Rivers governorship candidate slams Wike for banning rallies in public schools

THE Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)  governorship candidate in Rivers State, Leyii Kwanee, has slammed the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike for banning political rallies in public schools in the state.

Wike had in a statewide broadcast on Friday announced that he had signed Executive Order 21 directing political parties to pay the sum of N5 million to the state government for security before getting approval to use public schools for political campaigns.

Reacting, Kwanee, who is a former deputy speaker of the state house of assembly, said in Port Harcourt on Monday that the order was aimed at monopolising political power and stifling political space in the state.


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He said the coming campaign appeared threatened by obnoxious restrictions and regulations issued by the state government but vowed that his party would not be distracted.

He said, “We cannot be discouraged on this rescue mission. Nevertheless, let us place it on record that the issue of Executive Order 21 by the outgoing Nyesom Wike administration and similar hardline postures in the past are inimical to the growth of business and employment opportunities in our dear state.

“As a party, we view Executive Order 21 as a quest to monopolise political power through monopolising political activities and space in the state. However, we are committed to obeying legitimate laws of the land as we cannot trade security of lives and properties of people living and doing business in the state for anything.”

He noted that the political environment in the state had become polarised, divisive, and filled with rapid change in interpersonal relationships, which he feared could result in trust deficit on several fronts in the state.

Kwanee alleged there had been a shift by political leaders in the state from established values and performance standards set by founding fathers, which he said promoted unity, peace, equity and prosperity of the state.

He viewed with great concern what he called “the degradation of values” in the state.

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state has condemned Wike’s decision.

In a statement signed by its acting publicity secretary Darlington Nwauju on Saturday, the party said the order contravened Section 91 of the 2022 Electoral Act.

Nwauju said that the governor had no constitutional rights to prevent political parties from holding rallies, processions or meetings in the state.




     

     

    He maintained that it was the duty of the commissioner of police in each state to provide adequate security cover for such rallies or conferences, and to also in a consultative manner resolve any conflict of time and venue among the political parties.

    “No state government can amend any section of the Electoral Act by issuing decrees that are strange to the Electoral Act. The INEC Chairman recently warned state governments against using the power of incumbency to intimidate opponents.

    “Will the PDP in Rivers State pay the cautionary fee of N5 million and write applications two weeks ahead of time before it uses any public school for rallies?

    “We suspect that there is a grand plot to deploy all sorts of underhand tactics to intimidate political opponents in the state, narrow the political space, hush every voice of reason and turn all known democratic ethos upside down,” he said.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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