Twenty-four days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) abruptly suspended the Rivers State governorship election, it yesterday declared incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike winner of the contentious poll. Wike polled 886,264 to emerge the winner while the runner up, African Action Congress candidate, Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859. The margin stood at 712,405.
The Vice Chancellor, Federal University Otuoke, Prof. Teddy Adias, who was the state Returning Officer, said it marked the end of an era that commenced on March 9, 2019 when citizens of the state trooped out to elect their governor.He disclosed that the election was contested among over 50 political parties and that statistics showed that the number of registered voters as collated was 3,048741. The total number of accredited voters as collated was 1,130,445, while the total number of valid votes was 1,123,840.
He declared: “The candidate with maximum vote scored a total number of 886,264. The second polled maximum number of voters of 173,859. The margin of lead in these votes stands at 712,405. The total number of registered voters in areas where election did not hold or were cancelled stands at 249,324. I, this day, confirm again that I am the Returning Officer for this election and that Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of the PDP, having satisfied the requirement of the law, has scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared winner and is returned elected.”
In his reaction, Wike thanked party stalwarts and supporters at Government House, Port Harcourt, for showing him love. He also paid tribute to those who lost their lives, saying: “This victory, first of all, is dedicated to the Almighty God. This victory is dedicated to Rivers’ people and those who died in the course of protecting democracy, in course of protecting our votes to make sure that the will of the people stand.”
PDP agent and former Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Austin Opara, said the result of the election was a true reflection and yearning of the people. “The state has to move forward. The candidate of the AAC should join hands with the governor-elect to move the state forward and rebuild it. We need a new Rivers State; a peaceful Rivers State. Rivers State cannot continue to be on the news for the wrong things,” he said.
Former Rivers State deputy governor, Tele Ikuru, also noted that the outcome reflected the wishes of the people.Some opposition parties however have rejected the results. The AAC party agent and state secretary, Nenye Kocha, told The Guardian that his party would meet to review the outcome of the election. “We have just heard the result declared. My party will look at it and tell you the next action we will take,” he said.
Meanwhile, former vice president and presidential candidate of the PDP in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has described Wike’s reelection as victory over anti-democratic forces.In a statement he personally signed, Atiku said he was proud to have Wike as an ally in the fight against dictatorship and oppression in Nigeria.
The statement reads: “My hearty congratulations to Governor Nyesom Wike on your hard-earned reelection. It gives me much pleasure to see a political force for good, such as yourself, overcome the anti-democratic forces of dictatorship and oppression.“The Peoples Democratic Party is blessed to have a political gladiator, such as yourself, on our side. The citizens of Rivers State are fortunate to have a genuine progressive return to extend the frontiers of progress and development for them.
“I am favored to count you, Governor Wike, as my friend and brother, and Rivers State as my second home. As your victory is savored by men of goodwill all over Nigeria, I am sure you will continue the pattern of good works for which you have become known.“Nigeria needs men like you; men who can remain firm, unbowed and resolute in the face of trying times. You have proved that you have character under trial, and not just when the going is good. Such refinement will stand you in good stead as, by the grace of God, you finish the good work you have started in Rivers State.”