Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday took a clear lead in the state’s governorship contest as collation of results of the poll held on March 9 resumed with the governor winning 13 of the 15 local governments of the state declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Collation of results was suspended by INEC following the takeover of the collation centre in Port Harcourt, the state capital, by soldiers on March 10.
But INEC announced a couple of weeks ago that it would resume the exercise yesterday, stating that it had results of 17 local governments ready for collation, while it might hold supplementary election in six other local councils on April 13.
Yesterday’s exercise, which continues today, was boosted by the ruling of the Federal High
Court, sitting in Abuja that dismissed a suit filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) seeking to stop INEC from tallying the results of the poll.
Wike’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) quickly hailed the court’s verdict.
The results released by INEC yesterday showed that Wike won 13 of the 15 LGAs, polling 426,279 votes ahead of Mr. Biokpomabo Awara of the AAC, who garnered 129,855 votes, leaving a margin of 296,424.
The AAC had the backing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that missed out on the ballot because of internal fights that resulted in multiple court judgments that excluded it from the contest.
Although security was tight at the state headquarters of INEC along Aba Road, Port Harcourt, the military was conspicuously absent in the security architecture.
At the commencement of collation, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Edo, River and Bayelsa, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the commission was committed to ensuring a smooth and transparent process.
She recalled that security issues led to the suspension of the process in the state and said the commission was poised to bring the process to a logical end.
The State Returning Officer, Professor Teddy Adias, who coordinated the collation exercise, gave the assurance that INEC would be as fast as possible to see a successful completion of the election processes.
In the results so far collated, the PDP won in Ikwerre Local Government Area, the home of Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, where Governor Nyesom Wike polled 14,938 to beat Amaechi’s adopted candidate, AAC’s Biokpomabo Awara, who got 5,660 votes.
Wike also won in Port Harcourt, Andoni, Eleme, Opobo/Nkoro, Bonny, Okrika, and Omuma Local Government Areas.Others won by Wike are Tai, Ahoada East, Emohua, Etche and Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Areas.
The AAC won in Oyigbo and Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas.
Adias announced the continuation of the collation process today.
Reacting to the collation exercise, state Secretary of AAC and agent for the collation of governorship results for the party, Mr. Nenye Kocha, described the collation process as transparent even though the party was not comfortable with the figures.
He said: “Things are now unveiling. We have been in the dark over what has been happening even when we had thought that we were leading.
“In terms of transparency, the exercise is transparent. But the figures are not what we were expecting.
“As a party, we are going to review the gamut of all that had happened within the period and take a decision. The governorship candidate will also review the situation and take a stand.”
The agent of the PDP and former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Austin Opara, also commended the process as transparent and expressed happiness with the outcome so far.
Okpara said his party is coasting home peacefully, adding that security agencies and INEC had demonstrated professionalism in their jobs.
He said: “For very obvious reasons, it has been very peaceful. The trouble makers are not here. We are coasting home to victory and we will establish a new Rivers State.
“This will also end the anxiety that our people have been made to go through. We need to apologise to Rivers people for the stress they have been put through by a group of people who mismanaged their affairs and are looking for who to blame.”
Some groups of protesters had defied the state government’s ban on protests and marched in the morning through some parts of the metropolis to protest the collation of results by INEC.