The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday presented the Certificate of Return to Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike , following his declaration as the winner of the March 9, 2019 Governorship election in the state.
Wike, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled a total of 886,264 votes to defeated his closest rival and governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Bookpomabo Awara, who garnered 173,859 votes.
The commission, at a ceremony held at its office in Port Harcourt, also presented Certificates of Return to the reelected Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo and 32 members-elect of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Recall that 30 of the lawmakers-elect were elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while two were elected on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Presenting the certificate to Wike, the INEC National Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu thanked the people of Rivers State for their contributions to the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections in the state.
Yakubu, who was represented by the National Commissioner in charge of Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo States, May Agbamuche-Mbu, prayed that going forward steps must be taken to change the narrative of elections in the state.
Speaking at the event, Rivers State Governor, Wike dedicated the Certificate of Return to the good people of the state who overwhelmingly voted for him .
The governor also dedicated the victory to Rivers people killed by the Nigerian Army in defence of their votes and democracy. He said that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
He said: “Today, I dedicate this victory to the people of Rivers State. I also dedicate this victory to those killed by the Nigerian Army in defence of votes and democracy. But for their sacrifice, we would not be here.”
Wike berated the Nigerian Army for the negative roles itplayed during the 2019 general elections in the state.
The governor said: “The duty of the Army is not to take over INEC office and carry out Collation. We saw the Army take over INEC functions and that of the police.
“Go to Bori camp, you will see INEC materials . Is it where it is supposed to be? But for God, we wouldn’t have been here. All powers came, but God intervened and that’s why we are here.”
Wike commended the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) for living up their responsibilities during the 2019 General elections.
The governor, however, urged INEC to take steps to investigate why Rivers State is only violent during elections and advised the commission to work towards the prosecute the Commander of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) indicted for violence during the 2016 Rerun elections.
He alleged that the same F-SARs Commander killed a Chartered Accountant who served as PDP Collation Agent and must be brought to justice.
Wike commended INEC for their steadfast commitment to the legal conclusion of Rivers elections, despite the pressure for them to do otherwise.
The governor said: “I commend INEC for standing firm on the side of the truth. I commend INEC officials for being firm.”
He urged INEC Headquarters to take immediate measures to ensure the total rehabilitation of the commission’s office in Port Harcourt.
Wike stated that as a matter of state policy, the Rivers State Government will take steps to assist families of those who were victims of election violence.
The governor said should INEC and the Nigerian Army permit, the state government will also reach to their staff affected by the violence.
He stated that his second term will witness more projects for the development of the state and urged his opponents to take advantage of his olive branch, saying that it was extended in the interest of the state.