering out.
“With what I saw today, PDP is truly dead in Rivers State,” Ikanya said. “The revolution started by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers State and will surely be sustained by the APC Administration, even after he leaves office in 2015”.
But responding, PDP described the accusation of instigating violence at the registration exercise as false and completely unfounded, saying it should not be blamed that people of the state shunned the exercise.
“The attention of the Rivers State Chapter of PDP has been drawn to a false alarm by one Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, claiming that the PDP and GDI unleashed mayhem on APC registration officials in Degema and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas today”, Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State PDP Chairman, Jerry Needam said.
“It is not in the character of the PDP to react to daily intentional false statements and alarm by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, but however, we wish to state on this particular false alarm. Eze’s claim that PDP and GDI unleashed mayhem on APC registration officials in Degema and Obio/Akpor or any other part of Rivers State is completely false and unfounded. It shows that APC is already accepting defeat and afraid that Rivers People would not register in the party.
Needam labelled APC an ethnic group and an Islamic party that the Rivers people cannot register with, saying any party that belongs to one ethnic group or religion and does not promote the unity of Rivers State and Nigeria at large will not attract the interest of the people.
He also denied that any meeting of the PDP and or the GDI held in the house of the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Chief (Hon) Timothy Nsirim.
“APC should rather blame Senator Magnus Abe and Hon Dakuku Peterside Governorship supporters that are spoiling for a showdown to grab the soul of the APC, having been separately anointed by Governor Rotimi Amaechi to succeed him”, he said, adding that the opposition party should “caution and call to order supporters of their two governorship candidates, and stop blaming either the PDP or GDI for their internal crisis”.