It now a show of political might and test of their strengths as Nigeria’s Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi who came into River state over weekend said he was on ground to mobilise his All Progressive Congress, APC members for the election.
On the streets of Port Harcourt, the perception has been that the election will be a clash of “federal” and “local” might. The Federal might led by the ruling party APC, Buhari and Amaechi while the local might is led by Wike.
Amaechi in a monitored radio programme in Port Harcourt promised that the state will be flooded with heavy presence of soldiers to forestall rigging. Already soldiers have been conducting mop up operations in several communities in the state ahead of the exercise. Some of the security operations have been greeted with mixed reception. While the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has largely condemned the security operations, the APC in the state has welcomed it with much enthusiasm.
In Buguma, the Council of chiefs in advertorials condemned the recent invasion of the community by heavilly armed security operatives, saying the invasion was orchestrated by a member of one of the political parties.
Ahead of the elections some communities in the state have recorded bizarre killings. Preliminary investigations by the Police said some of the killings were cult related but some persons think they could also be fall out of party differences in the affected communities.
In Buguma, headquaters of Asari Toru local government area two mindless murders were recorded within a space of 24 hours. The first was the murder of Ofinjite Amachree, a member of the All Progressive Congress, APC on Tuesday last week. His assailants after killing him allegedly set his corpse ablaze. Governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Dr Dakuku Peterside and his party in separate statements condemned the brutal murder.
Surprisingly what looked like a reprisal killing occurred in the community the following day. In a similar manner, a youth, Godstime Ifuroiyala was shot dead and his remains set ablaze. His killers allegedly dumped the corpse in the river.
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad said two persons were arrested separately for the two different murders.
In Omoku headquarters of Ogba Egbema Ndoni local government area there have also been killings. A former lawmaker in the fifth House of Assembly and member of the APC, Hon Monday Eleanya from the community was shot dead in Port Harcourt on February 11. This was followed by the murder of about 17 persons in Omoku the following day. With some of the heads of those killed beheaded. The Police said it could confirm death of 12 persons in the incident.
Assailants struck again in Omoku on March 5, this time they murdered the Ward 4 Chairman of APC, Mr Franline Obi, his wife and their 18 year old son.
While some like Governor Wike believe the killings in Omoku had little or nothing to do with politics as he blamed cultists for the attack, there are those who think they could also have elements of politics.
Ahoada East and Abua local government areas have also had their share of the killings. On January 21 this year about 11 persons were murdered by unknown gunmen in Ula Upata community, Ahoada East local government area.
As the rerun elections come up on Saturday the prayer of many is that it should be peaceful.
While Wike largely needs victory for the PDP to get the stronghold in the House of Assembly his predecessor, Amaechi needs victory for his APC to prove that he is firmly on ground in the politics of the state and give his party visibility in the state and also prove that the victory of the PDP in the last election was largely a fluke.
Positions being contested include.
3 Senate seats
11 House of Reps Seats
22 House of Representatives