Battle for ‘settler’ votes in Rivers rages as Wike, Amaechi, Abe address Igbos

Battle for ‘settler’ votes in Rivers rages as Wike, Amaechi, Abe address Igbos

The battle for the votes of people from the south-east (SE) is raging in Rivers State as the governorship election drags near.

This could be linked to massive votes that went to Labour Party which came second in the state with 175, 071 with only 56,000 votes below Wike’s choice, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Those against Wike’s interest in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got 88,603 votes for Atiku Abubakar. Analysts say the combined votes of LP and PDP believed to be people against Wike’s interest could overtake the 231,591 votes Tinubu got for the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he supported in the presidential election. The LP and PDP votes could get to 364,000 whereas the APC or Wike-induced total votes were 231, 591.

With this trend and numbers, attention has since shifted to SE or Igbo votes in Rivers State.

Governor Wike was first to act by summoning a closed-door meeting with ‘Igbo leaders’ in the Government House in Port Harcourt. Though no statement was issued after it, different accounts have occupied social media, some saying the governor threatened them, others said he entreated them.

Former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, followed on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, with address at a townhall meeting held in Oyigbo LGA of the state. At the meeting, the Ubima-born English Language and Law graduate said Igbos should know that he is Ikwerre and that Ikwerre are Igbo.

He said any Ikwerre man that denied his Igbo roots was being insincere. “My name is Amaechi and Chibuike; what is the meaning?”

He also revealed to them that Tonye Cole’s mother is Anambra, meaning he is a grandson.

At the end of the meeting, all trade leaders endorsed Cole of the APC and resolved to go swiftly back to summon meeting of all trade groups and tell them what to do.

The next morning, a pro-Wike group, the Rivers State chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) led by Chijioke Ihunwo, mounted a summit at the Polo Club in the GRA 1 area of the Garden City.

There, several speakers and academics as well as historians made stirring speeches reminding the youths about the dreams of their founding fathers.

The chairman of the event, Tony Okocha, regarded as Wike’s strongest supporter at the moment, quoting Franz Fanon, a revolutionist, said every generation has a vision; you either uphold it or betray it.

Asking the youths to ponder over and find out what the vision of the founding fathers were, Okocha wondered if the dreams of the founding fathers of the state were that the people become economically subservient to any race, nationality in the midst of plenty.

“Or is it that our enviable social ethos, ethics, norms, and/laws atrophy into abysmal oblivion?”

He also asked if it was the dream that their generation be psychologized into docility by the nuances, indiscretions, antics, subterfuges of non-indigenous folks and foes who migrated into their communities.

This was followed by a lectures lecture by a UNIPORT lecturer, Gift Worlu (PhD), who reminded the Rivers people how they fought to be separated from the Eastern region where he said they were neglected and suppressed until 1967 when the then Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, created Rivers State out of Eastern Region. He lamented how there was no representative of the area in the Eastern House until he said the Willinks Commission gave them a voice.

He said since Gowon created the state, it has been Rivers people that have ruled the state, except during military era.

He harped on how Gov Wike has fought hard to defend the interest of Rivers State, saying but for Wike, Rivers people would have been observing ‘Sit-At-Home’.

He said: “We are not Biafra. We were in the East but we not from the East. Wike has seen the light of the future. We will go where Wike asks us to go.”

In his remarks, the Rivers NYCN leader, Ihunwo, said: “We are in the period of elections and we need youthful people to govern our state. We must not give the state to miscreants, we must not give the state to greedy people.”

Read also: Why Wike will always defeat Amaechi – Tony Okocha

He went further; “We are going to vote the people who have the mind to support the youths. We have had the same set of people in government in the state since 1999. And the governor of the state said no, our generation is about to go we need younger person. And that’s why we must support Siminilayi Fubara as governor of Rivers State.

“So we are going to elect a man that’s going to continue from where Gov Wike stopped. We need younger people and if Sim becomes governor we will begin to have youths as commissioners not old men. So don’t be deceived by faceless politicians. This is the time for the youths to rule Rivers State. So next week Saturday, come out enmass and vote for Sim Fubara.”

He said he a revolution has started in Rivers State carried out Wike, the pride of Nigeria. “Wike has worked and so if we want to consolidate on what he has done, come out and let us support sim.”

Ogoni-born Magnus Abe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has also held meeting with the Igbo block in the state where he said every person in the state was free to vote without intimidation.

He said he received the endorsement of the Igbos.

Opinion poll experts said PDP’s Fubara is leading with 20 percent but there are 24 percent of people undecided. It looks like whoever gets the 24 percent might carry the day on March 18, 2023.

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