New party emerges as opposition in Rivers State wanes

Nyesom Wike

Opposition parties in Rivers state save for the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have literally gone comatose, two years to the 2019 general elections.

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the timetable for the general polls, the parties are virtually non-existent. Their offices have remained docile and desolate.

Some of the parties include: Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), Labour Party (LP), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), United Democratic Party (UDP), Independent Democrats (ID), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Congress for Positive Change (CPC), among others.

The state is presently dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having the majority advantage while the All Progressives Congress (APC) is trailing. Prior to the 2015 general elections, PDP solely controlled the state.

No less than 20 of the opposition parties participated in the 2015 elections in the state and none of them won an elective position be it at the legislative or the executive arm of the government.

Similarly, in the local government councils’ election conducted in May 2015 by the Rotimi Amaechi’s administration, they were not able to secure a councillorship seat.

To date, APC is the only party of the lot that participated in the 2015 elections, that is visible and active, while others have either aligned with the ruling PDP or have gone into hibernation.

There are however, signs that the parties would resurface soon as activities rev up ahead of the 2019 general elections, a practice which has become routine for them.

However, the national leader of HDP, Ambrose Owuru, explained in an interview with The Guardian that the party has been quiet because it was expecting and hoping for an inclusive government as promised by the ruling party but lamented that it was in vain.

He assured that in no distant time, the party would begin to pursue its political goal, hinting that finance has been a major challenge in keeping the party afloat.

Besides, a new opposition party, christened Solution Party for Governance (SPG) has been inaugurated in the State. It claimed that its emergence was spurred by the politically motivated violence that has characterized recent elections in the state.

According to the party, it emerged to put an end to the violence that has continued unabated despite several peace accords signed by leaders of the two major political parties operating in the state.

Speaking with The Guardian in Port Harcourt, the state chairman of the Party, Bariene Kukang said Rivers people have been subjected to a two party system for too long and there was need to break the situation he described as ‘carry-go’ system.

He maintained that the party is worried by the lingering ‘political imbroglio’ hence their resolve to come up with a solution to the political unrest with an alternative.

His words: “People are getting tired of the two party system in Rivers State; SPG is not a party for any politician who does not have the country at heart. It is a party for everyone who desires a peaceful and developed society.

“We are worried by the political unrest in Rivers, we are tired of all the political killings, maiming. It took us years to build this party which is made up of men with credible character and determination to build the nation and not out to scatter.”

Kukang for instance, decried the manner the Benibo Anabraba emerged minority leader of the State House of Assembly, stressing that SPG could not be involved in such slips. “By the grace of God, if we are voted into power in 2019, we will fix the e-voting system, the practical rigging system would be wiped out. We will empower youths positively, we will not empower them with guns to kill, so political killings and destruction of properties will stop.”

Asked if the party would not fizzle out like many others, he said SPG has come to stay and would make a remarkable difference that would keep it afloat.    Also, Owuru who was the presidential candidate of HDP in 2015 said Nigerians have tried PDP, which he alleged, is corrupt, and APC that has failed because according to him, it did not prepare for governance.

He said Nigerians need an alternative, declaring that HDP is coming up with such alternative for the people. “What Nigerians are looking for now is people with ideas who can drive the economy well, what the people need now is quality leadership and not a party with money; after all, APC did not have money when it won the 2015 elections.

“What the people need is a leader that can drive the economy, PDP was used to drive away the military and we supported APC to drive out a corrupt government but it is unfortunate, that the APC is still being run by the PDP because almost all the ministers of this government are PDP people. So this government has failed in the inclusiveness it promised, the same thing applied in Rivers State, what we have seen in Rivers, is just a change of party name but the same style of governance.”

“We have allowed them to try and make mistakes; we have observed thoroughly and seen their mistakes, so we are ready and now coming with the alternative.” The erstwhile State leader of Labour Party, and its governorship candidate in the 2015 poll, Tonye Princewill said the political violence and killings that marred the elections, in the state prompted his decision to leave just the party but also partisan politics.

According to him, his ambition to govern the state and contribute to the enhancement of the peoples’ welfare is not worth shedding the blood of anyone. Tonye said that with the level of killings and violence he saw in Rivers, it is difficult for someone like him who abhors killing innocent souls to participate in the elections.

Also speaking on the issue, a political analyst, Omenazu Jackson said, the people are tired of political violence and killings in Rivers, adding that what the people need is quality leadership that can bring about peace, drive the economy and ensure safety of lives and properties in the State.

On his part, the publicity secretary of PDP in the State, Mr. Samuel Wanosike argued that contrary to claims from the opposition, Nyesom Wike has succeeded in restoring peace to the state, insisting that with the quality of developmental projects executed by the governor, no party whether new or old would be able to compete with it.

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